SLAYERS REFLECT #10
: Through a Reflection Darkly
By Stefan Gagne, Spoof Chase Productions.
amned if he was going to let a solid investment go bad,
Howard D. LaHeffer developed what will go down in history as the ultimate
vacation resort and condominium complex the world has ever seen.
He spared no expense, developing leafy green palm trees in neat rows along
the main strip, constructing hotels, casinos, swimming pools, every modern
convenience, every form of entertainment. He hired a crack team of
magicians to develop persistent colored lighting spells, shaped into signs
and lampposts, so that the whole island glittered like a gem in the twilight
sky. He advertised through the whole free world, air-dropping leaflets
inviting one and all to come and enjoy a luxurious weekend of fantasy,
fun and adventure. But the one thing he didn't do was rename the
island from what the original owners called it.
Not that simply renaming the place would have changed
the key problem. Names tend to shape what they're attached to after
centuries, especially very dramatic names. The Island of Ultimate
Despair, then, despite having a resort stapled to its shores, still had
the foreboding black Mountain of Agony and Peak of Despair, in which you
had the Caves of Gloom and the Pools of Insanity, and of course the Volcano
of Untimely Future Erruption.
Howard made sure not to label these things on the
map and clearly mark them off limits, but the aura of despair maintains.
People lose fortunes in gambling. Relationships break up. Sudden,
swift, and above all highly nasty accidents occur in motel showers.
And generally, you may have a fun time on your first day there, but you
can bet your life -- literally -- that your stay won't end on that note.
Not that any of this mattered to the one who called
herself Lina Inverse (when she felt she had enough of a grasp on who she
wanted to be to use that name). She already had the next few days
planned out perfectly in her mind. She felt she already had experienced
them; this was just the echo of the dream, the retracting of steps, like
going over a highlight reel.
Nobody else on the midnight ferry would sit near
her. She carried her marble-thrower and her recently acquired Sword
of Light in her lap, in case anybody reached out and grabbed her right
there so she could kill them, but none of them had tried so far.
So far. They wouldn't, not in her future-memory, anyway. She
had her plan. She had her tools.
She had her book. She had misplaced it for
a day, searching in a panic, but it turned up again. Other than that,
it was her constant companion through the trip, reading, rereading, over
All the text was backwards, but Lina didn't notice
until the third time she had read through the seroL rorriM. It didn't
matter, she could chant them the right way around when the time had come.
She experimented with a hand mirror, just a slight
Oracle Burst to see if it worked. It had been years since she last
cast a magic spell; she had forgotten how wonderful it could be.
Joy filled her, power filled her, such sweet power she hadn't felt since
white magic, black magic, shamanism, her three tools, all burned and torn
from her by the darkness which...
But that was behind her and yet to come.
For now, she smiled. Lina was going to love
this. Lina was going to show that other Lina, the dream-Lina, just
what was supposed to happen to her. Everything was going to be okay.
'Everything is going to be okay, if you follow the
plan I gave you,' a voice in her head spoke.
Lina grabbed her ears. "Shuttup!!"
But it wasn't really a voice, she just was remembering
what the strange man told her. It made sense. She didn't trust
him. He smiled so much. But it made sense. She would
consider doing things that way. They would lead her where she wanted
to go, she saw that. It would be okay. It was all going to
Tensing, relaxing, Lina calmed. Okay.
The next day, travelers arrive at the Island, in
small groups. They arrive from the public docks, they arrive by ferry.
Most of them are here to lose their entire life's savings on Roulette,
Poker, Guess the Ferret, Rock Paper Scissors and the ever popular How Many
Fingers Am I Holding Up.* They wander, laughing and thinking about
good fortunes and good times, to various hotel/casinos.
The sunset ferry rolls into place after most people
are already busy getting drunk and poor. A horsedrawn coach that
has clearly seen better days totters down the ramp, and onto the streets
of fabulous Despair City.
Up top, Lily and Gourry were sitting, driving the
coach. Since the horses had insisted on trying to go in opposite
directions at different speeds for the last few days, Lily had taken to
keeping a mild Enhance Calm spell on them. Now they rode straight
and true, if a bit slowly, to stop and smell the roses every now and then.
"Boy, this city is pretty cool," Gourry commented,
watching the magically lit streets as they clop-clopped on through.
"This must have cost a lot of money."
"I.. I don't like this place," Lily said.
"It's too cold."
"Huh? It's pretty warm.."
"I don't mean cold like temperature," Lily said.
"It... FEELS cold. Wrong."
"Don't worry, Lily-san," Gourry smiled. "We'll
be out of here once we meet our friends and Lina masters those mirror things
enough to finish up our quest."
Inside, Lina was grumbling.
"I don't get it," she said, shaking her hand mirror.
"I can't see my future. I've cast this silly Oracle Burst spell like
sixteen times, and each time I just get static..."
Naga, who was busy admiring herself in her own mirror,
primped her hair a little. "Now now, Lina. Practice makes perfect.
I, on the other hand, have successfully seen my own future using these
wonderful Mirror Lores! I am to be a valiant and beautiful sorceress
all the world will appreciate as my deeds are heralded across the land!
It took a lot of bickering and arguing, but in the
end, Lina did cave and gave Naga access to the book of Mirror Lores.
After all, Naga couldn't really do anything dangerous with them without
that water -- the stuff Zelgadis likely had with him at this moment.
Lina did make sure to warn Naga never, ever, ever, ever to break a mirror
unless she wanted seven years of something much nastier than bad luck --
Generally, the Mirror Lores didn't seem very useful.
Lina, who was used to spells that blew things up (because frankly, that's
what most spells she knew did) regarded the mirror spells as utilities,
mostly. Really well done utilities, neat tricks, probably useful
when you're trying to look at the stream of time, but beyond that not the
amazingly dangerous things that.. well, there were some dangers involved.
But not world-shattering, earth-quaking, flood-the-land-with-evil sort
of dangers, she figured.
Still, having Naga succeed at using the spells when
she couldn't was very... irking.
"How are YOU getting it to cast and not me?" Lina
"Simple. You're using the wrong spell!" Naga
said, pointing to a passage in the open book between them. "Use that
'Optimum Vision' spell."
"Nagaaa! That's not your future, it's just
what you think the best you should be! I think."
"Exactly. That IS my future! OOHHOOHOHHOO!"
Resisting the urge to smack her was harder than
Lina realized. "Did you at least TRY the Oracle Burst spell?"
"Yes, but it was just some boring stuff," Naga said.
"This is much better."
Curious, Lina changed gears, and dropped a temporary
Optimum Vision enchantment on her own mirror. It took a little while
for the spell to replace the previous one on the mirror. It made
sense, she supposed, that she couldn't see her future; Silverquick mentioned
in his notes that he couldn't either, and he was a master of this magic.
It was still very disquieting, though. If...
Lina looked at the image in her mirror in surprise.
Her image looked back her in equal surprise... gave
a little smile, gave a little shrug, and faded away.
"Ne, what's that?" Naga asked, peeking over Lina's
Lina Inverse quickly removed the enchantment, returning
the mirror to reflecting her own face. "Nothing. I can't get
these silly things to work right," she said.
With the sun rapidly setting and no sign of the
rest of the gang, Lina suggested that her group take a tactical retreat
to a strategic outpost that had proven a successful haven in numerous encounters
before. Namely, that they go get something to eat.
If there was one thing this island had enough of,
it was restaurants; streets were lined with them, to the point where the
smell of delicious food cooking over a hundred stoves was reaching critical
mass. Lina practically floated, dragged along in delight of aroma.
"Mmmmmmmmm..." Lina said, wafting along. "Food.
Good food. GORMET food! I haven't had a meal this good in weeks!"
"Ano, but you haven't eaten anything yet," Gourry
"By this smell, I can tell that when I DO eat, it'll
be something special," Lina explained. "So! Where would you
guys like to-- Oooh! There's a Saileese takeout place over there!
The others weren't quite so enthusiastic.
"Shouldn't we be finding the others?" Gourry asked.
"I mean, I know we arranged to meet here, but meet WHERE here?"
"And I'm not one for Sailoon's food," Naga added.
"The spices and flavorings are too weak and the soups too runny."
"...I'm not really hungry..." Lily said quietly.
"Well, *I* am going there. You guys can eat
where you'd like. More for me!" Lina reasoned -- or rather, a puff
of smoke shaped like Lina did, as she was already halfway down the street
by the time the sound arrived in their ears.
"Oh, alright, if you insist," Naga sighed dramatically.
"Come along, everybody."
Walking along, taking his time, Gourry tagged along
with Naga. "You know, she always perks up around food, even when
she's really sulky. Why is that?"
"A road-wise sorceress knows always to eat big at
dinnertime, because you don't know when your next meal may be," Naga recited.
"Good nutrition helps magic," Lily said, feeling
she should say something.
"Uh... but she eats all the time," Gourry replied.
"How is that good nutrition or not knowing when your next meal may be?"
"Exactly!" Naga said, as if that answered everything.
(Sometimes, Naga's dialogue didn't exactly correspond to reality as others
Gourry had trouble trying to parse that, but wrote
it off and continued. "I'm actually kinda glad she's getting some
good dinner to cheer herself up. Is it just me, or has she been moody
lately? I mean, I'm not a smart man, but I can tell some things."
"You know... quiet.. doesn't seem too thrilled..
spends a lot of time thinking.. hasn't hit me in days.."
"I just mean... well, what I MEAN is... I don't
know what I mean," Gourry said. "But I'm sure I mean something."
"Ah," Naga said, nodding.
Gourry nodded, and opened the door for the women,
because a gentleman is supposed to do that sort of thing.
Through the door he could see Lina reading the menu,
conveniently stapled to a wall near the door. Then someone in a cloak
stepped behind her.
"I mean to kill you, Lina Inverse!!" the figure
Gourry was in the door and had his temporary replacement
sword he bought a day ago out and yanked the man away from Lina placing
the blade at his neck in less than a half a second, tops.
The priest at swordpoint smiled nervously at Gourry.
"I was only kidding."
"Lina-san!! Gourry-san!" Amelia called from
a nearby table, waving a chicken leg at the group. "Hieeee!
Ano, Xelloss, quit clowning around."
Xelloss blurred slightly and appeared next to Gourry,
away from the sword. "No hard feelings," he said.
"...so then we got sucked into this hole in time
or something and ended up in the future! And it was really bright
and neat looking and everybody was so nice, but apparently something was
pretty wrong with it because Zelgadis and a bunch of military guys blew
the place up before we left--"
"Something was very wrong with it, yes," Zelgadis
"--and before that we went to this REALLY FUN PLACE
with all these waterslides and it was really cool except we blew that place
up too, but Zelgadis got this water stuff so I guess we got what we came
for and before that we got attacked by pirate hunters who really were pretty
strange and didn't have the right idea about justice and oh by the way
this is Dayvid and he runs the ship we were traveling on say hi to Lina-san
"...hi?" Dayvid managed, a bit stunned.
"An.. interesting story," Lina said. "Especially
the way you told it backwards and summarized so I couldn't understand any
Amelia took this as a compliment, smiling widely.
"So! How was your quest?"
"Welll, first we broke down in the middle of Noh
Wheir, then we got jumped by a bunch of bandits who practically were zombies,"
Lina started. "Lily here was healing them as fast as we could tear
them apart. Say hi, Lily."
"um, hi," Lily said.
"Then we went off to Evilania, where I got drugged
and we had to take out a Mazoku with a bad attitude and no brains," Lina
continued. "We visited the Great Library, did a couple standard trials
of worthiness, took out the Mazoku guy AGAIN for good this time and made
off with the Mirror Lores. After that we hightailed it across the
country, paused to study magic and party, hopped a ferry and here we are."
"Sounds fun," Xelloss smiled. "Perhaps you
should write a book of legend. 'The Ballad of Lina Inverse and the
Journey of a Thousand Reflections' springs to mind. I, of course,
would play a major part."
"And what part would that be?" Zelgadis asked, eyeing
"That is a secret," Xelloss winked.
"I'm no writer," Lina said. "Besides, it wasn't
much of a quest. The Mirror Lores are interesting, but once I get
Sailoon's mirror back together, I probably won't bother with them much."
"So what now?" Amelia asked. "What what huh
"...you had a lot of sugar today, didn't you?" Lina
"Ah... um. As for what now, we all get a decent
night's sleep away from monsters and madmen, Zelgadis and I take the stuff
we've collected and make that silly mirror, then maybe Dayvid can give
us all a lift back to Sailoon. Then... it's over."
"Then what?" Amelia insisted.
"Then.. nothing," Lina said. "That's it.
Finis. Quest over. We win."
"Awww.." Amelia frowned. "I was hoping there'd
"It's no big deal," Lina replied. "I could
think of worse ways to polish off a round of adventuring. Now, if
you'll excuse me, I could use some rest. There's an inn over this
"We've been staying there," Zelgadis answered.
"Plenty of free rooms."
"Great," Lina smiled. "Cheer up, gang!
Everything's coming up sunny."
The young sorceress departed, paying the innkeep
for her share of the food and for a night's rental on a room, and going
"Anooo..." Gourry said, poking at Lina's plate.
"She didn't finish her dinner."
"More for me!" Naga smiled, rapidly transferring
"But she ALWAYS finishes her dinner," Gourry said.
Rising, Zelgadis dabbed at his mouth with a napkin,
and made a suggestion. "We should probably get some rest too.
It's been a long day. Dayvid, I know we just bought passage to the
Island of Ultimate Despair, but can we charter it for a trip to Sailoon
"Uh, sure thing," Dayvid said. "I'm going
that way anyways."
"Then it's all settled," Zel said, stretching.
"The end of another successful journey. Of sorts."
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.
* blatant Mafia! joke. I hope the movie is as funny
as it looks.
|Click to continue...