Disclaimer: To reiterate: Slayers is not my own work and thus neither Xellos nor Zelgadis are my property. I don't even own a zebra, though I do own some stripy socks.


Moonlight

Depraved work of Valeria H

With this latest acquisition held securely within his grasp, Xellos' smile spread to obscene – and quite frankly disturbing – magnitudes. If Lina Inverse or her cohorts were watching then they would have labelled this as 'suspicious'. To the casual observer in the inn he found himself stranded in, this would be modified to the basic description of 'lunatic'.

Seated in the grimy confines of that inn's bar, the priest let his head rest in his open palm, elbow propped against the unkempt bench that he sat at and glared at the ineffective liquid that had sat unassumingly before him this past hour. Alcohol didn't affect him directly but it was disturbing him through the means of the bar's few other occupants, most of them intensely inebriated. This explained why more than one of them had approached him and attempted to chat up a Mazoku or, as they saw it, a celibate priest. In truth it was flattering, but unless their skin was stone and they had a propensity for varied and interesting emotional turmoil then he would borrowing his mistresses latest unsettling line and proclaiming "I'm just not that into you."

Yet even his sudden rise in popularity could do very little to curb his present enthusiasm. Three days of top secret intelligence gathering had yielded a result, one that was ensconced within the leather bindings of an average journal, with hopefully not so average contents. The reason for three days? When his mistress had said that she would do some investigating into his current problems, Beastmaster had insisted that she would be completed within that time frame. Apparently three days was the standard for humans; they travelled relentlessly for three days, awoke after grievous injury in the same time period and thus his mistress had felt compelled to compete with the mortals and complete her research in three days. He smiled further at her work ethic to complete what looked like a novel.

Content yet creepy smile still in place, Xellos finally opened to the first page and a title which Zelas had obviously put a lot of thought into for describing her current pet project, for penned out in her bold yet messy scrawl was:

You and your 'Zebra'

The art of interaction with such a beast

Feeling his excitement building, there was little for him to do but stare at the absurd title. Forget the Claire Bible Manuscript! This was the ultimate source of knowledge and at first glance his mistress had done a wonderful job in assisting him with this particular mission. Though she had termed it more as obsession, but she was still amused by the fascination.

Flipping to the next page the priest noticed that the writing had changed for a contents page, showing the book was divided into seven sections of study. Obviously his mistress had taken some pride in her work, probably intimidated someone else into printing her masterpiece. Ah, he was so lucky to have such a magnificent mistress.

Upon further inspection, the trickster noticed that the messy scrawl dominated the side margins on some pages. Curious as to why she would be writing her own notes in here if she had someone else doing it, Xellos turned back a page so he could start from the beginning of her train of thought.

Chapter Two: Zebra Nature

Prior research material claims that many animals exhibit a 'fight or flight' reaction to danger. This same research also places the zebra firmly in the flight category. However, studious observation and stalker-like behaviour over our three day adventure have disproved this theory. The 'Zebra' in question is most definitely in the fight category, having responded to obligatory bandit attack with Wind Brid.

Moving his gaze away from the main text, his eyes squinted as he worked to decipher the haphazard notes that were seemingly the author's insight into the subject matter of her intense investigation.

My stalking holiday has also revealed that the 'Zebra' has found its natural enemy in purple haired Mazoku priests. This conclusion comes from witnessing the Ra Tilt released in a way that is quite reminiscent of the infuriated Inverse Dragon Slave. Sorry darling, you'll need to release some of that pent-up frustration the 'Zebra' has before you can achieve your final objective. From personal experience, the best way to do this is to pin them to a hard surface and then carefully insert a finger –

Purple eyes wide open in a somewhat terrified fashion, the pages made an abrupt and final sound as they collided from Xellos' embarrassment. The messy scrawl was...was...her own damn opinions! And, even worse, her suggestions! As his face burned with the humiliation of even thinking about his 'Mother' doing something like that, he hurled the book along the length of the seedy bar and watched in satisfaction as it dropped off the end into the abyss of a floor.

Glaring at where he knew the innocent looking journal lay, he could easily visualise how the text was divided up. Neat print equated to the factual evidence while messy scrawl was only the sordid delusions of an amused Mazoku Lord. So ultimately his prized treasure was actually useless and there was no choice but to burn the book, as well as his eyes if that could remove the mental image of...no, that was just wrong!

Chin on the splintered wood of the bench, pouting spectacularly, Xellos allowed himself a short sulking period before allowing his thoughts to clamour for his attention. He studiously avoided the one that was wondering who Beastmaster had experimented her technique on and addressed what he thought of as the voice of reason. What if someone else saw the knowledge in that book? Such crucial data couldn't be permitted to be held by his enemies, nor could it ever fall into the hands of Justice seeking princesses who were sure to sway a lonely zebra to the light side.

Nodding at his convincing argument the priest removed himself from the uncomfortable stool and walked briskly towards the abandoned volume. Collecting it from its current disgusting environs he tilted his head to the side and looked at the leather cover, definitely not its contents, as he debated whether it would be worthwhile keeping it. Giving another quick nod he slipped the tome into the confines of his astral clothing, suppressing a shudder as he could just feel it contaminating his existence. Wandering away from the depressing hole this inn called a bar, Xellos went off to find someone more amusing to feast on and annoy.


Relaxing on his quarries bed the beloved antagonist was once more entranced by the deceiving journal. Despite dismissing it as useless Xellos still felt drawn towards his mistress' gift. The servile side of him felt honoured that she would present him with something she had invested so much of her time, energy and...personal experience into, though he wished she had excluded some of the details. The curious side of him wanted to know all that she had ascertained in her three day exploratory mission and disturbingly enough why she had this personal experience to share. Meanwhile, the amused side of him wanted to uncover more of how her mind had misinterpreted and twisted non-Mazoku behaviour into something she could understand.

It was those damn suggestions, the untidy scrawl that was set to haunt his mind for the rest of his existence. Every word seemed to shout her encouragement and teasing. From a second quick look at the authors additions, he had noticed some letters seemed a bit disproportional to the others and could imagine her shaking with laughter as she penned them. It didn't help that these letters belonged to words he hoped never to hear from her mouth.

Rereading a particularly disturbing suggestion that corresponded to Chapter Four: Nuances of Zebra, he began to tilt the book for a better look. He didn't remember asking for diagrams to be included in this research operation and had to wonder what kind of fetishes she had developed over her many years. Why was she obsessed with...looking up from the book he thought about her point and concluded that, yes, she may actually have a point. For beings with wire hair that hair was particularly fluffy. But still, there was no need to draw a diagram that had the hair labelled with you have some weird fantasies darling, but you should consider this wire problem before have Zebra s–

Once more the pages quickly pressed against one another, this time from his mistress' thoughts as well as the approaching saunter of his prey. Sitting up on his knees his body was practically vibrating from the excitement. Nobody laughed at a Mazoku and could continue on without consequence! Unable to control the anticipation completely he began to bounce up and down on the mattress. Though normally he'd prefer to seem completely relaxed and at ease he was certain that this course of action would have the added benefit of relieving him of some enthusiasm and annoying the target even more.

As the door opened and an incarnation of fire stepped tiredly across the threshold, previously unseeing eyes began to awaken with recognition before bypassing the more gentle options of greeting and well-wishing, instead detouring into the explosive territory ruled by frustration and tantrums. Ruby eyes were beginning to narrow with suspicion as well as the customary annoyance he had come to feast upon. Cloth pulled at the seams as fists clenched in response to the invasion of privacy that was Xellos: Mysterious Priest and teeth unconsciously gnawed on the delicate flesh that had fallen victim to the petite sorceress's irritation.

Feeling the growing animosity unfolding within his quarry the priest relaxed as Mazoku nature took control of his actions and allowed his mind to wander away from his studies. The sorcery genius had always been a great distraction and her current acrimony was sating his appetite. There was no arguing with certain truths: Lina Inverse was, had always been and would always be fun to annoy!

"Xellos, get–" Cerise eyes shut him out from the inner workings of what he could feel was an enraged mind. "–your astral ass–" Now the red haired girl's voice was growing, her breathing emerging as a light pant as she threw the frustration he was feasting on directly at him. "–out of here–" He watched as her body was vibrating with the rapidly losing battle of suppressing her antagonism at this moment and he waited in anticipation of the inevitable finale. As eyes that could have shamed Shabranigdo snapped open once more the fury finally reached boiling point "–BEFORE I BLAST IT OUT OF HERE!"

Ceasing the bouncing that was at least contributing to her frustration, Xellos watched as Lina's breaths came in quick pants, regaining what little composure that she possessed. His face twisted into an uncharacteristic, and completely fake, frown as he observed his companion. Tilting his head to the side in what his current reading material termed as the inquisitive and disarming move all 'Zebra' kind aspire to unleash upon their unsuspecting prey the words left before he had time to think of the consequences and in a tone that was far less playful than he would have liked.

"Do you not enjoy my company Miss Lina?"

The panting subsided with a sharp click as her teeth collided and eyes began to narrow once more, though more out of distrust than true hatred. As a somewhat soothing grinding sound was all that filled the silence a pissed "What?" was flung haphazardly towards him. Obviously it had been a long day for her.

A more characteristic pout appeared for the Mazoku as he elaborated in response to her question. "But Miss Lina, I enjoy your company."

At last her eyes opened to their normal size and Xellos felt her exhaustion long before he registered the gusty sigh that overwhelmed the additional anger to normal 'Lina-ness'. She shut the door behind her at last and wandered away from the entrance towards the rooms sole window. The trickster noted that with the exception of the door it was the point in the room furthest from his precarious perch on the end of her bed. "You only enjoy people's company so you can annoy them and then feed on that annoyance. It's not a social interaction for you, more a necessity."

Though she did not turn to face him, still preferring the view of outside their prison to the other inhabitant, he couldn't suppress his smile at her words as he watched her. " Well, that is partly true."

"And the other part is you annoy them because it amuses you."

"My, my, that is indeed most of it Miss Lina." Something in his words caused her to turn abruptly and look at him in slight shock. "I'm impressed you've figured this much out. You obviously–"

"What else is there?" Her question left her quickly in an exhaled breath of confusion tingled with fascination.

Haltingly he finished his sentence as without the slightest intention of answering her. "–quite well."

"Xellos?"

"Perhaps you don't know me as well as I had hoped Miss Lina, for that–"

"Xellos!"

"– is a secret."

"GET OUT!" was screeched at him as he begun to dematerialise from her room, fireball already in place to remove him forcibly should he refuse. Laughing at the absurdity Xellos obeyed her request. He was full now anyway.


Appearing suddenly on the other side of the door the trickster lifted astral arms above his head and contemplated what to do now with his time. While Lina had been fun and the concept of being forcibly removed from a human's room would amuse him for the evening it just wouldn't be the same to laugh about it by himself. He pondered finding his mistress and enlightening her to the notion of being evicted from somewhere that he could materialise whenever he wanted but quickly thought better of it. Though he was sure she would be amused, Xellos himself would only be disgusted as thoughts of Zelas doing unspeakable horrors to poor defenceless mortals would fill his mind. Then Zelas would be even more amused and her priest nauseated.

Observing movement in his peripheral vision, the traumatised Mazoku turned in time to catch a glimpse of another familiar figure that was striding towards him. Feeling warmth bubbling up within him that had noright to be present he allowed his customary smile to bloom onto his face as Zelgadis wandered down the hallway and away from him. Xellos felt the warm bubble pop and its droplets tumble down into what his mortal companions would term his stomach and his mood plummeted with it as the moody shaman paused only to open a door two rooms down before moving gracefully inside.

Leaning back against Lina's door while his gaze rested unwavering upon another that might as well have been a world away, Xellos reached into his robes, commanded his mistress to promptly remove her mind from the gutter and withdrew the sacred artefact that he was quickly becoming addicted to.

Opening to the contents page he allowed a single pale digit to rest on the print and saunter gently downwards as his mind gave into curiosity and began its saunter into fantasy. As his finger encountered the current source of inquisitiveness he quickly ruffled the pages, searching for the appropriate chapter that would have the answers he sought.

Chapter Five: Sleeping with Zebra

What goes on in the darker hours? Come on, I know you're interested. After all, you can't see what is occurring behind that door and, metaphorically of course, it's killing you. Curiosity has taken hold of you at the mere though that 'Zebra' could be sleeping soundly but could just as easily be partaking in far more stimulation activities.

Unfortunately, results of this experiment have concluded that exciting activities are in short supply among 'Zebra' kind and that instead they prefer to do the following:

1. Reading old and boring books

2. Drinking coffee

3. Sleeping

4. Mumbling about annoying Mazoku

5. Tossing and turning

6. Shouting

7. Jolting out of sleep and panting (in a non-aroused way)

8. Moaning

9. Jolting out of sleep and panting (in an aroused way)

This concludes the current activities that occur "behind closed doors" at the present time. Further inquiry by priestly parties may be required to confirm this, as well as to introduce events 10-12 which will hopefully be more fascinating. Although...events 8 and 9 seem to be moving in the right direction.

Well, an order was an order. Further inquiry from priestly parties was obviously needed to verify the research. Stowing the book back in his robes, Xellos moved towards the stairs to the ground floor to begin investigations.


Sliding along the wall, Xellos spared a moment to think how ridiculous this would seem to the casual observer that knew exactly what they were seeing. He could have simply materialised at his destination but in the interest of keeping up his mortal pretence had decided against it. Thus the trickster was obliged to act in a mortal fashion in conjunction with the reference material that Beastmaster had so willingly provided. Thankfully, because of the enthusiastic storm that was their reason for being trapped in this inn, casual observers of the sane variety were in short supply.

His lips quirked at the knowledge that his mistress had unwittingly revealed to him in her haphazard scrawl down the margins. The priest never would have guessed at her being a fan of, the technical term for the genre crept up beside him to be used later as ammunition, trashy romance novels but as the most unexpected thing in his existence he probably should have anticipated something embarrassing like this. It certainly explained why she had taken so much enjoyment from her espionage these past days and left him in little doubt that she was ...indulging...in certain hobbies.

Drawing his mind back to the matter at hand Xellos lifted his head to gaze at a darkened window as purple tresses whipped around him in a frenzy. Counting from the edge of the inn he confirmed that it was indeed the second room on the eastern side of a decrepit old building that probably couldn't withstand all this wind; his destination. The lack of light coming from within suggested that events 3-6 from the compendium of knowledge were presently taking place and the room was safe for infiltration.

Placing a hand in between the gaps in the stone and feeling flora that probably undermined the safety of the structure he proceeded to lift himself up the wall and out of the wind. His feet had only momentarily left the ground when they were once again reunited when he'd lost his grip. Well, he'd tried it once this way and that was more than enough. Levitating up to the window was much easier while still being within the confines of 'things mortals can do'. After all, if Romeo had known how to levitate then surely he would have been up on that balcony ravishing his love rather than down on the ground with Juliet looking down on him and using their mouths for words. He'd noted the undertones of displeasure in Zelas' writing as she described the star crossed lovers as wasting time with the inconsequential. Some ravishing would certainly have endeared the work to her more. Ravishing always made things better. The priest wondered if it could be included in his current operation.

Perhaps if there was time.

Opening the window and proceeding to fall through it, the Mazoko opened aubergine eyes and spared a moment to watch chaos unfold upon the room before shutting the window decisively behind him. While research papers and a signature cloak had been lifted and tossed in the pandemonium while sheets struggled to join their dance, a single figure had remained completely motionless through the display, unmoving except for the soft breaths that were the sole disturbance to the now still room.

The faintest wisps of moonlight spilled across pebbled skin, causing what should have been blue to appear as polished silver. The softness of the light caressed stone in a way the removed any harsh lines, all frustration and made the one laying before him into something delicate, disarming and delectable.

Days ago he had been stunned when instead of ignoring him as usual the chimera had seemed drawn involuntarily towards him. So maybe he had a bit too much fun with the unusual event but that was no call for the vicious retaliation that had awaited him shortly after. It had been an unexpected form of attack from such a serious individual but the shaman had proven a worthy opponent when he had counterattacked the priest's manipulation with a form of his own. Well played.

Focusing on lips that he had only had a brief taste of he wondered if this could be termed 'another time.' The relaxed composure before him made him forget that possibility. It was not yet the time to add to his mistress's compendium.

Disengaging himself from that shadowed room for darker surroundings Xellos reflected on his inevitable demise. He'd heard the stories but never really given them much thought till now. There was no going back now though, he was becoming one of those Mazoku who had fallen from the path of annoyance and amusement and wandered towards the light. Next he'd be posing atop towers and screaming about justice.

Still, while sneaking through windows reeked of a romantic rendezvous it was something he could label as achieved. Of course, if his 'lover' ever found out about this he'd no doubt be meeting a furious glare and a far more hazardous astral spell.

Leaving the room that held the source of all his frustration, confusion and desire he permitted a faint parting whisper to remain as he vanished at last.

"Sleep well my zebra."


I know, I'm a sap. Sorry it's taken so long to update. I've had this sitting as an incomplete 500 words for a while and decided it was time to kick it out of solitary with a few alterations. I should probably have been studying but this was more fun so stuff the study. Also, guilt always works wonders as motivation for me so a big thank you to BlackLioness; you have saved me from the wrath of my commerce textbook. I hope this chapter lived up to your expectations.

But wait, there's more. As a special (short) bonus tribute to anyone who has actually been waiting for this update...

"Lina's Disturbing Lunch Special"

(or, Reasons Revealed Behind Lina's Exhaustion Which Was So Xellos' Fault)

This was it, the pinnacle of all existence. Lina Inverse, sorceress supreme, hung eagerly upon the edge of her seat as the rewards for her patience (thugs, Mazoku, Ryuzoku and idiots all included) tottered precariously towards her. Never in life had there ever been anyone more fitting for the reward of...

"Lina, did you really need to order the deluxe special?"

Turning towards the questioning visage of the only serious member of her troupe, Lina wondered just what sort of person would question a lady on her food choice. Looking briefly at the steaming cup that was all he'd be consuming today, the obvious answer materialised before her. One that subsided on coffee and nothing else.

Gazing back to her unfortunate companions face she released the full force of her sultry wink at him. "You're just no fun anymore Zelga-bunny." She was rewarded by a faint blush rising to stone cheeks and silently cheered. As her meal was placed before her, shining more than any treasure she had uncovered thus far, she promptly followed with a far more exuberant cheer causing a scowl to replace embarrassment. Oh well, can't have everything.

An innocent clap drew her attention away from the eternal mystery that was Zelgadis Greywards and towards the justice loving princess who was still accompanying the spunky sorceress after all this time, though she honestly had no idea why. After all, it was an unspoken agreement in their party that the royal house of Seyruun existed in order to provide financial backing to them at all times. Amelia seemed to realise that but she was still tagging along. At least with her in the party there was always such a thing as a free lunch.

"I've always wanted to visit this town. You know that it's famous for the revolutionary contributions it has given to white magic?"

Lifting her weapon of choice, the silver fork, between two dainty fingers she gave it a well practised twirl before acknowledging her companions comment. "Of course Amelia." Now if she could just remember the name of the place that unfortunately had the insolence to trap a group of sorcerers reputed for their destruction of private property. Stupid storm that came out of nowhere. "This is a great place to start searching for that idiot's talisman. Someone in this place has to know something and this is the best lead we have."

"Who cares about the talisman when we've got great food like this."

The building was a death trap but the food was well renowned. Still..."Gourry, what great food are y-" She looked down at her plate, the holy repayment for all her hard work, and saw the ceramic as a barren wasteland filled with remnants of happier minutes. Looking back at her moronic companion Lina felt her eyes begin to blaze, the power of a Dragon Slave quickly forming between her fingers and the words queuing up upon her tongue, ready for the final release. Suddenly granite collided with her forehead and she collapsed backwards onto the floor.

"Mr Zelgadis!"

Blinking to reaffirm her existence with this world, Lina lifted herself up to sit in her seat once more, glancing forlornly at her non-existent food. What had it done to deserve such an end?

"Oops, guess I hit her a little too hard."

Lina turned to the voice and found herself facing a somewhat unapologetic Zel whose eyes were sweeping across her form. She'd like to sound conceited and pretend he was checking her out, but in the end she knew that just wasn't in him. The gaze, while not completely callous, didn't possess any of the disturbing innuendo that she had experienced from far more perverted men. She was curious if there was anyone that he thought of in that way. Containing what threatened to be a full face grin, Lina knew exactly who thought of Zel in that way. Snorting at the how Gourry was dealing with the damning knowledge of the clergy's current preference for bestiality - in the inconspicuous form of what should be a certain striped quadruped - the young and beautiful sorcery genius tuned into the conversation once more as she heard the subject of her hilarity's name mentioned.

Amelia delivered her evaluation of the target in a stage whisper for all to hear. "It's very suspicious."

Zelgadis didn't even attempt subterfuge since their topic of conversation had forgone the pleasures of the restaurant in favour of the bar. Could Mazoku get drunk? "Xellos is always suspicious." Yes, that was true.

"Yes, but now he's even more suspicious than normal." Even Gourry honoured the princess with a raised eyebrow at that, the unspoken communication of 'and your point is?' She imparted her wisdom upon the lowly commoners. "It's that book he kept glancing at today. He might not have opened it but there was something creepy about its contents. An evil kind of creepy..."

Raising a finger to tap against her cheek, Lina considered this logically. "There's only one thing that book could contain."

"So you mean-"

"Yes Amelia, I'm afraid it's true."

"–a collection of all his nefarious plans for future reference? That's just diabolical!"

"No you idiot. He has to be researching something. I've seen that glint in many a magicians eye and it is never reassuring. Our next mission is to abduct that book!" She pounded the air above her with her fist for extra effect.

"Yeah!"

"For Justice!"

"Whatever."

"That's the spirit guys." Standing from the table she raised her hands in a consolatory gesture in case she should be killed from over enthusiasm. "But maybe another day."

"But Miss Lina...

"Oh come on Amelia, I'm exhausted."

"Think of all the evil that dwells within those pages."

"Ah, well actually its probably just..."

"Well, as Defender of Justice, Amelia wil Tesla Seyruun will not allow these actions. I –"

"Amel-"

"- will confront any villain who dares to stand in the way of the forces of good."

A headache was set to release its own form of righteous fury on her at the moment and she couldn't resist the jump in octave as her voice came out. "Get off the table you idiot!"

Gourry was peering out between his fingers at the posturing girl before him, his childlike behaviour saying clearly that he was not associated with these people. "People are staring Amelia."

"Just make it end." The dry remark was thrown out from behind Zel's coffee cup that was probably empty judging from the irritated expression on his face.

All in all it confirmed for Lina what she had already known and accepted; that she was leading a band of weirdo's. Not only that, they were being stalked by some that made her group seem normal. But frankly she didn't really care that she was constantly surrounded by insanity. Tears welling in her eyes at the fate that had awaited her life's reward, today had won an award in her life and she'd be cursing it forever.

Worst. Lunch. Ever.


That's it for today. Did you know if you look up Quadruped on Wikipedia the example they give is a zebra. They knew I was coming.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed it. Please review and I'll try to get another chapter up soon.