Author's Note: So I had a lot of thoughts in my head at the end of Slayers Evolution-R, especially with what we were given with regards to Xelloss's character. After all my obsessive fangirling, I churned this one out in a very short amount of time. Hope you all enjoy :3.
It has been two weeks since we last split paths after the happenings at Taforashia, and you can bet that the Slayers have returned to their own respective adventures in this world. I am back to chasing after treasure and gold with my trusty partner, Gourry, at my side. All is well, and things have been great.
But there is one thing that bothers me. I've noticed it following me—him, rather—but he has yet to show himself or do anything, and there is no reason for me to speak up, either. And yet, at the same time, we both know that we are well aware of each other, so it seems strange that neither of us have said or done anything about it yet. But I guess that's just the nature of our relationship—he and I and that unspoken agreement we have.
So it's strange when, one night, I see him blending in with the crowd, still following me but making it more of an obvious thing. A tiny alarm goes off in my head—noting the sudden change in his pursuit—but we both continue as we were. He will come speak to me when the time is right, I suppose. For the moment, I'll let things keep going just as they are.
And I was right. Two days later, I could feel it in the pit of my stomach that he was only a few feet from me—invisible, but nonetheless a mere few feet from me. And then I guess I thought I should finally speak up, since he wasn't going to come out unless I called him.
So I stopped on the road and turned around with my hands on my hips before calling out to him, "Well, why don't you come out now? You've been hiding there for who knows how long."
He appeared before us, hovering in the air with his hand tucked sheepishly behind his head. "Oh, how expected of you, Lina-san! When did you take notice of me?" he asked, playing along with the ruse.
"Not too long ago," I replied, and saw that Gourry was clearly taking the bait. He seemed to need a moment to allow his memory to process, for he lingered on the priest—hand shading his eyes from the sun—before pointing at our floating acquaintance and exclaiming, "Ah! Xelloss!"
The mazoku tipped his head and gave the blond a light, cheery wave. "Gourry-san, how do you do?"
I stepped forward, hoping to make it a point that it would be easier for me to speak to him if he would come to the ground, and he did. I stopped a couple of feet away from him, making eye contact with his mysterious façade, and we exchanged words of silence before I lifted my hand and extended it to him.
I saw him lift an eyebrow, and that pleased me a bit to be able to confuse the master of chicanery. "I never got the chance to properly thank you for what you did back there," I explained.
The eyebrow slid down to its usual spot, and he continued to smile at me. He knew what I was talking about—during that fight with Shabranigdo, I would have been swallowed up by the dark lord if he hadn't stepped in. And what was most astounding about it was that he interfered not once, but twice!—even being so reckless at such a critical moment. Truly, I owed him my thanks.
He took my hand and shook it. From his spot leaning forward towards me—in that moment that he and I shared—I saw a glimmer of his violet eyes seep through that firm mask of his, and I felt my heart begin to accelerate. There was something so wild and profound hidden behind there that I couldn't stop my instincts from reacting to it. I swallowed a knot in my throat. "Thank you," I said in a voice barely louder than a whisper.
"It was my pleasure," he replied, seeming to chuckle at me. He let go of my hand and stood waiting for me to make the next move.
I contemplated him. I felt like he was acting a little weird, but I couldn't figure out why. I had a lot of questions. Where should I start?
"Can I ask you a question, though?"
His grin seemed to get wider, but I wasn't sure if that was my mind playing tricks on me. "Sure."
"I still don't understand why you helped us. Even if it was just a ghost, that was still Shabranigdo back there..." I trailed off momentarily, recalling how I had felt the exact same pressure from the ghost as I had from the real thing years ago. "It just doesn't make sense to me why you would fight against your own dark lord."
"If an imposter impersonated your king, would you lay your head down and accept him?" he offered in response.
I nodded my head. "Point taken. But that still doesn't explain the conflict." I looked him in the eyes. "Why would you want to stop the destruction of the world? I thought that was the goal of all mazoku?"
"It is. But we will be the ones to destroy it."
I furrowed my eyebrows at him. "But why does that matter anyway?"
I could see his eyes—though still hidden—laughing at me. "I suppose this would be hard to explain to a human, and that is why humans have always decided to side against our kind," he began. "But perhaps you would understand, Lina-san, as you have combated your fate from then until now."
I blinked. "What do you mean?"
He raised a finger at me. "The power to make one's own choices and decisions, Lina-san," he said as he wagged it. "That is an essential component to our kind's desire."
I almost spoke again, but then I hushed myself. I think I was beginning to understand—what it was that the mazoku desired and the reasons for the conflict between them and the ryuuzoku—a race who dwells entirely on fate. It was not something as simple as the destruction of the world—that was just a means to an end. Their desire is something much more complex than that.
I saw the satisfaction manifesting in his grin. He could tell that I was beginning to understand it—he could tell that my knowledge was growing, and I was beginning to realize that the books were wrong, the theories were wrong, and that in itself maintained the balance of the world. It was ironic how similar the goals of the ryuuzoku and mazoku have become—or rather, always have been—for it seems that we all have an undeniable respect for the rule of balance that has permeated our world.
"Okay," I said, changing the question. "Then explain to me why you saved us."
"Because you were all I could count on," he replied easily.
"No, no. I mean why was it that you could save us so recklessly." I mean, it was strange that turn-tail-and-run Xelloss actually took a hit or two for me. You can't blame me for wanting to know why.
"It is still exactly as I said, Lina-san," he answered. "You were the only one who could stop the ghost of Ruby Eye-sama."
I formed my lips into an angry line. "But to risk your own existence in doing so seems to go against your needs as a mazoku."
He chuckled lightly. "Oh Lina-san, surely you don't think me so simple?"
I was beginning to be convinced otherwise. Nowadays, the mazoku race seemed anything but simple. "Maybe," I replied. Then I rephrased the question, "But nothing would have stopped you from finding another, equally qualified candidate. So then why me? Why us?"
"You already know the answer to this question," he said. "I said before that the only power that could surpass a dark lord is the power of the Mother of all things. To use any other approach would not only be futile, but would also upset the balance of this world."
"I see," I said, dropping my head a little bit. "So in other words, you were using me."
He put a finger to his mouth momentarily, pondering. "Let's see…I guess that's what you would call it."
A vein popped out on my forehead. I rubbed it away, massaging gently at my temples. When I felt calm enough, I raised my head and made eye contact with him again. He was still waiting for me to make the next move.
"How long have you been following me?"
"Since the last time we exchanged words."
"Why did you not say anything?"
"Even if you want me to, I can't just show myself as you desire. Beastmaster-sama would be angry with me."
"Why did you show yourself now?"
"Because I was about to leave."
I sighed, a little exasperated by his rather frank and yet annoying answers. And then I felt a little bit of melancholy from realizing that this conversation was quickly drawing to an end. A glance at him told me that when he said he was about to leave, he meant that it would be another permanent departure—until our paths decide to cross again, if they ever did. I'll be crossing my fingers that they won't.
But then there was one more thing—one more crucial point to all of this that has been bothering me all this time.
"So then, why are you still following me?"
Somewhere inside me I realized he would not answer this one, and the reason for that I did not know, but I figured I might as well lay all of my cards out while he is in the mood for Q&A, since this is Xelloss we are talking to and these types of opportunities are rare with him. We might have had a better relationship if not for that annoying side of his. I entertained the thought.
So as expected, he waved his finger at me and clearly took delight in using his favorite phrase: That would be a secret. At my obvious discontent with his answer, he waved at me and took his leave, leaving me with the uncertain promise that this would not be our last meeting.
"Until we meet again."
I sighed. "What a difficult person," I commented aloud, realizing he had gotten away with the upper hand this time. Then I patted Gourry on the shoulder and said, "Well then, let's get going," and he simply smiled in agreement with me. Sometime further down the road, as we continued to walk in each other's company, I realized that there was one more question I had about Xelloss, and that it was directed at me.
"So then why did you feel this happy to have been followed?"
I entertained the thought and giggled a little bit inwardly. "What a difficult person," I mused again, though this time in lighthearted jest. Gourry cast me a quizzical look, and I shook my head at him. Indeed, to make me feel conflicted between wanting and dreading his company—he was definitely a difficult one.
Author's Note: Yup. That's it. Hope you liked it :D. See my profile for a personal message to readers...and please leave a review :3.