SLAYERS REFLECT #6 : Fear and Loathing in Evilania
By Stefan Gagne, Spoof Chase Productions.

here exists an unholy place.
    A place where the soil is burned black, the only plants that grow there twisted weeds, thorned with a thousand poisons.  Ravenous mutant animals and horrible monsters roam, searching the rocky, blasted lands for fresh meat to rend and feast upon.  Every village a hive of the most amoral beasts known to man, every city seething with sinful greed and avarice, where the blood flows as red as wine, the purest death, the ultimate evil.  A place whose very existence is affront to sanity.
    Then there's Evilania.
    There are a lot of similarities, actually.  The land is blasted and scorched, although this is regularly maintained by the Department of Groundskeeping in the Evilanian government, a team of black sorcerers that make regular sweeps over the land to destroy anything green and growing to keep this image up.  Despite efforts, however, the occasional cheerfully colored daisy does grow here, or maybe the odd patch of grass.  Chipmunks also abound.
    Plenty of monsters and horrible terrors roam the land in search of blood, but they're creations of various mad scientists and wizards operating on huge research grants.  Industry competition runs wild, to make something that's scarier than the nightmarish ghoul that your fellow thaumatigist is coming up with.  More often than not these monsters are given vicious claws, sixteen eyes, large tentacles and so on, but when they get out in the open to roam and devour the tourists, they tend to die out due to lack of food thanks to the Groundskeepers annihilating any fertile land the country might've had.  The few that survive have adapted to a steady diet of chipmunk.
    But let it never be said that Evilanians themselves aren't vicious, nasty, sadistic bastards.  If there's one thing you can count on, it's your average Evilanian being exactly what you'd expect a villainous duplicitous lustful greedy slovenly proud wrathful envious gluttonous jerk to be.  Exactly what you'd expect.
    Upon arriving at the somewhat scary looking border checkpoint, where the grass stopped being green and abundant and looked more brown and crunchy, Lina hadn't fully realized what to expect out of Evilania.  But she learned fast.
    The border policeman on duty, in his mirrored glasses (there are some staples ALL cops need to maintain, regardless of place in the time/space continuum), black riding leathers and big shiny badge looked at Lina suspiciously.
    "You don't LOOK like Evilanian material," he said.  "We don't want YOUR kind here.  You're probably some do-gooder, like a princess or a bandit hunter."
    "Gosh, how'd you gue-- Ow!"
    Lina retracted her elbow from Gourry's ribs.  "We're very evil.  Very much so.  And look, we've got signed papers saying we can get in, straight from the Evilanian embassy in Las Sailoon!  See?  See?"
    The cop took their passports, examining.  "How do I know these aren't forged?"
    "They are NOT forged!  That's an authentic signature and watermark, see?"
    "So you're trying to get into our borders using legitimate channels of official permission, is that it?" the cop asked.
    "Yes!  That's what I'm trying to say, we--"
    "Feh," he said, and spat on the ground to emphasize.  "Pathetic.  Always obeying the rules, these goody goodies.  Turn around and go home."
    Lina turned purple.  She waved her arms around in wild frustration.  "We are not GOODY GOODIES!!  WE--"
    A slender, leather-gloved hand blocked Lina.  A figure wearing spiky black bikini armor attached to the hand leaned out of her coach window.
    "I'll handle this," she asserted.  "Sir?  You see that border patrol building over that-a-way?"
    The cop turned.  "What about it?"
    Flaming bits of wood rained down around the coach, along with a shower of flaming paperwork in triplicate.  The cop looked at the large crater that wasn't there five seconds ago, then turned back to Naga.
    "Welcome to Evilania!!" he said, enthusiastically.
     The Edge of Sanity (population 317) was a rather nice village, all in all, even if it was comprised entirely of gothic stonework and spires and gargoyles looming over every corner.  Even the outhouses had ornate stonework and carvings of evil symbols.
    "Fun town," Lina said, watching the buildings as Gourry navigated the coach down main street.
    "How STYLISH!!" Naga said, clasping her hands to her considerable bosom with stars in her eyes.  "At long last, I've met a culture with as much taste in decoration as I, Naga the White Serpent!"
    "Oh, you'll fit right in here," Lina said, sitting back in her seat.  "I've never seen so much black leather before!  And in the middle of summer.  This place must smell like a slaughterhouse in the noon sun."
    "A small price you pay for glamour," Naga said, primping her hair a little.  "If anybody is out of place here, it's you, Lina.  And that nice patrolman picked up on it immediately."
    "Who cares?  We're not planning on staying long," Lina said, giving a shrug.  "Once we find the location of the Great Library, we're out of here.  I--"
    The coach veered left sharply, tossing Lina around like a rubber ball. A horserider on the other side of the street shot by at full gallop, having narrowly missed a collision.
    "Sorry!!!" Gourry called, from the driver's perch.
    "...anyway," Lina continued, orienting herself, "We've been traveling all day.  I for one could use a warm bath, a big dinner and a soft b--"
    The coach lurched again, escaping certain doom as another horse-drawn buggy shot by them on the right.
    "Sorry, my fault!" Gourry yelled.
    "Crazy drivers," Lina muttered.  "I--"
    The coach slammed on the equine-driven brakes, dumping Lina on the floor.
    "WHAT is going on?!!" she protested.
    "Looks like... police," Naga said, leaning out the window.
    Lina kicked open the door in frustration, stomping out in a huff to meet the mounted city watchman, with Naga in tow.  The leather-wearing guy who had a sword almost as big as himself was busy addressing Gourry.
    "What's the meaning of this??" he asked, in annoyed tones.  "Do you call that appropriate driving behavior, mister?"
    "I'm sorry, officer," Gourry apologized.  "But those guys were going so fast, and weren't moving out of our way, so I had to--"
    "You deliberately and quite premeditatively got out of the way, and then apologized in the third degree," the cop said, whipping out a little notebook.  "I'm going to have to write you up for Politeness."
    "Politeness?!!" Lina asked.
    "The least you could have done was throw an insult at them, or perhaps even a challenge to a duel.  Drag racing or swords, it doesn't matter," the policeman said.  "I'll give you a malicious warning now.  Shape up or we'll tar and feather and draw and quarter and hang you.  In that order."
    "Uhh..." Gourry said, not quite sure how to respond.  "Thank you, officer."
    The cop eyed him sharply.
    "He meant 'piss off,'" Lina interjected.
    "That's better," the cop nodded, turning his horse around and trotting off.
    Gourry scratched his head.  "I don't get it... did I break a law or something?"
    "I'm allergic to tar," Lina said, drawing the next logical conclusion.  "And I like my neck the length it is.  I think we're going to need to make a few adjustments before we continue.  Any suggestions?"
    A slow, wicked smile spread over Naga's lips.  "I have one..."
    Gourry sat in dumb confusion as the curtain in front of the changing booth shook and bulged.
    "I'm NOT putting that on!"
    "OOHOOHOHOO!!  Lina, Lina!  It's the only way!"
    "Aaaa!! Get away from me with that thing-- HEY!"
    "Now now, hold still-- ow!  Don't kick!"
    "No biting, either!  There.  Now, go take a look in the mirror."
    "Are you crazy? I'm not going out there like this!"
    Given a healthy shove by Naga, Lina emerged from the curtain, pinwheeling her arms to stop her momentum.
    Gourry looked up, then his jaw made a resounding THUNK against the floor in shock.
    Lina did her best to tug the black cape around her, but there was no escaping the harsh reality of skimpy leather clothing.  There's just something about an almost form fitting two piece set of armor, regardless of what it's hanging on, that attracts attention.  The skull adornments and leather boots also added to the general effect.
    "Wow!" Gourry said.  "Naga, you shrank and got red hair!"
    Lina immediately smashed Gourry with the bench he was sitting on.  "NO commentary!  None at all or I'll hit you!  Got it?!"
    "...but you just did..." Gourry weakly said.
    Naga strode out of the changing room, in a highly similar outfit; except hers was one she had on to begin with, and Lina's was fresh off the bargain rack at CLOTHES TO DIE FOR.
    "It's so choice," she smiled.  "You'll fit RIGHT in here, Lina!"
    "I don't want to fit in!" Lina complained, keeping her cloak wrapped up tight.  "Of all of the settings and scenarios I could possibly chose to mimic, Evilania ranks somewhere below.. below... well, it's very far below whatever it is!!"
    "I suppose if you and Gourry want to be arrested for being too 'nice' for this town, I could go on ahead, get the Mirror Lores and bail you out of jail on the way home," Naga smiled.  "Otherwise, it's makeover time for both of you.  Gourry, you're next."
    "Huh?" Gourry asked, from the floor.
    "Oooooh," Lina said, getting a wicked smile.  "That's right.  If anything, he's in more danger than me..."
    "But I like my armor," Gourry protested.  "It was given to me by my uncle Horace.  He wore it in the Testabourne-Gilskipprof Minor Police Action!  It's an heirloom!"
    "Then we'll put it in storage somewhere," Lina said.  "Now, I think a leather loincloth and chain mail are more your speed, don't you, Naga?..."
    There are many disreputable hell holes / watering holes in Evilania.  Places with interesting, unidentifiable stains.  Places with many grooves cut into the wall behind the stage where lounge singers croon; left there by double headed throwing axes, arrows, and various forms of the basic knife.  These are bars where bad dudes go to smash glasses of ale over each other's heads and break things.  (Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name... because it's on the most wanted list.)
    And off in the corner of the bad part of town -- keeping in mind that every part of town is the bad part of town -- is a small tavern called Al's Drinks.  Here, patrons sit quietly and don't bother each other, taking five for a quiet drink.  There aren't any fights, any open arguments.  Any voices there are used in low whispers, because this is where the true criminal element hides, folks who aren't interested in drawing any attention or showboating because they're too damn busy making money in an illegal fashion.  Anybody who breaks this silently understood edict of behavior is silenced, with methods very sharp, to the point and cutting in rhetoric, in a manner of not speaking.
    The bartender (who was actually named Al) busily sharpened a knife, the basic sign that someone is overstepping the bounds, but the Goon didn't catch on.
    "If they're in this bloody town, we should be storming over there and slaughtering the whole fat lot of them!" he said at improper decibels.  "We need to ACT!  We don't need any cowardly bandits, we've got your weapon and my girl.  Right, Lil?"
    The white sorceress sitting by his side nodded, slowly.  'hai,' she spoke.
    A short figure in a torn cape slumped at the bar, nursing a drink.  She realized right away what the place was, seeing it as an ideal spot to lay low while she thought about what to do next, because she wasn't really sure what to do next.  In fact, the idea of thinking things through only surfaced in her thoughts by shoving its way to the forefront, through a crowded set of mental screams and yammerings.  She grasped the fact that the Goon was saying something inconsequential, and figured a reply was in order of some kind.
    "I haven't had a real drink in a long time," she said, running a finger along the circular rim of her (clean) glass.  "Do you think it would help?"
    "What?" the Goon asked.  "Girl, make some sense, okay?  Gourry and those bitches are in TOWN!  Let's--"
    The white-haired girl smashed the glass against the Goon's head, shattering it, and knocking him off his stool.  Lily immediately moved to his side, white light glowing on her hands to heal the cuts before they had even finished opening.
    "Shut up," the girl who was Lina said.  "I know sixty ways to make you shut up if you won't.  Let me think."
    The Goon growled angrily, getting to his feet quickly.  "Stupid, psychotic little... you had time to think during the whole ride up here.  They've stopped moving, now's the time.  What's your PLAN?"
    "Plan?" Lina asked.  "I don't know.  I know, I know what I think I'll do, but I don't have a plan.  Why are you complaining?  I'm paying you."
    "Yeah, where's this big money you keep promising?" the Goon asked.  "You said three days ago that I'd get paid yesterday.  Maybe you're just a lying little cheat of a girl, huh?"
    Lina paused.  She didn't even breathe.
    Then she turned to the Goon, smiling.
    "You know, you're right," she agreed.  "You should get what's coming to you.  Let's go."
    The hired help's mood improved considerably, accepting this on face value.  "That's more like it!  Lily, let's roll."
    "Just you," Lina said.  "I just need you."
    The Goon paused on the brink of suspicion.  However, he figured, despite how strange this girl was, she WAS still only a girl.  And he didn't NEED Lily around to support him, after all, he could stand tall on his own two feet without one of 'em to hold him up, right?  Right.
    "Lily, go get some supplies or something," the Goon said, waving his hand dismissively.  "I've got business to attend to."
    "But--" Lily started.
    Sharp glare.
    'hai,' she nodded.
     In the end, they went with a sort of combination between leather armor decorated in chains and mesh and a set of blood red boots and gloves.  Gourry looked absolutely menacing, a walking vision of sheer malice, except for the fact that he had a cheerfully ignorant expression on his face and golden blonde hair.
    First step was to apply a hair dye, staining Gourry's glowing locks a dull black.  Naga also suggested Lina adjust her brightly decorative red/orange with a white dye.
    "I'll take black too," Lina had responded automatically.
    With that, they were ready to get out there and face the world.  Lina managed to find a large, very concealing black cloak to replace her simple cape with, which most importantly, closed in the front.  That didn't help the odd feeling of a draft when she moved, however.
    She had to admit that it worked.  The other Evilanians didn't give the group so much as a second look, and once they warned Gourry to stop saying things like 'Hello' and 'Good day' to people they passed by, the troupe managed to move and groove like a bunch of Evilanians.  In celebration, Lina immediately suggested they proceed to directly move swiftly to the nearest possible source of food.
    "Death's Head Stew... Lace and Arsenic Noodles... and a Bloody Mary with A Slow Comfortable Stab Against the Wall," Naga selected, from the menu, which was black with black printing surrounded by a black border.  "Lina?"
    Lina squinted hard, trying to make out the text.  "What's.... the Evilanian Ultimate Feast?"
    "It's a torrid miasma of digestive agony and sheer consumable horror," the waitress said.  "A rare dish that's only served in this restaurant in this town that you'll never find anywhere else."
    "Hot dang!  I'll take it!" Lina said.  "Just another feather in my cap to eat every kind of food in existence!  And I'll have some Brackish Water to drink and a side of Roast Beast.  Gourry?"
    Gourry had his menu upside down.  "Uhhh... I'll just have a steak."
    "Do you want that incredibly bloody or burnt to ash?" the waitress asked.
    "Burnt, I guess."
    "I'll be back with your food whenever I damn well please," she honestly said, collecting menus and walking away.
    Lina leaned back in her chair, looking at the ceiling fan.  Amazingly, four double-edged broadswords circulated the air efficiently.
    "You know, this is working out okay, all things considered," Lina said.  "We're wearing silly clothes, but otherwise, all's well.  Plus, I get to eat the 'Evilanian Ultimate Feast'!"
    "I could swear I've heard of that dish somewhere before," Naga said, grabbing a menu from a nearby patron and backhanding him before he could run her through with his sword in response.  She flipped the menu open to read.
    "Now, the next step in our plan is to track down the Great Library," Lina explained.  "But we've been going for awhile in that coach without many stops, other than Noh Wheir.  Naga, you should go pick up some horse feed and rations while Gourry and I scout out the city to find a guide or a map or something."
    "Mm-hmm," Naga nodded absently.
    "One thing first," Lina said, leaning over to address Gourry.  "We need to work on your attitude.  It's all wrong for this place."
    "Huh?" Gourry asked.  "Gosh, Lina, what makes you say that?"
    "Rule one, never use the word 'Gosh'," Lina said.  "Rule two, don't be polite.  Try to be... nasty.  A real jerk.  Shove people and call them names and stuff, that seems to please these weirdos.  You follow?"
    "Uh-huh," Gourry nodded, his mind copying down Lina's instructions.
    "Try to... aha. Act like that.. whatever his name was back in Noh Wheir.  You know, the maniac with the sword?"
    "Okay.  Try it out."
    "Why should I, you stupid little ignorant flat chested girl?  Bite me," Gourry said.
    Lina hit him with the napkin dispenser.
    "Oww," Gourry said, rubbing his cheek.  "What'd you do that for, you crazy freak of nature?  I'm just trying to act how you bloody well told me to!  Screw off!"
    "Whoa, whoa!  That's ENOUGH acting!" Lina said.  "Save it for when we have to deal with the locals!"
    "Oh... sorry," Gourry said sheepishly.  "I guess I got carried away..."
    Lina's head got one bit comedic looking sweatdrop.  "I had no idea you were such a convincing actor."
    "Oh, I took lessons from my cousin Todd for a few weeks," Gourry smiled.  "He was a character actor with a local street theater group.  They pretended they were gangsters and acted like they were mugging people.  It was really realistic, too!  I wonder where they got the fake blood and stuff?"
    Lina looked at anything except Gourry.  In some ways, the boy was a genius.  And in the important ways, he was as thick as a brick. (And if she ever had to go to one of his family reunions, she made a mental note to keep track of the exits.)
    The lethargic waitress showed up after that, carrying a large tray of food.  Most of it was given to Naga.  A  plate of grit that was previously a cow in a more happy life was placed in front of Gourry.  And before Lina was a bowl of what looked like purple custard.
    "What?" Lina asked.  "That's it?  The ultimate feast is a bowl of SOUP?"
    "Stick it up your nose," the waitress offered in apology, shuffling off.
    "Ah, here it is," Naga said, finally finding what she was looking for.  "It's in fine print at the bottom of the menu..."
    "Yaff?" Lina asked, mouth full of soup, as she methodically shoveled the thick liquid into her mouth, gulping ravenously.
    "'The Evilanian Ultimate Feast is a popular choice among tourists and locals alike,'" Naga read, "'Because of its inherent psychoactive hallucinogenic spices, which make your life interesting for days on end...'"
    Lina paused.  And looked into her bowl, which was already half empty.
    "'Please do not take before operating heavy spells,'" Naga concluded.  "Interesting!  So, how does it taste, Lina?"
    "..." Lina critiqued.
Click to continue...
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.