hiteness. Pure whiteness, flowing light
as the self shifted, melted into the other, a bubble in a pot of soup that
was boiling over with anger, sadness, insanity, rage--
And Lina was in, the now familiar feel of one who
was in the state the Ultra Restoration induced. But this was different.
She was inside a mind, not just floating free or in the physical meat of
Unprepared, and shocked at the sensation, the mind
of the other threatened to swallow her whole -- a torrid rush of agony
and slow pain, of misery and depression, memories piling on top of each
other to have a shot at being the first to corrupt this neat new thing
that had approached them -- Lina shoved hard, pushing them away.
She was here to work, not to allow the work to overcome her.
Lina Inverse was Lina Inverse was Lina Inverse was
in the mind of Lina Inverse was not Lina Inverse. Was different.
How different? Need to know, to find out, see what she could do.
Start at the beginning, at the top of the stack, bit by bit, heal, purify,
The first. The Giga Slave, which consumed
the world, which burned Gourry and Zelgadis -- and she could see their
deaths, horrifying looks on their faces, the one thing Lina remembered
most which would haunt her for days.
Easy, the floating Lina thought, throwing the white
energy at the image to destroy it.
It wouldn't be destroyed.
She tried again, stronger; but no effect, not even
Somehow, she knew why. No amount of banging
and burning and purifying would cut the memory, because the memory is what
was real, what existed in time. You can't heal a damaged mind simply
by wiping it clean. That wasn't healing; Ultra Restoration would
not do that for her with those intentions.
For a moment, Lina nearly lost herself in a panic.
What could she do? She didn't anticipate this to be a problem.
It was just insanity, after all, just damage to the psyche... it should
burn away, blown up and blasted with high energy magic like all other...
no. That wasn't actually how the mind worked. It wouldn't 'go
away', not like all other problems. What could she do? She
wasn't a psychologist. She had never helped heal someone with trauma
before. What could she do? She wouldn't be able to do it right.
She was useless. Misery flotsam attached to her, dragging her down,
into the spiral of the other's mind, agony opening with welcoming arms
She shook off the chains that yanked at her, floating
free again. She'd find a way to help Lina Inverse or die trying.
Preferably the first, but she would not give up, ever. Find an angle.
Help. Help. Comfort. Lina Inverse is alone in her own
mind, with the memory of memories, of torments-- alone.
You're not alone here, you know, Gourry had
said. I'll protect you. And she slept easily that night.
It was going to be hard, but she knew what to do,
Lina let herself be sucked into the whirlpool of
memory, keeping her SELF, her identity. A paranoid notion of a being
was not going to be very good company to a soul in need, after al--
--ter which, lying on the floor of a cold cell,
shivering, wet, curled in a ball, unbelieving of what had happened to her--
Of what had happened to the other Lina, Lina reminded
herself, Lina, Lina, Lina... and she stepped over to the shivering girl,
her clothes in tatters, and pulled her up into an embrace. Two separate
beings, one afraid, the other warm and sympathetic.
"I'm here," she said, hugging Lina tight.
"I'll be with you from here out. I'll watch over you. I can't
change anything, but I'll be here, for how much it helps. It'll help.
I'm sure it will."
As far away as a shadow's thickness, away from one
battle for the soul and into a battle for existence...
The fight was a wildly chaotic affair.
Minion was strong, Xelloss was strong. But
Dayvid was a wildcard. Sometimes taking many blows from Minion in
a row, which wasn't pleased to see a third person in the fray -- then sometimes
coming back with a wild barrage of rough, unpredictable attacks of power.
Dayvid had no control, no style, no form; and thus, was nearly impossible
to defend against, since you had no idea where he could strike from next,
or what style his attack would come from. It was like watching a
baseball game where the occasional curveball would change direction, double
back, do a figure eight, then slam the catcher through the back of the
stadium wall at two hundred miles per hour.
Whenever Dayvid hit a lull, Xelloss picked up the
slack, with cold, precise blows. This was a fight of pure energy,
magic without spells, undiluted and nasty. Also completely uncoordinated.
Eager to get it over with, Xelloss signaled his
son. "Attack in five, with everything you have," he said, careful
to channel the thought in a narrow beam, to avoid Minion intercepting.
His son was a scientist; he'd have the timing down. Hopefully, he
could be strong at the exact moment needed.
Counting, now. One. Two. Three--
--deflect an attack--
Dayvid cut loose with a shower of black lightning,
everything he knew he could manage and some things he wasn't sure he could,
trying not to restrain himself. Xelloss directed a solid bar of black
horror, screaming through the void to strike Minion dead center.
The wisp of blacklight squirmed under the flows,
pushed backwards; both Mazoku and Half-Mazoku kept on him, relentlessly.
Minion did not explode dramatically. He gave
a whimpering non-sound, and simply boiled away into nothing.
Quickly, Xelloss got a hold on Dayvid's form, and
jerked both of them out of the astral plane, landing roughly on the streets
of the resort on the Island of Ultimate Despair. Dayvid wasn't breathing.
Xelloss took a shockrod of energy and ran it through Dayvid once, twice--
the boy sat up, sputtering, coughing, wheezing.
"I... we won?" he asked, blinking a few times, getting
used to having eyes again.
"Oh, we won indeed," Xelloss smiled. "I suppose
my message from Lily about 'possibly not surviving this' brought you running,
as I planned?"
"....planned?!" Dayvid asked. "You set me
Xelloss put a finger to his son's lips. "But
I'm still happy you did come help," Xelloss said. "I'm proud of you,
son. You've done well. You took 'evil' energy and put it to
some damn good use, so to speak, from your heart. I don't think I'll
have to worry about your development now. Tell me, what of Lina and
"They're.. getting Zelgadis back," Dayvid said.
"Then it has begun," Xelloss sighed in relief.
"Excellent. Now, either all will be well for them or the world will
That's when he noticed the lava flow, a greasy black
oil of malformed shapes and inbred nightmares sliding gently downhill,
starting to engulf the resort...
"Away would be advisable," Xelloss said, taking
Dayvid's hand and beaming the hell out of there.
Months in minutes, days in hours. How long
had Lina been in these memories? It felt like so little amount of
time, but also felt like real time, standing by her own side through thick
She felt the first times Lina was captured by the
Mazoku, toyed with in 'thanks' for bringing about the apocalypse.
The candle was held by her side, the new part of the memory, the one who
would accompany her through all the dark journeys she took -- had taken
-- she? Lina. Someone was always there, with a hug, with good
words, with a shoulder to lean on, soothing and talking. Someone
other than the tormentors. That was important.
And slowly, Lina, the one who was holding the candle
of holy white fire, began to see the pattern.
The Mazoku were breaking her. Her. Selectively,
slowly, precisely. Some hands she was passed to did it sloppy, some
did it light, some weak, but there was a pattern. And at each turn,
a little more darkness would creep in, but it wasn't normal emotional darkness.
It was magical darkness. Outside power, seeping into Lina's soul,
skewing her perceptions, bending her emotions to suit the Mazoku.
Beatings, tortures, psychological horrors, rapes, dark magics, condescending
verbal assaults, everything -- in addition to a dark element, like slow
poison, drip-fed into her body.
At first, Lina simply watched, comforted, helped,
tried to be there to keep Lina safe at heart if not at body, but she saw
Lina's visual dance go haywire. Drugs. It was like the drugs
of Evilanian stew, exaggerating the terrible, playing down the hopeful.
A thin trickle, very hard to see, but if you traced it from the string
of insanity that grew more and more tangled...
Curiously, Lina touched a burning ember to the slow
feed of noxious slime, and saw it burn.
"They deliberately did this..." she said, to herself.
"They caused the insanity. You have a strong mind, Lina! You
have strong will, they knew that and used a little something extra to help
you over that edge..."
But to do something about this, she'd have to leave
her side -- leave Lina's side. Her crying, her need to reach out
to someone who wouldn't hurt her.
A gamble. Leave and fight the supplemental
poison to try and bring her back, or stay and be safe. Be safe.
Not taking the gamble wasn't safe, either.
"I'm sorry," she said, and tore herself away from
the memory world, just for the briefest moment, accelerating. Work
fast, burn hard. Her body became the fire of the candle.
Touch here. Touch here. Burn.
Touch here. The Mazoku shrieked as their drips were plugged and melted,
the waterworks of insanity boiling away to nothing. Faster.
Burn. Faster, move faster, get it all, leave nothing unchecked or
it'll all go back to pot again. FASTER. FASTER--
The final spigot locked down, bent in half, destroyed
in the fires.
Lina whisked herself back to the bedside of herself,
her changed self. It worked. It still hurt. She could
still feel the terror and the pain, the hurting, but now, it wasn't the
horrifying nightmare-reality. It was just reality. Hard, cold,
but undeniably real and not fantastically evil.
And while that wasn't sunshine and roses, it was
a good start to come back from.
Only brief moments had passed outside, in reality.
"You can help me?" Gourry asked, looking at Lily.
Lily nodded once, and turned to face the river of
sludge. She began a low chant, and-- time froze. For her.
In a split second for Gourry, where there was an
impenetrable wall of darkness, there was an opening just big enough to
dash through before it would close again--
Taking her hand, Gourry and Lily jumped through
the gap, rolling to a halt on the other side. The river surged to
choke up the empty space, and continued.
Lina and Lina lay in a crumpled heap on the ground,
still, not breathing.
"LINA!" Gourry called, immediately going to her
side. Lily did as well, inspecting, realizing what was going on.
"She's using Ultra Restoration," Lily said.
"It doesn't take long to do. Time stops for you when you cast it.
She'll be out of it any second now."
More than a few seconds passed.
"Can you bring her back?" Gourry asked.
"I.. it shouldn't go on this long," Lily said.
And one of the Linas inhaled, a raspy, harsh inhaling.
Her eyes flew open. Looked at Gourry, looked at Lily.
"I...." Lina said, then decided not to continue
the sentence. Quickly, she rolled, shaking the other Lina by the
shoulders. "Sorry.. I need to know. How do we stop the mirror?
The other Lina didn't open her eyes, but mumbled
a few words. "Sword.. powering it... take out the sword, break.."
"That'll do," Lina nodded. "You can sleep
She gently lowered the other Lina to the ground,
and turned to Gourry. "Gourry, your Sword of Light is probably in
there fueling the spell. I'll go in and... wait. You're going
to want to do this instead of me, aren't you?"
"Of course," Gourry nodded.
"Then here's what you do," Lina said, opting not
to argue the point. "Avoid touching the darkness. Find the
frame of the mirror, the sword should be embedded in it, or something.
Get the sword away from the mirror, and when it looks right, destroy the
mirror. Got it?"
Nodding once, Gourry got to his feet, and stepped
around the flow, through a narrow gap and into the cave.
Lily looked at Lina. "Did you..."
Lina nodded. "I did. She's not magically
cured or anything.. but she's better than she was, I hope. Thanks
for the spell, Lily."
Lily smiled. "I think my family would have
been proud to share it with you, Lina."
Both women looked at the cave, concerned, and waited.
Gourry's spine felt like ice, but something like
that was not going to stop him.
The cave had no light, none whatsoever. If
he relied on touch, he'd probably trip and fall into the stream; that would
be bad. He relied, instead, on instinct. His uncle.. one of
them, at least.. said that instinct would see you through when eyes couldn't.
He did walk off a pier to his death one night, but that was besides the
In his mind...
He thought he saw the mirror, and the handle of
a sword, worked into the frame. He reached forward, grasping once
-- missed. Twice. Got it.
He pulled, noting it was stuck fast, then braced
his feet and put every muscle he had into the job, HAULING on the handle.
After a minute of this, past when his arms had waved the white flag of
surrender, the sword came out; but the blade wasn't shining, it was radiating
darkness. The mirror had tainted the Sword of Light.
That's okay, Gourry thought. I can do something
about that. He summoned every positive feeling he had, and being
Gourry, he had a LOT of them. In no time, the light peeked through,
and pushed the darkness off the blade slowly, until it shone like the sun.
It WAS a Sword of Light, after all.
He used the light to size up the roughly made mirror,
drew his arm back, and SLASHED--
The world broke in half.
The mirror imploded, shattering into a thousand
pieces which sucked themselves into a tiny earthbound black hole.
Gourry grabbed the nearest rock, hanging on for dear life, as the brief
wind slurped some of the darkness up, ceasing the river, then ceasing to
exist. The wind gave a sad protest, and also quieted down.
"I did it!" Gourry smiled, strolling out of the
cave, sword of light sheathed and over one shoulder. "I saved the
world! I... oh... um. Damn."
Because when he looked down the mountainside, the
black death that had flowed so freely out of the cave wasn't gone; it simply
coated the island like an oil slick, trying to take shapes, and starting
to flow out to the ocean.
The others were now all on the same plateau, also
looking at this sight.
"It's liquefied now, but once that becomes actual
Mazoku and stuff, we're going to be in serious trouble," Zelgadis said.
"Us and the entire world, probably. We were a little too late in
stopping the flow."
"We're doomed?!" Amelia asked. "No way!
But.. but we beat the bad guy and... come on! This can't be happening!"
In a blur, Dayvid and Xelloss appeared, Dayvid looking
a bit worse for wear, Xelloss smiling as always.
"Oh dear," he said. "Isn't this a predicament?"
"XELLOSS!" Zelgadis growled. "This is all
YOUR doing, isn't it?! I'm gonna--"
"Cool it," Lina ordered, holding up a hand to Zelgadis
without even looking at him. "New situation. Lily. Can
Ultra Restoration cut through that stuff? It was designed to eradicate
darkness, and that's as close as we're going to get to a nice puddle of
"...no," Lily said. "Some of it. Maybe
half of it if we work for awhile and everybody here was casting it, but..."
"And we can't teach it to everybody, and we don't
have long..." Lina said. "We need something stronger. White
magic that's stronger than oh SHIT..."
"Huh?" Gourry asked, now back to being confused.
Lina looked up at the sky. "You've GOT to
be kidding me! After all this, you're expecting me to... OOOOH!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again.. I HATE PROPHECY!"
Gourry looked at the sky too. "Who're you
"Nobody," Lina replied. "Okay. Guys,
I know a spell that will do the job, but... I've blown a lot of power today.
I'll need help. Here's the play; Amelia, Lily, both of you are skilled
at white magic, I want you at my side to link up our power and feed the
"I'm only going to ask once, so no claims that you're
a mighty and beautiful black sorcerer who's above that stuff," Lina said,
flat out. "Are you good at white magic or not?"
"..I am," Naga admitted. "I mean, I was once...
when I was very little, Lina, I barely remember--"
"You take position behind me and supply backup power,"
Lina said. "Zelgadis, you next to her in case we need more, and..."
"Hold on," Zelgadis said. "WHAT are you going
to cast, exactly? I can't think of anything that could possibly require--"
"Giga Restoration," Lina said.
Zelgadis shut up.
"I... think I'll just stand on the sidelines and
cheer you guys on," Dayvid suggested. "Um. Yay."
"Good enough for me, Dayvid," Lina nodded.
"But we need one more, just to be safe... Xelloss?"
"Who, me?" Xelloss asked, surprised. "Lina,
I may be a bad ass in some circles, but white magic is not one of them
for reasons which should be obvious. If--"
Someone cleared her throat. All eyes turned.
"If y-you don't... mind," Lina Inversed asked, looking
a bit brittle and frail, but her eyes weren't nearly as wild as they were
before. "I want to help, if I can."
"You sure you're up to this..?" Lina asked, concerned.
"No," Lina said. Her voice was weak, like
a small child pulled back from the brink of death, quiet and scared, but
determined not to be afraid anymore. "I'm not up to this. But
you helped me. I.. I think I can remember that you were there.
I couldn't remember before for some reason, but I want to help. ...I'm
sorry for all this. I felt so..."
Lina smiled, gently. "You don't have to explain.
It's okay. Come on over."
The players took their places, as the blackness
climbed back up the mountain, sensing a building of energy. A wave
of it slowly built, ready to engulf them-- Gourry slashed it down fast
with the Sword, and kept it at bay long enough for Lina to chant.
Lina had one last thought before she began.
'Lord of Nightmares, you had better be paying attention and looking out
for me this time... because if you aren't, you're gonna have ME on your
She started the spell.
"As tall as the tallest
As bright as the darkest
King of Darkness, Queen
Shining like gold upon the
Sea of Chaos,
I call upon thee, swear
myself to thee,
Let the balance against
the dark be restored...
Rumors would speak about it for days afterwards,
but nobody really found out what happened. From the shores of nearby
Evilania, where they ran in fear from it, even to the far off lands of
Sailoon where a few lucky people with telescopes got to witness it, everybody
at least saw the same thing.
Off in the distance, over an island where stormclouds
had gathered in an extremely localized manner, there was a silent explosion.
A dome of white energy sprang into existence over the island, covering
it like a blanketing dome that swirled and burned with light energies and
fires... the stormclouds vaporized in the shockwave, spreading out from
the island to annihilate the storms that surrounded it.
That wasn't the surprising bit. People were
used to the idea of islands vanishing in the wake of some terrible act
of magic, but when the dome finally flashed out of existence, mere moments
after it arrived, the island appeared whole and untroubled. Like
nothing had happened. Nothing they could see, at least, at that distance.
Nobody on that island remembered anything other than winning fantastically
later that day at the games of chance. In fact, weeks later the island
had taken such an upswing in positive feelings and luck that they had to
close down or go bankrupt.
That's the sort of thing that goes down in mythology.
You can't explain it, you can't deny it, you can only try to figure out
what it was and make up stories about it.
The sun shines, unconcerned.
Lina sank to her knees from the effort, plainly
exhausted. Her friends showed a little wear as well, but not nearly
as much. They kept a moment of silence, unanimously agreed on without
a gesture, without a word, recovering.
It was broken, eventually, by light applause.
Xelloss, who had again managed to find somewhere
to have a seat and slack, clapped. "Bravo. Bravo, bravo, bra-VO,
Lina and Lina! An excellent finish. I'd give it a 4.9."
Lina got her wits back, and scanned the island.
Not a shred of darkness anywhere. "So.. it all worked?"
"Reasonably well, reasonably well," Xelloss smiled.
"The poor soul saved from the trap of insanity, the world saved from an
unrelenting night, ancient powers unlocked, and friends made by all.
But there's one small detail left to take care of, which I personally will
attend to right now..."
"If you try ANYTHING..." Zelgadis warned, although
without conviction or strength.
Xelloss held up a waterskin. "I believe this
is yours. Lina-chan left it in the cave. One of her, anyway.
Getting to his feet, Xelloss found a rocky indentation,
and poured a small pool of water. Because he wasn't one to chant
spells, he let the Mirror Magic spell he had read out of the the reversed
lorebook -- which he had borrowed for a day, just a simple day to memorize
-- drift onto the water silently.
The others, curiously suspicious, peeked into the
...and saw a world of ruin, where the Giga Slave
had ruined this place, unleashed the Mazoku horde, where humans struggled
to stay alive...
...where the sun was shining against all expectation.
Lina, the one who originally came from that world,
looked frightened for a moment. "That's.... that's!--"
"Your home, yes," Xelloss said. "But watch.
I've arranged a surprise."
Two figures walked into view, slowly, as if they
weren't sure of what they were doing, or why. And in the reflection
"I don't understand," Amelia said. "Why did
he tell us to come here? We have our hands full chasing off the Mazoku
from Sailoon. There isn't that much time to spare.."
"That," Xelloss explained, "Is your world, Lina.
But you see? While you were gone, humans have started to fight back,
and fight back hard. It's almost unbelievable, yet true. They're
making good headway to recovering their world. Although.. they could
probably use another pair of hands in the task... and now that you're also
making good headway to recovering yourself, perhaps if you dare to return..."
"He's a strange one," Gracia agreed. "But
he did.. sort of assist us in destroying the Mazoku capital. The
tide wouldn't be turned if he hadn't.."
"It's a trick," Zelgadis said flatly.
Xelloss opened both eyes, face serious. "I
Am Not Lying."
The other Lina backed away slowly from the image.
"I don't want to go back, I.. I don't want to be captured again or to..."
She swallowed, hard. Remembrance. She looked at Xelloss.
"You helped me, didn't you? That was you. You helped me when
I was plotting my revenge against.. you told me where the book was, and
how to get the water from Zelgadis, and..."
Lina Inverse, the one from this world, was in shock.
"I.... think I'll let her decide what to do. This ranks in at a nine
on my Weirdness Meter."
"It is her decision," Xelloss agreed. "But
think of it. Atonement. Fighting back against the forces you
accidentally unleashed. And a chance to begin again, as yourself.
It would be such a loss to come this far, against hell's minions and the
high water of sickness, just to stay here, not even as yourself, but as
"So?!" Lina Inversed said. "I don't... I mean,
I... what if it all happens again? What if it goes to pot and I'm
back in it all? I feel.. awake! Exhausted but awake.
For the first time in years."
"Life is a gamble of chaos and unknowns," Xelloss
smiled, stepping away from the mirror, and bowing out. "Freedom of
choice is what humans have to rally against it. The decision is always
yours. For now.. I bid you all farewell, until our paths cross again.
I'd hazard my task is done, and I should exit stage left before being lynched.."
"Uh, Dad?" Dayvid asked..
Xelloss the trickster priest gave the one and only
Lina Inverse, still lightly stunned, a knowing wink and blurred away.
The other girl continued to look in the pool, as
mirror-Amelia and mirror-Gracia pondered why they were there, and discussed
strategies in the continuing struggle against the Mazoku quietly, like
a television with the sound turned down.
The others looked at her expectantly.
So.. she smiled.
"This is crazy," Lina Inversed said. "But
I've done crazier things."
She stepped into the puddle, and the water vanished
along with her.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.