SLAYERS REFLECT #9
: Tomorrow Never Lies
By Stefan Gagne, Spoof Chase Productions.
are available in this world. Just because most of the population
thinks that stone sundials are a pretty neat idea doesn't mean they aren't
civilized or advanced enough to throw a whooping good time. There
are plenty of barn raisings, usually followed by drunken barn dances.
Plays are put on frequently, with the occasional midnight play where the
actors use minimalist costumes and audience members sit very far apart,
if you know what I mean. You also can entertain yourself by listening
to music at a concerto in the 'alternative' scene, where everybody dresses
funny and does things with sax and violins that would make their parents
go white. And, if all else fails, you can read a book.
Myth runs wild in the printing industry, for example.
There's the 'Thousande ande One Tailes of The Bolde Adventures of The Mighty
Warrior Whose Deedes Go Onne For Not Lesse Than Three Hundred Ande Thirty
Foure Pages', always a popular read around the fire for its epic tales
of heroism and bravery, and a good substitute for toilet paper if you happen
to run out.
More popular but less admitted to is 'Everything
Youe Wanted To Knowe Aboute Sexe But Nobody Else Knewe', an informative
and educational text with many full color illustrations and step by step
But if you're a sorcerer, what you really want to
curl up with by the fire on a rainy day is a copy of 'Das Textuel Noir',
the book of the black arts, or 'Ways of the Shamans' by Alison. Magic
books. Lore books. Good reading and good for you unless you
accidentally blow up your house while practicing. (Insurance companies
know to charge higher premiums to thaumatologists.) And since many
sorcerers believe in share and share alike from dead bodies alone, they
horde books of power like treasured contraband.
"No, you CAN'T read over my shoulder!" Lina said
for the third time. "Go away!"
"Come on, Lina!" her obligatory tagalong Naga insisted.
"It's the Mirror Lores! I want them just as bad as you do.
Think about all those ancient secrets!"
"I told you, I'd like a moment or two alone to read
and practice these," Lina said. "You can have the book when it's
your turn. Fair?"
"You're HIDING something, aren't you?" Naga said,
eyeing Lina suspiciously. "Lina, Lina! You're so naive!
You can't keep a secret from your strongest rival!"
"I'm not hiding anything," Lina lied. "Can't
I just have a quiet moment? Is that too much to ask?"
"Yes!" Naga said. "But I will allow a moment's
respite. I'll just go straight back to the inn right away.
You don't need to worry about me! OOHOOHOOHOOHHOHOHOOO!!"
Naga turned one eighty and immediately marched back
down the hill.
Lina Inverse gave a sigh of relief.
The coach was stopped for the night, with Lily and
Gourry busy shopping for supplies, and Lina finally had some time to check
out the book.. books that she had obtained recently. She had spotted
an abandoned cottage on a high hill just outside of the town they were
in, and figured that would be an ideal, isolated place to peruse, once
she snuck away from Naga, who unfortunately had followed her.
The foreword in Silverquick's book specifically
said that the spells were intended for her alone. Chances of something
really hideous happening if Naga got them were pretty high, if he'd go
out of his way with an oracle spell to predict how to get this lore to
Lina alone... not only that, but the second book which she never even remembered
getting her hands on was troubling. Best to sort this out well ahead
of the ferry they would take the next day to the Island of Ultimate Despair,
which Mel.. Xelloss had insisted wasn't as bad a place as the name made
it sound like.
Besides, she was itching to try out a few of these
mirror spells. A hand mirror tucked into her backpack would probably
be enough to experiment with.
Hiking the pack up onto her shoulders, she continued
to trudge uphill. For some reason, these new powers didn't excite
her anymore. They just worried the hell out of her.
The mood aboard the SS Guppy, proud mechanic ocean
going vessel, was jovial.
Having avoided being melted by volcanic lava and
having obtained the waterskin of whatever it was they came to get, things
were looking up. The group was having an impromptu party on decks,
with Xelloss providing the music. When Amelia suggested a group social
occasion of celebration to raise the already high morale, the priest casually
mentioned that he just happened to bring a violin aboard and yes, he was
quite good at playing it, actually.
Xelloss perched on a rail, playing a jovial little
jig, while Amelia whirled a highly frightened and twitchy Dayvid around.
Dayvid made the mistake of saying that he's never danced before, and naturally
Amelia offered (being used in the loosest sense of consentuality) to teach
Zelgadis, however, decided just to hang out off
to the side and sip a cup of punch that Dayvid had invented a machine that
morning to make. He was more of the wallflower type. Frequently
he actually blended into the wall.
He didn't feel excited about the situation.
They had traveled far, shirking off attacks from loons at sea and maniacs
on land, and what was the reward? A bunch of water he had no use
for yet and a strange vision he didn't understand which unsettled him greatly.
The others didn't get either of these things, and only saw unrelenting
victory. Let them party, he didn't feel like begrudging them the
Of course, Xelloss proved to be ambiaural; able
to talk and play music at the same time, and much to Zel's chagrin, the
priest enjoyed annoying him while the two kids engaged in their violent
parody of dancing.
"So, what was it like down there?" Xelloss asked,
playing along with a catchy beat that Zel actively refused to tap his foot
to. "I wish I could have gone, but that naughty Silverquick used
his lockout spell again..."
"Amazing. A Mazoku has some limits to where
they go and what they can do?" Zelgadis asked, having no problems taunting
Xelloss right back.
"Come come, Zel-kun. We're not omnipotent,"
Xelloss said, smiling. "Sure, we like to make it look that way, but
let's be frank. Anybody armed with an incredible array of magical
weapons and/or light powers could probably give me a black eye or three.
"And yet, this one spell seems to prevent my access
to the Mirror Lores," Xelloss said, tisking. "Silverquick's little
group was far too dangerous for a group of humans, the Mazoku believe.
Thaumatological hackers all; they posed a great risk to us. We have
an active interest in keeping humans as harmless as they are, you realize."
"What a shame. So, now that Lina has the lores,
I take it you're going to backstab us and steal them?"
"Zel-kun! That hurts! I thought we were
buddies?" Xelloss asked, smiling. "Whyfor ever would I do such a
thing? I'll simply ask her if I could take a peek at that nice book
once we meet up at the Island. I can't think of a reason why she'd
refuse me, after I've been so benevolent and helpful."
"Benevolent. Right. I'm waiting for
the other shoe to drop," Zelgadis grumbled.
"Such a gloomy gus! Have you ever considered,
my dearest Zel-kun, that perhaps the other shoe isn't going to fall?" Xelloss
asked, his song twitching into a more serious mood, the beat still clicking
along. "Here you are, all mopey and moany, waiting for the end to
come. Waiting for that horrible nasty mean old Mazoku in your midst
to switch sides as he's done before, oh you KNOW he's done it before, and
attack you and steal your magic and aid the Mazoku in destroying the world.
That's the other shoe, right? I didn't leave anything out?"
"More or less," Zelgadis said, suddenly not liking
"I really do hate doing what's expected of me,"
Xelloss said, downshifting the music into a slow dance. He glanced
over at Dayvid, who was now being taught to dance cheek to cheek by Amelia,
and looked to be near the point of a nosebleed. Smiling, he resumed
conversation with Zelgadis. "You know the difference between me and
"You're more annoying?"
"Was that supposed to be humorous? Your taunts
need work. Perhaps Naga could teach you... but I digress," Xel said.
"The difference is that they're evil, sadistic maniacs who kill and crush
and destroy and plot and plan and do devious things."
"And you are...?"
"I'm an evil, sadistic maniac who prefers to do
what's not expected of me," Xelloss said, a weird twinkle in his eye.
"Why should I live up to what other people think I'll do? People
die that way. Viruses adapt to the body and destroy it by relying
on the predictability of systems. The mutants, the freaks and the
unpredictable survive -- and they have a much more fun time of it, too.
Rather a lot like your Lina-chan, yes?"
Zelgadis glared at Xelloss. "What about Lina?"
"She's quite the little deviant," Xelloss said,
smiling warmly. "How hard she tries not to fall into the usual dramatic
traps of the hero, as I try not to bump into the brick walls of the villain.
It's basically the same thing, from another angle. Whereas you squat
here in a puddle of your own loathing, typically. Have you ever considered
breaking out of that loop? Perhaps if you hadn't been turned into
"If I wasn't a chimera, I'd be an asshole," Zelgadis
snapped. "I'd never have learned a damn thing about responsibility,
or honor, or anything other than.. 'looking out for number one'.
I happen to know this on very good authority."
Xelloss's smile widened. "Whose, precisely?"
"...none of your business," Zelgadis said, glancing
"The worst within, yes?" Xelloss asked. He
changed his music again, a sultry tango; much to Dayvid's horror, Amelia
knew that particular dance. "I know a few things about the lores,
about the bargain of them. To ensure that those who seek the lores
are emotionally fit to handle them, they must confront and recognize the
worst they could have become. Seems yours took the direct course,
so to speak. It unsettled you, then?"
"No," Zelgadis said.
"I'll take that as a yes. So why haven't you
learned anything from this encounter, Brier Chimera?"
"And what, exactly, should I learn from this?" Zelgadis
asked, frustrated. "Just tell me and leave me alone, okay?
The leadup is really giving me a headache."
"What, just tell you?" Xelloss asked. "But
it's such a lovely secret. Wouldn't it be more fun to figure it out
"You're the one with all the philosophy, with me
just the whiny little chimera, right?" Zelgadis asked. "So prove
you're the superior one and go gloat. I know you want to. C'mon.
Give it to me! Get on with it!!"
Xelloss scooted away. "Feisty! Very
well, because you were nice and asked me in such an interesting manner.
Seeing as how that one big decision you always wished you could go back
and change turned you into a hideous twit, perhaps you should get over
your little handicap and actually ENJOY life for a change?"
Zelgadis didn't look particularly enlightened.
"That's it? That's your big wisdom?"
"Simple, but effective," Xelloss said. "I
was expecting you'd sit over here and sulk. Remember, Zel-kun; the
predictable die, whereas the Lord of Nightmares and Her favored ilk persist
in chaos. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll go terrify Dayvid by
playing the Labarda. I understand it's been banned in six countries!"
Zelgadis waved Xelloss off, and the trickster priest
scooted across the deck, to make sure the full volume and impact of his
zesty, spicy forbidden dance song was heard. Both dancers stopped,
Sitting on the side, he was pleased that Amelia
had never heard of the dance, and thus Xelloss's expectations to tease
Dayvid were foiled. He finished off his punch, and moved to loiter
closer to the center of the party for a change.
Using a nearby branch, Lina forced the door open.
The cottage hadn't been used in a year. A
lot of it was dusty and in disrepair, but no worse than the attic back
home, where she originally studied books of magic. Had the same musty
odor, too. Perhaps she was just drawn to that sort of atmosphere
when it came time to do some serious magical work; more likely it was just
chance. At least here she could get some peace and quiet, with the
precautions she set up around the house.
Lina picked a nearby rocking chair, lighting the
lantern on a table next to it. She dusted off the chair, dumped her
sack on the floor and pulled out the Mirror Lores.
It wasn't like other books of magic.
Usually, if you picked up something like 'Ways of
the Shamans', 80% of the book would be taken up by elaborate, painstakingly
well done drawings of dragons and beasts and sorcerers in action.
There'd be really eye-catching frames around each page, patterns and designs
in artistic style; the letters would be in such an intensely decorate font
that sometimes they could be very hard to read.
'The Mirror Lores, by S. Quick' wasn't like that.
A forenote was there, telling Lina how this book was made especially for
her, and that was done with nice calligraphy, but the rest of the pages
were in very boring handwriting. Crib notes for spells, no illustrations,
There were eight spells total. It seemed that
they were ranked in terms of power, with the last four requiring energized
water from the Lake of Reflections, according to Silverquick's notes. ("Although
truth be told, I didn't include that spell here for a reason," he wrote
in the margin, addressing Lina directly, which was getting to be a bit
creepy to her. "I made an endless supply which will be provided to the
right people at the Lake, and that'll have to do. Security, you know.
Never code your own spells without security permissions, Lina, for future
In fact, the entire book felt like designer's notes,
with that slight personal touch. For example, the spell Lina figured
she'd need was pretty obvious :
Oracle Trigger (class three, water-enhanced spell)
Upon execution, this spell enchants a mirror
that was created
using Ritual Waterfreeze (version 2.0 or later,
to give repeat effects of the Oracle Burst spell.
of power is needed in the third line of the
order to enhance the accuracy of the visions,
as well as a
generalized sense of purpose, initial startup
for the mirror to detect the emotional desires
of the user.
Variate the flow of power to be stuttering at
the 1hz level
during the second line to implement a voice-activated
for the user instead of the less predictable
interface. DO NOT break the mirror during
an Oracle Burst
vision! Unpredictable results including
brief, low powered
World Merge may be possible.
Seealso : Oracle Burst,
Ritual Waterfreeze 2.0, World Merge
Shining reflection of what might be,
Hear my calls and my commands,
Show me the door of the future most true
Of impossible and possible lands.
Personal Note : Oracle Trigger is the most commonly
implementation of mirror magic, although leaders
to understand that it tends to show what MIGHT
HAVE BEEN based
on decisions rather than WHAT MUST BE in the
future. Or rather
it shows WHAT MIGHT BE in the future.
Laymen, honestly -- you
give them a glass hammer and they try to drive
screws with it.
Do me a favor, Lina; if you survive this and
make that mirror
for Sailoon, warn them this time to take care
Lina backed up a bit.
"IF you survive this..."
Not very encouraging.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka
/ R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.
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