nderstanding what it is you're doing is secondary
to doing it when you're an adventurer.
This was one of the many guidelines Lina had read
in her first career field manual, 'Soe, Youe Wante to Be a Heroe!'.
Granted, the book didn't mean quests beyond simple slaying of monsters
and raiding of ruins, but it was still a valid rule in the here and now.
In the last few outings, after all, Lina had little to no idea why she
was supposed to run out and do what she was doing -- or she would be doing
things without knowing that they were important to some quest. The
reason why you could go so unconcerned is because things tended to work
out as you go along, and by the end, you'd probably have figured out exactly
what that Fabulous Golden Idol of Magic and Power is used for, or exactly
who was the bad guy oppressing civilization and so on.
Although leaving in the middle of a war irritated
Lina, when she woke up the next day, she decided to put on a happy face
and take stock. She had a strange chimeric priestess demanding that
they visit her tribe and retrieve one of The Most Important Things In The
World, which Xelloss had his usual enigmatic concerns over. She also
had a large war around the corner to be directing, but had an easy way
to do that through the world of dreams... leaving her disconnected from
the action, but if her luck was running in the same vein as it always was,
this little jaunt would become very crucial.
So, in the morning, she set out with full supplies
on a quick ride through the Sub Ways to what was left of Pleasantville.
There wasn't much emotional impact from seeing the disaster zone... simply
because there wasn't enough left to make any recognizable shapes from,
other than that obvious crater shape. Zelgadis, who had apparently
been here before, led them up to some ruins and into an underground network
of caves and BAM, that was that. On their way.
That's when Chi'Nai decided to inform them that
the journey would take at least four days of finding their way through
the caves. Six if the monsters were especially thick.
"Do we have six days?" Gourry asked. He had
been making an effort to understand what was going on more lately, and
oddly, had limited success. "Dungeon and cave travel, especially
with random monsters, can really take awhile. We still need to find
the thief, after all... and that's going to take time too."
"Father gave me specific instructions," Chi'Nai
reminded. "I have to find the Knight of Chaos, and take her to meet
him. He must have an important reason; I have faith in the winds
of chaos to guide us."
"This is a waste of time," Zelgadis gloomily said.
"What makes you say -- MONSTER!!" (BLAM)
"--that?" Lina asked, blowing smoke off her hand as she walked by the barbecued
five legged whatever it was.
"Because what I was hoping was down here isn't going
to be down here," Zelgadis said. "I've been talking with Chi'Nai.
She's never heard of the one clue I found about reversing my chimeric curse...
nevermind, it's a long story and I don't want to get into it right now."
"You don't have to come if you don't want," Lina
shrugged. "But I have a feeling this is going to be very worthwhile."
And Lina explained her thoughts from earlier, about
why she had chosen not to grumble about this mission. Why she could
predict it would be important.
Chi'Nai was surprised by this.
"I didn't know you were a woman of faith," she said.
"Eh? No, I'm not religious," Lina said.
"But you just described the way to trust the winds
of chaos. How you freely abandon yourself to them..."
"Ah... I didn't mean... well, I didn't mean I'd
just go 'duh' and follow every little hint," Lina said. "Gotta temper
that stuff with wisdom, yadda yadda. For instance... now that we
apparently have a lot of time to talk, what exactly are we looking for
and why? I'm not going into this totally blind -- LOOK OUT!"
Gourry stepped up and sliced the gigantic spider
"Thanks, Gourry," Lina smiled.
"The elder could explain it better..." Chi'Nai said,
not very unsettled by the random acts of violence.
"Try us," Lina suggested.
The group walked along the caves, a light spell
hovering to light the way, as Chi'Nai explained.
"One thing you need to realize," she said upfront,
"Is that my people are very religious. We consist of sentient, moral
chimeric beings, who can't live Above because of humans mistaking us for
non-thinking beasts... but we still have faith. Our goddess is the
Lord of Chaos, and she guides our lives towards salvation, trusting us
with responsibilities. We give homage and prayer randomly during
the day in--"
"What's this got to do with the quest?" Zelgadis
"The item we're looking for is part of an ancient
bargain," Chi'Nai said, trying not to be thrown off balance from her storytelling.
"From the earliest recorded days. Our people were expanding their
tribal lands into new caverns and tunnels, and found a pair of glowing
silver bracelets simply sitting in an unexplored cave. But when they
went to pick them up, they were horribly burned. Early priests studied
the objects where they lie, and came to a conclusion that inside the bracelets,
there was no chaos whatsoever. They had thought that to be impossible,
and prayed for guidance."
"And got no reply, I'd suspect," Zelgadis said.
He casually lobbed a ball of ice ahead of the group, freezing a small pack
"Nice shot. Anyway, you'd be surprised, Zel,"
Lina grinned. "We REALLY need to update you on what's been going
on. The Lord of Nightmares seems to enjoy a good rap session or two."
"It was the only time our prayers were responded
to," Chi'Nai said, nodding with Lina. "The Lord of Chaos took Chi'Leas...
all of our elders are named Chi'Leas when they take the office, see...
and explained to him the prophecy surrounding--"
"Prophecy?" Lina said. "Oooh. I HATE
that word... sorry, sorry. Go on."
"Umm... the prophecy stated... I can't remember
the exact words, I haven't gotten that far in my studies. But from
my understanding, the Lord said that the clasps were one of the Most Important
Things In The World, and it was up to the chimeras -- who hid underground
to escape human persecution -- to guard them from humanity. If we
ever failed in that duty, it would herald the beginning of the end, when
"Harsh," Lina said. "Hey, is that a beholder
The group stopped, peering into the darkness.
One giant eye looked back at them.
"Who should get it this time?" Gourry asked.
"One easy way to decide... Jun! Ken!
Zelgadis cut it in half and they continued on.
"I somehow doubt that the Mazoku War started because
someone pinched these things," he also said.
"I don't think the war is the real problem," Lina
said. "If it was, why would we be here? The war's just a side
effect. One gigantically horribly bad side effect that's going to
have bad results I don't even want to think about right now... Chi'Nai,
do you know why the thing is so important? More important than what
we left behind?"
The priestess shook her head. "The Lord of
Chaos didn't think we should know."
"Sounds about like her," Lina sighed.
"None of this explains what I saw," Zelgadis said
"Aaaand what did you see, exactly?" Lina asked.
"A cave painting, up where we entered the caves.
Before I blew the cave up, of course. It was just a dream vision,
so I'm probably running a wild goose chase, but... it was a picture of
some sorceress or something, chained to an altar, turning chimeras into
"I told him I had never seen that image before,"
Chi'Nai said. "The entrances to Below are not decorated, either."
"Meaning this whole trip is a waste of my time,"
Zelgadis repeated from earlier. "There is likely no cure down here,
or else her entire tribe would be relaxing in the sun right now with pink
"Ehhh, don't be such a defeatist!" Lina chided.
"Sure, we'll probably be dropped unsuspectingly into the gaping maw of
death a few times, but beyond that, what could possibly go wrong?"
"Ano, has anybody seen my sleeping bag?"
The group had decided to sleep for the 'night',
night being determined by a clock spell Lina had running rather than by
actual moonlight. The monsters had been thick, so in addition to
the small lantern and cooking fire, Lina had put up a series of wards around
the cave they selected that would keep any unwelcome visitors from approaching.
On the whole, every preparation and plan was running smoothly, save one
Gourry rooted through his pack, confused.
"I could swear I packed it... I mean, it's a big round roll, right?
I couldn't have overlooked it..."
"What's a 'sleeping bag'?" Chi'Nai asked.
She had already found a good rock to use as head support, and was comfortably
"It's comfy for folks who've got softer, more bruisable
flesh," Lina said. "No offense, I mean."
"Oh, okay," Chi'Nai said. "I guess that makes
sense. Does that mean Gourry will be injured if he doesn't sleep
"No, but he'll be cranky in the morning," Lina explained.
Having her bedroll already prepped, she was simply discarding her clunky
bits of armor, and getting ready for bed. "Gourry, why don't you
double up with Zelgadis?"
"Not happening," a muffled voice said from inside
Zel's sleeping bag. "Mine."
"Why does Zelgadis need one?" Chi'Nai asked, confusion
"Zelgadis likes having one. Zelgadis wasn't
always a chimera, you know," Zel mumbled.
"But chances are he'll wake up cranky regardless
of where he's sleeping," Lina added.
None of this helped Gourry's situation, however.
"Awww, man," he groaned. "And it's so cold
down here! Lina, can you spare a pillow? I'll just take the
Lina looked at her single, dinky pillow. "How
about if you take the bag, and I'll take the floor?"
"But girls are softer and need more--"
"I recall having this conversation some other time,"
Lina said. "And if I recall, you switched places with me when I was
sleeping. This time, I take the floor, and I KEEP the floor.
Gourry let some family advice slip. "Actually,
my cousin Mel told me once that if a boyfriend and a girlfriend only had
one bed, they were supposed to share it--"
"WHA?! Hey! We are NOT..."
"But... I thought...? Am I wrong?" Gourry
asked. "Uh. I mean..."
Lina paused. She was having trouble finding
the right words too. Despite.. what they had talked about very briefly
after the last quest, she had deliberately been putting off any further
developments in that area... for simplicity's sake, of course. Just
in case. And so on.
"Look... Gourry. We have an.. understanding?"
Lina suggested. "And that means one of us takes the floor.
I mean... see, the problem is that under strict definitions, we're not...
look, I haven't had TIME to really put a lot of thought to.. and... okay.
Here's how it is. There's--"
"Decide, shut up, and go to sleep," Zelgadis grumbled.
"I'll take the floor," Gourry said quickly, attempting
to cuddle a stalagmite.
Lina winced. She chewed her lip, immediately
stated to herself up front that she was going to regret this, and opened
"We'll work on definitions later," Lina said, opening
her bag. "Get in before you freeze to death. But no funny business!
I have very pointy elbows and I'm not afraid to use them!"
"Oh, I know! And bony knees, and a hard head,
"Get in here and go to sleep before I knock you
unconscious myself!!" Lina helpfully offered.
Penguins. Bottles rolled onto lengths of string.
Sardine tins, pressed in tight. A wild, yellow-haired gerbil on a
wheel. Five pieces of a pie, but someone had stolen one and left
a note in its place. Eight butterflies flying directly into a roaring
"Rather disoriented tonight, are we?"
Lina's mind zipped from random thoughts to sharp
focus, stumbling mentally as she oriented herself. She was in a rather
pleasant sidewalk cafe at exactly midnight, seemingly made out of oil-based
paints, like a 3-D street life portrait...
"Weird," she said to herself.
Her companion sipped from a glass of fine wine.
"Really? It's a little dream I've been designing. A very personal
nightmare. Although it's outlived tonight's usefulness, I figured
it would make a good meeting place... hello, Lina? Focus. I
know it's harder to see the world of dreams while dreaming, but..."
Lina turned to face her date, and...
"Xelloss?" she asked.
"Of course," he smiled. He was wearing nice
formal dinnerwear, but still had his irrepressible smile.
"Ahh... interesting place," Lina commented.
"You were a little late. No, let me guess;
someone forgot a sleeping bag, and you had trouble getting to sleep with
someone else in yours?" Xelloss asked.
Lina turned a lovely shade of red. "Wha--?
"That's classified," Xelloss smiled. "Say,
do you like that? 'That's classified?' If I was ever in the
military, which I seem to be now, that's probably what I'd say. It
has a certain official ring to it. But enough fun smalltalk.
How goes the quest?"
"It's slow," Lina sighed. "Like a snail compared
to our brisk sendoff. It'll take us a few days to get where we're
going. I still need to fill Zelgadis in on some details, and I've
GOT to find Gourry something to sleep in before tomorrow night--"
Xelloss's smile grew wider.
"--ANYWAY," Lina said, "Apparently this thing we're
after is wrapped up in a whole end of the world prophecy. And considering
the war, that plus that equals uh-oh. Beyond that, nothing new.
How's the fighting?"
"Dissimilar," Xelloss said, sipping his beverage.
"We had a very exciting day when you left. As predicted, a few Dragon/Mazoku
fighting pairs showed up over Sailoon. The Mazoku are targeting humans,
you know. Really trying to irk the Dragons into action. Fortunately,
Amelia and Naga--"
"Didn't you know? She followed you to Sailoon,"
Xelloss smiled. "Or rather, she followed a very bad pun. Would
have come right to you if she didn't hit the palace wall. Some guards
scraped her off the stonework, which is good, because I have to admit,
she's EXCELLENT at white magic..."
"Pun? Wall? What?"
"I don't want to detain you too long, it's not restful,"
Xelloss warned. "So allow me to compress and allow yourself some
confusion. Ahem. Naga and Amelia combined powers and shielded
Sailoon City. Reason and Dayvid are working on making some sort of
strange machine, but it won't be ready for awhile. As for the others,
I just got back from checking with them; not much new. Drama has
announced his presence in Justivalero as a 'holy crusading knight against
the darkness' and largely was laughed at, Paradox is busy cooking up some
strange magic, and the others have nothing of interest to report.
And that's the state of the war. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a real
death toll for you."
"...let's hope you don't," Lina said quietly.
"Sounds good so far. You think we'll be able to pull this off, Xelloss?
I mean, really do it, fight against the war itself and save the world...?"
"No," Xelloss said. "But it's a tremendous
way to relax. Now, back to sleep with you. And tell Gourry-kun
I said hello and good work."
Penguins. Sixty people in a broom closet.
A string of beaded pearls. A waitress with a mace. A small
lizard. Lard. Square knots...
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.
|Click to continue...