eaching the top of the Peak of Despair took several minutes of flight.  Up here, the vacation resort seemed... completely insignificant.  The range of mountain peaks that formed most of the Island of Ultimate Despair truly was its main feature, rows of ragged, nasty looking rocks, lumped here as if the Lord of Nightmares had just lobbed a handful of mountains into the ocean.
    The group touched down at the top of the tallest mountain, in front of a yawning maw of rock, a damp cave.
    "The Cave of Gloom," Lina mumbled, "At the top of the Peak of Despair.  Naturally.  They couldn't put hideouts anywhere with a SENSIBLE name, could they?..."
    "So, what's in there?" Gourry asked, getting his average sword ready.
    "Only one way to find out..." Lina said, taking a step forward-- and stopping.
    A pair of figures were walking out of the cave; one in front of the other.  Zelgadis, used as a human shield by the other Lina, who had her marble-thrower ready, pointed towards his face.
    The group took attack stances; the pair stopped.
    "I think," the other Lina said, "That if I was to fire this into his eye, his rock skin wouldn't do much to protect him.. do you want to see what happens?  If so, by all means, charge up some spells and stuff."
    Zel, who had his arms inconveniently chained to his sides, glowered.  "Don't bother, guys.  Concentrate on stopping her.  She got the Water of Reflection--"
    "Hush, dream thing," Lina Inversed said, nudging him.  "I'll tell that in good time."
    Lina stepped forward, once, to speak up for the group.  "Okay, I'll bite.  What happens now?"
    "Oh?" the other Lina asked.  "You really want to know?  I really want to tell you, I've worked so hard and so long..."
    "I'm dying to know," Lina said, before realizing that wasn't the right choice of words.
    With a smirk, Lina Inversed gave Zelgadis a mighty shove; he stumbled, then ran back to the group.  The marble-thrower neatly swiveled, pointing up, now right at Lina -- who stepped back, charged fireball dying down, before anything bad happened.
    "This thing is faster than your spell, and it cuts through magic," Lina Inversed said.  "You could blow me up, but not before I ventilate you.  And besides... you want to know what happens now.  Isn't that right?"
    Cursing, Lina kept herself at weaponpoint, making no sudden moves.  That little red dot would be on her forehead, she knew it... "Yes, I'd like to know."
    "I told you I was going to make it all the way it was, before I got into this crazed dream where nothing was destroyed, nobody was dead," the one who called herself Lina said.  "I'm doing it all for you.  I want to show you what you were supposed to go through.  You HAVE to see..."
    "I'm not interested."
    "I don't care."
    "I'll just walk away from here."
    "I'll shoot you," Lina Inversed noted, waving her weapon slightly to emphasize this point.
    "Oh?  And how will you make me pay if you kill me?" Lina asked.
    Zelgadis interrupted.  "Lina, she's got a HUGE mirror in there made from my waterskins and I have no idea what spell she put on it, but--"
    "--but you'll see any second now," Lina Inversed said.
    Crackles of yellow power formed around the mouth of the cave, licking the lips of the entrance, from stalactite to stalagmite...
     "And this delay gave it enough time to activate," Lina Inversed smiled.  "All of this.  All for you."
    Throwing herself to the ground, the other Lina rolled for cover; the others took the hint and scattered, as the lightning forked outside of the cave, forming a tight web of power, channeling... a space where no light existed, flowing out like antigravity water, slick as oil, impure as dirt...
    The howl of the wind screamed across the sky, as the water-enchanted mirror inside weaved its spell, pouring out and down the mountain.
    Lina, the one with white hair dyed orange, was laughing, laughing with joy at everything coming together so well.  Lina, the one with orange hair that was once white years ago, grabbed her and shook.
    "What did you DO?!" she demanded.  "What did you cast?"
    "World Reflection.. to find a plane of Mazoku darkness, enough to act like a Giga Slave..." Lina said, dreamily.  "World Merge, to bring it all here and make this world the way I know it..."
    Lina snarled.  World Merge.  The notes said it should stop after a few seconds, however; what kept this spell going?  She turned to her twin, angry.  "That world is the one that shouldn't have happened!  How could you be me and not see that??  How do we turn this thing off?!"
    But the other Lina just laughed, and laughed, a laugh of the madness that disconnected her from reality.  There was no way to get information out of her like this.
    On the other side of the river of darkness, the rest of the group hung onto the rocks for dear life, to avoid being blown off the narrow plateau by the winds.
    "Where's Lina?!" Gourry shouted, over the increasing din.
    "Over there!" Naga said, pointing.  When Gourry got up to try and cross the river, Naga held him back.  "Are you dense?!  You can't get through that!"
    Gourry ignored her, and started across; next, Lily stopped him.
    "I'm going," Gourry said, less a note than a prediction.
    "I'll help you get through," Lily explained.
    Lina bit her lip.
    She knew this would probably happen.  At least, she knew what she had to do; she had planned for it, she got Lily to teach her.  When she told Lily why she needed the spell, Lily was hesitant, but agreed to help her.  It was a good cause.  And right now, the only way Lina was going to find out how to stop the World Merge.
    It'd have to be done quickly, although with time slowing to a halt in the process, it could be done quickly.  Lina started the chant.
        "As tall as the tallest pillar...
         As bright as the lightest sun...
         Final level of power, final spell of might,
         Shining brightness that brings all life,
         Let the darkness be repaired in this place...
    And her self flowed into the mind of her twin, into a world of nightmares and broken spirit.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.