...in which breakfast is served, we go once
more into the breach of fear and loathing, a
chimera goes postal and Xelloss tells a secret.
By Stefan Gagne, Spoof Chase Productions.
yth and legend speak of Juu Cenquio, the Ancient
City of Springs. Here, in the dawn of the world when days were young
and hours were newborn, a solitary trickle of water arose from the earth
-- an oasis in the middle of a volcanic wasteland. The few animals
that had adapted to live in the area, great beasts and monsters, came to
the spring out of a natural need for moisture, and drank... upon drinking,
they changed into new forms. For this was the magic water which could
turn any beast into a human form -- and any human that drank the water
could take on the form of a powerful beast.
When these man-beasts started to roam the countryside,
assaulting normal humans, the local monarch had a large complex erected
over the site, filled with deadly traps and hazardous monsters, all with
the purpose of keeping such powers out of the hands of those who might
In fact, Zelgadis had escaped certain death no less
than fifty six times today. He was getting used to the 'whoosh' that
a swinging scytheblade made when it snapped out of the wall, and had discovered
just the right combination of spells to annihilate the minotaurs.
He mapped the maze, a process that took a few hours, and after much hardship
had finally found the spring of Juu Cenquio.
A nearby sign read 'Juu Cenquio Bottled Water --
Onlye Five Goldde Per Bottle!! All Naturale Mineral Watter!', and
had a small collection tray nearby. The fountain had dried up, but
someone had bottled up what was left of the water; discarded empties were
nearby, each in the hands of a headless explorer. Only one bottle
Zelgadis took his time. He controlled his
excitement, notably; a cure! A cure for his Chimera body, that could
bring him back to normality! But be cautious. Be smart.
Don't let emotion overrun your sensibility.
He followed the nearly invisible tripwire from the
collection dish up to the ceiling, where he saw a hidden blade. So,
if you didn't bother leaving enough weight to match five gold on the tray,
the trap would act like the ultimate collection agency when you went for
the water. Impatience and greed were the downfall of these explorers.
Zelgadis opened his change purse, and counted his
Four gold, two silvers and a copper.
Same amount. Confused, since he could have
sworn there were ten gold in there when he last checked, he peered into
the bottom of the bag... and through a hole in the pouch, where the coins
must have fallen out.
He bit back a sense of frustration. Be cool.
This can be worked out.
First, he patched the bag. Second, he took
some sand from nearby, filling the bag until he was certain the whole package
would weigh the same as five coins... he approached the payment dish, examining
the mechanism... taking some sand from the bag, adding a bit more in...
and placed the bag carefully on the tray.
He didn't lose his head, which was a good sign.
He picked up the glass flask of crystal-clear water. And still, he
He had done it!
The cure! He had obtained the cure, and beaten
all the forces that tried to stop him! Now, Zelgadis allowed himself
a nice, large smile he usually reserved for heavy irony or punishment of
an enemy. He uncorked the flask, took a deep breath--
And sneezed, when a passing bit of abrasive dust
happened to be sucked up a nostril. It was heavy, quick body shaking
sneeze, totally unexpected, and was followed by the sound of shattering
He had dropped the flask.
His cure was gone, seeping into the dry dust, as
if sucked up by a sponge. Without hesitation, he shoved some of the
mud into his mouth and chewed, but nothing happened. The last of
the waters of Juu Cenquio was gone for good.
"See? I TOLD you it was a stupid idea," the Mazoku
Lord of Lousy Days said, smug and content, as his Dragon companion sulked.
"Give little miss justice a magic pen and you expect that to win you Lina
Inverse? Dragons! Always thinkin' with their egos instead of
their ids, or somethin'. Why, if I had a copper for--"
"So what if I lost my pawn?" Angela said, trying
to dismiss the problem, not to appear a failure before this disgusting
creature. "I can obtain a new one. That is not the worrying
part. Lina was ASSISTED, Mazoku. Someone using the same white
magic as me was there, and managed to deflect my finishing blow."
"Big deal," Bugger said. "You're the one who
got scared off by a reversed lighting spell."
"I told you, I didn't know it was one at the time!
Have you ever seen a Giga Slave?" Angela asked. "Me either.
I take no stupid chances. Only when I was a hundred miles away did
I realize what I was sensing."
"Either way, it's a bloody poor performance, it
was," Bugger said. He pulled a chewed cigarette from the black hole
behind his ear, and lit it with his thumb. "Now, if you'll turn yer
attention to the mystic ruins on my right, you'll see a master in action."
Angela glanced at the crumbling city. "Yes,
"Okay. See that blue sod moping his way out
of the main gate?" Bugger said, gesturing.
"It's a chimera. So?"
"A chimera? That would be Zelgadis Greyweirs,
close personal friend of Lina Inverse," Bugger said. "Self proclaimed
man of logic and reason. Nothing gets to him except, of course, the
stuff that gets to him. And you knows I'm the expert of what gets
to folks. Just this morning I planted the dirt of failure in that
city, so that he would lose the thing he most wants. The poor bastard's
feeling like his only chance went out the window."
"The water and the myth are just the fabrications
of a mad dictator, hundreds of years gone," Angela said. "He simply
wanted a massive public works project he could embezzle money in."
"Zelgadis don't know that," Bugger said. "This
is just the starting point. That angsthead's gonna be MY pawn.
You see, Mazoku gots a few tools for corrupting and twisting humans you
Dragon wimps don't got the guts to use. We employ the Slow Poison,
which I happen to be an expert at mixin' up. Acid of the spirit,
funhouse mirror for the soul. Paranoia and anger and all those lovely
"Filthy methods," Angela frowned.
"Oh, and your fancy stars and bubbles and glory
are all that and a bag of chips?" Bugger mocked. "We'll see how much
you complain when we've got Lina bagged 'n tagged. And what's more,
I gots a man inside on this venture. You'll see. This is all
gonna work out great. If we're lucky, nobody'll survive, either.
"I think I'll depart, then," Angela said.
"I don't care for your zeal for destruction. I'll return after you
The Dragon opened her wings and flew off, gracefully.
Bugger hated those wings. They were nothing
but showing off, plain and simple. Angela just had to be glamorous,
even when making an exit. Maybe when this whole affair was done,
he'd see to it that the Dragon had a lousy century. It would be a
bloody marvelous way to pass the time until the next great war.
Despite having two of the most powerful human-like beings
that are as old as time in residence, in addition to a psychotic girl in
a sailor suit chained up in the living room, the Gabriev homestead was
chugging along as if nothing was unusual.
"More coffee?" Mrs. Gabriev prompted.
Lina took the coffee with a nod of thanks, and turned
back to the problem at hand.
"Mpmhphm! Mphmphpmhmph!!" Amelia ranted, through
"I don't get it," Lina said. "Ultra Restoration
isn't working. How could an enchantment like this be pure white magic?"
Gourry looked up from the sports section in the
"Ultra Restoration destroys all darkness," Lina
explained. "But whatever's turned Amelia into the rampaging spirit
of justice is pure white. I can't remove it.
Trying hard to understand, Gourry made an attempt
at helping. "Okay, so... if white won't work because it's white,
what about black? Would that work?"
"I don't know any black magic healing spells," Lina
said. "I don't think there are any. That'd be like, 'Okay,
we'll heal your wounds if you don't mind us pouring lemon juice directly
into your eyes' or something."
"Lemon juice can remove stains from carpets," Gourry
"Aside from frothing at the mouth, she isn't making
a mess," Lina said.
Someone from the stairwell cleared her throat.
"I think I might be able to help," Aunt Koirry said,
heading downstairs in her pink bathrobe. Despite being a wingless
in disguise and the personification of Love, she looked just as bad as
anybody would shortly after waking up; no glamour at all.
When the group had returned home, to find Myth and
Aunt Koirry talking, Koirry casually mentioned that she was also Love of
the wingless. After Gourry helped Lina off the floor, Love went on
to explain how she had been enjoying her time with the Gabriev clan, apparently
the first family she really felt comfortable around. But now that
she was needed, Aunt Koirry would have to take a vacation so Love could
come out of hiding.
Surprisingly, Gourry had very little shock over
this. Since Aunt Koirry was adopted, it was just a matter of a nice
warm hug and a promise to always be his auntie, and Gourry was sold on
the concept of a wingless in the family -- as was Mr. and Mrs. Gabriev,
although they had to explain it to Mr. Gabriev very slowly and with small
words and he had been mumbling all morning.
Personally, if someone in Lina's family -- not that
she ever saw more than two of them in any place at any time -- had turned
out to be a mystical being from beyond history, she would have freaked
out. How Gourry's family accepted this casually enough, much less
how unconcerned they were with having a mental patient on their couch,
confused the hell out of Lina.
Lina examined Amelia, looking at her glowing silvery
"You know of a way to bust through a white magic
curse?" Lina said.
Love stepped over to the couch, bending over to
study Amelia... pausing, possibly doing something Talentable, but Lina
"She's not cursed," Love explained. "She simply...
is not seeing things the way they are. It's a common trick, more
often employed -- and more successfully achieved -- by Mazoku. Humans
are just a tool to be controlled to them, not creatures of free will and
chaos, which is less useful and less predictable... I think Love
can break through the gauze around her perception. It worked once
before when I encountered this problem."
"Oh, I get it," Lina said. "A Talent.
Okay! Let's get cracking!"
Love pulled over an overstuffed footrest, and sat
on it, facing Amelia. "It's not that easy. I haven't used my
Talents in... I really can't recall, but it's been a long time."
"Why not?" Lina asked. "You'd think that the
spirit of Love would be shooting off cupid's arrow's left and right--"
"No," Love said. "Some of the wingless throw
around Talents like they're going out of style... Luck, notably.
She's pretty wild about it, but using Love using Talents on people... Love
has to be natural or it's not real. I learned that the hard way...
I haven't used any of my Talents on the Gabrievs. I just talk to
people, and that gets the job done, if it was meant to be done. But
I can't talk Amelia down from this. It's going to take awhile to
get the Talent going again... why don't you two have a nice breakfast and
relax? Oh, and if you could do me a favor... check on Myth.
She's looking for your next quarry, but is having some trouble with it.
I'll need to concentrate here..."
"Next quarry? Who?" Lina asked.
But Love was already busy looking through Amelia's
eyes, both of them growing very still. Lina waited for some kind
of result, sitting there for several minutes. No sparks were shooting
back and forth or other obvious signs of power unleashed; it was about
as exciting as watching paint dry.
"Boy, Aunt Koirry knows a bunch of stuff," Gourry
understated, to break the silence.
"She's not just your auntie, you know," Lina reminded.
"I know, but she's still Aunt Koirry," Gourry proved
reflexively. "Does this mean we're back to questing?"
"Depends on what Myth's up to, I guess," Lina said.
She glanced over at Amelia. "Call me if anything happens, okay?
I'll be upstairs."
If the bastard would just GIVE the weedpuller back,
there would be no need for this, Lawrence thought, sharpening up his razor--
Myth looked at that last word she had written down
in distaste. This wasn't the sort of story she liked to write.
Fortunately, she didn't have to finish the tale; she simply moved on, probing
around Lawrence's narrative, looking for a similar plot thread...
A knock at the door disrupted her conversation.
"Come in," she said, setting her spare book aside
Lina walked in. "Hi. Er... Love wanted
me to check on you. Any luck?"
"Yes. No," Myth said. "Yes. I'm
not sure. This isn't what I usually do when fishing around for a
good story, you know..."
"Actually, I don't. What in blazes are you
doing?" Lina asked. "Love's been calling the shots all morning, without
bothering to inform me of what's going on..."
"I'm looking for her brother," Myth said.
"They're twins, but you wouldn't know it by looking at them. Love
and Loathing. She thinks we could find him if I can find a bunch
of stories of anger and violence, all clumped together in one region.
That could be him using his Talents. He likes to use them as often
as he can. I remember that much about him, from the early days."
"Loathing, huh," Lina said, pulling up a chair to
chat with Myth. "Doesn't sound like a happy camper. Is this
guy going to give us as many headaches as Drama did?"
"More, probably," Myth sighed. "Loathing is...
okay. Let's put it this way : he's himself. He doesn't really
have any friends because he hates everybody, and he doesn't live anywhere
because he hates everything, and he is not going to want to come quietly
because he hates the Lord of Nightmares above all, if that was possible.
You can guarantee he'll do anything he can to stop you -- and he may be
generally blunt, but he can be pretty devious when he's determined.
I don't know much more about what he's become than that."
"I still don't get how you guys work, or how you
do what you do," Lina said. "What do you mean, 'what he's become'?"
"We don't know very much either," Myth admitted.
"The wingless aren't a very organized group and we don't know all the secrets
of the universe. We're only human. After all this time... we've
adapted, as human ideas about our names shifted and we tried to blend in.
A good example... ummm... okay. Paradox. He used to primarily
be the spirit of when space and time go wrong. But then he realized
that meant he had some control over it, and he liked control, so now he
actually works to keep paradoxes from happening... so there's a chance
that Loathing has changed from his original form too. And I can safely
say that Nightmare has changed. I didn't recognize him that time..
we met him. You know."
Lina chewed on that for awhile, before swallowing.
"You know?" she mused. "I think I like that
you guys are pretty out there. Humanity came from you people, and
we're not exactly the most efficient species created either. It makes
sense if the wingless don't make sense. If that makes sense."
"I don't like it," Myth said. "At least in
the world we inhabited before the Fall, we were safe. From each other
and from everything else. Now, though... um. Miss Lina?"
Strange way of putting her name, Lina thought.
She looked seriously at Myth. "Yeah?"
"If you could... I'd like to... would you think
it cowardly of me not to want to accompany you when you go get Loathing?"
Myth asked, blurting the last part out in a rush. "I just--"
"No, it's okay," Lina said. "You want to ride
in a jar or stay with the Gabrievs?"
Myth paused. "It's okay?"
"Sure. Why don't you want to go?" Lina asked.
Myth seemed reluctant to say why, in the same way
small rabbits are reluctant to taunt ravenous wolves.
"What, you don't trust us to succeed?" Lina guessed,
"No no, I'm sure you will... just..."
"You're afraid you'll get in our way?"
"Yes that's it exactly," Myth said.
"Must not be it, if you agreed that quickly," Lina
said. She put two and two together quietly, and nodded in recognition.
"Okay. You probably should stay with the Gabrievs. Less chance
of the jar breaking in my pack that way."
"Good point," Myth agreed.
That confirmed it for Lina. Myth was afraid
of being killed.
"Let us know when you've found Loathing," Lina said,
smiling with reassurance. "And don't worry. We'll be back before
you can finish reciting all of 'The Adventures of Jean the Clever' backwards."
"It's four hundred pages in the standard edition,"
Myth noted, confused. "Doesn't that mean it'll take you a long time?"
"What, you were expecting me to say something really
short in some attempt to belittle the task? Get real, we're going
after some psychotic bastard from the origins of man, not hopping down
the street for a doughnut," Lina said. "Give it a week or so, then
we'll have him."
Lina started to leave, after flashing Myth a warm
"That was my best work, you know," Myth said quietly.
Pause. "Eh?" Lina asked.
"Jean the Clever," Myth said. "It had been
in a rut writing about these stocky men who slayed beasts for a hundred
years, then I met a young girl with crazy aspirations... and I followed
her around. Quietly. Now people say it was the first story
that encouraged women to be just as heroic and brave as men, and it's really
important to society. Although I did have to make up a lot of what
happened, I mean... it was a good story, right? I did a good job
making it realistic without being boring? And it wasn't too long,
"Best story I ever read," Lina said, a bit shocked
at this confession.
"Oh, good," Myth said, smiling a little. "I
know I haven't done anything like it in awhile, but... hey, you think this
story will do just as good as Jean's?"
"Uh, maybe," Lina said. She shuffled out of
the room quickly.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.
|Click to continue...