Sequel to Slayers: Alive, can also be read as a stand alone.
Beast Masters' latest enigmatic plot involves Xellos and Filia temporarily switching species. The dragon Xellos and monster Filia join Lina and the others as Zelgadis becomes closer than ever to his cure. XellosxFilia, ZelgadisxAmelia, GourryxLina
Episode 001: Moonlight! The Legendary Maiden
The voice was melodious yet fierce, dangerous. The young merchant rushed his horse, but the large brown animal didn't pick up the pace too much. The steed was tired and the carriage was heavy, loaded with recently imported goods to sell in his village near the Coastal States. The man insisted, trying to make the horse hurry again. That voice was so detached, so eerie, yet so beautiful, it was dangerous. No doubt about it, it was the ghost of a maiden, a beautiful maiden that would lure unsuspecting men to a grim fate should they curiously follow her song.
The merchant shivered. He liked beautiful women as much as the next man, but he wasn't stupid. He wouldn't go chasing after some phantom just so he could suffer and most likely die. The echo of howls was heard in the moonlit night. "C'mon boy, hurry up!" The merchant looked at the full moon. Why did that ship have to be delayed? Why did he have to wait for it? He was better off trying to find sustenance for the next month with nothing to sell, than in this terrible danger. He whistled to calm himself as he looked left and right at the trees and shrubbery at the roadside.
The wolves' growls were getting stronger, closer. The merchant considered abandoning his cargo and riding away on his horse. He even considered leaving his horse on the cargo carriage as bait for the wolves and making his escape on foot, but it was too late. Black and gray beasts surrounded the carriage. Their sharp white fangs and claws glinted in the moonlight. They were ferocious and they would without a doubt devour him.
A woman stepped out of the shadows, the moonlight revealing her beautiful young face. She was dressed in a long white tunic with slits on the sides and golden bracelets and anklets. She showed no fear for the fact that she was surrounded by a pack of large wolves, their strong muscles noticeable under their thick black and gray fur.
The merchant gasped. The moonlight maiden was indeed beautiful as he had heard. She was lovely, ethereal, tempting... but he wasn't stupid. Any other man would chase after this phantom without a second thought, but not him, he was smarter than that. He was also intelligent enough to know that he had no escape. His nervous breaths became ragged as he imagined the wolves tearing apart his flesh. As if that fate was not terrible enough, the maiden would put a curse on him, he imagined, and his pained soul would forever wonder, knowing no rest, just like her.
The maiden smiled with more cheer than one would expect from a being that was supposed to be a specter. She extended her hand, golden bangles jiggling against each other. Her body looked solid, unlike the see through body of a ghost, but the merchant was certain it was only a carefully crafted illusion. "Would you please feed my friends?" She motioned towards the wolves with her hand.
The frightened merchant appeared to hyperventilate for a moment after hearing her speak. He knew it; she intended to feed him to her wolves! The night's soft breeze played with the mysterious maiden's short black hair, her blue eyes sparkling like stars. 'She's beautiful, she looks like a princess, she is...' His train of thought faded into nothing as darkness overtook his senses and he knew nothing more.
xoxox xox xoxox
A few days prior... Amelia, being the kind hearted soul she was, had gone off to assist a village in exorcising the ghost of a maiden that was severely affecting their lives. Men would often go missing, sometimes returning to town days later with lost expressions, muttering something about wolves. Their faces were tired and worn, their eyes bloodshot with black rings of insomnia around them, their throats dry, their flesh covered with cuts, teeth marks and dirt. Their memories were wiped clean of the recent happenings. They could only remember seeing an ethereal lady surrounded by wolves and the next thing they knew, days had gone by and they were stumbling around disoriented in the outskirts of the village. Sometimes the missing people didn't return at all.
The villagers welcome the white magic using sorceress and begged her to solve their problem. At night, Amelia and her traveling companion and fiance, Zelgadis, had gone off to investigate the maiden's appearance. The night was dark with only a crescent moon in that occasion. They ventured into the area surrounding the village, into the deserted path that no one dared to walk at night, no one except the exceptionally brave and they were the only ones at the village brave enough to overtake this mission.
The sound of howls was heard, followed by growls and rapid running. They were wolves and they were closing in. The glowing golden eyes of a larger female wolf peeked from the bushes on the road side, then she quickly retreated as if daring the pair on the road to follow her. Amelia took a step forward, Zelgadis watching her back. Rustling was heard from the bushes on the opposite side of the road and the chimera turned around. There was something on that side too.
The black wolf with golden eyes appeared again near Amelia. The beast then backed away, calm, collected and majestic. Curious, Amelia approached while Zelgadis was still tense, observing the movement in the bushes on the opposite side of the road. The chimera drew his sword in preparation for a possible upcoming attack and cast Astral Vine just in case. He assumed that Amelia was inches away behind him. In their recent travels, or as Amelia called it, their crusade of justice, they had gotten even more accustomed to fighting back to back. Albeit they usually fought bandits and other such evildoers, not wolves, or haunted wolves.
The lights of glowing eyes of a silver color were seen on Zelgadis' side of the road and he tensed up at the ready. 'Pounce, just try to pounce and I'll slice you in half...' He thought, ready for a fierce fight. At the same time, Amelia got closer to the black wolf with golden eyes; she didn't look like she would attack. The princess took a few more steps forward and looked beyond the vegetation on the roadside.
There was a woman dressed in a white tunic with slits on the sides of the skirt and abundant golden jewelry. Her skin was tan and smooth, her eyes a glowing metallic silver, her hair a shiny platinum that cascaded to her waist. The elegant woman motioned for silence by placing her right index finger over her lips. Amelia tilted her head in puzzlement and looked back towards where Zelgadis was focusing on the movement in the bushes at the other side of the road. The mysterious woman shook her head and beckoned Amelia to come closer with a gesture of her hand.
The princess curiously approached. Amelia knew this woman was no phantom, she knew exactly who this was, her name was Beast Master Zelas Metallium. In a soft melodious whisper, the monster lord spoke, "would you do me a little favor, Amelia?"
Amelia considered her words. A monster lord who wanted a favor might ask for something sinister, but she didn't want to judge Zelas on the basis of her species alone. So what if she was a monster? So was Xellos and he was a part of their group, even if he often had his own agenda and plans of manipulation. Besides, Zelas had temporarily joined forces with Lina and the others in the past for the sake of defeating a greater enemy during the latest near end of the world. She was Xellos' mother, she was Filia's mother in law, she was...getting impatient for an answer. "If it's nothing bad..."
Amelia was standing right next to Zelas by the time she replied, the black female wolf with golden eyes who answered to the name of Chaos was right next to them, calmly sitting beside her master. Zelas grinned, "not at all," then she and Amelia faded away as the monster lord teleported via the astral side to further discuss her request.
Meanwhile... 'C'mon, pounce already...' Zelgadis glared at the roadside bushes. 'I'm not going to lower my guard, so quit waiting for an opportunity!' He glared some more with growing impatience. "Stay on your guard Amelia," he knew she was aware of that necessity, but the silence between them had become uncomfortable. Why wasn't she saying something along the lines of 'come out of hiding wicked villains! You cannot escape the punishment of justice!' Or something like that? "Amelia?" There was no answer. "Amelia?" Zelgadis turned around to find nothing but empty space behind him. "Amelia!" Where did she disappear to?
As soon as Zelgadis lowered his guard, a large black beast with silver eyes jumped out of the bushes where it had been hiding waiting for an opportunity. The creature tackled Zelgadis to the ground, making him drop his sword in the process. Zelgadis struggled to get free to no avail, the wolf-like beast was as big as a horse and it had him pinned down to the ground. There was no escape...
The beast of silver eyes and black fur had Zelgadis pinned to the ground on the night of the crescent moon. The creature's fangs were sticking out of his mouth unnaturally, like a saber tooth tiger of ancient times. The being opened his mouth and Zelgadis was actually thankful that he was a chimera. He couldn't move, but maybe his rock hard skin would allow him to survive the encounter. Surprisingly, the animal's breath didn't carry the stench of blood. In fact, his mouth smelled oddly minty fresh. The creature licked Zelgadis' face affectionately like a puppy.
The chimera blinked in confusion. Upon closer inspection he realized that this was not a wolf. The large being was the size of a horse and had wolf-like features to it, but it was in fact more so a fox, a monster and fox chimera to be specific. His ears held the trademark style of foxes and he had two big fluffy fox tails that were almost as large as his massive torso. "Fang..." The creature gave Zelgadis another lick. "Get off me."
Obediently, the playful monster fox got off Zelgadis. He was another of Zelas minion's or more like a pet, a very spoiled pet. He was strong, certainly not as strong as Xellos, but none the less with the capability of a high level monster. There was a price to pay though, while circumstances were arranged so that the monster and fox fusion would not diminish his power, it was his monster malice that was sacrificed. Being partly physical, he had added defenses that purely astral beings would not have, though he was still semi-vulnerable to spells design to affect monsters, he was less vulnerable than a pure high ranked monster would be and that made a significant difference in battle. He could be fierce, but only if he was ordered to be. The rest of the time, Fang was harmless.
Zelgadis got to his feet and picked up his sword, returning it to its sheath. He examined the surrounding area. Amelia was nowhere to be found. "Where's Amelia?"
Fang sniffed around as if searching for the princess' scent. He faded to the astral side, then returned and posed like a hunter dog pointing to his master's prey towards the direction Zelgadis had been facing earlier.
"She's not there. I was looking that way," Zelgadis argued. "If Amelia had run in that direction, I would have seen her." None the less, Fang insisted in pointing in that direction and Zelgadis let out a frustrated breath. The chimera assumed that the monster fox had no idea what he was pointing at. In truth, Fang's information was accurate, as Wolf Pack Island was in that direction, albeit many miles away.
Zelgadis set out to look for Amelia in the direction he thought she had gone, with Fang following him wagging his tails. "Your master is involved in this, isn't she?" Fang offered no reply, but none was needed. He was Zelas' pet and Zelas was fond of wolves. She had to be at the center of the problem. "Beast Master!" Zelgadis boldly called. "Beast Master, are you here? Beast Master!"
The atmosphere turned heavy with dread as if there was a vast concentration of negative emotions that this time the source was not trying to hide. In a flash of black light she appeared. She wore her usual white tunic that showed off her slender legs and perfect tan. A multitude of bangles and anklets of gold jiggled together as she took a defiant step forward. Her beautiful platinum hair flowed down to her waist behind her, tugged behind her long pointy ears, her silver eyes piercing, as if looking into Zelgadis' very soul. "You called?" She grinned as she spoke in a melodious voice.
Zelgadis swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. He was generally brave, calm and composed, but for all he knew Amelia could be in grave danger. Besides, only a suicidal masochist would go without worries while in Zelas' imposing presence. "Where's Amelia?" His voice came out quieter than he expected.
"She is, and will be for some time, under my care." Zelas replied with a commanding voice that left no room for arguments.
Zelgadis considered demanding Amelia's freedom, but he knew it would be useless. Instead he attempted to obtain more information in hopes of reasoning with the monster lord. "Why?"
Zelas' grinned as she slightly leaned forward and shook her right index finger in front of her face. Her long perfectly manicured silver painted nails glittered in the light of the crescent moon, golden bangles letting soft cling-clang noises as they collided gently against each other. "That is a secret..."
Zelgadis frowned; this was a hostage situation if he ever saw one. "What do you want from Amelia?"
The same gesture from before was repeated once again with the same quote. "That is a secret..."
"Is there anything you can tell me that isn't a secret?" Zelgadis was becoming frustrated. His worry and anger were starting to overcome the caution of his survival instinct.
Zelas adopted a thoughtful expression. "Many things actually, albeit I don't see how they would be relevant to your current situation." She gave him a mocking expression of superiority. "Although..." there was a long dramatic pause. Zelgadis had been about to speak, but he stopped silent, waiting for Zelas to finish with hopes that some sort of agreement could be reached and Amelia would be freed. "I will tell you one fact. If you kill the moonlight maiden that currently haunts this village, Amelia will be freed."
The word currently was emphasized as if it was of peculiar significance, but Zelgadis did not notice. Instead he questioned, "kill? How can she be killed? Isn't she already dead? I thought she was a ghost."
"Oh no, the moonlight maiden is very much alive," Zelas assured. "If you kill her, Amelia will be free. She will be free in every sense. I assure you these words I speak are indeed true."
Zelgadis nodded. He had no doubts that Zelas was telling the truth, but she probably wasn't telling the whole truth. Even the most truthful words could be very deceiving when spoken without completion, without context. "I don't know how it would be of any benefit to you, but..." There was surely a grander scheme at work, something that would probably not come to light until it had already been set in motion, until it was too late. "I will do this task." Zelgadis would be helping a monster lord, but he would be doing it for Amelia's sake. "All that I ask for is Amelia's safety."
"Not I or those under my command shall bring any harm to her." Zelas smiled with superior confidence and noticeable mocking amusement. Her face was that of a skilled manipulator, a cunning master mind, an expert hunter, an invincible beast.
xoxox xox xoxox
Time passed and the moon would be waning that night, but for the time being it was still daylight. The village went about its business in the afternoon with people commenting about the recent happenings. The travelers that claimed they would solve the problem concerning the moonlight maiden had not been able to do so. Furthermore, the lady white mage was gone and the chimera man wondered the town and its surrounding area sleepless and troubled.
That same chimera was currently sitting at an outdoor table in front of a quaint little cafe in the company of another chimera companion, among two others. The villages assumed that the young man with black hair, silver eyes, prominent fangs, albeit certainly not as alarmingly large as in his other form, black fox ears and a tail, was a mix of human and fox, albeit this almost human shape was just a disguise and his true nature was that of a monster and fox chimera.
As for the two others who accompanied the blue skinned chimera, they were a woman with blond hair, who was twitching incessantly in annoyance. Her ears were long and pointy making people think that she was an elf. Albeit a few had noticed the golden scaly tail with a pink bow that peeked out from under her skirt, that young woman was a golden dragon. The final component of the quartet that sat at that table in front of the little cafe in a small village near the Coastal States was a man with purple hair and a seemingly eternal unwavering smile.
The purple haired man was being peculiarly greeted by the fox man, who licked his face continuously. "Xellos!" Fang cheered happily. "I missed playing with you." He was practically on Xellos' lap, which made the scene appear to be terribly wrong from the point of view of gutter-minded or simply misinformed nosy passer-bys. Albeit Fang was perfectly capable of communicating with words and following instructions, he was an innocent pet at heart and saw nothing wrong with licking his master's favorite minion who was also like a secondary master to him.
"I know, but this terrible dragon wants my attention all to herself." Xellos laughed and petted Fang on the head. "She has her reasons to want me around though; she's so stupid and helpless. If it weren't for me, she wouldn't even be able to dress herself!"
Zelgadis waited patiently for the antics to pass, holding his face in his hands, elbows resting on the table, cup of tea untouched. "You piece of raw garbage!" Filia shifted abruptly, her tail tapping one of the table's legs, causing the surface to shake. Her half consumed cup of tea was almost spilled, but she saved it on time.
"What?" Xellos adopted a look of unfitting innocence, making no effort to deny the fact that he was somehow used to answering to 'raw garbage' by now. "Did I get that backwards?"
Filia's face burned red with embarrassment and anger. She clenched her teeth and mentally counted to ten.
To be Continued
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