Chapter 3

Money is like an arm or leg; use it or lose it...

"Ahhh," Lina sighed contently as she patted her full stomach.  "I feel much better now."  After being forced to endure the measly rations over the past week her stomach had gone into a tantrum, but with the arrival of the delicious food she had just devoured the world could end and she would be happy.  Well, almost.

"I hope so," the chimera replied with a nervous twitch.  In one hand rested a steaming cup of tea while the other held the extremely large bill to their now-finished meal.  "You ate a chicken dinner for five -- quadruple portions, three racks of spare ribs, one lobster, a whole turkey, five t-bone steaks -- "

"Hey, don't even try to blame it all on me!" she snapped back.  "You ate some of it too!"

He continued as if she never said a word.  " -- two pot roasts, three catfish..." his eyes drifted from the bill to the sorceress.  "When did you order catfish?  I don't even remember seeing it on the table."

There was a smug grin on her face.  "I was eating it while you were flirting with the waitress."

Zelgadis blushed.  "I was not flirting with her.  She dropped her tray and fell.  I was only helping her up."

Her smile grew wider.  "I'm sure you didn't notice how she was batting her lashes at you between her fits of giggling like a little schoolgirl or the generous view she was trying to give you each time she bent over."

By now his face was a deep shade of red, tinted purple by his stone skin.  He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  "Quit trying to change the subject."

Lina was laughing so hard she had to lean on Zelgadis to keep from falling over.  "Aw, poor Zel.  Alright, I'll behave.  Why don't we go for some ice cream.  What do you say?"

"Ice cream?"  He held up the bill again.  "After eating all of that you still have room for ice cream?"

"Yea, don't you feel like having any?  It has been ages since I last had some."

"Fine, but you pay for it.  I'm already picking up the bill for dinner."


When the magical barrier originally feel many adventurers young and eager to make a name for themselves ventured outward.  Soon after beginning their journeys they discovered that many of the simple pleasures people took for granted within the barrier were not available in the outer territories.  With the barrier in place a great deal of knowledge had been locked away from the rest of the world.  This included knowledge arcana, alchemy, chimerical studies, and yes, even the recipe for ice cream.  Fortunately, as the years passed so too did the spread of knowledge.  At last everyone could enjoy ice cream and be happy.  (Well, except maybe those who were lactose intolerant.)

It was only mid afternoon by the time they managed to find an ice cream vendor.  The weather had warmed up considerably and the merchant's guild wasn't expecting them to drop by until early tomorrow.  Since they had some time to kill the two of them (or rather Lina) had decided it would be fun to eat their ice cream in the park and enjoy the day.

"Here you go, sir."

"Thank you."  Zelgadis accepted the single scoop ice cream cone from the female vendor in exchange for a few copper pennies.  Somehow Lina had managed to once again stick him with the bill.  He sighed.  This was getting expensive.

"What did you get?" Lina asked as he sat down on the bench next to her.  Her face was hidden behind an impossibly tall ice cream cone.  Zelgadis guessed there had to be seven -- no, eight scoops of various flavors all perfectly balanced on top of one another.


Lina giggled.  "Strawberry?  The heartless sorcerer-swordsman, Zelgadis Greywers, likes strawberry ice cream?"

"As a matter of fact, I do.  But I don't see how you can eat all that.  You are going to spill it."

"Am not," she replied in between licks.

"Aren't you afraid of getting fat?"

"Mind your own business.  And you know what?  You never did tell me your secret."

"That's not my fault.  You weren't patient enough to listen -- OW!"  A stinging pain ripped through his arm as the flame haired sorceress pinched him.  "How did you do that?  I have stone skin."

She waved her gloved hand in front of his face.  "Enchanted gloves, remember?  They were a gift from my mentor.  They give me the strength of ten men.  How do you think I always managed to punt Gourry into the atmosphere so easily?"

Zelgadis leaned in closer.  "Speaking of your mentor, who is he?  You never mentioned him before."

Lina looked away sharply.  "Nobody ever asked before.  Besides, he is no one important.  I haven't seen him in years.  He's probably dead by now."

"How can you say that?  Surely he knew a thing or two about magic.  He could have extended his life by such means.  If he was insane enough to teach you magic he must have known a trick or two about survival."

She sat straight up, almost dumping her cone over in the process.  "What is that supposed to mean?"

He grinned.  "I think it would be interesting to meet the man who played mentor to Lina Inverse, the Sorceress Supreme."

"No, you wouldn't.  He's a no talent, third rate -- "

"Oh really?  You learned how to wield Nightmare Magic thanks to him.  You can't expect me to believe that was an accident."

"Actually, it sort of was," she replied in a small voice.

"What?" Zelgadis blinked.

She gazed down at her feet sheepishly.  They were suddenly busy kicking around a pebble in the dirt.  "It was an accident.  One day he left his notes lying about on his desk.  I snuck a peek at them.  There just happened to be stuff on it about Nightmare Energy.  I thought it would make a really powerful spell so I tried combining it with a Dragon Slave."

A giant sweatdrop clung desperately to the side of the chimera's head.  Lina learning the Giga Slave had been an accident?  "But didn't he have his notes warded somehow?  What kind of a mage doesn't cast at least some kind of protection spell on delicate information like that?"

"He did," the flame haired sorceress grinned.  "Zel, how long do you think a spell like that would hold up against me?  Since I was eight years old I could disable stuff like that."

The chimera chose to momentarily return to his cone since it had begun to melt.  If she could do that when she was only a child, how powerful was she now?  He shivered at the thought.

Sensing his uneasiness, Lina decided to break the mood.  She gave her cone another lick before putting on a devilish grin.  "Hey, Zel, try this.  I think you will like this flavor."

"What is it?" he foolishly leaned in closer.  "You meant to tell me it is good enough you want to -- AHH!!!"

The sorceress burst into laughter as she watched him attempt to wipe away the sticky ice cream from his nose.

"That isn't funny, Lina!"

"Really?  I thought it was."  Her laughter never stopped.  It had been way too long since she had this much fun.  The last time she could remember enjoying herself this much was...was when she had been with all her friends.  Gods, that had been so long ago.  She missed everyone so much.

"Are you okay?" Zelgadis asked while wiping away the last of the frozen desert.

"She snapped out of her daze.  "Yea, I'm fine.  Why?"

"You had this depressed look on your face."

"I'm fine," she flashed him a toothy smile.  "See?"

His eyes narrowed at her.  "Well, I'm not.  You made me drop my ice cream cone."

"Want some more of mine?" she offered again, bursting into another fit of laughter.  She could feel the weariness of the years spent alone draining away from her bones.  If only they wouldn't have to part ways in the end.  Saying goodbye was always the hardest thing to do.

Even Zelgadis was laughing now.  She marveled at the sound of it.  Throughout all the time spent together she had never heard him really laugh -- full blown, burst out laughing.    She remembered the first time she had seen him laugh.  It had been a soft and husky, almost whispered type of laugh like he was trying to hide it.  That had been right after he rescued her from Rezo.

The breeze picked up at that moment as the twin bell towers on each side of the city began to chime.  The streets would be crawling with people soon.  The bells sounded whenever people made their way to or from work in the city.  If they wanted to beat the traffic they were going to have to find a hotel soon.

Lina quickly finished off the last of her cone.  "Since this is your first time in Treen, I think I'll let you decide which hotel we will go to.  Where would you like to stay?"

"I don't know.  I haven't been to this city before, remember?  I don't know where anything is.  What would you suggest?"

She winked and took his hand.  "Allow me to show you the best place to stay in all of Treen."

"Lina Inverse!" the short bald man was practically on them the moment they stepped in through the doors.  "Welcome!  Welcome!  To have such a heroine make an appearance at my doorstep is truly an honor!"  He was short, even more so than the Sorceress Supreme.  The top of his shiny little head only came up to her shoulders.  "Come in!  Come in!" he waved them on.  It was odd watching him.  Although his eyes were closed he seemed to have no trouble making his way around, perfectly avoiding obstacles like the tables on either side of the hallways or the front steps at the entrance.  "How goes?"

"Life is interesting as always, Roland," she gave a warm smile.  "How is business?  Working hard or hardly working?  And don't lie."

As quickly as he had appeared he disappeared behind the front desk again.  "I never lie, Lina.  Not to my most famous and best customer.  Never.  Business may be a little slow, but that won't stop me.  I'm far from starving."

"Well, that is good to hear," Lina leaned over the desk so she could see him.  "Do you have my room ready?"

He grinned.  "For you, Lina, always.  I could be booked solid and I would have your room ready at the crack of a whip.  Will, uh, your friend be staying with you or shall I have another room prepared for him?"

Zelgadis started to reply, but she cut him off.  "Zelgadis will be staying with me.  It's his first time here in the city."

Roland smiled.  "I see."  He reached out and shook the chimera's hand.  "I hope you enjoy your stay.  I shall have the necessary preparations made for your room."


"Oh, you know -- some potions of prevention, wine, candles, flowers, incense.  The things that help to make the evening special."

Both Lina and Zelgadis blushed from the tips of their ears down to their toes.

"Now wait a minute -- "

"No, it's okay, Roland," Lina tried to laugh it off.  "He isn't that kind of a friend."

"Oh, I see," the innkeeper bowed.  "Do forgive me.  A thousand apologies, sorceress."

"Don't worry about it.  We're just very tired and would like some rest."

"Well, enough of my blatherings then.  I shall show you the room."  Once again he appeared from behind the desk.  "This way please."

They were lead through a hallway and up several flights of stairs until finally they reached the room on the top floor.

Roland unlocked the door and opened it for them.  "Here you are.  Feel free to make yourselves comfortable.  You are my guests as long as you stay.  Think of this as your home away from home.  There is fresh fruit on the table.  The cupboards are also well stocked.  The bathroom has plenty of soap and shampoo along with some bath salts.  I know the sorceress is particularly fond of them."

"Thanks, Roland."

"The pleasure is all mine," he bowed again.  "Let me know should you feel you need anything else."

"Don't worry.  We'll be fine.  Come on, Zel."  Grabbing the chimera by the arm, she led the way in.

Once inside it took a moment for Zelgadis to take in everything.  Just one room here was easily the size of a normal hotel room.  There was a kitchen, a full bath, a dining room, a large bedroom with a fireplace, and even several closets.   This wasn't the run of the mill hotel room.  It was much grander and quite a bit more expensive, he bet.

"Weeiii!!!!"  Lina ran to the bedroom and jumped on top of the queen-sized bed, sinking several inches into the fluffy mattress.  "Ta da!  This is the merchant suite," she sang happily as Zelgadis appeared in the doorway.  "Only the most important people ever get to step inside here."

Leaning against the doorframe, he smiled.  "Stay here often?"

"Once or twice."

"I bet," he snorted.

Lina shrugged helplessly.  "Can I help it if Roland offers me the room for free?  I saved his daughter a few years ago from a group of marauding bandits.  They had several powerful mages so getting her back wasn't easy.  By the time we returned I was in pretty bad shape.  He let me hang out here until I had fully recovered.  When I came back to Treen later on another assignment he spotted me and dragged me in here again.  He gave me the room for free and said anytime I returned the room was mine."  She smiled again.  "You can't expect me to turn down a sweat offer like that."

"How many times have you stayed here?"

She leaned back against a pillow, closing her eyes.  "I think nine or ten times this year so far."

"Nine or ten times?"  Zelgadis was shocked.  This room couldn't be cheap.  "And he lets you stay for free?"

"Relax.  He only says that.  I tried to pay him the first few times but he refused it.  That's why I always leave a bag of gold coins whenever I'm ready to leave.  By the time he finds it I am long gone and he can't argue."  She swung her legs over the side of the bed.  "There is only one bed.  Do you mind sharing?"

"Thanks, but I'll sleep on the couch."

"There is no couch."

"Then I'll take the chair."

Lina grinned.  "No you won't."

"The bearskin rug in front of the fireplace will do."

"Think again."  She gave him a predatory grin full of dazzling white teeth.  He recognized it as the same expression she often wore when faced with a full course meal.  "You can't win, Zel.  You might as well realize that now."

Shaking his head in defeat, he sighed.  "Whatever."

She held up her first two fingers to flash her victory sign.  "Victory!  Now be a good boy and start a fire while I take a bath."

"Just save some of the hot water for me."

She stuck her tongue out at him as she left.

"Careful, you might trip and bite it off."

"If I did I bet you would be there to heal me up," her voice cried from the other room.

He laughed.  "What makes you so sure?"

"Because I could show you some very interesting things I can do with my tongue."

Zelgadis was glad she couldn't see him blush.

By the time he had a roaring fire going Lina was out of the bath.  He was throwing in the last of the kindling when she snuck up on him, wrapping her towel around his head.  The cloth had captured her scent, invading his nose with the perfume.  She smelled of autumn leaves and fresh dew.  It wasn't what he had expected of the sorceress, but this was Lina.  One learned to expect the unexpected around her.

"Guess who," she cooed in his ear.

"Hm...let me guess," he feigned ignorance, "Shabranigdo.  No, wait, Deep Sea Dolphin.  That has to be it!"

"Wrong answer."  The tiny sting of a wire-like hair being plucked from his scalp made him wince.


"Don't worry," she removed the towel.  "It will grow back."

Zelgadis scratched at the sore spot.  "What did you do that for?"

"How can you have split ends?" Lina gazed at the follicle curiously.  "Anyway, I wanted to make sure I had your undivided attention."

He turned around to find the sorceress wrapped in a white terrycloth robe that complimented her legs nicely.  In the light of the fire her skin carried a soft glow, which seemed to bathe her in an aura of beauty.  His eyes trailed up her lithe form.

"Wha...what for?"  He swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling very dry.

Lina leaned over, producing two glasses and a bottle of Zefirian wine from behind her.  "Have a drink with me?  I felt like sharing this."

His eyes had stopped where the open neck of her robe came together.  Either Gourry had terrible eyesight or Lina had grown over the years.  From his viewpoint she didn't look as flat as she made herself believe, especially with the way she was standing, half bent over in front of him.

"Um...where did you get that?"  The blood flow in his brain, although limited at the moment by the distraction, kicked back into gear.

"It was a parting gift from my sister when I originally left home."  Off came the stopper.  She filled the two glasses, handing one over to him.  "I bet it has been a while since you tasted anything this good.  This was an excellent year.  I've been saving it for a special occasion, but since I'm tired of waiting around for one, this will have to do."

Zelgadis eyed the red liquid swirling around in the glass.  "You've carried this with you for over fifty years?  Didn't defeating Shabranigdo or Zanafar qualify as special occasions?"

"There are still two pieces of Shabranigdo left," she pointed out.  "If I had defeated him for good then maybe I would have opened the bottle, but since I didn't..."

"What shall the occasion be then?"

The sorceress grinned.  "How about:  To us.  To the wonderful times we've shared."

He thought about it for a moment before clinking glasses with her.  "May we have many more."  The vintage was quite good.  Its age showed well in the strong taste.

"Have some more," Lina refilled his glass.

"You're not trying to get me drunk are you?"

She laughed.  "Afraid I'll take advantage of you?  I promise I'll be gentle."

Another blush started at the tips of the chimera's ears.  He seemed to be doing that a lot as of late.  "Funny.  I never remembered you being so ecchi, Lina."

"Do you think anyone will hear the springs of the mattress if I start jumping up and down on it?"  She watched the blush spread to his face and she let out with another burst of laughter.  "Well, what do you know, she was right!"

"She?"   He finished off the second glass.  The wine was really good.

"Someone I used to know.  She said with the right lines, a girl can make any man blush."  Again she refilled his glass, then emptied her own and did the same to it.  "Drink up!" she cheered, draining it all in one swig.

A stony eyebrow arched at the sorceress.  She could handle her own.  "Well, they say wine always tastes better with good company."

Lina gave him a sly grin.  "Don't mind me if I get a little tipsy."  This time she took a swig from the bottle.  "Ah, that's good."

He snatched the bottle out of her grasp.  "As long as you don't hog it all for yourself."

Before they knew it, the bottle lay empty on the floor.  Through the handmade glass the flames danced in a lazy and drunken pattern.  They looked how he felt.  The wine was starting to get to both of them now.  Lina sat beside him, face flushed with half open eyes staring blankly into the fire.  He was feeling a little woozy.      

He was about to nod off when he felt a sudden weight on his shoulder accompanied by a tug on his arm.  When he opened his eyes he found Lina with her head leaning against his shoulder.  "Lina...?"

"Just for tonight, Zel," she replied softly, her voice barely more than a whisper.  "Just let me have this moment."  Her robe had loosened somewhat.  Part of it had drooped down to expose her bare shoulder.  He couldn't help it as his eyes followed the delicate curves along her skin.  She didn't appear to be wearing anything underneath.

He kissed her forehead.  "Goodnight, Lina."

She hugged his arm in return.

Dawn arrived before they knew it.  When the time came to rise and shine both were a little hesitant to get up.  Lina more so since Zelgadis had made a wonderful pillow.  They quickly dressed, making the necessary preparations for the new day as they went along.  Today they had a meeting with the merchant's guild in the morning.  Afterwards they would probably go to the ruins, investigate the area, and by nightfall be happily on their way back to collect the bounty.

"Dammit!" Lina cursed as she looked under the kitchen table.  "I can't find my boots!  Zel, have you seen them?"

The chimera looked up from across the room.  He had been changing into a spare set of clothing.  They were nearly identical to his usual outfit except for darker color.  It almost matched his skin tone.  "Check in the bathroom," he replied, pulling the tunic over his head.  "You left most of your stuff in there last night."

"Found them!"

He fastened his cape.  "Ready to go?"

Lina quickly hopped into one boot, then the other.  "Yup!  Ready when you are.  Let's go!"

The streets were overcrowded with people as the new day was starting up.  Rather than get caught up in traffic and trying to fight their way through the two adventurers opted to Ray Wing their way over to the merchant's guild.  Since Lina knew her way around town better than he, she led the way.  A quick flight, and they were there.

Upon entering, they introduced themselves to the secretary who immediately guided them to the office of the headmaster where a well-dressed, bald, fat man greeted them.

"You must be the representatives from the PMS," the man stood up from his chair and extended his hand.  "I thank you both for coming for swiftly.  I never thought we would get one agent, let alone two, from the guild anytime soon.  May I ask your names?"

"I am Lina Inverse," she shook his hand, "and this is my partner, Zelgadis Greywers."

"A pleasure to meet both of you.  I am Jole, Headmaster and Director of Affairs for the guild.  I presume you came to notify us of your arrival and for more information?"

"And to negotiate our fee," Lina added.

Jole nodded.  "How does five thousand gold sound?"

"Are you trying to rip us off?!  How can you expect us to live off...of..." Lina's jaw dropped.  "How much did you say again?"

Even Zelgadis leaned forward in his chair.  "Five thousand gold?  You must want whatever is out there dealt with very badly."

"We lose five times that much a day," the headmaster sighed.  "It's costing us a fortune.  If we don't get rid of the phenomena soon we won't be able to make a profit and the business at the bazaar will dry up.  You see, this town thrives on trade.  It is the sole reason for Treen's existence.  If the bazaar goes, the town goes with it."

Five thousand gold.   Lina was already drooling at the thought of all she could buy with that money -- all the food and the fancy hotels she could stay in.  There was a lot she could do with that money.  "When do we get paid?" she asked.

"My secretary already has a purse waiting for you when you leave.  In it is an advancement of one hundred golds.  Upon completion of the contract you will receive the remainder of the payment in various precious stones.  All we ask is for you to deal with whatever is the cause behind this phenomenon and deal with it -- permanently.   We do not want this to happen again."

Money signs were bouncing around inside the sorceress's eyeballs.  "Well, no sense in wasting time.  Zel, let's go.  We have ruins to clean out, monsters to fry, and ghosts to spook.  The sooner we deal with them the sooner we get paid.  Consider it done, Jole!"

"I certainly hope so.  I wish you luck!"

The underground ruins were dank, dark, and smelled of mildew.  Although the doorway back to the surface world was only ten feet away from where he stood very little light actually made it into the room.  In order to see what he was doing the blond haired man had to use an illumination spell.

At the moment he was standing in front of a giant stone door.  His hand brushed over the surface, clearing away decades' worth of cobwebs and dust that had built up had settled into the cracks and carvings.  There was an inscription on the door.  Unfortunately, only half of it was visible.  From what he could make out some type of magical ward -- a very powerful one -- sealed the door.  He might not be able to break the ward on his own.

That little bit of information did not make him happy.

"HMMMZZT...SIR," the twelve foot tall suit of armor by the entrance come to life as the two red glowing balls beneath its helmet began to glow, "I HAVE DETECTED THE TWO HIGH LEVEL TECHUSERS ARE APPROACHING THE RUINS.  HMMMZZT..."

He pushed his spectacles back up on his nose.  As soon as he got back to his tower he was going to invent something to keep his glasses from falling off.  This was getting annoying.  "Has Bullox detected them yet?"

The giant suit of armor went silent as it waited for an answer from its counterpart.  "BULLOX IS AWARE OF THE THREAT...HMMMZZT...WHAT ARE YOUR ORDERS, SIR?  DO YOU WISH FOR US TO DEAL WITH THEM?"

He shook his head.  "Just give me a chance to grab my weapon."  He started for the entrance.  "Give me an astral reading on them."

Tempest followed him.  Its five-foot shoulder span was too wide for the door so it had to step through sideways.  "HMMMZZT...PRIMARY TARGET IS A HIGH LEVEL FEMALE BLACK MAGE.  SECONDARY TARGET IS RECOGNIZED AS A CHIMERA WITH SHAMANISTIC CAPABILITIES.  HMMMMZZT..."

"That is a bit odd," the blond haired artificer mused as they appeared above ground in the ruins.  After being underground for so long he had to squint in light.  He quickly went over to his tent, retrieved his favored weapon -- an enchanted half-staff, and returned.  " A chimera.  I may want to take a closer look at that one.  How fast are they approaching?"


"SIR," Bullox appeared from behind the overly large tent, "BOTH TECHUSERS HAVE APPEARED ON THE HILL TO THE NORTH.  HMMRRRTZZ...SHALL WE OPEN FIRE?"

"Have they spotted us yet?"


"Let's wait and see what they do."

"So these are the ruins, eh?" Lina gazed out over the landscape.  A score or so of white stone pillars aged gray lined what must have once been a walkway.  Some were still intact.  Others were chipped or broken in half.  A few had tumbled to the ground.  The various buildings in the area, including the temple the walkway lead up to, had long since crumpled to the ground.  They were nothing more than giant piles of bricks.

"Yes, and you owe me five silvers for this map."  The chimera studied the sheet of paper he had bought.  After a moment he looked up to compare it to the landscape.  "This map isn't even accurate!  According to it the pole is facing towards the south!"

"Aw...poor Zelly-Pooh!" she giggled.  A flash of light in the distance caught her eye.  "Hey Zel, take a look at this."

"Take a look at what?"

"We have company."

"We do?"  He took his place at Lina's side.  "Two armor golems and a blond haired man.  Do you suppose they could be related to the odd happenings around this place?"

"It's a possibility."

"What do you suggest we do?"



The spiraling ball of flame sped towards its target, but instead of detonating on impact the spell was merely absorbed by the armor of the golem and winked out of existence.

"Uh oh."  Those golems were more than they appeared to be.  Their armor had to be constructed from orihalcon.  Nothing else could have withstood that much heat.  Normal armor would have easily been melted by the flames.  "They're constructed from orihalcon."

"I was just about to suggest that," Zelgadis growled.  He felt like growling a few other inappropriate words, but kept those comments to himself.  He smiled, drawing his sword.  This was turning out to be just like old times.  "I doubt they are in the mood to talk after that."

"What are they doing?"

He followed her gaze back to the two golems.  Something was happening to their arms.  The armor plating was shifting about as numerous metal rods surfaced from beneath.  After several seconds the shifting stopped and the golems raised their arms at them.

The hairs stood up on Zelgadis's neck as the realization dawned on him.  "Lina, get down!" he cried as he dragged the sorceress behind a nearby column.  Those weren't rods.  They were gun barrels!

The explosions from their canons kicked up debris all around them.  Lina had to cover herself with her cape or be pelted by the dirt and rock chips raining down upon them.  They certainly weren't going to last long like this.  One of them had to get in close and take out that mage controlling those strange golems.

"Zel, can you distract those two golems?"  She had to yell for him to be able to hear her over the explosions.

"What are you going to do?" he yelled back.

"I'm going to take out their leader.  He seems to be the brains behind them -- " she winced as part of the column exploded right above her head " -- Will you buy me some time?"

He nodded without another word.  Then was gone.

Now to deal with the golem master.  He had to be a mage of some talent.  There was no way a third-rate sorcerer would be able to control two of those things, not without some major help.  Dealing with him shouldn't be too hard.

Lina drew her cape around herself and spoke the command word.  To the casual observer it would have appeared as if the sorceress had merely faded away into nothingness.  In reality she was still stood in the same spot, not quite invisible, but camouflaged so she would be unrecognizable to the untrained eye.  The cape was magically enchanted so it would blend in with the surrounding environment.  Moving in closer to the enemy would be much easier now, although she would still have to watch her step.  The enchantment wouldn't hide a careless footprint left in the mud.

Carefully she sneaked her way across the battlefield.  Only one of the golems had focused its full attention on Zelgadis.  The other seemed to be aware that she had disappeared and was still searching for her.  Fortunately, it had strayed some distance from the master.  She made sure to stay far away from that one.  As she neared the man, she took cover behind a beaten and worn pillar.

Lina peeked around what was left of the pillar.  The master of the golems was standing out in the open next to his creations.  One good fireball and he would be fried like a chicken dinner.  If I could just get the incantation off without...

The red-haired sorceress blinked, pausing in mid-thought.

There was a familiar air about this man that she couldn't quite put her finger on.  Long blond hair, spectacles, yellow robes, and a half-staff.  What a minute!  It couldn't be... but it is!

"LAZLORE RAGANDI!!!!" she cried out with all the breath her lungs could muster, stepping out from behind the pillar.

The man spun around at hearing her disembodied voice, his half-staff extended and at the ready.  "Who's there?"

"Ha!  I knew it!"

His eyes darted back and forth, searching for a target.  "I know that voice."

"You told me you never forget a voice," Lina allowed her cape to flap open, her form materializing before the artificer's eyes.  "You do remember mine, don't you?"


Chapter 4   |   Fanfiction