vernight, clouds had formed over the island.
Big, nasty rolling grey clouds; the kind that always seemed on the edge
of threatening to maybe kick some thunderstorm ass all over the place,
but choosing to merely loom at the moment.
Although the sun wasn't shining, inside Amelia's
head it was a nice bright sunny morning, and she arose with a yawn, a stretch
and a smile. She did some warmup exercises to keep her body fit and
ready for the cause of justice, brushed her teeth with the nearby basin,
got dressed, had a piece of fresh fruit from the complementary bowl the
innkeeper had sent up, then picked up the ransom note someone had left
by her bedside and read it.
Two moments passed.
"AAAAaaaaa!!!" Amelia shrieked, clutching the paper.
She zoomed out of her room and down the stairs, where everybody was busy
having breakfast -- since to them, so far, it was just like any other morning
-- and waved her arms rapidly to get their attention.
"Are you trying to fly, Amelia-chan?" Xelloss asked,
"He's gone! He's gone!!" Amelia said.
"Oh, tragedy! Zelgadis-san has been KIDNAPPED!"
"Don't panic," Lina said, munching on a stack of
pancakes that reached her eye level. "Prob'bly went off to get food
or somethin'. He's free to come and go."
"I got a ransom note!" Amelia said.
"...oh," Lina replied, getting that sinking feeling
despite the light fluffy hotcakes. "Okay.. that's different."
The group gathered around the small note, which
had been written by a hand unstable enough to not require little cut-out
i TooK tHat zELgadIs tHING.
comE to tHe CAVE OF GLOOM
tHe PEAK OF DESPAIR asap
..i dUnnO, baD stuph.
love, lIna inverse
Lina swallowed. "Her again..."
"Lina! YOU kidnapped Zelgadis?!" Amelia asked,
"No, no!" Lina said. "I didn't tell you guys,
but... look. Some version of ME popped out of the Oracle Mirror in
Sailoon. She's been dogging me ever since. She's the one who's
apparently got Zelgadis..."
"Oh dear, oh dear," Xelloss said. "This is
a pickle. What shall we do?"
Lina crunched the note in her hands. "I'm
not going to run scared anymore. I had a feeling this would happen,
and I know how to take care of it. I'll go up to the Peak and finish
"We're coming," Gourry said.
"She's not you, Gourry, she's me. I should
"We're coming," Gourry repeated. "You don't
have to go into whatever this is alone. It might be a big fight,
you know! You should have some support. And besides,
we're all friends of Zelgadis, right?"
"You bet!" Amelia said.
"He's a nice guy.." Dayvid said.
Lily, who had been staying in the background for
some reason this morning, didn't offer anything.
"I don't say I care for him, but the battle could
be fun," Naga grinned.
"He's such a gloomy two shoes, but I'm in," Xelloss
said. "But Dayvid, you're staying here."
"Come come, boy, you're no warrior," Xelloss replied.
"I don't mean that in an insulting way, but you don't have any portable
weapons from the Guppy, and your magic isn't controllable enough yet to
help us. You should probably stay here in case we need to make a
quick getaway, yes?"
"Uh.. yeah, if you put it that way," Dayvid said.
"Now, let us make plans," Xelloss said, assuming
lead. "Ne, Lina, come with me a moment. I've got something
to show you. Amelia, you and Gourry and Naga find a way to get up
to the mountain and meet us back at the docks."
Amelia looked confused. "But we can just fly--"
"Onward, onward!" Xelloss said, putting an arm around
Lina's shoulder to lead her out. "Zelgadis is counting on is!
To arms, to arms!"
Blinking in puzzlement, Lina looked at Xelloss strangely,
stepping away from him and out of the inn.
"So... what do we do again?" Gourry asked.
The inn seemed quiet in the wake of the brief whirlwind of planning Xelloss
had dumped on them.
"I'll be a moment," Amelia said, heading for the
door. "I'm going to see what those two are up to."
Lina glanced around the midmorning streets, still
relatively empty, following Xelloss. Something smelled wrong.
It was probably some trash in a nearby dumpster, probably.
"Xelloss, what're you up to?" Lina asked, directly.
"Up to?" Xelloss smiled. "Whatever could I
be up to?"
"You're always up to SOMETHING. I haven't
been able to keep an eye on you this time around, but I'm sure you've still
been up to something. What's it this time?"
Xelloss paused. "Well, here's as good a place
as any. Are you sure you want to know, Lina Inverse?"
"Why not?" Lina asked.
"I've got a small problem," Xelloss said.
"Sort of a chain of command problem. Orders on high. I hope
you'll understand when all is said and done."
"Understand what?" Lina asked, before the dark lance
of energy bored a hole through her chest.
It happened in a split second. A flick of
the Mazoku priests' wrist, a small, controlled burst of black magic, and
a painful burning.. Lina, in total disbelief, sank to her knees and sank
to the ground... and lie still.
"AAAAAAAAAaaaa!!!" Amelia shrieked. "You...
"Ooooh, that isn't good," Xelloss said, his smile
nervous now. "I didn't plan on witnesses--"
"GOURRY! GRACIA!!" the princess yelled, running
back towards the inn. "Come quick! Hurry!!!"
Xelloss mused over Lina's dead body. "This
does complicate things. But acceptably so."
A presence flooded over Xelloss, the familiar pang
of one who he really was disliking the company of -- but someone he was
expecting, if not planning on seeing. The glowing wisp of light faded
into view, studying Lina, satisfied if it was possible for it to be satisfied.
"i see you've finally carried out your orders,"
Minion said. "you have killed Lina Inverse. your Mistress will
be pleased." It turned, and started to fade away.
"Ah, one thing, before you go reporting back..."
Minion reformed itself. "yes?"
Smile wider than previously thought possible, Xelloss
snapped his fingers.
Stepping from the nearby alley, a nervous and trembling
Lily quickly knelt by Lina's side, and her hands started to glow, the spell
having been prepared in advance. "*Ressurection!*" she cast, the
light spreading over Lina's form--
Sputtering, coughing, Lina sat straight up, shaking
the light off her body, color returning quickly to her cheeks. She
was too stunned to see what was going on, but could hear...
"...you see," Xelloss explained. "My mistress
never said that my dear Lina had to STAY dead. And that's the punchline.
Even a wholly boring thing such as you must appreciate the fine logic of
Light flickered, wobbled across the surface of the
wisp. Minion was confused, a state it never knew was possible for
it. "Lina Inverse must die... Lina Inverse died... Lina Inverse is
alive... Lina Inverse must die... the orders... Her orders..."
"And I believe your next tack, in such a bewildered
state, will be to finish the job yourself, yes?" Xelloss asked, tapping
his fingers on his staff, a light exercise of readiness.
Minion's light snapped back into sharp focus.
"i will kill Lina Inverse," it stated plainly, the white light turning
black with dark magics, spearing towards Lina--
Xelloss was there in an instant, blocking them with
a shield of power.
"And also," he added, "Nobody ever ordered me to
spare YOUR miserable existence. My plans for her have come too far
to see you squish them. Let's get it on, silly plaything."
Enveloped, briefly, in black energy, Xelloss and
The wind breezed along the empty street. Lina
felt a draft in the small hole in her shirt. Lily looked relieved
that the two Mazoku had left. Nobody said a word.
Ameila burst into the inn, panting, white in the
Her words were simple, once she could get them out
: Lina's dead. Xelloss killed her. The stampede, lead this
time by Gourry, thundered out of the inn and over to the alley, where Lina
The look of relief on Gourry's face was strong.
"Lina! We thought you were..."
"I.. thought I was too," Lina said, still poking
at the hole in her shirt.
"Xelloss murdered you!" Amelia said, still reeling
from it. "He.. he killed--"
"--and there was blood, and... it was--"
Lily gathered her courage, cleared her throat, and
spoke up. "EXCUSE ME! ...but that's not really what happened."
All eyes turned to her. Normally she'd have
buckled under that kind of pressure, but she found some inner strength,
knowing how important this was, and kept going.
"He came to me last night," she explained.
"He.. he said that he had been ordered to kill Lina. But he didn't
want her to die, not for real. So he'd have to kill her, then have
me cast Resurrect right away. It was the only way he could keep her
safe from some assassin..."
"But... but he... huh?!" Amelia asked.
"He wanted everybody to know why he did it.
He said that didn't have to be a secret," Lily said, from memory.
"He asked me to tell everybody that. Because.. he might not survive
to say it himself. And... that's it."
Silence hung over the group, an ominous still.
"Where is he now?" Lina asked.
"I d-don't know," Lily said honestly.
The boy in the back of the crowd stepped forward,
looking up slightly. "He's.. near," Dayvid said. "I can feel
him out there. Don't ask me how, but I can. Dad's fighting
"So.. so what do we do now?" Amelia asked.
Dayvid flexed his fingers. "You guys go to
the mountain, and rescue Zelgadis. I'm going after my father."
"How?" Amelia asked. "Dayvid, it's dangerous!
You're not a fighter, Xelloss said so. You could get hurt!"
Dayvid simply smiled at her. "C'mon, me, get
hurt? Before I've finished building that funpark for you? Not
happening. Hurry, Zelgadis needs you. I'll be back before lunchtime."
Before Amelia could protest again, Dayvid concentrated,
and wobbled away from view; not the practiced fade Xelloss had mastered,
but very, very similar.
"Dayvid..." Amelia said, trailing his name off since
she felt it was the appropriate thing to say.
"He has a point.." Lina said, rising to her feet.
"We've got to hightail it up that mountain."
"Do I NEED to say 'Who's with me?'" Lina asked.
"Because you all obviously are. I wasn't dead yesterday, you know.
But I'll say it just for the show of things. Now. Who's with
"I'm going with you," Gourry agreed.
"We've got to save Zelgadis!" Amelia said, focusing
back on their original task. "In the name of justice!!"
"I already said I was going," Naga noted.
"I'll.. go too," Lily said. "Maybe I can be
of some help."
Lina nodded in satisfaction. "Much better.
...somewhere a shadow's width away, somewhere between
The fight was raging. Xelloss rarely used
his full Mazoku self, since it really wasn't required for most things in
life, but Zellas-Metallum made the Minion of strong stuff. Likely
figuring it would come to this, too. She could be a decidedly and
quite amusingly sadistic ruler over her subjects.
But Xelloss was quite ready. Granted, they
were almost equally matched and this would not be easy, but he was tight;
black power surging through the nonsky, as the two grappled for each other
on a psychic war level. No words needed to be said, no taunts; Minion
because he couldn't think of a taunt and didn't need them, Xelloss because
he knew folks who taunted tended to die in the middle of taunting--
A blow to his mind. Fast little bugger, that
Minion was. Xelloss retaliated, a multipronged attack to cleave the
thing into pieces, which it shifted and evaded...
A third presence made itself known.
"Oh, hello," Xelloss said (or rather, thought in
this plane), not pausing in his attacks. "It's a pleasant day, isn't
it? Try to focus you will better, son. That's how TRUE magic
"You save Dad I to came" Dayvid said through the
wild maelstrom of power.
"Yes yes, less talk, more kicking of butt," Xelloss
smiled. "And thanks for showing, son. I really appreciate it.
More than you probably realize."
The battle continued to rage.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.