Shadowy Bonds

Disclaimers: Xellos and Filia are not mine.
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Part 4 - Change

Filia sighed as she gazed absently at the rain tapping against her bedroom window. She was beside herself with worry. After only three days of being on the island, seemingly trapped inside of the huge, dreary mansion because of the equally dreary, rainy weather, she was now pacing back and forth in her room, or sitting at the window lost in thought.

She had been expecting Xellos to be there, having found some sort of comfort by his presence. He had become a familiar, somewhat comforting presence to her, something that she had never thought would happen. However, he was not there, leaving the day after he brought here there, saying he had some things to take care of. She could have screamed and thrown a fit like she usually did, but was too tired and worn out from the past days’ events. And so now she was alone with her thoughts and virtually no one to talk to.

She didn’t trust Xellos’ master. She didn’t believe for once second that the Beastmaster had her or Elisa’s best interests in mind, but had her own twisted intentions. Filia hadn’t missed the chilling look in the dark lord’s eyes when she looked at Elisa. She was sure she didn’t want to know what Zelas was thinking, but she also knew that it wasn’t something good. It couldn’t be.

However, the dark lord didn’t seem to have her and Elisa’s harm in mind. Much to Filia’s shock and great relief, food was delivered to her bedroom door by an unseen presence. She always heard a gentle knock announcing it, but when she opened the door, there was no one. It rattled her, but she wasn’t about to complain. She had discovered a small room with a bath and a place to do laundry near her room, and so she couldn’t complain about that, either. All of her and Elisa’s needs were taken care of.

Then what was the dark lord up to? Filia was still not sure what to make of this whole situation. What was Xellos’ point for bringing her there, other than the reassurance that the Dark lord Dynast would not attack the island? Well, it was a good point, but was Xellos sure they were safe? Or was it Zelas’ plan to keep her and Elisa there? Filia was inclined to believe the latter.

As much as she tried to deny that Xellos would turn against her after all they had been through, she could not deny that he was a Mazoku, and his nature was unreliable and unstable. She thought she could handle that, and love him anyway, hoping against hope that her love would turn him good. But it was hopeless. She could believe she could turn him good and try all she wanted, when in the end, he would only pull her down into evil with him.

The Golden Dragons that she’d contacted in the Katato Mountains after the Darkstar incident had told her that before. She was hoping that they would be different from the clan she knew at the Temple of the Fire Dragon King, but she found that they were just the same. They were narrow-minded, controlling, paranoid…and proud. Too proud. She was tired of being so high-and-mighty that she looked down upon others. During her travels with Lina and the others, she’d learned that she and her race were not as pure as she thought they were, and it gave them no right to consider themselves the highest of all beings. She hated how her race looked down on other races as if the Golden Dragon race was the only race good enough to walk the earth. She didn’t want to be like that.

That was one reason she allowed herself to fall in love with Xellos. Perhaps the reason that the Mazoku and the Ryuzoku always were at war was because the Mazoku were tired of being looked down upon as filth. She didn’t know when she’d started to think like this, and she didn’t even know if it was logical, but she had had the crazy notion to try it.

And it seemed to work for a while. Until the first time she was attacked. After that, it seemed that Xellos began to question his feelings for her, and his loyalty to his race. She had long ago given up her loyalty to her race, deeming them heartless, and it was not surprising when they turned their backs on her when she began her relationship with Xellos. She didn’t know how they found out about it, for she had tried to keep it a secret, but she supposed that they had spied on her. Paranoid.

Filia shook her head. She had found herself thinking like this a lot over the last few days. With nothing much to do, her mind wandered to thoughts that she’d tried to avoid thinking about as long as she could. Now that she didn’t have much to occupy her mind, she was plagued by these thoughts. They were beginning to annoy her.

Having had enough of sitting around and waiting for something to happen, she gathered her courage and decided to explore the mansion, hoping that nothing hideous and evil would jump out at her and grab her and Elisa. She scooped Elisa up and secured the baby in her carry-pouch that Filia hooked around her waist, allowing her hands to be free. She felt silly wearing the carrier as if she were going on a hike, but she wanted to be able to explore freely, and if she did run into trouble, she wanted to be able to defend herself. Therefore, she needed her hands to be free.

“Ready, Elisa?” she asked the baby.

Elisa gurgled and made baby noises, kicking her arms and legs as if to say, “Let’s go!”

Filia started by simply opening doors to see what was inside. She found several ornately decorated rooms with antique furniture and exquisite paintings. But the paintings were everywhere, seemingly on every wall. Most of the paintings were of people, a few of wolves. Beautiful paintings, in great detail. Filia was impressed by all of them, being a lover of beautiful art, herself. Perhaps the Beastmaster was not as different from herself as she imagined. The only difference was that she liked paintings with a much more positive theme. Most of these paintings depicted people with sad faces, or angry scowls. The wolves and animals were painted with angry snarls and their fur on end.

Filia eventually discovered a wonderful painting of a man standing on a cliff, a wolf by his side. The scene looked very serene and peaceful, something different from the rest of the paintings. It was a sunny day, the wind whipping the man’s hair around his face. Filia looked closer…and realized that the man was Xellos. For some reason, he looked different. She couldn’t place it…

“Do you like it?”

Filia squealed and jumped, whirling around at the sound of the smooth, sultry voice to find Zelas standing there. The Beastmaster had her cigarette in hand, and was regarding Filia with the same predatory gaze, only this time those glowing Mazoku eyes held a question in their depths, and curiousness.

Filia didn’t realize she was staring until Zelas repeated her question. “I said, ‘Do you like it?’ The painting.”

“Oh..uh...yes, I do,” Filia said weakly. She wasn’t comfortable with the Beastmaster’s close proximity. Her hand instinctively strayed to her side, ready to grab her mace if she needed to defend herself.

Zelas grinned and laughed lightly at Filia’s fear and nervousness. “Such tension, dragon girl. You don’t need to worry your pretty little head about me. I assure you, you needn’t be afraid of me.” Yet, she added in her head. She continued smiling. “I merely wanted to know what you thought of my paintings. Are you a painter? An art lover?”

“Both,” Filia replied, swallowing hard and trembling. “I collect art, as well as antiques. I paint and make pottery in my spare time…”

Zelas puffed on her cigarette, watching Filia, and then nodded towards the painting of Xellos on the cliff. “What do you make of this one?”

Filia turned back to the painting, briefly wondering why the dark lord was asking her these questions. Still, she wasn’t about to act like she was afraid of Zelas. She had to have some pride somewhere. She regarded the painting, thinking about it again, and remembered her thoughts before. “Tell me,” she asked. “Why does Xellos look different in this painting?”

Zelas moved beside Filia to look closer at the large painting. “Look different?” she asked.

“Yes. He looks different somehow…I can’t quite place it.”

“Well…perhaps it was because this painting is set during the War of the Monster’s Fall. Wartime changes everyone, including monsters and dragons, don’t you agree?”

Filia’s first reaction was to bristle and make some angry remark, but she bit her tongue and realized that the Beastmaster was right to some extent. “I agree, war does change everyone,” Filia replied. “But it doesn’t just change them for that moment. It changes them for life. Maybe even for eternity.”

Zelas turned to meet Filia’s eyes. There was something in the dark, piercing gaze that Filia couldn’t read. “Yes, war does change eternity,” Zelas said quietly. “I only wonder what others will do with their change.”

As Zelas stared at her, Filia was suddenly filled with the desire to know what the dark lord was thinking, and yet she was afraid. She was unsettled by Zelas’ gaze upon her, and so she tore her eyes away and looked back at the painting. “If this is supposed to be during the War, why does the setting seem so peaceful?”

Zelas chuckled softly. “There is always a calm before the storm,” she replied, then turned back to look at the painting, her gaze turning hard and even more unreadable. “The war changed him for eternity,” she said quietly. Then without another word, the dark lord turned and walked away into the shadows. Filia could only stand there, her mouth slightly open in her unspoken question, her face and body frozen in shock. Was she mistaken, or had she heard sadness in the Beastmaster’s voice as she spoke those last words? Sadness…perhaps anger.

After a few moments, she slowly walked back to her room, wondering if there wasn’t perhaps more to the dark lord Zelas Metallium than meets the eye…

On to Chapter 5