In the only Pepto-Bismol pink torture chamber on the planet, our favorite mazoku general and priest sits, tapping his foot anxiously.  One can hear the faint sounds of children laughing, as well as music that vaguely resembles tunes floating from an ice cream truck.

Xellos: (Trying to keep from turning a pale green from the horrible glee the room resonates with) Why did Zelas-sama loan me to Rambler-sama any way?

Amelia: (Gleefully skips into the room, big stars in her eyes) Hello Xellos-san!

Xellos: (beaming on the outside, slightly weary on the inside) Why, hello Amelia-san! I must say, I wasn't expecting to see you here.

Amelia: Rambler-san wanted me to help her introduce her 1st Slayers story. 

Xellos: (smiles pleasantly to hide his confusion) I see...  (Gets up from chair, getting ready to teleport out of the hell-hole) Then I guess Rambler-sama decided not to use me.

Amelia: Oh no, Xellos-san! (Suddenly Xellos is magically strapped down to the chair, and various crow bars and chains appear to hold the priest in place) Rambler-san wanted you to be here as well!

Xellos: (smile still in place, but sweat dropping) Oh, well if that is what Rambler-sama wishes.

Amelia: She thought it wouldn't be just if you weren't here, seeing as you are one of the main characters and all.

Xellos: (raised eyebrow) I am?!

Amelia: (Smiling giddily) I'll answer your questions later, Xellos-san. (Turns toward the reader) Right now I have to introduce the story. Dear readers, this (pauses dramatically for effect) is a love story.

Xellos: (Now a lovely sea-green color)

Amelia: (Large stars in her eyes, romantic music playing in the background) Yes, this story is about the love between a beautiful golden dragon and a dangerous mazoku trickster priest overcoming adversity-

Xellos: (More of a deeper green, perhaps a pea color?) Wait, that selfish dragon?! (Has a fit of nausea) NEVER!

Amelia: (Snaps her head in the direction of Xellos) It is very unjust to interrupt, Mr. Xellos! (Turns back to the audience) This story is about their love overcoming all obstacles, and triumphing over all! (Squeals with joy)  It takes place in an alternate reality, so that Rambling Coffee Addict can twist and bend the Slayer universe to her control-freak will (lightening strikes in the background, Amelia sweat drops) Er… any way, Rambler does not own Slayers, but she does own this torture chamber, as well as all of the instruments that are keeping Xellos in the chair.     

 Xellos: (Getting over his nausea) Someone, somewhere, HELP!

Amelia: On with this beautiful, touching story about the choices we make in this wonderful life, and the love that is possible if we only open our hearts! (Eyes are big and teary as she strikes a justice pose)

Xellos: Dear Shabrignado, GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Prologue

Guardians

All around her, the forest burned.  Screams rose like the heated smoke, blood poured like water at every turn.  And she was the cause.    Standing above the chaos, one might not have guessed she was the infamous bandit slayer.  She was petite and lithe, her form covered in a fitted uniform of pink and yellow. Her hair was like tongues of fire rolling down her heavy black cape.  Cute, sharp features were set a glow by the flames, making her cheeks seem rosy and her eyes glow in an almost inhuman crimson light.  She was Lina Inverse, the enemy of all that lived (not that that particular title should be repeated to her face). In five more seconds, she would serve up more destruction, with a casual smirk.

            But it was really all a waste of time.  Nothing of interest could be found among this particular group of bandits, whatever their names were.  Sure they had gold and stuff, she would have no problem pawning her newly taken loot, but they hadn't put up much of a fight.  She threw a few fire balls and they were all running away like sissies, screaming frantically as they moved with all the finesse of a chicken with its head cut off.  No, the real problem was the fact that she was getting bored much too quickly.  Much, much too quickly, especially considering how early it was. 

            With a heavy sigh, she exuberantly addressed the group of burning bandits before her.  "Well, it's has been a blast," That was a pun; boy was she out of it, "But I really must be going."  She turned and bounced away, cloak billowing behind her, totally unconcerned with the idea of them following her.  It really could only serve to make things more interesting anyway.  

            A lone figure moaned as he moved in agony across the dirt, his arms and legs terribly burned.  He blew the blue hair out of his face as he reached up one shaky burned hand at the retreating back of the sorceress.  The trembling hand turned into a fist of rage, pounding into the ground before the figure lapsed into unconsciousness. 

            "Well," a cheerful voice chirped, "I think that went quite well, don't you?" The figure hovering above Lina Inverse's right shoulder turned to his seething companion.  He smiled at the way a single fang seemed to pop out whenever she was royally pissed with him. 

            "'Well', you namagomi mazoku?!"  The young woman on Lina's left shoulder shrieked. "'Well'!?  She just toasted over 30 bandits!"  She grabbed her blond hair in frustration; once again the bastard had managed to have more influence over their charge than she did.  WHY, CEPHEID, WHY?!

            The mazoku chuckled, his arms lazily crossing behind his head. "And wasn't it fun?!"  He sighed deeply at the memory of the delicious mixture of fear, chaos and confusion the bandits had fed him.

            It was all a game to him, and she hated him for it.  "THERE IS MORE AT STAKE THEN HAVING FUN YOU PIECE OF GARBAGE!"  Suddenly, the woman whipped out a mace from underneath her priestess robes and proceeded to chase after the mazoku, swinging wildly. "Bastard!  HOLD STILL!"

            The mazoku phased out of the way with ease, shaking his head in disapproval.  "Such a violent little dragon." He admonished, his dark purple hair covering his eyes as he smiled at her.  "No wonder Lina causes so much property damage."  She was twitching again.  How perfectly lovely!

             The dragon glared daggers at him, her big sapphire eyes forming narrow slits. "Me?" Her voice was poison beneath its honey coating.  "No, Xellos, she wouldn't be this destructive if you didn't manipulate her. You're the one endangering our charge's soul."

            Xellos' boyish features formed a fake pout, his eyes closed as he stood before her.  "Oh my! What harsh accusations from you, Filia-san.  I would like to think that our charge owes her exquisite temper to our combined efforts!" He beamed, hands joyously clasped together. 

            "Gee Xellos," Filia looked at him dryly, "When did you become so generous?"

            Ooh, she just set herself up for it.  "Well, unlike some selfish dragons," He grinned unabashedly, opening one icy amethyst eye to mock her, "I was always taught to share!"

            The mace once again flew toward his head. "NAMAGOMI!"

            It is a well known fact among higher beings that the human race was a rather indecisive bunch.  The mortals couldn't make a firm decision between following the heart or the head, between individuality or the group, or even boxers or briefs for that matter.  Moreover, they seemed to wander around in a gray haze of morality, stumbling around forever before making a simple decision.  And often, the celestial beings noticed, it was a decision that led them to the darker areas of the fog, rather than the light.

            Obviously these mortals needed help; a lot of help.  Okay, who are we kidding; tons, and TONS of help.  And the ryuuzoku thought they were just the god race to step up to the proverbial plate.  They took it upon themselves to initiate what was termed a "Soul Guardian" program, in which golden dragons would subtly influence the thoughts and actions of humans in their various times of moral chaos.  Realizing some humans were "more important than the average fishmonger", they decided to grace certain humans who were important to the fate of the world with special benefits.  They would "enjoy" the unconscious company of a ryuuzoku, who would be stationed with them throughout their lives.  This gave the god race the best chance of keeping the world in one piece and influencing the mortals toward the path of righteousness. 

            When the mazoku race got wind of the ryuuzoku's rather insidious plot, they immediately pulled the nastiest and most vicious tactic they could think of.  The mazoku tattle-tailed to the Lord of Nightmares and claimed what the ryuuzoku were trying to do was sneaky, manipulative, and underhanded.  It was totally shocking and appalling behavior for a supposed god race.  In other words, it should really be the mazoku who should be allowed to pull such a stunt.

            The Lord of Nightmares decided to actually mediate between to the two races after the War of Monsters Fall, in which it seemed as if too many of the dragons were being eliminated by the monsters.  She held a meeting between the Cepheid and the head of the Dark Lords, Hellmaster Phibrizzo, and taking time out of her busy schedule of watching the unfolding events of four universes.     After much whining, accusations, and welts over the head from the Lord of Nightmare's golden shovel, it was decided both would be allowed to sway humans in moral confusion.  Both were also allowed to follow some of the more influential humans throughout their lives. 

            One such influential individual was the self-proclaimed sorcery genius Lina Inverse.  From time she was an infant her "guardians", Filia, and Xellos, had watched over her.  Though she wasn't aware of it, the mazoku and ryuuzoku were clamoring in her head from the age of 3 months, when Filia had begged in vain for the baby to have some consideration for her family (and her invisible ryuuzoku companion) and stay asleep or at least quiet at two in the morning.  Xellos, of course, had urged the babe to wail until dawn, telling her Mommy would feed her more that way.  They swayed her actions subtly, affecting everything from the quickness of her temper to her belief in holding off on relationships in favor of waiting for the perfect "prince charming" (totally Filia's fault, in Xellos's opinion).   The only tangible trace of her constant companions Lina experienced was the almost daily migraines she got.  This is not to say all guardians caused their charges such migraines, no, Lina was just lucky enough to get one of the most volatile pair of guardians out there.

            Most ryuuzoku and mazoku guardian relationships followed a particular pattern.  They never spoke to the other, rather always addressing their charge.  The ryuuzoku stayed silent out of fear, spite, and stubbornness, and the mazoku out of pure disdain.  Neither acknowledged the others presence unless absolutely necessary, and it usually never was.  Their mutual hatred was a thick wall of ice which somehow made them able to work in the constant presence of the other by simply ignoring them.

            But the relationship of Lina's guardians departed from the straight and narrow path usually followed by the two races.  It wasn't that both one of them liked the other, so much as that they chose to express their hatred in a different fashion; through fiery and bitter verbal battles and scuffles.  Or at least Xellos chose to, since he always considered himself to have somewhat of an independent streak, and Filia just sort of followed suit through his provocations.   

            The truth was Filia simply didn't know any better.  This was her first assignment as a guardian, and he was going out of his way to make it the most excruciatingly painful experience he could.  Why shouldn't she try to maim him every once and awhile? Everyone needs to release tension now and then.

            The most ironic part of Filia's predicament was she had been honored and excited when her people had chosen her to be a life-long soul guardian to a mortal.  No matter how many solemn speeches she received on how she was being given a new "duty and burden", she genuinely thought it was a complement to be put in such an important position.  Now she realized it was more likely that no one else would work with Xellos.  She wasn't necessarily one of the more talented of the golden dragons; she was just one of the more gullible.  The bitterness of knowing she was the one stuck with the hot potato in this crazy game of life also made her feel the need to take her frustrations out on her mazoku counterpart. 

            One of the things which truly frustrated Filia about Xellos was she couldn't understand why he was a soul guardian at all.  He was the highest ranking mazoku under the Dark Lords for Cepheid's sake.  He had killed thousands of her kind with a lone finger.  While he did disappear once and awhile, he spent most of his time working on the sorceress.  Why wasn't he out reeking havoc or taking over the world (not that Filia wanted him to do anything of the sort)?   

            It was her suspicion he had stayed so frustratingly close to their charge and herself just to piss her off.  To Xellos, making Filia cry was a fine art, and making her angry was a hobby.  It really made the time pass faster when she whipped out her beloved mace-sama in an attempt to wipe the smirk off his trickster's mask.  Not to mention she did give him a delectable view of her thigh.

            Xellos was about to manipulate her into giving him such a view when a sense of foreboding filled him.  They had been following Lina through the woods after her recent encounter with the bandit village for a few hours now without any incident.  The forest seemed peaceful; birds twittering, their path shaded by the lush trees curving and stretching to drink up the blinding sunshine.  But it would seem that was about to change.  His face became serious, his mouth tightening as his hands gripped his gnarled wooden staff. 

            Filia raised a perplexed eyebrow at his frown.  "What namagomi?"

            He turned to look at Lina before scanning the forest through closed eyes.  He could see her shoulder muscles tighten beneath her black cloak; she obviously felt it too.  Brows creased, he answered Filia in an unusually low and quiet voice. "It's begun."

            Innocent blue eyes widened in shock. "What?"  This was not the Xellos she knew and despised.  He all most never lost his calm over something besides her taunts.  No, her Xellos never seemed pensive, yet this person seemed to be exactly that.

            Xellos opened his mouth, seeming to want to say something.  Not just another line, but actually be honest with her.  Something inside him wanted to tell her the danger that was lurking ahead, the peril their charge had stumbled upon by raiding the bandit village last night.  He could see she was waiting in quiet anticipation.  But then the old loyalties and resolve firmed up whatever her wide pleading eyes softened, so he went back to being the bane of her young existence.  Wagging his finger, he spoke smartly "Sore wa himitsu desu!" Besides, the role of her tormentor makes things much more interesting, he thought to himself as the mace went flying toward his head for the fifth time that morning.

            Filia screamed in inarticulate rage, chasing her fellow guardian to and fro, as a group of bandits began to surround Lina Inverse, quietly waiting to strike.   Too consumed with fury, the ryuuzoku guardian failed to notice Lina run a short distance ahead, and call out in a cocky voice "Why don't you just come out?" Her eyes darted about the bushes and trees, challenging the vengeful bandits to make their move.

            And so they obliged her.   A haughty, gruff voice answered her, "We've finally got you, girl!"

            Xellos is still strapped down in wooden chair in the center of the sickeningly pink room.  He seems mildly sick, but not in any immediate danger of keeling over and croaking.

Xellos: (Smiles brightly) Well now, that wasn't SO bad! Not to mention the violent little dragon had a few temper tantrums too! This might actually be fun.

Amelia: (Grins in an insidious manner that only Chucky, the evil doll could replicate) Oh, but Xellos-san, the fun is just beginning…

Xellos: (gulps) Um, readers, please, for the sake of all that is evil and unholy, GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Amelia: (Smiles much more sweetly) So dear readers, please tell Rambler what you think.  If anyone likes it, she will keep writing, if not… well she will just return to her other billion ideas. 

Xellos: AND THEN I WILL BE FREE!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! (Giggles insanely to himself)

Amelia: (rolls eyes) Hardly. Rambler-san would just find some other way to torture you into going insane.

Xellos: Nothing could be as bad as this.

Amelia: Ever heard of the Carpenters? Hanson? Richard Simmons? Oh and then there is Shirley Temple... (Gets a dreamy look on her face) I love Shirley… She's the greatest!

 Xellos: (Twitches) Never mind…