rguements are endless loops.  The Dragons do not argue.  They discuss.  The difference is that one goes on and on with no resolution, while the other comes to a decision.  Beings of light and goodness, they believe they understand the meaning of compromise and balance.
    They had been arguing for the better part of a day now.
    A Council of Dragons had been called to discuss the issue of what to do about recent developments.  It was not THE Council, simply a gathering -- a spontaneous gathering of those felt most appropriate.  For this meeting, they chose to meet bearing the same appearance, each a mirror of the other; androgynous persons in white robes, with the symbols of the Dragon legacy along the sleeves.  This way, identity was masked into a group whole, and ideas could be exchanged freely without identity compromising the purity of thought.
    Despite this, almost instantly the group was divided into two factions.  One suggested immediate action to terminate the happenings, the other recommended observance of the event to determine future activity for or against it.
    "The drawing of the wingless may prove to create powerful allies for the cause of good," a Dragon said.
    "The drawing may forge powerful enemies as well," an opposing faction's Dragon countered.
    "They are only eight, and not all know magic," another Dragon noted.
    "They have Talents, which can be more unpredictable than magic.  Chaos can work against the light."
    "Chaos can work for the light.  Chaos is the modus of the Lord of Nightmares above all."
    "They are humanlike, and humans are capable of great light and dark.  But we do not fear humans."
    "We do not fear humans because the ones that are are allied with us in ideology are companions, and the ones that are twisted by the dark can be destroyed or reformed if required, for the betterment of all humans.  Thus, they are a safe ally.  Humans do not have Talents, whereas the wingless do.  Thus, they can be a strong threat.  They must not gather."
    It was a strong point.  A very blunt one, but identity and feeling were removed earlier to ensure a solid discussion.  The others mostly nodded in agreement.
    "To interfere may mean interfering with the Lord of Nightmares, a thing which should not be done," another said.
    "We have no proof that the Lord is involved."
    "We have no proof that she is not involved.  If we act hastily, we accept great risk."
    "If we do not ask, the risk may be greater."
    Finally, a wise head prevailed.  Which one couldn't be said, as a result of the masks.  "This is extending.  We are going nowhere.  Compromise and send an emissary to observe, and pass judgment if Lina Inverse's endeavor must be terminated or assisted.  Trust one to make the right decision.  Are all agreed on this measure?"
    "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes."
    "Then it is settled.  Who will go?"
    "Filia has experience with this group."
    "Filia has other obligations."
    "Aqua also has assisted them in the past."
    "She is too important for what could be a minor task, and would have bias."
    "If I may recommend someone," the one who had pointed out an argument state earlier said, "There is an aspiring one named Angela.  She has taken the guise of negotiator several times in human affairs to arbitrate a solution that is best for human and Dragon alike.  She would be unbiased and wise in these matters."
    "I can confirm much of this," another Dragon said.  "My experiences with her prove her to be a gentle speaker and level headed.  All deals made with her have benefited the Dragons.  She has shown no unstable elements.  She could carry our cause with success."
    "Nomination is seconded," the first said.  "All others in favor?"
    "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "Yes." "No." "Yes."
    "No?" the first of the Dragons asked.
    The naysayer, who had actually been very quiet over the course of the meeting, did something not to be done and stepped forward.  "No."
    "I wish to know your reasons," the Dragon asked.
    The naysayer raised her head, smiling from a truly human face.  "Trust," she spoke.  "I don't."
    "Nobody informed me that the Knight of Ceipheed would attend this council," the Dragon said, taken aback by this unmasking.  "What reason is there for this thing?"
    "Human affairs," the Knight said, still smiling.
    "And who would you nominate, then, Luna?" the Dragon asked.  "If you have objections to Angela."
    "Myself," the Knight said.
    "Bias.  Lower rank.  Conflict of interest," the Dragon recited.  "You are unsuitable.  She IS your sister, and you are human, even if you have an honored place in our ranks, a representative for your species among ours.  Does anyone disagree with these facts?"
    The other Dragons said nothing.
    "Luna Inverse, will you change your vote, or name another option?" the Dragon asked.
    Luna, the only Human present, considered this for a long, long time.  Perhaps she was thinking the whole time; behind the smile, she could have decided moments ago and simply wanted her opponent to sweat a bit.
    "Angela'll do," she said simply, plainly, not inflecting how she felt about it.
    "Then all are in agreeance, and she will go," the Dragon said.  "It is decided.  The Council is over."
    One by one, the Dragons vanished, leaving only the more vocal one, who left moments later, teleporting to the base of the mountain retreat they had chosen.  She quickly removed her appalling disguise, fluffing out her beautiful golden tresses and her feathery wings.  Much better.
    Now, to go observe this Lina matter, as she had nominated herself to do.  She was the best candidate for the job, after all; Angela ALWAYS looked after the interests of her kind.
    Halfway across the world, a man slumped his way through the countryside, leaning heavily on a ruby-tipped staff to keep himself upright.
    Xelloss was quite used to feeling pain.  A very normal brain function, defined in most living things as an array of signals designed to tell when the body had been damaged.  As a Mazoku, he could simply think 'Hmm, I'm in pain' and smile it off.  He had forgotten how difficult that was for a human.
    He limped badly, his entire body a wave of fire and agony from having his Mazoku essence ripped away.  Most people would buckle under pain like that, unable to move for weeks.  He decided to look at his crippled state as good fortune, since here he was, up and about, even if speed was an issue.  Things were progressing nicely.
    Perhaps it was just his imagination, but he felt that he was able to.. sense things better, now.  The smell of a nearby flower, the sound of the forest animals, the taste of fresh, clean air.  To be human, to have a limited amount of time to do things in life, amplified everything else; a theory long held by the Dragons.  Quite ironic, that.
    And still...
    Perhaps he had not made the right decision with this action.  This was a bold move, to leave the comforting and accepting nest he had made for himself with the Mazoku, who applauded his efforts and celebrated his successes for their shoddy little causes and pathetic infighting.  As absurd as it may be, he did enjoy his work, on some level.  Grew to enjoy it, even, in sweet rebellion.  The plans inside plans, the creative application of orders, the backstabbing, the battles... it was a living, more or less.  Once you're in the family, you're in for eternity; it was unthinkable to LEAVE the Mazoku.
    Perhaps he shouldn't have promised himself to take care of this particular bit of unfinished business.  His role in it technically ended when he came under the wing of Zelas-Metallum.  Why involve himself again?  It would make itself done with or without him.  He was likely to be extraneous, even if he could help to some small degree.
    Perhaps the deciding factor was not some silly sense of obligation, or of past mistakes he wanted to have redeemed. As much as he told himself those were his reasons, he knew it was a load of monkey snot.  They may have been valid reasons long ago, but now they were simply pleasant bonuses.  He knew why he had himself voluntarily cast out of the darkness, dumped into a situation that was above his head for the first time in centuries, and opened himself to all sorts of risk.
    Perhaps Xelloss hoped she'd appreciate what he was doing for her, but he didn't figure it was likely.
    So instead, he limped along, working out the plans in his head of how to handle the situation.  He would have to track down Lina again, obviously; an easy thing to do, once he was up to speed and able to access his magic.  Once he explained the situation -- no real need to keep secrets now, after all -- she could be pleased to have his help, and he could aid her, side by side.  Perhaps see his son along the way...
    "Hail, stranger!"
    Xelloss paused in his pained walk, hearing the voice behind him.  He turned to look, keeping a nice smile on.  Just a simple traveler, like himself, dressed for the road.
    "Hello there, stranger," he responded.  "Lovely weather we're having today, isn't it?"
    "Showers ahead, I'd suspect," the man said.  "From what parts do you hail?"
    "Nowhere in particular," Xelloss said.
    "Oh?  I've been nowhere," the man said, approaching Xelloss, step by step.  "It's a boring place.  I've been everywhere, but it was too unorganized.  I've been somewhere as well, which is a nice place to visit, and each time you go there, it's somewhere different.  I don't like that either.  I'd say you've had your fair share of such travels, haven't you, trickster priest?"
    "Pardon?  Why, I am but a humble--"
    A minute shift of time, located right inside his chest threw Xelloss's heart off by a beat.  He collapsed to his knees, having his first heart attack, quite shocked.  It was an interesting experience, but had one drawback; he couldn't move.
    The other man knelt down.  "You don't know how happy I am to see you like this, so I can finally punish you for that stunt you pulled one month, two days, seven hours fifty nine minutes and twenty one seconds ago.  Did you really think I wouldn't notice you screwing up space and time like that, you arrogant bastard?"
    Xelloss wasn't sure what to say.  He was probably going to die.  He didn't really want to die, not after starting such important plans, but what was he going to say -- "Please, Paradox, don't kill me?"  It was trite.
    "Oh, don't worry," the wingless man smiled.  "We've got plans for you, maker of plans.  You'll see, in time."
    Two bored people sat outside the gates of the market, squatting by the curb and trying to pass the time.
     "I'm going to the fair, and I'm bringing an apple, a battered Amelia plush doll, a carrot, and..." Lina said, thinking.  "A dead antelope."
    "Ewww," Gourry said, in distaste.  "Okay.  Ummmm.... I'm going to the fair, and I'm bringing an apple, a battered Amelia plush doll, a carrot, a dead antelope and.... eggs, one dozen?"
    "It has to start with an 'E' to work, remember?  That starts with an 'O'."
    "I thought Eggs started with an 'E'?"
    "You MEANT 'one dozen eggs'.  That's an 'O'.  Try again."
    This threw Gourry's memory off track.  "Uhh.  I'm... going to the fair, and I'm bringing an apple, a battered Amelia doll, and... a cat?  A carrot, and a dead... deaaaad... anteater."
    "Antelope!" Lina groaned.  "I win again.  Ne, Gourry, this game's no fun unless you can remember stuff for more than a minute!"
    "We could always play Bonkers," Gourry suggested.
    "Never heard of it."
    "It's a game from my home country of Testabourne.  See, you get these boys in a circle, and you take turns issuing challenges.  And when you challenge someone, you run right at 'em and WHAM! bonk your heads together.  The only person left standing wins!"
    Lina sat in dumb shock for a bit.
    "You know, this explains a lot," she mused.
    Before they could get down to a serious game of Bonkers, Myth arrived.
    She was considerably worse for wear.  It's easy to spot someone who could use more exercise; they're usually flat out exhausted and unable to form complete sentences after running half a mile from the palace while wearing heavy wool and carrying a load of random goods on their back.  Myth could use a few years of exercise.
    "Ameila....." Myth wheezed.  "Planning... find... search for... got stuff... gonna..."
    "Is this a game too?" Gourry asked.
    "Yes, it's called 'Time to Leave,'" Lina said, taking the bag mercifully from Myth's shoulders and unpacking their goods.  "Let's book.  Myth, you did good work!  Thanks."
    "Don't... mention... daaaah..."
    "So, where do we go next?... oh.  One second.  Ahem... *Dicleary!*" Lina cast, twisting a spell used for clearing exhaustion, poisons and other minor body ailments out of her hands and into the girl.
    "Whoa," Myth exclaimed, feeling a couple strong jolts of coffee wetwired right to her spinal column.
    "Next stop?" Lina repeated.
    "Ah... south," Myth said.  "I know two other wingless, and one of them has a fixed address.  We can find her there."
    "Great!" Lina said.  "See, Gourry?  I don't think this quest will be very hard at all.  Smooth sailing from now on!"
    And so, the group set out, unaware of the Mazoku, Dragons and Other Strange Things already gathering on their tail.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.