Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Chapter 4

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

There was a table, with a pretty impressive spread of food. It was a testament to Lina’s surprise that she had stopped eating lunch just to stare at me. Gourry, seated at the side, continued eating until Lina smacked him. He looked up, a chicken leg still in his hand. « Oh. Hi, Zelgadis, » he said. As if it hadn’t been months since we had seen one another, and I wasn’t in a silly outfit, and they weren’t posing as gods. Typical Gourry.

« Get him a pair of pants, Jellyfish. Or a blanket or something, » Lina said. Gee, thanks, Lina. Your concern about my appearance is noted.

« You’re not exactly in your normal attire yourself, » I pointed out. Someone had given Lina a dress, and enough gold and garnets to probably buy the entire village. She actually looked like a Volcano Goddess, even without casting some kind of awful fire spell. Gourry had traded his armor for a garish short-sleeved shirt and shorts, and someone had given him a shark-tooth necklace, but otherwise, he looked normal.

« Shove it, Zel, » Lina said, picking up a bowl of fruit. Gourry stood up and handed me a piece of cloth that looked more like a scarf than anything useful, and was in a pinkish red that meant it was probably Lina’s. Sighing, I wrapped it around my waist. Still silly looking, but it might cut back on Lina’s comments. « So, what brings you here? » Lina asked, before taking a large bite of a piece of pineapple.

I took the chance to grab a stool. « I might ask the same of you two. The locals are calling you the Spirit of Fire Mountain. »

« Yeah, well, Gourry and I decided to check out the island, since we’d never been here. There was some trouble with pirates, but I took care of it. Maybe I went a bit overboard, but next thing I know some woman is proclaiming me as the guardian deity of the volcano. I figure I’d put up with it for a bit, since they roast a damn good ham here, then figure some way to make a good exit. Maybe in a couple of days. »

« Plus it was That Time of the Month, » Gourry added.

Lina swatted him. « Zel doesn’t need to know that part of the story. »

« Then you haven’t left the mountain? » I asked. I was beginning to see what kind of racket the high priestess had going on here.

« Nope, » Lina said. « I’m missing the beach and all, but I can do that later. »

I sighed. « Because your high priestess is busy exacting tribute in your name, and burning down villages when she doesn’t get what she wants. We were sent up here by the queen to do something about that. »

Lina paused in her eating for the second time in fifteen minutes. « What? » She looked about ready to blow her top, and this time Gourry caught on, and took a step back… with the ham bone he had been eating. « How dare she use the good name of Lina Inverse like that! »

There are many comments one could make about that, not the least being that it was being done for the Spirit of Fire Mountain, not Lina Inverse. Thankfully, I’m too smart and Gourry had gone back to eating lunch. Crossing Lina when she’s in this mode is legally considered suicide in three kingdoms. I would hate to be the high priestess. Amelia on a Justice kick would be more merciful than a pissed-off Lina.

There was an explosion. Not one created by Lina, who hadn’t quite gotten to the ‘fireball-throwing’ stage of her rant. I paused, saying the first thing that came to mind. « Amelia must have woken up. » And they hadn’t taken any precautions keep her from blowing a hole in whatever had held her.

« Amelia? » Lina said. « Dammit, am I going to have to deal with her and her ‘Miss Lina, are you being unjust again’ too? I didn’t do anything. This time. »

« I think she’ll take ‘the high priestess tricked you’ as an excuse, » I said. « I’ll talk to her. »

« You do that, Zel. Right now, I have some clerical ass to kick. » Lina vaulted over the table, miraculously without disturbing the remains of lunch, and ran out the door. I exchanged a look with Gourry and followed.

It wasn’t hard to find out where Amelia had been held. It had a giant magic-created hole in it, and Amelia on the roof shouting about the corrupt reign of the Volcano Goddess.

« Amelia! » I shouted, waving at her.

Amelia looked over. Thankfully, she didn’t fall. « Mister Zelgadis! You’re safe! The guards said you were going berserk or under the control of the Spirit or something. » She put her hands on her hips. « You aren’t, are you? »

I sighed. « Do I look like I’m going berserk? And the Spirit of Fire Mountain is just a tourist the high priestess found as a figurehead. She didn’t know a thing about anything. »

« Hey! »

Amelia looked past me. « Miss Lina? Wait, you’re the Volcano Goddess? »

« That’s what the locals said, » Lina replied. « But I haven’t set anything on fire. »

Amelia gave her a skeptical look. Gourry raised a finger, and said, « what about-? »

Lina cut him off by holding up a hand. « Fine. I haven’t set anything on fire since the first day I got here, unless you count candles and bonfires. Which I don’t. »

« Like I was saying — it was all a set-up by the high priestess, » I cut in. « Lina’s been here the whole time, and didn’t order anyone to ransack villages. »

« And I’m going to give the high priestess a piece of my mind for it, » Lina said. « If all they wanted to do was to feed me and throw parties, that’s one thing, but I am not a cause for holy war! »

« You said it, Miss Lina! » Well, that was one crisis averted. I didn’t really care what happened to this high priestess, but Amelia versus Lina would be messy.

« What is the meaning of this? » A priestess was heading towards us. Judging from the ornate feathered cloak and enough gold on her so that she’d sink if you tossed her into the ocean, she had to be the high priestess. The fact everyone else was hurrying away even more than they had been from Lina made it certain. Guess she was back early from Porthaven. « How dare you trespass here! » She pointed at Amelia.

« I come in the name of Justice and Heroism, and the people of Safe Haven Island, to end your tyranny in the name of a False Spirit! » Amelia wasn’t going to let anyone steal her moment.

« Hey! » Lina said, stepping in between the high priestess and Amelia. « Before that, you and I are going to have a little talk about what you do in my name. Amelia can have what’s left when I’m through with you. »

« Miss Lina, you’re ruining my speech! »

I took several steps out of the way. Gourry looked at me. « They don’t really need us, do they? »

I nodded. « We’d only get in the way. » Lina and Amelia were going to argue about who had precedence over the high priestess, and all Gourry and I could do was keep her from getting away, leaving two very pissed off sorceresses. Thankfully, the high priestess was just as involved in the fight as Lina and Amelia.

« Open the gates in the name of Safe Haven Island! » There was the thunder of another spell — maybe a Damu Brass. I recognized the voice as Queen Oihana, which was funny, since I distinctly recall her telling us that we needed to go alone. Unless she had better transportation than walking up the mountain, she had to have set out with her group shortly after Amelia and I did.

Damn it, if we were being the decoy, she could have at least told us.

« Oh, stuff it, Sis! » the high priestess yelled. « You know the laws. I’m the Speaker for the Spirit of the Mountain, so you can just take your tin soldiers and go home. »

Oh, boy. Sisters. This was turning into a family dispute, or nepotism gone horribly wrong.

« You are not my Speaker! » Lina yelled. « Come over here so I can Fireball you in the face. »

Lina had meant that for the high priestess, but Queen Oihana took it as her invitation to advance through the smoking hole of the front gate, her royal guards flanking. « Well, then, Lorea, since you aren’t acting in the name of the Spirit, » she gave her sister a devilish grin, « let us talk about the supplies you stole from my villages. »

« If you’re willing to talk about the number of my priests you drafted into your service, » the high priestess countered.

« Oh, shut up! » Lina stepped in between them, a murderous glint in her eyes. « I don’t care who of you took whose toys as kids, because that’s what this is going to turn into. You two and your stupid fight ruined my vacation. » I might add, Lina was perfectly happy sitting at the top of the island while they were giving her stuff and making her food, so the ‘ruining’ was probably the ‘fighting a religious war over her’. « And there’ll be justice served all right. »

« Miss Lina, that’s not exactly what it means to fight for Justice, » Amelia pointed out.

Both the queen and the priestess turned to Lina. « You and what army? » Queen Oihana asked. Both the priests and the queen’s guards were forming up behind them, and I suddenly realized that maybe it was better to let the sisters threaten each other, rather than pick on one. Family can be funny like that.

No, that doesn’t apply to me at all.

« Just me, Lina Inverse. And these other guys. » She motioned to Amelia, who was trying to keep track of the new development; Gourry, who was looking between Queen Oihana and the high priestess as if to confirm that they were sisters; and yours truly. « You might have heard of me as a Beautiful Sorcery Genius. »

The high priestess and the Queen looked at one another. « Doesn’t ring a bell. »

« What about Dragon-Spooker? » Gourry asked. If you hear it enough, even Gourry remembers Lina’s bad reputation.

« Enemy of All Who Live? » Amelia suggested.

« Some friends you two are! » Lina yelled at them, and Gourry and Amelia backed up, probably looking for a place to hide.

« How about ‘The One Who is Going to Dragon Slave the Volcano Soon’? » I said. Which was both true and would hopefully distract the islanders, which would then distract Lina. And with any luck, wouldn’t actually happen, since I don’t know what black magic and an active volcano do when mixed, and I pray that I never find out.

Lina looked ready to object to that nickname, but then she got an evil look on her face, and turned to Queen Oihana and the high priestess, grinning. She didn’t say a thing, but I don’t think she needed to.

The queen looked at the high priestess. The high priestess nodded. « Since we are very interested in promoting tourism-, » the queen said slowly.

« -except when it involves crazy foreign sorceresses- » the high priestess muttered.

« -we would be happy to extend to you the hospitality of the island. For the remainder of your stay. » The way she said the last bit made me wonder if Lina would ever be let back on the island once she left.

« Excellent. »

* * *

« Now this is a vacation! » Lina stretched out on her beach towel. « Sun, an ocean breeze, and drinks with umbrellas in them. » She didn’t mention the giant picnic lunch that had taken all four of us to carry. It probably wouldn’t be there for long, anyway.

« The ham was better, » Gourry said, reaching for the loaf of bread and cutting himself two thick slices. I noted that lack of ham didn’t stop him from making a sandwich that was going to be the size of his head.

« It was also trouble, Gourry. Pass the mustard. »

Amelia had finished making her own lunch, and took it away from the impending feeding frenzy to sit by me under a palm tree. She had changed out of that crazy costume, and back into her sundress. She’d also found a set of shorts and a short-sleeved shirt for me. Not that I really wanted them now — there were worse things than being hot.

« Poor Mister Zelgadis, » she said. « Is the aloe helping your sunburn? »

« It’ll be fine if I stay in the shade. »

« I told you you should have put some sunblock on, » Amelia said. « You normally keep your skin covered up, so it’s not used to it. »

I nodded. She had. And I hadn’t bothered, and now I was a rather interesting shade of purple that really should more be associated with bruises than burns. « Who knew that the sun could burn my skin? » Well, I did now, and had put the sunblock and the aloe on, cast a healing spell to dull the pain, and was staying in the shade, thank you very much. « It’ll heal soon. »

Amelia nodded, sitting down next to me and starting to nibble at her lunch. « You’re not going to enjoy the beach if you stay here. Um, Mister Zelgadis? »

« Yeah? »

« I think I tracked down some of my mother’s relatives and I was wondering since you weren’t going to be doing much today, if you’d come with me to meet them? » It might have been the heat, but she was starting to turn red.

I sighed. « Amelia, your father hired me as your bodyguard. Of course that means I’m coming with you. »

« Thank you! » Amelia smiled at me and I had to wonder if she was suddenly nervous and wanted backup in case something happened.

We let Lina and Gourry know where we were going. And then I penned a short note, because hell if I know if they heard us through making sure every speck of lunch was eaten. It also wasn’t a far walk from the beach, which was good because I was not in the mood to get another half-day’s worth of sun, and my burns were starting to chafe against my shorts.

We approached a sprawling farmhouse, surrounded by various outbuildings. I couldn’t tell what the fields were growing, but they were full of green plants. Amelia walked to the door, but hung back, staring at it. « If you’re not going to knock, I will, » I told her.

« Don’t rush me. » But she reached out and knocked on the door.

A woman answered. Despite the wrinkles on her face and the fact only a few strands of violet remained in her white hair, she was still standing tall and looked like she could easily keep up with the younger workers on the farm. She also had a pair of brilliant blue eyes that matched Amelia’s. « Yes? »

Amelia suddenly looked down at her feet. « Um, hello, ma’am. My name is Amelia and my mother was Terese Jaso, and I think she used to live here. »

The older woman stared at us. « Look up, child. » Amelia did so. « There is a lot of my daughter in your face. I’m Maria Jaso; Terese was my daughter. »

« So, you’re my grandmother, then? » Amelia looked uncertain. I knew if it was anyone on her dad’s side of the family, there would be hugs and loud greetings, but I don’t think she was quite sure what to make of a woman who was her maternal grandmother and a stranger to her.

Maria nodded. « Will you be staying long? The rest of the family will be around by suppertime, and you can meet them. »

Amelia nodded, smiling. « I’d like that, Grandmother. »

Maria looked past her, towards me. « And who is this? »

« Zelgadis Greywords, » I said. « I’m her body-. »

« My friend, » Amelia interrupted.

Maria didn’t comment on the correction. « Well, your friend is welcome to stay as well. Won’t you come inside for some lemonade? »

So we did, and ended up staying for supper.

Chapter 3