was only a short spell-jump away. The five of them, Mazoku,
Dragon, wingless, human and ex-Mazoku human (who slept through the whole
thing, thankfully) walked through Giga's Dream, back to the waking world.
After a near-death onslaught such as that, Lina was expecting nothing less
than a confetti-strewn parade in her honor on returning, or something else
that would fit her mood of triumph.
But instead of a thundering cheer, they met with
"Waaaaah! You're all being so mean!" Luck
whined. "Quit picking on poor Drama-kun!"
"Just because you happen to enjoy a good speech
doesn't mean YOU claim dominion over speechmaking," Drama told Paradox.
"I'm not going to sit here and put up with you aping my modus!"
"I do your modus better than you do," Paradox said.
"And I have better clothes and I'm cooler in every other regard.
"You're all morons," Loathing injected. "If
I had a dime for--"
"HEY!!" Lina shouted. "Kids! I'm turning
this palace right around if you don't settle down!"
Shocked, the group immediately clustered around
"Now before anybody asks, yes, Nightmare is history,"
Lina said. "We got Xelloss back and won the day and I've got my wings.
Everything is hunky dory. Where's Gourry?"
"Here! Here!" Gourry said, nudging his way
politely through the mob, to greet Lina-- to hug her, at least. "It's
good to see you! I knew you'd come back!"
"gkhgk," Lina wheezed, all the air compressed out
of her lungs. "Grry!!!"
"Huh?" Gourry asked, letting go.
Lina straightened her outfit, and uncrumpled her
wings. "Before we go any further in this lovey stuff, rule one --
no spontaneous ribcrushing hugs. Deal?"
"Lovey stuff...? Really?" Gourry asked.
"We'll talk later," Lina said, and turned to address
the others. "Anybody seen the Lord of Nightmares? I have a
few concerns, now that we're done doing her dirty work--"
'I Am Present,' the voice spoke, from somewhere
inside their heads.
"Good timing," Lina said. "I got rid of your
prodigal son, and got these wings back. Now. May I PLEASE ask
you some straight questions? No prophecy, no--"
'Your Wings Are Those Of The Angel Of Chaos,' the
Lord said, intercepting Lina's query. 'You Have Proven Worthy To
Carry The Torch For Humanity, Those Who Are Children Of The Wingless.
As For The Wingless Themselves, Who Have Pleased Me Greatly In Growing
And Maturing, They May Return To Their Home If They Wish...'
A ruffling sound was heard, as wing simultaneously
unfolded on the backs of each of the wingless, much to their surprise.
Some were delicate, some were shiny, some bore complex designs... all pale
in comparison to Lina's, in the way a bar of solid gold is pale compared
to a golden idol.
The voice seemed to shift, to address Lina.
'I Name Thee Chaos, Knight Of The Lord Of Nightmares, Equal To The Knight
Of Ceipheed And The Knight Of Shaburanigdo. The Three Races Are At
Last In Balance. May You Quest For Your Days To Save Your People,
And Seek To Become The Figure I Have Bargained With Merlin Giga For.
Now He May Rest In Peace, Knowing That The Fruit Of His Labor Has Finally
Seen The Golden Light Of Day. The Winged Are Yours To Direct, Lina
Inverse. You Have Done Well. Goodbye.'
Task complete, the Lord sank back into her lake
of chaos, and silence was all that remained.
".......oh," Lina said. "Ah. I.. guess
that answers my question."
"Chaos of the Winged," Reason said, folding her
wings under her lab coat. "I suppose it stands to reason that the
Knight would take on the domain closest to the Lord's nature. The
nature of humans, as well."
Myth, however, was furiously jotting down notes.
"What a story!! This is so amazing!... I don't think anybody will
believe it, but that's fine..."
"Err.. you're not still angry at me, right?" Paradox
asked. "I know we had a bit of a misunderstanding, ma'am, but--"
"Can it, Paradox," Lina said. "You're all
in my Okay Book from here out. Clean slate."
"What do you want us to do now?" Loathing asked,
Lina thought, and..... had no idea. "Whatever
you want," Lina said. "I'm not much of a leader, guys. Just
go do what you usually do. But if I need you, I'll call on you.
And believe me, knowing my lifestyle, something's BOUND to pop up."
Plenty of nodding, all around. The group loitered.
"Shoo, shoo," Lina said. "Go have lives."
"Actually, there was something..." Love said, approaching.
"We were talking about it while you were out, and..."
"We're seven now," Love said. "Unbalanced
and incomplete. We need Nightmare, in one form or another.
I know it's not exactly the same as having one of our family in the role,
but could you...?"
"What, you want me to whip up some wingle... winged
on the fly?" Lina asked. "I don't have Talents. All I have
is magic and apparently a cool pair of wings and a mysterious destiny.
I don't do bona fide miracles--"
"I'll take the job."
Xelloss limped over, still considerably battered
from the day's events.
"I'm sorry," he said, talking directly to Lina.
"I've made rather a mess of things as of late, haven't I?"
Lina was colored confused. "Huh?"
"Got caught by Paradox, unwittingly gave Nightmare
access to the world of dreams..." Xelloss counted off. "Named Nightmare
and brought his curse on you. And finally, captured AGAIN by Nightmare...
so much for controlling, plotting Xelloss the enigmatic priest. Perhaps
I should have stayed with the Mazoku, I did more harm than good this time
around. You know what they say about the road that's paved with good
"Doesn't it go to the bakery around the corner?"
Gourry asked, not following the conversations at all.
"Come on, Xel," Lina reasoned. "People make
"I don't," Xelloss said. "I wanted to help
you. You don't quite understand, do you, Lina Inverse? Why
I wanted to help you, to do these things that I had evaded when I ran to
the security of the Mazoku, not wanting the pressure of Giga's prophecy
on myself? It wasn't simply to finish old business, it was for...
I did it all for..."
Lina leaned closer. "For what?"
Xelloss smiled wide.
"...that is a secret," he said.
"AAARGH!" Lina yelled.
"But I would like to make amends," he added.
"I know the world of dreams well. Perhaps I lack wings, but maybe
I can do something about that one day. I'll play a substitute Nightmare
and round out the nice little group of fans you've gathered. Perhaps
you can't trust me to such a dangerous position, considering what the last
one did, but you'll never quite know, will you? Wouldn't that be
Lina sighed, feeling a headache coming on.
"Vote. All those in favor?"
Four hands went up. Myth reluctantly raised
hers. Luck elbowed Paradox, and he reluctantly put his up as well.
Loathing raised his hand. "Just on general
principles of hating everybody," he explained. "Nothing personal."
"The ayes have it, and I am going to go get a snack,
and get some SLEEP," Lina said. "So beat it, all of you. I'll
have Xelloss contact you when you're needed. And... thanks.
You folks did a great job."
"Three cheers for Lina-sama!!" Luck started.
"Why three?" Paradox said. "I think two would
"Three is standard operating procedure," Drama said.
"You bastard," he added for emphasis.
"Well, I don't think she deserves three. Three
is excessive," Paradox argued, crossing his arms in defiance.
"Two would be reasonable, considering it's just
a symbolic gesture..."
And the whole group broke down into argument again.
"Wacky bunch," Xelloss commented to Lina.
"So these are the fabled gods and goddesses of man, then? From the
beginning of time through the currents of history? The shining examples
"Nobody ever said humans were perfect," Lina noted.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.