estivities wound down once Amelia's near limitless sugar-powered energy started to deplete.  (It's a rare occurrence, but not impossible.)  Gradually, the celebration shifted to something Zelgadis felt better about participating in, namely drinks and discussion.
    "The hard part is basically over, right?" Dayvid asked, sipping his punch.  "You got what you came for, and once I shuttle you guys off to the Island of Ultimate Despair to join up with the rest of your group... that's it."
    Slightly red from too much punch, which Xelloss had spiked somehow, Amelia looked ready to sob openly.  "I can't believe it's almost over!  I'm gonna miss yooou guys!"
    "Gosh, me too, Amelia!!" Xelloss said, dripping with melodrama.  "It's just been, like, so... SO, you know?"
    "I know, I know!" Amelia said, not catching onto the sarcasm.  "I don't think I could take the loss if I didn't know Dayvid was coming with me."
    "Eh?" Dayvid said, freezing.
    "You're gonna help me make a funpaaaarraarrrk!" Amelia said, giggling after the last arr sound.  "Remember?  You can stay in the Sailoon palace if you want and we'll getcha all the science stuff you could want like those beaker things an' steam engines an' the metal stick things that go zapzap!"
    "Ah.. well... I mean... I thought that was just, um, an idea," Dayvid said, rubbing the back of his head nervously.  "You know.  Idle musings.  And stuff."
    Delighted, Xelloss clasped his hands together in joy.  "Ah, a royal court appointed scientist!  I highly approve, son.  A very good career choice for your future.  And who knows what other.. positions it may lead to?  A good way to be in with the right people, mmm?  Perhaps an opportunity to get closer to overall goals involving various non-disclosed elements of personages who are of noble descent between--"
    "Dad!" Dayvid barked.  "For the last time, I am NOT in love with Amelia!!"
    Silence.  Ocean waves lapping gently at the hull.  The steam engine puffing along nicely.  Booster sails flap gently in the breeze.  Mists rise from the sea waters.  Nobody says anything.
    "Oh my," Xelloss exclaimed lightly, amused to the Lake of Chaos and back.  "I wasn't talking about that.  But since you happen to bring it up....."
    Everybody looked at Amelia, through the fog.
    "Wh.. wha?" she intelligently replied.
    "Ah.. well, umm... Dad was..." Dayvid responded, his face accelerating rapidly through the shades of red available.  "It's like.. I mean, he was just... it's not like I... no no, I mean... ah..."
    "What the hell is with this weather?" Zelgadis asked, bailing the kids out and bringing up an important point at the same time.  "Just seconds ago it was clear as day, now it's like we're rolling through a steam bath."
    "Oh!" the captain of the boat said, breaking the old topic in half.  "Ah!  We're just passing through the Bahumut Trapezoid.  Don't worry, there's always fog over this area."
    "Wait.  Don't ships vanish forever if they go into the Bahumut Trapezoid?" Zelgadis asked, getting to his feet.  "What in blazes are we doing going THROUGH it?"
    "Relax, relax!" Dayvid smiled.  "It's perfectly safe.  There isn't a single scientifically valid reason for a ship to suddenly vanish.  I've passed by this area all the time with no problems."
    "By, or directly into it?"
    ", but it was close enough to tell there's nothing in here," Dayvid said.
    "Oh my, oh my.  This could be an adventure!" Xelloss smiled.  "Wouldn't you agree, Amelia?"
    "Wha?" Amelia repeated.
    Xelloss got to his feet, quickly.  "Unfortunately, I'm not one to hang around certain doom.  Come along, Dayvid."  He rested a hand on the boy's shoulder.
    "Wha--" Dayvid asked, before vanishing with Xelloss.
    Before Zelgadis could sound any kind of alarm at this, the rest of the Guppy vanished in a wink of nothing.
    The candle in Lina's lantern burned.  Melted wax dripped to the bottom, having lost an hour of length.
    All eight spells, plus the simple ritual to form crystal water into a mirror, were now memorized.  Usage and practices, incantations and subtleties.  She had to admit, the strange style Silverquick wrote them in actually made it easier to read than normal magic books, which tended to slap the letter 'e' after every word.  Even in this short time, she felt confident enough to cast the spells.
    There were four 'types' of spell, in two power levels.  The minor group consisted of : Recording Glass for visual, replayable messages... Oracle Burst, for a quick foresight... Optimum Vision, if you wanted to see yourself at your best, good for egotistical princesses and such... and World Reflection, which lets you tune into a specific world, although finding the world's 'pattern' as Silverquick put it didn't seem easy.  Naturally, he had to have written that part in a weird, poorly documented magical jargon Lina couldn't follow...
    Beyond that were the enhanced spells.  Memory Glass recorded your own memories, rather than just whatever the mirror was pointed at.  Oracle Trigger would restore a thing like Sailoon's Oracle Mirror, something she'd have to do once she got the water from Zelgadis.  Custom Vision let you view yourself in a more specific way, worst, best, anything inbetween.  Finally, and this one creeped Lina out a bit, World Merge -- take a parallel world, and join it to this one.  There didn't seem to be any limits on the power of this one if you had plenty to supply.  ("In hindsight, maybe I should have toned that one down," a sheepish Silverquick wrote underneath the entry.)
    Lina reached the last page, where Silverquick had written one final note.  Almost a personal letter, or a will.
    'I wish I could tell you how everything will turn out, Lina, but truth be told I couldn't see that far.  I guess my tinkerings with the universe do have their limits.

    'The Lord of Nightmares tried to make me see that, me and the rest of our group.  We didn't catch on until after the group disbanded, but we were trying to make magic for us humans, powers we could use, and just made ourselves more problems.  I guess some fruits of our labor will arrive, with Alison's plans to spread Shamanism by faking its ethos, but it won't be anything we can use against our darkest days without the help of the one who did this deed before any of us were born.  There's already a power we can use; all we did was mess around.  I don't think that means anything to you, but I felt I should say it, 'cause I'm an old dead hacker and I get to have the last word for the dearly departed.  A warning, I guess.
    'I hope you get what you need out of the lores and live a long and happy life.  I've spent the last year getting everything ready for this time of YOUR life -- I almost feel like I know you and care about you, Lina.  A bit silly, since we're living across the sea of time.  I've been a bit silly in the head since Alison left us.  Sorry if I'm rambling.  Once again, good luck.  The hopes of the human mages before you ride with you, wherever you go.

    'Yrs truly, S. Quick.
    'P.S. - I'd say more, but I didn't see anything beyond when you finish reading this that I could conclusively say would happen.  Very chaotic images, random noise, that sort of thing.  I think you got a second book when you got this one but I couldn't see what it was.  I hope it's better written than mine.  Anyway, bye bye now.  I'm sorry for the mess.'
    The book closed silently, its holder in deep thought, deep panic.  Beyond hyperactive mania and into the silent delight of a real worry.
    Silverquick saw the second book in her pack, the Giga lores.  But he didn't see what it was; if he did, he'd have said something, considering how it's practically the holy grail of sorcery.  Something was up here.  Lina couldn't resist her dark string of curiosity.  So, she closed the Mirror Lores, set them aside, and opened Merlin Giga's book...
    A loud crash sounded from outside, with the tell-tale WHAP! of a bent tree snapping upright.
    Lina snapped the book shut and tucked it into the cushion of her chair before turning to look out the window.  Naga bobbed upside down in silent dismay, hanging from the snare trap Lina had set for her.  Smirking, Lina opened the window of the house, and leaned on the sill.
    "Just hanging around, Naga?" she lamely joked.
    "Mou, Lina!  That wasn't very nice, setting up booby traps!" Naga protested.  She drew her rarely used sword and cut herself down without realizing that she'd be too busy cutting to catch herself and crashed ungainly onto the ground.
    "I told you I wanted a little time to myself!  It's your own fault for going back on your obviously lying words," Lina justified.  "Now, beat it.  I'm busy."
    "OOHHOOHHOHOOO!  Lina, Lina!  You're so--"
    "--naive," Lina finished.
    Without missing a beat, Naga continued.  "You can't keep me from sharing your legend, Lina.  Why, history itself would never forgive me if I wasn't a part of it!  And since you clearly are trying to hide that book for some reason, it makes me all the more curious!"
    "Hide the book?  I said I'd give it to you later," Lina said.
    "Ahhhh, but with all pages intact?  Or is there something ELSE you're hiding?" Naga asked, waggling a no-no finger.  "You can't fool me, Lina Inverse!"
    "I could always blast you to Sailoon with a well angled Dill Brand," Lina suggested, snapping her fingers with a spark.
    "Ah, but I thought of that!" Naga said.  "You can't blow us ALL off, Lina!"
    "Us?" Lina asked.
    *knock knock*
    Lina's head snapped back to the door.  Confused, she stepped over, and opened it.
    Peeking into the house, Gourry hiked up the large keg of ale he was carrying for a better grip.  "Hey, Lina!  Naga told us about the party you were throwing here.  Look, I got drinks!"
    The dust on the floor unsettled when Lina crashed face first into it.
    Naga strode proudly into the room, careful not to step on Lina in the process.  "Okay, Gourry, crack open the ale here.  Lily, I'll help you cut the cake.  It's going to be a fun night!"

    The sensation of floating in the air, of falling, of--
    WHAM.  The Guppy hit bottom, splashing down hard in the water, sending its passengers sprawling across the deck.  Zelgadis scrambled to his feet, sword out and at the ready, looking for danger.
    All he saw were the same ocean mists he saw before.  No change.  But they did fall, right?
    "I could have sworn we were done bumping into things like this," Zelgadis groaned.  "Everybody up.  New thing to deal with."
    "Ugh..." Amelia mumbled, rubbing his head.  She looked up.  And looked confused.  "Wait.  We didn't go anywhere!"
    "We sailed into a mythical geometric figure, and felt like we fell for a few miles in a second," Zelgadis said.  "Don't put any real money on us being fine and dandy."
    "Dayvid, maybe if we... Dayvid?" Amelia asked, glancing around the deck.  "Xelloss-san?  Dayvid-san?  Aaaa!  They're gone!"
    "They bugged out like cowards before we fell," Zelgadis said, squinting to see into the mist.  "I think we're coming up onto something."
    "Hey, Dayvid is NOT a coward," Amelia noted.  "He... ano?  What's that?"
    A single light winked magically in the distance.  The boat was floating right towards it, and naturally, Zel never learned how to steer the thing using Dayvid's strange machines.  He got a better grip on his sword with one hand, readying a fireball with the other...
    The light bobbed into view in the thick fog, a glowing ball hovering over a bouy.  Neatly printed on the sign, etched into a kind of metal, were the words 'WEATHER ADVISORY -- HEAVY FOG.'  The words melted back into the metal, shifted around and surfaced once more, to read 'DOCKS AHEAD.  REDUCE SPEED.'  It turned in the water, to keep facing the boat that drifted past it.
    "Oh, I see," Amelia said, smiling.  "That's very nice of them to warn us!"
    "There can't be docks ahead," Zelgadis said, putting his sword away.  "We're supposed to be a few hours away from the island, and there's nothing else around."
    "You said we're somewhere different, right?" Amelia repeated.  "Maybe we're off the shore of Sailoon or something."
    "And Sailoon has signs like that?"
    "Uh... no.  Okay, not Sailoon, but whoever they are, they can help us get back.  I'm sure of it!  Cheer up, Zelgadis-san!" Amelia smiled.  "I'm sure this'll be a fun adventure!"
    "Do you know how to slow this thing down so we don't crash?" Zelgadis asked.
    "Uh... no."
    "Then we're going to have to have a very short fun adventure," he confirmed.
    As the Guppy slid past, the sign's light blinked red.  The words changed, now reading, 'UNRECOGNIZED VESSEL.  ALERTING PATROL.'  But by then, the pair on board wasn't looking at the bouy anymore.
    ...far away, across the span of time and space, a tiny pocket of reality, pushed into a bubble by magic, decorated with a loving hand, homey and comfortable and literally away from it all...
    Xelloss and Dayvid popped back into existence.  Used to the journey, Xelloss landed easily; Dayvid stumbled forwards, arms pinwheeling, until he bumped into a table.  Jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered.
    "Awww, I was working so long on that," Xelloss pouted.  "Now it's messed up.  Oh well.  I can always puzzle it back together again..."
    "Who... where are we?!" Dayvid asked.  "Amelia-san!  Zelgadis-san!"
    "They're probably halfway around the multiverse by now," Xelloss shrugged.  "I could've told them we were headed for danger.  Even the Mazoku are smart enough to avoid that hole.  We--"
    Having had enough, Dayvid grabbed his father by the lapels and throttled.
    "Bring them back!" he commanded as best he could.  "NOW!"
    "Y-yikes," Xelloss smiled nervously, his head wobbling.  "I c-c-ould b-brr-bring th-em ba-ack wi-ith hel-help if y-y-ou st-stop sha-shaking..."
    Frustrated, the boy released the Mazoku priest.  "Fine.  Do it, pronto, here, today, now!"
    "Not quite as easy as that," Xelloss said, dusting himself off.  "The way you make a hole like that one is to detonate a reality bubble, tearing a slip in the world.  That particular one was made when some fool human tried a spell way too powerful for his kind to handle, and he went splat.  It's high black magic to warp reality, you see--"
    "Can you do it or not?" Dayvid asked.
    "Tetchy, tetchy!  Worried about your girlfriend?"
    "Dad, for the LAST time, she is not my girlfriend!!" Dayvid said, waving his arms madly.  "I just... I don't want her stranded somewhere, okay?  And they have a quest to do!  It's the right thing to bring them back.  Anybody else would do it too.  And... and I want her back, okay?"
    "Them.  I want them back," Dayvid corrected.
    "Very well," Xelloss said, smiling widely.  "It's a simple enough spell, if almost uncontrollable.  I made my home away from home with it.  I'll teach it to you, and then--"
    "It's high time you learned a little magic," Xelloss said.  "You ARE half Mazoku, you know.  It's in you.  And it's not like you have to use it for dastardly deeds and taking candy from babies.  So few people realize that of us who are not.. shall we say... truly spawned? tend to avoid the standard operating procedures..."
    "I can't do magic.  I'm a scientist!"
    "So be the world's first magic-using science guy," Xelloss suggested.  "It's either that or leave them whenever they are."
    Veins popped in Dayvid's forehead.  "Why don't YOU do it?!"
    "I don't have a strong enough will to want them back," Xelloss said.  "I figure it's going to take hard and blunt human will to carve a specific gateway such as that.  You, however, could do that.  If... if you truly desire to see Amelia again, that is.  Not just some lame humanitarian excuse for it."
    "You orchestrated this, didn't you?  You set it up so you could force me to use magic which I hate, and force me to admit something about Amelia!"
    "No, not really, but isn't it just LOVELY the way it played out?" Xelloss smiled.
    Dayvid hit him with what was left of the jigsaw puzzle.
Story copyright 1998 Stefan Gagne, characters copyright H. Kanzaka / R. Araizumi.
A Spoof Chase Production.