Part Three: Welcome to MS High

The shrilling sound of the alarm rang loudly next to where Lina slept, evicting a drowsy groan from beneath the white covers of the bed. There was a shuffling from within the blankets, then suddenly, a tumble of red curls spilled from the sheets as a tired figure sat up and rubbed her eyes sleepily. Mmmm ... Morning already? Yawning once, Lina stretched her arms above her head, then swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Looks like it's 6:30 AM, Lina dimly noted as she reached over to turn off the alarm clock. Only one and a half hours before the first day of school will begin.

With a tiny thrill of excitement, she stood up and walked across the room toward the closet, shivering a bit at the coolness of the hardwood floors as she did so. To her right, the light from the just rising sun shone dimly like a rising mist through the window panes and onto her figure, causing a short wavering shadow to flicker unsteadily on the hardwood floor. It's nice when no one's awake, Lina mused as she stopped in front of the wooden closet and raised her right hand to the door. This place has been really busy lately ... Sighing, Lina slid the door of the closet open, then immediately sweat-dropped, the sight of a very familiar school uniform reminding her of one very unpleasant thought.

"Oh no," Lina groaned, lifting the plastic hanger with the plain white blouse, purple vest, blue tie, and black skirt in extreme distaste. "I'd completely forgotten about this!" Closing her eyes briefly, Lina's face took on an angry expression as a stress mark appeared on her forehead. "Why ..." the redhead growled, clenching her free fist tightly. "Why do I have to wear this stupid ensemble?!"

In her mind, Hoshi's face appeared, reprovingly stating, "Don't forget, wearing the school uniform is required. If you don't obey the rules, they'll throw you out of school, understand?"

Hmph, Lina snorted in her mind. I'll bet that Hoshi would like that. Well, I'm not giving up just because of one unexpected situation. Lina Inverse never gives up! I'll follow the uniform standard, but roll up the sleeves of the blouse so ...

"All right then!" Lina exclaimed in determination, looking up triumphantly. "I can do this!"

A few minutes later, the door to Lina's room creaked open and a nervous face peeked out into the hallway, the ruby eyes flitting anxiously every which way in a sweeping search for any sign of life. After a moment, Lina became satisfied that no one was around and tiptoed out into the hallway. Ok, so I still want to get out of here before anyone sees me, Lina sweat-dropped as she slunk toward the stairs. Damn it all, why do I have to put up with this?!

At that moment, a door further down the hallway creaked open, causing Lina to freeze in mid-step. Come on, move it, move it, move it! she screamed internally without a single response from her body. This isn't the time to freeze up, Lina Inverse!

"And just what do you think you're doing?" a cool voice inquired from the now open doorway, putting an end to any thoughts Lina might have had for escaping.

Reluctantly, Lina lifted her eyes from the floor to meet the piercing blue ones of Zelgadiss, who stood stoically in the middle of the hallway dressed in the white shirt and black pants uniform of MS High with his arms crossed, the shirt unbuttoned and another layer of clothing beneath, not according to the traditional school standard of buttoning the shirt. For a moment, the two gazed at each other in the early golden light of the sun, one without emotion and the other struggling for some reply.

"Um ..." Lina began uncertainly, feeling that she had to break the silence. "Well ..."

All of a sudden, an idea popped into Lina's mind. Jumping out of her crouched position, she gave Zelgadiss a huge grin along with a thumbs-up sign and cheerfully declared, "I was just testing the stability of the floorboards!"

Silence followed that announcement as Zelgadiss stared at Lina in clear disbelief, a sweat-drop making its way down his head. Does she honestly expect me to believe that? he wondered incredulously as Lina placed her right hand behind her head and began laughing in embarrassment. There must be something wrong with her mind if she really believes that. But still ...

"The floorboards must be really strong, huh?" Lina babbled on, mentally kicking herself for her stupid excuse, yet unable to find a way out of the current situation. "Hey, I know, why don't I try punching it to really find out?"

And so saying, she formed a fist with her right hand and slammed it down onto the boards while bending her knees into a crouched position. The next instant, pain welled through her hand and she jumped up again, clutching her fist against her chest as she hissed angrily.

Seeing this, Zelgadiss' eyes widened in complete disbelief. Then, to his surprise, he felt a chuckle suddenly well up from within. "You're a really strange girl," he laughed, walking up to Lina.

When she heard those words, Lina flung her head up to look at Zelgadiss with curious eyes, only to find him disconcertingly close. Wha ... What is he doing? Lina wondered internally, unable to force her gaze away from his ocean blue eyes and slight amused smile. Wait a second ... he was smiling?

"Y-You should smile more often," Lina stated abruptly, breaking the uncomfortable silence. Then she grinned and winked, "When you smile, you don't look so gloomy and depressed. Cheer up more, Zel!"

Zelgadiss paused and looked down at Lina, the smile disappearing to be replaced by his usual emotionless expression. For a moment, he regarded her with hooded eyes. Then he pointed to Lina's right hand.

"Does it hurt?" he asked monotonously, no trace of emotion in his voice.

"Eh?" Lina uttered unintelligibly before realizing that he meant her hand, still a little baffled by his sudden change in moods. "Oh! It's fine. Don't worry."

Zelgadiss nodded once, then began to walk down the stairs. About three steps down, he paused and looked back at Lina.


"Oh ... yeah," Lina replied hesitantly, moving to follow Zelgadiss. "Hey, why are you up so early anyway?" she asked as the two walked down the stairs.

"Early?" Zelgadiss repeated with a blink. "You must wake up late. Everyone else is already up."


The next instant Zelgadiss felt a slight breeze to his right as Lina sped the rest of the way down the stairs and toward the archway leading into the kitchen. No way! Lina thought as she ran, self-consciousness over her school uniform no longer in her mind. None of them can be up ye ...

"Hi, Lina!" Gourry greeted, pausing in his intake of food to wave at the new arrival. "We were wondering when you'd be up!"

"Oh, good, Lina's here," Sylphiel smiled, glancing up from her position at the stove to the right, the crackling of sausages, hash browns, and scrambled eggs adding a comfortable feeling to the room. "I was afraid that I'd made too much food, but now that you're here ..."

"Hey, do I look like a food disposer?" Lina growled at Sylphiel, swiftly recovering from her shock.

"N-No, of course not, Lina!" Sylphiel stammered, unconsciously taking a step back while raising her spatula in front of her body.

"Good morning, Lina," Amelia called from the left end of the table. "Aren't you going to eat?"

"FOOD!!!!" Lina cried with starry eyes as she rushed to the table and began devouring the table's contents with cries of protestations from Gourry.

Seeing that Lina's attentions had been diverted, Sylphiel gave a sigh of relief, then turned back to the stove. At the foot of the stairs, Zelgadiss shook his head at the proceedings going on in the kitchen, then walked to the door and twisted the brass knob. There was a click and slowly, the door creaked open. Amidst the background noises of the battle waging behind him, he slipped out onto the wooden porch, closing the door behind him silently.

Once outside, he took a breath of the early morning air and looked up at the almost surreal blue sky above. Strange girl, he mused as he walked down the steps of the porch. It seems almost impossible that she could possibly have as much power as she showed before. And yet ... A breeze wafted down the street, gently sweeping up the early dried leaves of autumn and causing them to ripple through the air like an ocean wave. Lost in his thoughts, Zelgadiss stepped onto the sidewalk and began walking toward the transporter which would take him to school.

It was then that a shadow fell over him, blocking the warming rays of the sun and casting a shadow over his own. Halting abruptly, Zelgadiss blinked once emotionlessly, then turned his head to see who the person was, a sinking feeling working its way to the pit of his stomach.

"It's been a while, hasn't it?" Vrumugun greeted, the sides of his mouth curved upwards in a malicious smile. "Zelgadiss."

"Come on, move it, move it, move it!" Lina yelled, racing down the halls of MS High, her red hair streaking in the wind like the leaves of autumn. "Ah, I can't believe that we're already late on the first day of school!"

"It's your fault for eating so much, Lina!" Amelia retorted, matching Lina's pace step for step. "And then you nearly broke the transporter -- "

"Anyway!" Lina interrupted hurriedly. "We've got to get to Algebra or the teacher will be angry!"

"Eh? But I thought that our first class was math," Gourry said in confusion.

Lina hit the clueless male on top of his head without breaking stride and shouted, "ALGEBRA IS MATH!"

Sylphiel frowned at the side, something else on her mind as she ran a bit behind the group. "I hope that Hoshi won't mind the dirty dishes we left behind," she commented worriedly.

"Oh, that?" Lina laughed weakly. "He can handle it, don't worry!"

Meanwhile, at Tavern House, Hoshi was staring at the giant stacks of plates on the table and all over the counter of the kitchen with a sweat-drop slowly working its way down his face. Somewhere in the background, the sound of shattering plates could be heard as one stack fell over.

Back at school, the gang of four rounded the last corner toward their destination and immediately rushed through the open door of room 221. They were immediately greeted with, "Gourry Gabriev, Zelgadiss Graywords, Lina Inverse, Sylphiel Nels Lahda, and Amelia Wil Tesla Saillune, I presume."

"Uh, yes ..." Amelia responded hesitantly, looking at the young brunette female teacher before them. Then she realized that another name had been mentioned which was not included in the group. "Wait! Did you say Zelgadiss?"

The teacher nodded, her shoulder-length hair swaying lightly at the movement as she penciled in an oval for absent on the attendance sheet along with four other tardy's. "But I guess he's not with you since there's only four of you and I'm missing five. "

At this confirmation, Lina, Amelia, Gourry, and Sylphiel all looked at each other perplexedly. "Hey, didn't you say that he'd left for school already?" Gourry whispered to Lina.

"Well, I assumed that he did, since he didn't come into the kitchen after walking down the stairs," Lina whispered back. "But ..."

A cough sounded behind the group and all four heads turned to face the smiling one of the Algebra teacher. "Please take your seats," she said softly, but with a tone that implied no argument.

"Y-Yes!" all four replied immediately, rushing to take the variously scattered seats about the room.

"Now then," the Algebra teacher continued, walking up to the chalk board. "My name is Khara Ragnil, but call me Khara in class. If you want to know how to spell my name, I will write it up on the board."

Picking up a piece of white chalk, she began to write out the letters of her name. I wonder where Zelgadiss is, Lina thought as she placed her personal electronic organizer on the table and propped up her chin to stare outside the large window which she was situated next to. It's not like him to skip school and he seemed fine this morning ...

Up at the front, Khara had finished writing her name and had begun saying, "Algebra is the first Math course at MS High and will be followed in successive years by Geometry, Trigonometry, Analysis, AB Calculus, and BC Calculus. For today -- "

"Excuse me, Khara!" Lina exclaimed, standing up determinedly. "But I think that I left something important at home, is it ok if I get it?"

"I suppose so," Khara replied, a little startled at Lina's sudden outburst. "Just don't -- "

"Thank you!" Lina cried, already rushing out of the door.

" ... take too long ..." Khara finished lamely.

"Lina, wait!" Amelia shouted as she stood up. Racing out the door, she hurriedly excused herself with a, "Sorry, teacher, but I think that I've forgotten something as well!"

"Ah, Amelia, Lina, wait!" Sylphiel cried, following Amelia's lead, only without the excuse.

At his desk, Gourry's eyes widened as he realized that his friends had left. "Hey, wait for me, too!" Gourry hollered, slamming his hands down on the desk and frantically racing out the classroom.

In the front of the room, Khara's hair finally settled back down around her shoulders after the passage of wind and she blinked a few times, dimly noting the fact that four of her students were now gone. "Um, on with the lesson?"

In another part of the island, an explosion sounded in the middle of a verdant forest, disturbing the peaceful stillness of the day and causing several birds to take flight from the dense tree tops in fear. Below, two figures darted among the shadows of the trees, moving with barely visible speed from one area to the next. As they moved, sparks from rapidly cast spells flew between the two, canceling each other out or missing the target and hitting the ground instead, causing the dirt to erupt upwards in a volcanic-like display of rocks and debris. Damn it, Zelgadiss mentally cursed as he veered sharply to the right, barely avoiding the fire ball which Vrumugun shot. I can't believe I was so careless! Letting him catch me alone like that. Breathing heavily, he dodged another one of Vrumugun's attacks, jumping up into the air while simultaneously casting a flare arrow to throw back in his opponent's general direction. He didn't wait to see if he'd been successful; instead, he ran through the thickets of the woods again, brushing aside low-hanging tree branches frantically in an effort to avoid pursuit.

Another explosion sounded behind him, asserting that Vrumugun had not been hurt by his previous attack, and then suddenly, three orbs of burning fire appeared in front of his eyes. The next instant, energy flared to life around him, igniting the surrounding vegetation in a blazing display of fire and uprooting smaller plants from the forest floor. When the explosion was over, dust clouded the air like a clinging fog with the last bits of dirt and debris falling back down to patter like rain on the ground.

In the midst of this cloud, Zelgadiss laid sprawled against a burning tree, his back supported by the tree's trunk as his eyes closed in pain. Gnashing his teeth together, he clutched the bloody tear on his right upper arm and forced himself to stand up. He only took one stumbling step before another electrical beam of energy slashed into various parts of his body, hurling him back against the tree again and causing the tear in his arm to become even larger as it scraped against the tree's hard bark. Opening his mouth in a soundless cry, Zelgadiss couldn't keep himself from collapsing down onto his knees and immediately clutching his stomach as he began coughing up blood which mingled with the forest floor as burning dead branches landed with yellow sparks around him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Zelgadiss heard the snap of a branch as Vrumugun stepped calmly to a position that was just a few feet in front of him.

Raising his head in horror, Zelgadiss' frantic blue eyes met the cold dark ones of Vrumugun's. "It's over," Vrumugun whispered, raising his right hand, a glowing circle of golden light forming in preparation for the final strike.

"Freeze arrow!"

Gasping, Vrumugun twisted his head to the right. "What?!"

Then, suddenly realizing that the icy arrows were speedily approaching, he hastily cast teleport and appeared a few feet away. Raising his head silently, he regarded the silhouetted figure of a girl with flowing red hair standing utterly still between two trees, one hand still outstretched from the casting of the freeze arrow. Slowly, she lowered her arm and turned her head to face Vrumugun, dark ruby red eyes glinting dangerously beneath her bangs. It's the same girl, Vrumugun thought as the two gazed at each other. But when did she learn magic? I'm sure that she didn't know it existed until she came to MS High and even then, how could she master a spell so quickly?

"Lina!" a faint voice called from somewhere nearby, interrupting Vrumugun's thoughts. "Lina, where are you?"

"Well, looks like we'll have to continue this another day," Vrumugun stated monotonously, glancing at Zelgadiss out of the corner of his eye. Lina's eyes narrowed even more as she recognized the implied threat and her hands came together to form a circle, the faint glow of magic shimmering protectively in the space between. Vrumugun only looked at Lina once more, smiled cruelly, then faded away in a shimmer of orange.

For a moment, Lina continued to glare at the space where the cloaked figure had once been. Then, realizing that Vrumugun really had left, she dropped her arms to her sides, sighed, and walked over to where Zelgadiss was crouched on the ground.

"Hey, Zel, you all right?" Lina asked in concern, kneeling down beside a motionless Zelgadiss.

"I'm fine," Zelgadiss replied. "But how did you get here? Wait, how did you even find me?"

"Well, for getting here, we snuck into the school's mind transporter and to find you ..." Here, Lina's face became slightly tinged with red. "Um, well, actually ..."

Zelgadiss narrowed his eyes. "Go on."

Laughing in embarrassment, Lina rubbed the back of her head as Zelgadiss continued to glare at her, apparently refusing to let the subject drop. Realizing this, Lina slumped over and sighed in defeat. "I bought a magical ring called finder from one of the shops on MS High's main campus," she explained sheepishly. "Basically, by saying the names of the people I want, it keeps track of where everyone is."

"And you didn't tell any of us about this," Zelgadiss stated.

"Um ..."

"Isn't there something called invasion of privacy?"

"Now hold on there, Zel!" Lina interrupted, slamming her hands down onto the ground. "You should be glad that I did that, or else who knows what could've happened!"

Zelgadiss stared into Lina's bright eyes for a moment, then turned away. "But now ... You know, don't you."

Lina blinked, then lifted her head up to gaze at the wispy clouds streaking the otherwise clear blue sky. "Of course. I'd had my suspicions before, but Vrumugun attacking you here pretty much proves that you're the same person as the one I'd met before."

In the background, Amelia's voice rang through the forest again. "Lina! Lina, how could you leave your friends like this?!"

Hearing this, Lina stood up and dusted off her skirt. Cupping her mouth in her hands, she yelled, "Amelia, Gourry, Sylphiel! I'm right here with Zel!"

As he gazed up at Lina, Zelgadiss couldn't help but wonder what she was thinking. So she knows, he thought. Well, what now? As he pondered over that issue, another question suddenly occurred to him. Wait a minute, how could she have mastered a spell that quickly? Could she ...

" ... Hey."

Lina looked back down at Zelgadiss. "Yes?"

Staring at the ground, Zelgadiss muttered, "We need to talk. Alone."

Lina's face took on an angry look as she raised her right index finger to point at the battered teenager. "Hey. Don't get all perverted on me, Zel."

Zelgadiss' face crashed into the ground. "AND JUST HOW WAS THAT PERVERTED?!" he exclaimed, jumping to his feet, his face bright red in anger.

Lina grinned and adopted a lecturing pose. "Never tell an innocent girl you want to talk to her alone. After all, who knows what perverted thoughts guys might have?"

"Who's an innocent girl?" Zelgadiss sweat-dropped.

"Hey ..." Lina growled, narrowing her eyes.

Zelgadiss chuckled a little at her reaction, but immediately clutched his stomach as he coughed again in pain.

"Zel!" Lina cried, moving to support her friend.

"Zelgadiss!" Amelia screamed, appearing from the shadows of the dense forest and rushing from behind Lina toward Zelgadiss. "Zelgadiss, what happened?!"

Zelgadiss raised his head to answer, but suddenly, the pounding in his head grew heavier. Slowly, his vision blurred and he slumped forward into Lina's arms unconscious. At this point, Sylphiel and Gourry also appeared from the area where Amelia had come from and ran to join the cluster surrounding Zelgadiss.

Upon seeing Zelgadiss' situation, Sylphiel stopped short and gasped in shock. "Zelgadiss! Oh no, we have to get him to a medical center immediately!"

"Why don't we use the mind transporter thingy again?" Gourry suggested worriedly from the side.

"Because there are none around here, it only works one way," Lina explained, firmly ignoring her natural blushing and pounding instinct as she gently set Zelgadiss down onto the ground.

"But Zelgadiss ..." Amelia drifted off.

"Do you know of any other spells that might help, Lina?" Sylphiel asked softly.

"I don't know, the only thing that might work is levitation, raywing, or teleport," Lina mused hesitantly. "But I haven't learned raywing yet and levitation is too slow."

"What about teleport, then?" Gourry interjected.

"Hmm ..." Lina murmured thoughtfully, tapping her index finger against her right cheek. "Well, there's a possibility that our bodies will split up into separate atoms and disappear from existence entirely."

"DON'T SAY THAT SO CALMLY!" Gourry shouted, his hands slightly clenched in stress.

"Heh," Lina laughed sheepishly, rubbing the back of her head. "Well, it's true. Teleport is a really hard spell to control and I've just started to learn it, so I'm not too sure about my chances of success. And teleporting all five of us ..."

There was silence for a moment, silence punctuated by Zelgadiss' heavy breathing as everyone looked down at the ground, unsure of what to do.

Then Sylphiel spoke. "Lina, what if you just teleported you and Zelgadiss?"

"Eh?" Lina uttered in surprise. Then her face settled down into a serious expression. "It'll be easier, but there's still a chance I might fail and -- "

"There's no time," Amelia interrupted, a note of desperation in her voice. "Please, Lina."

Lina hesitated, her face slightly troubled, but then she nodded. "Ok. I'm going to teleport to our house and get Hoshi to help out. Just wait here, all right?"

When everyone had nodded their consent and backed away to give more room, Lina moved so that her leg was in contact with Zelgadiss' leg. Then, raising her arms toward the sky, she closed her eyes and began to chant.

"Spirits of the land beyond, gather in my hands."

A wind began to pick up, rustling the few remaining leaves in the surrounding trees as a circle of light began surrounding Lina and Zelgadiss.

"Pierce a road to another world ..." Suddenly opening her eyes, Lina's eyes flashed briefly as she finished, "Teleport!"

Instantly, the two figures at the center of the circle vanished in a shimmer of gold. Soon after, the wind slowly died down to a soft breeze.

"Do you think they'll be all right?" Amelia asked worriedly, staring at the area where Lina had once been in concern.

"I hope so," Sylphiel replied, though her expression indicated that she was worried as well.

"Hey, it's Lina. They'll make it," Gourry smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry."

The hollow echo of Gourry's words reverberated through the desolate clearing as the three remaining figures stood silent, the faint crackling of dying fires being smothered by the wind the only last remnants of magic.

"I'm sorry, Master. I was unable to dispose of Zelgadiss," Vrumugun apologized, bowing deeply in front of the red robed man.

"And what excuse do you have this time?" Rezo stated coldly, looking down at his servant.

"That girl appeared again," Vrumugun answered.



Rezo frowned. "So what if she appeared? I'm getting tired of you, Vrumugun. So far you have been unable to complete the single task of retrieving the item from my grandson despite multiple chances."

"Master, the girl has already learned magic."

" ... I see."

"Your orders, Master?"

Rezo paced about the room thoughtfully for a moment, a plan slowly taking shape in his mind. Nodding, he stopped and turned to face Vrumugun again. "Send her a message informing her that she has two months to learn all that she can before we attack again," he ordered. "At the end of that time, when you attack, attempt to kill both of them."

In the darkness, Rezo's mouth twisted upwards cruelly. "If she really is the one, she'll survive. If not ..."

His words drifted off, but his meaning was clear. If not, she would die.

"So that's the story," Lina finished tiredly, slumping back against the wall of the local medical center's waiting room in relief.

"I see," Hoshi murmured thoughtfully next to Lina. "No wonder Zelgadiss was so hurt. Vrumugun sounds like a really powerful sorcerer."

I wonder why he's after Zelgadiss, Lina mentally sighed, closing her eyes briefly. Could it have something to do with how Zel looks human now? And I still don't know who this him person is!

"Oh! That's right!" Lina exclaimed, standing upright suddenly, another thought coming to mind now that the immediate crisis was over. "Hoshi, could you teleport Amelia, Sylphiel, and Gourry here?"

"Do you know where they are?" Hoshi asked.

"Well, if I have a finder ring, would that work?"

In reply, Hoshi held out his hand. Silently, Lina slipped the ring off her left fourth finger and dropped it into Hoshi's waiting hands. Closing his eyes, Hoshi repeated Amelia's name, then nodded, the image of where they were apparently coming to mind. Handing the ring back to Lina, he held his hands up in the air and softly whispered, "Teleport."

Almost immediately, three pillars of teal light appeared in front of Hoshi, each materializing to form the distinct outlines of Gourry, Amelia, and Sylphiel. All three blinked a few times, apparently still disoriented from the spell. Amelia was the first to recover.

"Lina!" she cried, running up to her. "Lina!"

Lina smiled brightly and flashed a peace sign. "It's ok, Amelia, I'm fi -- "

"Is Zelgadiss ok?"

Lina face-faulted. "Hey, what about me?!"

"Oh yeah," Amelia laughed weakly. "I'm really glad that you haven't broken up into separate atoms, Lina!"

"And you add that on as an afterthought," Lina growled, glaring at Amelia.

"Um ..."

"Lina, how's Zelgadiss?" Sylphiel cried, rushing up to the pair.

Another crash sounded. "Sylphiel, not you too!" Lina whined, picking her face up from the ground.

"Eh? Did I miss something?" Sylphiel asked blankly, staring at Amelia and Lina for answers.

"Huh? Miss what?" Gourry joined in, scratching his head. Then he saw Lina. "Oh, hi Lina! What are you doing on the floor? And how's Zelgadiss?"

"Zelgadiss this, Zelgadiss that," Lina muttered, getting to her feet. "What's so special about him anyway?!"

"Never mind about that, just tell us already!" Amelia pleaded, grabbing onto Lina's sleeve.

Lina sighed in defeat. "Zel's fine, he just needs to rest. He probably won't be going back to school today."

"That reminds me," Hoshi interrupted, tapping Gourry on the shoulder to open up the circle. "All of you should be going back to MS High now. You'll have only missed your first class, so you should be just in time for your second one."

"But Zelgadiss -- " Amelia began.

"Relax, the protection on this area is so great that only the highest level spell casters will be able to break in," Hoshi said reassuringly.

"Spell casters?" Sylphiel repeated in confusion.

"Yeah, the guy who attacked Zelgadiss was apparently a really good sorcerer," Hoshi explained, missing the frantic gestures from Lina to stop. "Is there something wrong, Lina?"

"Eh?" Lina responded, quickly hiding the threatening fist she'd made at Hoshi behind her back. "No, there's nothing wrong!"

But now that Amelia, Sylphiel, and Gourry know ... Well, maybe not Gourry, Lina amended, sweat-dropping as she realized Gourry's attention was now focused on looking at the magazines on the waiting table.

"Hey, could we continue this discussion after school?" Lina stated, looking at everyone. "That way, Zel will be there too."

"Do we all meet here then?" Sylphiel asked. "Um, wait, where are we anyway?"

"In the local medical center, a few blocks away from Tavern House," Hoshi answered. "Just take the transporter back to Tavern House and I'll take you here. Did you hear that, Gourry?"

"Huh?" Gourry said, looking up from the magazine he was currently looking at.

"Don't worry, we all have magic last, so we can just come here together," Sylphiel smiled.

Hoshi nodded. "Well then, in that case ..." Raising his hands again, he smiled once at the group of four. "Teleport!"

The rapid pounding of several footsteps sounded through the halls of MS High as Lina and company ran as rapidly as they could from their Algebra room to their next class on the first floor, Basic History. The countdown began as the last straggling students made it to class on time, leaving the hallways clear for the gang of four. 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ...

"WE MADE IT!" Lina cheered, flinging open the door to room 108 just as the tardy bell rang.

The black-haired young male teacher at the front of the room nodded once at the small group, then grinned and pointed to the four front row seats in front of the desk, apparently used to dilatory students. "Planning on standing there all day?" he winked.

"No, Mister ..." Sylphiel trailed off, realizing that she'd forgotten the name of the teacher.

"Students call the teachers by their first names at MS High," the unknown male smiled. "My name is Terahn."

Quickly, all four students took their seats and placed their backpacks on the floor as Terahn marked the single oval for Zelgadiss on the attendance record and placed it down on the desk.

"Today we won't be doing much; I'll just give you a brief overview of what we will be learning this year and that's about it. This year, we will be going through the creation of the world to the present generally. There are seven total periods. The first two will be studied in detail next year, the next two the year after that, and the remaining periods split up into one period per year afterwards."

Pausing a bit to let the words sink in, Terahn walked to the white board in front of the room and pointed to the basic time line he'd drawn on the board.

"As you can see, the year which we start off in is just 0 and marks the creation of MS High. For 5,000 years after that, dragons and mazoku fought while humans nearly disappeared off the face of the planet. This is known as the Dragons and Mazoku Period. Following that, from 5,000 to 7,000 was the Waiting Period, in which humans slowly built up their population underground. From 7,000 to 8,000 was the Rebuilding Period in which humans began to populate land once more. The Medieval Period was next, from 8,000 to 8,400 followed by the Development Period from 8,400 to 9,100. This period was where most of our magic began to finally be developed with the tightening of spells, the creation of many magical items, etc. The Industrial Period was next from 9,100 to 9,500 and that brings us to our current period, the Pinnacle Period. Any questions so far?"

The whole class was silent, eyes wide at the amount of information they had just been given.

Terahn sweat-dropped. "Another group of history impaired students, I take it." He sighed. "Oh well, you'll learn." And so saying, he launched into a more detailed discussion of the first period.

"I can't believe we have homework on the first day already," Amelia complained, adjusting her hold on her backpack as she walked with Sylphiel, Lina, and Gourry to the next class, Survival Skills.

"It doesn't seem too bad," Sylphiel consoled. "It's only a few pages of reading."

"Yeah," Gourry agreed as all four stopped in front of their next class. Opening the door, Lina right behind him, he added, "Besides, there -- " That was when he realized that there were several glinting knives quickly approaching his body. "YEEEAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!"

"W-WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!" Lina gasped in a strangled voice, her back pressed up in terror against the hallway walls while the awkwardly posed Gourry, who had both arms bent and his right leg raised away from the door, stood on one leg on the opposite side of the entrance, bulging eyeballs flickering between the open doorway and the opposite wall where several throwing knives lay embedded in the wall.

Clanging came from inside the door as several passing students glanced once at the throwing knives, nodded, and gave shakes of sympathy at the group. "Congratulations!" a masculine voice boomed out as a greying man appeared from the door, a pair of throwing knives and a gong in his hands. "You have mastered the first rule of survival, duck before you get killed!"

A dark shadow fell on the group as the sounds of crackling fire emitted from Lina's aura. Sweat-dropping, Amelia and Sylphiel backed away.

"WHAT KIND OF A TEACHER TRIES TO KILL HIS OWN STUDENTS?!" Lina screamed at their "attacker" with clenched hands.

"Now, now, now, don't be so touchy," the teacher lectured. "After all, hands on experiences are the best way to teach."

"AND WHAT IF WE DIED?!" Gourry joined in, grabbing his hair in tension.

"YEAH, DID YOU THINK ABOUT THAT ONE?!" Lina shouted, grabbing her teacher by the shoulders and shaking him back and forth.

"I-it n-never h-happened b-before!!!!" the dizzy teacher managed to say in between shakes.

"Lina, don't you think that's enough?" Sylphiel called worriedly, her hands at her mouth.

"HE ALMOST CAUSED ME TO LOSE MY PRECIOUS YOUTH!!!!" Lina screamed, breathing fire at Sylphiel and Amelia while still managing to continue her shaking.

"Eep! Lina's face is scary!" Amelia whimpered, ducking behind Sylphiel.

By this point, quite a gathering had formed around the small group with several murmurs emitting from the upperclassmen and underclassmen alike.

"Um, do you think Lina's allowed to be beating up a teacher like this?" Sylphiel sweat-dropped as Lina proceeded to pummel said teacher.

"Don't worry, this happens every year," a spectator commented. "Perez is a pretty good teacher, but none of us have forgotten the first day training he gave us."

"You mean he's done this before?" Amelia questioned in disbelief.

"Oh yeah, every year," another passing student called out. "Beating up Perez on the first day has become a tradition. Strange, you'd think he'd learn by now."

By now, Lina had calmed down and the crowd had drifted off, leaving only the other twenty members of the class to watch in stunned amazement as Lina wiped the sweat from her brow, grinned happily, and marched into the classroom leaving a dazed Perez with several bruises behind her.

"Teacher, are you all right?" one student asked worriedly, bending down next to the swirly eyed teacher.

Shaking his head, Perez jumped up immediately and proudly declared, "What a wonderful student! She'll pass Survival Skills with flying colors!"

"Don't tell me Survival Skills is just avoiding getting killed," Amelia said incredulously, a little wary of her new teacher.

"No, of course not," Perez replied, dusting himself off. "There's attacking and defending as well as miscellaneous things such as basic finance, cooking, and how to survive in the wilderness. Now then, shall we go inside the classroom and begin the lesson?"

"I'm a little afraid of what the second lesson will be," Amelia whispered to Sylphiel as the class filed in.

Sylphiel sighed. "So am I ..."

As the chattering of the class faded, the light breathing of an unknown person behind the nearest corner emerged, though it could barely be heard. Unbeknownst to any of the students, the tall figure stood utterly still against the wall, one leg propped up, gazing at the fast disappearing class intently.

" ... ."

Lunchtime finally arrived following the fourth class of electives and the sounds of bantering students rose from many parts of MS High as groups were established and new friends were made. Eating places for lunch were being claimed by the upperclassmen while the newer students wandered about until they decided on a course of action. In a secluded corner of the school, Lina's group of four had already found a place to eat. All of them sat contentedly eating their lunches while conversing about the class they just had.

"So as soon as I walk in, my business teacher starts bartering with me!" Lina said indignantly as she tore off a piece of her chicken sandwich, one which Sylphiel had prepared that morning. "Do you have any idea how old bartering is?! And then, of course, she wastes half the period doing that before finally calling it a draw!"

"Wow, that sounds like a big accomplishment, Lina," Gourry commented, somehow managing to say something despite his basic inhalation of food.

Lina flipped her hair and said smugly, "Well, I guess I just have natural talent."

"What about your cooking class, Sylphiel?" Amelia inquired, purposefully restraining herself from commenting about Lina's "natural talent."

"Oh! Well, we didn't really do much today, but my teacher seems really nice," Sylphiel smiled. "I'm sure I'll learn a lot from her."

"Yeah, my law teacher is great too!" Amelia gushed, her eyes suddenly sparkling like stars. "He's so enthusiastic about catching evildoers! Plus, he says justice speeches, too!" Sighing happily, the star-struck girl concluded, "It's just like having Father with me!"

"Oh, so your dad's like that too, Amelia?" Lina sweat-dropped.

Amelia laughed weakly and admitted, "Mmm. Something like that."

"So, Gourry, how was your class?" Sylphiel asked next, turning to the blond teenager.

"Oh, well, I had problems figuring out how to use the sword," Gourry answered calmly.

Lina face-faulted. "I thought that you were supposed to be really good with the sword since you can't do magic!" she sputtered, looking up at Gourry with a red face.

"Hmm?" was Gourry's only reply, a piece of chicken dangling out of his mouth and a clueless expression on his face.

" ... Never mind," Lina groaned, resuming her previous sitting position and immediately continuing with her food consumption.

Amelia laughed at Lina's reaction, then said conversationally, "Hey, have you heard about the library at this school yet, Lina?"

"Noh, whah doh yoa ahsk?" came the muffled reply.

"If that was 'no, why do you ask,' then it's because I heard it was supposed to be the best in the world," Amelia responded, taking another bite out of her ham sandwich.

A calculating look came over Lina's face as she swallowed. "Hmm ... Well, looks like I'll have to go visit it sometime."

Amelia narrowed her eyes. "Hey. You do know that you can't steal the books, right Lina?"

Fortunately, before Lina could reply, the bell for the end of lunch rang. "Ah, no way! How could lunch be this short?" Lina exclaimed, looking at her watch.

"It's because we took so long to find a place to eat," Sylphiel said, picking up her backpack and throwing out her lunch bag. "That took up most of lunch."

"At least now it's Swordsmanship," Amelia commented, following Sylphiel's lead.

Lina's ears immediately perked up. "Did you say Swordsmanship? Then right after that it'll be Magic!" Pumping her fist into the air, Lina cheered, "Come on, let's go!"

The next instant, Lina was running off toward the physical education buildings which were a little bit away from MS High's main building, her friends in tow behind her.

"Hey, Lina, wait! We need to change out of our uniforms first!" Amelia cried desperately, despite being dragged along.

"Oh, why didn't you say so in the first place?" Lina chirped, making a quick detour toward the girl's changing room, which was connected to the main PE building.

"HEY, WAIT! I'M NOT A GIRL!" Gourry yelled in a panic, struggling to escape from Lina's grasp, apparently realizing the implications of Lina's statement.

Lina only laughed. "Oh, well, that's no problem, since you have long blond hair, I'm sure that no one will notice the difference."

"WHAT KIND OF LOGIC IS THAT?!" Gourry screamed futilely, already being carried into the girl's locker room.

The next instant, several screams pierced the small building followed by curses, threats, and the clattering of thrown objects connecting with flesh or parts of the room.

"WHAT'S A GUY DOING IN THE GIRL'S LOCKER ROOM?!?!" one girl shrieked, throwing a bottle of perfume at Gourry.

Several other girls followed suit with different objects, all of them yelling, "PERVERT!"

"But I'm not a pervert!" Gourry tried to explain even as he was being forcefully pushed out.

"THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?!" the remaining voices joined in angrily.

"Hmm ... guess that didn't work," Lina mused thoughtfully, observing Gourry's frantic attempts at escaping the thrown objects by making his way to the exit. Then she shrugged and palmed her locker to open it. "Oh well."

"Lina, how could you be so mean?" Amelia gaped, a little stunned over the events.

"Consider it a life lesson," Lina said sagely, taking out her black leggings, loose white tunic, and black cloak. "At least Gourry knows that he'll never make it as a cross-dresser."

Sylphiel and Amelia both face-faulted.

"And why would Gourry want to cross-dress in the first place?!" Sylphiel cried, standing behind Lina.

Lina grinned, turned around, and cutely tilted her head. "You never know what guys might do!"

"Lina, is this because Gourry insulted you about your figure again this morning?" Sylphiel sweat-dropped, a hint of disbelief in her voice.

She knows me too well, Lina sweat-dropped, taking off her vest and tie. "N-no, of course not! Why would you think that?"

Shaking her head knowingly, Sylphiel also palmed her locker open and took out the same ensemble Lina had, Amelia following her example. It took only a few more minutes to get changed before all three girls set out for the open circular arena. Inside, the clanging of swords among the upperclassmen of MS High could already be heard, grunts or shouts of battle echoing in the air. Swords flashed brightly, reflecting the light of the sun and yelled instructions from the teacher could barely be heard amidst the other noises.

Shielding her eyes from the sun, Lina paused to gaze at her surroundings. The main PE building with the locker room extensions could still be seen over her shoulder with MS High's dim outline even further than that. The arena itself had four elegant archways for entrances, one in each direction, and glinting marble rows for seating above the entrances and spanning the arena sides. The actual floor of the arena was grass, though MS High must have done something to it because judging by the amount of damage the grass was currently taking, it should have been long gone.

"Lina, Amelia, Sylphiel!" Gourry waved from the opposite side of the enclosed space, disturbing Lina's thoughts. "Our class is meeting over here!"

"Ok!" Lina waved back, running toward Gourry, Sylphiel and Amelia right behind.

Upon reaching the small cluster of students, Lina wondered, "Hey, wait a minute, where's the teacher?"

"Over there," Gourry pointed.

Turning, Lina saw a man with dark-brown hair walking toward the group, a stern expression on his face and a long sword strapped to his back. He wore a black t-shirt and long pants, his steps purposeful as he slowly approached. Maybe it was because of his serious attitude, but when he finally stopped, the class fell silent and turned its entire attention on him, waiting for his instructions.

For a moment, the man did not say anything. Only his eyes scanned the students, taking note of each individual before pausing at Lina, Gourry, Sylphiel, and Amelia.

The first words out of his mouth were, "So you're the troublesome group of teenagers Hoshi told me about."

The entire class sweat-dropped.

"Oh, so you know about us, huh?" Lina chirped, mentally taking a note to beat up Hoshi after school.

Drawing his sword, the teacher held it in front of him and stared at it. "Hoshi asked me to get revenge on all of you, especially that redhead."


"But I'm a nice guy, so don't worry."

Is everyone at this school crazy?! Lina wondered, incredulously looking at the perfectly calm teacher. Oh, hell, what did I get myself into ...

At that moment, the teacher smiled. "Ok, let me introduce myself. My name is Phes and I'll be your teacher for the rest of this year. Today, I'll introduce you to the parts of the sword and what makes a good sword. By the end of the week, I expect all of you to buy a sword, so pay attention, understand?"

The class nodded.

"Good. Then let the lesson commence."

In a darkened pitch black room, two figures stood side by side looking at the screen on which a red-haired girl was displayed pointing at different parts of a sword and excitedly asking questions while the brown-haired holder of the sword answered each and every one calmly. Two pairs of eyes gazed intently at the girl, purple and blue in color, each searching for something.

Finally, the blue-eyed figure broke the silence. "She seems quite remarkable. Mastering freeze arrow and simple spells like lighting and levitation in just a few days. Don't you think that it's time to -- "

"No," the other shadow interrupted firmly. "We're unsure of whether she actually is the one we're looking for yet. We must not act rashly."

" ... Of course."

"Just wait. We can wait and see. After all, we've been waiting for so long already, what does one or two more years matter?"

Lina, Gourry, Sylphiel, and Amelia sat in one of the marble benches surrounding the arena after walking up the stairs to reach it. Sighing in contentment, Amelia softly said, "Well, school is almost over, just magic class to go through."

"Do you think that we'll be able to cast spells today?" Lina mused aloud, leaning back against the seat and closing her eyes briefly. "We're in the arena today so there's enough room."

Sylphiel frowned slightly. "But we're always in the arena for Magic."

"Well, who knows?" Lina murmured sleepily. "We might get lucky."

"Hey, Lina," Gourry said, looking down and to his right at Lina. "Don't fall asleep."

"But it's been such a long day ..." came the tired murmur.

"Look, I think that our teacher is coming," Amelia commented, pointing at the cloaked figure of a young black-haired male wearing shoulder guards, a red tunic, a belt, and white pants. "I think that we'd better join the rest of the class."

And so saying, she got up and walked toward the stairs. Glancing once at Lina, Sylphiel nodded, then stood up to follow, a reluctant Lina a few paces behind while Gourry remained sitting in the bleachers, his classes for the day done with. Once the other milling members of the class had also joined up in front of the teacher, he stood silently staring up at the sky, his cape fluttering slightly in the breeze as a wind whipped around him. With an emotionless expression on his face, he turned to face his class with piercing blue eyes.

"Anyone want a piece of me?" he whispered in a deadly voice, somehow leveling the entire class with a glare as the power of his magic shimmered in a light blue aura around his figure, the wind picking up steadily around him and causing his cape to flap even more. The class involuntarily took a step back. Slowly, the man closed his eyes for a moment and snapped his fingers once. The wind immediately died down. The next instant, he opened his eyes, a huge grin on his face as he pointed straight into the center of the crowd, causing several students to clear the pathway by jumping out of the way in fear.

"All right, all of you have just learned the first lesson in magic," the man gushed perkily. "Look like you're gonna kill someone, give a little of that tough guy talk, and learn the technique of making the wind flap your cape around you. WHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! The little guys will run from you in fear! Intimidation, it's all about intimidation! Got that?"

The answer was a blank stare from every single person in the class, a stare which he apparently ignored completely as shining stars appeared in his eyes.

"Yes, all of you will master these techniques by the time this class is over, I just know it! Come on, why don't all of you cheer?! Aren't you overjoyed by that thought?"

"Sick is more like it," Lina muttered, her head bowed. "Do you think he's related to Perez?"

"Our Survival Skills teacher?" Sylphiel whispered back, her hand at her mouth in astonishment. "Well, they certainly share the same enthusiasm ..."

"Perez? He's my father!" the teacher exclaimed, apparently also possessing amazingly good hearing. "Oh, that's right, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Lanz!"

A student raised his hand. "Excuse me, Lanz?"

Lanz grinned. "Yes?"

"WHAT exactly are we supposed to be doing today?"

"Oh, yeah!" Lanz exclaimed, dropping his right fist into his left palm. "That's right! We need to start with the basic magic lecture and then proceed to the basic spells!"

"I'm not sure I want to learn basic spells with a crazy teacher like this," Lina muttered, her head dropping even lower.

"As all of you know, there's white, black, shamanism, and divine magic! For half of the period, all we'll be doing is covering the basics of all four categories but the second half, we'll split up into groups based on your magic specialty. Then you'll practice spells while teachers teaching during this period will watch over each group." Lanz paused and looked around at the class, making sure that the students had processed that information. "Ok then, first spell of the day, lighting! It's one of the most basic spells as well as one of the most useful. It's under the white category and creates light. Repeat after me."

Holding up his hand so that the palm was facing up, he chanted, "Source of all power. Light which burns beyond crimson."

Hesitantly, the rest of the class imitated Lanz's gesture, slowly repeating the words of the spell, power gathering in each hand.

"Let thy power gather in my hand! Lightning!"

Instantly, a globe of light appeared in Lanz's hand, causing most of the students to forget about the completion of the spell and drop their hands in awe.

"Well, what are you standing around for?" Lanz barked in a commanding tone. "Finish the spell already!"

Several completions of the spell were hastily said and a few more globes of light appeared. The rest of the students who had stopped the spell shifted uncomfortably in embarrassment.

Lanz sighed. "All right, let's try again."

By the end of the first half of the lesson, Lina had learned absolutely nothing. So far, the only things the group had done were practicing the lightning spell and watching more demonstrations of it by Lanz. Maybe I shouldn't have gone ahead with magic, Lina mentally sighed. When will we be learning harder spells?

As if reading her mind, Lanz nodded for the final time and announced, "For homework, make sure you get a good start on memorizing the spell for lightning so we can all try it out again tomorrow. Also, read a little on the next spells we're going to be learning, levitation and diem wind. Oh, and find some capes!"

The class collectively sweat-dropped, recalling their first "lesson."

Oblivious to the class' reaction as usual, Lanz continued, "Now, split up into groups. Black magic is over there, white there, shamanism there, and divine here."

Here? Lina thought in confusion, pausing in mid-step. But that means that ...

"Bye, Lina!" Amelia and Sylphiel waved, walking to their teacher happily.

"HEY, WAIT FOR ME!" Lina yelled, flailing her arms wildly.

"Oh, so you have a specialty of divine magic?" Lanz grinned from the side. "Looks like I'll be your teacher for the whole period then!"

Lina slumped down onto the ground. "Why ..." she muttered, her fists clenched together. "WHY ME?!"

"Anyway, looks like the other students are here," said Lanz, his face abruptly changing to his first cool, serious, drop dead gorgeous looking guy expression. Switching to his dangerous deep voice, he said in a velvety voice, "Time for the first lesson."

"Don't you dare," Lina narrowed her eyes.

Lanz smirked, brushing his bangs out of his right eye cooly. "I'm sorry, did you want a special extra lesson when we're alone?" he asked seductively, his tone implying something which Lina didn't even want to think about at her current age.


"EEP!" Lanz cried, ducking to the side and tucking his legs in instinctively to roll and end up in a prepared crouch.

Snapping her fingers, Lina caused the icy coolness to vanish in midair as Lanz looked on, surprise clearly written on his face. With burning eyes and a crackling aura of fire around her figure, Lina stood up darkly, her face set in an almost maniacal expression.

"No one gets away with hitting on me," Lina whispered dangerously, her fists clenched together in anger. "LINA INVERSE PERVERT RETRIBUTION COMBINATION!!!!"

"Spells for defense against physical attacks, spells for defense against physical attacks," Lanz repeated at hyper speed as he searched frantically through his basic magic notebook. Looking up with tears streaming down his face, he reluctantly concluded, "I can't find any!"

The next instant, Lina's foot met his head, followed by a knee in his back, a punch on his head, a kick on his shin ...

"Is she a student or a professional torturer?" one female student commented at the side in disbelief, wincing a little at Lina's deadly accuracy.

"Looks like the latter," another student sweat-dropped as the fighting continued. Luckily for these students, Lina was too preoccupied with her physical training to hear either of those remarks.

"SUPER INVERSE DOUBLE SMASH! WHIRLWIND HYPER KICK!" Lina screamed from within the dust cloud of the fight, executing both attacks perfectly.

"Does she always make up names for her attacks?" a tall brown-haired man wondered, stopping next to the students who were surrounding the couple.

"I don't know, but are you allowed to attack the staff?" the student next to the new arrival wondered.

The man smiled a little, taking his hands out of his jacket. "Hmm ... well, I don't think a rule is going to stop her from the looks of it. Better stop this before it gets too serious, though."

Lifting up his hands, he muttered, "Source of all power. Wind which blows to the east." All of the students within hearing range scattered. Holding up several burning arrows in his hand, the man completed the spell, throwing the arrows at the dust cloud with a shout, "Flare arrow!"

The next instant, the fight had completely died down to be replaced by a pair of sizzling humans.

"Well, that's that," the caster of the spell sighed, walking up to the burnt teacher and student.

"Did you really have to make the flare arrow that strong, Larza?" Lanz croaked as he stared up at the assistant principal of Glats, smoke coming out of his mouth.

"Sorry about that," Larza replied sheepishly, reaching down to help Lanz up. "Anyway, you look a little dazed so I'll be taking over your divine magic class for today, ok?"

Lanz grinned rakishly, then turned to Lina, who had also gotten up by now as well. "Well, looks like we won't be able to have that special training -- "

"You talk too much," Lina gritted out, punching Lanz in the gut and causing him to fall backwards slowly.

"Lively batch we have this year, don't we," squeaked Lanz in a rather high voice, his eyes swirling and apparently done with his teasing for the day.

"Haven't you learned when to stop hitting on women yet," Larza sighed in exasperation as he shook his head. "Teleport!"

A shimmer of gold surrounded Lanz and a few moments later, he disappeared. Blinking once, Larza sighed, then turned around to face the divine magic class. "I take it that Lanz didn't start the lesson at all," Larza said wryly, taking off his black jacket and placing it to the side, revealing a slim muscular body underneath. "Well, let's start. Divine magic is a higher level of white magic which can be used for both offense and defense. It was first developed to fight higher level mazoku, which you will learn about in your history class, but since there are no more known mazoku, it has evolved to include more useful spells such as teleport, which I just demonstrated. Any questions so far?"

No one raised their hand.

"Good, then let's begin with one of the most basic divine magic spells, chaotic mirage. Allow me to demonstrate." Holding his right hand in front of his forehead with the palm facing outwards, Larza closed his eyes and murmured, "Source of all souls, which dwells in the infinite. Come to my hand and give me strength."

The swirling of magic gathering in Larza's hands could be seen as blue light emitted from his palm, twisting and turning like a spinning wheel. Closing his hand suddenly, Larza shouted, "Chaotic mirage!"

Instantly, a crackling beam of blue light flashed, and a howling wind began to circle the students, Larza's figure flitting from one part of the column to another without even the space of a blink between each movement. How is this basic? Lina wondered, squinting her eyes as she looked at the swiftly moving principal. Unless ... if it's an illusion ...

"What are all of you looking around for? I'm right where I started," Larza said, snapping his fingers and causing the wind to stop. "Chaotic mirage is easy to master because you're not doing the work, the spirits are. What you're doing is calling on the power of the spirits to surround the enemy and create an illusion while you can escape if in battle. If you have the right amount of control, the spirits will obey."

"Is that what all magic is based on, calling power from spirits?" a pony-tailed girl asked.

Larza shook his head. "Actually, black magic calls on something else entirely while shamanism calls on spirits. White magic calls on holiness while divine magic calls on some spirits and something else."

Another student called out, "Something else?"

"No one knows for sure," Larza explained. "The information was lost in the Dragons and Mazoku Period, when humanity was nearly destroyed. I'm sure all of you will learn about it in your history class."

"So when do we start learning this spell?" Lina interrupted eagerly.

"We'll spend the rest of the period trying it out. Don't worry if you fail, you have until the end of the week to master it. Expect a test of your skills on the last day. Now, begin!"

"Today was really great, wasn't it?" Amelia said happily, a grin on her face as she walked with Lina, Sylphiel, and Gourry out of the front gate of MS High and onto the trail toward their transporter. "I'm really glad we're at MS High!"

"Me too," Sylphiel smiled in content. "Still, I'm a little relieved that the day is over. Walking around here makes me a little nervous after seeing Perez and Lanz."

Lina narrowed her eyes at the mention of Lanz. "Both of them are idiots," she growled. "One trying to kill me and the other hitting on me. Why are they even teaching?!"

"Someone was actually hitting on you?" Gourry asked incredulously.

Lina's eyes flashed dangerously and the next instant, she was dusting her hands as she marched onwards, Gourry left behind on the ground with a small lump on his head as Sylphiel looked on in worry.

"Did you really need to be so harsh, Lina?" Amelia chided reprovingly, running to catch up with her friend.

Lina snorted. "Well, I wouldn't have hit him quite that hard if he hadn't been sleeping during class in plain sight. It's his own fault for doing something like that when he knew I wanted to sleep!"

By this time, the group had reached the transporter. "Anyway, we've gotta go see Zelgadiss now," Lina said, getting into the transporter, her PIC in hand. Slipping the card in, she waited a moment for it to slip out again. Then she repeated the familiar motions of grasping the card in her right hand, feeling the lurch of a shift in gravity, then the plummet, and finally the reorientation inside the transporter in the bustling village where Tavern House was located. Stepping out of the transporter, she waited a few moments for her friends to show up, taking the opportunity to observe her surroundings.

The transporter was situated a little bit behind the sidewalk, a fairly large rectangular box like structure with one opening toward the pavement. Behind it were more old-fashioned houses. To the left of the transporter, the road stopped with a forest and to the right, the road led to another section of old houses.

By now, the transporter hummed a little and then Amelia appeared. "Did you see Hoshi yet?" she asked immediately even before she stepped out of the machine.

Lina shook her head. "Nope, he's probably still in the house."

"I hope that Zelgadiss is all right," Amelia said softly, her brow knitted in concern.

"Don't worry about him, he can take care of himself," Lina laughed reassuringly.

"Of course he can," a smooth male voice said from behind the two conversing girls.

Lina and Amelia both jumped into the air, then turned to find Hoshi grinning down at the two of them. "Yo."

"Don't ever do that again!" Lina screamed, grabbing Hoshi by the collar, her heart pounding rapidly in shock.

"That's right, or justice will hunt you down!" Amelia joined in, also grabbing Hoshi's collar.

"It's your own fault for not paying attention," said Hoshi sullenly.

Lina's eyes flashed dangerously. "WHAT did you say?!"

The transporter hummed again, and then Sylphiel appeared. She smiled as she stepped out of the metal structure, then halted in her steps when she realized that Lina, Amelia, and Hoshi were engaged in a fight. "Oh my, a fight already?"

A little after, Gourry also appeared and blinked, surprised at seeing the fight scene so soon. "Hey, isn't it a little early?" he whispered to Sylphiel, pointing at the blob of dust in the middle of the street.

"How are we going to find the medical center if Hoshi needs to be able to move to take us there?" Sylphiel wondered in worry.

The fight stopped immediately. "Oh no, I'd totally forgotten!" Amelia gasped, dropping a dazed Hoshi onto the ground.

Lina, who had been aiming to punch at Hoshi's face, now found her fist meeting empty air. Flailing her arms frantically, she fought to regain her balance, but failed. A crash sounded and she landed face down on the pavement. "AMELIA ..." she gritted out, lifting her red face to glare up at her friend.

"Ah, wait!" Amelia cried, waving her arms up and down in frantic defense. "We need to go see Zelgadiss, remember?"

"Oh yeah!" Lina exclaimed. "Hoshi, let's get going."

The entire group sweat-dropped.

"What?" Lina asked indignantly, blinking as though she'd done nothing wrong.

" ... Never mind," Hoshi sighed, wincing a little at the fresh bruises he had. "Let's go."

In a few minutes, the group had gone to the downtown area of the village and entered the local medical center, a relatively small building with a waiting room, a few offices, and several other rooms for patients.

"Zelgadiss Graywords?" the cheery secretary at the front desk repeated. "He's down the hall to your left."

Nodding their thanks, the group walked to Zelgadiss' room and knocked on the door.

"Zel? Are you awake?" Lina called, an ear pressed against the door.

" ... No."

"You must be stupid if you think speaking is going to convince us that you're sleeping," Lina said incredulously.

" ... Leave me alone."

"Come right on in? Sure!" Lina grinned, flinging open the door.

"I didn't hear that, did you?" Hoshi asked Gourry.


"He means it in his heart," Lina called over her shoulder, already walking in.

"Don't put words in my mouth for me," Zelgadiss growled, sullenly sitting up in his bed, his upper torso outlined against his white undershirt. He looked a little disheveled and paler than usual, but apparently still alive and breathing.

"Zelgadiss!" Amelia cried, running toward the bed, arms flung open for a hug.

Zelgadiss' eyes widened considerably and he frantically pushed himself to the back railing of the bed, none too happy about the prospect of a hug. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your outlook, Amelia tripped and crashed onto the floor instead. Lowering his head in relief, Zelgadiss slid back down to his previous position.

"Anyway, I'm really happy that you're ok!" Amelia said happily, lifting her face up from the ground.

Zelgadiss nodded, smiling a little at Amelia's antics. Then he turned to the remaining people in the room. "Well, as you can see, I'm perfectly fine," he stated wryly. "When can I leave?"

Hoshi raised an eyebrow. "Actually, we were going to take you home after this visit is over."

Zelgadiss nodded, then threw off the covers of the bed. Sliding off the mattress, he walked to the chair on which the shirt for MS High's uniform was placed and began putting it on. "All of you want to know about what happened, don't you."

"Well, that is ..." Sylphiel trailed off.

Gourry looked outside the door into the hall and stated, "If you don't want to tell us, that's fine, Zelgadiss."

" ... It's your choice," Lina nodded softly, looking away.

Hoshi shifted uncomfortably. "Actually, I've already slipped up a little and told them that a spell caster was involved ..."

Zelgadiss blinked once, then sighed and turned to face his friends. "The man who was after me is named Vrumugun," he began hesitantly. "I took an illegal technology for complete transformation from ..." Here he hesitated, glancing once at Lina. " ... from my grandfather. I'm not sure why he sent Vrumugun after me since he could easily make another one, but he is." Looking down at the floor, he said in a depressed tone, "I'm sorry for getting all of you involved."

"But why would you steal a transformation device?" Amelia wondered in confusion.

Zelgadiss swallowed once, then closed his eyes and whispered, "Unbind." Suddenly, a soft glow surrounded him and his skin began to turn blue, his ears began to grow pointy, rocks appeared amidst his skin, and his hair became metallic. "I was originally a human. But now this is my true form," Zelgadiss said emotionlessly, still staring at the ground. "The transforming device changes my appearance so that I have the same characteristics as a human, but with the added capabilities of a chimera."

"Who ... Who did this to you, and why?" Sylphiel breathed, her eyes wide in shock.

" ... It's none of your business."

"Now hold on there, Zel!" Lina interjected, marching up to Zelgadiss and pushing him against the wall, her hands clamped onto his shoulders so that he was forced to look her in the eye. "We care about you! Maybe there's something we can do!"

Hearing those words, Zelgadiss felt an anger build up within him. "Don't you think I've tried?!" he shouted. "I've been searching for one year now, and the best thing I can find is a transformation device! It's my cure! But I'm still walking around among normal humans, knowing that it's all fake! I'm a monster!"

A stress mark appeared on Lina's forehead. Pounding Zel into the ground, she loomed over him as he blinked in astonishment and declared, "If you think for one minute I'm going to let you feel depressed about your situation, you're wrong! Don't spend time losing hope when there's always a chance!" Her eyes flashing in determination, Lina concluded, "Cheer up! We're here now, aren't we?"

"Lina's right!" Amelia grinned brightly. "Besides, I think you look cool like that, Zelgadiss!"

Zelgadiss looked up at his friends in stunned amazement, speechless over what to say next. They don't care, he realized. Looking over each of his friends, he saw that they were smiling at him, not turning away in fear. None of them care.

"Anyway, we've got other things to worry about, too," Hoshi sighed, leaning back against the wall with his arms crossed and his bangs falling in front of his face. "How will we know when or if Vrumugun will attack again?"

"Vrumugun will attack," Zelgadiss said stoically, looking up at the ceiling. "And he will attack in two months."

"Why two months?" Gourry asked, scratching his head in confusion.

Zelgadiss reached into his pocket and pulled out a rumpled piece of paper. Lina, who was closest, snatched it up to read.

"Zelgadiss Graywords and Lina Inverse, learn all that you can in two months. At the end of that time, I will come, and I will kill you," Lina read aloud.

"Not very delicate, is he," Hoshi remarked, folding his arms behind his head. "But why the two months?"

"Who knows," Zelgadiss replied, closing his eyes briefly. "For all we know, it could just be sadistic pleasure."

"Someone should catch this Vrumugun and put him in jail!" Amelia declared, an angry expression on her face.

"And who's going to do that?" Hoshi retorted reasonably. "He's obviously protected by someone influential and he's a formidable opponent as well."

Sylphiel turned to go out the door. "Well, we might as well go home, then," she called over her shoulder. "There's nothing we can do now."

The rest of the group nodded, then began to file slowly out of the door. Zelgadiss closed his eyes for a moment, then pushed himself up from the ground. Dusting his hands off on his pants, he took a step toward the door, then paused when he saw that Lina was still there looking at him.

For a moment, the two stared silently at each other. Then Lina grinned and said, "You still haven't told me why you followed me all the way to MS High." Flipping her hair, she smugly asked, "I know, it was because of my beauty, wasn't it?"

Zelgadiss sweat-dropped. " ... Actually, it was because I had nothing else to do."

Lina face-faulted. "You're kidding."

Zelgadiss shifted nervously. "Um ... no."

"Oh well, let's go then," Lina groaned. "Tch, you're not romantic at all."

"And you are?"


"Two months, is it?" a purple-eyed figure repeated, leaning back against the office's leather seat. "Then she'd better learn quickly."

"If she is the one, she will," Rezo stated, a cruel smile on his face.

"Still, there's something strange about her," the other figure frowned, glancing for a moment at the screen. "She seems to have troubled dreams every night. We need to investigate this further."

"And what of her family?"

"The only one we know of is, ironically, Luna Inverse. You remember her, of course."

Rezo laughed sinisterly. "Ah yes, the one who died of the fire."

"It's too bad no one else is alive in her family. It would have been interesting to see what other surprises the Inverses might have had for us."

"Assuming that she is the one, of course."

The purple-eyes of the sitting figure glazed over, a faint tinge of red glinting for a moment as the eyes hungrily turned back toward the screen. "I hope that she is. We've been waiting for so long ..."

Author's Notes

Ok! This story is starting to go somewhere (pretend, ok?) but it's still taking me forever to get one part done. Oh well, I'm trying. Tell me what you think, please, especially what you thought about the new spells and my history timeline. It took me forever to think them up and I need the support! Now if I could just get the first arc done and get all the ideas I have written. Oh, and on a side note, Perez's son, Lanz (the guy who hit on Lina) is inspired by the same artist who drew the MS High Uniforms for me. Isn't he so cool?

Part 4   |   Fanfiction