Ye Olde Disclaimere :
Thise beinge aye Sequelle to 'Slayers Reflect', It woulde helppe
to have readde
said worke of fiction before proceedinge. The Management
...in which great omens and portents fail to scare us, our heroine
reads a good book,
we meet an old friend and much confusion is had by all.
By Stefan Gagne, Spoof Chase Productions.
nce upon a time in fair Sailoon, there was a sorceress.
Let's call her Lina.
Lina was known across the land for a variety
of reasons. She was a famous bandit hunter, magic slinger, world
saver, and consumer of large dinners. With no fixed address, she
wandered the world doing random quests and getting into surprising amounts
of trouble. In recent times, her and her usual gang of cohorts managed
to find a lost power, unearth a deadly danger from beyond space and time,
and save the world from it; all in the span of a few weeks.
That's just the sort of person Lina was, always
active, always leading an exciting life. Randomly moving from situation
to situation. She was like a monster reincarnation of some hero long
gone; a girl on the move, just lucky enough to be totally confident.
Then she stopped moving.
One of the main things an open air market needs
-- besides customers, at any rate -- is nice weather. Keeping track
of this is the job of the royal astrologer in most countries, but the one
Sailoon had employed tended to stay indoors a lot, and thus his forecasts
tended to consist of humidity and air quality rather than, for example,
Fortunately, the office had changed hands
in recent days to someone more competent and technically inclined.
With him came a miraculous new machine that could predicted the weather
with 90% accuracy. In the daily press, newspapers would now include
a little box where you could read the weather for the next three days.
Much to the relief of the managers of the Annual Sailoon Magician's Market,
the weather was scheduled to be Partly Cloudy with No Chance of Rain today,
and the event was on.
In previous years, the Magician's Market was
held indoors; proving to be a horrible mistake and a financial disaster,
as having an enclosed space with that many sorcerers around trying out
new purchases usually results in a fire that takes two days for the Royal
Firefighters to get under control. Nowadays strict rules are posted
not to use any products purchased until you're at least twenty miles away
from the city.
Which, in a very long way of explaining it,
is why Lina Inverse was suspicious of the new sword she was buying.
"Throws fireballs, huh," she said, not believing
a word of it, as she tested the blade for balance and grip.
"Very large ones," the proprietor said, waving
his arms wide to demonstrate that hey -- those were some BIG fireballs,
I kid you not. "Why, just last week, my cousin Nigel managed to vaporize
a whole horde of bandits using this sword alone, and no formal training
in magical arts! It's user friendly and has a convenient interface.
And you did say you liked the design..."
The young sorceress twisted her wrist, examining
the hilt of the blade; a very elegant brass design, in the shape of a butterfly.
Butterflies had been on her mind a lot lately, now that she thought of
it, since she did think of it often.
"Weeeelll..." Lina said, holstering the weapon.
"The design's nice. It's a good weight for my class, and I can tell
it's got a good deflection ability. Plenty sharp, too."
"Exactly!" the merchant smiled. "A rare
product, worth twenty gold pieces, yes?"
"I'll give you five gold for it."
"Five?! Why, such a fine blade of distinct
quality is worth eighteen, at least!"
"I think five sounds a bit right."
"Ahh... fifteen, then?"
"Um, miss, you're supposed to be haggling
towards a midpoint," the merchant reminded her, not sure if this customer
really understood proper business.
"Why bother when you're trying to trick me?"
Lina asked, already removing her old, battered sword and attaching the
new one to her belt. The deal was done, in her opinion.
But the merchant was aghast. Aghastedly,
he protested, "Trick?!"
"Yes, trick. You know, it takes a lot
of experience to detect weapon enchantments, much less what TYPE of enchantment,"
Lina explained. "And I may be young, but I can tell the difference
between a cheap light spell and a gigantic, bandit-melting fireball lobber.
I'd say five is a bargain for a basically ordinary sword plus the promise
to give you an hour's head start before I casually inform anybody else
you've sold these things to what they REALLY bought, making them want to
test your wonderful product out on your person first hand to make sure....
"Five," the merchant agreed, taking the coins
from Lina's hand, pulling a shade down over the front of his stall and
packing everything up and hitting the road, setting a land ground speed
record in the process.
Nasty, perhaps, but Lina smiled smugly nonetheless.
It was a feel-good moment in an otherwise dull month.
Her old sword wasn't a bad sword. She
had been using it for a couple years now, from when she first set out to
make a name for herself as a bandit hunter. Technically, she was
more of a magic-weilding bandit killer than a sword-weilding bandit killer,
and lately had actually been relying on magic a bit much... maybe a bit
TOO much. Not that she couldn't hold her own with magic. She
did just fine by it, really, but.. having a good sword was a confidence
booster, she figured. There was something relieving about having
a nice sharp bit of metal around.
Her usual nice sharp bit of metal wandered
up, carrying a huge bale of cotton candy in one hand and an bagful of souvenirs
and useless crap in the other.
"Ne, Lina, I got you some candy!" he said,
handing the giant pink wad of dental doom to Lina, who staggered under
the weight. "And look, I got a magical stand with a bunch of wooden
frogs on it with little musical instruments that plays when it hears noise!"
Gourry was not an expert shopper. If
it attracted the eye and fascinated him for more than thirty seconds, chances
were he'd buy it, regardless of what it was. This being their second
day of visiting the Market, merchants seeking to offload whatever they
couldn't ship were actively seeking Gourry out. Lina briefly wondered
how much money they had left.
"That's nice, Gourry..." she said, taking
a nip off the candy, her brain locking momentarily in a sugar overdose.
"I think I've bought about everything I want to for the day. Ready
to go back?"
Gourry's face fell. "What, already?"
"C'mon, Gourry, it's been, what, three hours?"
"But the food court! We should at least
visit the food court. I hear they have dishes from around the world!
I could go for a Testabournian Imploding Onion."
"I'm not really that hungry," Lina said, turning
and starting to head for the marked exits.
Gourry continued his protest, following along.
"You know, we don't go out very often nowadays. I mean, Amelia's
castle is really interesting and they have a pretty cool army training
ground, but... ummm.."
"Shouldn't we be, y'know... questing?
Or something?" Gourry asked. "Zelgadis already left because he wanted
to keep looking for a cure for his Chimeraness, and you know Naga's been
thinking about going off again..."
"Why do we always have to be out and about
looking for magic and artifacts and danger?" Lina asked, turning to face
Gourry. "What's so bad about sitting down for awhile? After
our last disaster you'd think you'd be more interested in relaxing."
"Disaster? But we saved the world.
We did save the world, right?"
"That's not what I meant.." Lina said... and
gave up. "We'll talk about this later, Gourry. All I have in
mind right now is heading back to our palace quarters, relaxing, and reading.
Not wanting to make Lina upset, Gourry nodded
Satisfied, Lina nodded as well and resumed
walking past rows of stalls. "Right now, Gourry, the last thing I
want is to get involved in another--"
"Beware the Forenight of Chaos!"
Lina stopped dead in her tracks.
The withered crone, face hidden inside a dark
hooded cloak, beckoned to Lina from between two stalls, one of which was
selling realistic simulated animal excrement and the other selling lamps
which supposedly held genies. It wasn't the most ideal place for
a soothsayer, but that didn't deter her.
"Bewaaare," the crone screeched, "The Forenight
of Chaos, Lina Inverse! For if ye does not approach gates left locked,
ye shall truly be as aimless as ye be! Hark and beware!!"
Ordinary people would have been frightened
by strange people who know their name proclaiming ther doom. Lina
was not an ordinary person.
She turned to Gourry. "See? That's
the sort of thing I mean. Don't you hate it when you're just walking
along, minding your own business, and BOOM! someone goes and proclaims
your destiny and puts you on some journey across the world to deliver a
ring to the crack of doom or something?"
"Uhhh.. I dunno, I've never had it happen
to me," Gourry said honestly, because he was very honest. "But I
guess I'd find it a little annoying, unless it was something important--"
"A-HEM!" the crone said. "Over here!
Didn't you hear what I said? BEWAAAARE the--"
"I heard you the first time," Lina said, walking
over to the soothsayer. "I guess if I ask where you heard my name,
you'd say mystic powers or the moon or the Lord of Nightmares told you,
"How'd you guess?" the crone asked in a surprisingly
young voice, before catching herself. "I mean.. aye, and ye best
Lina casually yanked the crone's hood back,
revealing an ugly but quite youthful girl about her own age.
"Oh, come on," Lina said. "You call
that white and wizened hair? It's a healthy apple-red and you probably
combed it with a hundred strokes!"
"Aye... uh.. 'tis a wig..?"
Grabbing the crone's chin, Lina yanked.
"And this is just makeup! Look at this, it comes right off--"
"--not even a REAL wart, just a little sticky
one you got from a costume shop, too. And why are you having trouble
focusing on me like that? Is that some faked squint?"
The now quite average looking young girl's
shoulders sunk. Defeatedly pulling out a pair of glasses and putting
them on, she looked Lina square in the eyes. "Okay, okay!.. so I'm
not that good at Drama. But I AM a soothsayer! Aye and stuff."
"Reaaaally?" Lina asked, tapping her foot.
"...not by trade, but by instance," the girl
said. "Anyway. Beware. Enter the gate. You know...
Lina turned away from the soothsayer, motioning
for Gourry to follow, and marched squarely off. Not a word spoken.
"Ne, Lina.. who was that, anyway?" Gourry
"Nobody," Lina said. "Just some random
loon. C'mon, let's go home. I'm very serious about finishing
that book before the day's done."
High above the market, contrary to the miraculous
weather prediction system, storm clouds started to form.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.
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