Chapter One: Birth

Filia smiled as she swept the last of the day's dust out if her shop. It had been another busy day, and the money she had earned selling her maces and antique jars would more than pay for her rent. She had more income now than she had ever seen in her life. Sometimes, Filia wondered how her life would have been if she had continued to be a priestess of the Fire Dragon King. Her former position certainly held more prestige,so it had seemed, but now she not only had more money, she now had peace of mind as well. Those who would preserve the world's peace by destroying those whose views were different held no honor in her mind.

Filia hung the CLOSED sign in the window and shut the door. She did not lock it though, Gravos and Jillas would be back soon with the week's groceries. Humming softly to herself, she lit a lamp against the coming darkness and picked up her knitting. After all, she wold soon be a mother, and she wanted her child to have all she could give. Fillia glanced over to a bassinet on the table that contained a single egg. The egg had begun to glow with a soft green light. Soon it would hatch.

A knock sounded at the door, but Fillia continued her knitting. The men would just come on in, knowing that the door was unlocked. If she started staying open later for straggling customers, she would never have any time for herself or her family. The knock came again, persistent. Irritated, Fillia rolled her eyes skyward and got up from the chair, setting the half-finished knitting aside.. She made her way to open the door and tell the person-who-obviously-could-not-read that they were closed. She opened the door and the tongue lashing she had planned to give died on her lips. "You!" she hissed instead, her spine stiffening in fury. Fillia raised her chin angrily. "What are you doing here?"

"Good evening Fillia, always a pleasure," said the visitor. He looked at Fillia with one violet eye open, grabbed her wrist, and placed a quick kiss on the back of her hand.

Fillia snatched her hand back roughly and wiped it the feel of his lips from her hand with her skirt. "Xellos," she spat the name. "What do you want?"

Instead of answering, Xellos walked calmly through the open door and past Fillia. Her glanced about the shop as if he had every right to be there, casually walking around and examining the wares. Fillia thought she might scream with frustration at the unwanted caller. "Nice little establishment you have." Xellos remarked casually. He stopped his self-guided tour before the table and peered into the bassinet for a long moment, a slight smile on his lips.

Fillia struggled to keep a hold on her temper. The nerve of Xellos, waltzing in and pointing his nose where it didn't belong. "For the last time Xellos," she said, a dangerous note in her voice. "What are you doing here?" She noticed her voice had an edge of hysteria in it. She forced herself to try to calm down by taking several deep,calming breaths.

Xellos seated himself in the room's only other chair, within touching distance of the bassinet. He slung one leg casually over the chair's arm and propped that ridiculous staff of his on his shoulder. "Why am I here?" he asked innocently. Fillia frowned at his easy tone of voice. Xellos continued. "I am here to witness the birth of a man who has the power to save us all, and the power to doom us just as easily." He opened both eyes and regarded Fillia with a disconcerting stare. " I am also here to catch you when you fall."

Fillia regarded him narrowly. "What do you mean, catch -- " Before she could finish, a blinding pain exploded in her skull, and she was swept along a wave of light and sound. She was dimly aware of her knees buckling, and she sensed more than saw Xellos leaping out of the chair towards her. The rest of the world fell away to the vision in her mind's eye.

There was a green-haired man, his back turned to her, holding both hands palm-up toward the glittering expanse of the night sky. Fillia felt deep in her heart thats he should know this man. Balanced on his right hand was a ball of brilliant white light. On his left, a sphere of darkness so black it made the midnight sky bright in comparison. Flash. There were black feathers floating on a lake at sunset, the water was the color of blood. Flash. The moon turned blood-red and shattered, and the stars fell from the heavens like vengeful rain. Flash. Salvation lay in the hands of a fire-haired young woman who knelt beside the prone form of the man from before. She looked up, straight into Fillia's eyes. Tears ran down the girl's face freely. Her eyes were the color of spring, vessels for infinite sadness. Those green eyes seemed to hold the secrets of the entire world......

A flash of light to rival the birth of the universe was followed by a deep, silent dark. An infant's sharp cry penetrated the blanket of blackness, and Fillia opened her eyes. As she became aware of herself, she noticed that Xellos had her head cradled against one arm. Presently he was smoothing her hair off her damp brow. "Filia." he murmured softly.

She sat bolt upright, making the room spin and lurch madly. Her headache was doing unfortunate things to her stomach. Her hand rose to her forehead, where the fell of Xellos's touch still lingered. "What right do you -- " she began. Xellos cut her off by placing his finger to her lips.

"Listen." he said, holding up his free hand. Fillia could here a tiny sound, a baby's cry. "Your son is born, Fillia-san."

Fillia tried to stand and bit back a protest as Xellos helped her to her feet. With a supportive arm around her waist, Xellos guided her across the room to stand before the table. In silence, they stared at the bassinet for a long moment. It now contained a crying, red-faced infant. Before Fillia's eyes the baby changed into a black Dragon cub, the feathers of his tiny wings damp and glistening. The shell of the egg had lost its glow, and lay in pieces around the child. Fillia stretched a hand out tentivaly toward the newborn Dragon. Xellos was still supporting her, she had to move her head a fraction to look at his face.

"How?" she asked. "I was much older than him when I first learned to change my form."

Xellos shrugged slightly, the movement hindered from the arm he held around her. "Who can say what the Ancient Dragons are capable of?" he mused. "Sadly, they were all destroyed before they had a chance to realize their true power." Xellos shook his head slightly, his face unreadable. "Perhaps it was all to keep the balance of the world intact." Fillia would have given almost anything to know what he was thinking just then. Xellos laughed slightly under his breath. "I'm sure young Valgaav will only continue to amaze us."

"Don't call him that!" Fillia cried, trying to pull away. "His name is Val."

For an answer, Xellos only smiled slightly. "Perhaps. But that is not what he is. You can not change what has passed," he said. "Young Val," he put particular emphasis on the name. "Will have to know the truth of who and what he was someday."

The door opened behind them, startling Fillia. Xellos dropped his arm, taking a sideways step to widen the distance between them. Fillia stumbled slightly and grunted as her hands smacked down hard onto the tabletop. She was weaker than she had wanted Xellos to know.

From the open door emerged Jillas and Gravos, their arms laden with packages. The ogre and the fox-man paused in the doorway, no doubt surprised to see Xellos there.

"Well," the purple-haired man sighed. "It's about time I hurried along. I have very pressing business elsewhere. Very important official matters. I'm sure you'll understand. Congratulations, Fillia-san." Xellos turned to go, then stopped suddenly. "Oh, I almost forgot. All this excitement..." He shook his head ruefully, then pulled an object out of his pocket. It appeared to be a broad silver cuff bracelet, set with a blue gem and artfully engraved. Xellos stood back to stand beside Fillia and placed it on the table beside her right hand. "A present for the new mother." he said. Xellos bent his head to whisper in her ear. "I trust you can keep it safe for the time being." he murmured. "Right now it would not be....prudent...if someone discovered that in my possession." He gave Fillia a quick, roguish grin and said aloud, "Until the next time, then. No need to worry, I'll see myself out." With an arrogance to his walk Xellos retrieved his staff from the floor beside the chair and walked toward the door. Once he passed through the doorway, he turned slightly and threw Fillia a roguish wink before silently closing the door.

Fillia remained were she was for a few moments, staring at the strange bracelet. She pondered for a while the events of the night. For some reason, Xellos had not caused her to be filled with anger, it was as if he was just a normal man, not a Mazoku. It was an ability of her race to sense the psychic signature of the creatures of this world. Yet the entire time the Mazoku had been there, had touched her, she had felt no more than if a human man had been standing there. Now that she was really thinking about Xellos's visit, she recalled that he had knocked on the door before entering her home, something she never knew him to do. In the last few months he had even made a habit of teleporting into her home at the most awkward moments. She knew it was just his usual demonic idea of fun making him pull those constant pranks. Come to think of it, she had not seen him since his last prank about twelve days prior. She wondered again at Xello's odd behavior tonight. He had seemed genuinely concerned for Filia in the aftermath of her vision. And the strange vision itself? Already it was fading in her mind, to where dreams were stored. She knew that she had seen and felt these things, but now she could only recall dimly, like even the vividest of dreams. She had not fallen asleep, she was sure of that. It just felt like she wasn't there anymore, like for just a heartbeat she had left her world behind.

A cry in front of her brought Filia back to the present. She lifted her gaze from Xello's bracelet and saw her son flailing one tiny fist in the air. She leaned closer for a better view into the bassinet. What she saw made her gasp with surprise. Just minutes ago the bassinet had contained a newborn babe, then a newborn dragon cub. It had appeared that Val had changed his form once more to human-like, but he was no longer a wrinkled, red-skinned newborn. He seemed to now be an older infant, he looked roughly four month's old now. The child opened his eyes, and Filia saw that those eyes were the same fiery orange she had remembered. Her son also had grown hair, silky waves of pale green that brushed his soft cheeks. With a light touch, Filia smoothed a lock of hair from his face. Frowning, she moved the lamp closer and looked harder at Val. The scars of his former life were beginning to appear on the child's face. A chill passed though Filia as she gazed at those scars. Did this mean that Val was doomed to forever be the man he was? When Filia corrected Xellos on the child's name, he had replied that Val was still something other than just himself, as if the chains of fate still held him.

"Is everything alright, boss?" Jillas asked, standing by her left shoulder.

"No," she shook her head. "Xellos just caught me at a bad time. Val was born earlier, as you can see."

The fox-man was staring at the bassinet on the tabletop, his eyes filled with wonder. Filia smiled to see it, and she beckoned Gravos to come closer. The three of them stood close and gazed at the infant. Val smiled back, gurgling and kicking. Filia could not help but feel a small bit of dread and fear in her heart. Xellos had shown a great interest in Val, he had also implied that the babe was important.

Val began to kick more fiercely, waving his tiny fists in the air. Shortly he began to cry. Both the ogre and the fox stepped back in mild alarm, making Filia laugh out loud.

"I hope you two brought milk with you. If you would be so kind as to put away the supplies while I feed Val?" They two men nodded. "Thank you. After I feed Val, I need to be alone for awhile." She stared at the door Xellos had left through for a long moment. If Val was as important as Xellos had hinted at, he would be in a great amount of danger. Filia needed to contact her friends as soon as possible. If this turned out to be some sort of threat to the world, she wanted them all to be ready. She looked once more at the babe. "There are some letters I need to write."

He was dreadfully bored. Sitting on a hard wooden bench beside the Water Dragon alter, he swung his small feet back and forth, watching his feet blur with the fascination only a bored child could posses. Mother came out of the curtained prayer alcove, smiling at him and holding out her hand. He hopped down from the bench and eagerly took Mother's hand.

"What did you pray for, Mother?" he asked.

She sqeezed his hand slightly and winked at him. "I prayed that this child will be a girl. I prayed for you to have a sister."

He screwed up his face. "Why whould you ask for that?" he said with childish disdain. "You should have prayed for another boy. I wanted a brother."

"Well," Mother said. "I already have the most special and wonderful boy of them all. Why would I pray for another boy when I already have the best boy?" She smiled at him, and at that moment she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

He reached up to give Mother a hug. "Well, when you put it like that, I guess having a sister won't be too bad."

She returned the hug, stroking his hair. "We should head back to the palace, dear one. Your father will be out of the council meeting shortly."

"Could I name her, if it's a girl?"

"If you promise to come up with a good name." Mother replied.

He nodded. "I will."

They began walking home.

The baby woke with a start, blinking in the darkness. He heard nothing but quiet, saw nothing but moonlight filtering through the curtains. With a sigh and a yawn, he let his eyes close. Within moments the child was asleep.

Chapter 2   |   Fanfiction