Episode 078: Vengeful! The Dragon Slayers' Secret
As Xellos and Filia flew away, Phythan couldn't help it but to innocently wonder. "Why can't Xellos give Filia the antidote here? Maybe it's some kind of complicated spell that requires a lot of concentration and that's why they need to go somewhere without any distractions." He theorized.
Celo laughed nervously, while Tiffany was still abusing his ear. "I just hope she doesn't kill him, dragons can be so sadistic sometimes..." he muttered under his breath.
"What did you say, Mr. Celo?" Phythan inquired as he did not quite catch the remark.
"I said my ear's about to come off!" Celo complained.
Phythan had finally learned his lesson when it came to letting his mouth run away with too many words. He didn't want Tiffany's anger to somehow extend to him if he pleaded for mercy on Celo. Thus he wisely declared, "no comment. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find Miss Medusa and properly apologize or this guilt won't let me live in peace." He transformed, once again paying no mind to the many witnesses, then flew off. At least most of the crowd appreciated the show.
xoxox xox xoxox
The day after the auction started out as a relatively peaceful one. Filia and Xellos were nowhere to be found. Those who knew nothing of the previous day's occurrences assumed they were somewhere around the resort and would turn up soon enough. Those who knew of the previous day's occurrences concluded that it was best not to bother them. Onyx had started working on some edits for her novel, while tiffany dragged Celo around, making him get rid of all the dangerous dragon lust berries. With Amelia and Zelgadis still off on their romantic vacation and Fang taking a long nap after spending the whole previous night eating pet treats, that left Lina and Gourry as the most suitable candidates for a certain mission that Tiffany gave them before she went off with Celo.
The gluttonous duo had been assigned the task of finding Phythan and making sure he didn't stupidly get himself into more trouble than he could handle. Despite being good with luck spells, he was ironically, also good at getting into trouble. Perhaps he didn't cast those spells often enough. With a generous payment being offered half in advance and another half still waiting to be claimed, of course Lina was more than willing to help out. Thus she set out to track down the dragon that had apparently gone off to find the jellyfish that he was trying to get away from the previous day. It made no sense, there was something about apologizing to her, but since when would someone need to apologize to a stalker? Who cares, Lina got paid and that was all that mattered.
After levitating all around above the resort looking for clues, Lina was starting to get tired and of course hungry. She landed on one of a series of protuberant cliffs on the edge of the shores of the Amor Resort island. Taking in a breath of salty beach air, she loudly called out, "Phythan! Where are you?"
Kally and Kalio landed near Lina and Gourry unexpectedly, after having spotted them from the ground and followed them. Before they could explain why they were there, another voice replied. "Miss Lina?"
Those above the cliff searched around for the source of the voice, which seemed to be originating from below. They levitated under the beach-side cliff to find a cavity hidden under the shade of the long cliff with the calm ocean waves reaching into it. "Phythan, this is where you were all along? Why are you in this place?"
"I was flying around looking for Miss Medusa to apologize about hurting her feelings, then I felt dizzy and fell in the ocean. I would have drowned if not because a few friendly sea creatures help me reach this place," Phythan explained.
"Well, I found you, so that means my job is done! Tiffany's worried about you. She probably thinks that Medusa girl kidnapped you or something." When it was all said and done, Lina was glad to have gotten an easy job out of the equation after all.
"Actually, I wasn't able to find Miss Medusa at all," Phythan, who was looking feverish with a tint of red on his face, tried to get up but fell back into a sitting position. "I'm sorry, Miss Lina, could you tell Tifa I'm okay, I think I might have to stay here for a while. I have a really bad headache and the ocean waves help me relax."
Kally and Kalio had matching sour looks on their faces. "Sister, are you certain?" Kalio inquired about something that only the Kalamari siblings seemed to be aware of.
"There's no doubt about it, this is the will of Ceifeed, it is the guidance I requested as a shrine maiden. Brother, this is our answer, we must do this," Kally insisted strongly.
"Right, then I will fight with everything I have!" Kalio bravely declared.
Gourry blinked in his usual clueless fashion. "I'm confused," he informed with a smile. He was confused all the time anyway, so it was nothing to make a fuss about.
"Me too," Phythan added.
"Me three," Lina agreed, "which means the situation actually is confusing. It would be nothing if it was just these two getting lost, but if the brilliant Lina Inverse is puzzled, something strange is going on."
Kally and Kalio both looked unsure, as if they held a dark secret that was about to be revealed. "I'll tell them if you're certain," Kalio offered.
"I was the one who asked for Ceifeed's guidance and received it, I will tell them," Kally insisted.
"I don't care which one of you tells us whatever it is you're going to tell us, as long as you tell us fast!" Lina impatiently rushed, her face showing that it was not a good idea to make her wait any longer.
Kally took a deep breath and began to reveal the story that was a heavy burden for her and her brother. "A long time ago, around nine hundred years ago, there was a town in the world outside the barrier where a group of golden dragons kept humans as slaves, even when the majority of their race frowned upon it. Through a series of events that have received varied interpretations over the years, the town was freed by a pair of travelers, a dragon and a human. The town then became a symbol of peace between the dragons and the humans. However, there were some humans who wished for vengeance and were not willing to forgive the golden dragons. They unfairly judged their whole race as being as evil as the monsters and set out to form a clan of dragon slayers."
Though he had left the task of telling the story to his sister, Kalio couldn't resist but to add to it too. "The dragon slayer clan continued to exist through the generations, living up to its name. At some point, the clan was split into two. There were some who wished to make the dragons their servants and went to extremes with cruel methods. The other half of the clan only slew the dragons that got too close to human villages. The extremists were eventually found and punished by the golden dragons."
"Even so, some of their poisonous recipes were left behind," Kally continued. "That included some peculiar berries which I saw in this resort. They can be in a sense, rather dangerous if ingested by a golden dragon, but the effects are not deadly or permanent." She didn't think it was really necessary to elaborate beyond that. There were no more vital historical explanations for the time being, thus Kally moved on to the main point. "My brother and I are descendants of the Dragon Slayer clan." Rightfully so, both Lina and Phythan's surprise became visible in their facial expressions. As expected, Gourry was just as confused as ever, smiling dumbly.
"We disagreed with their ways," Kalio assured. "That is why we left as soon as the barrier fell and journeyed to the land that was within it before. We realized that the golden dragon race as a whole wasn't bad. The dragons that had been cruel to humans nine hundred ears ago were a minority. Plus in more recent years the golden dragon race has become more receptive to building peaceful relationships with humans."
Kally nodded in agreement as a specific event came to mind. "Prince Philionel sent out people to try to contact the golden dragons and ask for their assistance in helping the lands that were affected by the famine. They responded more readily than anyone expected and have been working alongside Seyruun, Taforashia and other kingdoms. After Princess Amelia's report was received, soldiers from Seyruun were dispatched and were told to be on the lookout for situations in which the land's nutrients were being drained away. They found lesser manifestations of the symptoms, but no culprits were identified."
"I see, then the Green Alchemist's minions are still out there collecting energy from the land. The only difference is that they're being sneakier about it, taking only a little from here and there," Lina concluded. "It might not seem like much right now, but the strain will pile up eventually and future harvests will steadily decrease. Plus the farm lands that were most severely affected were left in such a barren state that they'll be dependant on supplies from other lands for a while."
"Yes, they'll have to rely on a different form of commerce that's not based on the products of the land if they are to recover," Kalio agreed. "Not even the golden dragons can restore the health of the land fast enough for it to be possible to harvest any time soon. At least it has been reported that the magic of the golden dragons that blessed other lands less severely affected has proven to be beneficial."
"I confess we tried to run away," Kally revealed, going back into the topic they had started. "I wished for guidance and felt that my brother and I were destined to face our past. We were happy living in Seyruun, then Nai shows up, calling herself Onyx, with seemingly no memories about our clan. She's so different but I'm sure she's the same person!"
"Wait a minute!" The mention of Onyx caught Phythan's attention. "You know Miss Onyx, you knew her from before? Please tell us about her!"
Once again deviating from the warning Kally intended to give, she took a moment to elaborate upon the inquiry. "Nai was born in the dragon slayer clan; however, she cannot use magic. She also reacts negatively to it. Despite living in what is known as the outer world, the dragon slayers trained in magic, making us a rare group in a land were most people don't have knowledge of magic. Our ancestors originally gained the knowledge by observing the golden dragons while in captivity and developed it further from that basis. I believe the reason Nai cannot use magic is because of a genetic condition. As such, she would be at a disadvantage as a dragon slayer, a liability many would say, thus she was never trained to be one."
"I see," Lina allowed the information to sink in. She tried to understand Onyx, who was originally called Nai, to try to figure out what the Lord of Nightmares could possibly want with her. "It must have been hard for her then. Was she rejected by her clan?"
"Not exactly, though in a sense yes..." Kally elaborated, "she could never reach the rank of the magic users, the rank of a true dragon slayers. But she could help in other ways, working around the village, preparing the slayers equipment, meals and so on. Although, her father was a prominent dragon slayer, so she never had to do much. Her older sister who was capable of using magic, albeit she was only an average dragon slayer in terms of skill, was always praised for her hard work and dedication. Nai on the other hand was a daddy's girl whom her father always sheltered, perhaps he thought she needed more support from him because of her lack of magic and rank."
"Everyone knew that Nai didn't really get along with her sister," Kalio added. "I guess no one can blame Nai, she didn't choose to be born with her condition and it was her father who deprived her of the chance to become self sufficient with his well intended care. Even so, I think she was content to hang around her father's house and read comics all day."
"Until her niece and nephew were born," Kally followed up. "Kalio and I had already left by then, but Nai was my friend and I was secretly exchanging correspondence with her. With her father retiring to a peaceful old age and her sister and brother-in-law busy with work, Nai often got stuck babysitting. The twins were spoiled brats and Nai hated having to baby-sit, she always said she disliked children, but I think it was just those two hyper brats that she disliked."
After a bitter paused, Kally continued, "one day, a dragon attacked the village and Nai's house was burned down. They managed to slay the dragon, but Nai's father gave his life to make sure she and her sister's children were safe. Nai was never close with her mother, who always compared her with her sister, so with her father gone and all her possessions burned to ashes, she had no reason to stay with the clan. She said she was going on a journey to find a new life and that was the last I heard of her. She used to be such a dreamer, always hoping that her prince charming would take her away from the clan, although her luck with men was pretty bad."
Lina was perplexed. Onyx held no power or rank in her past and she didn't appear to be someone who could be used as a hostage for ransom either. What could the Lord of Nightmares want with her? Was it all random? Was Nai simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? What magic did the Lord of Nightmares seal in her? Was it only done because Lina and the others were near by, to play with their heads? If the magic was sealed into her memories, then it was evident that she would have to fully recover her memories to release it, but was it a trap? "Pandora's box..." Lina muttered in uncertainty.
Not understanding, Kally inquired, "what do you mean? What has happened to Nai?" Lina shook her head; there was no need to involve more people in the lord of Nightmares' business. Kally paused, thinking about insisting, but then let things be. Kally had chosen not to speak to Nai until Nai, or rather Onyx, spoke to her, so she shouldn't go asking someone else. "About what we were getting to before," at long last, she finally revealed what needed to be said. "After the attack on the dragon slayer village, we heard that the clan decided to adopt their ancestors' ways and once again become nomads."
"We kept in contact with the blacksmiths and suppliers that assisted the clan on occasion, as their numbers have decreased over time. More people kept getting tired of their senseless battles and abandoned the dragon slayers," Kalio revealed, adding with some bitterness. "But of course, anyone is willing to help their cause if the proper number of coins is given." Lina made no comment on the subject of monetary rewards, instead remaining silent to allow Kalio to continue. "Since dealings with people from outside the clan have increased out of the necessity of the smaller clan, rumors always run faster and money can also buy information."
"Even if they are wrong, what's left of the clan were once our comrades," Kally sadly declared. "There are certain golden dragons that grow a horn similar to a unicorn's horn. This doesn't happen to all golden dragons; it is a rare genetic trait of only a few golden dragons with mixed dimos dragon ancestry. This particular horn is different from the horns other golden dragons have and can be identified by its glow. If the horn is removed, a very sharp blade can be crafted from it."
Lina connected the dots and looked at Phythan, "the horn you have when you transform. It glows, but it's kind of small. Lately it's been glowing brighter though."
"Horn?" Gourry curiously voiced. "That thing on Phythan's forehead is a horn? Wasn't that just a zit?"
Pouting deeply Phythan argued, "how can anyone have such a big and pointy zit that glows? Although I'll admit it is small for a horn. Now that I think about it, I got a headache like the one I have now when that horn first started to grow out a few years ago."
"Since you've been giving us rides now and then, it stands to reason that someone could have seen it," Lina added.
"Exactly," Kalio confirmed. "The dragon slayer clan will come after Phythan. My sister and I did not wish to fight our past comrades and reasoned that everyone would be safe enough in Seyruun, so we both came up with reasons to leave. Then we met up on the road and ended up traveling here together. Maybe it is an inescapable sign that the time has come for us to face the past. The dragon slayer clan has surely followed Phythan here. It is only a matter of time before they seize the opportunity to attack."
"Than we have an upcoming battle on our hands," Lina concluded.
"I was still living with the golden dragons at the time when this horn first started to grow out and went to see a doctor about it. He said I shouldn't expect my horn to grow out completely until I was five hundred and that's still almost a hundred years away. I wonder why it grew out so soon..." Phythan mused aloud. Giving it some further thought, he added as a voiced personal musing more so than a piece of information, "maybe those vitamins Zelas gave me were better than I thought. Monsters have a good side to them after all."
"Vitamins..." Lina noted. Maybe the fact that Zelas decided to accept Phythan as her intern was no coincidence after all. Those vitamins couldn't have been something she gave him merely for his health either. No doubt about it, Zelas must have been trying to make that horn come out sooner, but why? Could she be interested in the weapon that could possibly be crafted from Phythan's horn if it were to be removed? Each new clue brought a group of questions along with it. One step forward and two steps back... "Let's be ready," Lina finally spoke. "When the dragon slayers attack, we can't let them slay Phythan and steal his horn. Gourry and I will help out too." Everything was connected somehow, Lina knew it was, she just wasn't sure how. 'The plans of the Lord of Nightmares...' the redhead sorceress mused, 'Zelas, how much do you know about it that you're not telling us?'
To be Continued
All the details are coming closer to falling into place. Everything is indeed connected and the next few chapters will reveal the details little by little.