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Silly Slayers Vignettes

Discussion in 'Non-Pokémon Stories' started by Skiyomi, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. Skiyomi

    Skiyomi Only Mostly Dead

    Rating: PG-13
    Fandom: Slayers
    Genre: Comedy
    Status: Ongoing

    A/N: This all started a few years ago when I began generating a list of ridiculous prompts for Slayers fics. The titles alone were fun to think up, but eventually I started wanting to write a few. So this is the repository for Slayers stories that are sillier and shorter than my usual fare. I write them in sets of five and I've got a couple of sets done so far. Honestly, it's been more than a year since I started this thing but I neglected to post them because I wasn't sure where I really wanted to put them. Some of these vignettes are shippy, but not all of them are, which is why I decided to post them here and not in Shipping Fics. If you're sensitive to which pairs might get represented, then I should put out there that I support: Xellos/Filia, Zelgadis/Amelia, Lina/Gourry.

    This first set is over a year old. I'll be posting the rest of the sets in a timely manner. You can also find these stories on my fanfiction.net account.

    Thanks and feel free to comment!

    Silly Slayers Vignettes I

    In Which Jillas Eats the Last of the Pumpkin Seeds.

    Filia rummaged through her cabinet with growing agitation. They had to be here. A pink Tupperware container should be hard to miss and yet… and yet… There was cinnamon, the honey-bear, a week’s worth of tea (read: four boxes with twenty bags a piece), the lemon biscotti, the peanut butter, the fluffernutter spread, the loaf of bread, and on the shelf Val couldn’t reach even standing on a chair: the gin. But no pink Tupperware container.

    “Jillas,” she said, not tearing her gaze away from the pantry as she looked behind the preserves for the sixth time in the last five minutes, “have you seen the pumpkin seeds?”

    “Oh,” Jillas said a shade nervously as he walked into the kitchen after a toddling Val, “about that, boss…”

    “I could swear I put them in here,” Filia said, not really listening. “I thought I made enough this year to last me through November.” She stamped her foot in childish irritation. “I know I put them in here after the trick-or-treaters left last night. I remember it! Where. Are. They?!”

    “Didn’t seem like there were that many in there from what I saw,” Jillas said, shuffling uncomfortably as Val did his impression of a beached seal.

    Filia froze instantly. Then after a moment, revolved around to look at the fox man. Her feet did not seem to move. Jillas gulped.

    “Jillas,” Filia said in a low, dangerous voice, “are you trying to say…”

    Jillas wasn’t sure whether to stand his ground and confess or to high tail it out of there as quick as his paws would carry him.

    “…that Xellos broke in and stole my pumpkin seeds?!”

    One paw completely slipped out from under Jillas and he only barely kept himself from falling over.

    “That makes sense!” Filia declared, vibrating with rage. “Only someone as twisted and evil as him could do something as cruel as stealing other people’s pumpkin seeds!” Truly it bespoke a darkness of soul beyond mortal imagining.

    “Umm, yeah,” Jillas said, wavering but deciding to go with it lest he be maced for his crimes. “That sounds like somefing ‘e would do.” And it did, you had to admit.

    “I’ll show him!” Filia promised, making a fist. Suddenly she gasped. “You don’t think he took my apple cider too, do you?”

    “No that was Gr—” Jillas began, but stopped himself in time. “I mean, yeah. ‘e probably got that too.”

    Filia made a dramatic weeping gesture into her sleeve. “Does his evil know no bounds?!” she asked of the universe at large.

    In Which No Prison Can Hold Zelgadis Greywords!

    It wasn’t a matter of finding a way out of the cell, really, they made that almost comically easy. Perhaps it was because it was so easy that he felt the need to take time to decide just which of the many escape methods available he should use. They’d given him a spoon, and he could always sharpen that to a point using an abrasive surface (like his thigh) and take a hostage with it. That was probably lowest on his list. Things could go bad with hostages.

    He could befriend the sheriff’s dog, using the remnants of his meal as bait, and then train the dog to steal the set of keys. Or perhaps even fashion a crude fishing rod from the materials in his cell to gently reel the keys in to him, without stooping to canine covertness. Loosening the drain cover would lead him to freedom… though admittedly not in style.

    So instead, Zelgadis went for the simple method. He rammed his rocky shoulder against the outside wall of his cell until the cobblestones parted ways with their flimsy mortar. When he had a small hole made it was only a matter of working the edges until they collapsed, leaving him a nice, man-sized exit.

    The corner of his mouth twitched smugly. This small-town jail house really didn’t know what they were in for when they picked him up for melting the temple gates (a trumped up charge if there ever was one). He’d broken out of prisons tougher than this ramshackle hut. And he’d do it again too. No prison can hold Zelgadis Greywords!

    He strolled through the doorway he’d created, only to be smacked in the head by a very large piece of roofing that had been dislodged by his destruction.

    When he regained consciousness, they’d put him in another cell and told him his fine had been increased to account for the damage to his old cell, and could he just pay already? He was only making things worse for himself at this point.

    In Which Xellos Makes Filia a Coupon Book for her Birthday.

    Filia skimmed over the loosely bound paper scraps Xellos had expectantly presented her. Of course, what with the busy life Filia led, she'd already made it clear that coupon books made perfect gifts. Val had crayoned in a set with promises to "not frow food at the wall for a hole week" and "good for won smile!!" While Jillas had provided vouchers to "Give Lord Val a spelling lesson" and "Do afternoon gunpowder experiments in Coopers Field instead of the basement." And Gravos had given wholly practical things like "babysit Lord Val", "cook dinner" and "Yell at Jillas for you the next time he blows something up." She was saving that last one for a day when her voice was particularly hoarse.

    But Xellos... after all these years of horrible, usually dangerous gifts, had finally jumped on the bandwagon and made her a coupon book. Leafing through the noticeably thick stack of vouchers she honestly wasn't sure whether to yell at him or burst out laughing. She was slightly horrified at herself for leaning toward the latter.

    Instead she strove for a calm, in-control voice and asked him: "Xellos... is there a single one of these that isn't for some kind of sex act?"

    "Nope," he declared proudly.

    In Which Lina Gives Xellos a Nickname.

    Lina felt that she was spending entirely too much time underground lately. The last few Clair Bible leads had all involved caves, tombs, and tunnels. Why couldn’t they search for the Clair Bible at a tropical resort or an all-you-can-eat buffet for a change of pace?

    Anyway, like it or not, they were underground once more, trying to navigate through a booby-trapped dungeon where a mysterious, magical treasure was supposed to be hidden. It was a long shot but, what could she say? They’d been going from long shot to long shot lately.

    They’d made it through most of the dungeon pretty okay. Amelia had scraped her knee running from a giant, rolling boulder and Martina had shredded her cape in one of those whirring blades they’d ducked around. But they’d all pretty much made it through in one piece (but not without plenty of whining) to the bottom floor.

    They’d just been going to head through the open doors beyond which the treasure surely lay, when suddenly another trap was sprung and the doors slammed shut. Lina was pretty sure she felt the cobblestone below her left foot sink right before it happened, but smacked Gourry and blamed him for activating the trap on general principle.

    Now they were all stuck grunting and groaning as they tried to pull the heavy doors open. The ropes attached to the handles were rough and hairy and Lina didn’t even want to think what they were made of. She was just glad she was wearing gloves.

    “Geez Gourry, put your back into it!” she commanded.

    “I’m pulling as hard as I can!” he called back.

    “Man, what are those doors even made of?” Lina wondered out loud. She glared over her shoulder. “Hey Xel, mind giving us a hand already?!”

    “I’m pulling as hard as I can too, Lina,” Zelgadis answered testily. “Complaining isn’t going to make it any easier.”

    “Not you,” Lina snapped. “Him,” she said, gesturing her head over to the priest overseeing their efforts with a smile.

    “What, so he’s gonna be ‘Zel’ now too?” Gourry asked, brows meeting in the middle. “That’s gonna get confusing.”

    “Didn’t you hear me?” Lina berated. “I clearly pronounced it with an X!”

    “You can’t hear the difference between a Z and an X,” Zelgadis pointed out bad-naturedly.

    “I heard it,” Xellos piped up. “But in any case,” he added, “I have a perfectly good name and I’d prefer that you used the whole thing.”

    “That takes too long,” Lina whined.

    “Master Xellos has an outstanding name!” Martina rushed to his defense. “Quit trying to cheapen it, Lina!”

    “Anyway, my name has the most syllables, but you don’t feel the need to give me a nickname,” Amelia brought up.

    “Yeah, but… I don’t know,” Lina said, taking a hand off the rope to wave it dismissively. “Amelia just rolls off the tongue.”

    “And Xellos doesn’t?” Xellos asked, sounding only mildly offended in defense of his name.

    “Maybe she’s not willing to waste two syllables of breath on you,” Zelgadis muttered.

    “Well, she’s only willing to use one on you as well,” Xellos said with a shrug.

    “Then are you suggesting that we should change Mister Zelgadis’s nickname?” Amelia asked with a frown. She never used it, but she didn’t really like the idea of anyone calling him ‘Gadis’ or ‘Zelgad’ either.

    “I honestly don’t care about it,” Zelgadis said, but privately shared Amelia’s objections.

    “Nah, Zel was Zel first,” Gourry said, shaking his head.

    “Then I guess we should give Mister Xellos a different nickname,” Amelia chirped, slightly relieved.

    “Now, really, I don’t think—” Xellos began.

    “Yeah, but what?” Lina said thoughtfully. “It’s not like we can use any other parts of his full name. Los just sounds dumb.”

    “Priest guy?” Amelia pitched without much confidence. “Purple-haired guy?”

    Lina shook her head. “Those are all longer than his actual name.”

    “We could just call him ‘You,’” Zelgadis said dully.

    “How about Mike?” Gourry suggested.

    Everyone looked at him oddly. “How do you even begin to get Mike from Xellos?” Lina demanded.

    Gourry shrugged. “Well, it’s short.”

    “It’s not like you can just pick any random thing,” Lina said, completely dropping the rope to put her hands on her hips. “Anyway,” she added, glancing at Xellos. “If you’re going to just pick some shorter name then he looks more like a Dave to me.”

    Xellos just looked dumbly from one of them to the other. “Excuse me?”

    “We’re not getting anywhere with this,” Amelia said, shaking her head and dropping the rope.

    “Yeah,” Lina was forced to admit. “I guess you’re just stuck being Xellos, Xellos.”

    “How sad for me,” Xellos commented.

    “Cheer up,” Gourry said, completely oblivious to Xellos’s sarcasm. “I’m sure someone will come along that can think of a good nickname for you eventually. If not this year, then maybe next year.”

    In Which Lina Makes a Deal with the Devil… Again.

    Lina woke up to the feeling that a pulsating ball of fire in her stomach was about to eat its way through her body, burn through the floor, and not stop until it reached the other side of the planet. She blinked blearily and tried to sit up, even this slight movement causing her fragile tummy to remind her that it might expel the damage she’d done to it if it was tested even slightly.

    She looked around the mostly empty room. It seemed like the restaurant staff had given up hope on getting her to leave and had just gone to bed as had her friends. The only one left was Gourry, who had fallen face first into the soup of the day. His slumber seemed blissful and not fraught with digestive distress. Every so often he’d snore and blow a cheesy little bubble in the broth.

    The table was filled with… well, mostly cleaned plates. She’d managed to eat most of the food before she’d passed into a food coma. In her hazy mindset she couldn’t quite remember everything that she’d eaten, but she was sure she was over her chili powder limit.

    She scootched over to the wall and leaned her back against it to give the acids trying to climb up her esophagus more of a challenge. She knew she’d be better off sleeping this off, but it’s hard to sleep when corrosive liquids are dancing inside your belly. She took a deep, calming breath and closed her eyes.

    “To be honest, I thought putting salsa on the pizza was a little overkill,” a voice said.

    Lina forced her eyes open and grimaced. “Gimme a break,” she said, “I already feel like throwing up.”

    “I was just trying to be sympathetic,” Xellos said, appearing in the chair next to the sleeping Gourry.

    “Well, you need more practice,” Lina said. “Anyway,” she added with a shrug, “salsa goes with everything.”

    “Indeed?” Xellos asked. “Well, in that case, perhaps it was the hot pepper eating contest that put you over the edge? Though I see they’ve put your name up on the wall.”

    Lina looked over at the wall he had indicated where a very short list of shaky-handed signatures followed the legend ‘Mr. Scoville’s Daredevil Pepper Challenge.’ Her name was right next to a scorch mark.

    She clutched her stomach and wondered if it had all been worth it to beat Gourry when she noticed Xellos had something in his hand. It was a small white tablet with a chalk-like consistency.

    “What’s that?” she asked, nodding to it.

    “Oh this?” Xellos asked, looking at the item in his hand as though he’d only just then noticed it was there. “Just something I picked up when touring the Alchemist Guild. It’s their latest product… a medicine meant to calm stomachaches, I believe. They’re not releasing it to the general public yet, so I thought I’d borrow their prototype.”

    Lina stared at the pill with eyes that were not as wide as saucers, but still pretty darn wide. “Give it here,” she said, trying to get up and snatch the pill, but shrinking as her stomach let her know that violent movement was only on the agenda if it involved throwing up.

    Xellos threw the pill in the air and caught it as though he hadn’t heard her. “Yes, I suppose that something like this could be quite valuable to a person in true digestive discomfort… the churning, the burning, the… well, let’s not even mention the rest. An end to all that pain… that could be worth a very high price.”

    Lina narrowed her eyes at him. “What do you want?” she asked flatly.

    “I do believe a cure like this could be worth… oh… five hundred fifty… no, five hundred fifty thousand gold coins,” Xellos pressed on.

    Lina’s mouth had been about to form the words ‘Why would you need that kind of money?’ when her eye caught one of the Demon’s Blood Talismans that was on her bulging belt buckle. She scowled at him. “I told you you’re not buying them back!” she said sourly. It’d been the deal of the century for goodness sakes!

    Xellos gave a defeated shrug and got up. “That’s a shame,” he said. “I thought we could make a fair trade… ah well. Enjoy your heartburn. It’s only after midnight, so you should have at least another six or seven hours to do so… likely more considering what you ate.”

    “I’ll be fine/i],” Lina said certainly, trying to talk over the angry gurgling in her stomach. “I’ll just… drink some water and eat some plain crackers. I’ll be better in no time flat!”

    “I’m sure you will,” Xellos said mildly, if rather doubtfully, as he walked toward the door.

    He had already turned the door handle and had one foot out the door before one of the talismans hit him in the back of the head. He turned around and caught the rest, lobbing the pill into Lina’s open hand after he’d received all four.

    Lina crunched the pill defiantly. It looked like chalk because it tasted like chalk. If Xellos was trying to sell her rock matter and pass it off as medicine than he’d have another thing coming.

    Xellos tipped her head at her politely and said: “Pleasure doing business with you.” He turned to leave.

    “Wait a minute,” Lina said, causing him to turn back. “Why do you want those things back so badly anyway? It’s not like you need a power boost that often.”

    Xellos clucked his tongue and shook his head at her. “Isn’t it obvious, Miss Lina?” he asked, holding up one hand which now had a talisman clamped around its wrist like a bracelet. “They just accessorize so well!”
  2. Skiyomi

    Skiyomi Only Mostly Dead

    Silly Slayers Vignettes II

    In Which Filia Grievously Misuses Xellos’s Vast Powers.

    It was January and the members of the Ul Copt household were industriously trying not to freeze to death. It had already been a nasty winter, where a blizzard seemed like the normal course of affairs, rags were tucked into every crack, and they wore sweaters in so many layers that they could hardly move their arms.

    Then the furnace broke down.

    Filia was prepared. There was a stack of firewood outside that practically reached the roof and her basement was lined with jars of preserved food. But none of them were happy and they all had to make sacrifices.

    …Except of course for Xellos.

    While the rest of them pressed as close to the fire as they could, Xellos would hang back, take his cloak off mockingly and ask Filia to open the window so it wouldn’t be so oppressively hot. …Which always brought about the typical response of Filia wading through her sea of blankets and sweaters over to throttle him.

    Gravos probably had it worst off. His body shed heat so easily that he’d spent most of the winter in a lethargic state. He, Jillas, and Val were pretty much consigned to share a bed every night. It wasn’t a great situation for any of them. Jillas shed, Gravos snored, and despite how often Filia called Val her ‘big, grown-up boy,’ he still occasionally wet the bed. Still, it was better than freezing. Marginally.

    As for Filia herself, Xellos thought she acted awfully cold-blooded for someone who kept insisting she wasn’t a reptile. She’d patched all their old clothes together into a bunch of ugly blankets and cocooned herself in them every night but still shivered away for the longest time. At least until…

    She’d discovered it by accident. Of course she knew that he didn’t have to deal with pesky bodily issues like cold and hunger and fatigue, but it wasn’t until the morning her tea had gone cold that she thought anything more about it.

    He sipped his tea across from her, practically lapping up her grimace as she swallowed her already cooled tea.

    “How can you drink that?” she’d asked irritably, wondering if there were any more drafts around the windows that she could plug up so her friggin’ tea could stay hot for more than two minutes.

    “Easily,” he’d answered. “It’s nice and warm and lemon flavored.”

    She’d poured his cup before hers. There was no way it could still be… but yet it was. Steam was rising from the cup. “How…?” she’d started.

    He’d given her a small but as always smug smile, said: “Just this once,” and reached out a hand to her mug. When he drew it back the tea was steaming.

    That was it… Gravos was cold-blooded and couldn’t hold heat for very long, Jillas was warm-blooded and could do so for longer, but Xellos… body temperature was just a choice for him. He wasn’t warming his hands on his tea; he was warming his tea with his hands.

    Filia took her cup gingerly and drank, scalding her tongue slightly on the liquid. Xellos waited for thanks that he was not going to receive while she thought and thought and thought.

    And that’s how it had happened. Xellos knew she must’ve been truly desperate to take the measures that she did, but there they were. She’d made the request—or demanded, more like it—and it had become a nightly thing.

    “I’m going to bed,” she said severely to him with a glare that ought to have brought spring early it was so fiery.

    He took that cue, closed his book and followed her.

    Filia had arranged it as austerely as she could. They lay on separate levels of the mass of blankets, always with a sheet under Xellos and above her. And she’d told him in no uncertain terms that if he attempted anything even remotely ungentlemanly that she’d kick him so hard that he’d feel it on the astral side. She’d said it with such terrible certainty that he was forced to take her seriously and contented himself with simply making jokes about the situation. His ‘condom blanket’ comment about the sheet between them had earned him a sharp elbow in the gut, but that was the worst of it.

    Xellos might have protested at this treatment. After all, he was a very important monster with powers more than a thousand-fold any dragon. He had to wonder how he’d gotten roped into becoming a disgruntled ex-dragon-priestess’s hot water bottle.

    He also wondered as she nestled close to him, her heat-seeking form snugly fitted against his through the blanket while she let a slight murmur that the part that they needed to fix the furnace would be arriving at the hardware store the next day, how he could get roped into it again.

    Lina Inverse vs. the Slugs.

    It had been a miserable battle that had ended in an embarrassing retreat. They were bruised, bloodied, Gourry was covered in a clear, viscous slime, and Lina Inverse, their fearless leader, the bandit killer, the dragon spooker, the sorcery genius who had fought wizards and dragons and demons and dark lords, was curled up into a fetal position on the grass, rocking back and forth and chewing at her thumbnail.

    “Mutant slugs,” Zelgadis said bitterly. “Who actually keeps an army of giant, mutant slugs?”

    “Oh mad scientists, alchemists, gastropod-enthusiasts…” listed Amelia, who did not always bother with the classification of questions known as ‘rhetorical.’

    “I know that,” Zelgadis snapped, his intellectual pride somewhat hurt by the fact that Amelia had just casually tossed out the term ‘gastropod.’

    “They sure are tough for a bunch of mushy blobs,” Gourry commented, a strand of slime dribbling from his arm to the ground with ponderous slowness.

    “Well, no matter how tough they are we’ve got to beat them if we’re going to get to that underground lab!” Amelia said resolutely.

    “We’d have a lot better chance if someone would’ve actually cast a few spells,” Zelgadis said darkly, glaring at the emotionally damaged sorceress in the midst of a mini-psychotic attack.

    “You know how Lina is with slugs,” Gourry said understandingly. “Everyone’s afraid of something.”

    “Well being a coward about it isn’t doing us any good,” Zelgadis said, directing his comments straight at Lina now. “If you’d just beat them then we wouldn’t have to deal with them anymore.”

    “He’s got a point,” Gourry said more gently. “If you’d just Dragon Slave them our problems would be over.”

    “D-Dragon Slave?” Lina repeated, somewhere between fear and anger. She got up so quickly that they all had to take a hasty step back. She stared them down. “The Dragon Slave?! Do you have any idea what we’re up against?! You think the Dragon Slave’s gonna do us any good?!” She ran a maddened hand through her hair. “Slugs are the lowest, evilest, most disgusting creatures on the planet,” she said, each word an exclamation point. She lowered her voice darkly and added: “They’re even worse than Xellos.”

    “Uncalled for,” a nasal voice from the treetops commented.

    Lina crossed her arms and looked over her companions in indignation. “And you think a Dragon Slave’s going to beat them? Ha!” The fools had no idea.

    Breaking in tentatively across the silence at that defeatist proclamation Amelia tried, “So… if the Dragon Slave doesn’t work on slugs, then what does?”

    Lina’s voice was solemn. “There’s only one thing,” she said, “that works on the likes of them.” She reached dramatically into her mantle, and pulled out an object made of glass and metal. She held the token aloft, letting it catch the faint rays of the sun seeping through the trees. It glittered ominously. It was a salt shaker.

    “Why,” Zelgadis began, “do you have that with you?” He always felt the need to ruin moments.

    “You never know when you’re going to need condiments!” Lina explained as though it were obvious.

    “Do you have any ketchup?” Gourry asked.

    “Shut up, Gourry!” Lina shut him down, before adding: “Of course I have ketchup.” Just how unprepared did he think she was?

    “Well, I don’t see how a single salt shaker is going to do any better than a Dragon Slave,” Zelgadis opined morosely.

    “I say we use it,” enthused Amelia, who was never one to ignore something to rally around. “No villainous creature will be able to stand against us! Not so long as we have the salt shaker of JUSTICE!”

    “The salt shaker… of justice?” Zelgadis repeated, clearly unimpressed.

    “Well,” Amelia said, sounding slightly uncomfortable. “Justice against mollusks at least.”

    “Hey, Lina,” Gourry piped up. “Do we get to eat them after we’ve seasoned them?”

    “No!” Lina exploded in revulsion.

    In Which Jillas Stars in this Summer’s Biggest Blockbuster.

    The scene opens poolside on the first day of summer hot enough to justify suntan lotion and chlorine. Jillas stood on the edge of the pool dutifully observing the fruits of Val’s swimming lessons while making sure to keep out of the water himself. The neighborhood association had been as tactful as possible when they’d informed him that his fur clogged up the filtration system.

    “Look what I can do, Uncle Jillas!” Val declared gleefully, splashing and kicking around in the water.

    “Good job, Lord Val!” Jillas said proudly over the noisy frivolity of the pool. Suddenly, that din was punctuated by heavy footsteps. Jillas did not turn around, but saw out of the corner of his eye a blue-skinned figure in a cape wearing black sunglasses.

    “Is something wrong, Uncle Jillas?” Val asked, noting his adoptive uncle’s frozen demeanor.

    “Nothin’ a’tall, Lord Val,” Jillas said calmly, still not turning around. “Why don’t you go and show your mum all the things you learned in class today.”

    “‘Kay,” Val said unconcernedly, paddling over to where his mother sat, dipping her feet into the pool and refusing the attentions of the purple-haired man who only wanted to buy her an ice cream.

    “It’s been awhile,” Zelgadis said, removing his sunglasses.

    “Not long enough,” Jillas said under his breath.

    “The Seyruun royal bomb squad isn’t quite the same without you,” Zelgadis commented.

    “I’m not interested,” Jillas said certainly.

    “I haven’t even said what it is,” Zelgadis answered.

    “I told you before: I’m retired,” Jillas said in a voice that could’ve etched stone.

    Zelgadis gave a mock shrug. “If you say so,” he said, putting his sunglasses back on. “Headquarters thought you should know—it’s only that a band of mercenaries off the coast of Delemit got a hold of a shipment of some of your nastier rockets.”

    “Tell Prince Phil ‘e can clean up ‘is own messes,” Jillas said, crossing his arms.

    “Fine, fine,” Zelgadis said calmly, almost but not quite turning around to walk away. “It’s just that… apparently some fox girl has gotten involved with the gang. Single mother. Goes by the name of Elena. They’ve got her and her son.”

    Jillas’s face froze as he turned around to face Zelgadis for the first time. A dramatic chord played and the camera panned toward the sky which rapidly faded to black. In the midst of the void, bullet-riddled words formed. They said:

    Coming to Theatres July 16.

    In Which Lina Does not Approve of Cheap After-Dinner Mints.

    The bill that the waiter plopped down on their table was more like a scroll. It had been folded over several times and would have uncoiled like a runaway toilet-paper tube if it hadn’t been weighted onto the table by five white and red pinwheel style mints.

    “Whenever you’re ready,” the waiter said, his upper lip curling in distaste as his gaze fell on Lina and Gourry who were still shoving food in their mouths and not really bothering with silverware anymore. Xellos nursed a cup of tea that the waiter could swear that he’d never brought out while Amelia and Zelgadis’s eyes widened frantically as if trying to indicate to the waiter that they were not, in fact, with Lina and Gourry—that they’d just ended up at that table by chance and didn’t even know the grunting sorceress and swordsman with chili running down their chins. If the waiter noticed any of this, he didn’t indicate it. He merely turned his back and headed back toward the kitchens.

    “Just a minute,” Lina said fiercely, an unfriendly gleam in her eye.

    The waiter froze and turned around. “Yes, miss? How can I help you?”

    She slid out of her chair and confronted the man, grabbing him by the lapels with both hands. “You trying to pull a fast one on me?” she asked threateningly.

    “I’m sorry, what—”

    “You better be sorry!” Lina snarled. “Look, I know what you’re trying to do here. Butter mints, chocolate mints, mint imperials, bêtise… I know you have them. And yet you’re just gonna go and give us a bunch of penny-candy breath fresheners? Did you really think you could get away with that?”

    “I didn’t think that—”

    “That’s right,” Lina said heavily, “you didn’t think.” She let the man go and gave him a sharp look. “Now, go be a good boy and get us some real after dinner mints.”

    “And some fortune cookies!” Gourry shouted after the waiter’s fast retreating back.

    In Which Xellos Wears Leather Pants.

    Oh merciful heavens, why? Why do you do this to me? Is this meant to be penitence for some past crime? It would certainly have to be worse than rushing through my prayers to get to dinner or sleeping in and missing temple a few times or even being a frequent customer of Mademoiselle Francine’s Lingerie Shoppe (It’s not what it sounds like! Where else am I supposed to get holsters for my mace? …In various colors. …With frills.) to warrant such a fierce punishment. Even if I had killed a thousand puppies I wouldn’t deserve something this cruel!

    “I thought you were going to do inventory, not grit your teeth until they crack,” Xellos commented from his uninvited perch on top of the gift wrapping counter.

    Filia’s gaze fell on him for just a second and she immediately regretted it. She turned away to the relief of her shelf and the nice, safe, morally unquestionable vases that lined it. “I can do both,” she managed to choke out through the enamel-on-enamel traffic jam in her mouth.

    It wasn’t just that he was there, bothering her once again when she was trying to do an inventory check in the hours after closing. Goodness knew she was used to that hardship. But this… this was just uncalled for.

    She snuck a glance at him over her shoulder. She didn’t know why he was wearing them or where they came from—generally he seemed to like to stay with the same outfit day in and day out. She’d gotten so used to it that she was fairly certain that to her death she’d be able to name every article (…the visible ones at least) and it had gotten to the point where even the slightest change was jarring, but calling this merely ‘jarring’ was the understatement of the century.

    Why? she asked herself again, miserably. Why couldn’t he have just stuck with his normal, everyday, baggy pants? There was nothing wrong with them! Yet all of the sudden, without ceremony or comment he has to go and show up in… those. Those… black, light-catching, leathery things that are… not baggy. Extremely not baggy. But in fact, rather clingy and skintight and stretched as though struggling just to contain…

    Filia caught her breath. It wasn’t right, that’s what it was. What made him think he could just parade around her shop in such obscenely snug trousers? It was just… distracting. And annoying! And she didn’t like it one bit for your information so you can just stop that smug little imagination of yours right there!

    That’s right! Filia thought, sucking in another greedy breath. This is my place of business and I make the rules, so if I say he’s got to wear something else then that’s the law of the land. Well, I’m not just going to let him walk all over me, she resolved, turning around to face him with her jaw stuck out determinedly. I’m just going to straight out and tell him that he has to take off his pa—

    No, no, No!
    Filia thought wildly, almost entirely losing her balance. That was nearly bad. VERY bad. He’d never let me live that one down.

    Xellos appeared to notice her manic mumbling to herself punctuated by a few deep, forceful breaths as she tried to get her mind back on track after that near brush with disaster. “Filia?” he tried quizzically.

    “Oh, what?” Filia snapped.

    Xellos pointed to his face in the condescending manner that he reserved for children, idiots, and Filia. “I’m up here.
  3. Skiyomi

    Skiyomi Only Mostly Dead

    Silly Slayers Vignettes III

    In Which Filia and Xellos Go Shopping Together.

    Filia picked up a gauzy, pink skirt from a rack marked “Clearance” and studied it carefully. It was hot out—nearly too hot to be out in the marketplace and trying clothes on—but the deals were hotter. She could just barely feel the tiny breeze as the owner of the tent fanned herself from behind the cash register, watching in case anyone tried to make off with her wares.

    The skirt was cute. There was no way to deny that. Filia just wondered why it seemed like everything these days had to be so short and sheer. What’s more, it was getting harder and harder to find slips these days to cover for the translucent quality of popular fabrics. She couldn’t for the life of her figure out why clothing that you could see through in full sunlight was the “in” thing right now. It was probably a sign that her teachers at the temple hadn’t been completely wrong when they said the world outside the temple walls was going to hell in a hand basket.

    But she wasn’t at the temple anymore. And, well, there wasn’t any harm in trying on the thing, was there?

    “Your obsession with pink is starting to seem really juvenile,” a nasally falsetto trilled from behind her. “The blue would bring out your eyes more.”

    Filia felt a twanging in her cheek as a muscle fluttered involuntarily a few times. She ground her teeth together, rolled her eyes back, and offered up a silent prayer to the Fire Dragon King before turning around.

    “This has got to stop,” she said heavily. “You need to change back—now.”

    Xellos beamed at her over that ridiculous feathery fan he’d picked up. He rested a manicured hand on the red silk that clung tightly to his rounded hip. Filia swore he had to have been sewn into that dress. You could even see the indentation of his belly-button through the fabric.

    “But I’m doing this for you,” he insisted laughingly in his familiar, though slightly higher-pitched than usual, voice.

    She grimaced. Gender might’ve been more or less just an option for Xellos, but she didn’t understand why he saw that as an invitation to sprout breasts and giggle coquettishly. It was downright freaky, that’s what it was.

    “I never asked for this!” she screeched, voice breaking slightly.

    He snapped his fan shut and tapped at the end of her nose with the frilly abomination. “But you said you wished you had a girlfriend to go clothes shopping with,” he pointed out.

    She slapped the fan away. “I didn’t mean you! And besides that,” she continued, crossing her arms. “I’d actually have real girlfriends to go shopping with if you hadn’t ruined my book club!”

    He ran a hand through hair that was sleeker than hers even when he wasn’t playing the part of a woman. “Ruined is such a strong word,” he answered her, only mildly sheepish.

    “Not strong enough,” Filia insisted. “And I wouldn’t take clothing advice from you anyway,” she added, looking him up and down with a disapproving expression. “I don’t want to be mean,” she said, lying rather blatantly, “but you’re dressed like a slut!”

    He looked mildly offended. “I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “…Perhaps you’re just not as comfortable with your body as I am with mine.”

    That appeared to set off a light bulb in his head. He leaned over toward her, a pleased expression on his face as though he’d finally figured something out. “Oooh, I see! You’re just uncomfortable because you’re still attracted to me even like this.”

    “What do you mean ‘still?!’” she demanded. “And get your boobs out of my face!” she hissed, shoving him away.

    In Which Xellos Cannot Get a Guinea Pig to Acknowledge His Existence.

    Xellos leaned against his staff, staring intently into the wire cage overflowing with hay that sat on the floor of Filia’s living room. Inside the cage, a furry, rotund creature snuffled around, occasionally snacking on a bit of hay or stopping to groom himself. He did not pay the monster observing his movements any mind—he hadn’t for the last hour.

    Far be it from Xellos to depend on the attention of an overweight rodent, of course. But he couldn’t help but take it rather personally at this point. Filia had acquired the thing two weeks ago as a replacement pet for Val after Snowball’s untimely death due to Filia’s carelessness at leaving her painting supplies out where an especially stupid cat could poison herself on them. Xellos had been largely uninterested at the time. The only value he saw in the new addition to the household was an opportunity to rib Filia’s for naming the creature Nougat. He’d asked her if, given her well-known sweet tooth, bestowing that name should be taken as a confession of her intention to eat the little thing. Of course, he wouldn’t have been able to blame her if she did. Judging by the way it waddled, the creature had to be at least 40% butter.

    He’d been willing to leave it at that comment. But Val, Filia, Jillas and Gravos all seemed to have fallen for the cowlicky critter’s cuteness. Even Filia, who had at first found Nougat’s upkeep more taxing than she’d bargained for, seemed enchanted by him. She and Val played with him often and cooed over him constantly. Nougat lapped up the attention, and wielded his charms in whatever way he could to get food. In fact, anyone who so much as walked by his cage was subjected to his cries for food, paired with round, adorable eyes that no one could say no to.

    Yes, he’d try this on anyone who had access to the kitchen. …Anyone, of course, except one person.

    That’s right. He, Xellos, everyone’s favorite charismatic sociopath, was being snubbed by a guinea pig.

    And other people were noticing it too! Just a few days ago Val had informed his mother, after he and Xellos had let Nougat out for some exercise, that, “Nougat doesn’t like Xelly.”

    “Nougat,” Filia had answered, “has excellent taste.”

    But Xellos had a trick up his sleeve this time. Grapes. Grapes were Nougat’s weakness. He only had to hear the very word from Filia’s lips for his eyes to start glistening with rodent greed.

    “Oh, Nougat,” Xellos called, holding out a purple fruit toward the cage, “I’ve got a grape for you.”

    At first, the plan seemed to be a resounding success. The little creature turned around in his cage and fluffed out his fur. “Wheek wheek! Wheek wheek!” he cried.

    Xellos smiled, triumphant for a moment, until he realized that Nougat wasn’t looking at him or his proffered grape. He was looking beyond him.

    Xellos turned around, to see Filia standing in the doorway, shaking her head at him. He’d expected a, “I bet he can sense how evil you are! Animals can do that, you know!” from her, but instead she just looked…

    Oh no. Was she… feeling sorry for him?

    She walked over and crouched down by the cage. “…He’s probably just not used to you yet,” she informed him. She reached over and opened the top of the cage, lifting Nougat out. She tilted her head toward one of the chairs. “Sit down,” she said.

    Xellos obeyed, watching Filia and the obese little critter she was carrying. “Here,” she said, placing it on his lap. “He’s nice and warm, isn’t he?” she asked.

    “I… suppose,” Xellos admitted. He’d seen Filia knitting the last couple of nights with the guinea pig on her lap. He couldn’t help but feel that the creature had looked slightly smug.

    The guinea pig stared ahead. Were its black, shining eyes finally seeing him? Finally admitting that he existed?

    What passed for thought in a rodent seemed to cross Nougat’s eyes. Then, without any further ado, it peed on him.

    In Which Amelia Practices Face Painting with Zelgadis’s Help.

    “Oooh! You’re going to look so pretty, Mister Zelgadis!” Amelia practically squealed, tracing across the chimera’s face with a thin brush.

    Zelgadis’s groaned inwardly. The last time she’d said that, he’d wound up in a highly confusing situation involving crossdressing. He had no urge at all to revisit that memory.

    He’d never agreed to this. He never would have agreed to this. Yet somehow, despite all that, he’d found himself seated on a stool with Amelia leaning over him and drawing a butterfly on his left cheek.

    Seyruun was having its spring festival next week and Amelia had volunteered to do some face painting for the younger kids. The problem was that she’d never done it before. He’d told her that it probably wasn’t anything to worry about—that there wasn’t exactly a high standard of quality for volunteer festival positions—that she should quit worrying about it already.

    But she hadn’t. And so, there he was, butterfly-emblazoned.

    “I think that’s just about…” Amelia trailed off, making some finishing touches, “…done!” She pulled back to better see her work and beamed with pride. Zelgadis, for his part, felt relief etching his features. Escape was in sight.

    “Now… what should I paint on the other cheek?” Amelia asked, dashing all of Zelgadis’s hopes. “What do you think?” she asked. “A duckling or a bunny rabbit?”

    He wanted to tell her that what he wanted was to be spared this whole ridiculous endeavor. He wanted to say that he’d never agreed to this in the first place. He wanted to say that her ill-prepared volunteerism wasn’t his concern in the least. He wanted to say that he had better things to do with his time than have hopefully-washable images drawn on the rocky surface of his face.

    Instead, for some reason that he couldn’t quite fathom—though he had a sneaking suspicion that it was in some way related to her impossibly wide blue eyes—he said: “…Could you at least make it a manly bunny rabbit?”

    In Which Water-Type Moves are Super-Effective Against Zelgadis.

    “Geez!” Lina exclaimed, pulling her cloak closer around her and shivering. “They just kept coming with those ice attacks, didn’t they?”

    “Freeze Arrow isn’t that bad,” Amelia said, energy low as she leaned against the trunk of a tree, “but when you have that many sorcerers sending them out all at once…”

    “We need to coordinate our attacks better,” Zelgadis deduced, “and figure out the best way to counter our enemies’ moves.”

    “Well… we can just use fire type attacks,” Amelia reasoned. “Fire’s strong against ice.”

    “Wouldn’t the ice just melt and end up being water?” Gourry asked. “Then it’d put out the fire.”

    “Look at that,” Lina said, letting out a low whistle. “Gourry said something half-way intelligent.”

    “It happens.”

    “Well if that won’t work then we can just use earth attacks,” Zelgadis pitched.

    “That won’t work against water magic,” Amelia said, shaking her head back and forth. “Rock and Ground types are weak against water.”

    “What makes you say that?” Zelgadis asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “Oh… you know,” Amelia said, looking a little lost as she sought around for an explanation. “…Erosion, I suppose.”

    “Well, if that’s true then we can’t send a rock type like Zel out there,” Gourry reasoned. “He’d get K.O.-ed in no time.”

    Zelgadis let out a groan as his face fell into his hands.

    “Tactful, Gourry,” Lina said, rolling her eyes.

    “It’s a good thing Miss Filia isn’t here,” Amelia pointed out. “Ice has a really big type advantage against dragons.”

    “Because they’re cold-blooded?” Gourry asked.

    “Maybe,” Amelia said with a shrug. “Anyway, we should probably stock up on some Super Potions before we battle these guys again.”

    “Yeah, and find out where the nearest Center is in case we need to get healed,” Gourry added, nodding. “I’m sure the nurse there would be glad to help us.”

    Lina and Zelgadis stared at the two of them, mouths hanging open.

    “What the hell are you two talking about?!” Lina demanded.

    In Which Lina Loses Her Fang.

    A scream echoed through the forest sending a flock of birds flying from their nests. Barely perceptible and buried under the volume of the wail, was a much quieter sound; a light ping as something small and solid hit the empty cast iron frying pan that Gourry had set by the campfire after he’d finished cooking dinner.

    “I told you that bread was too stale to eat, Miss Lina!” Amelia cried, still wincing from the loud noise.

    Lina grasped her mouth, looking at the rock-hard loaf of bread in her hands as though it had betrayed her. “I was hungry, damn it!” she swore.

    “Oh geez, Lina, it looks like you lost a tooth,” Gourry commented, lifting up the frying pan and tilting it from side to side so that it rattled the detached piece of enamel.

    “If you’re going to eat food that’s obviously past its prime, then that’s what’s going to happen,” Zelgadis said, shrugging unsympathetically.

    “Oh man, that hurts!” Lina shouted, still grimacing as she reached over to get a napkin to hold against her mouth, which was bleeding slightly. When she finally got herself under control enough to actually look at the lost tooth, her eyes flew open in shock. “Nooo! That’s my fang!” she cried.

    “Your fang?” Xellos asked, having watched the mildly disfiguring display with interest.

    “Yes!” Lina exclaimed. She picked up the lost tooth frantically, as though she could somehow jam the thing back into place if she acted quickly enough. “Crap! Without my fang I’m going to look… like, 5% less adorable!”

    “Maybe even 10,” Gourry observed, chin cupped in his hand.

    “That was supposed to be adorable?” Zelgadis asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “Hmmm,” Xellos hummed, looking thoughtfully at Lina. “More like a serious dental problem. It was getting worse over the years too. You’re probably better off losing it like this. If the tooth kept shifting it probably would’ve ended up in your sinus cavity eventually.”

    “Mister Xellos is right,” Amelia put in. “The healers back in Seyruun have been working on a device to fix crooked teeth. It’s basically like a helmet made of wires that pulls your teeth back into place.” She nodded resolutely. “Losing your fang this way was probably a blessing in disguise.”

    “Well excuse me if I don’t feel very blessed!” Lina exploded, hair frizzing wildly.

    Lina ran a hand through her hair and tried to quiet her rage. “Calm down, Lina,” she said to herself. “It’s not all bad. After all, you’ve still got your peaches and cream complexion and your sparkling, brilliant eyes to fall back on. I can still be plenty cute even without my fang.” She turned a sharp look on Gourry. “Right, Gourry?” she asked.

    “Oh, sure,” Gourry said, nodding. “And maybe you’ll be even better off with the tooth knocked out. I mean, there’s nothing cuter than little kids with big gaps in their mouths from missing teeth, right? Maybe it’ll be the same with y—OW!”

    Gourry collapsed to the ground as Lina withdrew her killer right hook.

    “Oh dear,” Xellos drawled, eyes on the beaten, unconscious form lying on the ground. “Now it appears Mister Gourry has lost a tooth too.”
  4. Skiyomi

    Skiyomi Only Mostly Dead

    Silly Slayers Vignettes IV​

    In Which Amelia Campaigns for the Fish People’s Right to Vote.

    Phil realized that he never should’ve let it get this far. Oh, it had begun harmlessly enough. His daughter Amelia had come back from one of her misadventures with Miss Lina ready, willing and able to dive back into the responsibilities and hard work of her life as princess. The one problem was… things had been rather quiet back then. There was an all too rare and brief lull in the chaos that usually characterized the governing experience in Seyruun. With no trouble around to sort out Amelia was obliged to create trouble on her own.

    He’d approved of it when it all began. She was using her spare time to make an effort at brushing up on her philosophy. It was not, Phil had to admit, the most entertaining pastime one could choose, but it was essential for someone in her position in life to learn such things in order to govern with fair-mindedness and wisdom.

    She’d also begun to cultivate a relationship with the new but growing population of fish people that had migrated to landlocked Seyruun after being forced from their old homes by naval activity. At first, Amelia had wanted to avoid them. Like most people, she’d been put ill at ease by their large, staring eyes, their slime covered scales and their strangely sexy legs. But Phil had spoken to her and counseled her not to define them by their appearances, but to justly look into their hearts instead. To her credit, Amelia had gotten past her initial revulsion and formed many friendships. Hardly a day had gone by in the last couple of weeks where she hadn’t run off to the downtown cafes and hatcheries where the fish people of Seyruun spent their off hours so that she could hear their stories of life at sea and sample their cuisine, renowned the world over for its creative use of seaweed.

    And he’d been proud of her. He always knew his daughter was the kind of soul whose justice-filled heart could allow her to look past the superficial differences dividing people and instead focus on the strength of the bonds that tied all creatures together. Surely, that was the hope for a lasting peace in this world.

    It was only when he walked out of the palace one fine summer’s day greeted by a throng of scaly protestors that he realized this venture might’ve gone awry somewhere along the line.

    An orange and black fish person elbowed its way to the front of the crowd, holding a sign in front of its shiny abdomen which read: “Just because I’m a fish doesn’t mean I’m not a person!” The fish standing next to it, one with more lacey, feminine scales held one that simply declared: “Enfranchise now!” A sign hovered between the two figures, held up by a fish person blocked out by the crowd. It read: “Who’s cold-blooded now, Seyruun?”

    And leading the charge, loud,brash and unapologetic, was his daughter Amelia. She held a megaphone to her mouth and shouted out into the frenzied crowd. “Everybody, let them hear you!” she yelled. “We’re here, we float—let us vote!”

    Phil stared nonplussed into the lawn of his palace as a mob of bipedal bass chanted back to her: “We’re here, we float—let us vote! We’re here, we float—let us vote! We’re here, we float—let us vote!”

    “Amelia…” Phil murmured over the aquatic battle cries. “What’s going on here?”

    “I’m sorry, Daddy,” Amelia replied, with a decidedly unapologetic gleam in her eyes. “But you always taught me to stand up to injustice and it’s wrong to deny these people the right to vote just because they’re different. We have to do something about this! And I won’t stop until we’ve won them the treatment that they deserve!”

    Phil stared from his daughter, whose blood was obviously boiling with righteous purpose, to the mass of expectant marine life and then back to his daughter. His adjusted his crown awkwardly in an attempt to dull the pain suddenly throbbing through his head. “Amelia,” he got out in a somewhat pained voice. “Seyruun is a monarchy. No one can vote.”

    Amelia looked back at him, the bubble of her honorable ambition punctured. “…Oh,” she said meekly, looking down at her hands. “…I had forgotten about that,” she finished lamely. “Then I guess… I guess…”

    She looked back up at him, renewed vigor in her gaze. “We’re going to need a lot more signs!”

    In Which Xellos Can Actually Cook Quite Well Thank-You-Very-Much, and Your Unfair Shots at His Supposed Lack of Skill are a Poor Reflection on You More so Than on Him.

    “No,” Filia said firmly, doubling her grip on the handle of the wooden spoon she was holding in case she needed to use it as a weapon.

    Xellos frowned, his displeased expression clashing somewhat with the cheery, ducky-emblazoned apron he had donned. “But why not?” he asked. “You always complain that I never contribute anything to the household when I’m here. Well, here I am—offering to contribute.” He adopted a pitying look. “And goodness knows you could use the help. Don’t you ever wonder why you never seem to be able to get rid of leftovers? Or why Val keeps asking for a dog whenever you give particularly large portions? Or why Jillas ‘accidentally’ knocks his plate on the floor several times a week?”

    Filia pointed the spoon at him. Its value as a demon-beating implement was highly debatable, but at least she could gesture dramatically with it. “You know exactly why not!” she declared. “Don’t think you can trick me—Miss Lina warned me about you!”

    He raised an eyebrow at her. “About…?”

    “About the fact that a kitchen is a weapon on mass destruction under your control; about how the fumes alone from anything you cook can sicken people for miles around; about how you make stuff that cannot even be identified!” Filia piled on.

    Xellos grimaced. “Come now, Filia,” he said. “Do you honestly think I was trying to make something edible when that happened? Even a master chef can make poison if he chooses to do so.” He reached out and grabbed the wooden spoon from her defiantly. “I’ll have you know that I am perfectly capable of cooking a good meal if I actually intend to. It’s not particularly difficult.”

    She glowered, letting a hand rest on her hip. “Maybe,” she said in a low voice, “but I smell sabotage.”

    Xellos snatched up a mixing bowl from the counter and turned his nose up in the air. “The only thing you’ll smell in an hour’s time is a meal you only wish you knew how to make.”


    In an hour’s time the only thing Filia could smell was smoke. It had a crispy, charred sort of smell that her lungs instantly rejected. She coughed to the side so that she was turned away from Val, who was hoisted in her arms and waving merrily at the volunteer fire department lobbing bucketfuls of water at the blackened remains of Filia’s kitchen.

    Xellos stood beside her on the lawn, staring out into the flaming wreckage. A streak of soot powdered his forehead. He let out a thoughtful breath.

    “…I think I know what I did wrong,” he finally said.

    She turned to him, fury wound up in her face, teeth parted as though to either scream or bite. She jabbed him in the chest with her finger. “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SO MUCH AS BOIL WATER IN THIS HOUSE EVER, EVER AGAIN!”

    In Which Zelgadis Makes an Excellent Whetstone.

    “Would you try to hold still, Zel?” Lina asked irritably, examining her short sword with disappointment. “Geez, it just seems like it’s getting dull so fast these days.” She ran the sword along the stony surface of the chimera’s skin where it made an uncomfortable shnnk! shnnk! noise. “Must be all the fights we’ve been getting into.”

    “Don’t you think we should just buy a real whetstone, Lina?” Gourry asked, looking from the sharpening blade to Zelgadis’s incredibly distant expression.

    “Why waste the money when we have Zel?” Lina asked, apparently seeing nothing wrong with using a companion’s skin to refine the edges of her blade.

    “Well… I suppose it’s nice that we can all use our individual talents to help each other,” Amelia said uncertainly, not entirely comfortable with the process going on but trying to make it work. “I mean… that’s what friends are for, right?”

    When Zelgadis spoke it was as though he was engraving every word on their souls: “This is not how friends treat each other.”

    In Which Marco and Sera’s Budding Romance is Brought to an Abrupt End.

    Sure he’d said that she was a stupid-head and they’d both vowed never to play with each other ever again, but… that was last week. This week playing house on the little island between their kingdoms seemed like just about the only fun thing to do. And to be honest, when he was in his better moods, Marco didn’t really mind Sera’s incessant ramblings about true love and fulfilling their dreams. The fact that she had been still going on about this while his mom and her dad were sending their warships out against each other was a bridge too far, sure, and he’d told her to shut up about it. But now even the memory of her crying at his rejection made him squirm with guilt. So they’d patched it up.

    After all, what else were they supposed to do? It’s hard for princelings and princesslings to make real friends when their respective playmates feared that one wrong word from them, said in a moment of childish pique, would land them in either Alto or Baritone’s not-at-all lavish dungeons. He and Sera were all each other had.

    And now Sera was talking about them running away together and building a new life. Kind of a stupid, starry-eyed suggestion, but she seemed set on it. And he had to admit that getting out of Baritone seemed like a good option. His mom’s hatred of Sera’s dad was getting to be too much to handle. The fact that she was massaging her bad moods with Baritone’s famous wine wasn’t helping.

    “That Alto dope…” Queen Baritone muttered as she took another pull of wine. Her hair, usually drawn up above her head, was starting to give against the tension it was usually under and frizz out at the sides.

    “Mommy?” Marco began. There was timidity in his voice, but he tried to push it out with determination. She wouldn’t like what he was about to say, but he was going to say it anyway.

    She barely seemed to notice him from her throne in the empty great hall. “But maybe I’m the real dope for ever thinking he could be anything less than a dope,” she mused.

    “Mommy, I’m running away,” Marco informed her—it wasn’t the first time he’d said it, but this time he meant it.

    She looked at him, as though trying to focus on which of the images in her doubling vision was her real son. “…You’re just like your father,” she said bitterly.

    Marco didn’t know what to say to that. He felt he should try vehemently denying it, because it clearly wasn’t meant positively, but he didn’t have the information to make a real attempt. He decided it was a distracting tactic and he wasn’t going to bite. This was too important. He and Sera had finally decided to really do it—to run away together and start a life somewhere else. Somewhere where the squabbling between their nations would finally stop and they could be free. They’d leave their royalty behind—they wouldn’t have much, but they’d have each other. Sera’s dreams for the two of them were elaborate, fairy-tale-like and… not as stupid as they’d seemed just a short time ago. Maybe they could really give this “romance” thing she went on and on about a try. They were a bit young to get married, but Romeo and Juliet had been young too, right? This was their way out of this.

    “Maybe I should’ve picked Sera instead,” Queen Baritone said thoughtfully, swilling the wine in her glass around. “I thought a boy would be easier to handle than a girl, but it seems I was wrong.”

    Marco’s eyebrows drew together. “What are you talking about, mom?”

    The Queen let out a sigh. “It’s too late now—she’s been corrupted by the dolt of a father of hers,” she concluded. “He’s probably taught her to hate me—me! Her own mother!”

    Marco took a step back. “M-mother? You’re—”

    “Of course, I taught you absolutely no respect for your father, so I suppose we’re even,” she decided grudgingly. She looked at Marco again as though just remembering he was still there. “…You were saying something about running away, Marco?” she asked, trying to regain her place in the conversation in her alcoholic haze.

    “Umm… no,” Marco answered, his mind reeling. “I’m just… gonna go upstairs and throw up, okay?” he said, turning on his heel toward the door. “I probably won’t be back for a while.”

    In Which Filia Contemplates the Fact that Xellos is Old. Good GOD is He Ever Old!

    “Why?” Filia asked, raking her fingers through her hair as Xellos looked on at her discomfort from his perch on her kitchen counter with only mild interest. “Why of all the places in this world and beyond that you could possibly be do you always insist on being here?!”

    He flipped a gilded-edged page of the book he was reading. “There’s no need to make a fuss, Filia,” he said. “I’m only reading. It’s not as though I’m bothering you.”

    Filia found his last sentence highly debatable, but instead of arguing it, she simply stated: “My house is not a library! Why would you choose to read here?”

    “Well, that’s very simple,” Xellos said as though it didn’t even need to be explained. He raised up his index finger to make his point. “The lighting is just so good here!”

    Filia was a big believer in the idea that actions speak louder than words; so instead of listing places with better lighting or asking him if that even mattered since she was pretty sure that he could read in the dark, she just walked over to the window by the back door, pulled at a cord, and sent the blinds clacking down, plunging the room into shade.

    He looked at her. Tiny pinpricks of light dotted his face at even intervals, like a seam, where the shutters connected. “Don’t get cute with me, Filia,” he warned, closing his book. “I invented cute.”

    She dusted out a “Pshaw!” for that one, though a “Pfft!” might have done the job just as well.

    “And how would you know if I didn’t?” he asked archly. “You weren’t even alive over a thousand years ago when the world was sadly lacking these dimples,” he said, tapping his cheek proudly. “Luckily I came on the scene to engineer the concept, and since then the world has been significantly more charming.”

    Filia let out a disgusted sound. It wasn’t just that his dimples were more punchable then charming—it was more than that statement had suddenly made something that should’ve been obvious come into sharp focus for her. “Good Gods…” she said, eyes wide as her epiphany hit her. “You’re… so old!”

    He twitched. Apparently this hadn’t exactly been the response he was looking for.

    “Ancient, more like it!” Filia went on, exploring the horror of this idea to its fullest extent. “Maybe you really did invent cute—along with fire and the wheel!”

    “There’s no need to go that far,” he muttered, jumping down from the counter and smoothing out his cape.

    “I most certainly think there is!” Filia disagree. “You could’ve gone to my hatching and still had, like, a millennium under your belt at the time. Do you have any idea how creepy that is?”

    “It’s not that creepy,” he tried.

    “It’s very creepy!” she insisted. It was especially creepy given the… well, the courting by annoyance Xellos seemed so keen on taking up with her. And that time at the Christmas party… and that brief but memorable moment in the storeroom… and that one time after he’d read Val a bedtime story when she’d felt so full of… well, feelings that she’d very nearly asked him to stay.

    Him. Old man Xellos. Old man Xellos and his dimples from the dawn of time.

    “But… I’m still cute, right?” he asked, gesturing hopefully at his face.

    “Nothing about this scenario is cute!” she snapped.

    His forehead crinkled and he looked at the floor. His lip jutted out just very slightly—a measured distance if there ever was one. Not enough to be overdone—just enough to make his point.

    Filia knew she was being manipulated and resented how much it was working. “Fine!” she said, giving up. “I suppose you’re cute—for a geezer, at least.”

    He sauntered over and gave her a little kiss on the nose. “Like I told you, Filia,” he said. “I invented it and perfected it.”
  5. Skiyomi

    Skiyomi Only Mostly Dead

    Silly Slayers Vignettes V

    In Which Amelia is Comforted by Strong, Rocky Arms.

    Amelia nuzzled her face against his shoulder, wiping a tear away. It wasn’t as though the rocky surface was ideal for tears—no, it had very little in common with a gentle handkerchief. But yet it gave her more comfort than any monogrammed scrap of fabric could possibly hope to.

    “Thank you,” she said, squeezing her savior tight, “for being here. It’s been so hard dealing with everything… there are so many responsibilities… and with grandfather gone it’s been so…”

    “There’s no need,” the chimera responded, returning her embrace.

    “I just know it’s not always easy for you,” Amelia responded understandingly.

    “It’s worth it… for you,” he answered, all heartfelt sincerity. “Now,” he said, lifting her chin so she was looking directly at him, “let’s figure out a way to cheer you up. Maybe some ice cream in the kitchens? Or we could see if the library has any new Justice Girl books?”

    Amelia’s face broke into a grin. She kept one arm around his partially golem frame as she allowed herself to be led out of the palace hall. “You always know just how to cheer me up, Eduardo.”

    They left Zelgadis, standing behind a column in the hall of Seyruun’s castle, to stare slack jawed at the two retreating figures. It took him several minutes before he was able to demand, of the universe in general: “Who the HELL is Eduardo?!”

    In Which Xellos Gives Lord Beastmaster a Mother's Day Gift That She Does Not Really Appreciate.

    "What is this?"

    Xellos's smile wavered, but only slightly. He gave his most respectful of shrugs. "Oh, just a little present, Lord Beastmaster. I've been told that it's the time of year, after all."

    Zelas Metallium turned the ceramic ornament in her grasp, examining it in mystified silence. It was a vase: diminutive and with a large opening that gave it a squashed appearance. The glaze applied to it gave it a tacky, glittery sheen. The letters "MOM" had been scratched into the side.

    "Actually," Xellos said, levelling with her, "I really only have it because Filia wouldn't let me in her pottery sculpting class unless I had a legitimate project that needed doing."

    That at least was not a surprise. Virtually any time her subordinate wound up doing something unbelievably stupid the name "Filia" factored somewhere into the reasoning. "And you… made this yourself?" she questioned, holding the earthenware out and away from her as though it was a bag of dung.

    "Well…" Xellos began hesitantly, "I'm not sure how much credit I can claim considering Filia was standing behind me and guiding my hands all the while I was working with the pottery wheel." He paused reflectively. "It was actually a bit unexpectedly romantic," he added. "…At least until the slab got lopsided and a wad of wet clay flew into her face."

    Lord Beastmaster fished out her cigarette holder and held it between her teeth. "How embarrassing for you to go off prematurely on her like that," she said, lighting the end with a spark.

    Xellos cleared his throat awkwardly. "In any case, I hope you'll find some use for it, Lord Beastmaster."

    A smoldering column of ash slid down the cigarette as Lord Beastmaster took a lengthy drag. She crushed the still smoking butt into the bottom of the vase. "I'll treasure it," she said dryly.

    In Which Lina and Gourry Run Afoul of an Erotic Baker.

    "Get out of my kitchen, you witch!" the baker shouted, waving a pink and somewhat wobbly tube of dough threateningly in the direction of his uninvited guests.

    "Not a chance, old man!" Lina shot back, practically vibrating with fury. "You're going to pay for your crimes against food!"

    "Lina… calm down," Gourry said wearily, crouched down to avoid the fireballs and benippled mounds of cake.

    "I will not calm down!" Lina yelled. Her hair frizzed wildly and the lower lid of her left eye juddered at intervals.

    "I think you're just mad because that cake had bigger—" Gourry began in a quiet, but unfortunately not quiet enough, voice.

    "Shut up!" Lina snapped. She turned to smack him, but then withdrew in revulsion. "And take that thing out of your mouth!"

    "But I'm hungry…" came his muffled reply.

    In Which Filia Shops For Gardening Equipment and Xellos Falls in Love With Her All Over Again.

    As far as Filia was concerned, vases made excellent decorations all on their own. But it never hurt to add some of the beauty of the natural world into the mix. And when you run a vase shop… well, it pays to make sure your landscaping is pretty enough to set passersby to thinking about how nice a bouquet of flowers would look in their den.

    Val was certainly having fun with it. Gravos was pushing a wheelbarrow along the line of potted plants for sale and Val was trailing after, stopping to smell each and every bloom. Momentarily inhaling a caterpillar had done nothing to dampen his zest for nature.

    She was a little concerned with letting Jillas purchase the fertilizer. He claimed his pyrotechnic days were over, but his enthusiasm one the subject seemed to suggest he thought of it more as "potential bomb-making material" than "animal waste."

    As for she and Xellos… well, they were strolling through what Xellos had insisted on calling "the murder aisle." In another circumstance she might've made some sort of comment about him seeing things through the warped, destructive prism of the monster race. But she couldn't say the thought hadn't occurred to her when she saw a machete or a pair of gardening shears strong enough to lop off a finger.

    Still, you needed strong and potentially deadly equipment to keep the vines and hedges in check. If this meant having to shop in the same section as serial killers, then so be it.

    She picked up one of the larger devices on the shelf. It was the coming thing, or so she'd heard—gas-powered for extra cutting strength. If the teeth around the edge of the blade could cut nearly as well as people said, it would be the perfect thing for dealing with stubborn shrubs and wind-felled trees.

    She pulled the cord on the edge of the device and it roared to life. The cutting chain circled the blade so fast that the sharp edges blurred. Loud, but no doubt very effective.

    She shut the chainsaw off and looked up to see Xellos staring at her with his mouth open. "What?" she demanded crossly.

    When Xellos finally spoke his mouth was dry. "Buy it," was all he said.

    In Which Zelgadis Does Not Have a Goatee.

    Zelgadis laid out the tablets they'd discovered under the hidden compartment. The illumination from the lighting spell could only do so much in the otherwise pitch-black dungeon, but he could at least make out a little of the carvings. He couldn't read the language, not completely at least, but parts of it were familiar.

    "Interesting," he said to himself. He rested his chin between his thumb and index finger. "If I had a beard, I'd stroke it."

    "You mean you don't?" came Amelia's voice from behind him. The light in the room shifted as she leaned forward in confusion.

    Concentration completely broken, Zelgadis turned to stare at her. "Why would you—?"

    "Oh, I think I know where she's going with this," Lina interrupted with a fervent nod. "It's like your…" she trailed off, gesturing vaguely at her own face, "…rock formations or whatever. It's kinda shaped like a goatee."

    "Gee, I never stopped to think about that," Gourry—who never stopped to think about a lot of things—said. "What do you even do about shaving, Zel? Do you have to use a sander or something?"

    "Yeah… I've never been clear on the whole hair situation," Lina commented, lacing her fingers behind her head. "And I'd kinda like to keep it that way."

    Rage and embarrassment had purpled Zelgadis's face by this point. "…Can we not talk about this?" he asked through gritted teeth.

    "…I just thought it looked distinguished…" Amelia said in a small voice.

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