Episode Seventy-Three: Size Matters
Zelgadis had seen a few golden dragons before, with Filia and Phythan being some of them. By his calculations, Filia must be of average size in dragon form. Phythan was as tall as Gourry in elf form, but he was relatively small as a dragon. He was still large enough to carry the whole group on his back with ease and compared to a human, he was huge, but he was noticeably smaller than Filia. That was a sure hint that a dragon's size in elf form couldn't be used to determine their size in dragon form. Even if Zelgadis knew not to underestimate his opponent, he wasn't expecting this. Cleo was huge, much larger than any other golden dragon Zelgadis had ever seen. "You've got to be kidding me, this is her true form?"
Xellos didn't know exactly what was going on, but he knew there was a battle. There were several dragons stomping around judging by the vibrations on the ground, or at least that was his theory. He didn't know it was only one huge golden dragon rather than a group of dragons. Strangely, no attacks had reached him, thus he theorized that the dragons were distracted with someone else, though he didn't know who. If they weren't paying attention to him, thinking that he was harmless in his current state, then this was his opportunity to get ready to attack. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power grows."
With a mighty roar, Cleo stomped towards Zelgadis, "it will be your end!" She let out a massive beam of laser breath that left a deep indentation in the land.
"Levitation!" Zelgadis dodged the powerful beam and retaliated with "Elmekia Lance!" Cleo easily countered with a laser that canceled out the Elmekia Lance and continued on a collision course with Zelgadis. He dodged the remainder of the laser breath, using the bright light of the attacks when they collided as a distraction to charge forward with his sword. Zelgadis only managed to make a small cut on Cleo's hand, as she quickly reacted by trying to claw him. She growled loudly, shooting out another laser breath that sent Zelgadis on the retreat once more.
While Cleo was focused on fighting Zelgadis, Xellos continued casting the Dragon Slave. "I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands. Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess."
Cleo stumped on the ground making it trembled as she dashed forward, slashing away at Zelgadis who kept narrowly dodging. She suddenly spun on one foot, swinging her tail. The long tail of golden scales collided harshly with Zelgadis, sending him to land hard on the ground. If he wasn't a chimera, he would have probably broken a bone. With another loud roar, Cleo tried to sink her claws into Zelgadis. His skin proved to be resistant enough, but the chimera was still in pain. He knew he better move when he saw Cleo raising her massive clawed foot to stomp on him. "Ray Wing!"
"Dragon Slave!" Zelgadis had retreated just in time to be out of the way of the Dragon Slave that caught Cleo unprepared. The effect was as usual, with a large crater on the ground, but the foe was not disintegrated this time.
The injured golden dragon emerged from the crater in bad shape, though she wouldn't be that way for long. "Resurrection!" Releasing a massive amount of healing magic, Cleo restored herself back to fighting conditions.
The enraged golden dragon targeted Xellos next, who felt the vibrations on the ground and knew there was something coming. He attempted to retreat enough to dodge it, but didn't get far away enough to avoid the hit from the dragon tail that threw him several feet away. Then a very large scaly claw picked him up from the ground.
Zelgadis realized that this battle would be even more difficult than he thought. Any opponent capable not only of surviving a Dragon Slave, but also of using high level healing with such speed and affectivity, was an extremely deadly foe. "Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite. Everlasting flame of blue, let the power in my soul be called forth from the infinite..."
"What are you? Some kind of giant dragon?" Xellos struggled to get free, but could not. At this rate, that big dragon would crush him to dust. Where was the distraction from before? Did the dragons get rid of it?
"Ra Tilt!" Zelgadis released the powerful spell, which hit the target right on. With another loud roar, Cleo was forced to release Xellos, who was caught by Zelgadis' Ray Wing, which provided a much softer landing than he would have otherwise had. "You better not be hurt too badly or Amelia's going to be really upset."
There was someone casting a Recovery spell on Xellos. As soon as he had recovered a little, he also casted Recovery on himself to make the process faster. "Who are you?" He couldn't help it but to wonder. Filia would have given him a panic filled kiss by now, so it wasn't her. Lina would focus more on the fight than on the healing and Gourry couldn't use spells. Maybe it was Amelia who had come to find him.
"As if I can actually answer that right now," Zelgadis grunted.
"Resurrection!" After a repeat performance of the powerful healing spell, Cleo was once again on the attack. She charged towards Zelgadis and Xellos wildly.
"We have to move!" Zelgadis levitated away, grabbing Xellos by the wrist as he moved. At least there was just enough time to heal him.
Xellos only knew one person with such a stone-like grip. "Zelgadis? I never would have guessed."
"I wouldn't have guessed either," Zelgadis admitted, though he wasn't heard. "You need to get out of here; you can't fight this dragon if you can't see her coming."
"I'm going to cast another Dragon Slave to get rid of the reinforcements," Xellos decided. "By that I mean stop trying to drag me around and go create a distraction." Since when was he willing to team up with Zelgadis anyway? Well, he wasn't, it was more like he had no choice, though he hated to admit he wasn't going to get through this battle without help.
"Reinforcements? There are no reinforcements, just one ridiculously strong golden dragon," Zelgadis uselessly pointed out. 'The Dragon Slave and the Ra Tilt alone won't work. We'll have to hit her at the same time, but synchronizing our spells won't be so easy, especially because casting them is near impossible while we're stuck dodging lasers, claws and a tail like this,' Zelgadis thought.
"Didn't you hear me?" Xellos insisted impatiently, "let go of me, I'm going to cast the Dragon Slave."
"This would be easier if we could communicate somehow," Zelgadis was very frustrated with the way things were going. He would exhaust his energy before he managed to land an effective hit if things went on this way. Cleo flapped her large wings, creating a wind current strong enough to blow Zelgadis away, despite his considerable weight, being part rock golem.
"Fireball!" Xellos threw out an attack when he felt a strong wind that blew him away and would have thrown him further if not because Zelgadis still hadn't let him go. The fireball surprisingly hit its target, though with little effect.
"Wind..." Zelgadis got an idea. He moved away from the line of incoming laser breath attacks, creating a wind current in the same direction as they went. "You're terribly annoying, but you're not stupid, so you better understand this." He stopped, let go of Xellos, gave him a little push forward and created another gust of wind in the same direction. Then he created another minor wind current like a miniature whirlwind and placed it on Xellos' hand.
"What are you trying to do?" Xellos paused, giving the situation some thought. "I get it..."
"Let's see if it's true," Zelgadis created another gust of wind that moved upwards.
"Hit the dragons from above? Easy! Ray Wing!" Xellos flew straight up very high beyond the clouds.
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Back at the inn, Amelia returned with a picnic basket in her hands. "Sorry I took so long. One of the shops in town just imported supplied from far away. They were a bit pricey since this land is still recovering from the famine, though it's not as bad as the towns closest to the main farm lands. They had such yummy looking ice-cream sandwich cookies that I decided to bring some to go with the cold lemonade." Amelia paused in the middle of her speech.
The princess had entered the room and started talking immediately, focusing on trying to fill the atmosphere with positive emotions, since she expected the area to be tense, given that Zelgadis and Xellos had been alone in the room for a while and they didn't really get along. She didn't notice until she was done with her speech that there was no one there. "Zelgadis? Mr. Xellos?" Where could they have gone?
Without another second to waste, Amelia went down stairs, asked the inn keeper to please place her basket of snacks in the icebox for a while, then went off to search the town. She knew she could trust Zelgadis to try to get along with Xellos for her sake, but she still had an uneasy feeling about this. On the bright side, the room's condition had not shown any signs of a battle taking place, thus the apparent fact that they left willingly was at least somewhat comforting.
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Cleo charged forward, she swung her massive tail at Zelgadis, who dodged skillfully and responded with "Bomb Di Wind!" The wind attack hit Cleo head on, but it wasn't enough to damage her. Her attention stayed focused on Zelgadis, as she went on an angry rampage of wild claw slashes, until three subsequent Flare Arrow spells hit her from above. Zelgadis took the opportunity to send a Blade Haut attack Cleo's way, following up with yet another Blade Haut and finally Bomb Di Wind again. The wind attack hit Cleo with a remnant current flying past her as a signal of her location.
Cleo was once again focused on Zelgadis, assuming that Xellos' earlier Flare Arrows were just a lucky shot. Then another trio of consecutive attacks came from the sky, this time Freeze Arrows. The distraction was enough for Zelgadis to go all out, attacking with consecutive successions of Blade Haut. Cleo finally decided that staying on the ground was too troublesome. She didn't know how Xellos was managing to hit her from above, but she could take him down more easily and at the same time free herself of being the target of Zelgadis' Blade Haut, plus have better mobility, if she was flying. Thus the large golden dragon flapped her massive wings and took to the skies.
Flying was exactly what Zelgadis wanted Cleo to do. Zelgadis followed with Levitation, flying several feet above the ground, but still remaining below the dragon, trapping her along with Xellos, who was levitating above Cleo. Zelgadis sent out another Bomb Di Wind, this time making it noticeably stronger. He then aimed at Cleo's wings with a series of Flare Arrows.
Xellos could tell her position from the wind current created by the movement of her large wings and knew she was moving around, angrily chasing after Zelgadis most likely. The wind target signal was stronger this time, which meant it was time to cast a bigger spell. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power grows. I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands."
Cleo was focused on Zelgadis' rapid attacks, trying to knock him out of the skies. The chimera had to put every bit of effort he had into dodging, sending out attacks as often as he could. Cleo appeared to be unaware of it, but several feet levitating above them, Zelgadis saw that Xellos had began to cast the Dragon Slave, which meant he understood the signal and it was time for Zelgadis to add in his own half of the battle tactics. Just as Cleo angrily reached forward to shoot a laser breath attack at point blank, Zelgadis let out a super charged light spell.
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Amelia was hurriedly making her way through the town streets, when she spotted a frustrated looking Filia, "Miss Filia!"
"Amelia?" Filia turned around at the voice, following the sound to spot Amelia making her way over down the street. "I've been searching for that dragon I saw earlier all over town, but I can't find her anywhere. I asked around and people say they saw a pointy eared blond leave town with a man, it was probably her." Filia didn't consider the possibility of Xellos being the man people saw, because he was supposed to be guarded by Amelia. Except for the fact that Amelia was right there without Xellos. "Where's Xellos?"
"Don't worry, he's with Zelgadis," Amelia assured. "I just went out to get a snack for Mr. Xellos. I'll try to help him endure these hard times as best I can."
"Thank you," Filia sincerely voiced. "I appreciate that you're keeping an eye on Xellos and being so helpful, but I thought Zelgadis didn't really get along with him."
"I'm sure they've put their differences aside and become friends by now." Amelia had a look on her face similar to the one she had when giving a justice speech. "In fact, even if the shadow of doubt invades my mind whenever I think about it, even if I can't help it but to feel a little concerned, I know it deep down in my heart that Zelgadis and Mr. Xellos have become great friends! That's why they weren't at the inn when I got back from the store. They must have decided to go out for a walk and get some fresh air like good friends would!"
Filia stared at Amelia. The golden dragon's face went from relatively calm, to concerned, to panicked. "They're gone? We don't know how strong the enemy may be! What if they both got kidnapped?"
"I really don't think that's what happened," Amelia assured. "The room showed no signs of a fight happening there."
"No fighting..." Filia couldn't really imagine Xellos and Zelgadis calmly going out for a walk. Xellos couldn't even tell where he was walking and Filia couldn't imagine Zelgadis being willing to lead him by the hand, very much less Xellos allowing it. Before Filia could decide if she should calm down or worry even more, a brilliant flash of light in the distance outside of town caught her attention. "What was that?"
"I don't know, but my sense of justice tells me that we should investigate!" Amelia bravely declared.
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Cleo was temporarily blinded by the bright light, her movements losing their accuracy, making it easy for Zelgadis to dodge her and cast a spell at the same time. "Source of all souls which dwell in eternal and infinite. Everlasting flame of blue, let the power hidden in my soul be called forth from the infinite..."
Xellos was almost done casting the Dragon Slave. "Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess..." Finishing the spell, he released its powerful force, "Dragon Slave!"
At the exact same time, Zelgadis released his spell as well, "Ra Tilt!"
The two powerful spells collided with Cleo simultaneously, attacking her from the physical and astral plane, leaving her with no escape. After the attacks had passed, the powerful dragon was surrounded by a bright light as she reverted to her elf form and fell to the ground below. She knew this was her end and she didn't want to die as a dragon, she didn't want the world to witness the death of another of her kind in their true form. She lay motionless in a pool of blood on the ground, feeling as if the broken pieces of her mind were fading.
"Zelgadis!" "Xellos!" Amelia and Filia arrived at the scene, rushing over to hug their respective boyfriends. All four of them landed, watching Cleo with perplexity. Except Xellos who couldn't actually look at anything for the time being, but he was glad to have Filia back. Though he would never admit it, if he was caught in the middle of a fierce fight, he was worried about her being caught in the middle of something worse.
Filia was the first to break the silence and address the dieing Cleo. "Were you the one who poisoned Xellos?"
"Poison?" Cleo choked out. "I didn't poison him, I cursed him. It seems he was already under the effects of a stronger curse, so it is no wonder that he didn't sense mine. It's his own fault for accumulating bad karma; I used the negative energy to curse him. Who knows for how long he would have to remain like that if the curse was only to run out when his bad karma does, a very long time, I would guess. However, it seems he will be undeservingly spared, because the death of the curse caster signifies the end of the curse."
Filia stared at the fallen golden dragon, who looked familiar somehow. "Cleo?"
"My name is Cleo Von Rupee, though I was born Cleo Ai Kant..." She closed her eyes as she continued speaking in a strained whisper. "Are you and him the same? Are you the people who freed that town? How could you be? Was it by the legendary Temple of Chronos or by some other means that you made your way to the past? I must know, before I die."
"You really are the same Cleo," Filia realized. "You're the Cleo who was there with my grandmother and my father; you knew them before I existed. That time over nine hundred years ago... Yes, we're the same. We didn't find the Temple of Chronos and I cannot fully explain the means by which we were sent to the past, except by saying it was the will of a being of great power. That was not something we planned, we weren't thrown to that era of our free will, but we ended up getting involved. Are you here because the golden dragons sent you? Have you come alone?"
"The golden dragons are staying out of this, my actions are only representative of my own will," Cleo confirmed. Her voice became weaker and more strained as she went on. "After that time over nine hundred years ago, Narez continued to hold a great admiration for the mysterious human sorcerer and his golden dragon companion. You must have heard the name of Narez Von Rupee before..."
"Of course, who hasn't heard about the mysterious Narez?" Amelia immediately recognized the name. "He's never been known to have public autograph signings, but everyone knows the author of the Fluffy and Ice-cream comics."
"Bad things came from that occasion even if it looked as if it was good," Cleo bitterly revealed.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. The chapter title Size Matters is a reference to Ratchet and Clank. The Temple of Chronos is from Slayers: Light Magic.