Interlude II

. . .

The sun simmered against the edge where land met sky, nestled within a froth of rosy clouds. Stilled forever, the perpetual sunset cast its golden glow across the wooded glade.

Meliael gazed up into the sky and smiled at the familiar swath of stars, patterns of embroidered jewels against the velvet sky. She knew they were not the real stars; nothing in the lands beyond existed elsewhere, or touched the nether between.

At her side, leaning against a smooth, warm rock, Azrael slept with child-like grace, his full lashes fluttering against smooth cheeks. Snuggling up against him, Mel relished the moment of peace that was rarely found by the caretakers of heaven and so easily disturbed.

"Azrael!"

Mel jumped at the shrill voice, and with a flurry of black feathers Azrael was suddenly standing, serenity replaced by a frightful storm electrifying his violet gaze. A beat of his wings drew thunder to reverberate in the distance, and he glared down at the cowering interloper. "What? For the sake of all Eternal . . . why do you disturb me this time?"

A flustered girl straightened before him, tossing her frosted green curls back to glower up at him. "Lord Azrael, is it true that Master Xellos was visiting the Afterlife and you didn't tell me?!"

Azrael's hands curved like claws, his shoulders hunching. "Yes, you harpy!" He pointed a finger at her and growled, "And what did you expect me to do? He didn't want to see you of all people, he was here for Lina."

Martina Zoana Mel Navratilova rose to her full – slight – height and tossed back her cloak to declare imperiously, "And he didn't find her, did he? I've been looking for her too, you know! I've searched for Gods know how long, and everyone's disappeared!"

Mel watched in amusement from the sidelines as Death slowly began to grow taller, his wings melting into the ebony hooded cloak of the Reaper and his scythe appearing in his hand as his eyes glowed crimson. "Yes, mortal, they have. Perhaps they are simply avoiding you. Why don't you go play with Sylphiel?"

Martina's boldness instantly dissolved into a quivering terror as she crouched beneath Death's stony glare. "I- it's not fair! Why won't you tell me what's going on?!" Without waiting for a reply, she dashed away, crying bitter tears as the mist swallowed up her retreating figure.

Exhaling slowly, Azrael returned to human form, giving Meliael a weak, crooked grin. "She means well," his deep voice intoned wearily. "But things are changing swiftly, and she just doesn't have what it takes."

Nodding, Mel drew closer, holding out a hand to carefully grasp one of his. "I know."

Pulling her into an embrace, he bent his head to curl around her soft form. "Not long now," he whispered. "Not long at all . . ."

.

(-(-(-)-)-)

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Chapter 4

Wolfpack Island
June 12th, 2002

Torchlight danced with each aching step as Xellos spun and slashed, staff whipping through the air. Each shadow became his torment; although none escaped his punishment, the shades remained through each clacking smack against stone, until only the sound of his staff against the rock rang out in the night.

Eyes closed, the demon channeled emotion into the staff, twirling it around himself in a flurry of wild rage. Mixing and melding, his energy pulsed against the stone, inky blackness seething from him to poison the amber flames into sickly violet, while his emotion thrust through the air with each swing and flourish.

His mind conjured every enemy of his past, and within the depths of his tarnished soul he vanquished them swiftly, with fury and not an ounce of mercy. Even the dragons of old, began to appear as mirages he sliced through, decimating them just as he had nearly two millennia ago. The fluid images slipped away, only to reemerge as other figures from his past, all shredding within the onslaught of his staff.

But the rage – the rage – it only built and grew, pulsed and writhed within him. Tossing down the staff in fury, Xellos began to blindly kick and spin against the walls and the floor, attacking madly, growling with uncontrollable wrath. His blows shuddered and shook the magical stone, cracking deep furrows into marble as he began to screech and keen with desperation. "RAUUUHHHHHHHHH!" he finally roared, sending a billowing wall of dark energy in every direction, hurtling down every corridor –

"EEEEK!"

Tossing up his head at the sound, Xellos loped to his feet and crouched, blood and magic thrumming hotly through his created form as he focused on the source of the sound. In the amethyst-drenched light, torches spitting and hissing within the fog of his power, he could feel the sensation, the presence of holy magic, the life within it.

"Xe-Xellos?" a voice echoed through the cavernous halls.

Ghostly remembrances ebbed and flowed, lapping against entropy within him. The ancient stone erased all sense of time's passage; his foggy mind knew only that which burned brightly within. "Filia." Smirk growing upon his lips, he rose to stalk towards her slowly, staff flashing back into his grip. She was here, in his domain. The foolish dragoness, daring to flash her brilliance before him, taunting and teasing . . . Lina and her bumbling comrades aren't here to save you now, he chuckled lowly at the thought, turning each corner leisurely, methodically – checking for the cowering Gold.

"Where are you hiding, Filia dear?" his wheedling voice mocked with false concern. "Come out, come out!" He tapped his staff against the rock, and with each tap, felt her fear spike deliciously. "You've come so far to find me, haven't you. No need to fear, Bright One." Her terror mounted, and his smirk slid into a broad, hungry grin . . . eyes glittering cold in the violaceous darkness.

The tantalizing sensation drew him nearer; unable to resist for even the thrill of the chase, he phased to appear before her. Lording over her cowering form, Xellos snatched up her wrist, gaze licking across the voluptuous figure, then back to those endless, dilated eyes, darkened now with true terror. "Filia. Has someone been playing dress-up?"

Shoving her back against the stone, he held his staff against her throat, body pressed tightly to her own; his free hand dug into the mass of blonde locks, clutching the back of her head as she struggled to speak.

"Xe-Xellos!" she finally choked out, blinking back tears as he pulled tighter at her hair. "Wha-" she coughed, and he chuckled, easing the pressure just enough to brush the length of the staff against her collarbone, "What's happened to you?"

Closing his eyes, Xellos smirked as he soaked up her fear, his mind seeping into her own, before his eyes flashed open, glowing a sudden scarlet. "Me?" he giggled, high on her rich emotions, "Why, Filia . . . darling," he stressed, pleased as she winced at the endearment, "it's you who has changed." Releasing her skull from his grip, he let his gloved hand gently brush down her neck, returning the staff to her throat lest she protest. "Such unusual – yet becoming – attire," he mocked as his fingers trailed along the rim of her top's plunging neckline. "When did you start-" he paused, then grinned as the answer came, as if bidden, from her mind. "I see." For me? How . . . odd.

She merely blushed, then gasped as he began exploring beneath the fabric. "Xellos!" Her slender hand grabbed his wrist.

"Now, now." In response to her apparent attempt to stop him, the staff's pressure grew, as did the roughness of his fingers as they grasped and clutched at what they found – ripping open her blouse in the process. "You must have known this would happen."

He looked down at her in bemusement, enjoying the blood draining from her face in the violet light. "I just don't understand you, Filia . . . but then, I suppose that means I will simply have to force an answer out of you. For your sake, it should probably make sense," he smirked, then leaned in to whisper softly into her ear, "but, I'd enjoy it so much more if you continued to resist."

But, a strange, hollow part of his mind murmured from somewhere in the clamoring, she's not resisting

Jerking his head, Xellos winced for a moment, confusion flitting within his eyes a split-second before his cruel smile returned. "Giving up so easily?" he asked, looking down at the hand holding his wrist. "You're barely trying."

"I . . ." Her shimmering eyes closed, tears spilling down her cheeks, "I won't."

Xellos peered in confusion at her; although her silent tears brought a thrumming that worked throughout his body, the churning emotions within his mind would not abate: he felt his hand halt and his grip slacken. "Really?" Wrinkling up his nose, he stared at her, head buzzing. "Why?"

A strange peace settled across her features, and the vibration along his form grew stronger - the sensation of holy magic flowing and intermingling as suddenly a golden glitter began to dance around them – and Filia's eyes opened

— flooding a blinding light, so painfully bright —

"Xellos."

— and all was swirling black and shimmering gold, a whirlpool surrounding him - his staff vanishing and Filia's gilded form floating free, casting brilliance like shards of pain

Unable to do more than collapse to his knees within the roiling sea of glittering ebony, Xellos shielded his eyes – but the glow burned past his body and into his mind, his aura silently howling at the intensity.

"Stop tormenting this child," the voice echoed, all sparkling gold and seeping onyx. "Run no longer from your guilt. It is your own self that you seek to destroy." The golden figure reached out a hand - every shred of him sought to escape, yet he was powerless - and the searing, fiery palm rested upon his head.

"Regain that which you have lost. For I am the light of the world," multitudes of voices spoke from all directions, "and I have made you blind; yet now the blind will SEE."

Light engulfed him, and burned him away—

. . . For judgment I have come into this world . . .

(-(-(-)-)-)


AN:

Wow, I am really lucky few of you know where I live, because I'd probably be beaten with sporks or something for not updating in so long. I won't try to make excuses, because there are none; the only reason is my own personal emotional weaknesses. It has taken me this long to feel that I have begun working through some of them.

And now for the TEN PAGES of reviews! (wince)

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5 years later . . .

Mwafwa: *sniffles* Thank you so much for the support! I hope you're still around to read and forgive me for my absence!

Lady Kaliska: I hope you get an alert for this chapter! *hugs* And once again it's short so I guess you are my cheerleader for short chapters. :-D I really appreciate your words: often times my readers are the ONLY ones who have positive comments about my writing style (ie: I am not one of those people, lol!)

Steel Phoenix, Tbiris, wolf guardian, zigmas, Saki Yukiko, MikariStar: Thank you soo much for reading and reviewing!

Jadehaku: After 5 years, you finally got to see how it turned out. Kinda . . . interesting? Not how I expected it. It kind of wrote itself. I really expected Zelas to step in and stop it, but . . . I guess the Lord of Nightmares had a different idea.

Ryu-Zero-Rei:I am even guilter than you for absense over time! Feel no shame my friend. I am so glad to still have you around (I hope!) I'm glad you liked Xellos' "new body" situation. I feel like the upcoming chapters I will be writing will show some new and happier directions . . . Xellos has definitely been uncomfortable, mostly with losing what he had gained from the Land of the Dead.

I really hope you got the alert and get to see what happened when Filia tried out her routine!

Filia-san1: I'm sorry you nearly missed a day of work! But I am so glad you enjoyed it. Hope you're still along for the ride!

SKC83: as much as I dislike Slayers "revo/evolution" I am glad they made it if only for getting new fans into the series. Thank you so much for your loyalty, and I hope I did not bring too much shame onto myself for taking this long to sort out my (and Xellos') issues! As for the sexual tension, I know it's a lot, but many things are messed up for them. They'll need time to deal with their issues.

One percent: Thanks for giving me a shot! Hope you are still around somewhere . . .

RandomReader: OH MY GOD YOU KNOW KUNG FU TLC. Yes, those are them! You are the FIRST person ever to recognize them! I have many little "cameos" but those were the most obscure by far. Your confusion over Jesus or "other Jesus" is understandable . . . hopefully more will become clear. Xellos has his own ideas and knowledge about events that he has not really shared with too many people, but they will become apparent soon!

And typos, I need to know! Lol, I am totally OCD, so please if you notice any, feel free to point out where and when. Often they are usage errors that I can't fix using a spell-checker. (I am terrible at spelling.) PS: I LOVED your long review, and I hope you return and give me more! (whimpers)

CleverName, and PsychoSongstress: You are both so sweet and kind to give me the future! Your reviews really made me cry: I am serious. The faith that you had in me, that I would not give up on the story (even if it took me five years) meant so much to me.

My Final Death/Sharon: read more of my fanfiction, dammit!

As for Xellos' cheesy dream, I actually stole it from a real dream my (now husband) CEP had before he met me . . . creepy, huh? Egypt was spelled wrong intentionally; Zelas being accurate I have NO idea about as I found the books, comics and other movies to all be different with character and background; up until chapter 10 Valgaav was un-needed? WHAT? No way. And Valgaav as comic relief? . . . . Now that is the FIRST time anyone's told me that, LOL you are so funny!

I do think the first ten chapters are kind of the "engine warming up" period.

Filia has many insecurities that anyone I think would have. In the series in fact when Gourry says "They're only human" and Amelia says they are NOT, to me the humor is that they were acting so very human. And they obviously do. If they were alone amongst humans I think any immortal could easily turn into a psychotic tyrant. But clearly the Dragons and the Demons have similar feelings as humans do – though I think demons besides Xellos and Zelas have much more of an alien mind-set. Any humanity they've developed was learned and taught, not part of their original nature.

I really appreciate all of your in-depth reviews, and yes there is so much of myself put into this story that it is nearly an autobiography of my psyche. This is why the idea of abandoning it is so abhorrent to me.

I'm not quite sure who Valgaav is in my mind . . . sometimes I feel like I am Val, watching everything occurring. Most times, I am Xellos, swept away and confused by the weight of responsibility. Then I feel that I am Filia, female and suffering from all of society's expectations as well as my own insecurities, yet fighting to be my own person. Iyzkea – hell, I have no idea what the hell she is. X.X

Yea! Typo fix!

But as the last reviewer, I can say this wholeheartedly: DON'T STOP AT CHAPTER 28! Right guys? Guys?

NOBODY SHOULD HAVE STOPPED AT CHAPTER 28!

(Ahem . . . )

So . . . thank you? And . . . I'm BACK!

love,

-Ukky