twirled in her pretty dress on the crystal balcony of the castle
overlooking an entire country she owned. She smiled at the gleaming
golden restaurants, which took up 90% of the city's land, each offering
a wide variety of yummy treats for her to eat.
"There's a bandit gang roaming the eastern quarter,"
her assistant, which looked suspiciously like Naga except shorter with
a smaller chest whereas Lina had a figure that most men would, and had
for the last few years, died for. "They're carrying several billion
gold and will be a challenge for you."
"Ah, all in a day's work, for Lina, Warrior Princess!"
Lina smiled. She nodded to an attendant that looked like Gourry in
a loincloth who was fanning her with a very large leaf. "This is
"If you don't mind me saying this for the seventy
fourth time today, Lina-sama, your breasts are very large," the Gourry-attendant
"Much appreciated," Lina smiled.
Fifty silver carts were wheeled into her reception
room, each filled with food. Lina had a light snack of them and then
blew up a nearby mountain for fun from the balcony.
A set of judges that also looked vaguely like Amelia,
Zelgadis and Xelloss held up scores : 10, 10, 10.
"Another perfect score," Naga said. "I'm so
impressed. I'm unworthy to be near you, you're so beautiful and powerful."
"Ahhhh... Gourry, if this is a dream, let me never
wake up," Lina dreamily said, falling backwards; Gourry was there with
a pile of silken pillows of absolute comfort to catch her.
"Actually, if you don't wake up soon, you WILL never
wake up," Xelloss smiled. "Your room's being sacked."
Lina sat up in bed with a start.
The two bandits that were trying to sneak up on
her with a large sack and a bottle of knockout medicine paused, embarrassed,
not quite sure what to do next. Turns out the next thing to do was
to jump out the window screaming and on fire, which Lina assisted them
She grabbed her armor and sword from the bedpost,
hastily tying it on, as the next two bandits charged into the room.
Bandits were a remarkably similar bunch, all with facial scars and armored
uniforms and fake eyepatches, evil sneers and big swords. These two
went out the window like the last two, as Lina made her way into the inn's
upstairs hallway. Which was LOADED with identical bandits.
This wouldn't be a problem, since one big spell
would probably annihilate everything in the hallway and first floor and
leave her relatively unscathed, except there were other people in here
who probably didn't want to be blown up, and Lina picked exactly the wrong
moment to have her newly formed consideration for such things rear its
head. The bandits pounced.
She cast fire and wind, knocking them aside and
filling the air with careening faceless minions, but they had the advantage
of packing 'em in like sardines before she had even woken up. There
were entirely too many sharp things pointed at her for comfort. Things
Then someone who didn't really care about property
damage emerged from the end of the hallway, the door around her exploding
like so much paper mache.
Naga the White Serpent posed in her Less is More
armor, laughing into the back of her hand. "OOOHOHOOHOHO! Such
simple minded fools! You think that you can dare accost my number
one sidekick and rival, Lina Inverse, without penalty? For you face--"
While all the bandits were distractedly staring
at Naga's breasts, Lina cast a spell and blasted the entire group down
the hall and through the side of the building, Naga included. There
were a dozen meaty thumps as bandits hit the dirt below.
Darting back through her room and flying out the
window, Lina surveyed the damage. The bandits, smoking slightly,
were unconscious. Naga was on top, with a puzzled expression and
several first degree burns.
"You know, Naga, you were right," Lina smiled, stretching
out in her midair observation position. "Stomping bandits does get
the 'ol juices flowing!"
"My spine hurts," Naga mumbled, dazed.
Lina touched down on one foot, and stepped over
to the smoldering pile 'o thugs. "Now, to pick the most gullible
looking one and interrogate him. We--"
A bright flash filled the air, and a silent explosion.
Lina threw up her hands to block, and when she lowered them, the bandits
were there -- upright, unharmed, and extremely angry.
Naga flipped backwards, landing next to Lina.
She was perfectly fine as well. "What was that?!"
"Who cares? Just blast them again!" Lina replied,
whipping her hands into a casting position. "DILL BRAND!!"
The earth beneath the bandits bulged, and exploded
upwards in a shower of enraged earth. Minions sprawled over a fifty
foot radius, again unconscious.
"As I was saying..." Lina continued. "Let's
grab one and--"
And the bandits were back on their feet again.
"Persistent fellows, aren't they?" Naga said.
Ice flows locked a few bandits in place.
"FIREBALL!!" Lina cast.
A ball of glowing brilliance punched several bandits
through a nearby house.
"IT'S NOT WORKING!"
"WHAT?!" Naga yelled back.
"You don't have to yell! And it's not working!"
Lina repeated, looking left, looking right. Everywhere, bandits surrounded
her. How could they possibly have this many disposable bad guys?
The bandits smiled, mockingly. They knew something
she didn't. Until she figured it out.
"Naga! Go find the sorcerer!" Lina said.
"Eh? FLARE ARROW!" More bandits went up in
flame, only to get back up again a moment later.
"Someone's pumping massive amounts of white magic
into the area to heal these guys," Lina said. "You go, I'll cover
Naga laughed. "OOHHOOHOHOO! A clever ruse!
But not clever enough to fool Naga the White Serpent!" She threw
a levitational spell around her, and took off, rising over the trees to
Although she had an ego that rivaled most celestial
bodies, and a body that also rivaled most celestial bodies, Naga was not
stupid. Dense, perhaps, but she had enough of a rational mind to
realize that the only way white magic could heal that fast is if a highly
skilled caster had a good overview of the battle, and little obstructions.
That meant rooftops and nearby trees.
So, while increasingly destructive magic was lobbed
around below, Naga skulked around the buildings, and looked for the source
of this mess.
A figure in a white manteau, focusing tightly on
the battle, and perched on a rooftop. Next to him was a grizzled
looking mercenary with plenty of scars, and a uniform similar to the bandit's,
only slightly more polished. And their backs were to her!
How easily the prey fell into her trap! Naga smiled.
She floated silently behind them, getting the best angle for a well placed
fireball, silently charging the spell--
The warrior glanced backwards, on some random chance,
and spotted Naga.
"Sorceress!" he exclaimed, drawing his sword.
Naga turned, and decided to fling the fireball at him instead, for having
the gall to spoil her perfectly good sneak attack. The flaming orb
shot through the air, and--
The other sorceress, the one that was apparently
in the white cloak, dove in front of the mercenary to block the attack.
The fireball slammed her full force in the chest, as the goon jumped back
to avoid. He growled.
"We're not here for you, bitch," he scoffed.
"Don't mess with us! We're some bad dudes!"
Naga casually blasted him off the roof with a flick
of her wrist, then landed next to the sorceress. A very, very weak
freeze arrow put the fires out in her cloak.
"I'm going to interrogate you now," she said.
"Who are you and who are these bandits?!"
"P-please don't hurt me," the girl begged.
Then immediately burst into sobbing.
Naga wasn't exactly sure how to respond to this.
"I don't mean you any harm, I just.. I have to go,"
the girl said, wiping her eyes. The crying stopped just as quickly
as it started. "I have a job to do."
"Oh, no you don't. You're the prisoner of
Naga the White Serpent!" Naga warned. "Don't even think about trying
"Sleep," the white sorceress chanted, touching a
finger to Naga's head. Naga yawned and curled up on the spot, taking
The other girl stood carefully, and floated off
the roof, to land by the mercenary. She quickly applied a restorative
spell to him, and he stood up, sharp and alert.
"How could you let her get to us like that??" the
man said. "You clumsy, useless girl!"
"I'm sorry," she said, quietly.
"Now come on. This distraction won't hold
that brat much longer."
Lina gave up on using a wide variety of really impressive
attacks a few minutes into the one-against-four-dozen battle, and resorted
to just lobbing fireballs around like they were going out of style.
For a moment, the goons had stopped popping back
from the dead and near-dead left and right. But this didn't last
more than a minute, likely the sorcerer that was casting all this healing
magic having gotten back on task. Lina wished Naga would hurry up
and take care of whoever was doing this. Even a spunky, can-do sorceress
like her had some limits. Not in terms of power, of course, but definitely
in terms of patience.
Just shy of abandoning all care for the town (which
was mostly a flaming wreckage by this point) and casting a Dragon Slave,
two sharp whistles cut over the battle scene, and the entire bandit gang
blended into the forest. They scattered randomly, no indication of
which direction, fading into the trees quickly.
Lina chased a few down on foot, but it was ultimately
a useless tactic; they had split.
It made no sense. They weren't sacking the
town, no loot was stolen. They had approached her initially to capture
her, she realized that in afterthought, and then resorted to attacks.
But they obviously couldn't WIN that fight, and even needed strong magic
to keep from being wiped out. So why fight at all? Why fight
then when a signal was sounded, head for the hills, like all along it was
one big joke, a distraction...
Well, THAT made sense.
Lina scanned the town for damage. Most of
it was totaled. The restaurant got by with only a few fires, which
the workers were trying to put out. The dinky inn where she was staying
had lost its top floor. Two houses were okay, the others were craters.
On the edge of the city, the smithy's works were unharmed, by virtue of
being far from ground zero.
Flying up to survey better, Lina spotted Naga sucking
on her thumb in the throes of a really swell nap and landed to disenchant
"--caping me! OOHOHooo.. ho... ano?" Naga
continued, springing awake. "Where did she go?"
"A sorceress?" Lina asked. "She got away,
then. The entire gang split. I think they were distracting
us from something."
"Curses," Naga cursed. "What would some shy
white sorceress be doing hanging out with these fools, anyway?"
"Come on. I've got a bad feeling," Lina said,
dashing off for the smithy's.
"They just came bursting in here," the mechanic
explained. "I couldn't exactly stop them. I mean, what was
I holding, a three eights gripley? If I tried, I'd be skewered!"
Lina stared at the empty bedframe, in amazement.
"I mean, the short one didn't look so tough, although
he was carrying this weird stick. Looked mechanical. But the
toughs with him were hard cases, you know? Swords. BIG swords.
So they just bundled the blonde-haired guy up in his mattress, gave him
some medicine or something and hauled out to the forest," the mechanic
continued. "Look, I'm real sorry about it, but you couldn't have
expected me to... uh.."
Lina kept staring.
Naga took over. "Of course, this MUST mean
that our repairs are free, yes? A small compensation."
"Yeah, sure, anything. It's okay."
Prowling around the room, Lina studied the cheap
furnishings. There was a mirror, shattered by the door, probably
knocked over when the bandits charged in. A hat rack was also overturned,
leaning against a heavy oaken dresser. The dresser had a small knotho...
a hole, in the door's surface.
"There was this really sharp cracking sound in here,"
the smithy said. "Sorta metallic. Like, 'Pang!' or 'Tang!'."
Lina fingered the hole, nudging a small lead marble
out of it. She threw open the door so hard the wood splintered.
A note pinned to the dresser wall greeted her with
large, printed letters. Like children's handwriting..
COME ALONE TO THE HILLTOP
TO THE SOUTH
OF TOWN AT MIDNIGHT
OR GOURRY WILL DIE
Evil things were afoot in the forests surrounding
Specifically, they were afoot in the large, easy
to defend cave that the Sinister Icy Black Hand of Death Gang had picked
out for their current hideout. The Gang had been doing very well,
in fact, under new leadership, although they weren't entirely sure why
they had hiked as fast as humanly possible out to the middle of Noh Wheir
to set up camp when Sailoon had plenty for the picking. The bossman
said that their client was paying big money for the operation, and since
big is a word bandits liked to have associated with money, they went along
The job was done now, however, and there was a lot
of wining and wenching going on. Primarily wining, since wenches
were hard to find out in this neck of the woods. There was one wench
in the gang, but she was the bossman's, so hands off unless you'd like
to have your hands taken off.
She was sitting at the head of the makeshift table,
in fact, next to the bossman, just as prim and proper as could be and a
little bit mousy compared to the fifty men waving around large containers
of beer and singing songs that would make a Sailooner blush. Instead,
she simply poured some drink in silence for the leader.
"You guys did a good job today!" the boss said,
raising his mug. "And you're gonna get rewarded. Now stay on
your toes. Some idiot might try to break in here to get that guy
we snagged, and we gotta be alert."
Vigorous nodding spread down the table like a disease.
"Remember, WHAT ARE WE?" the boss shouted, getting
the boys into their war chant.
"THE SINISTER ICY BLACK HAND OF DEATH!" they replied.
"And WHO ARE WE?"
"SOME BAD DUDES!"
"And WHAT DO WE DO?"
"PILLAGE AND STEAL AND LOWER PROPERTY VALUES!"
"Damn right!" the boss spat. "We're hot and
going places! Ditched that last witch who had us doing petty loitering
and got ourselves a client with the big money!"
"BIG MONEY!" the minions repeated.
"We're gonna be the most feared bandit gang in the
"IN THE WORLD!"
"Now if you bad-ass bastards don't mind, I'll be
heading in the back there with my girl," he smirked, putting an arm around
the shoulders of the woman next to him.
"MY GIRL!" the bandits repeated, stuck in a groove.
"Mine, dogs, mine," the boss warned. "Now,
keep celebrating! And put someone on the door as guard."
The caves towards the rear of the mini-maze that
was the Sinister Icy Black Hand of Death Gang's Current Hideout were poorly
lit. The boss scoffed at this. "Light it," he ordered.
The girl nodded, and a glowing ball of pure light
floated from her hands, hovering around the ceiling. It threw sharp
shadows over the treasure chests 'o booty the gang had acquired, a few
weapon racks, and the blonde-haired swordsman they had recently obtained.
Smiling, the bandit king checked up on Gourry.
"Sleepin' like a baby. Good man." He dropped the smile and
turned to the white sorceress. "Revive him."
The sorceress nodded, and chanted quietly, reversing
the sleep spell she had kept on him. Gourry blinked once or twice,
then sat up, looking very confused.
"Hey, man," the boss said. "Good to see you
"Who? What? When? Where?" Gourry asked, running
down the checklist. He focused on the boss. "Anooo... do I
"Do you know me? Of course you do! I..."
he trailed off, glancing at the sorceress. "Take a hike, toots."
"Hai," she said quietly, and faded into the background,
soft footsteps as she walked away.
"That's funny, this doesn't look like the smithy's
shop," Gourry said. "Where am I?"
"You're with my boys. It's me, Gourry!
You know, the trained goon from MagiCon!" the Goon said, giving Gourry
a Manly Hug (gripping tight enough to crush a rib while vigorously patting/hitting
him on the back). "You're free, dude!"
"Grrrk," Gourry said. He pushed away.
"Free? What do you mean?"
"Free from that little hussy who's always pushing
you around!" the Goon explained. "From Lina. We're with my
gang now and safe. Man! It's good to know I got you out of
that situation. You wanna beer? I could get Lily to bring us
some. We got some REALLY good beer from a town on the way here."
"Lina? Where is she?" Gourry asked, getting
lost a few sentences back. "Is everything okay?"
"Heyyy, don't worry. Everything's cool now,"
the Goon said, having a seat on a nearby chair. "You hungry?
I've got some roast mutton from the local sheep ranch. Anything you
want, just name it."
"Uhh.. I could use a drink."
"You got it," the Goon nodded. He whistled
sharply, and the white sorceress came back to his side without hesitation.
"Two beers, hustle," he said, and the girl whisked away quickly, returning
with the mugs before Gourry could blink.
Gourry scratched his head. "Who're you, miss?"
"Oh, this is Lilly," the Goon said for her.
"She works for me. Best damn white sorceress in the world!
Keeps the boys up and running. Very loyal, too, unlike some money-grubbing
bastards. C'mere, Lilly."
Lilly stepped over, and sat on the Goon's lap instinctively.
"Um.. hi, miss," Gourry greeted. "Look, if
it's all the same, I really need to get back to town. Lina'll probably
be looking for me."
"What'd I say? Forget Lina!" the Goon laughed.
"I could use a man like you in my outfit. What's your Trick Level?"
This took Gourry back. "Insects," he supplied.
"Knew it!" the other man smiled, twirling a bit
of Lilly's blonde hair in his fingers. "See? What'd I tell
you, Lil? He's a good country boy, back from the same part of Testabourne
where I grew up. I'm an insect man myself. We make hard strapping
lads there, I tell you. Strongest warriors this side of Sailoon!"
"Hai," Lilly agreed, voice flat and quiet.
"What village you from?" he asked Gourry.
Gourry had a sip of his beer, then set the mug down.
"Oh, I'm from New Piper's Cove. Sea town on the other side of the
"I had an uncle from New Piper's," the Goon said.
"He was a navigator, worked on the SS Hindentanic. Got killed by
some natives when he and his partner tried to sell a lousy song--"
"Really??" Gourry gasped. "My uncle.. wow!
Your uncle must've been partners with mine!"
"HA! See? We're practically family!"
the Goon laughed. "This is gonna be great! This troupe needs
more Testabourners. The guys, they have the spirit, but not the pride,
you know? Don't know how to treat people right."
"Huh? How do you mean?" Gourry asked.
"I caught one of the guys trying to skimp on looting
in a village a few miles back," the Goon frowned. "Said they were
too poor to steal from. If you're going to be a bandit, I say, you
gotta have that Testabourne integrity. You agree to do a job, you
do your job and you do it as best you can, no skimping out."
"Well... that's true," Gourry said. "My dad
always said stuff like that. But bandits, I mean--"
"And one of the boys left to get married.
Married!! The nerve! And what was his reason? She didn't
have any money or any land, and wasn't even very good looking. Said
he LOVED her," the Goon spat. "Ridiculous damn reason to leave your
job. Testabourners don't go all fluffy-wuffy over just any whore
who flashes her eyelashes at him, you know!"
"Uh... well, I mean..." Gourry tried to say, feeling
uncomfortable. "I know back home girls are, well.. I mean, it's very
traditional, yes, but--"
"Very traditional! Good traditions.
Take Lilly for example," Goon said, gesturing to the woman in his lap.
"Damn good woman. She knows what her job's supposed to be.
Does what she's told, none of that stupid backtalk foreign girls give you.
And she's good at her job and won't skimp, and ain't never going to leave
me like those bastards who ran out. Isn't that right, girl?
You're mine, after all."
"Hai," Lilly said, in the same even tone as before.
She stared at the wall.
Gourry glanced around nervously. "Well, it's
good to meet someone from home, I think, but... I really have to go.
I have to."
"Okay, that's cool," the Goon said. He patted
Lilly's rear, a signal she knew to mean 'get up', and did so quickly.
"But not just yet. We got a client, some short kid with a ridiculous
amount of petty cash, who can say no to money, right? She wants to
talk to you, or something. Pushy little thing, but whatever.
Wait here for her, okay?"
"I don't have time," Gourry said quickly.
He got up, and moved to the door -- the Goon blocked him.
"You can't," he said. "Sorry, man, but that's
the way. Just stay long enough for us to get paid and you can join
us, no problems. The boss lady hasn't said what she wanted you for,
but I'm sure it's no big deal. We're tight, right? Brothers?"
"Look, I don't want to offend you or anything,"
Gourry said, trying to be polite. "But I absolutely can't stay.
I'm on an important quest and Lina needs me."
"She doesn't need you! Jeez, man, open your
eyes! She's just another one of those pushy broads who wants guys
like us under her thumb!" the Goon groaned. "I was hoping you'd see
that after the last time we talked, back at the Con... but don't worry.
I'll help you out of this. Just trust me. Lilly?"
"I don't want 'out of this', I want--"
"Sleep," Lilly chanted, touching a finger to Gourry's
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.