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“Filia, what in the name of L-sama did you think you were doing?”
Filia sat meekly, her head bowed, as Xelloss paced the room back and forth in front of her, clearly agitated and frustrated with her. He had brought them back to her house, which had basically become a second home for him, as well. She had put the baby to bed, where Elisa was still sleeping soundly. Filia felt somewhat ashamed at the way she had run off, and guilty for not telling him, but she hadn’t thought, she’d just acted. She hoped he would understand.
“I…just wanted to get away,” she said. “I didn’t want anything to harm my baby.”
“Filia, she’s my baby, too,” Xelloss reminded her. “Did you honestly think I would let anything harm her?”
Her eyes grew bright with tears and anger. “You’re not here all the time!” she cried. “How am I supposed to assume that you’re going to just show up in the middle of an attack? What if you hadn’t known that I was being attacked? I can’t…I can’t deal with that, Xelloss. You don’t know how scared I was that I might lose her…”
“Of course I know,” he replied, his voice low. “I know. But…I can’t be in two places at once. I have other responsibilities, as well.”
Filia nodded dejectedly. Of course she knew that. She’d told him herself that she didn’t expect him to change and drop all other loyalties to his Master. It was still hard to accept it. “I still don’t understand why we couldn’t just go away. I can’t just sit here. I hate the fact that they all know where I am. I don’t want to live in fear for my life or my daughter’s life.”
Xelloss sighed, running a hand through his hair. “If I were to turn against the Mazoku race, I would be signing my own death sentence. Even if we ran away, they would find us, no doubt. You saw that when you ran away and one of Dynast’s lower-level servants found you. Had it been his general, you would be dead now, and Elisa would be theirs, maybe even dead, too. Running away is not even an option. You just have to trust me, Filia. If you never trusted me before, you must trust me now.”
Filia nodded again, biting her lip. She trusted him, though it went against every fiber of her being. “I do trust you, Xelloss. But what do I do? If you aren’t able to be with me all the time, where do I go? Why did you bring me back?”
Xelloss leaned down and touched her face gently. “I brought you back because I missed you. And because I want you to come with me.”
“Go with you? Where?”
“To Wolf Pack Island.”
Filia’s mouth dropped open in shock. “W-wolf Pack Island? You think I’ll be safer THERE?”
“I’ll be there more. And no one will attack you there.”
“No! I’m not going there. You said yourself how your Master doesn’t like our relationship. She’ll kill me!”
“No, she won’t. She doesn’t have any reason to kill you.”
Filia stared at him for a moment, and then said, “What makes you think she doesn’t have the same objective as Dynast?”
That question took Xelloss by surprise, and he wasn’t sure how to answer at first. Surely she wouldn’t…would she? But then he never knew her incentives to do anything until she told him as such…that’s the way Beast master had always worked. But he couldn’t tell Filia that…he had to get her to come with him or he’d be in serious trouble.
“I’m sure she doesn’t,” he said. “And even if she did, I wouldn’t let her take Elisa. You have to trust me. Please come with me.”
Filia bit her lip and thought for a moment. “No.”
Xelloss sighed again. He’d forgotten how stubborn Filia could be. “I promise you and Elisa will be safe,” he said. “You know I don’t promise to do much.”
It was true. He didn’t promise much, usually because it was pointless…chances were he’d never keep it anyway. But this was different.
He was truly dancing on thin ice. Filia was making it increasingly difficult to do anything for his Master, and he did not want to get on her bad side. At the same time, his duties were making it increasingly difficult to maintain his already-fragile commitment to Filia. He loved her. He didn’t want to lose her, and he knew that that was more important now than ever, now that they had a daughter. He didn’t want to lose either of them. What would he do if he was forced to choose between them and his Master? It seemed to be a no-win situation…
“Filia, please,” he said, beseeching her to listen to him just this once.
She shut her eyes and turned her head, her insides in turmoil. She couldn’t believe she was doing this… “Okay, Xelloss,” she said quietly. Then she glared at him, her blue eyes blazing. “But I swear, if - ”
Filia’s words were cut short when Xelloss planted his lips firmly on hers, silencing her immediately. She instantly forgot what she was going to say as his arms enfolded her in a crushing embrace. Her arms wrapped around him then as she returned his kiss.
“Gods, I’ve missed you,” he whispered against her lips.
“….I’ve missed you too…” she replied.
“This is where she lives?”
Filia, holding Elisa, and Xelloss stood in the front foyer of the gigantic mansion where Zelas Metallium made her residence. It was garishly decorated, with fine sculptures and paintings on every wall. A huge chandelier hung from the ceiling, its light oddly doing little to brighten the darkness that seemed to thrive all around them. Filia suppressed a shudder and swallowed nervously.
“Yes. Master has a taste for the overly-expensive,” Xelloss replied, watching as Filia gaped at the décor in disbelief. “Follow me, her room is this way.”
“Why can’t you just teleport us there? I want to get this over with.” Filia said as she followed him up the stairs and down the hall, staying as close to him as possible. She looked around nervously and clutched her daughter tighter to her.
“I could. But I need to talk to her first.”
“That’s a secret,” he replied.
Filia snorted in annoyance. “It’s always going to be confidential, isn’t it? Dammit, Xelloss, if she says anything about me or my baby, I want to know!”
“Filia, don’t push it,” he warned. “It’s not my choice to keep things from you. I value my life.”
“Don’t push it?! You tell me to trust you but how can I when I never know what’s going on?! I don’t know what’s going on now! If she thinks she can order me around like she orders you around, she has another thing coming! I’m not going to live in fear…I’ll kill her if she takes my baby…” She was close to hysterics now, he could tell. She was beyond nervous.
He turned around and grabbed her arms, bringing her face inches from his own. “Listen to me, Filia. I will not let anything happen, alright? I don’t know what’s going on either, but if I did, I couldn’t tell you right now. That’s why you have to trust me that I’ll work this thing out to the end. Must I keep reminding you that Elisa is my baby, as well?” He sighed, pausing for a moment. “All of this is strange, Filia, and hard for both of us to deal with. But it will work out. I promise.”
Filia nodded, having calmed down. “You had better keep your promise,” she said.
They stopped at a set of large double doors decorated with paintings of wolves. Filia’s heart began to pound wildly and she felt like she was going to faint as she remembered again who waited on the other side of those doors.
Xelloss turned to Filia and placed a small kiss on her cheek. “Wait here.” He placed a light kiss on top of Elisa’s head, and then disappeared, leaving her alone.
Now all she could do was wait.
“Xelloss. You’ve succeeded.”
He bowed before his Master, who grinned sadistically and took a long swig from her glass of blood-red wine. “Yes, Master,” he replied. “She and my daughter are here.”
“Good work. What do you plan to do with them?”
I could ask you the same thing…Xelloss thought, but quickly forced it away. “I planned on keeping them here until the threat has diminished…or been eliminated.”
Zelas laughed. “Eliminated? Are you suggesting that you take offensive measures?”
The Beast master leaned back in her chair and regarded her General-Priest thoughtfully. “You do know that it will cause more problems than necessary,” she said.
“They are nothing I can’t take care of.”
“You are willing to fight him then?”
“He will not live if he harms Filia or takes my child.”
She laughed again. “Such passion! I haven’t felt this kind of enthusiasm from you in a long time. That little dragon must have a strong hold on you for you to dedicate yourself to her like you have.” Her voice grew deadly. “Take care, Xelloss, that you do not forget where your true loyalty lies.”
His eyes snapped up to meet her cold gaze. He said nothing, deeming it best to keep his mouth shut at that moment. She smirked
“I’ll put up with this game you’re playing for now,” she said. “I find this attraction you have for her intriguing, that you would be willing to put yourself on the line. You are foolish to pick a fight with Grausherra. He will only crush you and everyone else who gets in his path to get what he wants. Unfortunate for you and your dragon.” She yawned, feigning her boredom over the matter. “I offer no help to you, as this is not my problem. As long as she stays here, I promise her safety, for I will not tolerate intruders on my island. Make sure she does not get in my way or cause any trouble for me. As for eliminating the problem, that is your concern. You got yourself into this, you’re going to get yourself out of it…or die. Such a pity.”
Zelas shook her head and then waved her hand towards him, signaling to him that he was dismissed. “Bring her in. I want to meet her.”
Xelloss rose to his feet, and then opened the door for Filia to come in.
Filia was unsure of what to do when she walked in at Xelloss’ bidding. He said nothing as he closed the door behind her, and led her over to where Zelas was seated, leaning back in her throne-like chair. The Beast Master was not like Filia had expected. In place of a gigantic primal-looking woman with fangs and claws that Filia had imagined, there was a slender woman with long blonde hair and graceful limbs. However, when Zelas turned her head to look at Filia, the dragon maiden suddenly became fixed with an unmistakably predatory smile. It sent chills down her spine.
“Ah, Filia ul Copt, am I correct?” the Beast Master said, her voice soft and silken. “The dragon who stole my servant’s heart…or lack thereof.” She laughed at her joke as if it were the funniest thing in the world. Filia laughed simply out of nervousness.
Zelas rose from her chair and began circling Filia, inspecting her much like a predator inspects its prey. Filia fought back the urge to bolt and run as far away from those piercing eyes as she could. She stood straight and still, her eyes locked on Xelloss, who stood off to the side, watching. He half-smiled reassuringly, which did little to alleviate her nervousness.
“Hmmm…yes,” Zelas said. “Indeed. You are very pretty.” She stopped in front of Filia and her gaze drifted down to the baby in Filia’s arms. Filia’s eyes widened and she took a step back out of pure instinct, not liking the look in the beast master’s eyes.
“What is her name?” Zelas asked.
“E-e-elisa…” Filia stammered.
Zelas chuckled at Filia’s reaction. “Tsk tsk, my dear dragon. I wouldn’t harm your baby. After all, your little daughter is much like a granddaughter to me. Xelloss is like my son. We’re all just one big happy family!” She laughed heartily again. Filia and Xelloss both sweat dropped.
Zelas sat back down in her chair, and took another long drink from her glass. “Now then, it’s late and I have things to attend to. Xelloss, why don’t you show Filia and the child to their room.” She waved her hand in dismissal, and Xelloss not-too-quickly led Filia out of the room.
Once they were gone, Zelas was still grinning to herself. “Yes…one happy family…”
“Xelloss, I’m not so sure about this,” Filia said as she sat on the bed with Elisa. The little girl was giggling and cooing at the funny faces Xelloss was making, and she clapped her hands together. “Would you pay attention to me, please!?” Filia cried.
“Sorry, Fi,” Xelloss said. “What aren’t you sure about?”
“THIS! Did you see the way she was looking at me?”
“She looks at everyone that way. Like she would rather tear you apart than look at you. You’ll get used to it soon enough.”
Filia shuddered. “I don’t know if I can live in this house with that woman. What will I do? I don’t even know my way around here? What if I get hungry, or what if Elisa needs something? I don’t even know where to find anything! What if one of us gets injured, or sick? I-”
“Filia, don’t worry,” Xelloss interrupted her. “Everything will be provided for you and Elisa.”
“Well I don’t want to end up providing HER with a meal!”
Xelloss groaned, and picked up his daughter, not wanting to get into an argument with Filia at the moment. Elisa grinned at him and giggled again.
“I don’t even have to do anything and she thinks I’m funny,” he commented. “Why can’t you be like that?”
Filia snorted. “Because I know better.”
He stuck his tongue out at her and grinned as he hugged Elisa. His eyes then narrowed in confusion, and he rubbed his hand over Elisa’s back. “She’s got something on her back...”
Filia laughed. “Of course, silly…those are her wings. And look, she’s got a tiny tail as well. You didn’t know that?”
“I haven’t had a lot of time to notice much about her, you know.” he pointed out sadly. “I seem to have missed out on a lot by being gone so much.”
Filia reached out and touched his arm. “At least you’re here now,” she said. “She knows who you are. That’s all that matters.”
He nodded, and then leaned in to kiss her. Just as their lips met, Elisa began to cry, wailing loudly. Filia groaned. “She must be hungry.”
Xelloss, who was holding her still, glanced down at his daughter, then shook his head. “Oh, no. That’s not it” He began to turn a little green.
Filia grinned evilly. “It’s your turn.”
“Welcome to fatherhood,” she announced.