fter a lot of base runs and pop flies, stickball
started to grow a bit boring. Dinner was around the corner anyway,
so the 'kids' packed it up, and headed back to the house, where they were
surprised to find 'mom' and 'dad' necking.
Zelgadis, not sure what to make of this, just stood
at the doorway to the kitchen/dining room and.. stared. Now, granted,
he had seen a number of unusual things recently. Quite a few of them
were induced by magical water and involved plenty of surreal symbolism.
Those things, though, he could handle; they at least had some sort of explanation
he couldn't see. This didn't.
Given the level of hair mussing, they had been at
it for a while now, too. And given his knowledge of Lina's behavior,
the smartest, most intelligent thing he could possibly do would be to turn
around and quietly sneak away before she notices him--
"Wow!" Timmy said, peeking out from behind Chi'Nai.
Sure, it was only one syllable, but it was enough
to turn the situation into a nuclear explosion.
Lina jerked upright and looked with unbounded horror
at the group, her face traveling straight up the list of red hues and landing
firmly in Tomato. Gourry's eyes just sort of rolled around in his
head, a dumb yet blissful expression on his face even as Lina dropped him
like a poisonous snake.
"Z-Zel!? Chi-- Tim-- uh-- What're-- wha--
I-- this isn't-- wh-- G-- AAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!" Lina explained, running around
in a little circle before zooming out of the room at half the speed of
"That's an unusual reaction," Chi'Nai said, without
a hint of confusion.
"Not if you know these people," Zelgadis said, walking
over to check Gourry. Maybe he wasn't unconscious, but the end results
were pretty similar; blank, vapid look, and a huge idiot grin. Zel
bapped his cheeks a little, gave up, and propped him against the table.
"I think we'd better leave Lina be for a little while. In fact, I
think getting at least a mile away would be wise. She tends to blow
up anybody who embarrasses her."
"I told you emotions were more trouble than they're
worth," Chi'Nai reminded.
A clamor of footsteps went along the ceiling.
"Hey, she's upstairs, isn't she?" Timmy asked.
"Probably finding the farthest point from this location,"
"Uh.. oh. She's not going to go into the attic,
Zelgadis looked at Timmy. A brief recognition
of the word 'attic' hit him.. a light he saw earlier... "Attic?
What's in the--"
Naturally, the next sound heard was a very impressive
Followed by a scream; a distinctly Lina-like scream.
Dishes fell off the table, and the furniture shifted
around a lot -- Zel lost his balance and fell over, while Chi'Nai adapted
and kept upright.
Not one to ask things like 'What was that?' or 'Is
everybody okay?', Zelgadis was on his feet and dashing upstairs at nearly
the speed of thought. No sense in pretending to be in reality when
you can get what you need in an instant in the world of dreams, after all.
He ditched his Big Brother garb along the way and gotten the dream of his
sword ready, approaching the previously locked hatchway leading up into
He stopped, and forced himself to approach the folding
ladder cautiously. He peeked up without making his presence known,
just incase something was large and mean and dangerous which he'd be better
off killing quietly without it realizing he was around.
Literally nothing, not even an attic. The
roof had been torn away completely, leaving behind the odd broken bit of
wood and a few dustclouds stirring in the wind. And of course, a
dramatic token to illustrate an important point; Lina's silly dream-apron
was left behind. Without the rest of her inside it.
Zelgadis looked down to the upstairs hallway just
as Timmy and Chi'Nai were rushing upstairs. "Nothing up here," he
explained. "And Lina's gone too."
"Uhoh," Timmy said, a pale wash flooding his face.
"I think that means he got out."
"'He?'" Zelgadis growled. "Why didn't you
tell us there was a 'He' up here before?!"
"Didn't think anybody would go in the attic," Timmy
said. "It's dark and scary up there, after all."
Zel considered barking again, but no. That
would probably make sense to a kid. He mentally kicked himself for
not exploring the house more when they got here... and for not exploring
what the situation was, period.
No.. no sense in mounting frustrations. Zelgadis
climbed down. Get to business.
"Let's get to the important thing first," he said.
"Is Lina in the house? Probably not, but we need to make sure.
Chi'nai, check the right side of the hall, Timmy, the left."
A few moments later, it was confirmed.
"She's gone," Chi'Nai stated.
"He probably took her," Timmy said quietly.
"I bet he'd do that. She wasn't very good at dreaming and he was,
he could do it.."
"I think it's high time I sat you down, kid, and
got you to spill your guts about this place," Zel said, advancing.
"About whatever it is you're vaguely talking about, about how you got here,
how you got the key... and now, how we're going to find Lina."
Gourry was happy.
Gourry was happy.
Gourry was happy.
He sputtered, and sat up, blinking a few times as
his glazed eyes got used to the light again. "Whrrr?" he asked.
"Li.. uh... guys. Hi. What's going on?"
"We're about to find out," Zelgadis said, tossing
the bucket aside -- it vanished back into the dreamstuff.
Gourry looked around the kitchen, and spotted Timmy,
sitting on a kitchen chair and looking a little bit guilty. Apparently,
the others were looking at him and expecting him to talk.
"I just wanted to play games," Timmy apologized.
"I didn't think anything bad would happen. None of the other dreamers
went into the attic, so I figured..."
"What was up there?" Zelgadis interrogated.
"My grandfather," Timmy said. "He's a powerful
sorcerer. He sent me with magic to the dreamplace a long time ago
so I could find the key and bring it back to him. But I wasn't supposed
to give it to him, so I stayed here and kept it safe. He came after
me, and tried to take it away, so I trapped him in the attic... it was
really hard, he was good at dreaming too."
Zelgadis nodded. "So, when Lina opened the
"Lina?" Gourry asked, catching onto one of the few
words he had followed.
"She must've let him out," Timmy said. "I'm
sorry. I didn't think it was important to tell you about him.
I was just going to play with you until you woke up and not give you the
"Where's Lina?" Gourry asked Zelgadis. "What's
going on here? Did I fall asleep or something?"
"More or less," Zelgadis said, with a dash of sarcasm.
"Lina got kidnapped again. We--"
"WHAT?!" Gourry gaped. "We've got to rescue
"I'm aware of that, Gourry. Now we just have
to find out--"
Gourry fetched his Sword of Light from wherever
he was keeping it in his memory, and shifted back into his armor.
"Which way did they go?!"
"It's not that easy!" Timmy said. "Grandpa
studied dreams really hard. He only sent me to get the key at first
because he was worried he'd die if he touched it... I'm an orphan, and
he always used me for his dangerous magic. I thought I could stand
up to him now that I had power from here, but... but when he came himself
and I had to fight him, I could barely trap him! I don't know if
I can do it again, and... and..."
Gourry's people instincts took over. He forced
some calm over himself, and rested a reassuring hand on Timmy's shoulder.
"Don't worry," he said, smiling. "We'll stop
your grandfather. I know you're scared of him. You and Chi'Nai
can stay here while your big brother and I go save mom, okay?"
"You're not really my family," Timmy said, in a
small voice, on the verge of tears. He paused. "I want to go
home. I don't like this place anymore."
"We'll take you back with us once we finish this,"
Gourry promised. "You've got my word. Zel? C'mon, let's
The swordsman turned, and moved right out of the
kitchen, and out of the house, traveling at a fair clip. Zelgadis
started a protest, but wasn't able to get it out before he had left...
he cast a glance at Chi'Nai, who acknowledged with a nod that she'd stay
put, and he went off.
Zelgadis pushed the rusty screen door aside, and
let it clatter shut after him, jogging along to keep up with Gourry.
"Gourry, what do you think you're doing?" Zelgadis
asked. "We've got no idea where this guy is. Plus, none of
us are as strong as Timmy is at dreaming... magic and swords don't work
here. We'll be creamed at this rate."
"We won't be creamed," Gourry said, with absolution
as firm as rock.
"And what's this, telling him he won't have to help
us? We could use his help. He'd be a great weapon against this
"He's scared," Gourry said. "I'm not going
to make a scared little kid do something he doesn't have to do."
"Do you want to save Lina or not?"
Gourry glared at Zelgadis with unusual fire.
Zel almost missed a step.
"I'll take that as a yes," Zel interpreted.
"What's with you today? And what were you doing with Lina back there?"
"I think we can find this guy if we concentrate,"
Gourry said. "I understand that. I think. See, I can
make stuff happen in this world if I think about it, and so can Timmy,
right? So if we think that we find him, then we find him. I'm
right, right? I NEED to be right about this and not stupid about
it, it's important..."
"That's.. how it works, yes," Zel said. "I'll
give it a try."
Zelgadis cleared his mind. No easy task, considering
the wham-pow-bam speed of events lately, much less what those events were...
clear that, clear that. Focus on the image of finding where Lina
is, and going there. He put all his energy into that need to find
He kept it up for a minute more, before giving up.
"It's no good," Zelgadis said. "Either this guy's blocking us, or
I just can't get it focused enough. We'd need some really, really
strong willpower to make it happ--"
Gourry closed his eyes.
The world turned around a single point in space,
revolving inside out and around again...
The world was foggy and nasty. Lina felt shredded.
Her eyes opened slowly, and assessed the situation...
She was kidnapped.
At least it was a familiar situation. Had
all the usual trimmings; some way of restricting her hands so she couldn't
easily cast magic, something to sit on and/or dangle from, a cackling madman
and a hideout. You know where you stand with a proper kidnapping.
And more importantly, Lina had no intentions of standing where she was
told to stand. Might as well milk it for all it was worth...
"Hello!" she said cheerfully to her kidnapper, because
that's not what a victim would say. "Nice place. Do you do
your own decoration?"
She had to admit, it wasn't that interesting of
a decor. A basic black void, with silvery gridlines running vertical,
horizontal... forming a cube mesh that stretched in all directions.
Small pulses of light raced along it in funny patterns Lina couldn't identify;
she was never very good at math.
And her kidnapper... a basic looking mad sorcerer
in robes and a pointy hat. Long beard, fluffy eyebrows, the works.
He seemed oddly calm for a mad sorcerer, however. Almost like a sleepwalker,
looking at her without looking at her.
"No, I did not," he said, in a monotone voice.
"My master made this place."
"And you are...?"
"Timmy's grandfather. No doubt you have met
the boy," he said. "But aside from that, I am nothing but a tool
for my master to obtain the key of order, name and identity trivial.
My task is all. It is a task I have been... delayed on. But
no longer. I will use you to force Timmy to obey me and give me the
key. I will hurt you until he gives it to me."
"Ah, now we're back in the plot," Lina realized.
"So what is the key, exactly?"
"The most important thing in the world."
"One of those things, you mean?"
"No," he said. "It is the most important thing
in the world."
"You realize you're making the classic villain mistake
of telling the heroine everything, right?" Lina asked. This was the
sort of way she relaxed when in a situation like this. "No style
whatsoever, either. Now I'm going to have to escape and kill you."
"You cannot escape," he said. "I have ordered
this dream strong enough to easily resist your human willpower. There
is no willpower imagined that is strong enough to break into this area
of the dreaming, either. Your mistress cannot overcome the Order
"So if you're so big and bad, why not just take
the key away from Timmy instead of going through all this trouble?" Lina
The old man said nothing.
"You can't, can ya?" Lina smirked. "Boy, you're
just revealing everything, aren't you? As villains go, you're pretty
unoriginal. So why can't you just muscle Timmy into line?"
"He is protected by Chaos, as you are," the old
man said, a tiny hint of anger starting to enter his voice. "But
it doesn't matter. I am strong! I will finish my master's bidding
and gain a place in the Order. It has taken a long time, but time
is meaningless in a purely ordered world, as he has shown me--"
A voice shunted out of the silvery gridlines, running
horizontally through Lina's mind like a constant wind, sending her spinning.
YOU SPEAK TOO MUCH. DID I NOT BURN CHAOS FROM
YOU, HUMAN? THE NEEDLESS NEED TO BE DRAMATIC AND ALIVE WITH RANDOM
"Y-Yes!" the sorcerer said.
THEN BE SILENT AS YOU SHOULD BE.
Lina stayed quiet too. The temperature in
the 'room' felt like it had dropped to zero. This newcomer was not
the sort of bad guy she could goad, taunt or insult... she knew that on
hunch, and it was a hunch she could believe.
She stayed perfectly still, feeling this strange
presence study her...
SO, YOU ARE LINA INVERSE, KNIGHT OF CHAOS.
It said. THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD BE A TRUE HINDRANCE TO MY PLANS.
I SEE NO REASON TO REMAIN CONCERNED. YOU HAVE NO PARTS TO MY ALTAR
OF ORDER, WHEREAS YOUR SISTERS ALREADY HAVE RECOVERED THREE.
"Sisters?" Lina asked, unable to resist asking.
But the being ignored her question.
NO. YOUR "LORD OF NIGHTMARES" HAS NOT PICKED
WELL, HER CHAOS AGAIN LEADING TO HER INEVITABLE DOWNFALL TO ORDER.
PERHAPS NOW SHE'LL FINALLY LEARN THIS LESSON. AS WILL YOU.
"She claims she will escape," the old sorcerer stated,
SHE WILL NOT. ORDER CRUSHES CHAOS. THERE
IS NO CHAOS STRONG ENOUGH TO REACH THIS POCKET I HAVE MADE.
...and hit a wall, a wall of very hard matter, bouncing
back to where they came from.
Zel and Gourry were tossed aside, landing on the
soft grass of Timmy's lawn. Zel's breathing resumed, once he forced
himself into it.
"What happened?" Zelgadis asked. "It felt
like it was working, and..."
Gourry was already on his feet, concentrating furiously.
"Something stopped me!" he seethed. "I felt it..."
But Gourry's mind was already racing to find Lina,
pouring every ounce of emotion he could into it. He needed to find
her. For so many reasons, even ones he still didn't understand or
know a lot about, tangled up into one big strange ball he couldn't sort
out -- but gave up on trying to sort it out, and just pushed on anyway.
Accepting that he might never completely figure it all out and just going
In one burst of feeling, of chaotically confused
but determined need and wanting, he PUSHED--
And the two of them slammed through a wall of lines,
shattering some kind of grid as they rolled to a halt on the non-floor
of a void.
Everybody was surprised to see them.
"How is this possible?!" Timmy's grandfather asked,
Gourry quickly imagined Lina free from.. whatever
she was trapped by, some unseen and unacknowledged thought. Lina
dropped to the floor as well, ready to move--
The sorcerer threw up his hands, warping gravity
around each of his enemies, spinning them about. "It doesn't matter!
I will destroy you all--"
Gourry had his sword out, confronting the sorcerer.
"Let Lina go!"
"Ah... Gourry?" Lina said, tapping his shoulder.
"I'm let-gone already. And that guy's not important."
"He's not?" Gourry asked. Whatever drive he
was wrapped in before started to crumble in front of his usual confusion.
"Uh.. then what now?"
As if on cue, the wind rolled through the area again,
blasted from the being that shared this same geometric space. The
sorcerer was unfortunately (or fortunately) blasted far out of sight, fading
from existence as he shot into the distance -- Zelgadis was knocked aside,
but grabbed hold of one of the grid lines to keep from being blown away.
Gourry grabbed onto Lina, who was also hanging on for dear life.
"Hey! Don't grab me like that!!" Lina instinctively
yelled, kicking at Gourry.
THIS IS TOO MUCH RANDOMNESS. THERE ARE TOO
MANY UNCONTROLLED ELEMENTS. I WILL STOP IT HERE. THERE IS NO
NEED TO OPPOSE YOU AT THE END OF EVERYTHING IF I DESTROY YOU NOW, KNIGHT
"Who the hell is that guy!?" Zelgadis shouted, over
the roaring gale. "Lina, do something!"
"Like what?!" Lina shouted back.
"You're the Knight of the Lord of Nightmares, not
me! Think of something!"
The first idea that popped into her head was a stupid
one, but Lina did it anyway.
Her golden wings unfolded, at her mental summons.
The brilliant hue and shine of them was something to behold, at least when
you weren't about to be blown into oblivion and thus concentrating on other
"It's a start," Lina said. "Now then, maybe
if...... ah.. where'd the wind go?"
Zelgadis looked up, noticing he was no longer being
tugged around. He got to his feet, feeling only a gentle breeze...
"You're blocking it with those wings... I think..."
he said, unbelieving.
A TRIVIAL EFFORT, the voice said. I WILL STOP
Very little happened.
"Well?" Lina asked.
YOU WILL DIE.
Zelgadis fidgeted a little, not seeing any sudden
"Oh, I get it," Lina said. "That guy said
I was protected by chaos. I guess I just had to summon that protection.
Man, for a large, mysterious force with a cool voice, you're pretty impotent!"
...IT DOES NOT MATTER, the voice said. ONE
METHOD IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER. YOUR SISTERS WILL DEAL WITH YOU.
I HAVE ALREADY SET THEM IN MOTION. NONE OF IT MATTERS. I WILL
WIN IN THE END.
Even the tiny breeze died, as the thing went away,
to... wherever it went.
"What now?" Zelgadis asked.
"What now? Oh, that's easy. We go back,
get the stupid key from Timmy, and get out of here," Lina said.
"And that... thing?"
"It's gone, isn't it? Problem solved."
"We don't even know what it was!!"
"No, but I'm sure someone will tell us eventually,"
Lina said, unconcerned. "Relax, Zel! You'd think you'd have
learned this stuff from all the other quests we've been on. Now,
let's... ah, where's Gourry?"
"You're standing over him."
Lina blinked, and stepped back... uncovering Gourry,
who had a goofy smile and a little bit of blood coming out of his nose.
"I think he could see right up your dress," Zelgadis
"Ah... I see," Lina said, flushing up to a tomato
level hue again.
Back at the ranch, Timmy fidgeted.
"He's going to hurt them," he said, shaking with
nervousness. "He's going to be very bad to them. I thought
I stopped grandpa... why couldn't I, Chi'Nai-oneesan?"
"You weren't smart enough to realize the danger,"
Chi'Nai said factually.
Which only sent Timmy into a crying jag.
A hint of nervousness crept through Chi'Nai's mind.
She was trying to discuss the matter rationally with Timmy, but he was
being very irrational... very emotional. She had no honest idea what
to do about it, but wanted to be able to do something... she didn't particularly
like making the young boy cry. But it wasn't something she understood.
Would father have understood? He hung onto
his emotions like a dying man to life, but clearly they only made him erratic
and random. Those were bad things. What would he do for this
boy? Probably offer him a sweet and tell a joke. That wouldn't
work. Would it? Chi'Nai didn't have any sweets and didn't know
Zelgadis would probably know what to do about this,
she thought. He always seemed to know what to do. She liked
that about him. Chi'Nai thought about it more, as she drifted off
into sleep, sleep inside the world of dreams.
Timmy looked up as Chi'Nai slowly sank to the floor,
dozing. He glanced around worriedly.
"Shhh," a voice said in his ear. "It's Okay.
I Just Let Her Sleep."
"You?" Timmy asked.
The little girl made herself visible to him, a young
girl with golden curls. She wasn't dressed very neatly, with mismatching
socks and everything.
"You Did A Very Good Job," she said, smiling softly
to him. "Thanks. I Knew You Would Protect The Key From Those Who
Could Hurt Me."
"But I couldn't! He got out! He--"
"Your Friends Stopped Him," the girl said.
"You Helped Them. You Should Go Home Now, Back To Your World.
You Can Trust Them With The Key Now."
"...it's over?" Timmy asked. "Grandpa, and..."
"It's Over," she said. "I'm Sorry For The
Trouble. I Have To Return Home Now Too. Thank You, Timmy."
Timmy smiled at her, relieved, and thankful for
the praise. He slumped a little, no longer so stressed.
The girl vanished just as Chi'Nai woke up.
Chi'Nai didn't seemed the least bit concerned, as if she hadn't noticed
going to bed in the first place.
After returning 'home', Lina and company got their gear
together, ready to leave the world of dreams. Lina, for one, was
quite pleased to be back in her usual adventuring duds and NOT in some
She hadn't mentioned the little incident to Gourry.
In fact, they hadn't talked much about anything like.. that. Far
too busy questing. Maybe later, once they could settle down..
"So!" Lina said, concentrating on the present.
"On we go. Timmy, got the key?"
"Right here!" Timmy said, smiling big.
"Zel, Gourry, your swords and goodies?"
"All packed," Zelgadis stated.
"Chi'Nai, do you have the sixteen elephants and
packet of dental floss?"
"Just being silly," Lina said, with a hint of whimsy.
"I think this quest is going well! Now, let's get back to Sailoon
and check in with the group before finding the next part of the big whatsimajigger..."
Lina chanted the Giga's Dream spell, opening a glowing
blue gateway back to the waking world.
"All together, now!" she said, stepping through
the gateway and into a smoking crater.
Gourry landed on top of her. The others were
thoughtful enough to look before they leapt, and simply climbed down from
the gateway, which was inexplicably hanging over the edge of a giant hole
in the ground.
"Off!" Lina ordered, pushing Gourry aside.
"What happened? I cast the spell right..."
When she stood up, she realized what was going on.
Sailoon City was missing, presumed destroyed.
For several miles around, instead of seeing a bustling metropolis with
thousands and thousands of citizens and the shining walls of Sailoon Palace,
all she saw was a giant crater of scorched earth, blackened and burned.
Oddly, the trees around the strike zone were pretty unharmed, and the sky
was a cheerful blue with puffy white clouds.
"......." Lina said.
"I don't understand. Isn't there supposed
to be a city here?" Chi'Nai asked, stating the obvious.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.