"Huh?" Amelia asked.
"Travel insurance," the captain repeated. "I got sued no less than three months ago because someone fell over the side and drowned. They said I had to make sure everybody had safety training and travel insurance before I could take them any distance farther than two hundred miles by sea."
"Okay.. we can handle that," Amelia nodded. "Where do we get training and insurance?"
"You'll want to head to the Sailoon Department of Oceanic Vehicles. It's over on the east side of the harbor, so you'll need to get a skiff to head over there or make your way through the streets, and find a red brick building with a yellow sign in front with the royal crest of Sailoon."
"Right! Zelgadis-san, remember that for me," Amelia said, selecting wisely.
"Got it," Zel said, memorizing.
Melvin was not entirely correct about the translation
of Las Sailoon.
True, Sailoon stood for a variation on the theme of 'The country of wonders and prosperity.' But Saileese, a language not actually used in Sailoon for centuries, was discarded for a reason -- it tries to pack too much meaning into too few syllables. So, 'Las' specifically when aligned with the name of a city meant 'To be lost inside and never emerge again as a result of the many-faceted horrors of red tape'. It's nice to know that despite the language dying out, the thing it honored has been upheld by generation upon generation of clerks, travel agents, and bureaucrats in Las Sailoon. Not to mention architects and city planners.
"Where's that building?!" Lina groaned. They were very, very far behind in her timetable, which had allocated five minutes to getting on a coach and rolling out of town. So far they had been searching the city for a half hour trying to find... a place which Gourry was supposed to remember.
"Sorry I forgot," Gourry said. "I got distracted."
"Maybe we should go back to the coach station and get more directions," Lina sighed. "Although we're really taking awhile here. I'd prefer to just get this over with..."
"Lina, Lina! You're so naive!" Naga chuckled. "You must be more aggressive, like me. Observe!"
Naga reached into the crowd of pedestrians, pulled one out and slammed him against a nearby wall with Impressive Force. "Tell us where we can find the Evilanian Embassy, peasant!!!" she demanded.
The peasant made no sounds.
"You knocked him out, Naga," Lina commented.
"Oi..." Gourry said, pointing across the street. "Isn't that... uh..."
"Not now, Gourry. Try again, Naga, but GENTLY."
The White Serpent cracked her knuckles and repeated the procedure of harassing a random bystander. "Where is the Evilanian Embassy?!"
"Aaaaaa! Evilanian! Evilanian!" the tourist screamed. "Run away!"
The crowd of tourists scattered like frightened tourists. The one in Naga's grip sacrificed his five GP flowered shirt to make a clean getaway.
"I have this sneaking suspicion that 'Evilania' is not a well liked country," Lina mused.
"Anooo... Lina..." Gourry said, tapping Lina's shoulder.
Naga dusted off her hands. "I guess we'll just have to start breaking things until someone complies with our requests!"
"But.. the embassy's right there."
Gourry pointed to a building made of absolute darkness, carved from onyx bricks fired in forges of blood that sucked in the daylight. A dark stormcloud hung over the building, thunder rolling as the trio gazed upon the evil embassy. Doom, doom was nigh! The coming of portents of doom and despair! All will perish in the everlasting fires of damnation!! Weep, o arrogant humanity, for--
"We get the point already!!" Lina yelled at the narrator, putting her mallet away. "This seems to be the place. Come on, let's get on with it."
The docks were empty. Even the seagulls were
missing. If it wasn't for the occasional discarded mooring line,
the Las Sailoon Small To Medium Sized Docking Pier #34 would just look
like a bunch of Lincoln Logs tossed into the bay.
"Hey, where is everybody?" Amelia asked.
"Come come, princess!" Melvin smiled. "Surely you remember that this is the prime lobster season. In fact, today the catch should be at its peak. Um. Every local boat is going to be out finding the catch of the day."
Amelia peered across the bay. "That's a long way to walk, if we're gonna go on foot... hmmm. We could fly!"
"I'm afraid of heights," Melvin said. "They give me rashes or something."
"If not flying, then....." Zelgadis said, looking around and around and.. "Oh, great. It seems there is one boat left."
He gestured to a nearby sign, painted in a variety of eye-pleasing primary colors. It read CAPTAIN KID'S SHIVER ME TIMBERS KIDDIE HARBOR TOUR.
"Ohh, that's so cuuute!" Amelia bubbled. "Let's take that, let's!"
"I hope stone teeth can't get cavities," Zelgadis muttered.
Giggling with girlish glee, Amelia hopped along the pier until she reached the sign. She leaned over, to call out to the boat below. "Hello! We'd like to book passage!"
"ARRR!!!" a gruff, fat voice called from the pathetically dinky rowboat lashed to the pier with second hand moorings. The captain, a jolly old man with a corncob pipe and a parrot on his shoulder, waved to Amelia. "Welcome aboard, yungun! That'll be five pieces 'o eight for a journey! Arrrr!!"
"I'm not going," Zelgadis announced.
"Awww, but it looks like it'll be fun," Amelia protested. "It'll be so boring on an ocean voyage, let's have a little enjoyment now!"
"I'll see you on the other side of the bay. RAYWING!" Zelgadis cast, a bubble popping around him. He zipped off across the bay and landed on the other side ten seconds later, then loitered like only an angsty chimera can.
Amelia waved politely as he left, then turned to Melvin. "So! Shall we?"
"Why, yes. It might actually be somewhat amusing," Melvin smiled, stepping down the ladder and onto the boat.
"Shiver me timbers!!" Captain Kid shivered, hauling in the moorings. "Welcome to me mighty sea vessel!"
"It's a rowboat, you silly old man," Melvin giggled.
"Ah, but it no be any ORDINARY rowboat, ye land lubber! It be having a glass bottom, to look at the fine variety of aquatic life in Las Sailoon Bay!"
"Life in the bay!! Life in the bay!!" the parrot on the captain's shoulder squawked. "Squawk! Shut up, Marge!"
Amelia immediately pressed her face against the glass hard enough to look like a Picasso, scaring off any fish who dared to look in her direction. "Wowf! If reaffy neef down thfrf!"
"So, what happens if the glass breaks?" Melvin asked, curiously.
"Then we be sucked down to Terry Jones' Locker, me mates! But you no be worrying. Captain Kid runs a tight ship, that he does!" the captain laughed.
"Squawk! Suck down tight! Suck down tight! Go to hell, Marge!"
"What an interesting bird," Melvin giggled, tickling it under the chin. It playfully tried to bite his finger off. "So, chances are very low for such a disaster, you'd say?"
"Why, a million to one!" the Captain exclaimed. "Ye be enjoying the scenery of the bay? Over by the Shady Dealings Warehouse, ye can see the Statue of King Ivan the Not Very Terrible, first ruler of Sailoon! Aye, what a salty dog he was!"
"Squawk! Salty dealings, salty dealings! That's not my knife, Marge!"
Melvin glanced down at Amelia, who was too busy checking out the amazingly detailed featureless bottom of the harbor to notice anything. He looked back up at the captain and smiled.
"Want to make a bet?"
Whoever designed the Evilanian Embassy didn't have
much variety in their thinking. But what they lacked in quantity,
they made up in another kind of quantity.
Black. Everything was black, except for the few silver or blood red things. The flowers were black with blood red stems in a black vase on either side of the black receptionist's desk. There were also skulls, surrounding the entry door, worked into the concrete of the walls; most of them had melting candles stuck to them. The chandelier was also skulls with candles. And a large mural, embedded with tiny imitation finger bones in the floor, was a huge omega with a skull in the center.
"Eeeeeh.. this place is creepy," Gourry said, keeping one hand on his sword hilt.
"How stylish!!" Naga exclaimed, stars flooding her eyes, clasping her hands cutely to her cheek.
"I'm not impressed," Lina said. "I mean, come on. You put a cheap weather spell to give the place a constant localized thunderstorm, okay, that's interesting. But all this evil schitck is so last century. Cheesy melodrama all the way."
"Just because these nice Evilanians have more aesthetic sense than you doesn't mean you can insult them, Lina," Naga warned. "Be open to the many wonderful fashion and design opportunities!"
"I'm not here for an art critique, anyway," Lina snorted. "Let's get on with it."
The trio approached the receptionist's desk. The receptionist herself was a young woman with a black dress made almost entirely from lace, complete with black fingernail polish, black mascara, a few facial piercings and entirely too much hairspray. Lina had trouble breathing around that head.
"Woe onto the last century of eternity. Can I help you?" she asked politely.
"We need passports into Evilania," Lina said.
"You want subbasement dungeon four, portal thirteen," the receptionist said, peeling a completely inaccurate map off of a stack, next to a variety of leaflets ("Spotter's Guide to Dark Omens," "Evilania : Fun For The Whole Cult!" and the ever popular "Things To Do In Evilania When You're Dead").
"Thanks!" Lina said.
"Burn in torment," the receptionist nodded, and resumed writing an office memo in her own blood.