Author's Notes
This story is an AU/alternate timeline of the Try series. I'm familiar with various versions of Slayers canon, but attempting to more or less follow the anime canon here. It's still an AU, so there will be discrepancies, but the backstory is mostly the same as the anime up until Next. Enjoy!

Thinking Makes It So


Xellos supposed that black cat must have had something to do with this. He allowed himself that moment of superstition, not wanting to believe that there would be any other reason that Valgaav might defeat him. The black cat had crossed his path earlier today. It was so haughty, not acknowledging Xellos's place as a high ranking mazoku, a being who would play a part in the end of the existence of not only the cat itself, but the entire planet it based its stability on. Though it must have known through some instinct Xellos's nature, the cat walked in front of him anyway, tripping up Xellos's own stability. He'd caught his balance, and stared at the cat, who just stared back. It had then bristled only slightly before heading on its way.

Though any retaliation would be pointless, the trivial creature had gotten Xellos to acknowledge it. Similarly, Xellos had been ordered to acknowledge Valgaav, another trivial creature who would have died earlier, if not for the interference of the traitor Gaav. Xellos had known that Valgaav wouldn't consent to joining them, but had never considered that he might be so difficult to destroy. "What is it, Xellos?" he taunted, slapping him again as he fell to the ground. "Is that all you can do?" Valgaav stomped on Xellos's chest as he taunted.

Xellos looked up angrily. Not quite, Valgaav, he thought angrily. But just as he was about to retaliate, he heard an interloper.

"That's enough, Valgaav!" a young female voice declared.

Xellos felt Valgaav's weight removed from his chest, and then sensed Valgaav's presence become farther and farther removed. Was Valgaav arguing with whoever it was who had showed up? Who was the newcomer, anyway? Xellos couldn't think of a creature who might defend him in this situation. Few knew Valgaav on this continent. No other mazoku had been assigned to this task, and a human who knew of Valgaav would see this fight as a part of the mazoku conflict, nothing to do with them.

As he tried to figure out what was going on around him, Xellos began to realize just how damaged he was. He was even beginning to have trouble maintaining his form and attention on the physical plane. He wouldn't mind just slipping into unconscious and losing himself in the astral side for a while, it wouldn't make much difference, would it? He still had to complete his mission to destroy Valgaav, but he couldn't if he were destroyed.

"Wake up, Xellos," a detached voice spoke.

Xellos blinked, both his astral body and physical projection beginning to stir. The aloof manner resembled his master, but it wasn't her. In fact, the muddled state of Xellos's mind attributed it to the black cat. He blinked several times, staring at the black cat, who spoke again. "Get back on your feet Xellos, before you become entirely useless to me."

"Excuse me? Cat-san? Do I know you?" Xellos said. If the cat was indeed a sentient creature, he should acknowledge it politely, the same as any other such a being.

The cat stared at him again, and Xellos blinked a few times more before looking back. He didn't see the cat anymore, and realized it had just been an illusion. He sighed, laying back. His condition must be terrible if he were hallucinating, but something inside his mind wasn't letting him retreat.

But it seemed it wasn't the same for Valgaav. He was running away from the interloper, the one who had appeared only by a stroke of luck. Perhaps the black cat had been a lucky token after all, both saving him and keeping him conscious. Still, who was it that had actually saved him, and how?

"Excuse me, Sir!"

"Ah," Xellos said to himself. A young blonde woman was running toward him. Though she was in human form, Xellos recognized her true nature right away. That made a little more sense, he thought. Considering that Valgaav should have also been badly injured from their battle, an energetic young golden dragon might have given him some trouble.

"Sir, are you alright?" the golden dragon asked. "I suppose not... That's a terrible creature you were up against... I'm going to cast a healing spell on you."

"Oh, no," Xellos said. He sat up, becoming more alert, and interrupted her healing chant. "Thank you very much for your help, Miss, but there's no need for that."

"Please don't push yourself. I'm a talented sorceress- Oh, well, I know that's common on this continent... Just don't worry, I'll take care of you."

"It's alright," Xellos assured. "I have my own way of healing."

"Oh, yes, of course... You're a magic user yourself, aren't you? Yes, I can tell." The young dragon sighed with relief. "I'm glad I helped you in time, before that thing killed you. I've never seen one before, but I sensed the mazoku right away. There's no mistaking that presence. It was awful, it almost feels like he's still around!"

"Oh, you don't say," Xellos said.

"Do you mind me asking why it was fighting with you? Well, not that a mazoku needs reason to attack."

"I would beg to differ, Miss. But what interest does a young golden dragon such as yourself have in mazoku politics?"

"Ah-" The woman's voice faltered a moment. "You... Well... How did you know?" she asked. She took a look over her shoulder. There was no tail, but maybe it had appeared before. She cleared her throat. "I'll have to apologize for my rudeness. I should introduce myself to you and make you comfortable before asking questions of you like this. Come, I'll tend to you in town."

"There's really no need," Xellos said.

"No, there is," the woman said firmly to Xellos's refusal. "You're certainly in pain, so I'm going to tend to you. I can see you've... Well, recognized me as a golden dragon. I am one indeed. I'm Filia Ul Copt, a priestess of the Flarelord."

"So you've traveled quite a ways to get here, then," Xellos said.

"Yes," Filia confirmed. "Now, let me help you."

"It's really unnecessary-" Xellos began.

"No, it certainly is!" Filia said.

"Well, if you insist on it, I'd be the rude one to refuse your help, hm?" Xellos said. "I won't have that."

"I'm glad you agree now. Wait a moment, and please don't be too shocked," Filia said.

Xellos saw what she was doing, some kind of teleportation technique. That kind of thing wouldn't work exactly the same on his physical projection as a human or another dragon, so he assisted Filia by moving himself to her destination.

"Hm?" Filia blinked in confusion as they arrived. The young man she'd transported herself with was there, but it had seemed that he'd disappeared for a moment before. Well, the teleportation had worked, anyway.

"Such impressive abilities you have, Filia-san," Xellos said.

"Oh... Yes. I hope I didn't surprise you too much. Please make yourself at home, this is a room at a nearby inn that I'm paying for myself. I would like to heal you-"

"Such gracious hospitality, but I assure you there's really no need," Xellos said.

"If you insist. But take a while to rest up, well... Is it alright if I ask your name?"

"Please do. Have I really not said it before now? Excuse me for that, then. I'm called Xellos."

"Xellos?" Filia said, recoiling at the very word.

"Yes," Xellos said calmly.

"What an ominous name," Filia muttered. She felt like her skin was crawling, the same as when she'd first seen Valgaav. Was he nearby?

"Excuse me?" Xellos said innocently.

Filia realized how rude her reaction might seem to this man. This was the area inside the former mazoku barrier, heavily influenced by mazoku presence, though the evil race was still weakened by the war from a thousand years earlier. Still, it wasn't completely out of the question that in this area she might find some humans named in honor of mazoku.

Filia shuddered. What his parents could have been thinking of, naming him after the Beast Master's ruthless minion, Filia didn't know. She shook her head, reminding herself that she shouldn't judge the humans. They were creatures that were easily influenced by those who weilded more power than them. "Oh, don't misunderstand... Xellos-san." Filia paused. Even saying the name was giving her a reaction, almost as if the mazoku namesake might appear. "I... Well, I have some business to take care of right now. In the meantime, please take a while to rest and heal up. You've been through quite an ordeal. Afterwards, I'd like to speak with you about the situation."

"You're so accommodating, Filia-san, how can I refuse?" Xellos asked.

Filia felt more at ease as Xellos spoke kindly to her, and smiled at him. "Well then, I'll be on my way. I'll be back in a few hours, please don't leave," she said.

"I'll try to be here when you return," Xellos assured.

Filia nodded. As the door closed, Xellos sat down. So, she didn't hadn't figured out what he was? It was amusing, at any rate. Xellos might make it a game, see how much longer it would take her to realize that he was the Xellos she was thinking of. In the meantime, it seemed he was under the protection of the golden dragon race that despised him. It was a humorous situation, he thought, smirking.

Still, he should rest, Filia was right about that much. The encounter with Valgaav had taken a toll on him. While continuing to project himself onto the physical plane, Xellos began drifting into an unconscious state.

"So, you've made it here after all."

It was that voice, Xellos realized. The one that had lulled him out of his unconscious state just before. But it would be ridiculous for the voice to come out of a cat, so this time it came from a very blurry human shape. At least his hallucinations were beginning to make more sense, Xellos thought to himself. "And may I ask who you are?" he said to the darkened human shape.

"What will you do now, Xellos?" the shape asked, completely ignoring his inquiry. "Wouldn't you rest easier when solely on the astral side?"

"That may be so," Xellos said. It was true that maintaining his physical presence was taking energy, energy that could be used to heal his actual self.

"Hm? So is it your master that you're avoiding, staying there on the physical plane?"

"Oh, no, never," Xellos said. This question was enough to stir him back to a conscious state. He did have to report back to his master, the Beast Master Zelas Metallium. She wouldn't be very pleased that he'd failed to eliminate the minion of the traitor, though. Xellos sighed. Lest she should think he was indeed avoiding her, he should appear before her as soon as possible. Yes, the presence of the golden dragon was interesting, but he could just return back to investigate with his master's approval. For now, he was on his way.

Traveling through the astral plane, he eventually appealed back on the physical plane at his master's home, Wolf Pack Island. She may have been waiting for him, as she just stood outside, watching the clouds in the distance. He bowed to her as he came into her presence.

On the physical plane, Zelas took the form of a serious-looking human woman. She glared at Xellos as she saw him. "Don't bother with any formalities, Xellos, I can tell you don't come with good news. Out with it, then."

"Right..." Xellos said. He explained to her what had happened, from Valgaav's refusal to Filia's interference.

"I'm not pleased with this at all, Xellos."

"I know I was negligent. I must apologize for my failure, Beast Master-sama."

"Right," Zelas said. She paused a moment in thought, then turned back to Xellos. "I have to consider our next actions. But it seems that this hybrid has more than our race as enemies. Do follow the actions of Vrabazard's followers."

"As you wish," Xellos said.