Slayers TIME Chapter 1
A Calm Before the Storm
By Mox Jet
Lina's head buzzed with confusion as she gazed about, caught in a world that was not familiar to her. The entire plain seemed to be covered in a grey mist, the sky above dark with storm clouds. It was as if someone had constructed this place for the distinct purpose of delivering a feeling of foreboding.
"Where am I?" she asked, he voice reverberating in the air, but not yielding an answer.
A bolt of lightning streaked from the sky, down to the mist concealed earth, illuminating the silhouettes of two figures in the distance. They were both large, but try as she may, the young sorceress could not make out any distinguishing features. Their silhouettes faded away as the light disappeared, occasional redefined by further strokes of lightning. She watched closely as she saw the figures begin to move. Moments later, they clashed, beginning to battle each other.
The fight scene defied all common sense as Lina's view of it began to pan
around in a circle, conveniently ignoring the fact that her feet had not
moved. Images became cleaner as the view changed, and she could soon make
out some of the powers exuding from the forms. One glowed with an aura of
white magic, the other glowed with an aura of black magic. A Dragon and a
Mazoku, she concluded.
The mist around the two forms separated as they fought, eventually giving way to three human sized figures between them. One glowed with the white of the Dragon, one with the Black of the Mazoku, yet there was a third, that seemed to glow with an aura not recognizable to Lina. It seemed smaller than the other two, weaker in nature, yet
Her thought was disrupted as the Dragon and Mazoku attacked simultaneously, the meeting of the two antithetical energies creating a chain reaction that rippled outward, reaching towards Lina. Another moment later, it consumed her in a violent wave. It only then occurred to her that since this was naturally a dream -Lina Inverse would never be so quickly killed in real life-- the next thing she would feel would be what everyone feels when they die in their dreams: a quick return to consciousness.
Lina awoke with a jerk, sitting up in her bed, beads of sweat forming around her temples. She breathed in, just to make sure she was still capable of it, then looked around and reminded herself where she was.
"A dream?" she asked herself, shaking almost as if she was started by her own voice. She wrote it off.
Swinging the covers off of her, she climbed out of bed and stretched her arms towards the ceiling. Naturally, she was far too short to even come close to touching, but it felt good none the less. Grabbing a brush off of the end table, she began to comb the knots out of her long red hair, wandering over to the window and reveling as a mid-day spring sun warmed her face. Smiling, something inside told her it was going to be a good day.
Lina Inverse. Bandit Killer. Dragon Spooker. Enemy of all that live. Err well, scratch that last part: she might hurt you she heard you saying it. A wanderer. A free spirit. A business woman. A sociopath. All these are things that you might hear someone refer to her as.
In reality, what (or rather who) Lina Inverse is can't really be summed up in a single sentence as there's really a lot more to her than that. Lina is a slightly hyper-active sorceress with a bit of a temper problem that has an amazing tendency at getting caught in potentially world ending situations when all she really wants to do is stomp some bad guys, get rich quick, and eat good food.
Well okay, so maybe you can sum her up in a single sentence, but never mind that. The important part is that Lina is a person after whom adventure tends to follow.
On the streets below her Inn, townsfolk were already out and about in their hustle and bustle of daily business. Lina may have just woken up, but she would be the first to point out that her hectic schedule of stomping bandits and sometimes saving the world required sleeping to noon in order to properly recover her strength. True enough, Seyruun was already quite full of activity.
As she finished combing out her hair, she placed the brush back where she found it, and made her way to the full length mirror across from the bed. She went through what was becoming a daily practice of examining herself wishfully for any overnight growth in "key" regions, then slipped out of her pajamas and put on her standard traveling attire. Sure, purple and yellow may not have been all the fashion in Seyruun this year, but anyone informing our slightly out-of-style heroine of this would likely find themselves on the receiving end of a fireball. As was typical practice, one did not normally critique the wardrobe of those who seemed like magic users. And, if there was anything Lina seemed like in her somewhat ridiculous purple robe and pants, it was probably someone who could use magic.
Finishing dressing, Lina threw her cape over her shoulders and made her way out of the room. There, she was not too surprised to find her tall blonde traveling companion, the rather anti-intellectual Gourry Gabriev, exiting his own room.
"Morning, Gourry," she said cheerfully.
"Morning, Lina," the tall man (nearly two heads taller than her) responded. "How'd ya sleep?"
"Not too bad," Lina said, walking up to him. "I had some weird dreams, but I'll tell you about them over breakfast," she said. "Because I'm starving!"
"You mean lunch, don't you?" Gourry asked.
"Lunch, breakfast, whatever," Lina said as they walked down the stairs to the main room that sported many tables and the restaurant that would be feeding the duo. "As long as it involves mass quantities of food finding its way into my mouth, it doesn't matter!"
Many people were already busy enjoying lunch as Gourry and Lina took seats at a table in the corner. A waiter quickly addressed them, a bit taken aback by their order of "everything on the left side of the menu." He jotted the order down and rushed back into the kitchen, hoping that such a huge order would yield a similarly huge tip.
"You seem happy today, Lina," Gourry said, noting the girl's sunny mood. "Did your breasts grow or something last night?" he asked. The poor fool was quickly met with a fist in the face that knocked him out of his chair. Lina brushed her hands off and leaned back as Gourry climbed back into his seat.
"No, you simp, that's not it!" she shot, a smile quickly returning to her face. "It's just well, I'm not even quite sure. You never just get the feeling sometime when you wake up that it's going to be a good day?" she asked.
"Hmm .I'm not sure I'd recognize it if I felt it," Gourry admitted. "But I suppose I understand what you're saying. Is there some kind of neat quest we're going to go on, risking certain death, only to manage to pull out alive at the last possible moment with some life risking trickery or well, something like that?"
"Nope," Lina said. "Actually, my plan for the day was to enter the tournament, which shouldn't be to life threatening at all."
"Umm .tournament?" Gourry asked, a stupefied look coming across his face. "What tournament?"
"You mean you don't remember?!" Lina asked. "Gourry, it's the reason we're in Seyruun, for Pete's sake!" Gourry paused a moment, considering the possibility that he once knew anything about whatever Lina was talking about. After a few moments of careful deliberation, he came to a decisive conclusion.
"Nope!" he exclaimed. Lina shook her head.
"Okay, then listen up, 'cause I'm only gonna explain this once more," she said, leaning over the table and clasping her hands. "The tournament I'm talking about is the Seyruun Magic Cup. It's probably the biggest sorcerer's tournament on the Mage-Battle-Circuit, and every year around this time, they hold it in Seyruun. Basically, all the best sorcerers in the kingdom gather here to hurl spells at each other in under organized competition, vying for the grand prize of a lot of gold and the title of World's Best! Now, did you follow all of that?"
"Hmm " Gourry pondered. "I suppose. So, basically you're gonna go cast a few Dragon Slaves and get a lot of money?"
"That's the plan, Gourry," Lina said, leaning back again and cracking her knuckles. "That's the plan."
The waiter came with their food and Lina started bouncing around like a young child on Christmas morning.
"And now my plan is to eat all this food and fill my stomach!" she exclaimed, silverware in hand. Diving in, the food quickly found it had met its match in Lina Inverse as it was devoured in chunks that no normal human would be able to muster. The waiter watched in horror as the two travelers went through their order in less than ten minutes. Leaning back into her chair and patting her tummy in joy, she released a delighted burp.
"Not bad food," she admitted. "Seyruun cuisine never ceases to surprise me." She looked across the table at her traveling companion. "I suppose you can peruse the marketplace while I go about on some errands. You think if I give you some of the money we got from wiping out those bandits the other day you can manage not to spend it all in one place?" Gourry thought about it for a moment.
"Well, why don't you try me?" he asked, holding out his hand in a request for money. See, Lina always handled the finances in their journeys. Back when they were first working together, she let him keep his own end of their hauls, but it was always quickly wasted on silly things like armor polish, sword wax and underwear with pictures of pigs on them. Lina, always the one wearing the pants in the relationship, eventually revoked his privileges and took the 'burden' upon herself.
"Hmm okay, Gourry," Lina said, smiling faintly. "Let's see how you do on your own. I'm gonna go off, sign up for this tournament and do some shopping. I'm gonna give you five gold pieces that you can spend as you like." She held up the five fingers of her right hand as if to exaggerate her point. "And we'll see how you do." She reached into her cape and pulled out five gold coins and handed them to the blond haired man. Standing up, she spoke.
"Be a good boy with that money, now," she said. "And I'll meet you back at the inn around say, five o'clock?"
"Yes, teacher," Gourry said, bowing his head.
"Good, then," Lina said, spinning and wandering out of the building in search of something to buy with her end of the haul: the remaining three hundred and twenty five gold pieces. She thought she split them up pretty fairly, considering factors such as Gourry's contribution to the raid, his relatively intelligent behavior the last few evenings, and the fact that she saw a nice new belt on their way in that she just had to have.
She wandered out into the street and looked around. Signups for the tournament were being done in the castle courtyard, so she figured she'd head that way first off. As she made her way through the crowded Seyruun Market, vendors shouted offers at her and shoved things in her face, but Lina Inverse was no impulse buyer. There was nothing someone could throw in front of her and just expect her to-
"One hundred percent pure jewels from the Ruins of Elmgosh! Get them right here while they're hot!" a seller hawked. The narrator then forgot everything about Lina he was just saying.
"Jewels from the ruins!?" Lina shouted, her eyes lighting up as she pranced over to the vendor that made the offer. "Oh wow, those things are impossible to find!"
"Hi there, young lady," the vendor, and elderly man with a gray beard and a brown cloak said. "Does such an offer interest you?"
"Oh yeah!" Lina said, her mind already working over how much she could sell them for before he told her they would cost. "Let me see 'em!"
"Why of course," the vendor said, reaching under the table of his booth and pulling out a handful of sparkling red gems. Lina quickly grabbed them and began to examine their quality.
"Hmm ." she mused as the looked them over. Always the well equipped appraiser, she whipped out a small magnifying scope and held it up to her right eye. She twisted them around in her hand, looking for fault. In the center of each of the gems, there was a tracing of some sort of figure that looked real but
"These are fakes," she said simply, tossing them back on to the table and putting away her scope. The inlay on any gems from those ruins would be that of a jellyfish. These gems are inlaid with the image of a squid. Shame on you for trying to trick an innocent girl like me!" Her temper flared for a moment.
"But I, uh-"
"No buts, Mister," Lina said, waving him off and taking a breath. "You should learn to conduct business honestly and be lucky I don't beat the crap out of your for trying to put one past me. You're just lucky I'm in a good mood today." The vendor tried to speak again, but Lina shook her head and smirked, waving his fingers. "The nerve you've got, thinking you could trick the great sorcery genius Lina Inverse."
"Li-Li-Lina Inverse?" the vendor asked.
"That's me," Lina said proudly and sticking her chest out (what little of it that there was).
"Wow!" the vendor said. "I've got a celebrity here! I know this may sound kind of silly, but, can I have your autograph? I'm a big fan of your work." Lina beamed.
"Ah, I always knew I was famous!" Lina said, pulling a quill pen out of seemingly nowhere. "Now who do want it made out t-"
She was cut off by a crash accompanied with a billowing cloud of smoke from down the street. Her attention was quickly drawn to the scene, darting away from the old vendor before signing anything. A crowd had formed in a circle around two guys that had detained a frail looking figure in a black cloak.
"The end is nigh!" the figure exclaimed. "The three are almost aligned. All should fear!" Lina sighed. Just a classical flagellant proclaiming the End of the World. And here she almost thought something interesting was happening.
"Say, what happened here," she asked on of the onlookers, a tall man with a red bandana tied around his head.
"Some crazy guy started ranted about the Coming of the Insurrection or some junk in that restaurant over there. The owner found some guys to get rid of him, but they've been having a hard time detaining him."
"I see " Lina mused. As she said this, the two men holding the squirming zealot made their way through the circle and passed by Lina. The zealot kept going on with his screaming and managed to catch Lina's eye. The two locked gazes and the man in black became silent, his stare never leaving her. He stopped struggling and the men moved away from the crowd with newfound ease. An eerie feeling crept over the young sorceress as the men rounded the corner with the man, probably taking him off to the local jail.
"You know that guy?" the man with the bandana asked.
" No," Lina said. "I've never seen him before in my life. That was weird." Lina shook it off. "Well, no sense worrying about it. Time to go to the castle and register for that tournament."
"You're gonna enter the Tournament, little girl?" the man asked.
"Yup!" Lina said. "And I'm gonna win it, too."
"No way!" the man said back. "You'll never beat the defending champion. He's been number one on the circuit for the last six months!"
"Number one, huh?" Lina asked, cracking her knuckles. "What's this hot shot's name?"
"Well, that's the weird part," the man said. "No one really knows. He just goes by his 'stage name,' for lack of a better word. They call him the Dragon Slaying Slacker." Lina's eyes drooped.
"That's pretty lame," she said.
"Yeah, well, I guess you can't always be successful in everything. Good luck in the tournament, little girl. You'll need it!" The bandana man walked off. Inwardly, Lina always hated being called a little girl, but again, she was in a good mood today, so she was not about to let something so trivial as that bother her. Shrugging, she wandered off in the direction of the castle, now even more eager to register for the competition.
She passed by the standard fare of any main street in a major city. People continued to hawk items at her, though she managed to refrain from any dealings. Pots of water were also occasionally dumped from second story apartments; Lina also refrained from being hit by them. As she came to the castle, the large white towers seemed to reach the Clouds, the Seyruun palace being one of the larger known structures in the world. She passed over the drawbridge and into the outer bailey, quickly spotting a large tent with streamers and balloons marking the registration area. She wandered over into the tent and up to a long table with piles of paper set upon it.
"What do I have to fill out to sign up for the tournament?" Lina asked of the people behind the table.
"Just these few forms here," one of the representatives said, handing her the proper papers.
"And what do they say?" Lina asked.
"Oh, just your usual waiver forms, really," the representative said. "Simply that the Mage Battle Circuit (MBC) is not responsible for any injuries or death that you may receive during the tournament and you waive all personal rights to combat this in any way shape or form following the completion of the tournament, assuming, or course, that you survive."
"I thought all of this magical battle was regulated so that people didn't get hurt."
"Accidents happen, deary," the representative said dryly. "You still up for it?"
"Of course!" Lina said, quickly grasping for the forms and scrawling her signature anywhere that looked appropriate. "Lina Inverse never backs down from a challenge."
"Lina Inverse, huh?" the rep said.
"Yup," Lina said proudly. "I take it you've heard of me?" The representative gave her a puzzled look for a moment before shaking his head.
"Not in the slightest," he admitted.
Lina fell down.
"But I hope you're good if you want to defeat the defending champ," the rep said. Lina climbed back to her feet.
"So I hear," she said. "But I think I've got that covered. Don't you worry about little 'ole me, pops."
"Your first fight is tomorrow at 10:00 AM," the representative told her after he checked her in. "Be there half an hour before fight time."
"Aw man!" Lina said, shaking her head as she turned to leave. "I guess that means I have to wake up early tomorrow " She wandered out of the tent and back to the bazaar, hoping first to find Gourry and hoping second that he hadn't bought something silly like armor polish again.
"Its armor polish!" Gourry said proudly, holding up a silver can that had the words 'Black Sable' printed across the top. They were sitting at the restaurant in their inn as the sun was midway through its daily routine of setting. Lina paused from inhaling the leg of meat in her hands to scold her companion.
"I swear, Gourry, what on earth do you even need that for? Do you think your enemies are going to quiver in fear at the sight of their own reflection in your breastplate or something?"
"Of course not, Lina," he said. "But grandma always told me that when representing my family and my name on the battle field, it's always good to look your best!" He beamed with pride for a moment. Lina sunk her forehead into the palm of her free hand.
"Oh, Gourry," she mumbled. "Something tells me that your enemies aren't going to write up a bad TPS report or anything like that. I thought I told you to buy something practical."
"This is practical, Lina," Gourry defended, not seeing his companion's line of thought. "It was practical and economical -so much so that they gave me a bonus gift for just two more gold coins!"
"And what was that?" Lina asked, some hope returning to her.
"Sword wax!" he shouted in simplistic joy. Lina's heart sank.
At least I only gave him five gold pieces to blow, she thought to herself. Then, aloud, "Well, whatever makes you happy, I guess, Gourry. Still, I wish you would have considered the fact that most of the time, your sword doesn't even have a blade to wax " Gourry put his hand behind his head and laughed.
"Oh wow!" he exclaimed. "I never even thought of that!" Lina shook her head, deciding very quickly to change the subject before jellyfish brains got on too much of a roll, or rather, a downward spiral.
"My first fight it tomorrow morning at 10:00," she said. "So I have to get to bed early if I'm going to get my beauty rest. Is there anything you wanted to do in town tonight?"
"Not particularly," Gourry admitted as Lina went back to devouring her diner. "I guess I'll just turn in early as well. Not like we need to stay up and form battle plans or anything like that, right?" he asked.
"Right, Gourry," she said between bites. "This is like a nice, restful, vacation."
"You blow things up even on vacation?" he asked. Her eyes lowered.
"It calms me down," she said flatly, slightly insulted. She went back to eating and after few more bites (if you could call them that) and she was done. Eating nothing short of the bone itself, she gulped down whatever was left in her mug and then slammed it on the table.
"So I think I'll go to my room then," she said. "Review some spells and the rules of the tournament and whatnot."
"Hmm .okay," Gourry said. "Sounds fine to me. I guess I'll just well figure out something."
"Just be a good boy and don't make too much noise while you're at it, kay?" she asked, tossing down a few gold coins to cover the meal and walking up the stairs to her room. Gourry sat for a moment to finish eating his own food, took a few large gulps of ale, then sat and leaned back in his chair, letting out a joyous belch. He patted his stomach. Then, perking up, he wondered aloud.
"Say, Amelia lives in Seyruun!" he exclaimed in revelation. "I wonder what she's doing." He rose up out of his seat. "I should probably go say hello, and since Lina said she didn't want to be bothered, she probably doesn't want to come. Suppose that means it just me and my armor polish on this one," he said, grabbing his sword from its resting place against the wall and trotting out of the inn. Thirty seconds later, he came back in to grab the armor polish (which he had left on the table), then ran back out of the inn. Unbeknownst to Lina and Gourry, over in the other corner -obscured in shadow for obvious dramatic effect- two figures had been watching them.
"Are you sure that's her?" the taller one asked. "She looks almost exactly the same as she did three years ago. That can't be possible."
"Oh, I'm sure of it," the other one said, taking a long draw from the pipe he held in his hand. "You don't forget that kind of aura."
"So when do we go say hello?" the taller one asked.
"The timing's gotta be right," his companion said. "So probably tomorrow." He grinned.
"What's so right about tomorrow?"
"To be honest? I have no idea. It just seemed the right time."
"Maybe. But then again, maybe that's why I'm here."
Mox Jet's Fanfiction