vents of that day went by rapidly.
First, Love announced that the healing of Amelia's
condition was complete.
"I just had to open her up to the love she feels
for you guys," Love explained. "That needed Talent. I think
I purged the anger and distortion she had, but she's exhausted from the
effort. Probably will be sleeping for another six hours before she
So, the question remained : What do do with her
saccharine highness now? Gourry wanted Amelia to come with them,
because he figured another person on the quest would always help, but Lina
pointed out that they were potentially wandering into a very nasty place.
The last thing they needed was Sailor Justice (she still kept her pen's
powers) deciding to clean up the town and scaring Loathing off. Plus,
Dayvid is probably missing her, she needs to be back with her family, we
don't have enough rations blah blah blah.
The group took a quick trip across the world via
Myth's Sub Way Token, and Myth flagged down some passing Sailoon soldiers
who were patrolling the area after the Bigtop Bigtop Bandit Slaughter Incident,
writing them as heroes who found the missing princess and received many
commendations and honors in thanks. They left Amelia by the roadside
for convenient pickup and hightailed it back to Testabourne.
Next on the agenda was assembling the raiding party.
Myth had found a city where apparently most of the neighbors despised each
other and the local lord despised his people and the waitresses despised
their clients and the dogs despised the cats and so on. Of course,
there were also two other cities which were similar, but this was strongest,
so it was more likely to be the right place.
Love was a bit dismayed to see that Myth wasn't
coming, but decided not to push her on the issue, taking the Sub Way Token
and promising to be back soon.
Once they had safely arrived at the Kiyamba Sub
Way Station, Lina decided to push Love on the issue.
"Do you know why Myth's scared?" Lina asked.
"I know she likes to avoid trouble, but she's missing out on her big story
"Mmmm... maybe I should let her explain," Love said.
"It's really none of my business..."
"I don't think she's going to chat about it, whatever
it is. Is it really all that bad?"
"It's not pleasant," Love admitted. "You know
how Nightmare caused the Fall, right?"
"He tried to kill one of you guys, and the Lord
of Nightmares booted you out for disobedience," Lina said.
"Actually, I think She intended to do that from
the beginning, once we had learned enough to question Her laws," Love said.
"But that's besides the point. Nightmare tried to kill Myth.
She was the first one of us to realize that we COULD end."
"Oh, I get it!" Gourry said. "Ne, Auntie.
It's like Neil Postman from down the street, right?"
"Exactly," Love said.
Lina waited for an explanation, but didn't get any.
"Okay, I'll bite. Who's Neil Postman?"
"He was this really loudmouthed guy who wasn't afraid
of anything," Gourry said. "Then one day he challenged one of my
friends to a duel, even though we weren't supposed to fight for real.
He got cut really badly and almost died. Ever since then he got really
scared of swords and fighting, and stayed away from that stuff because
he thought he could die. Aunt Koirry told me it was because he...
realized his own morality."
"Mortality," Aunt Koirry corrected. "Do you
still have the Increasing Your Word Power book I gave you, dear?"
"Dad ate it," Gourry admitted, embarrassed.
"Anyway, that's the story," Love said. "More
or less. I shouldn't say anymore."
"Gotcha," Lina nodded. "Okay. Let's
head out into the world and find us a wingless!"
The area was no longer named Kiyamba; one of the many
mysteriously named nations that fell off the face of the world inbetween
the era of the Sub Ways and the present day.
Instead, the town Lina arrived in was named Pleasantville.
The sky was blue; the grass was green. Tall
trees, well cared for and each bearing fruit, flowers or proud evergreen
leaves, lined the streets. Row after row of houses, all white and
clean, occupied the residential district they entered from the Sub Way
gate. Small children laughed and played in the street; someone nearby
was doing some gardening. Each house had a mailbox with a little
red flag, a brick chimney and a welcome mat. Total strangers waved
to them politely and exchanged a few words of smalltalk, usually with Gourry.
It was the kind of town you'd usually see with nice, slow camera angles
and background music that went 'doo doo doo dee da dee da doo da dee da
dee da doo'.
"Something's wrong," Lina said.
"I don't know, I think it's a pretty nice town,"
Gourry said. "Seems like a good place to raise a family."
"It makes perfect sense," Love said, studying the
children at play, kicking a ball around the road, without a care in the
world. "This is just the sort of place where Loathing would be hiding."
"What makes you say that?" Lina said.
Nearby, one of the children kicked the ball into
the other team's goal, and did a victory war whoop.
"You jerk, you tripped me!" another accused, grabbing
at his ankle.
"You're just a sore loser, you fat doofus."
"Says who?! You asshole!"
"You goddamn son of a bitch!! I'll kick your ass,
you sorry little momma's boy!!" the first kid yelled, before jumping the
other one, fists flying. "DIE! DIE! DIE!"
Lina stared in dumb silence.
"A place like this is like an untouched gourmet
banquet to my brother," Love explained. "What fun would a place be
that was already corrupted? He's definitely here, and playing."
"Can you tell where he is, exactly?" Lina asked,
looking away from the melee on the road.
"No," Love said. "I'm afraid I'm actually
not going to be very useful to you on this quest, Lina. I can explain
how his mind works, but I have no useful powers, no magic, and no sword.
I suggest you try to find the place where he can do the most damage, though.
That's where he'll be hiding, and directing everything from."
"In that case...." Lina said, putting some serious
thought into the task. She glanced around. She checked the
sky. And after much consideration, she came to a decision.
"We'll go to the nearest restaurant."
"You think he might be making the waiters angry
over small tips?" Gourry guessed.
Lina shook her head. "No, but I'm hungry,
and I think better on a full stomach."
Not too far away, someone else was cursing.
Zelgadis frustratedly patted out the fires in his
clothing. How could he have set his tunic ablaze from a simple cooking
fire?! Nothing was going right today!
First his sword broke in half while he was busy
dealing with some of the local monsters. Then, he slipped on some
loose gravel and fell sixty feet into a river below the mountain pass he
was crossing. Then the piranhas tried to eat him, although they just
broke teeth on him, it was still very irritating. And to top it all
off, he'd ruined a perfectly good outfit and would have to walk around
half naked until he could replace it -- which he COULDN'T do, because his
cloak was now ashes and humans wouldn't deal with him without a suitable
But that was okay; Zelgadis could handle that.
It was just bad luck. He was a reasonable guy and could... screw
that, he was PISSED. He just woke up on the totally wrong side of
the bed that morning and now he was having an awful day, where everything
from the trees to the rocks seemed to be out to get him, and everything
was so totally awful and he was so angry about it all and--
He readied the recently broken, but servicable,
half-of-a-sword when he heard someone approach.
"I don't care who's out there. Don't mess
with me," Zelgadis said, ignoring any polite greetings. "You have
no idea what a day I've been having."
The dirty homeless guy walked out from around a
tree, puffing on a rotten little cigarette. "I could only imagine,"
he snickered. "Been watching you. Interesting guy. Nice
skin. Do you put yourself in a rock tumbler every now and then to
make it nice and shiny?"
"Screw off," Zelgadis said.
Bugger was privately quite pleased. He had
kept a monitor on the dripfeed of Slow Poison he had been feeding Zelgadis;
a magical spell, like a nonexistent intravenous drip bottle. Normally
it was given to a victim much slower than this, while they were being tortured...
that way, they slowly went insane, a smorgasbord of fear, hatred, sadness
and terror. According to his estimates based on the flow rate, Zelgadis
would be very irrational right now, if not downright belligerent.
Soon paranoia would be in full swing, and it was time to plant a few seeds
in his mind.
"I know exactly who you are," Bugger said, deciding
to be blunt but secretive -- the best way to confuse and distort Zelgadis's
grasp on the situation.
"Oh? And who might that be?" Zelgadis said,
turning back to his cooking fire.
"Zelgadis Greyweirs. Turned into a freak of
nature by your grandfather Rezo, always in search of a cure, sometimes
seen in the company of the enemy of all who bloody well live, Lina Inverse,"
Bugger rattled off.
Zelgadis turned his head sharply, alarmed.
"What? How did you--"
"You know that she's laughing at you right now,
mate?" Bugger said, smiling wide. "Laughin' at how you lost that
cure, the one thing that could've fixed you. She's a vicious little
tart, she is."
"Go away," Zelgadis warned, voice low. "I'm
in no mood for lies and games. I didn't put up with that crap from
Xelloss, and I won't from whoever-you-are."
"It's true," Bugger continued, dogging the chimera.
"She actually has your cure. She's had it for a long while now, but
didn't tell you because it's more fun to watch you beat yerself up lookin'
for the flaming thing. She and Gourry are both having a nice, hearty
laugh at your expense. You know how mean she is to him; she's just
as mean to you, in other ways--"
Bugger ducked as Zelgadis hurled his sword at him,
the blade thunking into a tree near him.
"I could get you a little revenge," Bugger said.
"I know where you can get what you deserve."
"I said GO AWAY!"
"Oh yeah?" Bugger taunted. "Who's gonna make
me? Some demon half breed that's down on his luck? What a pathetic
sod YOU are, pal!"
Zelgadis got to his feet, steamed beyond all sensibility.
"That's it. You are DEAD!"
And so, Bugger had to dodge fireball and flare arrow
and ice blasts and lord knows what else Zelgadis was pulling out, evading
and flying his way through the forest in a cat and mouse game. This
part was key, Bugger knew; get the chimera incredibly frustrated, while
leading him towards the goal...
Finally, Bugger dove into a nearby cave, deep into
the darkness. And Zelgadis, already six miles towards gone, followed
him right in.
The Mazoku evaded Zelgadis, zipping out of the cave
mouth, and sending a blast of dark energy against the rock to bury the
"Sealed, locked, and ready to rock," Bugger grinned.
"My day's looking up."
A not-so-innocent bystander, waiting there an hour
so far, seemed relieved. "Good. What's to stop him from magicing
his way out, though?"
"I put a seal on the rock to absorb magic," Bugger
said. "Oh, it won't hold forever. Maybe a few hours.
But that's all we need, and that's all he needs to push himself totally
over the edge. I figure he'll come busting out as a feral beast.
And THAT, mate, is how it's done."
"You're a sick bastard, Mazoku," the bystander said,
adjusting his sunglasses. "I can appreciate that, at least."
"Yeah, I figured you would," Bugger said.
"C'mon, let's get back to HQ. Time for phase two."
"Nightmare will be pleased at your assistance."
"I could care less," Bugger said truthfully.
"Goal here is to whip Lina like a bitch, not to please the wingless.
After this is done, I'm departing."
"Good. I loathe your company," Loathing said.
"Less of it I have, the better."
The streets of Pleasantville had a quiet tension
about them, a tight cord stretched almost to the point of breaking.
It wasn't obvious, in the way the people waved hello to each other and
always smiled, but the smiles now seemed forced to Lina... mandatory, so
nobody could see exactly how twisted up inside you were.
And occasionally there would be a skirmish.
A little old lady walking her dog passed by a man carrying a keg of ale,
and the dog decided it was time to relieve its bladder; on the man's shoes.
Next thing you know, the man is throttling the dog and the old lady is
beating him over the head with her cane. Not far from that, someone
on a second story window was watering her plants, when some water splashed
down on a waiter at a street cafe. After some insults, she dropped
a flower pot on his head, and he grabbed an armful of baked goods, charging
up stairs with intent to do grievous bready harm.
Lina stayed close to Gourry. Not that
she was scared, of course; it just seemed safer to travel as a closer group.
"This place is seriously bent," Lina critically observed. "How are
we going to find the person responsible for all this?"
"I thought a bit about that, actually," Gourry
said, intellectually. "If I was going to try to do a lot of bad stuff
to the town, I'd want to find a place with a lot of power, like the local
castle. Then I could have the army and the ruler to use. Right?"
"That's.. actually a good idea, Gourry," Lina
said, stepping a bit closer to him to avoid a mailman, bearing down on
them with a package tucked under one arm. "Of course, if he's holed
up in the castle, we'd have to get by the security... he'd be near the
lord, right? Somewhere he can issue orders."
"It could be dangerous," Gourry said.
"I'll go check it out."
"Why you? I'm fine with danger too,"
Lina said. "In fact--"
"But I could pass myself off as a soldier,"
Gourry said. "I'd blend in more. Then I could just report back
what I saw, and we could decide what to do next."
"Where are you coming up with this plan?"
Lina asked, boggled.
Love spoke up. "He did something similar
when he was trying to find out if the local militia was a government conspiracy.
His father encouraged him."
"Well... yeah, but that time it was a bad
idea," Gourry said. "It's a good idea now, right Auntie?"
"It was always a good idea. You simply
had a questionable reason," Love said. "You're a very clever boy,
Gourry. You should speak up more when working with others."
"Oh, Lina usually smacks me when I say something
stupid," Gourry said, without much emotion.
"Does she, now," Love said suspiciously, peering
"Ah... great idea, Gourry," Lina covered.
"We'll wait here in this cafe while you go check out the castle.
The swordsperson smiled. "Gotcha!
I'll be back shortly." He turned around, and set off at a brisk trot.
"Soooo... coffee?" Lina suggested.
"Do you really hit him?" Love asked.
"No! No. Yes," Lina said.
"A bit. But only because he doesn't understand anything! And
he keeps messing things up..."
"Gourry may be slow to comprehend, but I think
you're selling him short," Love said. "Besides, if you don't encourage
him, he'll be too hesitant to make an effort."
"So I'm not exactly the caring, nurturing
type," Lina said, defensively. "Sue me. It's not like I don't
value him at all, you know. He's a pretty good adventure companion,
and... he's a good guy with a sword and stuff."
"And that's all?" Love asked.
"Before you start not-so-subtly hinting at
something, no, it's nothing that you're thinking of," Lina said, heading
that horse off at the pass. "Like I've said a dozen times in these
last few days, we aren't 'partners'."
"I think I will take that coffee," Love said,
claiming a nearby sidewalk cafe table. "I'm buying."
Those being the two words Lina most loves
to hear, she was sitting down and had the menu open in the blink of an
eye. "I'll take the deluxe mocha mega java with cinnamon swirls and
"Gourry's handsome, isn't he?" Love sneaked
"Yeah," Lina said. Then she caught herself,
and guarded. "Of course, so was Rezo. Doesn't mean anything
if you're pretty, you know. Merely a physical attribute with no connection
whatsoever or connotation implied."
"Yes, yes," Love said. "And I'll have
what you're having."
Quite a distance aways, a boy paced nervously
outside the princess's royal chambers. His nerves were as twitchy
as a n insect nervously watching someone stalk him with a 500 flyswatters,
through 500 segmented eyes. Which when you think about it was an
awfully specific sort of twitchiness, but it's still the most accurate
Finally, the doors opened, and the royal doctor
invited him in.
On the bed, Amelia was lying down in a strange
sailor costume, smiling and giggling to herself.
"She's still a bit dazed," the doctor said,
putting away his tools. "There seems to have been an enchantment
placed on her, but someone removed it. Someone seems to have given
her a power that increases her strength, which I can't identify; but it
doesn't seem harmful. She wanted to talk to you alone, but keep in
mind she's not in a very good frame of mind..."
Dayvid Davince nodded, relieved. "Do
me a favor, and send for a specialist in enchantments... I want to find
out what's happened to her. Pull any royal-type strings you have
"I think I know of someone," the doctor said.
"I'll be back shortly."
The doctor left, closing the door behind him.
Dayvid turned to face Amelia, when suddenly the small girl pounced him,
smooching his cheeks.
"I love you, Dayvid-kun!" Amelia giggled.
"Boy! It's good to be home! I love this palace, and the nice
"Ghhh," Dayvid said. "Gleehh... wha?"
"You'd never believe where I've been!" Amelia
said, climbing off Dayvid, as if nothing strange had happened. "But
I feel so empowered with love and happiness! By the way, I tried
to kill Lina I think, but it wasn't my fault."
His mind quietly denying that he just got
kissed, David got himself off the floor and regained a shred of dignity.
"Ah.. where was Lina? Where have you been?"
"I don't know," Amelia said. "But they're
in a lot of trouble. There was this Dragon who wanted me to do bad
things to them, so she gave me this really cool pen but lied to me, since
Lina said she wasn't on drugs and I think maybe she was really being honest
but I don't remember much after that. Boy, I love this place!
Smell that air!"
Dayvid sniffed. It smelled like perfume
and stuffed animals.
"I'm excited!" Amelia beamed. "Lina's
on a really big quest and in danger. Now, with my magic pen, I can
find her somehow and help her out!"
"Amelia, you can't go anywhere," Dayvid told
her. "We have to check you out, make sure you're healthy. Maybe
There was a knock at the door.
"Hold that thought," Dayvid said, opening
the door and getting a trumpet blast in the face.
The doorman bellowed. "Now announcinge
aye visitor for from the Royal School of Magick And The Sciences in the
Nation of Darata--"
"Let him in," Dayvid practically begged, trying
to rub some life back into his ears.
The visitor entered, wearing a white lab coat
that was standard issue for the few scientists in the world. But
it wasn't a him. The woman crossed the room, pulling out a pocket
light spell on a stick and shining it in Amelia's eyes.
"Dilation with flecks of gold glow," she said,
skipping the middleman of introductions and smalltalk and getting right
to the diagnosis. "Silver traces. Dragon mood enchantment,
same class as Enhance Calm, combined with nonmagical reversal--"
"That's a funny little light," Amelia smiled.
"I love it! Can I have it?"
"Is she always this bouncy?" the woman asked,
turning to talk right to Dayvid.
"Uh..." Dayvid mumbled, a bit off balance
from the affair. "No. No... yes. A bit. But not
THIS bouncy. Er, are you the specialist?"
"Curious case," the woman said. "I'll
have to study it a bit more. Specialist? No, I'm a generalist.
I was on my way to see you, actually. Call me Reason."
She stepped over and shook Dayvid's hand before
he could react.
"Did you know that your princess's enchantment
was reversed by a Talent?" Reason asked. "She's had her sense of
emotional love enhanced."
"I'm lost," Dayvid said. "What're you
"Let's go to your lab. There's a great
deal I need to discuss with you that you're not aware of already," Reason
said. "No point in chitchatting here. There's important things
to deal with."
"Now wait just a minute, miss--"
"Hey, Dayvid-kun!" Amelia called out.
"Do you wanna get married?"
"My lab's not too far from here," Dayvid said
The situation in Pleasantville was getting worse.
Lina winced as she heard another glass shatter
against her table; she had propped it up at an angle to work as a shield,
where she and Love (aka Aunt Koirry) could hide.
"Tell me," Lina said. "In your life,
and I know it's been a long one... have you ever seen an angry drink-throwing
chair-smashing brawl at a coffee shop?"
"Bars? Yes. Cafes, no," Love said.
"What started this? I was busy watching the street for Gourry..."
"Someone was arguing over a tip," Lina told
her. The sound of fists flying and highly intellectual coffee-house
trash talk threatened to overwhelm her. "Then one thing led to another..."
"This is the sort of thing I can't stand,"
Love said, frowning just slightly. "When one of us uses our Talents
to control others. I could see the Mazoku or the Dragons not understanding,
but the wingless should know by now that humans are not meant to be a controlled
force. You can't bend them artificially to YOUR will for long; it
never works out... plus it's quite tasteless, but that's more an aesthetic
"Incoming!" Lina yelled, covering herself
as a boiling hot triple espresso came sailing through the air, over her
A sword neatly slashed the mug in half.
"I'm back!" Gourry proclaimed, guarding the
women behind the table.
Lina stood up, dripping with scalding hot
coffee. "You klutz! You just ended up dumping what was in that
thing on us!!"
"Oh... sorry," Gourry apologized. "I
didn't mean to."
"Why, I oughtta--"
"Liiina," Love warned.
"--stop drinking coffee," Lina corrected.
"Considering how often I've had my person soaked in it lately. Can
you get us away from these nuts?"
Gourry shoved a busboy armed with an extremely
volatile herbal tea aside, and led Lina and his auntie out to the relative
peace of the street.
"You know, it's the weirdest thing," Gourry
said. "The castle's gone."
"You sure you were looking in the right place?"
Lina asked, just to check.
"Sure. But all they had left was a big
crater," Gourry said. "Apparently someone sent a bomb there yesterday
and blew the thing up. It wasn't a very large castle, mind you."
"Considering this town, it could've been any
one of these guys," Lina said, glancing around the city. "We're back
to square one-- sent a bomb?"
"Yeah, through the mail," Gourry said.
Just to emphasize the point, a mailman walked
by, carrying a small package. Lina watched him go by.
"Thought occurs to me," she said. "Let's
say you wanted to cause a whole bunch of chaos in a very organized city.
You could go take over the army, but that would be too obvious, and you
don't want to be found by this girl with wings who's going to probably
come for you. What's the next best organization to infiltrate, one
that can reach anywhere in the city without a single comment?"
"Oh NO!!" Gourry gasped. "They've going
after door to door broom salesmen!"
Lina wobbled slightly. "Not salesmen!
Mailmen! Didn't you notice how even with everybody at each other's
throats, the mail is still going? This is mostly a residential place
and everybody gets mail... stop that mailman!"
Taking this as a direct order, Gourry sprinted
after the postman, grabbed him by the back of the neck and carried him
around to Lina, holding him up for her examination like a coat on a coat
"HEY!" the mailman protested, as Lina Inverse
snatched the box away, and listened to it, one ear pressed to the side
of the cardboard container.
"Doesn't sound funny..." Lina said.
She considered opening it, thought better of it and did a gentle magical
probe. "Aha. Latent fireball spell, a big one. Designed
to be triggered by remote. What are the odds we're going to find
these bundles of joy sent to every building in town?"
"You can't stop the Legion of Disgruntled
Postal Workers!!" the mailman frothed. "Our leader Lenny is going
to crush this city in a blaze of glory, and then it's on to the world!"
"Ah, now this makes sense," Lina said, clapping
once in delight. "Okay. Gourry, ditch this guy--"
Gourry tossed the mailman into a nearby dumpster.
The lid swung neatly shut to trap him.
"--and now, I believe it's time to make a
visit to our local post office," Lina said. "I've got a special delivery
to make. Postage due!"
"And I'm gonna lick the stamp!" Gourry said,
"...what does stamp licking have to do with
kicking ass, Gourry?"
"Uh... I don't know. What does Postage
Due have to do with it?"
"Nevermind," Lina sighed. "Let's just
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.