Okay, this is where the action starts. Lina Inverse, without adult supervision! A bandit's nightmare, but at least some Dragon Slaves will finally happen. Some questions that are probably lurking in your mind right now. Who (and what) are the Tri Ones? How can Phibrizo and Gaav regain their powers if their dead? These mysteries will be solved! Eventually...
"Lina, aren't we supposed to be touring Seyruun?"
"We are, jellyfish."
"I think Amelia meant the city Lina. What are we doing out in the woods?" Lina looked exasperated. "Gourry, it's been over two weeks since I fireballed some bandits. I'm bored, and besides, what would we do in the city?"
Zelgadis wasn't paying attention to their quarrel. He was busy acting the part of Amelia, and scouting the area in a tree. The chimaera held his telescope to one eye, and gazed intently forward. He yelled down to the sorceress, "Lina! Bandits at six o' clock!"
Gourry was confused. "But it's barely one o' clock..."
"Gourry, you are an idiot."
"Lina, you told me that yesterday."
"It is as true today as it was yesterday."
"Was it true last week?"
Lina sighed. "Yes Gourry."
Zelgadis meanwhile, was busy fighting the bandits he had so recently pointed out. "Elmekia... Lance!" A bandit screamed it pain. Zelgadis dodged to one side, narrowly missing being hit by an arrow. "Flare Arrow!" The bow-man who lived by the arrow, died by the arrow. Zelgadis shouted over his shoulder, "Lina, I could use some help here!"
Lina yelled at him, "Zel, shut up! Gourry and I are talking... oh." Lina was irritated. "More bandits. Oh well, this will make me feel better."
Lina raised her hands high, and began to cast the dreaded spell known by bandits throughout the land. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows. Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows."
The bandits began to panic. "Guys, oh no... it, it's Lina Inverse! We're all gonna die!"
"I pledge myself to conquer, all the fools that stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hand. Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed by the power you and I posess!"
Zelgadis dived hastily out of the way.
"DRAGON... SLAVE!" A spark of scarlet fire exploded into a blast of crimson light, and the surrounding woods were... remodeled.
"Lina, I think you overdid it a bit." Zelgadis, Lina, and Gourry were standing on a pinnacle, raised twenty feet above the surrounding devastation.
"Zel, don't be stupid. You asked for my help. I gave it. So at least be a little grateful!"
"It's up for debate if this deserves gratitude, or a good old witch stoning."
Lina gritted her teeth, and Gourry backed away, sensing impending doom. "I save your ungrateful little hide, and you think I should be stoned?! Stoning is for witches. I'm a sorceress, so at least hide that fact that you're dumb as Gourry by staying quiet, as usual."
"Thanks a lot."
"So Zelgadis, have you been an idiot long?" Gourry asked the chimaera in a conversational tone. Lina sweatdropped.
"Why do I keep that squidhead around?" Lina sighed.
"Well, without him, who would recap the story for the readers when it starts to get complicated?"
"Um, Miss Filia, I don't think the asssasins are that dangerous..."
"Amelia, don't be ridiculous. We need to take every precaution when dealing with killers." Filia was setting up a thirty yard barbed wire fence around the palace, with Amelia trying to convince her that it wasn't necessary. "But Miss Filia..."
"Zelgadis assigned me to protect you, and that's what I'm going to do."
"How did I get drafted into this?" Xellos complained as he dug trences along the diameter of the palace.
"Because namagomi, you're the only one who was available."
"What about the guards?"
"They're busy patrolling the circumference of the palace."
There was dead silence. Then... "You're joking, right?"
Filia said sweetly, "Now Xellos dear, the guards have the honorable duty of guarding the royal personage. But that doesn't mean your job of official ditch-digger is any less important."
Xellos sweatdropped. The mazoku looked at how much he had left to dig, and mumbled something. Suddenly, the ground exploded. Amelia and Filia jumped in alarm. When the dust settled, a ditch perfect in every dimension surrounded the palace. Xellos smiled, and flashed a "V" sign at the astounded dragon and princess. Valterin came walking out of the castle in blue blue bunny slippers, yawning and rubbing his eyes. He was in yellos pajamas with picture of explosions splattered across the fabric. The dragon said sleepily, "What's all the noise? It woke me up..."
Filia turned triumphantly to Xellos, for she had finally come up with a reason that why casting the ditch-digging spell was wrong. "Xellos, how dare you wake up my son for his well needed rest, just so you could get out of a little work! What gives you the right to invent such a loud ditch-digging spell?"
"Filia, it wasn't a ditch-digging spell. It was a variation of Dil Brando."
"Whatever. The point is that..."
A man drenched in sweat ran up to Amelia and collapsed. He was in the uniform of a scout of Seyruun, but the tunic was badly torn. The scout breathed in short gasps, as tears ran down his face. Amelia squatted down beside him, looking concerned. "Scout, are you alright? We could get you some help..." The man shook his head.
By this point Xellos, Filia, and Valterin had gotten closer. Filia and Valterin had questions, for they knew not what was going on, but Xellos looked grim, and oddly thoughtful. The scout finally got out, "Your Highness, something terrible has happen. Your... your father was attacked. When he was out visiting Seyruun."
Amelia looked panic-stricken. She grabbed the scout's tunic in earnest. "What happened? Is he dead? Is the assasin still alive?!"
"Prince Philionel was riding his horse through the city. An arrow hit him in the chest. The guards that were with him managed to shoot the attacker, but your father is in a bad way. No healer in the whole of Seyruun can help him now." Amelia's face went pale. Filia let out a short gasp, and Val looked as if he had heard the impossible.
Xellos said quietly, "Only one has the power to save the prince right now. Filia, your magic must be used."
Filia nodded, with a set face. She turned to the scout. "Where is his highness?"
"He... he is the tavern of the Good Spirits. On Justice Avenue."
Filia looked shaken. "I don't know where that is! I can't teleport there."
Xellos grabbed Filia's hand, and whispered, "Filia, this will not be pleasant." As the demon and the dragon disappeared, Amelia heard a faint voice. "Amelia! Take care of Valterin for me!"
Val sat on the ground, and crossed his legs. Amelia watched the little dragon close his eyes, and she heard him murmer, "Act one has begun."
Filia landed in a crash. Xellos, on the other hand, gracefully glided down to the ground. The dragon sprang up, her tail and fangs clearly visible. "Xellos! You didn't have to land me on my head!"
Xellos smiled, looking merry. "Well, my dear Filia, I did tell you that it wouldn't be pleasant."
"Yes, but you did that on purpose!"
"So!? So!? You namagomi, I'm going to pound you into the ground..."
"Quiet please." Filia whirled upon the woman who dared interrupt their argument. When she saw it was a midwife, the dragon quieted. Prince Philionel was lying in a bed, drenched in sweat. A stain of blood covered his tunic, and his labored breathing was easily heard.
Filia crept up beside him silently, and whispered to the midwife, "How much blood has been lost?"
Grimly, the midwife shook her head. "Far, far too much." Filia swore under her breath. She placed her hands onto the prince's chest, and began to say the most powerful healing spell she knew. "The strength of light, of healing, of good, place yourself into my hands. Let your power become mine, and your skill become strong, for light is needed in this world of darkness. Power is needed to help, to heal, to save... Gods, here my plea..." Filia's hands began to glow with a heavenly light. Xellos watched intently, with his eyes fully open. Filia took a deep breath. "CEPHIED... LIGHT!" A pearly glow descended upon the wounded prince, and the breathing quieted. The threat of death disappeared, and Prince Philionel was at last allowed to sleep.
"Oh Miss Filia, how can I thank you enough?" Amelia gushed to the embarressed dragon. They were in the courtyard of the palace, and Prince Philionel was standing next to Amelia, obviously in full health. Xellos was standing nearby with a cheerful smile. He was pleased at how the episode had gone. The only one who felt left out was Val. He was sulking near by, until Xellos walked up.
"You know Val, it's funny. We were all in a rush to get to the prince, but yet I had time to pick up this," and Xellos handed Valterin an ice-cream with three scopes. Val's eyes lit up. "Xellos, how did you know that pistachio double fudge mint with a pineapple topping was my favorite ice-cream?"
"Young Val, it's sort of obvious. Every time I take you out for a treat, this is what you get. I do have a pretty good memory for ice-cream flavors..." And Filia slapped him on the head. The mazoku landed on his face, then sprang back up. "Filia, what was that for?" he whined.
"Namagomi, I don't want you to spoil my son!"
"Fine. Next time I'll forget the topping."
"Oh people of Seyruun! Do not fear for your monarchs, for they are under the protection of Lina Inverse, the bandit slayer! Those who oppose good will be vanquished by the fires of justice, and peace will once again be upon your fair city!" The crowd stared at the girl with scarlet hair, obviously wondering if something was wrong with her.
Lina turned to Zelgadis after reading the speech. "Zelgadis, let me guess; this was written by Amelia."
Zelgadis shrugged. "Well, Prince Philionel helped."
"Of course. The Seyruun royal family is the justice monarchy. I'm beginning to get an idea of why Xellos didn't come."
Zelgadis smirked. "Well, Xellos is staying with Amelia, the one person in the universe who is convinced that demons can be turned to the side of good. I wouldn't be in his place (if I was a monster) for the cure of my curse."
"Yeah, why bother with a cure if you can't stay alive long enough to say it?"
Just then five children ran out in front of the horses, obviously not looking where they were going. Lina, Zelgadis, and Gourry barely had time to stop their horses. The children stared at the trio, then ran off in fright. Lina looked intently at their backs. The children reminded her of some people she once knew.
"Hey Lina, what are you looking at?" Gourry asked the distracted sorceress.
Lina replied, "Those kids remind me of some people..."
Gourry interrupted with an excited exclamation. "Lina! I think I see an all you can eat buffet!"
Lina pumped her arm into the air. "All right!" Thoughts of the children completely erased from her mind, Lina and Gourry raced for the restaurant, with a thoughtful Zelgadis tailing behind. He wondered about the children as well.
"Who was that strange girl?" A little boy asked his sister.
She shrugged indifferently. "I don't know. She was looking at us anyway; that's strange."
"Maybe she's a kidnapper," the elder of the twins suggested. The little girl could only tell the difference between the two because the older twin always had his eyes closed, for he had been blind since birth. "What about the men that were with her? One had stone skin. Must've be a golem, or a chimaera. The other one had long hair," the little girl's other brother said.
"Didn't you notice them? The stone man was looking at us as well."
"I don't think they're kidnappers," the other twin said thoughtfully. "They looked like nice people. Bad people often have poor clothing. That's why they steal kids, to get better clothes. Those three had nice clothes. And didn't you hear the speech? That girl was Lina Inverse. She kills kidnappers. She's a good guy."
"You mean good girl," the girl corrected the twin. Her first brother lifted his eyebrows.
"Isn't it simplistic thinking to believe people who kill bandits are good people themselves? That kind of people kill for the gold, not for justice. Haven't you heard the poem?"
"What poem?" the twins asked in unison.
"Lina Inverse, the bandit killer, casts her dragon dragon slave. When the dust settles, the vagabonds pay 'er, so she'll stay away."
Silence settled over the group. Suddenly, the girl's second brother proclaimed, "And what's wrong with that? If I killed some bandits, I would want some money. Who does work for free, anyway? Only rich idiots who think they're the calling card of justice."
"But getting bribed not to kill bandits is something only a corrupt person who lives for cash would do!"
The twins chorused, "Aqua, you're such an idealist."
Aqua's first brother sighed. He was tired of the twins' and his sister's constant arguments. "Can't we conduct this conversation on a mature, adult level?" Silence. The elder twin looked exasperated. "Hello? In case you didn't notice, you're barely old enought to talk. Maturity is out of the question."
"Of course it is. For you anyway. I, on the other hand, can speak perfectly well."
"That's because you're a snot."
"Am not!"Aqua's second brother choked on a laugh."
"Ha! Now you're doing it! So much for maturity." The younger brother rubbed his temples as the brothers fought fiercely. "I'm getting a migraine..."
Gourry and Lina devoured their food at an alarming rate, while Zelgadis sipped his tea. When the sorceress came up for air, Zelgadis took the opportunity to discuss something that had been bothering him. "Lina, those children need investigation."
Through a mouthful of food, Lina said incoherently, "Thel, I 'ould oo an oo nowe anunch o widds?"
Lina swallowed. "Zel, why would you want to go see a bunch of kids?"
"Didn't they look a little odd? The boy with black hair was..."
"Kind of ancient looking? As if you were staring at an old man, or a warrior who's seen too many battles, except that wisdom was seen in a child. Yeah, I noticed. All of them had that look in their eyes, but seen through a veil of innocence. Like trauma-induced amnesia that had erased all the bad memories, but those memories lurked at the surface of their subconscious, just waiting to come out."
Zelgadis nodded. "Exactly. Besides the tired eyes, those children reminded me of some people. Important ones, but I can't remember exactly who."
Gourry interrupted, "Why would kids look old? I think we should postpone the tour, Lina. We aren't getting enough attention from the peasants for us to take time away from Amelia. Something could have happened while we were gone, and we wouldn't even know."
Lina sighed. "Gourry, don't be ridiculous. She's got Xellos and Filia guarding her. Nothing could've possibly gone wrong."
"Actually, Gourry is quite right Lina."
The sorceress whirled around. She narrowed her eyes. "Xellos!"
The mazoku sweatdropped. "How come whenever I show up she acts like I'm a danger? I've never tried to kill her, or any of her friends. Offered to a couple times, but never actually done anything." Xellos quickly plastered on his usual smile to make up for the short interlude of thoughtfulness. "I believe your return to the palace is a must. Prince Philionel has been attacked."
"WHAT?!" Zelgadis and Lina chorused.
Gourry looked blank. "Who's Prince Philionel?"
Lina got the swordsman in a headlock. "You jellyfish brains, Prince Phil is only Amelia's dad! The guy we were assigned to guard? I swear your I.Q. gets lower with every passing day."
"Could be an early case of Alzheimer's disease," Zelgadis suggested. "It seems to have been setting in for about ten years."
Gourry looked confused. "But I've had a bad memory since I was five."
"Twenty-two years then."
Xellos pretended not to notice this short exchange. "The prince was shot with an arrow through the chest. Filia managed to heal him, but this just shows how shorthanded we are. I wasn't even aware that the prince was gone." The mazoku crossed his fingers as he said this. Some lies were necessary during an assignment.
"Alright, on to Seyruun!" Lina struck a dramatic pose, one worthy of rivaling an Amelia stance.
Zelgadis sighed. "Lina, cut the posturing. We're already in Seyruun, and this isn't exactly one of the more riveting quests we've ever been on."
"Hey sis, there's a letter in my cubby!" Aqua was still arguing with the twins when she heard her excited sibling's exclaimation.
She glanced at her brother. "What a coincidence. There's one in my cubby as well."
"Same here!" The twins quipped. They had one cubby between them, and two letters were in it. Aqua looked at her other brother. His dark brown eyes sparkled as he mouthed the words in his letter he was attempting to read. "Dear little boy, you've been ass... ass..."
"Assigned," the twins chorused.
Aqua's brother nodded. "Assigned to the orphan... age of Sairug."
The twins sighed in unison. "Sairaag! Sairaag, not Sairug!"
The brother frowned. "Stop showing off your literacy. Anyway," and he continued the letter, "Because of your dis... discovered magical talents, you will be taught at the holy temple, so your gift will benefit the world. You will be taken with four other students, by cart to Sairaag," and he smirked at his mastery of the word, "and be met by the high priestess there, named Sylfial Nels Rada."
"Quite a coincidence that only the five of us, who happen to be best friends, are the only ones leaving."
Aqua's coal-headed brother (the one who first noticed the letter) said suspiciously. Aqua grinned. "Well, you should take your miracles when you can get them. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, as Lina Inverse would say."
"Maybe it's fate. Maybe we're meant to become great sorcerers who save the world." The elder twin suggested.
Kopii, the slightly younger twin, shrugged. "We'll take the blessings with the curses. Questioning our good fortune will probably jinx it, so we'd better act like the oblivious little children we're supposed to be and say how pleased we are, but how we'll miss," and Kopii wiped away an imaginary tear, "all of our good friends here at the orphanage."
The five friends laughed. Miss the orphanage? Who'd miss a rickety old rotten place where the teachers were mean, and the kids all weird because of their traumatic childhoods. The only things that could've been missed were each other, and each other were coming along. Aqua's scarlet-headed brother (the one who read the letter) wiped tears of mirth off his face. "What about the excellent cuisine?" The older twin doubled over with laughter. He gasped out, "And I'll especially miss the comfortable planks, er beds!"
A teacher came over to see what was so funny. The children didn't tell her. She wouldn't understand.
Adults rarely did.
The five children were sitting on the back of a hay cart, which was rolling along on a dirt road. A farmer was driving the cart, and an acolyte of the holy temple of Cephied in Sairaag they were being sent to was escorting them, sitting next to the farmer. Aqua's two brothers were sleeping, and Aqua herself was combing her long blue hair. Kopii was reading a spell book given to him by the acolyte "A Guide to Beginning Shamanistic Spells" to his elder brother, who couldn't see the pages. Kopii read, "To cast a fireball, you must concentrate on your energy. Your energy is like a well, and you draw upon its power, putting it in your hand. You say the word fireball, to help you form the energy into the shape you want, then throw the ball of flame at your target. The word fireball is a trigger word to give it the power of fire. It takes away some energy, but less after practice. Should only be attempted by acolytes."
"How many years have you been an acolyte of the holy temple of Cephied?" Aqua asked their escort.
He said without looking back, "Five years."
"How old are you then?"
"Eighteen." Aqua's coal-headed brother stretched and opened his eyes.
"How long until we're acolytes?" He said sleepily.
The acolyte asked, "How old are you?"
"My brother, my sister and I are triplets. We're four and a half. The twins are six."
The acolyte glanced back, startled. "They took you that young? You must all have great talent. The average age of apprenticeship is ten, and you train for three years with temple duties. At age thirteen, you become an acolyte, and start to learn white and shamanistic spells. At age twenty-one, you take the Ordeal, which tests your religious and magical skill. If you pass, you become a priest or priestess of the temple of Cephied."
The elder twin was startled. "You mean Kopii and I won't become apprentices for four more years!? Why were we summoned unless to start our training? The triplets can't begin training for over five years."
The acolyte shrugged. "The temple must want to make sure your ability will not be harnessed by opposing forces. It is a precautionary step taken for exceptionally talented children. My guess is that you'll start your training a year or two early. Before that you'll probably be taught basic math, reading, and writing skills by a priestess to make sure you're up to par."
Kopii got angry. "What about my brother? He can't see, therefore isn't he unuseful to the church?"
The acolyte smiled. "Not at all. Your brother will learn how to use astral vision, that allows you to sense people's astral bodies, and "see" of a sort, including more intricate details, such as writing."
Kopii smiled in relief. He didn't want to leave his brother behind. The elder twin didn't seem to be happy, but than again you could never tell with him. Aqua's scarlet-haired brother rubbed his bleary eyes and yawned. He hadn't really been asleep, merely resting his eyes, so he had heard the conversation. "I don't care if I'm an apprentice in two years or twenty. As long as the place doesn't have rats, and the beds are halfway decent, the temple in Seiraag will be a slice of heaven. I just hope it's a big piece of the pie. I'm tired of the crumbs."
The acolyte glanced at the children curiously. "You know, for little kids, you five sound oddly mature."
The elder twin raised an eyebrow. "Mature? I noticed we sounded more adult than most of the other kids, but I just thought they were subnormal. Our supposed traumatic childhoods broke most of the kids; it just made us bend."
The coal-headed brother laughed. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. We're flexible, well adjusted. The other children were brittle, too rigid. They shattered like a church window."
The acolyte looked surprised. "Are you sure none of you are older than six?"
Aqua said dryly, "Counting is one of the few things we ever learned. I'm pretty sure we do it right."
Chapter 5 | Fanfiction