Disclaimer: Ohhh, no. CD's doing a songfic. I think I should warn the reading audience before hand that I have VERY odd taste in music. This particular songfic goes to Stevie Nicks' song "Battle of the Dragon" *natch*, from the American Anthem soundtrack, 1985. And I know I've said it before, but this time I really, really promise to lay off the ANGST... Just as soon as I finish this fic. ^_~

Feedback: It's time to play... Name That Tune! ~ SailorN1@aol.com or FiriaulCopt81@aol.com

Battle of the Dragon

by Crystal Dawn Phoenix



This was not preplanned, but after some calls,

I decided to go to the other side of the world...

Filia looked expectantly out the front window of her pottery shop. She was getting ready to fire a new teapot in the kiln, but wanted to wait until Val got home from school. It was his last day in the first grade, and she couldn't wait to see the grades his teacher had given him for his studies. After today, he would be out for the summer, as would be the other children in town, to help with their parents' businesses or field work. Filia had noticed that most of the children didn't really help their parents as much as they slacked off and played around all day.

The school bells rang across town, signaling the beginning of summer. She could hear the sounds of children laughing and yelling at one another as they were freed to go play games of hopscotch and ring-around-the-rosy all summer long. Several of Val's schoolmates that Filia recognized passed her window, singing and playing, but not Val. She craned her neck to see farther out the window. No, he wasn't with any of his friends. He wasn't out there at all. Curious, she sat the new teapot on her pottery wheel and stepped out onto her front porch.

Filia looked up and down the dusty, mid-afternoon streets. She saw her neighbors' children, and a few of her customers' children, but her own green-haired son was nowhere to be found. 'Perhaps Jillas or Gravos went to get him from school?', she thought to herself, 'No, that's not right. I sent them out to buy more clay from the next town over. Maybe he had detention? But... on the last day?'

She went over to her front porch swing and sat down, holding onto one of the chains that held it aloft. There was no real reason to worry just yet, but all the same, Filia wanted to wait outside on Val to come home. She looked down the dusty street, waiting for him to come into view.

I see something, I see a handsome soldier,

I see myself remaining, when all of you are gone...

After about a half hour, Filia was starting to really worry. This wasn't like Val, he usually headed straight home after school, then headed out to play with his friends. The bright afternoon sun was filling her eyes, making it hard to see at times. She continued to look down the street, in the normal direction from which Val usually came from school. She saw two people, a tall one and a smaller one, obviously a child, walking together toward her house. The blinding sun masked their features, making them indiscernible, but Filia could tell that the smaller one was her son. The taller one appeared to be wearing a cloak of some sort and carrying a staff with a shining red jewel adorning it. She hoped her eyes were deceiving her as she jumped out of the porch swing and ran into the dusty street to her child.

Val watched his mother run to him from her place on the porch. She looked upset, almost like she was crying. It was hard for him to tell, though, because she was still so much taller than he was. He took a lick off his lollipop before she scooped him up in her arms and picked him up off the ground. Her voice was harsh and he could tell he was going to be in trouble for being late.

"Where have you been, Val?!", she asked, hugging him, "I've been worried sick!" Val looked at her, trying to pull away from the suffocating hugs.

"It's alright, Mama," he said, trying to maintain some amount of boy-hood pride, "This man walked me home. He said he knew you, so it's okay. And look, he even gave me a sucker!" Val proudly displayed his newly acquired sweet as his mother looked on warily. He watched his mother look up at his new friend, and wondered why she didn't look happy. How could she be unhappy with such a generous person? She stood him back on his own two feet, much to Val's relief. After all, he didn't want any of his friends to have a chance of seeing his mom carrying him like a baby.

"Val, I told you never, ever to walk with strangers," she said sternly, although she was keeping her eyes on Val's new friend, "What do you want from us?" Val was confused. If Mom knew him, how could he be a stranger? And why did she seem so angry all of a sudden?

"Now, Filia," the smiling, black-clad man chided, "Is that any way to talk to an old friend? I only came to see how you were." Val watched his Mom regard his new friend carefully as she drew him closer to her, protectively.

"I don't believe you, Xellos," Filia replied quietly. Val watched curiously as his new friend leaned over and kissed his mother on the cheek. She turned bright red, but still didn't stop glaring angrily.

"Why don't you invite me in for tea?", he asked, continuing to smile unfazed.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Filia tipped the teapot, sending hot tea into a cup that rested on her living room coffee table. She'd sent Val out to play with his friends until the sun went down, as he usually did. Xellos regarded her every move from the couch that sat behind the coffee table. She sat on the other end of the couch, trying to keep a safe distance from her old acquaintance.

"What did you really come here for?", she asked pointedly and quietly, "I know you don't do things without a reason. It's Val, isn't it? You want to take him, don't you?" Xellos raised an eyebrow as he sipped his tea. He placed the teacup into its saucer and favored Filia with a smile.

"Nothing so devious," he replied, "You're too guarded, you know. You don't always have to suspect me of some misdeed." Filia gave him a suspicious look as she sipped her tea.

"You still didn't answer my question," she said sharply. She could tell he was trying to dodge it by changing the subject. Xellos sat his teacup and saucer down on the coffee table, looking grave, if only for a second.

"Well, the truth is, I'm here because there's a war starting," he said quietly, "It doesn't concern you, so that's really all you need to know." Filia looked at him in confusion.

"So how does that bring you here?", she asked, more curious now than suspicious. Xellos favored her once again with a smile.

"I was given a time for rest before the fighting starts," he replied, surprising Filia, "So I thought I'd come and visit you." Filia quietly sat her teacup into its saucer.

"But why me?", she asked softly, "And why now? I've not seen you in a good seven years." He sat there, smiling simply, hands in his lap.

"I guess I was bored," he said, shrugging, "And curious to see what you were doing." Filia stared at him as his face turned grave again. "And I thought it might be my last chance," he said quietly, "But that's not important. So, what are we having for dinner?" Filia looked at him in disbelief as he once again grinned at her.

"We?", she said, blinking, "Wait a minute, don't tell me you intend to stay here!" Xellos continued to smile, eyes shut.

"Well what else would I do with this free time on my hands?", he asked simply, "And thank you so much for offering, I'd love to!" Filia's face turned red as he simply kept smiling.

"That's not what I meant!", she said, getting angrier, "You can't just..." Her pleas fell on deaf ears. Xellos picked up his teacup and saucer again and took another sip, blithely ignoring her protests.

"This is a quaint little house, Filia," he commented, looking around the room, "It's a bit small compared to what I'm used to, but it's cozy. You don't have a spare room, do you? I'd really hate sleeping on the couch when I'm a guest and all." Filia sighed, resigning herself to this nuisance just one more time.

'I guess I kinda see where he's coming from,' she thought, trying to keep from getting annoyed, 'And I would feel bad if he got his stupid self killed in a war and I'd been cruel to him. Especially since he bothered to come see me, knowing it was the last thing he might do.' By this time, Xellos had gotten off the couch and began poking around the little living room, looking under things and behind things. 'And hopefully he won't stay too long,' Filia thought, watching him in irritation as he curiously poked around one of her bookshelves.

And the reason that I paint you in my paintings

And the reason I record the sound of your voices

Filia leaned into the couch, resting a sketch pad on her knees. She scratched on the paper, still almost giggling from what had happened over supper. Sure, she hadn't liked cleaning the food off the wall, and she'd never been fond of having bats on her kitchen table, but she couldn't deny that she'd had fun. She snatched a charcoal pencil between her teeth to stifle the laughter. Xellos had taken up a spot on the rug with Val sitting in his lap, reading a story book of fairy tales to him. Filia tried not to let him see her studying his features while she scratched onto the paper with her pencil. She heard the story book snap shut, but didn't pay it any attention. She kept her eyes on her paper, absorbed in what she was doing.

Filia felt a small pressure on the couch beside her. Xellos had lain Val on the couch, asleep, before sitting down himself. He craned his neck curiously to see what Filia was doing.

"What are you making over there?", he asked, trying to catch a peek at her sketch pad, "Let me see!" Filia looked up at him, startled from her concentration, and turned away, keeping the sketch book out of his reach.

"No, this is mine!", she said, trying to keep the book away from him. Much to Filia's chagrin, however, Xellos was quite a bit faster than her. He easily snatched the sketch away from her, causing her to turn an interesting shade of red. He studied the drawing, turning it this way and that.

"I never knew you could draw, Filia," he said quietly, "Although I always thought my nose was a little cuter than that." Filia turned even redder, snatching the sketch away from him, being careful to avoid waking Val. "So to what do I owe the honor of being drawn by such pretty hands?", he asked quietly, poking her in the shoulder. Filia looked at him shyly, feeling her face burn.

"I wanted to draw you, so I could remember what you look like," she said quietly and haltingly, "Just in case you don't come back again." He smiled sadly at her for a second before rising and scooping Val up off the couch.

"Where is his room?", he asked quietly, "I'll put him in bed." Filia smiled shyly.

"Down the hall, first door on the right," she said in a whisper. Xellos walked away with the small boy, only to return a few minutes later without him.

"He's sleeping soundly," he said, staring out into space, "He's very different from the last time I saw him." Filia nodded, going back to work on her drawing.

"He's a different person," she said thoughtfully, "He seems to be quite taken with you, by the way." Xellos smiled sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head.

"Well, truthfully," he said slowly, "I like children. They don't seem to be plagued by the stupidity grown humans develop." Filia smiled wryly at him.

"And you can relate to them better," she said, smirking, "Especially since you act so much like a child so much of the time." Xellos looked slightly irritated at that remark, and Filia wasn't at all sure he was feigning the irritation.

"My, my," he said slowly and deliberately, "It appears that our little kitten has grown some claws." He snatched one of the pencils she'd tucked behind her ears and held it just out of her reach, smiling meanly. "I suppose we have more catching up to do than I thought," he said, watching her get flustered as she tried to get her pencil back.

The beautiful, and the sensitive, and the oh so very young

We are adapting to your silence

I can live here, without you

At least I am learning

But I cannot live without your songs

Val threw his line out into the small river that lay not too far from his mother's home. He lay back against the grassy bank, enjoying the late-morning sunlight, and waited on the fish to bite. This was the life. No school, being able to play all day, and now he had a new friend.

Xellos sat in one of the lower branches in a nearby tree, arms behind his head, humming lazily. He watched Val cast his line into the water and lay back. The calm and quiet was hypnotizing, and Xellos regretted that he'd soon have to leave. At the same time, he also contemplated how easy it would be to simply take the child to his Lord right then, so she could use his power. He thought better of this and decided against it, reasoning that he didn't need the competition.

"Hey, Xellos," a boy's voice floated up from the river bank. Val had turned around and was supporting his weight on his elbow, looking up at Xellos.

"What?", came the lazy reply. Val kept a tight grip on his line as he looked up at his older friend, just in case a big one decided to bite.

"How do you know my mom?", Val asked curiously. Xellos opened an eye at him. What a nosy child!

"I knew her before you were born," he said evasively, smiling all the while, "She was a priestess, and I am a priest. What more is there to know?" Val seemed to ponder this for a second before it momentarily satisfied his curiosity.

"You think she's pretty, don't you?", Val asked after a little while of thought, "Mom, I mean." Xellos gave him a grin.

"Of course I do," he replied, almost laughing, "My eyes may not look open, but I'm not blind!" Val continued looking at him, making sure all the while to hold the line tight, lest a wily fish get away with it. The boy smiled.

"Then does that mean," he said expectantly, "That you're my father?" Xellos nearly fell out of the tree.

"What in the nine Hells would give you that idea?", he replied, trying to stifle a laugh as he righted himself on his branch. This might well be worth sharing with Filia, if only to see her reaction.

"Well, you did come here to see Mom, right?", Val reasoned, "And all my friends have fathers, so I know I must have one somewhere, too. So are you?" Xellos looked down at the boy, smiling, and folded his arms.

"Of course I'm not," he said, almost laughing at the hilarity of the notion, "You don't even look anything like me!" Xellos was of course right. Val's wide, golden eyes looked nothing like his slanted violet shaded ones. The boy's shaggy green hair was nothing remotely like Xellos' straight, fine dark purple hair. However, before the curious child could ask anymore questions, a familiar voice called from across the wall of trees blocking the river bank from the view of the rest of the town.

"Val!", Filia yelled through the trees, "It's time to come in and eat lunch!" Val scrambled up off the river bank, yanking his line out of the water and ran full speed for the house. Xellos watched the boy run underneath his branch and for the house before dropping out of the branch and following at a much slower pace.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Filia dipped her hand into the pot of water she had sitting beside her. She used her wet hand to smooth the side of the teapot she was creating as it spun on her pottery wheel. She smoothed the sides with her fingers, and used her thumb to smooth the inside of the pot. Xellos had laid on his back in a large patch of late afternoon sunlight in the floor beside the wheel. His arms were supporting his head as he found himself humming lazily again. The still warmth of the house was intoxicating, making him drowsy. Dust motes hung motionless in the air, giving the stillness an almost tangible quality.

"You'll never guess what Val said to me the other day," Xellos commented, finally breaking the still silence. Filia looked away from her pottery to raise an eyebrow at him.

"I'm not sure I really want to know what you males talk about," she said warily, "If you were in the conversation, it was probably something bloody and gory and inappropriate." Xellos nudged one of her legs with his foot.

"There you go again, suspecting me of some wrong doing," he remarked, opening an eye, "No, it was quite the opposite, actually. I found it funny, myself." Filia looked uninterested.

"Now if you thought it funny," she reasoned, "Then it must have been something bad." Xellos grinned mischievously.

"Well, I suppose that would all depend on how you look at it," he said playfully, "He asked me if I was his father." Filia's jaw dropped.

"He asked you what!?!", she yelled, momentarily forgetting about the pottery she had on the wheel, "What in the world would give him that idea? Xellos!" He simply smiled and held his hands up, palms facing outward.

"It wasn't me, I swear!", he said, almost laughing, "But you can't tell me you never thought about it, Filia." His smile turned mischievous as he sat up, looking at her.

"I have no idea what you're talking about!", Filia blustered, blushing. Xellos pressed a finger to his lips, then placed the same finger on her lips, grinning.

"You're not that innocent," he said teasingly as she blushed even more, "Come on, fess up." Filia stuck her nose in the air with a 'hurumph!' and went back to working on her teapot.

"I most certainly have not!", she said angrily, "And if I had, I wouldn't be thinking about you!" Xellos was thoroughly enjoying the frustration he was causing her. He chuckled to himself, laying back down in the floor as Filia's color turned back to normal. "Well," she said quietly, "Maybe just once or twice."

Who have you been with?

Have you been with friends... or is there more?

(You're not listening to me)

"What do you care, anyway?", Filia said, turning back to her pottery, "I'm sure you've had so many women that it wouldn't mean anything to you anyway." Xellos 'tsk'ed at her.

"There you go again," he said, a little teasingly, but sounding a little hurt, "Thinking me guilty of another crime." He nudged her again with his foot. "Anyway," he said, "Mazoku aren't really like that. We generally don't do things that involve being close to another creature. It goes against our nature." Filia raised her eyebrows.

"Then why are you so good-looking, if not to attract others?", she asked, "I know that's not what you really look like. Your real self is in the astral plane. That body's just an illusion you make up, isn't it?" Xellos blinked in return.

"I'm good looking?", he said, "Well, if you could choose whatever you wanted to look like, you wouldn't pick anything repulsive, would you?" Filia returned to concentrating on her pottery, cheeks burning.

"I guess not," she said quietly, berating herself inside for giving him a compliment, "But I don't understand why you would care what you looked like. I don't even understand why you decided to come here." The room grew quiet and still again, this time for a minute or more.

"I have my reasons," came the reply, "Some of them, even I don't understand." Filia looked down, regretting that she probably sounded too harsh just then. Wait a minute! Since when did she care if she'd hurt some filthy Mazoku's feelings? Did they even have feelings to hurt?

"Well," she said softly, "For whatever reason, I'm glad you did." Filia sat stunned at what she'd just said. Could it be possible that she was actually growing fond of that demon? She looked hurriedly back at her pottery and began hastily working to shape it more. Xellos raised an eyebrow and smiled at her from his spot on the floor.

Have you been writing?

Well, you say it's harder now,

Well, I get the message,

Stay among the living

There was only one lamp lit in the living room, giving it an eerie glow. It also allowed shadows to dance around the edges of the dim room, causing them to play in the imagination. It was a hot night, so the windows were open, allowing the curtains to billow inward with the breeze. Everyone else in the house had long since been asleep, but a sole figure on the end of the couch sat awake, gliding across a piece of paper with a quill and ink. Xellos knew he didn't have much time left, more than likely only a few hours at best. He truly wasn't looking forward to his next mission, but there was nothing he could do about that.

"What're you doing up so late?" Xellos looked up from what he was doing. Filia had wandered into the living room. She was wearing only her nightgown, and her bare feet made no noise as she padded across the hard floors. Xellos smiled up at her, making the paper and quill vanish into thin air.

"Absolutely nothing," he said innocently, "Did I wake you with the light in here?" Filia shook her head and sat down beside him.

"You're leaving now, aren't you?", she asked, touching his arm, "Were you trying to leave without saying goodbye?" She was answered with a sad smile.

"Of course," he said simply, "I can't have you getting all sentimental on me, can I?" Filia sniffled, as though she might begin to cry at any moment.

"Val will be upset with you if you don't tell him goodbye," she said, eyes watering. A tear rolled down the side of her face. Xellos brought a hand up to wipe it away.

"I didn't want to wake him, or you," he said quietly, "You'd kill me with all those positive emotions if I let you tell me goodbye." He smiled at that statement, opening his eyes and looking into hers. He tipped her chin up with his fingers and kissed her on the lips lightly, closing his eyes again. Momentarily, he backed up, still keeping a hand on her face. "I'll say goodbye to you this way instead," he said quietly, smiling.

"I thought you didn't like to be close to any other creature," Filia asked softly, blushing wildly.

"Well, I can make an exception just this once, can't I?", he asked playfully. He brought his lips down to meet hers again. A sharp, cold wind blew in through the window, blowing the long white curtains inward and cooling the room off considerably. The flame in the lamp flickered, somewhat protected by the globe that surrounded it. A few more seconds, and it was as though the wind had reached inside the lamp itself and snuffed out the flame, leaving the room in darkness.

From what I can tell, I need to be here

You say someone's looking for you,

nothing is wrong

Well, I can and I will go on

Filia woke up, early morning sunlight pouring onto her spot on the bed from her window. The bright light had shone in her eyes, making them open. She rolled out of the sunlight, sighing sadly.

"I miss him already," she sadly said to herself. After a few more minutes of just laying there, she finally moved her legs off the side of the bed, touching the slightly chilly bare wood floor with her bare feet. There was the sound of someone or something moving in the hall outside her bedroom door. After listening to it for a few seconds, the door to her bedroom flew open and Val bounded in, grabbing her arm and jerking her out of bed.

"Mom!", he yelled excitedly, "Come look at this!" He drug her out of the room and into the hall, and since Filia was still half asleep, she was in no state to protest. He drug her through the hall, down the stairs and through the kitchen where Jillas was cooking breakfast. He drug her into the dining room and pointed at what was sitting on the dining room table. Filia's eyes widened as she picked it up to get a better look at it, noticing the note that was underneath it.

It was a little statuette of a sleeping dragon coiled around a small gold egg. The dragon was made entirely of amethyst, except its eyes and horns, which were gold. A tear slipped down her cheek.

"Ain't it pretty, Mom?", Val said, "I dunno where it came from! It wasn't there when we had supper last night. I tried to ask Xellos where it came from, but I couldn't find him." She placed the fragile looking dragon back on the table and gave Val a long hug.

"He's not here, honey," she said quietly, "He had to go back to his job..." She held Val tighter as the boy got a questioning look on his face.

"But, he'll be back soon, right?", Val asked, not getting a response, "Right, Mom? Right?!" Filia looked at him and smiled sadly.

"He's not coming back, Val," she said sadly, unable to lie to the boy. Val looked shocked.

"Why not?!", he asked angrily and hurt, "Doesn't he like us anymore? Did I do something to make him wanna leave?" Filia shushed him.

"It's not like that," she said softly, "He has duties that don't involve us. You don't understand now, but one day you will. Why don't you go into the kitchen and see how breakfast is coming?" Val begrudgingly did as he was told. Filia watched him go, then picked up the note that was underneath the little dragon. She unfolded it with trembling hands.

"I thought you were writing something," she whispered sadly. She read the note, trying to fight back the tears.

Filia,

By the time you read this, I will already be gone, probably for several hours yet. I regret I was not able to spend more time with you, but my time was well spent. If I should survive this, I will come back. When I do, I will say the three words I cannot say now.

The tears were falling freely now. Filia folded the note back into its original position to avoid getting the ink wet and smearing the words before placing it back on the table.

When this battle is over

I feel I will survive

In the battle of the dragon

The plain was scattered with fallen corpses and the stench of death was thick in the air. The two forces had converged in the middle and the fighting was still fierce. There were screams and the clamor of battle creating a deafening roar. Xellos stood from a vantage point on a hill, staff in hand, looking down on the barren Northern plain. It was cold here, and he could even see his breath in the air. But it didn't bother him. Down on the battlefield, his master's forces were suffering heavy casualties. "Damn," he muttered, watching the carnage. Grausherra's forces were suffering losses as well, but theirs were nowhere near as heavy.

What had this war started over anyway?, he asked himself. It was something petty and childish, as Mazoku fights tended to start over, that much he was sure of. What had more than likely started out as a small feud between Lord Dynast and his master had now become a full scale land battle. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn't have worried about losing or not coming back from a fight, but this was different. This was war. When the lesser forces were exhausted, he knew he'd have to fight down there himself. It was probable that he could even have to fight Sherra, Dynast's general. He knew she was nowhere near as powerful as he was, but there was no chance she would fight him alone.

His forces were almost exhausted now. It was the time to fight. Xellos momentarily disappeared from the top of the hill, then reappeared in the thick of the fighting seconds later. Grinning, he swung his staff, taking out a good many of the enemy Mazoku. He cleared quite a space out around him, then began to attack some nearby lesser demons. His fighting was swift and efficient, taking many lives in the process. He knew he should save his energy for fighting much larger foes, but it would be better to come to the enemy than to let them come to him. He'd have an advantage this way. A few of the more vicious creatures almost clawed him and one actually managed to catch him off guard with an astral attack. It did little damage, and only really served to annoy him slightly. He cleared those out after a few more minutes, doing so cleanly, quickly, and efficiently. There was a large empty space around him where the other Mazoku were afraid to venture. He gave them a feral smile, and opened his eyes. A few seconds passed before any more of them got the courage to try to take him. More charged and more fell. This continued for quite a while before the other Mazoku backed off. After a moment, it was apparent why they'd quit.

Sherra stepped into the clearing that Xellos had created about himself, smiling cruelly. "This has been almost too easy," she commented, drawing her sword, "Your forces have been vanquished, Xellos. What will you do?" He gave her a wicked grin.

"Do you have to ask?", he asked smugly, holding his staff in front of him.

No one walks away

Oh, you wish it to end

Wish it to end

It started in the blink of an eye. Sherra was a quick opponent, at least as quick as Xellos himself. He had advanced to make the first strike, moving too fast to see, but she had evaded him, smiling. She brought her sword to bare, making a strike at him, which also missed. The two moved much faster than the eye could see, tearing up patches of the battlefield along the way. The other Mazoku cleared the way for the combatants, lest they be injured from the battle. Several flashes of black appeared and disappeared, and the noises of the altercation could be heard clearly as Sherra's sword struck Xellos' staff.

No walks away from this battle

from the power, it's so strong

Like a fury

Xellos smiled. It'd been years since he'd had a match like this. He'd sustained several injuries, most superficial, but a few of them would need quite a while to heal. He supposed that the sword Sherra used was enchanted or somehow otherwise useful against Mazoku. He knew that wasn't a good sign, but if he had to go, he was taking someone with him. He felt the blows from the sword come fast, and dealt the blows from his staff fast.

Sherra wasn't faring much better. She'd been wounded several times by Xellos' staff, sometimes deep enough to bring a considerable amount of pain. A few more strikes, and her left leg might have been useless. But she knew she'd been very lucky so far. Knowing her opponent, as she made sure to do before fighting, she was aware of just how dangerous he was. The lesser demons and weaker Mazoku she'd been sent to command had taken the brunt of his attack for her, but that in no way made him harmless. Quite the contrary, actually. The more she hurt him, the more hell-bent he seemed on winning. She gritted her teeth and turned her mouth into a twisted smile, making another strike with her sword.

This strike went deep. Xellos thought it was just another blow until he found her blade buried up to the hilt in his chest. This would be fatal, and he knew it. He looked up at Sherra's demonically smiling face and gave her a sinister smile in return. A stream of black blood found its way out of his mouth as Sherra began to laugh.

"So this is all you had?", she crowed, twisting the blade, "You have been poisoned by your love for that dragon wench. It has made you weak." Xellos could feel the wound burning through his chest and into his back, and could feel the life leaving his body. Malice momentarily flashed in his eyes as he tightened his grip on his staff.

Sherra continued laughing until she felt a sharp pain in her chest. Her eyes flew wide open and looked down at Xellos as he smiled dementedly. The pain flowed through her chest and into her back as Xellos drove his staff through her body. He began to chuckle at her equally fatal wound.

"And your arrogance has made you weak," he said, clearly in a great deal of pain, "Now die with me. It's too lonely to die by myself." He used the last of his strength to twist the staff, grinning sadistically. Entirely spent, he fell to his knees, then onto the ground, followed shortly by Sherra herself.

Keep that fury deep inside you

And wish it to end

And when your friends start asking you why

You just say nothing

Filia dried the dishes from the lunch she'd just shared with Val. He'd gone into the living room to play while he waited on her to come out to work at her pottery wheel. She finished the last of the dishes and wiped her hands off on a dry dish towel. She found her thoughts wandering back to Xellos again. It'd been a week since he'd left. She was almost certain that he'd arrange some way to let them know if he didn't make it. Even so, that was news she'd rather not receive. She replaced the dish towel and turned around to go into the living room just before she heard Val scream. Filia ran into the living room and looked around frantically, expecting the worst. She saw no one there but Val, crying in the floor.

"What is it, Val?", she asked, giving him a hug, "What's the matter?" He stopped crying for a second and pointed up to a high shelf on a nearby bookcase. Filia had placed the amethyst dragon Xellos had created for her up there to protect it from accidents. Her eyes grew wide when she saw what Val was pointing at.

The amethyst dragon had developed several large fissures in its body, with more spreading every second. As the cracks snaked through the trinket, they made a sickening popping noise, which was probably what had drawn Val's attention to it in the first place. Filia mouthed the words 'Oh no', as she watched it break slowly apart.

"Why is it doing that, Mom!?", Val asked, clearly frightened. She held him tight and cried into his hair as she realized what had happened.

"There's nothing holding it together anymore," she said quietly. The amethyst and gold made tinkling noises as the pieces shattered into dust. She wiped her eyes and stood up. "I'm going to go get a pouch to put the dust in," she said sadly, smoothing Val's ruffled hair out.

Filia came back, several minutes later with a small leather pouch, fastened with a leather strap, and another leather strap to hang it from. She scooped the glittering dust into the bag, then drew it shut, tying it. "Stay right here," she instructed Val quietly, "I'll be right back." She walked to her bedroom and shut the door behind her.

She opened a drawer on the night stand by her bed. There were a few cosmetics in there, along with a few trinkets and the folded up note she'd only gotten last week. She gently placed the bag of dust on top of the note, then quietly closed the drawer. She sat down on the bed and folded her hands in her lap.

"Then I guess I'll go on alone," she said solemnly.


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