Friends come and go but enemies only accumulate...
A gentle wind caressed her cheek, bringing with it a slight chill that caused the flame haired sorceress to draw her cape tighter around herself. The days had started becoming shorter while the nights grew colder. Autumn was just around the corner. It wouldn't be long before the trees would begin to shed and villagers would be burning piles of leaves again.
Lina shivered. She was so not looking forward to the change in weather. How she hated the cold, especially when it got to be this time of year. It wasn't simply because of the frigid temperatures Old Man Winter promised to bring with him every year. There was so much more to it than that. Fifty years had passed since she had said her goodbyes to nearly everyone she knew, creeping out in the middle of the night from the royal palace in Saillune. Funny, it really didn't seem all that long ago.
Much had changed since then. The Lina Inverse of that time was so different from who she was now. She could look back at it now and wonder if it had been nothing more than a passing dream. True, physically she was still the same. Her body hadn't aged a day since she had left her hometown of Zefiria, but her mind had matured into that of an adult long ago. The loud-mouth girl she had once been was no longer around (Okay, maybe once in a while when she was in an especially foul mood).
Now the sun was slowly dropping behind the canopy of the forest to the north as she wearily trudged into town. Another hard day of journeying was coming to an end. All she wanted was food, more food, a hot bath, and plenty more food -- in that order.
As she trudged down the street, she couldn't help but notice two young children as they giggled hysterically. Lost in their game, they chased after each other with their wooden swords.
"Stop now, evildoer! Or face the power of my Dragon Slave!"
"The Dra Matta never surrenders! Not even to Lina Inverse herself!" Feel the wrath of my Sword of Light!"
The two ran up and down the street, frantically swinging their 'magical' weapons at one another. Their sounds of laughter echoed through the air, never ceasing for a moment even when they circled around the sorceress, nearly bowling her over in the process.
Lina smiled. Imagine their surprise if they knew how close they had come to meeting the living legend.
It had taken years, but Lina had finally managed to lose the infamous titles of Dra Matta, the Dragon Spooker, the Bandit Killer, and even the Enemy of All Who Live. Long since had her name faded from being spoken in the same sentence as those awful creatures, however, they still lived on as myths told to children at bedtime to keep them in line. Mothers would warn their children if they didn't behave, those horrible monsters would come to gobble them all up.
Nowadays, she was simply Lina Inverse, the Sorceress Supreme. It was a name unintentionally earned through all her journeys alone over the years. She was no longer looked at like some kind of monster but as a friend of the people helping in any way she could, sometimes for a hefty fee, other times for free. Occasionally she still received ridicule for her underdeveloped figure. That was the quickest way to get on her bad side as one unfortunate and very chauvinistic baron in the court of Kyref had learned -- the hard way. It was still the number one thing that grated on her nerves, now more than ever after discovering why she was this way, but that was another long drawn out story and she would rather forget all about it.
Her style of dress was even different. Gone were the red tunic and leggings she used to prefer. For years now, she couldn't recall exactly when her taste in style had changed, she had worn dark pants with long boots, a loose green robe fastened with with a leather belt around her waste, and soft leather gloves. Her jeweled shoulder-guards had been traded in for a heavier, sturdier set made form the shell of an old turtle dragon. The plain black cape she once wore was replaced with a more extravagant one -- this one being a pretty green, which brought out the color of her hair. It nearly touched the ground and had silver threads sewn into it in the form of magical runes for added protection.
Her hair was worn differently as well. Instead of letting it hand loose down her back she had it pinned up with a ribbon in a ponytail. The ever-present short sword that forever hung at her hip hadn't changed. It was, perhaps, the only thing that hadn't.
The night was fast approaching. Time to stop at an inn. The only one here in town was the Faerie Ulcer. It was a decent place. She had spent the night here on several other occasions while performing other important tasks. The rooms were clean, and the food was good. The owner made his doors welcome to all who entered provided they behaved themselves, which meant no fighting and no spell casting indoors.
She stopped in front of the tallest building in town. It was a good three stories. Above the entrance hung a sign with a simple picture of a stomach and a fairy flying inside it wielding a spiked wand. Through the heavy double doors music and roars of muffled laughter could be heard permeating out onto the street.
Lina sighed. Hopefully, it wouldn't be too noisy of a night.
Pushing the doors aside, she made her way in. The keeper of the inn stood at the ready behind the counter. Two gold coins later she had the keys to her room and was on her way towards the dining hall, with the rustle of tired farmers and village folk growing ever louder as she neared.
The spicy aroma of lamb and fried potatoes beckoned at her, even from halfway down the hall. Her mouth was watering, scolding her for making it suffer through a week's worth of disgusting travel rations. It had been a while since her last decent meal, and road biscuits and dried meat weren't exactly the tastiest of things to snack on while out on the road.
Taking a seat in the corner, she waved the waitress over and started her order with the special of the house -- triple portions of course. Then letting out a deep sigh, Lina leaned back into the padded booth, giving her muscles a chance to relax for a bit.
After several long days out on the road most of them were knotted and stiff, especially the ones in her neck and shoulders. They tingled a bit after having been so tense all day. It felt good to be able to relax. She would feel even better after a hot bath.
She closed her eyes to try to shut out some of the noise of the dining room. Most of the tables were filled with patrons busy eating and laughing the night away. In a way she envied them -- the way they could live such a simple life. They never had to worry about fighting dark lords or saving the world. They could go about their daily business without another care in the world. She could have chosen that path herself many years ago, but then she would have missed out on all those wonderful experiences: Meeting new friends, sleeping under the stars, and traveling to far off lands. Sometimes she did wonder what life would have been like had she chosen the road not taken, but what fun would that have been?
Lina smiled. I'm thinking too much again...
The sound of wooden legs scraping against the floor stole her away from the daydream as an uninvited guest decided to pull up a chair to her table. "Eve'nin, luv," the scraggily stranger flashed a-less-than-perfect smile. Three of his front teeth were missing, another was rotted black, and the rest were the sickly yellow color of tobacco. Then there was also the matter of how he smelled. Lina had to wrinkle her nose at the rising odor of hay and manure. "You look a might bit lonely."
"I don't remember giving you an invitation to join me," she replied nonchalantly. Maybe the guy would take the hint. It was more than the old Lina would have done. By now he would have Mega Branded him into the stratosphere several times over. But that was then. She was willing to give the scrub a chance to repent.
"Don't need none."
From all the waay up to the front desk the terrified scream of a man and the shattering of a window could be heard. The innkeeper merely shook his head with a sigh, adding the additional fee of replacing the window to the redhead's tab. At least she was aiming now. Walls were so expensive to replace.
"You showed him," a soft, velvety voice laughed behind her.
Lina spun around, ready to throttle the next sad excuse for a man who couldn't take a hint, but the beige-clad figure that greeted her eyes caught her wrist as she attempted to reach for his tunic. "Zel?" That can't be...out here...?
"Hello, Lina," the chimera smiled. Hearing his voice after all these years was like a concerto of the Saillune royal symphony to her ears: Both lovely and calming. The nuisance of only a moment ago was instantly forgotten as she watched him dust off the formerly occupied seat before taking it for himself. What was he doing all the way out here in the outer territories? "It's been a long time, hasn't it?"
"Yea," she replied absently, her eyes never leaving him as he pulled down his hood and cowl. Stone pebbles and wire-like hair still graced his features. His cure still had yet to be found it seemed. What were the chances of them meeting out here after all these years in a place like this?
Zelgadis leaned back into the chair and smiled. "Am I really that interesting of a sight, Lina? You are staring."
She felt the heat rise in he face when she realized she was. It couldn't be helped though. After traveling alone for so long it was good to see a familiar face. And that charming smile of his...gods, how she had missed seeing that.
"Sorry," she giggled. "It's just that I didn't expect anyone else to still be around after all these years."
"Really?" one stony eyebrow rose in a curious fashion. "Last I heard Gourry and Syphiel were still alive with three kids: One boy and two girls. Lucile, their youngest daughter, is expecting her second child this autumn. Gourry retired last year from the army to help take care of the grandkids while Syphiel, I believe, is still acting as Chief Priestess of Neo Sairaag."
"Wow," was all Lina managd to say. It was funny how life could pass you by when you weren't paying attention. Gourry and Syphiel were grandparents. It was such a foreign though, even with the fifty-year time span.
"Yea, that's what happens when you don't keep in contact with your closest friends," Zelgadis remarked with a scolding tone.
One ruby eye narrowed dangerously at the chimera. "You're one to talk. What about you disappearing all by yourself looking for those cures you never found?"
His smile never left his face. "Yes, but I never disappeared for more than a few weeks at a time, and as you can see, I still haven't found it."
She felt like changing the subject. If she wasn't careful his next question might be to ask why she abruptly disappeared. "What about you and Amelia? Did you two ever become an item?"
An amused laugh answered her question. "My, aren't you the curious one all of a sudden?" He shook his head when she blushed again. "No, nothing ever became of us. Amelia finally grew out of that silly crush. About five years after you left Prince Phillionel fell ill and she took the throne. Some time later she fell in love with a local prince whom she married. Together they ruled over the kingdom until their son, Alfred, was married and able to ascend to the throne."
"Sounds like she lived happily ever after," Lina replied thoughtfully.
"She did, but meeting that prince of hers seemed to make the Justice Queen even worse. Her longing to spread the word of justice only increased. I mean, if you thought her speeches before were annoying, at that point they became so sugar-coated they were disgusting. She started spouting things like 'Sharing means caring' and 'Be thy brother's keeper.'"
Lina couldn't help but laugh. He was right.
"Really, her ideals weren't so bad. She just took them to an extreme. All in all, Amelia turned out to be a very wise and well loved queen. Better than any of us could have ever expected anyway."
"That's nice to hear," she sighed, resting her chin in the palm of her hand. So everything had turned out all right for the others. That was good news. At least they got to live long happy lives. It was more than she deserved.
Her eyes trailed over Zelgadis's face, admiring his fine chiseled features. Oh that was a terrible pun... Then she noticed something. The aura around him seemed different, or rather, he carried himself about in a new way since she had last seen him. He wasn't near as tense as he used to be. In fact, given the smile that had never left his lips, he seemed hapier. His usual dark brooding mood was totally gone.
She tilted her head at an angle, reexamining him from a different perspective. "What have you been up to, Zel? You said you haven't found your cure, but you don't seem to be too bothered by it. You seem genuinely happy for once."
His eyes rose to the ceiling as he lay in deep thought for several moments before answering. Lina could have sworn at one point his shoulders moved up and down in a silent chuckle. Had he changed that much as well?
"I suppose I am," Zelgadis scratched at his chin. "And for your information, I did find a cure, it just wasn't quite what I expected. More importantly, however, I discovered there were more important things in life to worry about."
Lina stared. And stared. Stared some more. And still stared. If the table hadn't been in the way her lower jaw might have completely unhinged and crashed to the floor.
"Lina? Yoo-hoo!" he waved his hand in front of the perplexed sorceress's face.
"Are you okay?"
"Wake up, Lina."
"Little girl, little breast, scares the dragon from its -- "
Shiiinnnngggg... Zelgadis abruptly found himself at the pointy end of Lina's enchanted sword.
"Finish that sentence and -- "
"I see you've changed as well," he grinned. "You have developed more self-control since we last met. Fifty years ago and you would have fireballed me without a second thought."
"Oh yea?" she resheathed the glowing blade with a huff. "Time does that to a person. And what's this cure you found? Why haven't you used it yet? Talk!"
His smile continued to widen. "Someone helped me learn something about myself...and I realized as long as I know who I am inside, that is what counts."
"So you finally wised up to what the rest of us were saying all those years," Lina mused. "It took you long enough."
"I suppose you could say that."
At that moment the waitress showed up with Lina's order. Once the banquet was set out, the waitress disappeared once again into the depths of the kitchen. While Lina packed away the huge meal he waited patiently. Traveling with the sorceress long ago had taught him that if you wanted to have a legible conversation it was best to wait until after she had been well fed.
When Lina was done stuffing her face their conversation resumed. They continued talking long into the night, mostly catching up with stories of one another's adventures while traveling solo out on the road. She found out Zelgadis had spent several decades searching old temples in hopes of being able to research a cure. nothing had turned up until th fateful day he met a mysterious mage, who had specifically requested to remain anonymous for some unexplained reason. Several years later he managed to land a job as a royal court magician for some nameless kingdom in the outer territories. Then, yet another decade later, he decided it was time for a long overdue vacation. Taking an extended leave of absence, he set out onto the road. He had been in the middle of his vacation when he had been fortunate enough to bump into a familiar face tonight.
In turn, Lina told him about her adventures. After disappearing she had gone into the outer territories to do some exploring. She had continued to terrorize bandits until about a year after she had first left. After that she began taking odd jobs for mages, retrieving special artifacts and helping to research important projects. Eventually, she had worked her way into the court of Kyref and was apprenticed to their royal court mage for a brief decade. Bored with the sorceress's life for a time, she finally settled down in a small village, Barnoble, to live the simple life of a village girl. Several years later, she took up adventuring again and then was just fortunate enough to bump into Zel again.
"So that's what you've been up to all these years," Zelgadis replied, taking a sip from his teacup. "I haven't heard much about the exploits of Lina Inverse, Bandit Killer extraordinaire, and I was beginning to wonder -- "
"SHHHHH!!!!!" her hand clamped down over his mouth. Anger lit up her eyes with a dangerous flare as she spoke a warning. "Never use my name with that title again. You have no idea how much time it took or how difficult it was to clear my reputation of that!"
"Sorry..." he gulped. "I didn't realize...I heard people still talked about the Dra Matta and the Enemy of All Who Live but I didnt' know they were no longer referring to you."
"Well, now you do. Don't do it again," she hissed. Her voice dripped with acid strong enough to eat through stone walls, and promised a very messy end if he ever did otherwise. "The fact you haven't heard much about me isn't just coincidence, Zelgadis. It was planned that way. I've been doing as you have, traveling here and there. Occasionally I would take a job for a mage or king. Most of the time, it was in secret.
"I was hoping, given enough time, people would maybe forget about me or my reputation, at least. Everything has turned out okay, I would say," she laughed, her features softening back to her usual cheerful expression. "My name disappeared from history, but the Dra Matta, Dragon Spooker, and the Enemy of All Who Live didn't. They've all been turned into children's tales.
"As for me, I've picked up the offical title of 'Sorceress Supreme.' A little girl called me that after I stumbled into her village and saved it from being raided by lizard men. The title just sort of stuck with me after that."
"And you had no ulterior motive for saving the village? You did it out of the kindness of your heart?"
Lina smiled sheepishly. "Well, yes and no. The town had some really good restaurants, but it was also the closest thing I had to a home at the time. I got to live there among the people for quite a while. Until the raid they all thought I was just another common girl. They were neither afraid of me nor did they treat me any differently than anyone else. I guess you could call it my 'home away from home.'"
The sorceress paused as she watched Zelgadis's hand rise up to his mouth as he attempted to stiffle a yawn.
"You could at least pretend my life story is interesting."
It took a moment for the chimera to answer with his mouth wide open. "Sorry." Another yawn.
"And stop that! You're making me -- " she struggled to fight off her own yawn that was forming " -- making me sleepy."
"It is getting late. Perhaps you had better go to bed. We have been talking for a long time. Everyone else has already left."
"If I do, you're not going to disappear on me, are you?"
He chuckled softly. "No, I won't do that to you, Lina. I do have some personal business to attend to in the morning, but that is about it. Would you like to meet again tomorrow?"
"Actually, if you like," Lina began, hoping the blush she felt on her face wasn't showing too much, "you could accompany me to the next town. I've taken a job there and wouldn't mind having a partner."
"A job?" he replied with a whimsical smile on his face. "What kind of job? You're not being very specific. A job could mean anything from guarding a caravan to scrubbing the floor tiles in some backwater tavern."
"Oh please," she gave a mock scowl, sticking her tongue out at him, "give me more credit than that. I'm a member of the mage guild in Kyref. It's an assignment for them. I've been sent to investigate some strange occurrences in a small village."
"Sounds like fun. I'll join you, but I want fifty percent of whatever commissions you receive from the guild."
"Fifty?!" the sorceress shot up out of her chair like an erupting volcano. "Try eighty-twenty! I'm offering you the job!"
"You're asking for me to join you. I think I'm worth at least forty."
The smug look on his face never faltered for a moment, even with Lina's death glare aimed straight at him. "And don't forget travel expenses. The roads are still crawling with -- LINA PUT THE TABLE DOWN! I WAS ONLY KIDDING!"
Now it was Lina's turn to look smug. "Good. I'm glad you agree with me," she smiled as she replaced the table to its original position. "Fifteen it is."
"It's fifteen once legal fees and taxes have been taken out of your cut. You didn't think I was about to let them take it all out of my share, did you?"
Zelgadis sighed, shaking ihs head in disbelief. Fireball or no fireball, Lina still fought for every cent she could take. "Okay, you win."
"Yay!" the sorceress laughed triumphantly, before thrusting her hand out towards Zelgadis. "Glad to have you along, partner."
"Yay," his deadpan voice echoed.
"Oh, cheer up, Zel! It won't be nearly as bad as it sounds."
His face broke into a small grin. "I bet. I'll see you tomorrow." He stood to leave. At the doorway he stopped, turning back to the sorceress. "Don't bother waiting on me in the morning. Go ahead and leave. I'll catch up with you on the road once I'm through with my business here."
"Okay. Goodnight, Zel." She watched him walk down the hallway and around the corner. Then she too left the dining room.
Once in her own room she kicked the door closed behind her. It was a small room with a single bed and table. On the table she had been left an oil lamp. They never provided much light so Lina always opted to use an illumination spell instead.
"Light!" The glowing orb hovered midair in the center of the room. Shrugging off her cloak, she hung it on a peg in the wall next to the door. A moment later it jingled as it fell to the floor. The wooden peg had snapped off from the weight of all the items hidden in the folds of her cloak. Sighing, she picked it up and tossed it onto the table. She should have known better. Any normal person would have found it to be incredibly heavy. On the inside of her cloak numerous pockets were sewn into the lining -- all of them magically enchanted to allow them to hold far more than the wandering eye would imagine -- and at the moment, all of them were filled to the brim with gold and other items -- both magical and other.
After changing into her bedclothes Lina danced and twirled her way over to the bed. The springs of the mattress creaked their protest as she jumped on top, but they went unnoticed. Her mind was too wrapped up with the day's events to care.
Lucky, she thought with a smile as she stared up at the cracks of the whitewashed ceiling. This trip was going to be so much fun now that she wouldn't be traveling alone. Gods, it felt so good to once again be in the company of a close friend.
Snuggling her way deeper into the blankets, the sorceress let sleep overtake her.
Unfortunately, slumberland did not turn out to be quite as pleasant as the end of the day had been. Voices of times past haunted her dreams. A time from long ago she desperately wanted to forget but never could. It was a memory that always followed her around like a little puppy, sometimes straying behind to the dge of her memory on the verge of being forgotten. Other times it was right by her side, constantly in her thoughts.
She couldn't forget it no matter how much she tried. She wasn't proud of it, but there was nothing she could possibly do that would undo what had been done, at least nothing she could accomplish. Her mind had built up a barrier against the nightmare over time, but the fragmented dream always managed to worm its way through the cracks in the wall. Only bits and pieces were visible, however, each of those pieces played a significant role, tormenting her mind like a dagger through the heart. A teacher and student. An open book. Lots of shouting. Anger. Fear. Hate. Guilt.
How could you?!...
I didn't know anything like this would happen...
Please, let me help. Maybe I can --
Leave me alone!!!...
I HATE YOU!!!
Such power...such passion did those words containt that they snapped the sorceress's mind right out of the dream. Slowly her eyes opened, her vision coming to focus upon the cracks in the ceiling. For the first few minutes she simply lay there staring at the ceiling, not even bothering to brush aside the hair that partially hung over her eyes.
It was morning already. Rays of sunlight were trying to push their way in through the parts in the curtains over her window. She sat up and stretched her arms, feeling a little less exhausted, but not quite fully rested.
Why did she keep having this dream? That had been so long ago. Never had she put such meaning into those words. And never had she ever wished more that she could take back what she had said. It was too late now. The damage had been done and nothing could fix that.
Definitely, not one of the better moments of her life.
Throwing off the covers, the sorceress grabbed her clothes and headed for the baths. After a quick wash and grabbing the rest of her things Lina headed down to the lobby. Stopping to check with the innkeeper, she discovered Zelgadis was already long gone. It turned out he had left an hour before she had even woken up.
I guess he really didn't want me to wait on him... So much for wishful thinking. She had hoped to at least wave good morning to him.
Oh well. She would see him soon enough.
On the way out she stopped by the dining hall to pick up a quick bite. She grabbed a couple of loaves of banana nut bread as well as several blueberry muffins. The latter she finished off while they were still warm, washing them down with a tall glass of milk. The rest she decided to save for the road. She and Zelgadis still had a long trip ahead of them.
Brushing off the last of the crumbs, the sorceress set one foot out in front of the other and started her journey. Outside the sun was slowly rising above the trees, chasing away the early morning chill from the air. If they made good time today they just might be able to cover a third of the journey by sundown. It really depended how quickly Zelgadis caught up.
Not far from town, on the outskirts of the forest, she happened to come upon a set of deer tracks. They had been made fairly recently. The mud around the hoof prints was darker than the rest of the surrounding area, signifying the ground surface had been disturbed and some of the moisture beneath had gotten mixed in with the drying mud on top. She guessed they couldn't be more than maybe a quarter of an hour old. From the two little stub marks at the back of the hoof print she could tell it had been a buck -- most likely a young male given the size of the print. He couldn't be that far ahead.
Lina considered the thought of tracking him. The town was several days' travel away and all they would have to eat during their journey would be dried travel rations. Those weren't exactly the tastiest things in the world. Fresh venision would be a welcome change, and the young buck would probably privide them with several meals.
If she did go hunting for the deer that would most likely mean she would have to go off the main road, and if she did that she and Zelgadis might miss each other entirely. There was also the matter that if Lina caught the deer she would also have to gut it herself, which could get rather messy.
The snap of a twig drew the sorceress's eye behind her just as three tall brawny men stepped out from the bushes. All wore swords strapped to their sides and were dressed in worn leather armor. On the left side of their chest, just above the heart, a red insignia decorated each man's armor. It was a cracked skull with a lightning bolt coming down on top of it.
Bandits, Lina thought with a smile. Maybe she would have some fun.
"Looky what we have here," the ugliest of the three -- a man with an eye patch and a dark scar that covered the entire side of his face -- sneered. "So what's a pretty young thing like you doing traveling in these woods all alone? Don't you know it's dangerous here? There be bandits here."
His companion off to the left bellowed out a giant horse-like laugh. He wasn't much more attractive than the leader. with a great belly that protruded out from under his armor and a double -- no, make that a triple chin -- his body literally bounced in rolls when he laughed.
"And you three wouldn't happen to know of the bandits, would you?"
"Hey, she's cute," the rotund one chuckled, his extra chins bobbing. "Can we keep her?"
"You know the rules, Garret," the skinny one spoke up. Ugliness had to be a dominant trait in bandits. This guy wasn't very pretty either with his shallow and sunken in cheeks. Bags drooped under his eyes and his entire frame was thin as a rail. "We take their gold, have our fun with them, slit their throats, and then dump the body in the river. That's the way we've always done things."
Wow, these three must be trying really hard to intimidate her. They were succeeding -- not. If she were in a better mood she might feel like playing along, but not today. Might as well take their loot and be on her way. On second thought, maybe she should stick around. The more time she killed listening to these goons the sooner Zelgadis would catch up. That meant less time for her to grow bored waiting for him.
It was the leader's turn again. "I think we can make an exception this time. With hair like that she's bound to be a fiery spirit. Should make for a nice romp in the sack. I bet she would even be able to keep your attention captivated for a while, Ruffus."
"A bit too young for my taste. I like mine less bony."
Why that little...!!!
The fat one licked his lips. "More fun for us then."
Okay, forget playing along. I've had enough of listening to the three little pigs...
Lina put on her sweetest smile. "It take three of you big strong men to deal with little ole me?"
"No, but it's more fun that way."
The three of them advanced on her with the fat one leading the way.
A fireball sparked to life in the sorceress's palm. "Bring it on, big boy!" she cried out and let loose with the spell.
The area around the bandits errupted in a shower of earth and flames. The explosion picked them up, throwing all three of them in different directions. One landed painfully in a tree. Another landed in the bushes. The third one she heard land behind her with a thump.
"You bastards should feel lucky if I only incinerate your sorry asses!" she screamed in outrage. "For all the women and innocent people you've hurt -- "
Pain spiked through her abdomen like a white-hot knife, searing away at her insides. Fire blazed down through her legs, past her knees, down into her ankles. Her knees buckled beneath her, toppling Lina to the ground. Teeth clenched, she struggled to keep the rest of herself up with her arms. Even the way her Onee-chan used to beat on her was nothing in comparison to this.
No, not now!!!...
She couldn't be having an attack now! She just couldn't! This had to be the most inopportune time for it to choose. Alone, surrounded by bandits, with no one else that could help her within sight. How could this be happening?!
"AHHH!!!" the nerves in her scalp lit up like a Burst Flare. A powerful hand wrapped around her ponytail, forcibly drawing the sorceress's head back.
"She's a friggin witch!" The bandit who landed behind her had already recovered. She could maybe handle one of them while in this state, but if any of the others were up and about then she was in for serious trouble. "Kill the little bitch before she casts another spell!"
"Hold her while I lop her head off!" the fat one replied in between heavy gasps. He must have been hit hard by the spell. She could hear but not see him.
Anoter cry escaped the sorceress as her head was jerked back harder, exposing the vulnerable flesh of her throat. She sruggled to escape from the bandit's grasp, to pull away from her executioners, but her legs refused to move. Only now did she realize the pain was gone, but she couldn't feel them. They were completely numb!
The glint of steel shimmered in the corner of her eye as a shadow passed over her. The fat man's sword! Gods, she had to get away now!
The sword rose. "Let's see you heal yourself up from this!"
Fear and panic raced through her system like a wildfire in the forest. Desperation sank in. Her hands reached back to claw and tear at the bandit holding her down. She had to get away! She had to get away! She had to get away! Now! Now! NOW!!!
Tears welled and stung in her eyes. It couldn't end like this! Not after all she had lived through. Lina Inverse had survived battles with dark lords and countless Mazoku. It oculdn't end like this, could it?! She wasn't meant to die this way!
The blade came down. Steel tasted flesh and Lina's world exploded in a splash of red gore.
Chapter 2 | Fanfiction