Shadowy Bonds

Thirteen years later

The near-continuous rain had passed, allowing the sun to shine once again on the small island known as Wolf Pack Island. It was an island that was notoriously famous for being a place of evil. A dark, shadowy place where the light of day was never allowed to brighten the dreary atmosphere. However, the sun occasionally did shine there, and this particular day was a beautiful day. The weather was warm, rather than cold and wet, and for a while it seemed like any other place in the world.

Zelas, the mistress of the island and one of the five dark lords of Shabranigdo, was taking advantage of the weather to sit outside for a change. And her thoughts were of change…how the island itself had changed. Even she could not deny this fact. She wondered about it as she sipped her usual glass of blood-red wine.

Sitting across the table, looking bored and restless, sat the very reason behind this change. For the last thirteen years, the island had gained two more occupants…the dragon Filia ul Copt and her daughter, Elisa; the father being none other than Zelas’ priest and general, Xelloss. Rather than disposing of the apparent problem that the situation presented, Zelas had been given an offer by the dark lord Dynast Grausherra…an interesting proposition to which Zelas had agreed…but not without her own plans in mind.

And so the agreement had been made that after sixteen years from that day, Zelas would give Elisa to Grausherra, who had plans on making her his servant. It was true, Elisa was very powerful, having the powers of both a dragon and a Mazoku, but Zelas had included the sixteen-year term to keep Elisa on the island for as long as possible. Sixteen was a reasonable age to have the time to test her true ability.

Zelas had not been disappointed thus far. Elisa had been trained by both of her parents, at Zelas’ orders, in both white and black magic. And her ability had surpassed what Zelas had originally expected. Perhaps her plan would be carried out, after all. She had been hesitant, at first, to agree to Grausherra’s proposal, because she did not like having uncertainty about her own intentions. She had not been entirely certain that her plans would be carried out, but as Elisa’s powers grew, she was gaining more and more confidence that her plan would succeed.

Zelas’ thoughts were interrupted as Elisa yawned and ran a slender hand through her long, blonde hair. “Zelas-sama, why can’t I train today? The weather is perfect!”

Zelas fixed her ‘granddaughter’ with a smirk. “The weather has nothing to do with it, does it, Elisa-chan?”

Elisa sighed, rubbing her finger around the edge of her cup. “No, it doesn’t. But I’m so bored! There’s nothing to do.”

Typical teenager, Zelas thought. “Elisa-chan, I do not need to remind you that last week you were complaining that we force you to practice your magical ability too much, and that you wanted a break. Now you are complaining that you are bored and *want* to train?”

“But it was raining all last week! And it was cold! And Mother and Father keep arguing every time over which one I need to be practicing more.” Elisa’s voice turned high pitched as she mocked Filia’s voice. “ ‘No, Xelloss, she needs to practice healing more because if she can’t heal herself then all this black magic will be worthless.’ ” And then in a slightly deeper voice, “ ‘Filia, Filia, if she learns to power up her spells efficiently, then she won’t need to heal herself.’ ”

Zelas chuckled. “Your training is important,” she said. “But rest today, anyway.”

Elisa grumbled as she took another drink of her tea. “Zelas-sama, why are you sitting out here this morning? I thought you only liked the rain.”

“Even I like a change every now and then,” Zelas replied.

Elisa stared at her for a moment, and Zelas could almost see the thoughts that passed through the girl’s mind, seeing as well as feeling the sudden sadness and restlessness reflected in Elisa’s eyes. Elisa sighed and looked down at her cup, obviously wanting badly to say something but afraid to.

Zelas knew exactly what was on the girl’s mind. They had been over that subject before.

“Elisa,” Zelas began. “Be careful what you wish for.”

Elisa’s eyes shot up to meet her elder’s, surprised yet not surprised that Zelas had guessed what was on her mind. “I know. You have told me that before, Zelas-sama, but I can’t help it. I want to see the world that Mother and Father talk about all the time. This world where the humans live. I want to meet them. I want to meet Mother’s people, the dragons. I have never met any of them…I have never seen these places that Mother and Father have told me stories about in my bedtime stories when I was younger. Why can’t I just see them? Why can’t I travel, like that famous human sorceress, Lina Inverse? I want to meet her! Why can’t I leave this island just once? What is so horrible out there that could endanger me so badly?”

Zelas shook her head. “There are things out there that you are not ready for yet, Elisa. The humans are distrusting and deceitful. They don’t easily accept things that they don’t understand or aren’t ‘conventional’, and they would not accept you. They are not highly understanding of the Mazoku race, nor the dragon race. They are merely pawns to be used, and you need not worry about them. This Lina Inverse, it’s true, she is a powerful human, and has defeated two of our lords, but she is also a pawn to be used. The dragons, on the other hand, will hate you because of your Mazoku half.”

A tear found its way from Elisa’s eye, down her cheek, and into her cup of tea as Elisa stared at Zelas. “I…they…would hate me? Why? Because of the war that existed between the two races?”

Zelas nodded. “Yes. The war has never truly ended, Elisa-chan. You are safe here. You know that I am your Father’s kind, and he, your mother, and I accept you for what you are. As long as you continue to grow in your ability, you will always be here.”

Elisa stared at her for a few more moments before dropping her eyes back down to the table, and nodded silently. Zelas momentarily felt a twinge of guilt at being so blunt with her, but Elisa was not to leave the island under any circumstances. She did not trust Grausherra to keep his end of the bargain…dark lords were like that.

Deciding that their little visit was over, Zelas patted Elisa on her hand and said, “Elisa-chan, be a good girl and tell your Daddy that I want him here as soon as possible.”

“Yes, Zelas-sama,” Elisa replied, and after downing the last of her tea, stood up and faded out of sight.

Zelas chuckled and shook her head in exasperation. Sometimes she wondered if she would ever truly understand that child.

Xelloss was, of course, pestering Filia as she attempted to work in her garden. After wandering around the mansion aimlessly until she could stand no more, Filia had demanded to be allowed a project, or something to do before she lost her sanity. So, Filia took up gardening. Behind the mansion was a small plot of land that looked like a garden from hell…so Filia fixed it right up. Soon one project grew into several others, so needless to say, she had to admit she enjoyed her stay there at Wolf Pack Island.

However, at the moment, she was wishing she were anywhere else than there. The namagomi would simply NOT leave her alone! She had been stuck inside that wretched, dreary mansion for the last two weeks because of the incessant hurricane-like weather, with the exception of Elisa’s training sessions. And now this beautiful day, with a break from Elisa’s training, and Xelloss had to try and ruin it.

“Xelloss, don’t you have some kind of orders from your Master?” she asked through gritted teeth.

“Why, no, Filia! Lord Beastmaster has given me today off, too! She said we should spend quality time with each other.”

“Liar,” Filia said under her breath. Xelloss smirked, and then an evil grin spread across his face.

“Let’s not forget that our darling daughter isn’t here at the present time, either, Filia,” Xelloss reminded her. “How long has it been since we’ve actually been ‘alone’?”

Filia racked her brain, trying to remember. She couldn’t. But still…

“Not right now, Xelloss,” Filia groaned.

“Filia, you surprise me. Who was complaining last week because we never have any time alone? Who has been complaining about that ever since Elisa could walk?”

“And talk…” Filia added, cringing at the memory of Elisa, at almost two years old, walking in on them and asking, “Mommy, what’s Daddy doing to you?”

Xelloss had to cringe at the memory as well.

“Elisa could catch us again,” Filia reminded him.

“She’s upstairs visiting Lord Beastmaster right now,” Xelloss reassured her, his breath tickling the skin of her neck as he leaned in closer and…

“Not anymore.”

Elisa’s voice startled them both as she appeared behind them, smirking. Filia sighed and rubbed her forehead wearily before resuming her planting. Sometimes their daughter was too much like Xelloss.

“Elisa,” Xelloss greeted his daughter, standing up and patting her on the head. She hated it, but of course he did it anyway. “Finished with your visit already?” he asked.

“Yes. Zelas-sama wants to see you,” she reported. “As soon as possible.”

“Of course. Thank you, my dear.”

She nodded. “You’re welcome.” Xelloss regarded her for another moment, not missing the feeling that something was bothering her, though she was smiling. He would have to ask her about it later, but business first. In an instant, he disappeared from sight.

Elisa sat down in a chair and watched Filia plant flowers. “Mother, can I ask you a question?”

“Of course, dear,” Filia replied. “What is it?”

Elisa tried to choose her words carefully. “Mother…if I were to meet your people, the golden dragons, what would they think of me?”

Filia looked up at Elisa, her mouth open in an unspoken reply. How could she reply to that? She knew without a doubt that the dragons, the ones that were left, would not accept Elisa for what she was. Elisa had asked questions like this before, and had shown a great deal of interest in leaving the island to visit the ‘other world’ as she called it, but Filia was afraid for her. Her daughter had been extremely sheltered, despite the rigorous training and magical practices that she underwent. But Filia knew that she couldn’t lie to Elisa…not when there was a possibility that she would one day meet her people.

“Elisa-chan, the dragons are not a very open-minded people,” Filia said slowly. “For many generations, we were, and still are, at war against the Mazoku, because they hate the Mazoku. You know that I do not anymore, obviously. I love your Father, for some unknown reason, and I love you because you’re my daughter. It doesn’t matter what they would think of you, as long as you have us.”

Elisa nodded. “Why, then, Mother, did you tell me about the dragons as though they were a peaceful people?”

Filia cringed. Perhaps she had gotten a little carried away at bedtime stories. “I don’t know, Elisa…I am sorry that I misled you. But in truth, the dragons are not a peaceful people. That is why I left…I realized that truth and it disgusted me. I will never go back, and you shouldn’t ever have to see them, either.”

Elisa nodded again, slowly. All of this information was new to her. All of her life, her parents had tried to avoid the subject of the other world, while she thought about it nearly all the time. She didn’t know why, perhaps it was her visit with Zelas-sama that morning that made her want to ask her parents again about the other world. She also didn’t know why, but she had been feeling odd lately, as though some part of her mind were telling her that she didn’t fit in anywhere. Not even on her small little island with the only three people she’d ever known in her entire life. She knew that was wrong; she would always have her Father, Mother, and Zelas-sama, and she knew that she would always belong with them. But she yearned for something more…she yearned to meet new people, to explore new places, and to learn new things. She didn’t know what could be so horrible about leaving the island. After all, wasn’t she being trained to defend herself? If she had to fight an enemy, she would win, wouldn’t she?

Despite what Mother and Zelas-sama had told her, she still wanted to meet the dragons. She wanted to know if her parents weren’t just trying to shelter her from the rest of the world. Soon she would be fourteen years old, and already they were praising her because she seemed so old for her age. Well, if they thought she was old for her age, why wouldn’t they treat her like that?

Elisa sighed. “I’m going for a walk, Mother,” she announced, getting up and fading out of sight. Filia stared at the empty chair, suddenly feeling extremely tired. Elisa, her beautiful daughter, was becoming more and more restless each day. She knew that they couldn’t keep her there forever.

“You called, Mistress?”

Zelas, still sitting outside on the balcony, turned around slightly in her chair and raised her glass of wine to him. “She’s a fine one, is she not?”

“Indeed,” Xelloss agreed.

Zelas smiled as she stared at him thoughtfully. “Have you enjoyed fatherhood thus far?”

“I must say it’s been an interesting experience, Zelas-sama.”

“Of course. And you have done a wonderful job of keeping our little secret from her as well as Filia.”

“Yes, Mistress,” Xelloss replied.

“I’m curious, though. Why did you not tell Filia? I gave you no specific orders to keep it from her, only from Elisa.”

Xelloss resisted the urge to look away. “I did not tell Filia because…she would have worried about it. And possibly let it slip to Elisa.”

“I see. Good thinking. Her progress is going quite well, though. By the time she reaches sixteen, she will be ready.”

Xelloss cringed inwardly. He hated, gods he hated this entire situation. He was not willing to give up his daughter that easily, but he had no choice but to obey his mistress…no matter what it involved.

He could only try to forget about it for the time being. It was better that way.