hopping was an art for Naga. Just like fashion,
style, and magic, she knew the importance of skillfully picking and choosing
just the right elements. The right sort of armor, a well designed
cape, perhaps a silky scent of perfume, a well placed fireball to the torso,
and so on. (Naga didn't realize that her own particular tastes in
consumer goods weren't shared by 99% of the population, but at least it
made her happy on an individual level.)
Therefore, instead of using Lina's shopping list
(the poor girl just didn't understand how to properly buy things), Naga
improvised. First she got some truly spectacular drapery for the
horses, to make it a PROPER carriage for a princess's entourage, not that
she was a princess at heart of course but she did like to indulge from
time to time, along with a special horn for the coach that could bleat
out 'I'm a Sailoon Sailor Dandy' and 'The Troll Stomp March' when you squeezed
the bulb. Next item up for bid was a megaphone, which she thought
would be good for striking fear into their enemies' hearts with a very
loud speech or two, along with a copy of a book she had seen a few times
in various shops but never had bought -- 'Soe, Youe Wante To Be Aye Sworde-Swinging
Heroine In Juste Twenty One Dayes!', by someone named Xena. Naga
had intended on brushing up on her sword forms, and no time like the present.
By the time she was approaching the checkout, she
vaguely remembered something about needing to buy food, and went back to
fetch a small box of dried fruit and a bottle of apple juice. That
would make do.
On her way to the checkout she bumped into one of
the bad guys.
At first, they both were too surprised to move.
Lily looked up from her basket of fruits and vegetables, Naga stopped wheeling
her cart of miscellaneous crap. While it was normal to meet your
mortal enemy on a cliff in front of the raging sea or beside a lake of
fire, seeing them in the express lane of the local market wasn't a normal
situation and it usually took a moment to get your bearings.
Lily recovered faster, hurling a grapefruit at Naga
and ducking for cover behind a shelf of charcoal, which in hindsight was
a bad idea.
"I have you now!" Naga declared. "FLARE ARROW!"
The entire shelf went up in a backyard barbecue
holocaust. Lily fled from her hiding place, dousing the fire in her
cloak with a bottle of apple juice she had bought. She looked left,
looked right, but there weren't any other good hiding places. Naga
"OOOHOHOHOOHHOHOOO!!" Naga laughed. "You and
your little cronies thought you could outwit Naga the White Serpent?
Now, I have tracked you to this place, and--"
"Ano.." Lily said. "But we met by accident--"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Lily said, breaking out
in panicked sobs. "Don't hurt me!"
"Ooooohh no," Naga warned, backing off a step.
"I'm not going to fall for that again, you acting all weepy and scared
when you're really plotting my downfall!"
Lily continued to bawl pathetically, like a condemned
"...so... you can stop now," Naga said. "I
know it's all a ruse. Stop. STOP!"
Lily stopped on command.
Naga tapped her foot.
"You really thought I was going to kill you or something?"
she asked, curiously.
"wuh.. well... wr yr enmes," Lily said quiet enough
to have not disturbed a sleeping mouse.
"W'r yur enmes."
"We're your enemies!!" Lily blurted, then covered
her mouth. "Sorry..."
"This won't do at all," Naga said, shaking his head.
"You have to fight back! How can I be expected to defeat you in single
magical combat if you just sit there and whine?"
"And don't apologize!!"
"Sorry," Lily repeated.
Naga eyed Lily suspiciously. "Are you POSITIVE
you're not being cunning and devious and putting on an act? Be honest."
Lily said nothing, still paralyzed in fear.
The black sorceress contemplated this. "I
see. Well, in that case, you're officially my prisoner! I have
defeated the infamous white sorceress!! OOHHOHOOHOH--"
"ano..." Lily said. "But.. but I've got to
go back. I've got a job to do, I need to watch over him..."
"He can watch over himself. Now, march, prisoner!"
Lily stood slowly.. then stepped forward, almost
a stumble. "*Sleep,*" she cast, reaching to touch Naga...
"*Reversal!*" Naga quickly cast, a glowing disc
flashing in front of herself. Lily's fingers touched the disc, touching
herself, and surprised, she fell gently to the floor, sleeping like a baby.
The Evilanian Bureau of Tourism was easy to
identify, being the only building lacking ornate gothic carvings and arches.
The windows were not stained glass. It was clearly designed to be
an oasis to the foreigner in a storm, a NORMAL looking building they could
hide in. A large, magically lit sign identified it clearly for any
frightened travelers. At least, Lina assumed it was magically lit,
and not just a vision.
The visions thankfully had started to die off.
Lina assumed this meant she was over the hump, since she wasn't seeing
blood come out of the walls or her grandmother climbing up her leg with
a knife in her teeth and such. No three legged dogs wandering around
reciting tax law. The worst was over!
Until she met Nigel R. Freely, the manager of the
Bureau of Tourism.
"Yaaaa! Monster!" Lina gasped, and clung to
Gourry's head in surprise.
"Monster?" the slime lord with a hundred slathering
tentacles behind the desk asked. "Where?"
"It's okay, mister, she's just a little... rrgh...
jumpy today," Gourry said, prying Lina off his person and setting her down.
Lina tried to ignore the sixty faceted eyes watching
her. "Uh.. yeah. Too much coffee. Ehheh." Of COURSE
it was just a hallucination. She should've just expected that...
"Anyway, we're looking for someone who can lead
us to a place called the Great Library," Gourry explained, taking the lead
as Lina glanced nervously around the room. "I understand it's somewhere
around here, but it might be lost."
"I tried to tell him you wouldn't know where it
was, sir," Lina said. "But he--"
"Great Library, Great Library..." Nigel said, his
tentacles sifting through papers on his desk. "Ah, here we go.
The ancient repository of all the ancient knowledge of the Empire of Alextribik,
circa 230 BW. Sixteen level facility made of sandstone and marble
at the base of Mt. Erruptus. Covered by lava and obsidian 740 AD.
We've got a tour that visits there tomorrow."
"--whaaaa?" Lina asked.
"The Great Library is still buried, but we've been
busy excavating the levels," Nigel explained, in a monotone so flat it
made the horizon look like a melon rind. "Using postmodern digging
tools and refined archaeological techniques, Evilania is restoring this
national monument and is more than happy to provide your class, scout group,
history club, or other social organization passes at slight fee with reduced
rates for groups in order to visit the dig site which features extensive
dioramas and historical artifacts which you can look at in the Great Library
On-Site Museum, a simple two gold cover charge for admittance, open Wednesday
through Saturday from--"
"When can we go?!" Lina asked, overjoyed.
"As I said, tours run from nine in the morning to
three in the afternoon, leaving the Bureau in caravans of six each with
a travel time of one hour, with snacks provided for a slight charge including
"Great! We can stay the night, and visit tomorrow,"
Lina said. "Gourry, you're a geee.. an occasionally insightful person."
"Gosh, thanks!" Gourry said. "I think."
"The lost library, and we've found it without problems!"
Lina smiled. "What could go wrong?"
Everything went wrong.
First the ground shook. Then, the roof was
ripped off the building, whirling up into a tornado of black lightning
that engulfed the sky. Then the bats flew in, swirling around Lina,
who tried to beat them off in a panic.
Because the visions didn't die off completely.
They just got more specific.
A lone figured landed on the twisted wreckage of
one wall, a figure with white hair, aiming the business end of a very long,
very wicked looking weapon at Lina. A red dot the size of her head
appeared on her chest, burning and glaring with horrible light...
"AAAAAAA!!!!" Lina screamed, and fled the building.
"...ano? Lina?" Gourry said. He looked
up to see what she was staring at, but only saw the ceiling. He quickly
excused himself, and left.
The Temple of Ozek the Mazoku
Arch-Demon Master of Hellfire wasn't exactly as Lina remembered it, back
in the real world. Here in the dream world she had found herself
in, it was a bit cleaner and hadn't mutated with dark power. But
it still had the four arches in front, representing the number of death,
and inside was a bowl-shaped altar for sacrifices and prayer to the evil
beast. The Evilanians were the ones responsible for the 'Contribute
Or Die' donations box for the church charity in front.
"It's not far. It's
in here," Lina said, leading the Goon inside the temple. There weren't
very many of the idiots here praying, just an old lady trying to win the
favor of Ozek to crush the fool who beat her in the bridge club championships
the other day and a janitor cursing the dead parrots folks left around
the altar. A quick dark glare from Lina, and both of them hurried
up their duties and split.
"What is this, some kinda
freaked out church?" the Goon asked, poking at a statue of Ozek.
"It's a focal point," Lina
said, taking her bag of black-marble-throwing-powder, and starting to make
a five pointed star on the floor. "I learned about it a year ago,
when I was brought here. Ozek isn't really much, but he's dangerous
and stupid, a good combination. He played with me a lot until I escaped.
He loved to play with..." Her voice trailed off.
"Who's Ozek, your boyfriend?"
the Goon smirked.
Lina resisted the urge to
beat him, concentrating on her work. "I learned a few important things
about the calling of the Mazoku here. How they worked, what kinds
of deals they made. Bad ones, mostly. I've been waiting awhile
to be able to take one of these bastards by the balls and make them do
what I want, and now I think I can. I think I can."
"Yeah yeah. Where's
"Don't you interrupt me!"
Lina said, pointing. "Shut up! I'm busy!"
"Eeesh, okay, okay..."
"I've got a plan," Lina said.
"And you're a big part of it. I can't do it without you. I
can, but I WANT to do it with you. I think you're just right for
the task. I think you deserve it. You're very similar to Ozek,
"Sounds like a righteous guy,"
Lina completed the magical
star around the altar, and ignited the powder with a match. It burned
She raised the marble thrower.
The Goon stopped picking his
ear, and glanced at Lina. "Hey... hey, wait--"
Naga was very pleased with
No, no other black sorceress
could be as crafty as she. Anybody could drag a prisoner off to some
secluded basement, tied to a chair, and work them over under the hot lights.
It took more moxie, more style to find a cliff overlooking the roaring
sea (or at least a river), tie them to a large tree, and and engage in
a really productive interrogation. She even had placed a light spell
at her feet to be illuminated from below for extra intimidation.
Naga removed the sleep spell.
OHOHOHOOHHOOOHOOHOHOOO!!!!!!" she laughed, giving herself a really hearty
one, from the bottom of the lungs. Just the way to start out.
"Now, miss white sorceress, you will answer MY questions! Understood?"
Lily fainted from sheer fright
at the excessively dramatic scene Naga had carefully arranged.
A little while later, after
Naga had found a less satisfying but more ordinary secluded basement and
chair, she woke the girl up and tried again.
"Ohoho," she said, keeping
the laugh simple. "Now answer my questions. And if you faint
it'll go very badly for you. Understood?"
"H-Hai," Lily said.
"That's better," Naga nodded.
"Now. Why are you following us? Are that loud-mouthed fool
and the other Lina with you?"
"I shouldn't say--"
"I'll talk!" Lily protested.
"Please, don't laugh again!"
This threw Naga. "It's
just a laugh..."
Lily cringed. "I...
me and my boyfriend are here because that white-haired girl hired us to
help her. She's looking for something called the Mirror Lores."
"AHA! So they ARE seeking
our quarry. OHO--"
"Eh, sorry," Naga apologize.
"My boyfriend doesn't like
her at all, but she says she can pay him a lot of money," Lily said.
"And that's it. That's all! I don't want to hurt any of you.
I just have to protect him..."
Naga squatted on the floor,
ignoring for a moment that she was supposed to be looming and imposing.
"Why is that? He seems to treat you like dirt, from what I've heard."
"I.. I deserve it," Lily said,
"And he seems to have you
brainwashed, to boot," Naga observed. "Okay, what lame explanation
do you have for that?"
"It was my fault," Lily said.
"When we were younger, he told me I was going to marry him one day, and
I had to protect him, and.. and since I was raised to be a white sorceress
to help and protect people, I was happy to. It was like training.
And... and one day, one of his business partners... stabbed him..."
Naga didn't respond.
"I didn't get to him in time..
I couldn't DO anything!" Lily said. "If my mother hadn't been nearby
to cast Resurrect, he'd have d-died... he blames me. I didn't do
my job right. A Testabourner always does their job right and I couldn't
stop the killers--"
"You couldn't!" Naga said,
leaping to her feet. "Nobody could! So you should have... you...
Naga whirled and dashed to
the door, opened it, stepped through, shut it, drew in breath, wrapped
her arms around herself, got control, got back in gear.
Almost threw me, she thought.
Naga the White Serpent doesn't GET thrown. She's stronger than that.
And she realized what did
it. The killers...
Naga never remembered specific
details, just summaries. What happened, what order.
Gracia (Naga's original nomenclature)
and Amelia both were training to be white sorceresses. Her father,
Prince Phil, always was into justice and compassion and truth and valor,
and the whole family tried to live that way, practicing in the noble arts
of swords and white magic. One day, Phil would be raised to the throne,
and he intended to run Sailoon on the side of right.
Most of the royal family,
notably his brothers and other dukes, weren't quite that noble. There
had been a few assassination attempts, nothing particularly worthy of the
family's quick reflexes and strength. One particular botched attempt
tried to kill Phil in his sleep, with a throwing knife and an open window.
Phil was out that night inspecting the troops, but his wife was in bed,
and she was killed in his place.
Amelia and Gracia heard the
tiniest of noises, and figuring it was a mouse, went to investigate when
they found mother. No amount of white magic was able to do anything
about what the killers did.
But it wasn't like it was
a big deal. They each got on with their lives, got strong, tried
to pull through just fine. Amelia went into justice overdrive, practicing
white magic until she collapsed each day, writing speeches to tell the
killers when she found them that she planned to say from the top of a tree
or mountain. Gracia, on the other hand, had realized something; white
magic was useless. Parlor tricks, simple first aid and bandages.
If she wanted to punish the killers, which both sisters had sworn to do,
she'd try a different track. She'd need a new name to fit it.
So, Naga the White Serpent
studied and became the formidable black sorceress she was, able to mete
out incredible damage to her enemies, and really be successful in life
as a bandit hunter and mercenary. Everything worked out okay.
And here she was, now, interrogating
this girl who had a similar experience. Okay. That explains
why she had reacted badly to the story, it seemed very obvious. But...
Naga pushed open the door
and stormed back into the room.
"Let me get this straight,"
she said. "Your supposed misogynist boyfriend gets a shiv between
the shoulders, and you cry and get weepy that you couldn't do anything.
I sympathize, almost. But WHY, in the Lord of Nightmare's name, did
you decide to let him abuse you, use you and drag you around as his personal
Lily looked confused, like
she didn't understand why the question needed asking. "Huh?"
"You could have done any number
of other things!" Naga said. "Like me. You could have just
studied black magic and gotten stronger! Strong enough to handle
it from that day on. At least then you'd have some self respect,
even if you couldn't save him!"
The white sorceress hung her
"I failed my job," she repeated.
"I'm shamed. I have to make amends. When you do a job, do it
right, my mother always said."
"Come ON! It's not a
job, it's slavery! You.... you..." Naga stopped, realizing something.
"Wait. No amount of my badgering is actually going to change your
mind, is it? You've lived like this so long you actually believe
you're at fault.."
"I am at fault," Lily said,
So far gone that she couldn't
even be debated. If I had been born in that ridiculous country, Naga
thought, maybe this would've been me.
Perhaps something else can
be done, though.
"Very well!" Naga said, sweeping
her cape in a dramatic flourish. "You are officially my prisoner.
Your job has changed; now you are to accompany me in my quest for the Mirror
Lores! Together we will fight towards glory!! OOOHOHOHOHOOHOO--"
The white sorceress fainted
"--ho," Naga finished.
It's just a hallucination.
It's just a hallucination.
But this was BAT COUNTRY!
Lina knew on one level that
it was all in her head, but she couldn't not run away, screaming, into
the night. It was so real! The bats chased her, flapping leather
in the wind, and she refused to look back, covering as much of the burnt
ground as she could. Eventually, the sound seemed to dwindle away,
to die, and Lina cast a glance backwards to see that they had left.
And for each bat, there was
a Lina, a Lina with white hair and a large weapon, laughing as they chased
And when she looked ahead,
the world was.. different. The sky was black during the day, and
she was running through a burned village, corn husk and wood buildings
in smoldering piles. Nobody bothered to bury the dead, since the
Mazoku rather liked the decor and the fear and loathing it inspired in
humans who saw it. Because it was the Mazoku that were chasing her,
they could catch her at any time, but preferred to let her run and think
she had a chance to escape--
No, no, stop, hold.
Lina forced herself to stop running.
"It's nothing!" she declared,
defiantly. "I'm not like her. I'm not going to flee, I'll stand.
It's not real and no chemical condiment overdose is going to convince me
The thundering herd of Lina
Inverseds stood around her, snickering. Circling slowly.
"So, this is what your world's
like?" she said, not realizing she was addressing her hallucination on
a conversational level. She nudged a human skull out of the way.
"Very dramatic. Very evil. Very obviously designed to scare
me, right? That IS the idea, right?"
The Linas started to shift,
to melt into each other... claws, wings, tentacles, monster parts, Mazoku
Lina sat, indian style, and
ignored them. "I'm sick of bad dreams. And bad soup.
Being haunted stinks and I won't put up with it any more! Nothing
you can do will move me from this spot--"
A scaled arm reached out from
the mass of biology, grabbing Lina's leg. It hauled her easily into
Lina tried to ignore it, despite
being uncomfortably dragged along the ground. "You can stop now,"
she said, before another arm slashed at her, leaving a gash across her
THEN she started to panic.
A hand, a human hand, grabbed
her shoulder and the world stopped.
Lina turned, and faced Gourry,
in the middle of the empty plain. Silent. No monsters, no village,
no anything out of the ordinary.
"Lina? You okay?" Gourry
"Yes.. no," Lina said, wiping
sweat off her forehead. "I'm not okay. Gourry... you're right.
The soup's getting to me. Let's go back to the inn. I've gotta
Lina stumbled slightly, but
Gourry was there to support her. "Easy, easy," he said. "This
must be awful. I know I wouldn't like to be seeing things.
How about if I stay in your room tonight?"
Gourry smiled. "Just
to wake you out of it if anything happens. Like I did just now.
Exhausted, Lina agreed.
But not because she was exhausted. Instead, she smiled up at him.
"Gourry.. thanks. That'd be a good idea. The last thing I need right
now is to see more monsters."
An explosion rocked the land,
as the roof of a nearby temple burst outwards, raining bricks and mortar
in a wide circle. Gourry whipped his sword out and split a large
chunk of rock in two without thinking, before it could hit them.
Out of the wreckage of the
Temple of Ozek rose a fifty foot tall vision of red wings and talons.
It roared against the darkening sky.
"...Gourry?" Lina asked.
"Are you seeing a giant monster too?"
"Uh huh," Gourry said.
"Oh, good. Just checking,"
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.