A small procession ferried the injured princess through
town, to the Royal Castle. 41% of the population of Sailoon saw.
Within the hour, 78% knew through various channels of gossip, royal paparazzi
tabloid scrolls and scribblings on bathroom walls.
Once safely away behind castle doors, Amelia had plenty of time to grump, and something new to grump about in the form of a cast on her left leg. Already it had been signed by most of the guards and kitchen staff, which served her a nice bowl of chicken soup and sympathy. Her father had even put a little doodle of himself on it stepping on evildoers.
"What an awful In Cog Nee To," she whined. "Lina-san's not going to like this."
"Silver Lake, Silver Lake..." Melvin mumbled to himself repeatedly, so he wouldn't forget it. The royal astrologer had to be waken from one of the many naps he takes to calm his nerves, and once they peeled him off the ceiling, he had come right away to Amelia with every map he could carry (3). Servants carried the rest (129). Now it was just a matter of searching them, a slow process both of them were participating in.
"I kinda was hoping you'd just, um, know," Amelia said, sifting through the pile of maps she could reach while still remaining upright on the makeshift crutches fashioned for her. "You are daddy's wiseman, after all."
"Ah. Well. Um," Melvin falsely started, pushing up his glasses. "You see, ah, there are things that are known throughout, um, all the ages, and stuff that isn't. This isn't. Um. Right. So, um, it's called Silver Lake, right?"
Melvin went into Deep Thought for a moment. "And, um... okay. Silverquick lives there, or.. something... sooo... he probably left behind a map to get there," he stated logically. "So Sailoon could contact him. He did a lot of contract work for us. Um. So, it's just in this pile somewhere."
"Who was this Silverquick guy, anyway? He's got a cool name."
"Oh... um. One second," Melvin said, fetching the book of notes that replaced his memory a few years ago from his back pocket. He flipped through it a few times before landing on S. "Silverquick... Sorcerer, see Legendary. One of the few living people ever to practice mirror magic, originated the form and invented all relevant spells. Very secretive about the spells and only taught certain people the Lore, always authenticated his work with a hidden seal. As a craftsman, made many magical items for various countries... um... worked from 467 to 489, then sealed himself into a world he created called Silver Lake, saying that his magic was too dangerous for anyone to use again."
"Woooow!" Amelia wooed, impressed. "Cool! I bet he was incredibly powerful!"
"Um, hai," Melvin agreed. "One of the most powerful. Anybody who, uh, used the Legendary Lost Lores was. Because they were legendary. And they're, um, lost now. Right."
"So if we go to Silver Lake, wherever it is... we might meet this guy?"
"Could be. Might be interesting."
"Great! Wanna come?!"
Melvin's heart stopped beating. "Wh--wha? I c-couldn't... I mean... leave the castle and, um, go and... and.." He pounded on his chest a few times, then pulled a small bag of pills from his belt and swallowed one.
"Ano?" Amelia asked, confused.
"I'm allergic to excitement," Melvin said sheepishly. "Sorry."
"YATTA! Found it!" Amelia cheered, waving around a yellowing ancient document which probably would crumble to nothingness if Amelia kept waving it around like that. "'Directions of Silver Lake, by Silverquick, Aye Wizzard'. Looks like some sort of... ano?"
Amelia held out the map. Melvin examined it. Amelia puzzled over it.
"Is that a map?" Melvin asked. "It looks like... huh?"
"Let's get this to Lina-san!" Amelia suggested. "She'll know what to do! Come on, Melvin, let's go!"
"Bah, bah, bah--"
"We might need your reservoir of Sailoon knowledge!"
"Muh, muh, muh, m--"
"Pleeeeeeeeease?" Amelia asked, clasping her hands pleadingly and letting her eyes grow in size and shine to intolerable cuteness levels.
No living being can resist that, so... "Alright," Melvin sighed. "But I just know this is going to be disastrous. Um. Amelia?"
"Why are you wearing a cast when you could, um, heal yourself with white magic?" Melvin asked.
"..." was her reply.
The Other Village, home to many fine forms of carpeting,
a clock maker or two and the fifth largest mapmaker's guild in the country,
was a very busy place.
It was approaching holiday season, and already orders for travelogues and maps were pouring in. The Mipross Islands, the Healthy Mud Pits of Slepnir, a guided tour of the Incredibly Hazardous Training Grounds of Juh Sen Kayo... folks wanted to know what was where and they wanted to know now. Scribes and apprentices scurried around, carrying tall stacks of maps, and every now and then a bell would ring and orders like 'One Sheaf Loose Guiding Quadrant Six Alpha, Stat!' would be barked.
Gourry watched the ebb and flow of business with the look a caveman might reserve for quantum mechanics. "How're we gonna find someone to get us a map in this mess?"
"Ah!" Naga realized, snapping her fingers. What a perfect opportunity to prove her superiority to the sidekick character! "That is a simple matter. Follow my lead."
With that, she grabbed the nearest cartographical neophyte by the shirt and jerked him off his feet. "We seek a map to Silver Lake, little man! Deliver one quite promptly, or face my wrath!" she announced.
The boy didn't pass out from fright. He passed out because Naga had raised his face right to her cleavage level and the whole of his world view suddenly was filled with ample female flesh. Blood dripped from the boy's nose as he sank into gleeful sleep.
Gourry scratched his head. "But if you knock them all out, how will we find the map?"
"Trust me. You try it next," Naga said, trying to think of a backup plan.
Nodding, Gourry selected a passing geographical otaku and grabbed him by the lapels as well. "We seek a map to Silver Lake!" he stated, trying to mimic Naga's voice. Well, not its pitch or femininity, but aggressiveness, at least.
"We don't have one!" the mapmaker said. "It's not a real place! Don't kill me, I have a wife and six kids to feed!"
"Oh," Gourry flatly said, setting the map down. "Sorry to bother you. Off you go."
Naga tapped her chin. "This could be a problem. Well! Let's just burn the place down until they cooperate! OOOHHOOHOHOHHOOHO!!"
"But they don't have a map for it!"
"They should make one rather quickly, then!"
"Did you just go 'psst' at me?" Naga asked.
"Nope," Gourry denied.
"Psst," pssted the voice.
Both turned, to spot someone through the open door to the guildhall.
It was a shady looking character, alright. Walking in full robes, which hid his face, he was beckoning to them with a gloved hand. "'Psst' means 'Come this way for secret purposes', you know," the figure reminded them. "Most sapient lifeforms are aware of this fact."
Naga followed, of course, seeing a lead; Gourry followed because Naga did.
The figure led them into a dark alley, where all such deals must take place. Away from the normal patterns of business, stolen sundials and various entertainment-based medicenes could be obtained. But what was under the man's cloak when he opened it to Naga and Gourry to show his wares were paper-based.
"Maps?" Gourry asked, in surprise.
"Many fine maps," the figure smiled, from the shadows under his cowl. "The likes of which you aren't to find anywhere else. Such quality, such workmanship! I have a map to the Legendary Lost Treasure of Meelee Island, if you want it. I also have a map to the End of the Rainbow, a map to the Seven Cities of Aluminum, and so on..."
"Amazing..." Naga said, eyes glossy. "Such treasures! I'll take them all!"
"Wait," Gourry said. "We're just looking for one map, a map to Silver Lake. Do you have it?"
"Ah!" the illegal map dealer smiled. "That is indeed a treasure. And I just so happen to have one left." With that, he pulled a rolled-up scroll from the depths of his cloak; although Gourry didn't spot a pocket there to pull it from. "This has been in my family for generations. It was found in an archeological dig, but I'm afraid we can't make use of it. Preexisting conditions, and all... but I'd be willing to sell it to you for a modest sum. Maybe you could get some mileage out of it."
"And the price?" Naga asked. "Money is no object for the great Naga the White Serpent!!"
"Fifty gold pieces."
"Right. Gourry! Pay the man."
"Ehhh??" Gourry asked. "But.. but that's all I have on me!"
"No excuses! We are on a quest, after all. Sacrifices must be made!" Naga smiled. "OOHOHOOHOHO!!! Pay up, now. Good boy."
Gourry sighed, and counted out the coins.
The map dealer handed them the scroll, his smile shining even from the darkness of his cloak. "An excellent buy, sir. One you'll likely not regret anytime soon. It has a money back guarantee; come see me if anything goes wrong, by all means." With that, he turned and stalked on out of the alley.
"Who are you, so we know where to get my money back?" Gourry asked.
"Ah," the man replied, pausing. "That is a secret."