Here's theme #79. I hope you like Xellos applying wax to philosophy.

Chaos: Creator and Destroyer. G.

Xellos reflected, as he watched Filia scrubbing away at a stack of dishes and pointedly turned away every time she whipped around to glare at him, that between them, the humans and the dragons had come up with many colorful nicknames for the monster race. Let’s see… there was ‘the enemies of all who live,’ ‘the demon race,’ ‘creatures from the darkest void,’ ‘scum’ (one of Filia’s favorites) and… yes, ‘the agents of chaos.’ Xellos was considering that last one because, though fair enough, it wasn’t nearly as straightforward as it sounded.

‘Chaos’ had multiple definitions—multiple contradictory definitions that somehow managed to be true all at once.

Discord was an easy one, he supposed. Easy enough to define and easy enough to appreciate, at least at first. It was like… that stack of plates on the counter that Filia was chipping away at. So neatly placed one on top of the other—so organized. But what a clatter they would make if they fell, if they cracked. Certainly humans, perhaps even dragons could understand that dire impulse to make them topple. Just because destruction was to them a vice and to the monsters a virtue, did not mean there wasn’t some universality to the urge.

But discord wasn’t always destructive—that’s where it got tricky. Chaos was a harbinger of birth as well as death. Political tumult, construction, refinement, drama… discord is always lively. It is… creative.

There was a definite distinction, Xellos knew, when it came to destruction. It was one thing to want to send the dishes falling to the ground, one thing to enjoy the crash, one thing to delight in the shattered pieces that would take forever to glue back together—but it was another thing entirely to annihilate the whole stack, leaving not so much as a crumb of debris, so that it was almost as if it had never existed in the first place.

But that was the goal. To return everything to chaos… well, that brought in another definition of chaos. Depending on your perspective, that chaos was either ‘nothing’ or ‘raw everything.’ It was the formless beginning of it all and it was…

…Disinteresting.

And it worried him that he thought that way, but there it was. The ultimate goal in all this disorder was to create… order. Of a kind at least. It would be clean, and crisp, and would have no pesky landmasses or flowing waters or life forms to make it scruffy looking. It would be plain. It would be peaceful. Peaceful! The quiet nothing at the end of a war that should’ve been endless.

Endless. Was that really what he believed deep down? It was certainly not a thing that should be said aloud. He would say it was against his nature, if it weren’t for the fact that the contradictions seemed to have been built into that too.

Valgaav, when he’d joined with Dark Star and Volpheed, had described it as a trap. Perhaps it was—each side lined up against the other, duking it out for the right to choose the fate of the game board—Protect the King, check, check and mate (though perhaps, he realized, he should’ve been using a checkers metaphor since he doubted the dragons had the patience for chess). One game, winner take all; no mulligans, no chance for a truce and no way out of it.

But it wasn’t as simple as that. They were individuals, not ideals. Take the dragons, for example, and their desperate effort for peace and goodwill—which for some reason involved a great deal of war and badwill. Their eyes were fixed firmly on the bottom line and anything that threatened it must be… ah, destroyed. They were hypocrites. He’d delighted in this fact, a thought which now etched a self-conscious frown on his face. ‘Hypocrisy’ is a very dangerous word to throw around. It’s like a boomerang.

And someday… some dreadful day, Filia would be the one to figure that out about him; because symmetry is a fearsome thing.

Ah, yes, Filia and chaos. He couldn’t help but notice that, as her hunched shoulders conveyed her annoyance with him without her even needing to turn around. Now, by reputation, Lina Inverse was often labeled as the personification of chaos, but in Xellos’s mind at least, Filia gave her a run for her money. True, Lina Inverse was wrathful and destructive in a useful and even admirable way, but she was also straightforward. She made no bones about her vindictiveness. She was not, as Filia was, a walking, talking contradiction. She was not surprising as Filia was.

Filia did not merely have a temper, she had all the other emotions in the set, and she felt them with such a magnificent intensity. She wasn’t false—she truly did believe in kindness, charity and righteousness, even to the point where she’d break with the crowd if she thought it was wrong. Yet, that did not mean that she wasn’t petty, self-deceptive, and instinctively violent.

It had surprised him, when he first met her. And part of that, he had to admit was because she was female. Now, Xellos’s own interactions and… he sought around for the right word and decided that ‘upbringing’ would have to do, provided him ample proof that there was no gender disparity in terms of bravery and viciousness. But… dragon women were another story.

The servants of the gods did not have many natural advantages against his kind, but one of them was numbers and it was a fact that he knew that the dragons were very well aware of too. They overwhelmed and ambushed wherever they could—they relied on armies, not generals. And yes, he knew very well that this tactic did not always pan out for them, but their mortal ability to replenish their lost numbers without diminishing their own power was a very definite advantage. Right now, with the loss of all but one of the Fire Dragon King’s servants, the situation was dire for the dragons… but in a few hundred years that population breach would easily be healed. It was a thought that should’ve annoyed him, but it didn’t.

Because reproduction was so important to the dragon race’s level of strength, that also meant that women were very important. And Xellos was sure the male elders that made up the ruling class were horrified that someday the female dragons (whose hierarchy ran parallel to the male one, but never made it even close to the top) would figure that out.

So there were comportment books, there were classes, there was modesty, and there were ‘ways in which ladies behaved.’ It must have been quite a shock for the dragons when their race churned out Filia—aggressive, distractibly attractive, and with a killer right hook. You couldn’t blame anything on her; it wasn’t that she’d done wrong; it was just that the valkyrie played no part in their gender expectations.

He smiled. She must’ve made people very nervous growing up.

Was that what drew him to her? The fact that he didn’t need to knock down the stack of plates? That if he waited long enough she’d throw them at him and break them herself? Or was it just that her contradictions were uncomfortably familiar?

Her frenzied spirit mocked his organized mind. Who was who here?

All he knew, as she turned to him once more in a huff and tossed a dishrag in his face, was that he was in the world destroying business. And it was a business he had every intention of staying in. But… that was kind of the point, wasn’t it? It was a one shot deal. He couldn’t keep doing this if there was nothing else to do. It… was nothing more than that.

“Don’t just stand around watching me work,” Filia barked at him, soap suds clinging furiously to her gloved hands. “If you’re going to hang around then you might as well dry.”

“I suppose I might as well,” he said, approaching the sink, “after all, with your work ethic, I’m sure that by yourself within the next couple of minutes you’d be saying that you’re just going to ‘leave things to soak,’ and then you wouldn’t have anything to eat off of.” It was untrue. Filia’s work ethic was quite good. But an exchange of gunfire was always necessary in these proceedings.

“Are you calling me lazy?” she demanded, her arm leaning against his from shoulder to elbow.

“Not at this very moment, I’m not,” he answered, taking the clean plate she’d passed him and drying it.

Of course, Filia must’ve seen the writing on the wall (fractured porcelain on the floor?) when she included him in this task. Perhaps, he thought, she’d grown enamored with the idea of having something to yell at him about.

But… he decided, as he placed the dried dish on the rack where it could air dry further, there’s really no need to break all of the dishes. One should make my statement without much fuss—and it could be glued together again to be broken later, in any case. No need to break all the dishes today. They’ll be there tomorrow.

And perhaps fate would demand an answer to this game someday—but who could say how long it could be held off?