ina Inverse had many loves in life. There
was the love of looting a bad guy of all his incredibly valuable possessions,
and the love of learning a really cool new kind of magic, and of course
the love of a luxurious inn with soft beds and room service. But
after going without dinner AND breakfast, she only had one true burning
Yes, there was that whole 'escaping the city guard
so that we don't get thrown in prison' thing, but that took a backseat
to Lina's need to get some chow. So when they were looking for good
hiding places, she instinctively sought out a little hole in the wall diner,
dragged her two companions inside, sat them down and had ordered a couple
square meals in the time it takes most people to get their shoelaces tied.
Gourry, however, continued to watch the entrances
and exits nervously. "This isn't the best place to hide, Lina..."
"Life IS risk, Gourry," Lina said, waving a chicken
leg like a teacher's pointer. "We're on a very important mission,
and that means we have to go that extra mile into the danger zone, putting
life and limb at risk for the greater good! Besides, if I don't get
some protein I'll be a mess all day... what're you doing?"
The third companion looked up from her writing.
"Um.. I'm just taking notes. Don't mind me."
No proper introductions had been given yet for the
girl they had picked up along the way; or rather, bumped into along the
way at speeds clocked on an upwards of twenty miles an hour. Swept
along like a bath toy in the ocean, she had floated into the mess with
"Who are you, anyway?" Lina asked. "We saw
you at the market trying to be a scary old fortune teller, right?
I recognize that face. Without the makeup, that is."
"Oh... um," the girl said. "It's a long story,
"If I recall, you were shouting something about
'Bewaring the Forenight of Chaos,'" Lina said. "And something about
a gate... wait. How did you know about that??"
"About what?" the girl asked, confused.
"About... Giga's Gate," Lina said, trying to keep
her voice down in the semi-crowded establishment. "The spell you
were referring to! I accidentally cast it the other night."
"Oh, so THAT'S what I felt!" the girl said, to herself.
"I guess it makes sense..."
"I'm confused," Gourry said, not for the first time,
and definitely not for the last.
"I think I can explain a bit," the girl said, closing
her book and setting it on the table. "But you'll have to trust me.
Lina glanced at the title, hastily etched on the
cover; 'Lina Inverse And The Chaos Factor'. Weirder and weirder.
"Trust later, explanation now," she recommended.
"I'm a storyteller," the girl said. And that
was true; she did have a bard's uniform on. "And a story writer.
You can call me Miss. It's been my role in things for a long time...
but I've been in a slump lately. There just aren't any good epics
out there nowadays.. except yours, Lina! I've been writing about
you for these last few years, and it's good stuff, some of the best writing
I've done. Did you hear 'Lina Inverse and the Journey of a Thousand
Reflections'? I finished it a few days after you finished your quest
for the Mirror Lores. It's been doing well with audiences!"
"I.. don't think I have," Lina said. But the
title did seem familiar...
"I was going to try to tag along this time, get
a real first-hand account of what goes on, and maybe write the best Lina
Inverse story ever," the bardess said. "But... you got arrested.
So I had to do something. Um. I take it you broke out of jail
on your own?"
"Easily," Lina commented.
"Oh. Okay, then at least things are going
now," Miss said. "Mind if I tag along? I won't get in your
way, I promise, I'm just here to chronicle your journey."
"That still doesn't explain the weird bits," Lina
said. "How did you know anything about our last outing? I've
never seen you before! And you knew about that gate spell, didn't
"Yes. No! No, not really..." the girl
said, trying to make up her mind of how to explain it. "How to explain
this... it's so much easier to explain things when they're like a story.
Can we just call it instinct and let it go at that?"
"Rats. Okay, then... I've got.. a talent,
I guess you could call it," Miss replied, quieter, to keep anybody from
hearing. Lina and Gourry leaned across the table, or at least across
the food, to hear. "I can feel the shape of stories. That's
the best way to explain it. If it's just a sort of outline of a notable
story, something happening elsewhere in the world like a boy going on a
trip to find his lost cat, I just get sketchy details, but.. your stories,
I see a lot more. Not everything, but a LOT more. So after
that tale finished, I had this feeling that there was a gate, you see,
and unless you went through it, the next story wouldn't happen. And...
I felt, in the story, that a soothsayer giving a warning was just the event
needed to start it all rolling, you see, and... did it work, by the way?"
"Oh. But it worked, didn't it? I mean,
not IT, but it. In general. Worked out right."
"...yes," Lina admitted. "So. You've
got some weird psychic power that lets you spy on people, is that it?"
"Spy? No no no..." Miss defended. "I
don't mean any harm, I just.. write and spread tales. Myths and lore.
That's all. If I could tag along with you, I could write a really
Lina nodded, letting that soak in, and sat back
to finish off her chicken and think about it.
"I don't get it. Can you explain all of that
again?" Gourry asked. "Lina, why are you choking?"
Gagging, Lina coughed a bit to clear her airway,
then gave Gourry a severe bonking. "No, we can't explain all of it
Rubbing his head, Gourry looked a bit sheepish.
"How about a summary, then?"
"Okay. Summary. Summary I can swing,"
Lina said. "She's a magic bard and wants to follow us around on our
quest to draw the wingless. Got it now?"
"Oh, okay," Gourry said.
"Excuse me, but... what did you say your quest was?"
"Hmm? Oh, we're drawing the wingless.
No, we don't have any idea what that means either," Lina said casually.
"I suspect we'll figure it out at some point. The Lord of.... someone
said we'd get aid, which of course we haven't gotten yet... hey,
are you going to eat all of that salad? Thanks."
Miss sat back in slight terror as Lina took her
food. Not because she was hungry, but because she was hearing words
not heard from anyone else in quite some time.
"Uh... I think I know what it means," Miss said.
Lina paused. "You do?"
"It's a long story, but.. are you really on a quest
from the Lord? The Lord of Nightmares, I mean?"
"We seem to be. Why?"
Miss swallowed hard. "Looks like my hopes
of simply sneaking into your party to write a story aren't going to be
enough. If what you say is true... I think I'm actually supposed
to be your aid."
Pockets are not meant for storing things. Only
stupid cattle unable to understand fashion stick objects into their pockets.
Elegant ones use other means of storage.
Beastmaster Zelas-Metallum knew this by heart, which
is why whenever she wanted something, she pulled it out of a nonspace of
her own design rather than lug around a heavy bag or, god forbid, put things
in the pockets of her stylish wardrobe. She poked around in nonspace,
hunting for the thing she sought, and pulled; an illustrated book appeared
in her hands, with a happy medium of flashy special effects and tasteful
She found it vaguely appropriate to be performing
her next task inside Xelloss's home. If he was smart, he would have
it kinked for some kind of audio/visual link; how she loved to tease the
prey! Perhaps he would do another funny thing on learning her plans.
Perhaps he already predicted her plans. Either way, it would be enjoyable.
Flipping through the book, she browsed the pictures
and vital statistics of each Mazoku under her sphere of influence.
She needed one appropriate to the task at hand, just the right tool, just
the right irony. Such droll things they were, the lesser Mazoku,
with no sense of fun about them...
There. That one.
She stroked the picture with a slender finger, a
burning smoke arising from the page as she did. The incantation came
freely. "Lord of damp days, self-proclaimed heir to the frustrations
of humankind... I summon you, one named Bugger."
The coming was not flashy, nor was it tasteful.
It was the magical equivalent of a fart. A weak cloud of smoke, unimpressive
and rather pathetic, with a disgusting smell about it. A manlike
figure was there, slumped over in an overcoat that probably hadn't been
washed since the first Mazoku war, some flies buzzing about his person.
The man gave a ragged cough, trying to work up something out of its throat.
"Bloody 'ell, I hate that," the Mazoku who called
himself Bugger muttered. He looked around, scratching his head.
"Just sitting there minding my own business, and someone comes along and
summons me. Soditall, soditall. Who's it now?"
"I," Beastmaster said casually.
"Oh, hell," the man groaned. "You're gonna
destroy me, aren't you? Bleeding runny death in the nines.
Just the thing to cap off a perfectly miserable day..."
"Contrary. I have a task for you," Zelas-Metallum
said. "Well suited to your questionable talents."
"Always 'appy to serve, mistress."
"No you aren't."
"...'course not, but if I say that, I'm fried toast,
"Your task," Beastmaster continued, not confirming
nor denying that, "Is simple. There is one named Lina Inverse who
is on a quest. You will... inconvenience her. What she plans
is a thing that must not be done."
"I ain't no assassin, ma'am," Bugger reminded her.
"T'ain't my specialty. Not that I gots anything against dyin', it's
a lousy way to go and I'm all for it, but--"
"Inconvenience her however you please. Dissuade
her, distract her away, collapse her will to go on, destroy her, the method
doesn't matter," Beastmaster said. "She must not complete her quest.
See to it."
"Right. That I can manage, mistress," Bugger
said. He patted his pockets searching for something, and pulled out
a handful of dirt. "If there's one thing the old bugger's good at
it's really bringing down someone's day. I'll get on it right as
rain, you'll see."
Nodding simply, Beastmaster sent the Mazoku off
Miss looked more and more unnerved as Lina tried to
dig information out of her. It was less like a casual meal and more
like an informal interrogation.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"I really mean it. It's--"
"I said try me, didn't I? Let's go.
Right here, right now," Lina said.
"I can't explain here!" Miss said. "There's
too many people around."
"Then you're not coming with us," Lina said.
"For all we know, you could be some kind of Mazoku plant. Or maybe
a friend of an old friend of ours who liked to keep secrets. Right,
"Huh?" Gourry asked, having lost track of the conversation
"Just smile and nod your head."
He smiled and nodded his head.
"And Gourry agrees," Lina finished. "Besides,
we can't go out on the street until the heat's off. I give it an
hour more. Why can't you tell us here in the meantime?"
"It's not a story for everybody," Miss said.
"It's a special one. Um.. I don't know much about magic, but could
you, like... make everybody deaf? Or.. no, that wouldn't work...
I don't know. Do something so only you and Gourry hear it."
Lina had a dinner roll while thinking that one over.
"'kay," she agreed. She stood up on her chair, focusing on the few
patrons and workers in the diner, and concentrated. White magic,
not her specialty (despite having gotten very proficient in it recently)
flowed to her fingers. "*Enhance Calm*..." she cast.
The diners, one by one, yawned and started to drift
off to sleep, unaware or at least uninterested in the fact that they were
napping in midmorning. Soon, the entire restaurant was out like a
light, save the three at Lina's table.
"Wow..." Miss admitted. "Creepy, but... that'll
"So, can you tell this big story now?" Lina asked.
"But isn't he.... erm..."
Light snoring floated up from Gourry's open mouth.
"I don't get it... I didn't even cast it on Gourry,"
Lina said, weirded out. "Long boring stories just have that kind
of effect on him I guess. Go ahead, I'd have to summarize for him
"I'd hope it won't be boring, but..." Miss trailed
off. She cleared her throat. "I'll warn, it's a strange yarn.
But maybe it's what you want to hear. One second, I need to prep
for a telling session."
Posture shift; just a smidge, enough to not slump
as much, to have her head up higher. Hands folded in front of her,
not in her lap. And her eyes locked on Lina without feeling like
they were locked, just a long stare, a stare which said : I'm talking to
you. Right to you.
"My explanation for why I know about your quest
is a bit long, so please, bear with me. This story I know starts,
literally, at the beginning," Miss started. "There are a lot of stories
told about the creation. Every religion has one. The Evilanians
think that Shaburanigdo vomited the universe into a congealed heap.
The Holy Order of Ceipheed, on the opposing hand, believes that originally
the universe was a tiny point of light, which expanded to become Ceipheed
the Dragon King, who breathed life into the world with an exhalation of
his divine breath. A lot of others believe the more common story,
that the Lord of Nightmares crafted the Dragons and the Mazoku, then gave
them a world to hold their eternal struggles on. The beasts of the
land came next : rabbits, bears, lions, butterflies, lizards, and finally,
"Those are all good stories, and to hear their tellers
recite them is to hear the truth. But the truth is subjective.
This is the way I see the truth; subjective it may be, it is a truth.
And very relevant to understanding what the 'wingless' are and how they
came to be.
"In the beginning, there was only the Lake of Chaos.
It was not a world, it was not a dimension; it simply WAS, beyond any definition
we can give it. In the lake lived the Lord of Nightmares. These
are names we have given these things now, as a result of events that transpired.
In the beginning, these things had no names. I will call them by
the ones we are familiar with.
"With me so far?"
Lina nodded slowly. "Go on."
"For reasons never explained by the Lord, the first
thing to be created was a magnificent world. It was not this world
that you know; it was a world of ideas and notions, running wild, flowing
like the waters of Chaos itself. This world was beautiful in itself,
but lacked shape, in the way a river running straight with no rocks and
no fish lacks substance, save the water.
"To give it shape, the Lord created eight creatures.
They had two sets of two appendages, and one nub with senses on it.
They had two wings, although what these were used for had yet to be defined;
perhaps the Lord put them there for aesthetic reasons. We'll never
know, I'm afraid. The Lord spoke onto them that this world was theirs
to do with as they wished, provided that they never broke two rules.
One, they must not try to make another of what they were; second, they
must not try to destroy one of what they were. Then she let them
be, going silent.
"To the beings, new and excited with life -- existence,
rather -- they were not concerned with these rules, because none of them
knew what it meant to create or destroy another. They couldn't break
a rule they didn't understand, they rationalized. So, for indescribable
time, they frolicked in the world, shaping and reshaping it randomly, chaos
being their nature as it was the nature of their Lord.
"Each invented an aspect which defined and named
themselves, a trend that one of them started and the rest picked up on.
They reveled in this new thing called identity, theorizing that this must
be why the Lord put them there. They now could tell each other apart
and try to be different from each other.
"One of them, who grew to be the most beautiful
of the eight, took his time in naming himself. After awhile, he invented
a strange concept. It was very new and exciting, and completely foreign
to the others. They didn't mimic it, of course; it was his claim
to name, and to take it would to be non-unique.
"Then he attempted to destroy one of the other eight
winged ones. He had finally figured out how, working past the ignorance
they shared of this thing called 'death'.
"The Lord, enraged as much as it was possible for
an emotionless being to be enraged, pulled them from the world, all eight.
It was the punishment for breaking the law, the whole group blamed.
They fell, until they landed on a new world; one that could not be shaped
and reshaped, one that simply WAS what it was, and bound them to horrible,
restrictive physics. Their wings were gone; burned up as they entered
this world. Eight frightened and lonely beings, nearly powerless
in an alien world.
"And THEN the Mazoku and the Dragons arose, and
began their eternal war.
"Mind if I have your glass of orange juice there?
My throat is dry."
Lina blinked several times. "Wha?... uh, yeah.
Go right ahead, Miss."
"Thanks," Miss thanked, taking a big swallow.
"Ahh. Much better.
"Anyway, the wingless were confused. Why were
these new beings here, and threatening them? One figured it was because,
and this is mere speculation, the Lord had decided her first creations
had proven themselves unsuitable. Taking the two extremes of them,
since they were mostly grey-area things, she developed a race of Good and
a race of Evil, and set them to fight, to prove which was the stronger.
Or perhaps neither would ever fully win the war, proving that they are
"None of this mattered to the eight wingless, who
were caught in the middle of this fray. They knew destruction now,
and that they COULD be destroyed. They ran. They hid.
"Many, many years passed, years being a new concept
they would have to deal with, and the Mazoku and Dragons were so injured
that they had to go into hiding as well. Neither side could be considered
the victor. The world was quiet, and very, very dead, damage caused
in the war extreme.
"A few of the wingless managed to find each other
again, and band together for strength. Eventually life returned to
the world. Plants, animals... men. Time passed. Human
civilization grew, more bold and vivid than any of the simple ideas the
wingless had imagined, and they had to find roles in it that fit their
names. A second Mazoku War -- chronicled by humans as the first,
incorrectly -- raged, and civilization was knocked down a peg once more.
Humans, like the now wingless, were not able to do much about this other
than be caught in the crossfire and try to survive long enough to outlast
"Humans survived, being a strangely adaptive and
capable species, and rose again, in time. The original eight wingless
lived on in this new world, only glimpsing their original home in dreams;
perhaps this is why she is called the Lord of Nightmares now. I only
know of two of them, the other five lost and unknown, possibly even under
new names. And that's where we are today, and specifically, where
I am today -- since my name is really pronounced 'Myth', and I am one of
the original eight, now wingless. I meant to not be a bother to you
and simply write your travels, but I started getting actively involved
yesterday, and it looks like I'm in with both feet now... I suppose you
might think this tale a flight of fancy, or of insanity. But truth
is subjective, and this is a truth, at the very least.
"That's all there is so far to the story.
I hope I told it right. Did that explain what you wanted explained,
Miss Inverse?" Myth asked, curiously, shifting out of her posture, back
to being a meek little bardess.
It took Lina a few moments to realize the telling
"Ah.... good story," she said, not sure what else
"I told you it was a little strange," Myth reminded.
"I know, but..... no, no, wait, that doesn't explain
everything," Lina said. "Okay. So the 'wingless' are apparently
a race of creatures that were made before all the others were made.
Somehow, all eight of them.. of you are still around today. I can
accept that; I've heard stranger. But what does the Lord of Nightmares
want me to DO, exactly?"
"Draw us," Myth said. "I think she intends
for you to draw us together. As in, gather us... like I said, I don't
know where many of them are. Apparently we're needed, all of us.
Which is strange, I mean, none of us have had any contact with the Lord
of Nightmares since that day... truth be told, we're all a bit frightened
of her. I am, at any rate."
"Gather eight minor god type folks together," Lina
confirmed. "That sounds deceptively easy. It's just a missing
persons hunt, right? We're not talking about raiding deathtrap-loaded
temples or anything."
"I.. doubt a lot of them will WANT to be found,
much less brought back to her," Myth said. "We didn't exactly part
on good terms, remember? I know for a fact that two of us -- I don't
know what names they have now -- will resist with everything they have.
The one who caused the fall, and his partner."
"Oh, resistance is something I'm used to," Lina
said, cracking her knuckles. "I can be REAL persuasive..."
Myth got nervous. "I'll go voluntarily, there's
"I meant for the others, of course."
"OH! Oh. Heh. Okay."
"Now, the important question... questionS... would
be these," Lina said, counting off on her fingers. "One. Why
bring you guys back together? What purpose does the Lord of Nightmares
have? Why does this relate to the Giga Lores, anyway, why not just
have her order you people to go for some family meeting? Why do *I*
have to do this? And... umm... what am I leaving out?"
"I know one thing I want to know," Myth said, remembering
her recent encounter with Lina, and the backache that still lingered.
"Why do YOU have the same wings we used to?"
Lina's cape twitched slightly. "Erm.
They're the same? The EXACT same?"
"I recognize the orange spots and gold designwork,"
Myth said. "It's been a long time, but those are definitely the kind
of wings we wingless.. had. How did YOU get them?"
"Ah.. they just sort of showed up one day," Lina
said. "Another question to add to the stack. Worrying, but...
you know... this actually is a better start than I usually get in
this kind of thing."
"Really?" Myth asked.
"Oh, definitely!" Lina said, smiling. "I mean,
usually I'm running for my life or only have half the facts I need, or
I have no idea what my next step should be and so on."
"But... you are running for your life, you only
have half the facts you need, and you don't have any idea what your next
step should be," Myth said, confused.
"Ah, not true!" Lina corrected. "My next step
is to kick Gourry under the table to get him to wake up..."
Gourry jerked awake. "Six! Square root
of two! Hansburg!... uh. What's going on?"
"Second step is to try to explain this to him,"
Lina continued. "And then... we're going back to the palace.
Or rather, YOU are. You're in with both feet, remember? Time
to pull weight as part of Lina Inverse's team!"
"Uh..." Myth said, now very unsure of the situation.
"I'm just a writer, really, even if I have.. an unusual past. Just
because I'm one of the wingless doesn't mean I'm a force to be reckoned
with. I don't even know magic."
"You don't have to," Lina said. "You just
need to fit into a maid's uniform..."
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.
Feels awkward dropping a narrative in my narrative,