Story: Slayers Mirror (all chapters)
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"I can not believe this," Lina Inverse muttered to herself irritably, the slim young woman pushing her wild mane of reddish brown hair back angrily as she looked around her. Her violet cloak almost reached the ground, the golden blouse and red pants she wore kept magically clean, her jewels and decorations glinting in the afternoon sunlight. A sorceress had to look professional, after all.
The kingdom that she was visiting was a small one, far out of the way of the many great wars and conflicts of much larger nations. The castle she was walking towards gleamed with whitewash, the town streets she traveled clean and the people here seemingly living happy, industrious lives. It was all almost enough to make Lina physically ill.
And then there were the damn banners!
They were hung from almost every building, carefully draped across the road over the smaller gaps in between the upper stories. The face that was depicted on them was gentle, kind, looking out at the world with charity and compassion. It was also Lina's face, and just looking up at them made her want to start flinging fireballs!
With a fierce scowl on her face Lina continued on, determined to get to the bottom of this madness. When she first heard about the rumors a few months ago, she had just believed it to be a distortion of her own adventures. But healing the sick? Helping people without charging them a cent? ACTUALLY GIVING MONEY AWAY?! Gah, it was going to ruin her reputation. So she had left Gourry and the others behind her and went to find out what, exactly, was going on.
"Well, at least now I know where the rumors are coming from," Lina muttered to herself softly, nearing the castle. There was a long lineup standing there patiently waiting to go inside, but Lina cut the line, striding on towards the heavy gates.
The two guards who were standing there exchanged surprised looks, clearly astonished to see her standing there. "Lina-sama, what are you doing out here?" the one blurted out as he gazed at her in honest shock.
The other guard's eyes narrowed slightly, "No, she must be the other one!" He executed a surprisingly respectful bow, "She left us instructions to send you right in, Lina-san." The gate slid open, and both gestured her inside.
'The other one,' Lina thought with a oddly familiar sinking feeling, 'no, it just couldn't be. There's no way in the world that those two could have survived!'
A female page met Lina almost as soon as she stepped inside, the girl's eyes wide with surprise and stuttering nervously, and she lead her through the castle to the great hall. The place was well lit, and obviously quite comfortable, but it was also oddly Spartan. It was as if the owner didn't care about any of the trappings of wealth and power, and instead was content to live a much simpler life. It was all enough to make Lina's skin crawl.
"You can just go on in, ma'am," the page smiled over at Lina nervously before pushing open the doors to the main hall.
The conversations were quiet and respectful as Lina Inverse entered, the talk easing off as she went inside. Just like the rest of the castle there were no great decorations here, just a simple carpet leading towards a comfortable chair that was situated near the back of the room. Lina pushed forward through the people, using her elbows as needed, a soft glow lighting the walls as she felt the power of a healing magic working.
Lina noticed the figure who kneeling there in front of the chair first. Dressed in leather pants and matching vest over a long white shirt, short black hair crowning the head. Across the shoulders a long sword rested, by the looks of the hilt and sheath well used. Her arm was expertly bandaged, a soft glow coming from delicate hands to wash over the wound.
Those delicate hands were garbed all in white, the loose shirt that she wore was comfortable but undecorated. White boots and matching long pants completed the outfit, hugging slim legs that looked rather familiar. With the greatest reluctance Lina continued on upwards, soon looking at what she had feared she would find here. Looking into a face that perfectly matched her own. But Lina's face had only rarely had such a... gentle look on it.
"There, Naga," the other Lina finally murmured, "that should do it." As she pulled her hands away her voice became gently scolding as she continued, "You know, you should be a bit more careful when you go dragon slaying."
'Naga?!' Lina Inverse thought in surprise as the warrior rose.
"I'm sorry Lina-sama," Naga smiled down at her wryly, the tall warrior carefully unwinding the strips of bandages from the now fully healed wound on her upper arm, "but being careful and dragon slaying don't really go together well."
"Then maybe our guest may be of some assistance to you in that," Lina smiled gently at Naga from her seat. The white clad figure looked upwards, searching the crowd until she met her twins eyes and smiled, "Isn't that right?"
Lina Inverse scowled as she realized her entrance was obviously noted. She rudely pushed forward, emerging from the crowd to meet her double's gaze. There was a rumble of shocked disbelief as the crowd saw the two of them so close together, and Naga tensed up, loosening the sword that rested over her shoulders.
"And here I was hoping that you two were killed or something," Lina Inverse said to her white garbed counterpart with a fierce scowl.
"Don't you dare speak about my Lina-sama like that," Naga stepped between them, the look on her face clearly murderous.
"No!" Lina rose from her throne, her voice ringing out. "No violence," her voice softened a bit, "not in this place."
Naga slid the half drawn sword back into it's sheath, and Lina let the power that she had been building up fade away. Her twin was pretty much the same as she had been back when she had been created by the Shadow Reflector, a gentle, simpering little humanitarian, but this Naga had changed a great deal. Obviously she didn't have the problems with swords that the original Naga did, and her boyish garb was totally different. The cool confidence she showed, no loud boasting or laughter, just someone who clearly was very good at what she did.
Keeping a careful eye on the swordswoman Lina Inverse said to her twin, "You mind changing your name or something?" She waved, the gesture taking in the castle and the kingdom beyond it, "People are starting to think I do all of this stuff." With that she turned, intending to leave this place as soon as possible.
"Wait!" the white clad Lina called out. Her voice was much quieter as she continued, "I would be willing to do that, if you will do something for me in return."
Lina Inverse felt a bit of honest surprise that her seemingly angelic twin would even attempt to bargain with her. She stopped on her way out the door, not turning back to look at her as she calmly asked, "And what's that?"
"Take Naga along with you," was the soft response.
With that quiet comment both Lina Inverse and Naga looked over at her in honest surprise before blurting out, "What!?"
It wasn't too long after that Lina and the others were sitting around a very well stocked dining table, scarfing down food as fast as possible. 'She may be an humanitarian,' she noted as her twin kept up with her quite handily, 'but we still share the same appetite.'
"I can't believe you asked her that without telling me," Naga looked honestly wounded even as she grabbed a chicken leg and ripped it off the bird, gnawing hungrily. "And who will be here to protect you if I'm gone?" she asked.
"The kingdom's people will protect me. I know that you're not very happy here Naga," the white clad Lina grabbed at a roast, the same one that the other Lina grabbed. They both pulled at the same time, the meat tore, and each ended up with half. "You're an adventurer at heart, just like her," she said before she began to chew.
Lina Inverse finished off her piece of roast then guzzled back some wine, clearing her throat before she grabbed up a broiled fish. "And why me, anyway? I kind of doubt that we get along any better now than we did back then!" she barked.
Naga nodded, "Lina-sama, she's clearly not improved herself since we first met her. I'm far better off here with you."
"Lina Inverse has helped save the world more than once, Naga," Lina scolded Naga firmly. "And you're not better off here," Lina continued on forcefully, actually pausing in her eating. "You need challenges, adventures, and that isn't something that you can find staying in this peaceful kingdom with me," she said, reaching out to gently place her hand on Naga's.
Lina Inverse paused in her eating for a few moments as well, watching the two women talking together intensely. 'Well, isn't that interesting,' she thought, finally realizing what the relationship was between the two of them.
"I don't want to leave you," Naga finally said softly.
"I know," Lina said to her gently, squeezing Naga's hand, "but I also know that a caged bird can't truly be happy."
"Don't I get any say in this?" Lina Inverse asked pointedly.
"Certainly you do, Lina," her opposite smiled that gentle smile at her once again, and Lina had to shudder at the sight.
The next morning, the sun shone down brightly as Lina Inverse strode away from the castle as fast as she possibly could. Her cloak swirled in the light breeze, her money pouch jingling slightly as a few more coins clinked together inside. Quite loudly she said, "You realize I'm going to dump you the first chance I get?"
Naga strode along beside her, dressed in her leather pants, vest and white shirt, a black cloak flowing backwards. "Of course," she answered her calmly, "I'm only doing this because Lina-sama wants me to."
"Of course," Lina agreed. They walked on a bit, "So what do we do now?"
"There's still dragons to be slain up north," Naga offered.
"And why would I want to do that?" Lina looked up at Naga suspiciously.
"The dragon's horde hasn't been found yet," Naga smiled slightly.
Lina's eyes narrowed as she considered how much treasure that could be, her steps already tending towards the north. She frowned suddenly as she looked up at Naga, "How did you manage to manipulate me so well?"
Naga shrugged slightly as the two moved onto the northern road, "I just think about my Lina, and then do the exact opposite."
"Heh," Lina chuckled softly, "I'm not that bad, am I?"
"Well," Naga conceded thoughtfully, "you do seem to end up doing the right thing, for whatever selfish reason."
"Gee, thanks," Lina sighed. They walked together silently for a few moments, "Well, at least you don't wear that leather bikini anymore."
Naga's cheeks colored slightly, "That outfit was so embarrassing...."
To be continued... ?
Author's Note: The Shadow Reflector first appeared in the Slayers OVA released here under the title 'Explosion Array.' The fate of the doubles was never revealed... This is set sometime after the end of the Slayers series, though I have not decided yet if I will continue this. Inspired by the 'Oath' novels by Mercedes Lackey, featuring the sword and sorceress pair Tarma and Kethry.
Slayers: Mirror Two
'It looks like Naga wasn't exaggerating,' Lina quickly skidded to a stop, 'there really are dragons here.' The fiery reddish brown haired girl cupped her hands to her side, focusing her will as she cried out, "Fireballs Charge!"
The red dragon that was chasing after her had only a moment to look startled before her spell blew it away. All around the battlefield the bodies of the other dragons lay, smoldering or bleeding out into the dirt. The land just beyond them seemed nearly dead, the usual consequence of a band of dragons living in a place overlong.
"Now where's my new partner?" Lina looked about her irritably.
There was the sound of running feet and a cry, "Watch yourself, Inverse!" Lina spun around, just in time to see Naga's sword coming down on to the dragon that was about to strike her. Naga had leapt up, her blade driving home into the beast, and now she merely let her weight pull the blade down through the thick flesh.
'She saved my life,' Lina blinked in surprise, 'maybe she's going to be useful after all.' Clearing her throat, "Thanks, Naga."
With a single motion Naga pulled the longsword free, then shook it off a bit to get most of the dragon's blood off before sliding into it's sheath. "You're welcome," she said calmly. Naga scanned the ruins around them for the enemy, soon fixing on the entrance to the underground that was likely the dragon's den. "They've retreated to there," she nodded.
"Well, if we want the treasure," Lina looked at the den thoughtfully, "we'll have to go in after them." She gave Naga a look, "How many do you think there are?"
"I did a rough count when we started," Naga looked around them, "I'd say there's at least three left." She frowned, "Is the treasure the only reason you're doing this?"
"You fight them for your reasons," Lina gave her a look, "and I fight for mine." She smiled wryly, "I'm just glad that these aren't the intelligent type of Dragon, though. That would make this all just a bit more complicated."
"True," Naga admitted. The black haired warrior reached up, unclasping the tattered remnants of her cloak and letting it flutter to the ground. Her leather vest and pants were blood splattered, but she still looked ready for battle. "Shall we?"
"Let's," Lina agreed, and the two strode into the opening. As they passed into the darkness Naga cupped her hands in front of her, a softly muttered word creating a sphere of light to guide their way. "So you do still use magic," Lina murmured.
"Rarely," was Naga's calm answer, her eyes searching the shadows for any sign of movement. A slight smile, "I usually don't need it."
"Heh," Lina smiled. It was true, the woman really was good with that sword. Fast, strong and agile, she probably didn't need to use her magics to win in battle. The cavern's air was cool, damp, and the faint scent of rotting meat hung in the air.
"They've been bringing captives in," Naga's face was grim.
"We'd better find their den," Lina said coolly, "fast." She gestured, her cloak billowing around her as she concentrated, softly murmured words as she formed her spell, ending with a shouted, "Show me where my enemy lies!" From her hands a ribbon of scarlet snaked out, extending into the darkness as they heard faint cries of alarm.
"Now they know we're coming," Naga growled out as she drew her longsword, running forward into the darkness of the tunnels.
"They also can't hide from us," Lina shot back, running along beside her. The path led into a larger chamber, where the remaining dragons waited. Piles of gold and other treasures filled one corner, but just beyond that a circle of human captives cowered. "Damn," Lina swore.
"Distract them," Naga ordered Lina even as she ran towards the captives.
"Great," Lina muttered, running in front of the dragon's, "just great." She raised her hands above her head, "Flare arrow!"
The dragons looked confused, blinking away momentary blindness while trying to decide whom to chase after, even as the women moved to opposite sides of the remaining monsters. Naga put herself firmly in front of the captives, noting their weakened condition with a glance.
"Save us," a wizened old man managed weakly.
"I'll do my best," Naga raised her blade.
The dragon's curled up together, guarding each other's backs as much as they possibly could from the two fearsome warriors who had killed so many of their clanmates. They had never faced such a thing before, never known humans of such power. The pink things were just meat, only food to be taken at their leisure, not a threat.
"Explosion array," with a throwing gesture Lina detonated the rough stone floor, driving the three Dragon's off balance.
One of the beasts stumbled towards Naga, and she was ready. Her sword swept up and over, ripping through the dense flesh to sever the neck, the staring head dropping to the ground as black blood stained her. "Ptou!" Naga spat to clear her mouth, then smiled a truly nasty smile. "Two left," she said thoughtfully, "one each."
"Lets go," Lina charged at them on one side, Naga on the other. She threw a bolt of lightning, the one dragon's body convulsing even as Naga swung up then down, cutting the last of them. There was a long moment of silence in the darkness of the caves, then the surviving humans cheered.
Lina ignored them, of course, moving right over to the piles of treasure. Naga frowned, then she turned to the captives, quickly checking them over for serious injuries. "When she's done going through the treasure," Naga said to them , "go over and take whatever you can carry. I suspect much of it once belonged to the local people, before the dragons slew them."
"Will you not take anything for yourself, noble warrior?" one of the young women stepped forward to ask softly, the blonde looking up at Naga with adoration in her eyes. "And what is your name, handsome one?"
"Naga," a slight blush appeared on Naga's cheeks as she looked away shyly. "I don't have much need of treasure, m'lady," she answered the girl softly.
Lina finished getting the most high quality gems from the piles, then frowned slightly as Naga gestured the captives towards the piles of treasure. 'Definitely different than the Naga I once knew,' she mused. Naga gave her a wave and Lina walked over, "Yes?"
"There are bodies down here," Naga nodded towards a darkened corner of the cave, where the smells of decay were coming from, "and I fear that there's no way to move them." Her expression was sorrowful, "Could you give them a funeral pyre?"
Lina looked up at Naga a moment, then nodded slightly, "Of course." The fireball spell lit up the cavern, the remains reduced to so much ash. The captives finally moved away from the piles of treasure, and Naga walked over. Some pieces of gold, a few smaller gems, and she was done.
The young blonde was watching her, and moved up to Naga's side to loudly say, "I hope that you and the sorceress will come to our village later for a victory feast." She smiled up at Naga and dropped her voice to a whisper, "And I, Carolyn, hope to thank you... personally."
Naga went red, "I.. you don't need to..."
"Of course we'll visit your village," Lina had overheard enough of the conversation to speak up, "we'd love to join your victory feast."
Naga gave Lina a glare, but the sorceress ignored it. She looked back at the beaming blonde and sighed, "I guess we'll be joining you, then."
"I look forward to it," Carolyn sighed happily, running over to help the other captives.
Lina and Naga walked along with them, magic lighting their way back towards the daylight. "You remember what I said about dumping you before?" Lina asked softly.
"Yes?" Naga looked at her curiously.
"I've changed my mind," Lina quietly admitted. "Watching you in battle, you could be pretty useful, even with all of your irritating morals."
"Thank you," Naga looked ahead into the shadows. "I'll continue to travel with you, but only because my Lina-sama has commanded me to." She seemed to soften just a bit as she added, "It seems we can do some good together."
"Good enough," Lina agreed. She smirked, "Maybe I can convert you back into a double of your other self."
"Maybe so," Naga agreed, "or maybe I can make you into a noble person like my Lina-sama."
"Anything's possible," Lina smiled wryly as they walked out into the daylight together.
To be continued...
Slayers: Mirror Three
There was a moment of cautious silence as the ragged travelers led Lina and Naga into the village, then a sudden cry of joy. Figures streamed out of the homes, embracing their loved ones they had thought dead and gone, tearful reunions going on all around them.
"Wonder when that feast will start," Lina murmured, her red hair flowing around her as she studied the place with a wary gaze.
"Lina!" Naga scolded her.
"Carolyn!" an older man threw his arms around the little blonde, the man dressed in the sort of formal robes a mayor might wear.
"Daddy," Carolyn hugged him back.
"How is this possible?" he murmured, his steely gray hair pushed back from his face.
"It was these two noble paladin's," the beaming Carolyn gestured to where Naga and Lina stood, "who saved us from the dragons." She drew her father over, "Lady Naga, Lina, I would like you to meet my father, Lord Dennis."
"Dennis?" Naga blinked.
Lord Dennis shrugged, "We're an informal people." He smiled broadly, putting a hand on both of their shoulders, "Thank you so much for saving my daughter!"
"You're welcome," Lina said dryly, "where's the food?"
With a sudden move Lord Dennis clasped them close and whispered to Naga, "And if you lay one hand on my daughter, I'll kill you myself."
"Ah, what?" Naga was clearly stunned as the older man strode off, shouting out commands for the preparation of a feast.
"Obviously he knows his daughter pretty well," Lina noted dryly.
"Lady Naga," Carolyn all but slinked over to them, her sweet smile reserved for Naga alone, "would you care for me to escort you around the town?" Looking down modestly she drawled, "There are so many private corners I'd love to show you."
"Ah.. I.." Naga looked desperately at Lina.
"I'm sorry," Lina said firmly, "but I and my partner need to discuss where we'll be journeying to next. Please, excuse us."
Carolyn all but pouted as Lina and Naga strode away. "Maybe we could hook up later?" she called out hopefully.
"Shut up and keep walking," Naga muttered to Lina softly.
The two women made it around the corner of one of the buildings before Lina lost it, leaning there laughing uncontrollably. "Private corners," Lina chuckled softly, "I'm sure she has one or two she'd like to show you!"
"This isn't funny," Naga answered, but her lips twitched in an involuntary smile.
"Oh, yes it is," Lina grinned. She tilted her head to the side, "You do realize she's going to try to sit right beside you at the victory dinner."
"Goddess," Naga muttered to herself softly, running her hand through her short black hair, "this has never happened to me before." She gave Lina a pleading look, "I suppose we couldn't skip the dinner, just leave?"
"What?!" Lina blurted.
"Right, dumb question," Naga grimaced. "So how are we going to get through this without a protective daddy trying to kill me?"
"Huh," Lina frowned, looking cutely smart. A smile slowly spread across her face, "I have an idea." A little pause as she looked over at Naga, "You aren't going to like it."
"Anything that doesn't start a military vendetta, I like," Naga said firmly. Lina leaned forward, softly whispering in Naga's ear as the woman's eyes widened. "You're right, I don't like it," she finally admitted, "but I think it'll work."
Carolyn's eyes lit up as the two women came back around the corner. She adjusted her top, taking a breath to make her most.. formidable aspects more visible. She was about to move over to them when they stopped, partially concealed from the crowds.
Lina put a hand on Naga's arm as she said loudly, "You forgot something, love."
"Oh?" Naga looked down at her dramatically.
"This," Lina went up on tiptoes, grabbing Naga by the back of the head and drawing her down into a fierce kiss. They seemed to meld together, the kiss continuing as Naga took control, cradling the smaller woman close.
Carolyn stood frozen as the two women walked away, hand in hand. "It seems she's taken," the blonde sighed to herself wistfully, "too bad."
Naga was careful not to break into a run, a blush staining her pale cheeks as they walked away from where the clearly bemused Carolyn stood. "So do you think we convinced her?" she murmured to Lina softly.
"Oh, yes," Lina agreed. She looked up at Naga, a blush to her own cheeks as she demanded, "Where did you learn to kiss like that?"
Naga's cheeks went a deeper red, if that was possible. "My Lina and I were together a long time," was the bashful answer, "we had a lot of time to.. uh.. experiment."
"I did not need to know that," Lina groaned.
The towns people came out as they walked together through the village, the men and women offering their thanks for the rescue from the dragons. Naga turned down all the gifts that were offered them, giving Lina a scolding look whenever she was about to take one.
An older lady, still regally beautiful and dressed in finery approached them as dinner time neared. "I am the Lady Alex," she introduced herself, her black streaked with silver hair catching the sunlight, "I also wanted to thank you for saving my daughter, Carolyn."
Naga and Lina exchanged wary looks before Lina finally asked, "You aren't going to try threatening Naga, too?"
Lady Alex shook her head with a smile, "My apologies. My husband is rather vigorous in protecting our daughter's perceived virtue."
"Perceived?" Naga raised an eyebrow.
"I am well aware that my daughter has not been chaste," Alex said to them dryly. She looked up at Naga, "Thank you for letting her down easily with your little show."
Lina took Naga's arm, smiling sweetly, "Show? What show?"
"As you wish," Alex gave them both a smile. She hesitated, "My husband has been informed of your relationship, as well, and I believe he has arranged for you two to share a room this evening." With that, she walked away.
"Oh, dear," Naga muttered to herself softly.
Lina gave the taller woman a smile, "You sound just like Amelia, you know." She took a deep breath, patting Naga's arm, "We'll manage."
Bells rang out, announcing that it was time to eat. The dinner was held in the great meeting hall of the town, a massive table covered by dishes as the town's people gathered along it's length. Lina and Naga were seated in positions of honor at the front, right beside the Lord and his family.
Sadly, that put Carolyn on one side of the visibly pale Naga, and Lina on Naga's other side. Carolyn was dressed in finery, a sleek little gown of the finest fabrics that clung to her graceful form, highlighting her many charms. Charms she went to a great deal of trouble to present to Naga, from bending over to grab a glass to 'dropping' her napkin.
Still, Lina and Naga tried to act like a perfect couple, seemingly lost in each other even as they tried their absolute best to ignore Carolyn while still talking politely. Alex was a great help to them, and even Lord Dennis relaxed enough to treat them as his honored guests, and not potential seducers of his bosomy daughter.
"Thank the goddess that's all over," Naga muttered as they retreated to the bedroom they had been assigned.
"You have to admit the food was good," Lina offered cheerfully.
Before Naga could answer there was a soft knock on the door. Naga walked over and opened it, only to freeze in place.
Carolyn stood there, a smile on her face, a nearly transparent gown rustling around her body. A finely shaped body at that, utterly revealed by the thin material. In a breathy voice she smiled, "I was wondering if the two of you would like some company tonight?"
"Ah.." Naga stood there with her mouth open.
"I'm sorry," Lina took hold of Naga's arm to give the gorgeous blonde a dangerous smile, "but we're exclusive."
Carolyn gave Lina a glare, then looked up at Naga. "I do not understand why you would be with one so poorly endowed," she frowned.
"She has other qualities," Naga gave the woman a grave look, "like tact and charm."
"Humph!" Carolyn turned to stalk down the hallway.
"Thank you," Lina blinked once she was gone.
"You're welcome," Naga sighed, shutting and locking the door.
To be continued...
Slayers: Mirror Four
"This could be trouble," Naga murmured softly, her short black hair blown back from the breeze. She strode on casually, but her eyes moved like a hawk's, scanning around them.
"Bandits," Lina agreed, her own reddish made flowing away from her face. She grinned suddenly, "Good, I could use the exercise."
"What, again?" Naga shook her head as she murmured softly, "You're incorrigible."
"Does that mean you're not going to help?" Lina asked sweetly.
Naga sighed softly, then a reluctant smile tugged at her lips. "I suppose that if they are foolish enough to attack us," she mused aloud, "it would only be just for us to deal with them."
"That's the spirit," Lina said cheerfully.
A few moments later the figures broke from the cover of the trees, five older men dressed in ragged pieces of armor and equipment. Their swords, however, were shining as they charged them. They quickly split up into a circle, surrounding the two of them with their weapons ready.
"Give us all your money," the leader growled, his gray hair falling into his battered face, waving the sword threateningly.
"Yeah, and your jewels," another added.
Lina and Naga looked around them at the band of robbers. "How do you want to divide them up?" Naga asked Lina curiously.
"Ah, what?" the bandit leader blinked.
"Why don't I lead off, then you follow?" Lina offered.
"Excuse me?" a younger robber tried.
"Sounds good," Naga agreed with a smile.
"What are you two talking about?' a third bandit offered, even as the bandit leader began to look just a wee bit nervous.
Lina made a tossing gesture to the ground even as she cried, "Explosion array!"
Even as two bandits went flying Naga was on the move, sword drawn and body low. She disarmed two easily, sword flashing, then turned to face the bandit leader. They stood there for a moment, even as Lina finished off the other two.
Swords clanged, separated with a steely hiss, then the blades merely became a blur as they fought on. Finally, in a sweep of blades they separated, both standing still once again. "Don't worry," Naga said as the man began to crumple to the ground, "I only used the flat of my blade."
"Not bad," Lina noted as they tied the five men to a tree, her money pouch weighed down with all the money from the bandit's criminal efforts.
"He had a very efficient style," Naga noted as the men began to revive, "though he had some problems with his guard."
Lina and Naga were just walking away when the leader awoke. "Wait," he called to them, "could you please tell us who defeated us?"
"Lina," the slim redhead turned around to smile dangerously at them as her cloak swirled around her, "Lina Inverse."
"Lina the dragon?" a robber squeaked, "The bandit killer?"
"And the swordswoman?" the leader asked with a certain kind of intensity. "I want to know who defeated the best swordsman in the district."
"Naga," she said simply, and with that the two of them strode away.
The leader watched them go, his expression thoughtful as he murmured, "Naga."
"So, do you think you'll go back to visit the lovely Carolyn?" Lina asked Naga as they walked, referring to the village they had left earlier that day.
"Oh, no," Naga shook her head, a faint blush appearing on her cheeks as she thought of Carolyn's rather blatant invitation to come back and visit her sometime. Preferably without bringing Lina along, of course.
'Naga's sort of cute looking when she blushes,' Lina found herself noting. She mercifully changed the subject, "It looks like the rumors of the bandits out here are true."
"True," Naga agreed, "that's the third band we've dealt with so far. It shouldn't be long until we reach their headquarters, according to the stories."
"And all the treasure they've accumulated," Lina grinned.
"One track mind," Naga shook her head.
"And proud of it, partner," Lina shrugged.
"Well, I'm interested in making them pay for those hurt in their robberies," Naga said, "but that just gives both of us reasons to continue on."
"And them good reasons to stop us," Lina muttered as a larger band of thugs came running at them out of the trees.
"Let's go," Naga drew her sword and then charged. She hammered right into the startled front rank, throwing them off balance then she struck out with her sword.
"Fireball Charge!" Lina cried, leaping up and over Naga to toss the spell down into the midst of their foes. The battle shifted to a rout, the bandits fleeing frantically. "Follow them," Lina ordered crisply, "they'll lead us back to the others!"
"Right," Naga fell into step beside her, their cloaks fluttering around them as they ran. A few bandits tried to attack, but either Lina or Naga dealt with them quickly and effectively.
"Fall back," Lina put her hand on Naga's arm.
The two hid themselves carefully, watching their prey from the dark woods. The bandits looked around, trying to spot their pursuers, then seemed to relax. They took off in a new direction, and silently Lina and Naga shadowed them.
"Scare them first, then let them think they're safe so that they'll head home," Naga murmured. She gave Lina an admiring smile, "Good tactics."
"I've had a lot of time to practice," Lina murmured. The Bandits made their way to a bare stone face, then a boulder was rolled aside to reveal a passage. Once the boulder slipped back into place, the passage seemed to disappear once again.
"No wonder no one's been able to find their base," Naga noted as they walked to the wall, "that's very well concealed." She put her shoulder to the boulder, and with a loud grinding noise it slowly began to move.
"Here," Lina stepped up beside her, her own strength helping clear the passage. "Do you want to sneak in," she asked, catching her breath, "or should we do this the loud way?"
"Sneak first," Naga flipped her cloak's hood up, pulling it around to help conceal her. "There were stories that they were taking captives."
Lina pulled her own hood up, "And we can try to pinpoint where the treasure is."
Together they moved through the thin crack in the rock, finally coming out into a hidden valley. It wasn't very large, barely big enough for the small town that had been built there. The buildings were all roughly built, thrown together with little skill or care. The streets themselves were lined with shops, many clearly selling stolen goods to the shady individuals who walked there.
"A whole town on thieves and villains," Naga noted coldly, her hand almost twitching to go for her sword, "we're going to be busy."
"Let's start searching," Lina agreed as they walked down a slope into the town itself. There was a foul scent to the air, and the place looked even dirtier up close.
They walked silently to the center of town, ignoring the merchants and other marketers. Only once did Naga hesitate, when a badly beaten woman on a leash held by a cruel looking man offered herself meekly. Lina grabbed her arm, forcing Naga onward.
"I hate slavers," Naga growled out.
Lina nodded, "First we deal with whomever runs this place, then we start the rescue."
At the center of town was a larger building, clearly the home to the leader of the bandits. Two men guarded the door, much larger than anyone else they had seen in the town. "No one sees the King," the first one said as they neared them.
"But I'm sure he wants to see us," Lina said, keeping her face concealed beneath her cloak.
"And who are you?" the other guard sneered.
Lina flipped her cloak's hood back, sweeping her arm back to send the cloak fluttering, "My name is Lina Inverse, gentlemen."
"Naga," she drew her sword, letting that motion fling her cloak back.
The two guards gaped at them, then bellowed together, "GET THEM!"
To be continued...
Slayers: Mirror Five
"Fireball charge!" Lina cried, a single explosion throwing the stunned guards backwards right through the splintered front door.
"What happened to sneaking in?" Naga asked, the black haired warrior running in beside Lina, her sword drawn and ready.
"So I got a little carried away," Lina admitted with a grin. The redhead looked around them curiously as they hurried down the badly constructed hall, odd noises off in the distance. "Do you hear fighting?" she asked.
The sounds of a battle were not that far off, and quickly growing louder as they ran on. "Yes, I do," Naga smiled slightly, "what say we help?"
"Sounds good to me," Lina grinned, "let's go!"
They ran down the hall and finally entered into a larger central chamber where a pitched battle was going on. In the middle of a mob of the bandits a short, black haired young woman fought on valiantly against long odds! She was garbed all in white, shining with an odd sort of purity even as she delivered punishing blows to her enemies.
"Amelia?" Lina blinked in surprise.
Amelia turned at the sound of a familiar voice in such a strange place, her eyes lighting up as she saw Lina standing there. She turned slightly to see Naga standing there beside her and her eyes widened, her mouth dropping open. "You?" she murmured softly.
"There's time for reunions later," Naga growled. The tall warrior scanned the mob, already badly disorganized by their battle with the oddly familiar looking young woman. Without another word she raised her sword and charged right at the larger group, sword gleaming even as Lina moved over to back up Amelia.
"Who is that?" Amelia asked Lina weakly.
"She's right, introductions can wait," Lina said, casting a hastily chanted spell into the band of bandits. "You still remember how to fight, right?"
"Justice fist!" Amelia struck, sending criminals flying.
The men tried to simply overwhelm the silently fighting Naga, but she simply burst free. The sword gleamed as she cut them down smoothly, with such a graceful but dangerous skill. Occasionally she would cast a 'Freeze Arrow' but mostly strength and sword won the battle.
Alone each one of the three was a formidable opponent, and all together the three were very nearly unstoppable. It wasn't long before the bandits were unconscious in piles and they gathered together to compare notes.
"How did you get here?" Lina asked curiously as she went around looting the larger money pouches of the bandit leaders.
"I let myself get captured by some of the slavers," Amelia held up wrists still held by shining manacles, the chain that should have connected them dangling loose in two pieces, "it seemed the best way of finding where they were based."
"Zelgadis must have loved that," Lina noted, thinking of the enchanted young man who was known to have a fondness for Amelia.
"I didn't tell him what I planned to do," Amelia admitted just a bit sheepishly. At Lina's look she added, "He would have tried to talk me out of it."
"Better have a really good story for him when you get home," Lina advised.
"You may be right," Amelia nodded. She looked at the two of them and tapped a manacle, "Could one of you ...?"
"Hold still," Naga commanded and swung her sword once, smoothly. The manacles clinked slightly, then fell to the ground, cut free.
"Thank you," Amelia rubbed at her wrists as she looked up at Naga, her expression oddly thoughtful. "Have we met?"
"Not that I know of," she answered, "I'm Naga."
"It's very nice to meet you," Amelia bowed slightly as she introduced herself, adding, "I'm an old companion of Lina's." She looked over at the sorceress in question, "So what do we do now?"
"These the leaders of the bandits?" Lina asked curiously.
"Yes," Amelia nodded. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she looked the mob of fallen fighters over, "They were negotiating about whom to sell me to."
"Whoever bought you would likely regret it," Lina smirked.
Before Amelia could shoot back a comment Naga broke in, "So if we go out having defeated the bandit leader, the others will give up?"
"Or possibly flee," Amelia mused. "I'd prefer to bring them all to justice now, but..."
Lina frowned watching both Naga and Amelia seriously considering that idea. "Might be a bit more practical to deal with what we can," she reminded them quickly.
"Lina has a point," Naga conceded. She smiled slightly, "And we can take comfort in knowing that we've broken the back of this bandit army." Naga suddenly frowned and asked, "Were there any other slaves?"
"Help me free them," Amelia walked to where a heavily barred door stood. She tugged at the massive lock, "Could you?" The sword was simply a flash of silver, and the lock dropped to the floor in pieces. "Thank you," Amelia pulled the heavy doors open.
The ragged captives poured out, crying out their thanks as well as rushing to the fallen enemy to deliver a few well placed kicks. "My kind of people," Lina noted. She looked over at Amelia, "Did these guys have much treasure accumulated?"
Amelia frowned, but said, "Not really, Lina. They seemed to ship much of their profits away to a patron of some sort."
Lina sighed, bouncing a now much heavier money pouch, filled with gold rifled from the villainous band. "Well, this isn't bad," she shrugged.
Naga checked on their unconscious foes even as she slid her sword away. "I think I have an idea on how to announce who won this fight and strike terror in the hearts of our foes," she rubbed her hands together with a dangerous smile.
"I don't think I like that look on her face," Lina noted, "Let's get the captives out of here."
"Right," Amelia agreed as she helped herd the people up the hallway. The floor shook under them as they ran outside to see the bandit town in complete bedlam. They turned back to look at the building and froze in surprise.
The statue towered over the rough city, it's subject caught almost perfectly in the stone. Lina's cape flowed over her, the stance and expression on her face clearly victorious. She was beautiful and dangerous, almost like a goddess of magic.
"The stone elemental spell," Lina blinked as she gazed up at her image in shock, "she's gotten a lot better at that over the years."
Amelia also gazed up in shock and awe. Quietly she asked, "How long have you known this Naga, anyway?"
"This version, a few weeks," Lina said, completely ignoring the fleeing bandits as she shook her head in admiration, "it's been a few years since I saw the original."
"The original?" Amelia blinked.
"A while back I partnered with a sorceress named Naga the White Serpent," Lina looked over at Amelia to explain, "and on one of our adventures we were duplicated magically. Our duplicates wandered off, and I thought they were probably killed." She shrugged, "No such luck. My twin stuck me with Naga there, and we've been traveling together ever since."
The smoke and rubble where the outer walls of the building once stood shifted and Naga stride out, her leather shirt and pants dusty, but she had a triumphant look on her face. "So," she said as she reached them, "did I get your good side, Lina?"
"You realize what this is going to do to my reputation?" Lina nodded to the massive statue that towered over the city. A dangerous grin, "I love it."
"I thought you would," Naga nodded. She looked around them at the now largely deserted city, "Looks like it did it's job."
"Lady Naga?" Amelia stepped forward to take her hand.
"Yes?" Naga blinked. She looked worried suddenly, "You aren't going to say you love me or something, are you?"
Lina didn't muffle her laughter, ignoring the glare she got from Amelia. "No, why do you ask?" she looked honestly confused.
"Never mind, long story," Naga blinked. She tilted her head, "What did you want to ask?"
"What is your full name or lineage?" Amelia looked up to meet her eyes, "I suspect that we may well be related."
There was a long beat of silence, then both Lina and Naga blurted, "What?!"
To be continued...
Slayers: Mirror Six
Later that evening Lina poked at the fire with a stick, the shadows of twilight settling down around the three of them in their small camp. They had set up not too far from the now deserted bandit camp, the hidden valley razed by a well placed Dragon Slave.
Her hair was almost same color as the flames Lina tended as she looked over at Naga, "You don't remember?"
Naga shook her head firmly, the black haired warrior woman carefully sharpening the great sword that she usually carried over her back. "I'm sorry Lady Amelia," the leather clad warrior gently said to the young woman who was sitting on the other side of the fire, "but I don't have any memories, not past a certain point."
"There is a resemblance there," Lina noted, looking between both women.
"Indeed," Amelia softly agreed, her short black hair glowing in the firelight. Her white garb shimmered in the light as she looked at Naga, "My elder sister has been missing for many years, I had hoped that you...."
"Even if I was," Naga said to her gently, "I am but a mystically produced copy of the woman. You would still need to seek out the original."
"And no," Lina swiftly anticipated the question as Amelia looked at her curiously, "I don't know where the original Naga is."
Amelia nodded with a soft sigh. She hesitated but asked, "May I ask what caused you two to stop being partners?"
"We were rivals right from the beginning," Lina lay back, looking up at the starry sky, "and that was what ultimately broke up the partnership. I walked away after we fought over a bounty we had won and I haven't seen her since."
Naga slid her sword away with barely a whisper, setting the great weapon aside but still easily within reach. "What are you going to do now?" she asked.
"I'm not sure," Amelia said. "I know I need to let my father know about this," she reflected then lit up, "I know! Lina, Naga, would you care to accompany me back to Saillune?"
Lina sat up again, looking over at Amelia curiously as she drawled, "And why would we want to go see Phil?"
"My father could identify if Naga is my sister better than I could," Amelia said eagerly, "and with your Naga's help we could try a similarity spell."
Naga nodded thoughtfully at that, "Use me as a template and then look for anything similar. My different personality shouldn't create too many problems." She looked over at Lina before saying with a smile, "I'm willing."
Amelia hid a smile as she added, "I'm sure my father would be willing to compensate you for your time and trouble."
"Why didn't you say so," Lina smiled back impishly.
Naga rolled her eyes at that comment. Lina curled up, falling asleep not far from where the two women sat talking. They fell silent for a moment, Naga looking over at Amelia and studying the younger woman thoughtfully.
"What?" Amelia asked softly.
"What was your sister's name?" Naga asked her curiously.
"Gracia el Naga Saillune," Amelia said simply.
Naga's lips moved as she repeated the name to herself softly, getting the feel of it. "Gracia," she murmured to herself softly, "I don't know if that's quite my style."
"You didn't use it much," Amelia said, "you prefered the middle name."
Naga looked up at her calmly, "Don't make too many assumptions. You yourself haven't recognized me as your sister."
"Fair enough," Amelia agreed, "but...."
"You want that hole in your history," Naga mused as she looking into the fire, "that piece ofd your past restored."
"Exactly," Amelia nodded. "With all that my family has been through over the years," she said, "it would bring my father great happiness if my sister could be restored."
”And I'll do whatever I can to help," Naga promised warmly, "as long as I'm not seperated from Lina-san,"
Amelia blinked, looking at the sleeping figure then at Naga in confusion. "You and she...?" she said faintly.
"No," Naga shook her head firmly, an oddly sad little smile on her face,"but I gave my work to accompany her."
"I would never see another forsworn," Amelia agreed, still studdying Naga thoughtfully.
Naga looked away, a bit of a blush to her cheeks. "We'd best get some sleep," she said, "it's going to be a long day tomorrow."
"Of course," Amelia agreed and they settled down to sleep.
Lina snuggled into the warmth, sleepily wondering if the fire was still going. 'No,' she mused, 'Naga and Amelia wouldn't have let it keep burning.' She opened her eyes a bit, peering sleepily, then her eyes popped open wide.
Naga's face was peaceful, her short dark hair framing her handsome face. Her breasts were pressed against Lina's front, rising gently with her breath. Lina turned a bit, blinking, and saw Amelia snuggled up against her back, her child-like face sweetly innocent.
'They really do look alike,' was the odd thought that ran through Lina's mind.
With some effort the slim redhead slipped out of both women's grasp, watching as they fidgeted a moment before settling back to sleep. Cheeks red Lina walked off into the woods, gathering more firewood and trying to recover her composure.
'I don't go that way,' Lina thought as she walked back towards the camp. Still, laying there with Naga, it had been oddly exciting to her. Looking at Naga's sleeping face she had been tempted to press forward, to kiss her just once.
"Lina," Amelia was stretching out, her black hair messy from sleep, "you're up early."
"Something woke me up," Lina said dryly, dropping the lumber by the fire. She frowned, noticing Naga was gone.
"Lady Naga left to wash up at the stream," Amelia informed her pleasantly. She began rooting through their packs, "Do you want me to make some breakfast? I'm sure I saw a bag of nutritious porridge in here somewhere...."
"Thanks," Lina stacked the wood in the fire pit, igniting it with a casually tossed fireball. "Be right back," Lina waved as she headed towards the stream.
The sounds of rushing water grew louder as Lina approached the stream. She broke through the trees and brush, stopping cold in honest surprise. Naga was standing out in the stream, her clothes in a pile on the bank. Her back was pale but muscular, matching glimpses of her arms Lina had seen. Her waist was slim but healthy, and the bottom that faced Lina was probably one of the best that the world had ever seen.
"Naga?" Lina croaked out. She cleared her throat, then repeated in a bit louder.
Naga turned slightly, covering her breasts with one hand, reaching down to shield her lower parts with the other. "Yes Lina?" she asked.
Lina turned, quickly, her cheeks beet red. It wasn't the nakedness that was the problem, it had been the cool, assessing gaze the warrior laid on her. "Amelia's starting breakfast," she managed.
There was the sound of movement in the water, then rustling as clothes were pulled on quickly. "I'm sorry," Naga put her hand on Lina's shoulder, "I thought I'd be done before anyone came looking for me."
Lina met her gaze, glad to see that Naga was fully dressed. "I didn't mean to disturb you," Lina managed.
"It's all right," Naga reassured her, running a hand through her wet hair. She looked Lina over, "Do you want me to stand watch while you bathe?"
"Maybe next time," Lina murmured, moving to head back to camp.
To be continued...
Slayers: Mirror Seven
"Watch yourself, Lina," Naga warned her, sweeping some of the goblins back with a single swing of her blade.
"Worry about them," Lina flashed a little grin, the fireball she threw blasting more goblins backward, "not me."
Amelia hammered another enemy backward, her body glowing white as she summoned up magic to augment her powerful blows. The three of them had encountered a group of refugees seeking aid, Naga insisting on helping them. Lina put up some token resistance but soon enough they were here in the midst of battle.
"Damn it," Lina growled, a goblin getting close enough to strike her.
Before the goblin even had a chance to realize what an error it had made Naga was there, cutting it down with a single swing. "I told you to be careful," Naga said, gently supporting her.
"Thanks," Lina flashed a smile.
Together they turned on the goblins and whatever the goblin's saw in their eyes, it was enough to frighten the rest of them into fleeing. Amelia shook her head, smiling as she said, "You didn't save more of them for me?"
"Next time," Naga said, sliding her sword back into it's sheath over her shoulder. She frowned, "I'd just like to know why they'd even try attacking us."
"It's odd," Lina agreed with a frown. "Goblin's aren't normally very capable to start with, they know taking on experienced fighters is foolhardy," she said.
"Did someone put them up to it?" Amelia speculated.
"If so," Lina said darkly, "I want to know about it, thank you very much." As they talked she collected the money pouches and jewels of the fallen goblins, putting together a meager pile. "Not impressive," she scowled, "it'll barely cover a meal or two."
"Let's move on," Naga walked over to the side of the road to pick up her pack, slinging it back over her shoulder. "If there's a reason for the attack, we'll find out eventually," she shrugged.
The three fell into step casually, the sun shining down on them as they followed the road through the forest. Not far away a river bubbled over rocks and gravel, fresh water ready for them if needed, at least for now. Once they followed it to the next major town they'd have to change course for Amelia's homeland, Saillune.
"I can't believe you two have only been traveling together for a few weeks," Amelia smiled slightly, "I'm impressed by how well you work together."
"Well, Naga's a lot sharper than Gourry ever was," Lina noted, "that helps."
"Gourry?" Naga looked curious.
"A swordsman Lina's been known to travel with," Amelia's eyes twinkled as she continued, "I always thought Gourry had a thing for Lina."
Naga's face was pale as she looked at Lina, her expression oddly hurt. "You never told me you already had a partner," she said.
"Had," Lina smiled wryly, "being the word. The last time I saw Gourry he was all ready to settle down with a girl we saved."
"I'm sorry," Amelia said into the silence, "I didn't know."
"No reason you would," Lina said dryly, a bit of a flush to her cheeks.
Naga felt a flash of relief, one that confused her greatly. 'I love my Lina-sama,' she reminded herself, 'not this dark twin of her.' She cleared her throat and said, "You all adventured together?"
"Oh yes," Amelia beamed, clearly glad at the change of subject. "There was Lina, Gourry, Xellos, myself, Fila, and Zelgadis," she said cheerfully, "we traveled both here and in the outer world, battling against evil!"
"For a profit," Lina reminded her.
"You have been known to operate out of altruism," Naga reminded her with a slight smile, "every now and then."
Lina made a face at that comment. "Not that often," she said dryly.
Amelia chuckled softly.
A few hours later they reached the ford for the river, finding a city built on both sides. A great castle towered over the city, guarding the river to block any military access. The town itself bustled with life, markets filled with people and carts of goods moving regularly through the gates.
"Should we stop for the night?" Amelia suggested. "We need to cross the river here and the sun will be setting soon."
"Hmm," Lina had a broad smile on her face, "we can have a inn cooked meal and sleep under a roof again. Why not?"
"Of course," Naga smiled slightly.
They moved up the road, carefully navigating through the carts and other travelers. The guards standing at the gates had a sleepy attitude to them, but their eyes lit up as they saw the jewels on Lina's costume. Then they narrowed slightly spotting the sword on Naga's back.
"Welcome to Glyn-crossing," the guard said, his garb marking him as higher ranked, "may I ask what your business is?"
"A meal and a warm bed," Amelia said.
The other guard had an odd look on his face, studying Lina and Naga thoughtfully. "And you are?" he finally asked them tentatively.
"Lina Inverse," she said casually.
"Naga," was the short reply.
"Lina the Dragon?" the first guard blurted, his eyes wide. "Naga, the greatest swordsman of the North?!"
"It seems your reputation precedes you," Amelia said to them before Amelia introduced herself with a smile.
"It's my curse," Lina said dryly.
Naga frowned slightly at the guards, both men looking at her nervously as she asked, "Where did you hear that about me?"
"Tales of your skills have been spreading," one of the guards said nervously, "Dragon slaying, defeating the griffin, your battle against the bandits..."
"Griffin?" Amelia looked at Naga curiously.
"Long story," Naga said dryly. She shook her head, hefting her pack as she pointedly said, "We're holding up the line."
"Have a nice day," Lina gave the guards a cheerful wave as the three headed inside.
The guards waited a few moments, giving them some time to make their way up the road. "This is going to be trouble," the leader sighed.
"Oh yes," the other guard muttered.
The crowds tended to part as the three made their way through the crowd, a fierce blush on Naga's cheeks. "You're not happy having a reputation?" Amelia asked with a smile.
"No, I'm not," Naga said shortly.
"You get used to it eventually," Lina said with a slight smile. She tilted her head, the setting sun lighting up her fiery hair as she said, "And I wouldn't be too surprised if you were the best swordsman of the North."
"Lina," Naga blushed fiercely.
Amelia fought back a chuckle at the swordswoman's reaction. Changing the subject she offered, "We should start looking for an inn."
Lina had a bounce to her step as she said, "I'm going to order three dinners to start with, how about you two?"
"I see your appetite hasn't changed," Amelia chuckled.
To be continued....
Slayers: Mirror Eight
Glyn-crossing straddled the ford for the river, the city having been built on both sides with a great bridge between the two sections. One was a regal, almost gleaming place with a great castle that towered over the city, guarding the river to block any military access. On the other side of the river a larger, more commercial town bustled with life, it's markets and streets filled with people and carts of goods moving regularly through the gates.
Lina, Amelia and Naga moved through the crowd, the three women drawing curious glances as they strode down the town's crowded main street. "I think I see an inn ahead," Amelia offered, her short black hair slightly messy from the long trip.
"About time," Lina grinned, picking up the pace.
The inn, called the Drunken Regent, was a well kept up establishment, filled with a mix of merchant men and women. They gazed wide eyed as the three walked in, Naga having to duck a bit to get through the doorway. "Short people," she murmured softly.
"You're not petite," Amelia offered, having cleared the door easily.
Lina strode on ahead, finding an empty table and then claiming it for the three of them. They sat down and moments later a young serving girl arrived, looking at them nervously. "How can I help you?" the brown haired girl squeaked.
"Ten dinners to start with," Lina crisply ordered, "and we need rooms for the night."
"Ten?" the girl echoed.
"That should be a good start," Lina agreed cheerfully, "we'll order some more once we've finished those off."
"Right," the girl blinked a few times before continuing, "but I'm sorry to say we only have two singles left for the night."
"We can share," Amelia said simply, "we've done it before."
"I'll be back with your food in a moment," the girl said, shaking her head slightly as she moved off towards the kitchen.
"And bring some drinks," Lina shouted to her as she left.
"I suppose we'll manage," Naga calmly agreed, pulling her long cloak off and hanging it over the back of her chair. Her simple leather garb and long sword made her look dangerous, especially compared to the merchants all around them.
Amelia blended a bit better, despite her entirely white clothing. There was a gentleness about her, a soft caring despite her capability as a fighter. And beside her Lina glowed in the bar's dim light, fiery hair shining as brightly as the gems on her sorceress' garb.
"Here you go," the serving girl dropped off the plates and three tankards of beer, watching wide eyed as Lina went through her first serving of thick stew in moments.
"Thank you very much," Naga said calmly, taking her own plate and tankard and starting to eat a bit more slowly than Lina.
The girl blushed a bit, looking away from Naga's gaze shyly. "You're welcome," she squeaked before racing away.
"That was interesting," Amelia said as she grabbed a plate.
"Happens all the time," Lina's eyes were impish as she talked while still eating, "Naga has quite the way with the ladies."
"Lina," Naga warned her.
Lina smirked, "You should ask her about Carolyn."
"Oh?" Amelia looked over at Naga who blushed fiercely.
"A young lady Lina and I rescued," Naga admitted uncomfortably as she ate hungrily, "she developed an interest in me."
"And had an over-protective daddy," Lina chuckled. "To protect Naga's virtue we had to pretend to be a couple," she added.
"That must have been difficult," Amelia noted dryly.
The three ate their meals, talking softly as the evening faded into night. "Is there anything else I can get you?" the pretty waitress smiled.
"We're fine," Naga said firmly while pointedly ignoring the way the waitress was bending over to reveal her cleavage.
Lina fought back a yawn, covering her mouth with a slight flush. "Could we get our room keys?" she asked, putting some gold down to pay for their meals.
"Yes, ma'am," the waitress gave Lina a little frown as she watched Lina and Naga interact.
"So how do we want to do this?" Amelia asked as they walked towards the rooms upstairs. "Naga and I could...."
"If you don't mind," Naga gently put her hand on Lina's shoulder as she gave Amelia a smile, "I'd rather share a room with Lina."
Lina blinked in surprise, looking up at Naga's silently appealing gaze then she said, "Yeah, we usually do share a bed...."
Amelia blushed, looking between them curiously. "Of course," she smiled cheerfully, "I perfectly understand." They separated as they reached the doors to the rooms and she added, "Have a good sleep, you two."
Almost as soon as Lina closed the door behind her she frowned up at Naga, "What did you do that for? Amelia is going to think we...."
"Sorry," Naga sighed, pushing her black hair back tiredly. She gave Lina a wry smile, "If I share a room with her I know she'll be asking me questions about her sister."
Lina nodded reluctantly as she said, "And since you inherited the original Naga's case of amnesia it can't be fun."
"Exactly," Naga nodded glumly.
Lina looked around at the room and at the small single bed that awaited the two of them and said, "This is going to be interesting."
Naga made a face, "I could take the floor."
Lina looked at her thoughtfully then shook her head, "It's large enough."
"If you say so," Naga agreed a bit dubiously. The taller woman hung up her cloak first on pegs by the wooden door, then began to pull off her leather vest and shirt off, her stocking clad feet sliding a bit of the polished planks making up the floor,
'Guess we can't mess up those white sheets,' Lina thought, pulling her own red cape off. Her blouse and pants came off easily, then she stacked them up onto a wooden chair. She saw Naga bend over, her breasts swinging, and looked away with a blush.
Naga slid her pants down, standing there in her underclothes, a plain set of boxers. She ruffled her short black hair tiredly as she looked first at the bed then Lina. "You first, I think," she nodded to the bed.
"Right," Lina slid a plain nightshirt on. She climbed onto the bed, feeling the crisp sheets over the rough mattress below, then scooted over to the wall.
Naga climbed on, the mattress bending under her weight, and the two settled into place. With the small size of the bed they lay close, spooning together with Lina on the inside. "Are you all right?" Naga asked her softly.
"I'm fine," Lina answered, blushing faintly. She nearly gasped as gentle arms wrapped around her, Naga snuggling a bit closer.
"I thought that this would be more comfortable," Naga apologized, beginning to pull back.
Lina caught her arm, holding it a moment as she turned to look up into Naga's face. "It's all right," she reassured her softly.
Naga hesitantly brought them close together, both of them laying snugly together on the bed. "I'm glad Amelia can't see us," she murmured, "this would just confirm her suspicions."
Lina had to chuckle at that. "You could be right," she agreed, feeling sleep stealing over her, the days journey telling on her at last.
As Lina felt herself dozing off she heard Naga murmur, "Sleep well."
To be continued....
Slayers: Mirror Nine
"Lina," the voice was quiet as she was gently shaken by the shoulder, then added more urgently, "Lina, you've got to wake up."
"Wha...." Lina blinked up owlishly at Naga, the dark haired woman looking down at her in concern. "What's wrong?" she managed.
"I'm not quite sure," Naga admitted, "but listen."
Lina shook her head, then she tilted it to the side. "Right," the redhead muttered, trying to listen. The walls were thin enough that she could hear Amelia next door, but other than that it was entirely quiet/ "I don't hear anything," she grumbled.
"Exactly," Naga agreed, "no night sounds or any people out there. This village is large enough there should be some sounds...."
"Damn," Lina muttered, realizing she was probably right. She got off the bed, quickly stripping her night clothes off and dressing, noting that Naga was all ready to go.
"Let's go get Amelia and then...." Naga opened up the door, froze for a moment, then she slammed it shut firmly.
"What?" Lina looked over at her in confusion as Naga drew her sword with a steely rasp, taking up a guard position.
"Undead," Naga growled as she loudly kicked the door open and leapt out into the hallway, her long sword swinging. The first rank squished wetly as she cut them down, the others looking mildly surprised to find their foes awake and ready.
"Fireball," Lina cried as she blasted the other shambling creatures, flame consuming the remains leaving only a oily smoke in their wake.
Amelia's door was open and the remains of a zombie flew out, splattering against the far wall. The white clad young woman stumbled out sleepily, "What's going on?"
"Not sure yet," Naga answered crisply, "but it's trouble."
"We'd better check the other guest rooms," Lina offered.
They went down the hall, quickly peering into the open doors but there were no survivors, the creatures had obviously jumped them while they were completely unaware. The trip downstairs was quiet, the three watching warily for more of the undead.
"No sign of the inn keeper," Amelia noted, the black haired girl sounding concerned..
The three of them looked around the empty common room warily, taking in the damage. The tables were broken, thick cobwebs hanging down as if the place had been abandoned for years, completely unlike the place they had just ate at. The scent of rotting food hung in the air, enough to make their stomachs turn.
"Well, we can try to hole up here till dawn," Lina said thoughtfully, "or head outside and try to find out what's going on."
"If there's more undead we'd do better fighting a running battle," Naga noted, "we could easily be overwhelmed in here."
Amelia nodded gravely, "Those slain upstairs must be avenged."
Lina nodded, "I don't much care for the undead, anyway."
The front door creaked loudly as they pushed it open, the three women warily moving out onto the street. The moon shone down on them, bands of dark clouds streaming across the night sky. A brisk wind carried dust down the battered street, the edges of the cobblestones beneath their feet broken to rubble. The buildings were falling down all around them, blackened wreckage and open timbers jutting out of the ruined facades.
Naga scanned around them, her dark eyes narrowed as the leather clad warrioress stood ready. "The town must have been under a glamour of some kind," she noted.
"It doesn't feel like that," Amelia murmured, "it's something.... darker."
"Lovely," Lina muttered. Off in the distance a wolf howled, the eerie tone echoing in the distance as she scowled, "Want to bet it's werewolves? I hate werewolves!"
Naga fought back a smile. "Can either of you get a sense of where this might be focused?" she asked crisply.
A pale white light shimmered all around Amelia, the warrior of justice calling up her power and reaching out with her magic. It was almost like watching the mirror Lina at work, a gentle purity washing across the two of them and then out across the ruined city around them. There was something like a snarl out in the darkness, something dark out there reacting to the power directed against them even as the light winked out.
"There," Amelia puffed out a breath, pointing to the ruined castle on the far side of the river, out in what had once been the high class part of town.
"The castle," Lina shook her head, "of course."
"Let's go," Naga said as the three took off at a run.
This part of the city was once filled with life, the merchant men and women loudly calling out to sell their wares. Now the stalls were falling down, empty, the remains of their stock a fowl mess on and behind the counters. The undead shambled out from the shadows and alleys, gray rotting flesh falling from yellowed bone only to be blasted back by magic or cut down by sword.
"There's a bridge ahead," Amelia said, hammering on a creature trying to grab at her white shirt. It collapsed, dust billowing around it as they moved on.
"We need to cross the bridge to get to the castle," Naga said grimly, a swing of her blade scattering another bunch of the rotting foes.
"Which means that there might be something a bit more serious waiting for us there," Lina said as they came around a corner. The three women skidded to a stop, taking in the bridge and what awaited them there in awe.
The stone bridge was mostly intact, massive slabs of granite used to put the great structure together. None of them noticed the fine stone work, eyes focused on the creature standing on it. The giant was dead, the flesh hanging in flaps from his massive arms but the thirty foot tall figure still looked imposing, eyes glowing a sullen red.
The massive club, probably made from an entire tree, came up with a smooth motion as the creature boomed, "None shall pass."
Naga actually smiled, raising her sword to the ready as she studied her enemy thoughtfully. "A challenge," she murmured, "I love a challenge."
"Together we can defeat it," Amelia said firmly, "for justice is on our side!"
"No," Lina said firmly, looking up at the creature as her red hair flew back from her face like a banner, cloak fluttering around her, "this thing is mine."
“Lina....” Amelia said as she started to follow her then Naga stopped her with a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“No,” Naga shook her head, looking at Lina with gentle concern as she continued, “I’ve seen Lina like this before, it’s best to let her do what she feels she must.”
“Heed me, oh spirits darker than dusk," Lina intoned, her voice carrying with it an eerie tone, “red beyond crimson flow like blood. In the name of those fallen to dust, I pray to the shadows. Mark ye these villains that bar our way, and to my small strength thine own ally, to deliver doom, folly repay. Come judgment from the grave, Dragon Slave!”
Lina seemed to explode with energy, the scarlet fire surging forward in a massive stream of destruction. The giant raised his wooden club in a futile gesture but the massive weapon was consumed almost as fast as he was. In moments all that was left of the rotting hulk was ash, spiraling down across the bridge and into the river bellow.
“Wow,” Amelia murmured, the she shook herself visibly. “Do you think that was their most powerful weapon?” she asked, referring to the now destroyed creature.
“Maybe,” Naga said thoughtfully, “but I wouldn’t count on it.”
“Let’s get moving,” Lina said calmly, “there’s still the castle ahead.”
The three women crossed the bridge into the high class part of town, the buildings around them in moderately better condition as they raced down the paved streets. Garish remnants of finery were draped in empty windows, fine manors of the wealthy now looking forlorn and abandoned. The fading scent of perfume hung in the air, the remnants of bottles once broken open lingering long after the perfume itself was gone.
Here the undead performed a twisted imitation of their former existence, the rotting forms trying their best to carry on as if nothing was wrong. Couples staggered along the streets together, the remnants of fine clothes falling off gaunt bodies, parasols held to block the nonexistent sunlight. They seemed disturbed by the three living women moving through their world but did not attack, merely gazed in confusion as they passed.
“This is almost more disturbing than when they were attacking us,” Amelia noted as they raced through the crowd of dead men. The castle quickly began to rise up in front of them, the winding streets bringing them closer and closer.
Naga lead the charge at the closed gates of the castle itself, her sword describing a clear arch as she struck out against the rotting lumber. With a loud crack the gates flew open, guards behind them shambling to try and take up their positions.
“Rune flare,” Amelia blasted them without even breaking stride, the three charging forward. “The tower,” she yelled to the others, “it’s up in the tower!”
“Why is it always the tower?” Lina muttered under her breath as they bolted across the courtyard, striking as needed against the undead.
“Lack of originality, maybe?” Naga smiled slightly as she shouldered the heavy oak door open, the stone steps spiraling upwards. Moonlight shone in through holes in the walls, revealing steps that were battered and crumbling.
“Watch your step,” Amelia said. They took the stairs as fast as possible, the small band winding their way up the dim stairway until they reached another heavy door. She reached out, touching the wood then shivered, “It’s here.”
BOOM! Naga kicked the door open, she and Lina racing inside with Amelia trailing behind. The chamber within was beautifully decorated, firelight illuminating what oddly looked just like a woman's sitting room. A woman looked up from where she sat in a comfortable chair, a faintly glowing ball gently held in her hands.
"Isn't the city beautiful?" the delicate, almost unearthly blonde looked up, eyes filled with madness. "Just like the magician promised," she cradled the ball close as she cooed, "we only have to pay with these nights...."
"This has to stop," Lina said firmly, already preparing her spells.
"No!" The girl rose, the light from the ball shifting to red, "Everything will be the way it was, it has to be, and I won't let you stop it!"
All around the woman wisp like spirits rose up, trying to take on physical form. There was a sudden pressure, the air thickening even as Lina and Naga moved almost as one. Lina struck with her spells, a flare of fire and light drawing the dead's attention even as Lina strode forward.
"Now!" Naga drove her sword down, slamming it right through the orb.
"No...." the girl moaned as the ball exploded.
The wave of scarlet fire washed across the room first, then it stretched out across the city. The undead stopped, pausing as the light struck them, then they seemed to collapse. Bone and flesh dissolved to ash, the rot and corruption that had gripped the town fading away to simply age....
"The sunrise never looked so beautiful," Amelia admitted, the three of them walking away from the ruined town.
"A long wait for dawn," Naga nodded. The three of them, along with the mad girl, had camped out in the castle. They thought that destroying the orb had destroyed the undead, but there was no reason to take chances.
"So the next town we visit," Lina said, "we'll send someone back for the lady."
"I wish we could have taken her with us," Amelia sighed.
"Considering she had hysterics when we tried to take her from that room, I'd rather leave her for the guards," Lina scowled. "Anyway, without the orb she's harmless, right?"
"I hope you're right, Lina," Naga said quietly.
To be continued....
Slayers: Mirror Ten
The room at the top of the tower was crowded, filled with many arcane items. Rare books sat in various book cases, bubbling vials and noxious chemicals were set up on different tables and various exotic beasts were stuffed all around the room. The water in the shallow pool gleamed, the image of the three women walking away from the town crystal clear. The fiery redhead, the petite black haired girl and the taller warrior, all talking animatedly.
A hand slammed down, splashing liquid about as the woman snarled, "Damn them!" She turned away from the scrying pool and walked away, her velvet cloak swirling around her. The tall blonde's eyes were narrowed irritably, her beautiful face twisted in a fierce scowl. The silken gown that she wore hugged her generously proportioned body, the nearly transparent material revealing much of her physical charms.
"Gwenyth," the blonde yelled out irritably.
The pink haired younger girl appeared almost as soon as she called, the little points on her ears showing that she was at least part elven. "Yes, Mistress Hectate?" Gwenyth asked as she smoothly fell into step beside the taller woman.
"What news of the bandits?" Hectate coldly asked as they took the stone steps leading down from the tower, the torches that were hanging on the walls igniting as they neared then promptly going out once they passed by.
"Completely scattered, I'm afraid," Gwenyth admitted, "it seems that Inverse and Naga have put the fear of the gods into them."
"So who decided to send the Goblins after them?" Hectate scowled, angry at the waste of a resource, even one as limited as those vermin.
"Lord Halcyon," Gwenyth answered her promptly, "he hoped that the pair might have been weakened enough that the goblins could succeed." They entered the next level down, striding along the stone floor and ignoring the ornate tapestries hanging on the walls.
Hectate thought for a moment, her expression softening a bit. "Against a normal foe he might have been right," she admitted, "but not this trio."
"Should I move some of our other forces to intercept them?" Gwenyth asked respectfully, opening the door for her lady.
Hectate shook her head no as she entered her bedchamber, calmly opening her robe to let it puddle to the ground around her feet. Gwenyth tried to look away as her mistress changed clothes, but she couldn't resist sneaking a few looks. Hectate was so beautiful, a perfection that was created as much by magical alterations than the gifts of the flesh, but despite knowing all of that Gwenyth was drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
The bedchamber carried a faint rose scent, a sweetness that hung in the air. The great bed was twice as large as any that Gwenyth had ever seen, the sheets made from the finest imported silk. Glossy wood, silver and gold shone all around the room, furnishings and decorations crafted by the very best artisans of many kingdoms. It suited it's mistress well, a place of beauty that served as a frame to the lovely lady who lived there.
"Just keep an wary eye on them," Hectate crisply instructed as she pulled the dress on, the long white gown looking oddly chaste on her beautiful form. "I want to know what they'll do as soon as possible," she added.
"Of course, Mistress," Gwenyth bowed, "and what of our... guest?"
"I'll see to her," Hectate answered, "go, begin your tasks."
Gwenyth bowed once again then the smaller woman strode from the room. Hectate left soon after, taking another set of stairs down into chilled air. Below the ground the air in the keep was moist, a sensation unpleasant on the skin. Carrying a torch she strode the dark hallways, finally unlocking a heavy iron door and going inside.
Unlike the rest of the keep this room was plain, almost bare. A small bed was pushed against the corner, a old wooden table and chair sitting in the center of the room. Only a single wax candle provided some light, illuminating the woman who lay on the bed silently.
Her glossy black mane flowed around her body as she rose with dignity, fixing Hectate with a glare that would have killed a lesser woman. Her leather garb was scanty, merely a bikini top and bottom but she seemed quite comfortable in that clothing. The oddest thing was the simple leather collar she wore, seemingly without buckles or other means of opening it. She met Hectate's gaze as she sat in the chair then quite surprisingly, she smiled.
"They escaped your trap, didn't they?" Naga the White Serpent asked.
Hectate clenched her jaw. "Indeed," she admitted as she studied her captive. "Where do you think they're going?"
"Maybe Lina is returning home," Naga said with a impish little smile, "she just loves going to see her big sister."
Hectate rolled her eyes, knowing that was a lie. "You could just cooperate," she said with a sigh, "I bear you no ill will, sorceress."
Naga reached up to touch the collar that bound her as firmly as any chains as she answered, "Then you have a very strange way of showing it." She studied Hectate a moment before adding, "It's all about that prophecy you told me about, isn't it?"
Hectate ground her teeth together, "Yes."
Her family had a tradition, one going back for many generations. A seer was summoned at each child's birth, taking a glimpse into the future to see what glory might await the child in the years ahead. But in Hectate's case it wasn't a lovely future that awaited her, only doom.
"The White Serpent shall claim her soul,
Break her will and lay her low."
Those words had haunted Hectate once her family had determined that she was old enough to hear them. She studied the beasts of the world, both magical and mundane, frantically looking for the creature that might defeat her even as she trained in magic. Finally she some of heard the tales of a sorceress and adventurer, one that called herself Naga the White Serpent, and knew in her soul this was the one prophecy spoke of.
Capturing her was surprisingly easy, actually. Hectate had sent a few of her servants to a bar she frequented to ply Naga with drink, then drug her final mug of ale. They had brought the sleeping woman here, where Hectate had placed the leather collar and enchantments over Naga, binding her so that the woman could do Hectate no harm. Once Naga had awoke there was some trouble, any servant who ventured inside was promptly beaten up, but eventually Naga calmed down enough to know she couldn't escape this situation on her own.
"You do realize it could be a self fulfilling prophecy, correct?" Naga asked, leaning forward to rest her arms on the table.
Hectate nodded glumly, pacing the small room. "And now there's that damn shadow twin of yours," she grumbled irritably.
"I don't think I and my diminutive former business partner ever expected them to survive," Naga noted, "I'm rather impressed."
Hectate turned to look at her, "What connection does this Amelia have to you, anyway?" She scowled, "The woman hasn't left your doppelganger and Lina's side since she met them."
"All I know are the same stories you do," Naga shrugged, "that Amelia the princess of Saillune was a companion of Lina and her allies in several great quests."
"And a power in her own right," Hectate noted, "with the strength of a crown behind her." She paused, eyes widening, "That's where they're going!"
"Knowing Lina she's hoping for a free meal," Naga offered with a impish smile.
Hectate turned away to walk to the door, "Thank you for your assistance, Lady Naga." She turned back to smile slightly, "I find I enjoy our talks."
"I'm so glad," Naga muttered sarcastically as Hectate left.
Hectate strode down the hall, her slippers barely making a sound on the cool stone floor. "Gwenyth," the tall blonde cried as she walked up the stairs.
"Mistress," the pink haired girl waited for her at the doorway, Gwenyth holding a mug of the warmed cider that Hectate preferred.
"Thank you," Hectate took it and drank deep, savoring the taste, then she confidently said, "Naga and her companions are headed for Saillune."
Gwenyth took the cup from her and they fell into step down the hall. "Should I dispatch agents to intercept them?" she asked.
"No, just instruct our people to keep an eye on them," Hectate said before adding wryly. "I have no wish to anger a kingdom as strong as Saillune."
"It will be done," Gwenyth bowed slightly.
"Include a bottle of good wine with Naga's dinner tonight," Hectate added with a slight smile, "I would not have realized without speaking to her."
Gwenyth looked up at Hectate thoughtfully, "You like her, Mistress?"
Hectate blinked, her steps faltering just a moment. "Yes, I think I do."
To be continued....
Slayers: Mirror Eleven
"Where did this storm come from?" Amelia cried, snow blowing over her short black hair, the wetness clinging to both cloak and clothes. Leaving behind the Fall warmth of the lowlands they had ventured up into the mountains, a formidable barrier on their long journey to Saillune.
Lina led the way, a blazing sphere of light held above her head to cut through the twilight storm. "We had to cut through the mountains," she said with a scowl, "but it's early for this kind of weather, though." The little redhead shivered slightly, the enchantments on her clothes not that useful against conditions like this.
"We need to get under cover," Naga said, moving her body to partially shelter Lina from the worst of the wind, "it's probably going to get even worse before it gets better." Her long black mane was edged in ice, her leather armor and the clothes underneath uncomfortably damp.
"You're probably right," Lina conceded, "but where?"
"I don't see anything," Amelia offered.
"Give me a moment," Naga closed her eyes, frowning in concentration. A faint glow rose up around her, the feeling of elemental magic shimmered in the air then Naga's eyes suddenly popped open. "There's a cave not far ahead," she said crisply, "it should be enough."
"Thanks Naga," Lina looked up at her with a warm smile, "let's go!"
Amelia hung back a bit to watch them walking together, Naga hovering protectively while Lina forged on ahead boldly. They seemed to fit together, despite the differences in appearance and attitude, in fact those very differences seemed to compliment each others' strengths.
"Don't fall behind," Naga looked back to Amelia with a gentle smile, "we wouldn't want to be separated in this snow."
"Right," Amelia hurried to catch up.
Considering how long Amelia had known Lina she thought that she knew the sorceress pretty well. A chaotic but true hero, Lina did the right thing even if she might claim that it was only for the profit. She might be a bit self centered but she was a good person, despite what she might want everyone else to think. Oddly this mirror Naga seemed to bring that good side out of Lina more and more often, the three of them diverting to help people several times and even with all of Lina's complaining she eagerly helped out.
There was a sound, a low rumble just off in the distance and the three paused. "Please tell me that was just thunder," Lina sighed, looking around warily.
"If I did," Naga said as she smoothly reached over her shoulder to carefully loosen her longsword, "I'd probably be lying."
Lina brought her hands together, sparks of light beginning to dance between her fingers even as Amelia moved to stand at the other two women's side, the sound gradually growing louder. The cold wind whistled by them, trees creaking slightly under ice, then there was the groan of ice and compressed snow nearby.
The pack burst out from the snow shrouded forest to race at them, the great wolves bounding across the ground with almost impossible speed. They were massive beasts, with muscles bulging beneath snowy fur they shimmered with a feral power and nearly unearthly fury, white foam trailing from those fang filled mouths.
"Fireball!" Lina cast her spell, throwing the sphere of power right into the leaders of the pack, watching it explode to consume three of the beasts in a burst of light and fire.
Naga stepped forward as the beasts' charge faltered, the great animals clearly surprised at what they found themselves facing. Her sword came free with a steely hiss then she swung outward, a single sweep dropping two more of the wolves in a splash of blood.
"Rune Flare," Amelia exploded the ground with a wave, sending rock and snow to pelt at the wolves. The final unearthly attack proved too much for the pack and they turned to flee, the wounded trailing behind as they retreated to the forest.
"Think they'll be back?" Lina asked crisply, cloak swirling around her as her breath left a cloud in the chilly air.
"I rather doubt it," Naga bent to clean her sword on the rough fur of one corpse, sliding her sword away easily.
"Poor beasts," Amelia sighed.
"I'm surprised," Lina looked over at Amelia, "they did attack us, you know."
Amelia shrugged, "We invaded their territory, Lina."
"They intended to do us harm, we stopped it," Naga said simply. She knelt and picked the beast up with a grunt, heaving it up onto her shoulder as she continued, "We'd better get to that cave."
"You don't intend to...?" Amelia looked at the wolf carcass warily.
"We don't have that much in supplies," Naga answered her dryly, "and there's no reason to let this meat go to waste."
They forged on through the snow, eventually reaching the side of a great cliff. The cave was large, thankfully, and with a fire started in the shelter of the cave mouth they soon began to feel warmer. With ruthless efficiency Naga cut sections of the wolf and spitted then on branches, setting them over the fire to cook.
"I had best get rid of the remains away from camp," Naga said as she moved out to grab the already snow dusted bones and flesh, "can you keep an eye on this while I'm gone?"
"Yes," Amelia quickly volunteered before quietly adding, "and thank you."
"You're welcome," Naga answered her simply, hefting the wolf once again before heading out into the snow again.
"Be careful," Lina said as Naga moved off, watching her walk off with an unreadable expression on her face.
Once Naga was gone Amelia asked Lina a question she had wanted to ask for many days, "Is this Naga so different than the original?"
"Like night and day," Lina chuckled to herself softly. She looked into the fire thoughtfully as she remembered, "The original was impulsive, often foolish, and she was probably as mercenary as I was." A slightly sad little smile, "She drank like a fish, was immodest and had the loudest, most annoying laugh that you ever heard."
"Did she love you like this Naga does?" Amelia asked, keeping her tone casual.
"Yes," Lina answered Amelia honestly, only fully registering what she had just done a moment later, "hey!"
"Didn't mean to trick you," Amelia said, "but I needed a honest answer out of you." Reaching out to carefully turn the slices of meat she added, "When you parted... it wasn't really over a reward that you won, was it?"
"Hmm," Lina nodded slightly. She sat there, knees pulled up to her chest as she gazed into the fire before finally saying, "Part of why we fought was over a reward, but how she felt about me came out in the fight."
"And you parted because of it?" Amelia asked sadly.
"Yes," Lina nodded, "and there have been times I've regretted it. Naga was probably the closest friend I had, despite how she annoyed me at times, and I missed her."
"It must have been strange, meeting this Naga," Amelia noted.
"The past come back to haunt me," Lina agreed, "and it was even odder seeing that the other Lina and her had stayed together for so long. It made me wonder what might have happened if The original Naga and I had remained together."
"What ifs are never easy," Amelia commented.
The crunch of snow outside signaled Naga's return, the taller woman ducking a bit to make it inside. "I dropped the carcass far enough away we should be fine," she said as she pulled her snow covered cloak off and shoot it outside before sitting down beside them at the fire.
Lina reached over to feel Naga's red cheek, "You're cold as ice." Picking up her own dry and warm cloak Lina slipped it around the shivering Naga, "Here."
A bit more red came to Naga's cheeks as she blushed, "Thank you, Lina."
"It's nothing," Lina turned away from the warmth of Naga's gaze only to see Amelia looking at her with a mildly amused expression.
"Looks like it's cooked," Amelia decided it was safer to concentrate on their food, "let's eat." Both Lina and Naga nearly lunged for their share and Amelia fought back a laugh.
To be continued....
Slayers: Mirror Twelve
The sound of the falling rain was a welcome one, the splat of water hitting the trees and running down the hillside. It meant they had finally dropped below the snowline, leaving behind the snow for now as the band of three traveled onwards with determination.
"How close are we to the town?" Lina Inverse asked, her red hair protected by the cloak that she was wearing. That, along with the enchantments on her clothes, kept her dry and reasonably comfortable even in weather such as this.
"Not far," Amelia answered, the short black haired girl dressed all in white smiling as she continued, "it's nice being close to home, I'm back in familiar territory again."
Naga nodded, the tall swordswoman striding along confidently beside them. Her black hair fell into her eyes as she noted, "Good, I'd hate to get lost again."
"It wasn't my fault," Lina protested sheepishly.
Naga smiled impishly as she teased Lina, "I still think you're natural talent for finding treasure kicked in again."
Lina had to smile at that, "We did do pretty well, fighting that sorcerer Halcyon."
Amelia had to shake her head, watching the two talking. Halcyon himself had been fairly powerful, with trolls and human servants, but thankfully the three of them had been able to handle him pretty easily. Of course, why he had a scrying orb that was keyed to the three of them still bothered her, as well as the sense that he had been serving someone or something else.
"And neither of you recognized him?" Amelia asked.
"No," Naga said crisply in reply, "and I think that I'd recognize one who was badly scarred as that old magician."
"He may not have been scarred when you met him," Lina pointed out wryly. The young sorceress frowned, "But I have to admit he didn't seem familiar at all."
"So like the bandits we have an enemy sent against us by an unknown master," Amelia sighed, "whom we have no clue about."
Naga smiled slightly as she said, "We will find out though, eventually."
The woods were thinning as they walked on, following what was probably once a old hunter's trail. Clambering over rough stone and fallen logs they descended towards the plains, only the occasional rumble of thunder off in the distance disturbing them.
Suddenly another kind of rumbling brought their attention back to Lina. "What," she frowned, "it's been hours since we caught those birds for lunch."
Naga fought back a smile, even though she was feeling a bit hungry, too. "Are we near that town you mentioned?" she turned to ask Amelia.
"An hour away at best," Amelia said confidently.
Lina groaned, putting her hand to her belly. "I'll die before then," she groaned, trudging along beside the other two.
Naga rummaged around in her pack for a moment and eventually produced a piece of dried meat. "It's not much, but..." she passed it over to Lina.
Lina nearly lunged for it, she was that hungry, but then stopped herself. "I can't take your last piece," she said to Naga softly.
Naga took Lina's hand in her own, graceful fingers pressing the food into her hand. "Eat it," she ordered her, "I'll be fine."
Lina was blushing faintly as she smiled, "Thanks."
'I don't think I've ever seem Lina hesitate over food,' a smiling Amelia mused as she watched Lina hungrily gnaw on the tough piece of dried meat.
It was actually closer to a half an hour before they reached the little town, really just a collection of buildings and an inn that were sitting on the side of the main trading road. Still, it was quite a sight to see for the three women who had been surviving on whatever they could hunt or gather for the last while.
"I'm surprised there isn't at least a wall around the place," Naga frowned as they followed the trade road down to the town.
"The nearby kingdoms don't tolerate much brigandry on the road," Amelia explained a bit smugly, "I'm afraid we're in civilized territory, now."
Lina chuckled softly even as she eagerly headed for the inn, "Trust me, I've seen plenty of bandits in cities, too, they're just called merchants."
Naga chuckled, "Nicely done, Lina."
They felt curious glances on them, hurrying through the collection of stands and shops to the inn. Only two floors tall it was a newer building, the shuttered windows peering out at the people who walked by. Lina led the way through the front door, all three of them carefully sweeping the room with their eyes as they headed for an open table.
The inn was barely half full, mostly travelers like themselves sitting at various tables or up at the bar. The inn keeper himself was an older man, an eyepatch covering one eye and a scar running up one side of his face. His hair was a weather-beaten brown, cropped short, and he wore the traditionally stained apron over simple garb.
"What can I get you?" he said with a deep rumbling voice after he reached their table, scratching at his facial scar unconsciously.
"What's your special today?" Amelia asked brightly.
"Stew," he rumbled.
"What kind of stew?" Naga inquired.
"Just stew," he clearly had nothing else to say on the subject.
Making a fast decision Lina ordered them two bowls each to start off with, and for him to be ready to bring some more when they signaled. "Oh, and get a pitcher of beer, too," she called out once he was walking off.
"Civilization, hmm?" Naga gave Amelia a impish look.
Amelia watched the innkeeper go over to a large pot bubbling over the fire and ladle out several bows of an thick, unidentified brown fluid and sighed, "I just hope that this stew isn't as bad as I think it's going to be."
"Hey, it's hot food that hasn't been made by one of us," Lina frowned at her as she gently scolded, "don't complain."
With loud thumps the bowls of stew were dropped off, along with beer and three large mugs for everyone at the table. "Bread," he dropped three loaves on the table then headed back to watch over the bosomy wench who was working up at the bar.
"Huh," Naga took a spoon and scooped up some of her stew, examining a few of the unidentified lumps a moment before putting it in her mouth.
"How is it?" Amelia asked as Naga chewed thoughtfully.
Naga surprised them by smiling suddenly, "It's good."
Lina was already digging in as Amelia ate hers more cautiously, the three of them clearly enjoying the food. Mopping up the thick juices in her third bowl with some of the crusty bread Lina smiled happily, "I don't think I really want to know what animal that meat was from, but it certainly tasted good."
"Fair enough," a smiling Amelia agreed, slurping some juice and not really caring about her princessly manners very much.
Naga was keeping up with Lina quite handily as she mopped up more of the juice in her bowl. "Do we want to stay here overnight?" she asked her companions, chewing on the bread crust.
"I want to see if he's serving stew for breakfast," Lina chuckled.
They paid for their dinners and found out only two singles were left to rent for the night. Giving one room to Amelia left Lina and Naga sharing the narrow bed, but the two women soon disrobed and slid beneath the covers together.
To be continued...
Slayers: Mirror: Nights
"Only two rooms left?" Lina Inverse frowned up at the innkeeper, her red hair almost glowing in the dim light of the common room.
The older man just shrugged expressively, an black eyepatch covering his one eye and a wicked looking scar running up one side of his face. His short cropped hair was a weather-beaten light brown, and his apron was stained with the remnants of the night's beer and food. "Been a busy season," he rumbled out, "with merchants an' all."
"I guess we'll just have to take them," Lina said wryly, noticing the fierce look that she was getting from Amelia. They paid for the rooms and headed up stairs, feeling eyes from the tavern patrons on their backs.
"Thanks," a tired Amelia murmured to Lina as they reached the top floor and walked a short way down the hall, "I don't think there's another inn here in town and I really don't want to have to be sleeping outside again."
Naga peered into each of the rooms and noted the little beds, hard mattresses that were thankfully covered with clean white sheets. "I'll take the floor," the tall black haired woman said crisply, "Amelia, Lina, you can use the beds."
"Amelia, you get the other room," Lina nodded to the room next door as she continued, "Naga and I'll share this one."
Amelia's eyes twinkled slightly as she said, "As usual."
Naga blinked as the little blonde left them, "What was that about?"
"Good question," a faint blush colored Lina's cheeks even as she thought of the confession Amelia had tricked out of her concerning Naga. Naga took off her cloak, her simple tunic and long pants hugging her shapely form. 'Wow,' Lina blinked.
"Are you all right?" Naga asked quietly, her short black hair falling away from her face and cloak still dangling from her hand.
"I'm fine," Lina answered, trying to recover her poise. "You don't need to use the floor, you know," she said quietly, "we'll fit in the bed together, if a bit snugly."
Naga hesitated, looking down at Lina's face a moment then nodded slightly, "If you're sure, Lina." She hung up her cloak on one of the pegs by the door, then discretely turned her back and began to unlace her simple top.
With a faint blush Lina concentrated on not watching Naga undress even as she began to strip herself of her own heavy cloak and clothing, her thoughts deeply confused. She hadn't been lying when she told Amelia about loving the original Naga, and more and more she found herself drawn to this mirror twin. Even stranger, her feelings seemed different, stronger as she grew to know this noble, courageous young woman.
Naked, Naga slipped into bed, her generously sized breasts bouncing slightly as she slipped between the sheets. She held up one edge of the sheet as she saw Lina hesitate and murmured, "You'll get cold, standing there."
"Thank you," Lina murmured as she slipped in beside the other woman, the little mattress automatically pressing them close. Her little breasts rubbed up against Naga's larger ones, her slim body pressed against Naga's curved body.
"Lina, I..." Naga started.
Just then Lina began, "Naga I wanted to say..."
Both women looked at each other then began to laugh softly. In a unconscious move Naga slipped her arm around Lina's shoulder, helping make them a bit more comfortable laying on the little bed. "You first?" Naga offered with a gentle smile.
"Gee, thanks," Lina muttered under her breath, wondering how she could put what she wanted to say to Naga into words. She took a breath, "You know that I didn't want you along with me, but did you know why?"
Naga blinked in surprise as she answered, "Because you worried I would be trouble, with my ethics and morals."
"That, too," Lina took a breath, "but that wasn't all." Softly she continued, "The original Naga and I were friends, and traveled together a long time. But in the end Naga felt more for me than friendship, and in my fear I drove her away."
Naga drew away from her slightly, "Do I frighten you?"
Lina looked up at her, her eyes warm as she softly said, "No."
A faint blush colored Naga's cheeks as she gently drew Lina close to her once again. "I thought that when I left my Lina I would be heart broken," she confessed, "I thought that my life was over." A wry smile, "I fought not to like you, Lina, fought to hold on to my initial dislike."
"The only time I'm glad to see you loose a battle," Lina murmured.
Naga chuckled, "Too true." She held Lina, bringing her face close to that fiery hair as she softly said, "I fear I'm falling in love with you, Lina-sama."
Lina looked up to meet Naga's eyes, "Why fear?"
Naga looked troubled, "I loved your twin for a long time, you know. I wonder if this is simply confusion, that I'm merely using you to replace the woman that I love...?"
"I'm feeling confused, too," Lina admitted. She laughed without much humor, "I made a lot of mistakes before, this might just be me trying to fix them."
"So what do you want to do now?"
Lina sighed softly, resting her head against Naga's collar. "As much as I'd like to kiss you right now," she said softly, "I think we should take things slowly, for a while. If this is a true feeling we'll both know soon enough, and if it's not we'll avoid hurting each other."
"You're a very wise woman, Lina," Naga smiled, pressing her lips gently to the top of the woman's head, "and as much as I'd like to kiss you, too, I'll accept it."
Lina felt that feather light kiss and struggled with the urge to turn her face up to meet a kiss. "Even if we are taking things slowly," she sighed as she relaxed into the comfort of Naga, "can we still lay together like this?"
Naga brought another arm around Lina, holding her protectively close. "Of course," she murmured softly.
Amelia blinked as she saw Lina and Naga descend the stairs together, the taller woman with her arm around Lina. 'I wonder what happened last night?' Amelia found herself thinking.
"Morning," Naga nodded as she calmly pulled out a chair for Lina at the table, smiling down at the surprised young woman.
"Good morning," Amelia agreed impishly, "slept well, you two?"
A faint blush colored Lina's cheeks and she looked away. "Oh, reasonably well," she answered, shifting uncomfortably under Amelia's gaze.
Naga frowned just slightly, giving Amelia a stern glance then looked over at Lina. "I'll go see what's for breakfast, other than leftover stew," she said before moving off.
"Nothing happened," Lina said firmly to Amelia once Naga was out of earshot.
"But the way you two are acting...?" Amelia raised her eyebrows.
Blushing faintly Lina admitted, "We talked about things, yes. But that's all!"
"Well," Amelia smiled at her gently, "I'm rooting for the both of you."
Naga carried three bowls through the crowd, the tall woman's sheer physical presence making people clear aside. "Well, it's not the unidentified stew," she noted as she set the three bowls down.
Lina looked at the thick brown goop, poking it with the wooden spoon. "Porridge?" she said, trying to stir up the stuff.
"Well, at least it doesn't have mystery meat," Amelia offered that optimistically as she scooped some of the porridge up.
"Yes, it just has mystery lumps," Naga said with a chuckle.
To be continued...
Slayers: Mirror Fourteen
Slipping away from the city wasn't all that hard, especially for this young man. He had been a adventurer for many years, on both sides of the war between light and darkness, and had picked up many skills during that time. The brown garb of a simple monk shielded him as he rode, taking the main trading route south, where tales of slavers and banditry abounded.
'That is where Amelia was headed,' Zelgadiss thought, his greenish, almost rock like skin hidden beneath the monk's hood, 'and where I must go.' Over his shoulder he carried a bag of supplies as he walked his sword tapping against his side.
Amelia, princess of Saillune took her duties quite seriously, and one of those was defending her people. When she found out about slavers raiding Saillune she had ridden forth without telling Zelgadiss or her father Phil and had allowed herself to be captured, probably hoping to reach the leaders of the slavers. Impatiently Zelgadiss waited for word, but as days passed to weeks and no word came, he decided to act.
'Of course she may already be on her way home,' Zelgadiss thought, 'but I still have to try, if only for the sake of my pride.' For a time he debated trying to find some of Amelia's old companions like Lina or Gourry, but time wasn't on their side. Finding them might take weeks, and there was little that he and Amelia couldn't handle together.
Traveling south Zelgadiss visited many taverns, bars and inns, not to drink but instead to listen to the rumors and stories minstrels, bards and travelers carried. There were the usual tales of dragons slain and great swordsmen, but those were all commonplace. What he sought were tales ofd a holy warrior, with or without companions, and eventually he found such a man.
The tale that he told sounded almost eerily familiar to Zelgadiss, of Amelia, a sorceress and a swordsman battling together against the forces of evil. The details were a little off but from the descriptions he was sure that it was Lina and Amelia, though the third figure was a mystery to him. The story came from much farther south but it sounded like they were on the main trade road leading to Saillune, so all he had to do was head south to meet them.
The little town, barely a collection of buildings around an inn, was a week and a half trip for Zelgadiss, and he brightened a bit as he heard merchants mutter as he passed about another strange traveler. He headed towards the inn that morning with a cautious step, going inside to scan the place warily for possible foes.
The inn keeper nodded suspiciously, his black eyepatch marking him as a former soldier or maybe bandit. The crowd inside was a mixed lot, made up of merchants, local people and a few travelers going either to the big city or possibly away from it. He felt wary eyes on him but Zelgadiss just ignored it, moving forward looking around for who he was searching for.
The three women were sitting at a corner table, one chosen carefully. The three of them could see most of the comings and goings in the in, and it was also near the exits. Zelgadiss instantly recognized Lina first, her flaming red hair shimmering in the light, then he felt his heart lift as he saw who was sitting there eagerly eating porridge.
The taller woman spotted him first, a oddly familiar face looking wary as he approached their table from behind Amelia. Addressing her Zelgadiss said wryly, "Next time you get yourself captured by slavers, could you please include me in the plan?"
Amelia jumped to her feet, white clothing shimmering as she threw her arms around him with a happy cry, "Zel!"
"Friend of yours?" the tall woman smiled wryly towards Lina, watching the joyful reunion with some amusement.
"That's Zelgadiss," Lina nodded to him, "he's a good friend, actually, despite the fact that he tried to kill me when we first met."
"Sounds typical," she murmured thoughtfully.
Zelgadiss pulled a chair over and settled down, consciously choosing to sit by Amelia. He looked over at the stranger and curiously asked, "I don't think we've met...?"
"Lady Naga," Amelia smiled, "I'd like you to meet Zelgadiss."
Naga nodded to Zelgadiss, her eyes twinkling with amusement. "It's good to meet you," she answered, "I've heard a lot about you."
"Hopefully good," Zelgadiss answered with a slight smile.
"So what brings you out here, Zel?" Lina asked him curiously.
"Phil was a little worried about Amelia," Zelgadiss explained, "he patiently waited as long as he could then sent me out to try and find her."
"I'm so sorry to make everyone worry," Amelia said a bit sheepishly.
Zelgadiss put one of his hands over hers, squeezing gently. "He understands, I think," he comforted her. He looked at her curiously, "What happened exactly, though?"
"It's not too complicated," Amelia shrugged, "I tracked down where the slaver's were snatching girls and went unarmed, gambling that they didn't know who I was."
"And..." Lina prompted, always enjoying hearing a story.
"They hit me with a sleep spell when I was unready," Amelia confessed, "or else I would have dealt with the miscreants then. They transported me to their camp some distance away and woke me, expecting me to be frightened and docile."
"She wasn't," Lina supplied with a grin,
Zelgadiss raised an eyebrow, "Oh?"
Naga smiled slightly as she said, "Lina and I had broken into the bandit camp chasing a different group of criminals when we stumbled upon the slave auction going on in their headquarters."
Amelia was blushing faintly as she said, "I started fighting back as soon as I awakened, and I guess the sounds of battle drew Lina and Naga to where I was."
"Together we made pretty short work of the slavers and bandit leaders," Lina said cheerfully, "and later I razed the camp to the ground with a Dragon Slave."
Zelgadiss' eyes widened just slightly, "I heard a rumor about that, but when I heard the bit about the giant statue of you in the wreckage I thought they were lying."
"The statue was Naga's idea," Amelia said impishly.
Naga shrugged, her large breasts bouncing a bit under her simple tunic. "A variation on the stone golem spell," she explained, "Lina is the one among us with a reputation as a bandit slayer so I thought it might be good to use that to our advantage."
"Not to mention how it helps my reputation," Lina added smugly.
"Now that's the Lina I know," Zelgadiss chuckled.
Lina just stuck her tongue out at him.
Zelgadiss looked over at Naga thoughtfully, studying the woman. She seemed a unusual individual, a magician yet carrying that impressive looking sword with her and dressing in such a conservative manner. "If you don't mind my asking," he said, "how did you meet Lina?"
Naga smiled slightly, "It's a long story." Lina and Naga sketched in their background, explaining the tale of the enchanted mirror and their meeting again some years after. A bit about their next few adventures followed, along with some of their escapades with Amelia.
"The only thing that bothers me," Amelia murmured as they drank cups of ale with the remains of breakfast, "is how... regular these attacks are."
"You think someone is targeting the group," Zelgadiss mused, "or one of your number?"
"Could be one or both," Lina frowned, "we've all made enemies, at one time or another."
"True enough," Amelia agreed, "which is why we need to continue on to Saillune as quickly as possible. There we'll be safe and can consider our next move."
"And Phil can try to find your sister," Naga added softly.
"Huh?" Zelgadiss blinked.
"The woman that Naga is a reversed copy of may or may not be Amelia's elder sister," Lina explained to him helpfully.
Zelgadiss blinked as he looked between Amelia and Naga thoughtfully. "That's going to be a very interesting family reunion," he finally murmured.
"Hey!" Naga and Amelia protested together.
Surprisingly Lina reached out to put her hand over Naga's, squeezing it comfortingly and the taller woman blushed, looking away.
'We'll isn't that interesting,' Zelgadiss noted.
To be continued...
Note: I'm spelling Zelgadiss like this because that's how the official novel spells it. If that's wrong let me know and I'll correct it later.
Slayers: Mirror Fifteen
"You have no idea how good it feels to be home," Amelia sighed as they descended from the hills towards the kingdom of Saillune. The white clad woman turned impatiently, black hair shining as she continued, "Hurry up!"
Lina rolled her eyes, her red hair bouncing as they strode down the trade road. "Take it easy," she advised, "we'll get there." Looking over at her increasingly quiet travel companion Lina asked, "Are you all right, Naga?"
Naga smiled faintly, "I'm not sure." Her eyes were oddly haunted as she continued, "It's strange, I feel as though I've visited this place but I know I haven't..."
'Interesting,' Zelgadiss thought, watching them together. Lina treated the tall swordswoman so gently, looking up to her with a almost... lover-like concern. Aloud he offered, "Maybe Phil can help clear this up for you."
"Maybe," Naga answered softly.
Amelia looked at Naga, her own expression softening a little. "I forgot this is new to you, Naga," she said as they walked on.
Around them the crowds moved on, most of them looking at the band of adventurers. They clearly recognized both Amelia and Zel, and they moved with caution around Lina, the fearsome bandit slayer. The tall swordswoman with the band was a stranger, yet there was something oddly familiar about her to the people of Saillune.
Lina walked protectively beside the taller Naga, her eyes flashing as she warned off anyone who came near. "Let's hope Phil doesn't mind company," Lina said.
"I think he'll be happy to see Amelia," Zel flashed a smile, "if in a scolding mood, considering she didn't tell us where she was going."
"Zel," Amelia complained, "I explained..."
Lina shook her head as the two argued, the greenish skinned young man and his petite but energetic girlfriend. "Aren't they cute?" she murmured to Naga.
Naga chuckled softly, "Actually, yes the are." Her gaze was fond as she looked at Amelia, "I was a little wary when we first saw him but... I think he's worthy of her."
"You sound like a older sister," Lina said softly.
"Now that's scary," Naga answered wryly. She looked down at Lina thoughtfully, "You know, I don't remember you mentioning family..."
Lina reached out to take Naga's hand, knowing the taller woman was talking like this out of nervousness. "I have a older sister," she admitted, "she pretty much raised me, as far as it goes." Dropping her voice she added, "Big sister is one of the few people I'm scared of."
"Eh?" Naga blinked in surprise, a faint blush appearing on her face as she held onto Lina's smaller hand in hers.
Lina shrugged, "What can I say, she had a impact on me when I was young."
Naga had a odd look on her face, trying to get her mind around the idea. "I'll have to meet her one day," she said with a wry smile.
"I'd like that," Lina added, "you can meet the family."
Naga blushed as the implications finally hit.
"Ho, Princess Amelia," a guard called from the gate they were nearing, the tall man beaming at the mixed group of adventurers. He looked amused, "Outriders have already sent word of your coming to the palace."
"Thank you," Amelia nodded as they headed through the outer gates and on to the familiar streets of her home. She led the way unerringly through the streets, up to the palace that rose majestically from the center of the city.
"I wonder how annoyed Phil is at you slipping out of the city the way you did?" Zel asked her with a wicked smile.
Lina shook her head, "I doubt he's be too bothered, he's probably gotten used to Amelia racing off into battle considering how often it's happened."
"Gee, thanks," Amelia rolled her eyes.
Naga adjusted her cloak nervously, her simple garb and leather armor marking her as a warrior. "What's Phil like?" she asked softly.
"A good man," Lina answered promptly, "I like him a lot."
"Comforting," Naga flashed a smile.
They reached the palace only to jerk as the doors crashed open, a bear of a man bursting out to enfold Amelia in a powerful hug. Phil swung her around happily, "Welcome home!"
"Father," Amelia laughed as he gently put her down, "I'm sorry to worry you."
"I know you can take care of yourself," Phil said as he looked around the group, "but I'm glad to see you had help..." He trailed off, his eyes widening as they fell on a certain figure.
Clearing her throat Amelia gestures, "You know the others, but I'd like to introduce the swordswoman Naga."
Phil's voice was hoarse as he murmured, "Gracia?"
Naga felt her short black hair brush her blushing face as she looked up at him, a man who looked eerily familiar to her. "Not exactly," she said to him as gently as possible before continuing wryly, "it's a long story."
Phil cleared his throat once, his cheeks red. "One I look forward to hearing," he answered. In more normal tones he looked at Zelgadiss, "Welcome back, son-in-law."
"You two made it official?" Lina blurted as she looked at Zel in surprise.
Amelia blushed charmingly, "No, but we've finally set a date for the wedding so he should be saying future son-in-law."
"Close enough," Phil grinned. He turned to lead them inside as he said, "Knowing you all like I do, I had a meal prepared for your arrival."
Lina slapped him on the back, "I knew I could count on you."
They gathered around a heavily laden table, digging in eagerly even as Naga began to explain her story to Phil. He ripped some meat from a thigh as he said, "So, you're a magically created copy of the original Naga the White Serpent?"
"Yes sir," Naga nodded, "Amelia was hopeful that your sorcerers could use me to try to find out what happened to the original."
"And you don't remember your past?" Phil asked gently.
Naga shook her head, "I'm sorry, but no. Before a certain point it just dissolves to a blur..." Anticipating the next comment she added, "And both I and the original tried various kinds of magical healing, but they didn't work."
"I'm not surprised," Amelia agreed, "healing the body with magic is relatively simple, but the mind is much more difficult."
"Very true," Zel nodded, sitting beside Amelia. As they ate their hands would occasionally brush, the two exchanging blushing glances.
"Young love," Lina murmured. She looked over at Phil, "When your magicians do their searches remind them to be careful with Naga, I'd be very annoyed if she's hurt."
"Of course they'd be careful," Phil said firmly.
Naga had the oddest little smile as she looked down at Lina, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. "Thank you," she said to her softly.
Lina looked away uncomfortably, "Just looking out for my partner."
Naga put her hand over Lina's, squeezing it gently.
Phil raised a eyebrow, but he was smiling. "Well, isn't that interesting," he said thoughtfully, just loud enough for Zel and Amelia to overhear.
"Daddy," Amelia cautioned softly, "don't jump to conclusions."
Phil just chuckled softly.
To be continued...
Interlude: Naga's Tale
"You know," Lina Inverse said after dinner, the group having gathered to share drinks and talk in one of the comfortable sitting rooms of the palace, "I remember someone mentioning a adventure involving you and a griffin?"
"And I'd hoped that you'd forgotten about that," Naga made a face, the tall, busty black haired warrior relaxing with a small glass of wine. Unlike the original White Serpent this Naga only drank in moderation, rarely if ever getting truly drunk.
Phil smiled as he studied her, the bear of a man's black hair looking a bit scraggly, as usual. "I wouldn't mind hearing about it," he said, "I had heard they were extinct."
"And with good reason," Amelia quietly agreed, "all the tales I've heard say that they were man-eaters, and very dangerous." Her slightly longer mane of black hair gleamed as she added, "I'd love to hear such a tale."
"I think they're going to get the story out of you eventually," Zelgadiss said impishly from where he sat beside his lover Amelia, "you may as well give in now."
"Please?" Lina reached out, putting a hand on Naga's leather clad arm as she looked up at her in a silent appeal.
Naga blushed faintly under Lina's gaze, looking down shyly into her glass of wine. "All right," she said softly, "it's not much a tale, but..."
The revelry in the castle went on all around them as Naga strode through the halls, her cloak swirling around her. The older man was apologetic as Mayor Anderson said, "I'm sorry to pull you away from all the New Year's celebrations, m'lady."
"You don't need to call me lady," she answered him gently, "I answer to Naga just fine." With a gentle smile, "And I understand that your need is great, or you wouldn't have come here through the winter weather."
"Fair enough," Anderson sighed. They had come from the western towns through heavy snow, the ice so bad that few could travel the roads unprotected. "We know not what the beast is," he said grimly, "all we know is that it grows bolder every day, plucking up the weak and stealing away before any can stop it."
"It's ability to fly even in the storms says it's as powerful beast," Naga softly mused as they headed for the inner courtyard where the horses waited for them to go, "but it can't be a dragon or other type of great wyrm."
Anderson seemed surprised, "You're sure?"
Naga nodded, "Despite the fires that dwell in their bellies a Dragon's blood runs cold, and the winter chill will slay them. When fall turns to winter they retreat to dens deep beneath the ground, where the warmth of the Earth itself sustains them."
"I hadn't known that," Anderson admitted. They passed under a stone arch into the courtyard, gazing at the towns people and a figure who waited nearby,. white robes gleaming. "Is that...?" he started to say softly.
"It is," Naga frowned then said, "excuse me."
Lady Lina, the sorceress and champion of light gazed up warmly as Naga strode towards her. Her red hair blazed like the summer sun, her cheeks almost as red from the cold even here, sheltered somewhat by the outer walls. "I suppose I can't convince you into letting me go along with you?" she asked Naga softly.
"I'd like you to," Naga admitted, "but the storms this year are very severe. If your powers don't at least blunt their impact, many of our countrymen will die."
"I know," Lina admitted as she stepped close, letting herself be enclosed by Naga's protective arms, "I just wish..." They stood there a moment, close together, then she softly asked, "Why can't someone else go? We have many valiant knights, most of them trained by you, and all eager to help."
"It may take magic or sword to defeat this thing," Naga reminded her. With a smile she added reassuringly, "I'll try to return unhurt, this time."
Lina chuckled softly at that. "You always say that," she gently scolded, "then come home with cuts, scrapes or wounds that need to be tended." She gently tugged Naga down into a kiss then ordered, "Be careful, m'love."
"Always," Naga answered softly, then with a final hug she turned to walk towards the others who were getting ready to go.
"It mustn't be easy, leaving her behind," Anderson said sympathetically as they rode out, the heavy cloaks they all wore barely keeping out the chill. Behind him and Naga six other villagers rode, then taking the rear were the pack animals with the winter gear they would need for the journey.
A muscle jumped in Naga's jaw, her short black hair ruffled by chilled wind. "It is," she admitted, "but this is part of who I am... and if I turned away from this, I would no longer be who she fell in love with."
It took three days of hard travel to reach the town at the base of the mountain, days of biting wind and snow and nights spent huddled in tents trying to stay as warm as possible. All of them felt the strain when they finally arrived, and the mayor insisted that Naga take a day to rest up before venturing out after the beast.
The next day Naga rode out to the snowy hills, her heavy winter cloak flowing around her, even as she grimly considered the words of a village woman. "We haven't let anyone go out of the town for days," she had said to Naga grimly that morning, "but it still took another child. Whatever it is, it grows bolder day by day."
This band of woods was where the first sightings were, and the first disappearance. Carefully Naga rode down a marked path, her eyes roaming as she searched for traces of the creature's passage. A broken branch, damaged brush and other things led Naga into the darkness, until she finally had to dismount and go ahead by foot.
Off in the distance Naga heard what sounded like a child's teary cries, but she continued forward cautiously. Reaching over her shoulder she loosened her long sword, advancing near silently using skills she had developed over years of bandit fighting. Eventually she reached a clearing only to blink in surprise at what she saw.
Naga instantly recognized the griffin from texts she had studied, but the reality was a far cry from the drawings. In most pictures it was a patchwork creature, an eagle's head atop a lion's body with great wings attached to the lion back, but this thing flowed together gracefully. The 'fur' that covered the body was in fact small, golden feathers that grew into the wings and up over it's eagle's head, eyes piercing as it gave those small, mournful cries.
'Does it lure it's prey this way?' Naga thought, wondering how many worried parents or children were drawn in by those cries. She crept forward, studying the terrain and quickly realized that stealth wouldn't help much, for nearer to the griffin there was almost no cover available, and it's den was in a sheer cliff. 'Which leaves the direct approach,' Naga thought.
The Griffin jerked up as Naga's battle cry echoed through the hills, clearly startled at seeing her appear so suddenly. Sword drawn she charged forward, powerful muscles throwing her across the ground even as the griffin raised a claw. Muttered words brought a sphere of destructive power to life between its claws, then it flung the attack towards her.
Naga barely blocked it with a counter spell, visibly startling it once again. "A warrior who uses magic?" it rumbled, voice distorted a bit by the shape of the beak.
'It's intelligent?' Naga felt a flash of rage, one that she quickly quelled. "Why are you hunting men?" she asked coldly, holding her sword at the guard position.
"I grow old," the griffin rumbled, "and the prey I once hunted it too strong for me." A merciless laugh, "And humans are easy prey, meat."
Naga bared her teeth fiercely, "You won't find me so easy."
"Let's see," and the griffin charged, galloping at her with inhuman speed. It was atop her in moments, lunging to attack... only to jerk violently.
Using the beasts own momentum Naga had swiftly jabbed her sword up, driving it up through the base of it's beak and into it's brain. The collapsing griffin hammered Naga into the ground, blood splattering and she felt a shock of pain as it convulsed, but after a few moments it was still.
With a painful groan Naga got out from under it, only then realizing it had raked her on the leg with it's claws. "Damn it," Naga muttered as she dragged her sword free, blood running down her leg, "Lina is going to end up lecturing me again..."
"Were there any who survived the griffin's attack?" Amelia asked Naga softly once she finished, her gentle eyes concerned.
"A few," Naga said softly, "it captured it's prey then ate later, usually."
"What happened to the griffin's remains?" Zelgadiss asked. the oddest look on the young man's face.
"The mayor told me they were going to go claim the body," Naga looked over at him curiously and asked, "why?"
"Because I think I visited that village once," Zelgadiss mused, "they stuffed the griffin in a ferocious pose." A faint smile, "It has a plaque reading 'Slain by the champion Naga.' I think." He sighed, "I knew I recognized the name somewhere."
"I wish you'd have told me, Zel," Lina scowled, "I'd have checked it out."
"We didn't know you and Naga were connected then, Lina," Amelia swiftly jumped in to defend her boyfriend.
"Point," Lina conceded.
"Besides, it's embarrassing," Naga sighed, a blush coloring her cheeks.
Lina reached out to stroke her cheek gently, "You're too modest," she scolded with a smile, "I think that's part of why I like you."
Naga blushed brighter.
To be continued...
The Slayers: Mirror Seventeen
The painful scream echoed through the keep, the pink haired young woman racing to the source of the cry. The pink haired girl hammered o the door as she called out, "Mistress Hectate, are you all right?"
"Gwenyth?" Hectate managed weakly after a moment, "Enter."
Gwenyth opened the door, feeling the tingle of the magical defenses on her skin as she looked around wildly. If she had tried to enter without permission there would have been very gruesome consequences, to say the least. In the middle of the chamber the lovely blonde lay crumpled on the ground, her velvet cloak spilling around her onto the rug.
"What happened?" Gwenyth asked worriedly, gently helping the taller woman up.
Hectate kept a hand on Gwenyth's shoulder to steady her, swaying slightly. "Someone attempted a powerful search spell for our guest," she shook her head dizzily, "the castle's shields stopped it but the feedback was murder."
Gently Gwenyth helped her to a overstuffed chair, settling Hectate down as she asked, "Would you like some wine or spirits? It might help..."
Groaning Hectate sat, resting her head on the plush cloth. "That would probably make me feel worse," she grumbled. She looked off into the distance, thoughts working, "The other Naga and her companions must have made it to Saillune, this felt like the work of multiple magicians."
"But we had parties waiting to sight them on the main roads," Gwenyth protested, "and none of them even reported seeing them."
Hectate gave Gwenyth a grim look, shutting the young woman up. "Lina Inverse is a long time adventurer," she said coldly, "she and Naga probably decided not to take the main routes, for fear of a possible ambush."
With a sheepish sound to her voice Gwenyth murmured, "They crossed over the mountains out of season, through the storms..."
"Exactly, we underestimated them," Hectate said seriously. Her eyes narrowed a bit, "Send someone down to check on the original Naga, just in case."
"Ma'am," Gwenyth hurried out to the hallway, a softly chanted word summoning a guard. She explained to him what she wanted and he was off, returning in a few moments.
"Well?" Hectate asked imperiously.
"Still there," Gwenyth reported, "and unharmed, ma'am."
"Good," Hectate muttered to herself softly. With a sharp groan she forced herself up, her hand covering her eyes as she fought her pounding headache. "The scrying pool," she said seriously, "I need to see what's going on."
Gwenyth stayed near, gazing at her worriedly as they left, moving through the halls and up the tower to a room near the top of the great castle. The room smelled of herbs and incense, torches flaring to life as they entered the room, the wall hangings inscribed with powerful protective spells and enchantments.
Hectate chanted a few words as she held her hand over the specially created basin, the fluid churning a little before settling. A image appeared, cloudy at first, then with concentration it cleared...
The double of Naga resembled her twin in some ways but was a different woman in both clothes and attitude. The tall, black haired warrior and sorcerer looked capable in her tunic and leggings, a impressive sword carried over her shoulder.
Lina Inverse followed nearby, the smaller redhead resting a hand on Naga's arm. Tough and dangerous Lina was almost legendary in magical circles for both her skill and creativity, and feared for her power and recklessness. Called by some the Dragon and Bandit Slayer, Lina was not a woman that many wanted to cross.
'Of course I seem to be stuck doing so,' Hectate thought.
The last of the trio was Princess Amelia, the daughter of the ruler of Saillune and a powerful fighter in her own right. She and the taller Naga did resemble each other a little, especially around the face and eyes, and there was a similar sense of nobility about them.
The chamber they were leaving was filled with mystic symbols, magicians talking together in the aftermath of casting the tracking spell. Energy still shimmered in midair, slowly fading away as the residue of the spell dispersed into the air.
"Mistress, can you counter another such spell if they cast the same one again?" Gwenyth asked her respectfully.
"Probably," Hectate said seriously in reply, "but if they continue to try the spells they will find the true Naga."
"We could try to move her..." Gwenyth suggested.
"No," Hectate dismissed that, "without the shields of this citadel they would find her nearly instantly." She studied the image again, "And launching a direct attack on them would be foolish in the extreme, considering the palace defenses."
"Defenses against magical attack only," Gwenyth reminded her respectfully, "we could always send in a assassin."
"To attack whom?" Hectate snarled suddenly. "If we kill one of the three they'd declare bloody vengeance against me, not to mentioning angering the kingdom of Saillune. If we attack the court mages, same sort of problem," she finished.
"Sorry Mistress," Gwenyth bowed slightly.
"No," Hectate softened her voice a bit, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be taking my annoyance out on you." She walked over to her seat and flopped back down before looking out into the distance in thought, "I think we'll have to sacrifice a major player to distract them a little."
"Who should I contact?" Gwenyth asked respectfully.
"Arberath," was Hectate's soft reply.
Gwenyth nearly choked on hearing that, "The demon lord! Might that be just a bit excessive for a distraction, ma'am?"
Hectate smiled slightly, "We need a large scale distraction from their quest for Naga.. and he certainly is that."
Gwenyth nodded, having to concede that. "What sort of instructions do you want me to give him?" she asked seriously.
"Maximum destruction, but few casualties," Hectate said simply. "And tell him to just go near the borders of Saillune, not to cross into their territory itself."
"Understood," Gwenyth nodded, slipping away from her mistress.
Hectate rose from her seat after a time, leaving the tower and continuing down into the chill dampness of the dungeons. She strode down the hall, a frown on her face, then reached the room she wanted. "How is she today?" Hectate asked the guard.
"Annoyed," was the guards cool reply. "She beat up a maid earlier and was busting up the furniture again..."
"You'd think she'd learn that sort of thing doesn't help her situation," Hectate shook her head.
"I don't think she really cares, ma'am," he answered frankly.
Hectate had to laugh at that. "True enough," she nodded then stiffened her spine. "I'm going in," she announced.
"Good luck," he saluted, opening the door.
Naga looked up, the leather bikini clad woman panting softly as she picked up broken pieces of the table only to break them again. "You," she said coldly, opening and closing her hands as fury blazed in her eyes.
Hectate smiled slightly, "And a good evening to you, Naga."
Without a word Naga charged, lunging for her only to cry out in agony. The leather collar she wore blazed with electricity, power surging around the room as the taller woman convulsed before finally falling in a heap on the floor.
Hectate winced, feeling a stab of pity for the other woman. The spell in the leather collar blocked Naga's magic as well as preventing her from harming Hectate.. using pain as a primary motivating factor. "It would be much easier you you," Hectate murmured to the fallen woman, "if you would just stop fighting."
"I've been here months," Naga wheezed, "and you still don't know me very well."
To be continued...
The Slayers: Mirror Eighteen
Naga frowned, her short wave of black hair flowing over the warrior's shoulders as she dodged an attack. She hefted her long sword, the leather armored woman's eyes narrowed as she asked, "Do you think this is something like Joyrock?"
"Joyrock?" both Zelgadiss and Amelia blinked.
"A demon we fought once," Lina answered, the red haired sorceress leaping to avoid another servant monster.
The forests beyond Saillune's territory burned as the creatures spread from the demon lord's portal, sweeping out to rampage freely. The civil guard and border patrol were holding the creatures back, barely, but it was clear they would soon be overwhelmed. To make matters worse the master of the monsters hadn't even shown his true power yet.
Amelia struck, her pure magic dispelling another monster as they raced through the rubble of a small castle, the walls fallen and moat filled with debris. Zelgadiss was always at her side, the greenish skinned, rocky young man striking out with immense strength.
"We have to break through to the demon lord," Amelia said seriously as they met another charge, "this will never end otherwise."
"How, though?" Lina asked, throwing a Dil Brand and blasting them back.
"There's only one way," Zelgadiss said grimly, his cloak swirling around his body, "Amelia and I will delay them, you two go for the demon."
"Will you be all right?" Naga asked softly.
"We will rejoin you," Amelia vowed, "I promise."
"All right then," Lina grabbed hold of Naga's hand and cried, "Ray Wing!" In a burst of mystic power they soared skyward, even as Amelia, Zel and the remaining guards fought against the monsters with even greater fury.
"Got a plan, love?" Naga asked automatically.
"Love?" Lina nearly dropped her in surprise.
"Sorry," a faint blush colored Naga's cheeks as she continued, "I forgot myself, Lina."
"Actually, I think I kind of like it," Lina quietly admitted as they soared on towards their goal, the fiery gate and it's master.
The demon lord gazed up at them in slight surprise as they neared, casually leaning against a burning tree. Reaching up he snapped a branch off and lit a cigar, studying them carefully. "So you're Inverse and Naga huh?" he drawled.
"He knows us?" Naga blinked as they dropped not far from the demon and the spatial gate he was guarding.
"Of course, we're famous," Lina said dryly.
"Maybe," Naga said as they warily walked towards their foe, "or it could be he was hired to go after us, just like several other of our recent foes."
Casting the flaming brand aside the muscular, blue skinned man looked at them thoughtfully, amusement in his eyes. "You can call me Arberath, girls," he said pleasantly.
"Call, not his real name," Lina muttered. She met his orange eyes and boldly asked, "What do you want, Arberath?"
Arberath drew on his cigar, "Absolutely nothing, kids."
"Huh?" Lina blinked.
Naga studied him warily and asked, "You were sent here by someone else?"
Arberath smirked, "The Witch never said I couldn't tell... yes, I was."
"Who was it!" Lina pounced.
"That," Arberath smiled, "on the other hand, I can't tell."
Both Lina and Naga face-planted at that. Recovering after a moment Naga asked, "So why are you here, demon?"
"I'm a distraction," Arberath shrugged, "a big problem for you to solve so you're aren't looking for you-know-who."
"Naga the White Serpent," Lina breathed out.
"I can't confirm that due to the geas I'm under," Arberath smiled. He tossed the burned down stub of his cigar aside, "Now I'm sorry to say I've got to get to work." With a gesture the ground detonated beneath Lina and Naga, a act that should have sent them flying.
Both, however, had expected just such a move and had leapt clear, dodging to either side of the large clearing. Naga raced forward to attack first, sword drawn but with surprising ease he grabbed her blade in midair, the bulky muscles of his arm barely straining. Surprisingly Naga smiled, then shouted, "Freeze Arrow!"
"Wha..." Arberath barely got out as the spell struck, channeled through the sword itself. In seconds he was sealed in a icy tomb, utterly frozen still as a statue.
"Nice one," Lina grinned up at Naga, "do you think it'll hold him?"
CRASH! In a flash the ice shattered, Arberath shaking his head to get some ice flakes out of his ebony hair. "Glad I finished my smoke," he growled, "that'd be a waste of a good stogie."
Naga stood in guard position in front of Lina, "Any ideas?"
"One or two," Lina answered, whispering to her softly a moment. Then with a burst of magic she raced in, "Fire Ball!"
"Oh come on," Arberath batted the sphere of light aside only to blink as it split, smaller balls converging to detonate around him distractedly.
Naga chanted softly, the earth heaving and bucking around her, then the stone golem rose, a massive figure that loomed over Arberath. Then she shattered it with a gesture, sending boulders thumping to the ground and rolling right at him.
Arberath gestured, grabbing the air then tore, creating a kind of rift. He slid through the hole and was gone, reappearing clear from the falling rock and deadly stones.
"...come judgment from the grave, Dragon Slave!" Lina cried as he reappeared, finishing her spell casting and so unleashing one of her most powerful spells as he was still slightly disoriented from the transition.
In a castle far from the battlefield and nearly a day later two beautiful women looked at each other in shock even as the third laughed heartily. "I told you your puny demon would be no match for my diminutive assistant," Naga laughed, her long mane of black hair flowing over her scantily clad body as she raised a mug in toast.
"Oh shut up," Gwenyth glared at her then the pink haired girl looked over to her leader, "Mistress Hectate, did they really destroy Arberath?"
Hectate shook her head, the lovely blonde reclining in a chair on one side of the room. "No, he isn't dead," she said with a faint smile, "but they hurt him... so much that he needed to flee to his home realm to heal."
"But how?" Gwenyth blurted.
Naga smiled, her cheeks faintly red from the drink. "Foolish girl," she purred, "Lina and I fought such a demon before, you know. Don't you think we would have made plans in case we met one in battle again?"
"It doesn't matter," Hectate shook her head, "I used the delay to strengthen the castle wards and shields against detection. We should be safe from the spells searching for Naga."
"True," Gwenyth murmured. She got up from the couch and retrieved the jug of wine, refilling their mugs then reluctantly doing Naga's too. The opulent chamber was lovely, decorated with the finest tapestries and furniture, sunlight streaming in. The only off bit was the leather color that bound Naga, looking so rough and crude in such lovely surroundings.
"So," Naga gave Hectate a look, "are you willing to pay your bet?"
"Bet?" Gwenyth squeaked.
"We wagered on Arberath's success," Hectate admitted, "if he won Naga agreed to be more... compliant, if Lina won I agreed to give her the freedom of the castle."
"And Lina won," Naga smirked.
"You can't!" Gwenyth blurted.
"Can't?" Hectate raised a dangerous eyebrow at her servant and Gwenyth paled. Hectate chanted softly and Naga's collar glowed softly. "You may travel in the castle," Hectate told Naga, "no farther, or the consequences will be most unpleasant."
Without a trace of irony Naga smiled, "Thank you."
To be continued...
The Slayers: Mirror Nineteen
"Any news?" Lina Inverse asked as she pulled some meat from the roast with her teeth, the little redhead chewing hungrily. Her cloat and some of her gear were hung over a nearby chair, leaving her in just her comfortable tunic and keggings.
"Some," Phil admitted, the black haired bear of a man scratching thoughtfully at his bushy beard, "there's some powerful defensive spells shielding where ever Naga is but we have pinned down the general region."
"Gods am I tired," Naga sighed wearily as she entered the dining hall after Phil, the tall, black haired swordswoman leaning on her little sister for support. She looked like she was utterly exhausted, her hair hanging limp and eyes half lidded.
Seeing this Lina leapt to her feet, meal temporarily abandoned as she demanded of Naga, "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," Naga reassured her as she sat beside Lina, "it's just that being in the middle of a spell like that draws your strength out, somewhat."
Amelia nodded, the slightly smaller woman smiling reassuringly, "It's all right, Lina. I checked over Lady Naga myself."
"Here," Lina passed over a big chunk of the roast as she said gently, "you'll feel better after you eat something."
"Thank you," Naga smiled at her greatfully and Lina blushed a bit.
"I see it but I don't believe it," Zelgadiss murmured, the greenish skinned warrior looking on from where he had followed Amelia in, "Lina never shares food."
Quietly Amelia said to him, "Naga has a remarkable power over our Lina."
Keeping a concerned eye on Naga Lina asked Phil, "So where do you think the other version of Naga is, then?"
Having taken a seat at the head of the table Phil grabbed some fish as he said, "In the Cimerian region, I believe."
"Theres at least three kingdoms there," Zel noted as he mentally envisioned a map of the continent, "small but fierce."
"I've met a few warriors from there," Lina mused as she guzzled some wine, "big dumb types seem their specialty."
"Only partially," Naga pointed with a chicken leg she was eating, "their fighters and swordsmen all leave home to seek out mercenary work, while the mages, sorcerers and others tend to stay at home."
"That fits with what the court mages said," Amelia noted, "it's a powerful mystic or group of mystics shielding Naga."
Shortly after they had defeated the rampaging demon the mages of the Court had taken Naga aside and tried to use her again to find her mirror twin. The enchantments that originally found traces of her passage seemed not to work, and they quickly realized powerful magical defences had been raised against their search.
"I'm sorry that we can't seem to narrow it down any more," Phil scowled. He drank half his wine in one long gulp, "So what do you want to do now?"
"We go there," Lina said flatly, "if someone's captured Naga it'll worry them, maybe even make them tip their hand."
Zel looked at her with more than a bit of surprise as he asked, "You're offering to go help someone for no reward?"
Lina smirked back, "If we're dealing with a sorcerer they'll have plenty of magial artifacts and treasures for us to loot."
"Should have guessed," Amelia sighed. She looked up to meet Lina's eyes, "Of course you know I'll be going along."
"And I, too," Zel said calmly.
"But..." Naga started.
"Both you and your mirror'd self are blood relations," Amelia said, "honor, not to mention our growing friendship, demands that I assist."
"Zel?" Lina looked curious.
Zel shrugged slightly as he smiled fondly at Amelia, "Where she goes, I go."
"I can provide some supplies and horses," Phil offered eagerly, "maybe some soldiers for escort too..."
"I'll take the supplies but no soldiers or horses," Lina said firmly.
"Hmm?" Phil raised a bushy eyebrow, his mouth full of food.
"If we're really in a hurry the soldiers couldn't keep up with us anyway," Naga explained gently as she slurped some hot soup, "and regular horses are too likely to spook if we get into a fight and need to use our sorcery."
"Besides," Zel flashed a smile, "the poor things whimper in pain almost as soon as they see me, much less my riding one."
"True enough," Phil agreed.
"How quickly can you get the suplies together? I suspect Lina wants to leave soon," Naga said with a smile.
"I'll start things moving now," Phil waved a servant over and whispered instructions, "but it won't be until sometime tomorrow, certainly."
"Good enough. I hate leaving all these good meals behind," Lina said a bit regretfully, "but we should get going soon. If Naga is a captive they have to know we've been magically searching, and I don't want to give them too much time to prepare."
"Considering they already sent the demon Arberath after us as a distraction, I hate to imagine what they could do next," Amelia said as she ate.
"Demon's lie like we breathe," Naga reminded them all that what Arberath had said might not be that reliable.
"True," Zel agreed, "but a bound demon will often do whatever it can to undermine whoever sent it. If so, he might have been truthful with his hints."
"So we can guess someone is holding Naga captive and has some powerful resources behind them," Phil speculated.
"And it might be a woman," Lina added.
"Huh?" everyone looked at her.
"Arberath called whoever summoned him ''the Witch,' " Lina reminded them, "if he meant it as a insult it's female and male witches are usually called warlocks."
"The witch could be just a employee," Amelia countered, "but it's possible."
"So what does this mystery woman want with my daughter?" Phil growled out.
Zel covertly looked at Naga, "Maybe she's fascinated by large breasts?"
"Zel!" Amelia scolded while Naga blushed.
"Drop it," Lina gave Zel a dangerous look and he made no other comments. Getting back to business Lina said, "It could be a old enemy of Naga's, mine or both."
"Or someone Naga crossed after you knew her," Naga said. She blinked "Or even a foe that my Lina and I made, who was unaware I have a double."
"Which expands the list of suspects even wider," Phil groaned.
"Trying to narrow it down would be guesswork," Lina decided to cut them off, "we'll save that till we know more."
Naga stretched, yawning slightly. "If no one minds I think I'll retire for the night," she said, "we may have a early start tomorrow."
Surprisingly Lina abandoned foraging the last of the food trays. "She's right, we should go to bed early," Lina said as she followed Naga out of the room. Once they were sure they were out of everyone's sight Lina reached out and took Naga's hand.
Amelia smiled from where she was peeking, turning back to return to the dining room with a smile. "Did you see what you thought you'd see?" Zel asked her curiously.
"Yes, I think so," Amelia said, bending forward to whisper it into his ear.
"Oh ho," Zel smiled.
"I understand from the servants that Lina's room hasn't been slept in," Phil looked more amused than anything else, "is she spending her time at Naga's?"
"It appears so, father," Amelia admitted, carefully looking to see his reaction.
"I'm glad," Phil reassured her with a smile, "I think they are well suited to each other."
"But what happens when the first Naga returns?" Zel asked.
"We'll have to see what happens," Phil sighed.
To be continued...
The Slayers: Mirror Twenty
“You have got to be joking,” Lina Inverse said fiercely, her red hair flowing around her head as energy crackled between her fingers.
“Yield or die, sorceress!” the black haired warrior dressed in just a loincloth and boots demanded, muscles rippling and flexing as he posed dramatically.
“Isn’t he cold in that outfit?” Amelia asked faintly, the black haired young woman covering her eyes and blushing.
“Not to mention no armor,” Zelgadiss gave a professional frown, the greenish skinned chimera standing by Amelia’s side.
The big man waved his sword in a graceful but deadly pattern, leather loin-cloth flapping in the breeze and likely making certain parts of his body cold. “True warriors fight like this!” he declared proudly.
“I recognize the fighting style, he’s from the Cimerian region,” Naga noted, her short black hair gently messed by the breeze, her simple leather pants and tunic comfortable and, most importantly, warm.
“Oh really,” Lina blinked. “Who are you, anyway?”
“I am Crom!” the well oiled and tanned man declared, “Son of Conan! Grandson of Mac! Great-grandson of Kaine! And I will see you dead!”
“Why?” Amelia asked curiously.
“To collect on the bounty on the infamous black sorceress’,” Crom dramatically pointed his sword at Lina, “head!”
“This again,” Lina muttered under her breath, having run into this stunt a few times before. An enemy got worried about Lina going after them and put a bounty on her head, it was annoying but she could deal with it.
“I suppose you wouldn’t just agree to give up and guide us through the Cinnerian region?” Zel asked wryly.
“Never, dogs!” Crom waved his sword again.
“I’ve got this one,” Naga said before the others could act, walking forward across the field towards where Crom waited. From the sheath over her shoulder she drew her sword, expression intent.
“Be careful,” Lina scowled.
“Always,” Naga answered, never taking her eyes off her foe.
“They send a woman against me?” Crom looked surprised, “I at least expected some sport from the monster.”
“What?” Zel said, scowling dangerously.
“Easy,” Amelia put her hand on his arm, “he’s just trying to provoke you.”
“He’s succeeding,” Zel growled.
Without another word Naga attacked, sweeping forward but Crom was ready, their blades meeting with a clang of metal on metal. He tensed his muscles, expecting to fling her away but she matched him pressure for pressure, her eyes narrowed and intent. Pulling apart they circled warily, then his blade flashed as he lunged, but Naga simply deflected him aside.
“The women of your land are strong,” Crom conceded reluctantly, the two warriors circling each other once more. He seemed more serious, studying her for weaknesses... atleast when he wasn’t distracted by the bounce of her breasts.
Naga smiled wryly, “Thank you.”
With a battle cry Crom charged, sword held above his head for a final strike. Looking at him in complete disbelief Naga watched him come, thedn at the last minute kicking up to slam the hard toe of her boot right into his unprotected crotch.
“Urgle,” Crom made a soft sound as his sword dropped from nerveless hands and he reached down to cup himself protectively.
“Ouch,” Zel winced in sympathy.
“You’s thing he’d at least wear a codpiece or something,” Lina murmured wryly as they watched him drop to his knees, whimpering.
“That was,” Crom managed in a much squeakier voice, “most unfair.”
“There is no fair or unfair in battle,” Naga said as she sheathed her sword. The others gathered around as she asked, “Who put the bounty on Lina Inverse?”
“I’ll,” Crom wheezed a bit, “never talk.”
“All right then,” Naga took one of Crom’s arms, “Zel, want to help me hoist him up?” Once they got the weak kneed Crom up to his feet again she asked with twinkling eyes, “Okay, who else wants a kick?”
“Oh, me, me!” Lina said with a evil grin.
“You wouldn’t,” Crom squealed.
“Wanna bet?” Lina swung her kicking leg suggestively.
“You’re devils, not warriors,” Crom sighed. “I don’t know exactly who ordered the bounty, but it came from the Aesir region.”
“Thank you,” Amelia smiled sweetly. A bit more hesitantly she added, “You might want to go bathe in a cold stream or river for a while, it might bring the, ah, swelling down.”
“Thank you,” Crom sighed as the band left him behind.
“You weren’t really going to let her kick him again?” Zel asked Naga curiously as they set off down the dirt road once again.
“No,” Naga admitted, the trees providing them some shade from the bright sun, “but he didn’t need to know that.”
“Remind me not to play cards with you,” Lina grinned.
“So,” Amelia asked, “do you think we’ll run into more of his people, now?”
“I’d bet on it,” Zel nodded.
It had been three days since they had left Saillune and thankfully they had been mostly quiet ones. Carrying backpacks loaded with Phil’s supplies and money pouches loaded with gold coin they had left in the morning, only to stop in the nearest tavern for a filling lunch. Once that was done they really set out, heading into dew wet hills away from the city and back to the northern lands once more.
“What really annoys me,” Naga said as they crossed a stone bridge, “is that we passed through that region going to Saillune!”
Lina shrugged, “We didn’t know, so no reason to cry over spilt ale.”
“Were you attacked going through that region?” Zel asked thoughtfully, probably already anticipating what they might need to deal with.
“Not so much, but we mostly crossed over mountains, not the highways,” Amelia said. She shivered, visibly, “Please tell me we aren’t doing that again.”
Naga chuckled softly, “No, we’re following the main roads right into Cimeria.”
Zel noted her tone of voice then his own eyes widened a bit as he asked, “You want us to be attacked?”
“Whoever is holding the original Naga knows we’re coming,” Lina said, “they wouldn’t have sent that demon earlier otherwise. So, we face whatever they throw at us and maybe one of them will spill who’s behind all this.”
“Great plan,” Zel said dryly.
“Thank you,” Amelia smiled, “I came up with it.”
“Huh?” Zel looked at her in surprise as Lina and Naga fought back a case of the giggles.
To be continued...
Note: “Crom, son of Conan! Grandson of Mac! Great-grandson of Kaine!” is a homage to Robert E. Howard's Conan, as well as his other fantasy creations.
Naga the White Serpent, powerful sorceress and adventurer, stalked down the hallway, her leather bikini and bottoms barely holding her impressive assets in check. Her long black hair flowed over her cape, her shoulder armor gleaming with polish. She made quite a striking figure, only weakened by the annoyed expression on her face.
“All right,” Naga said quietly as she stopped near a window, “there’s the ledge I saw from the other side of the castle.” Climbing up into the opening she murmured, “Let’s see if I can...”
“Owww,” Naga staggered backward, clawing at the leather collar around her neck, tears gleaming at the corner of her eyes. It took a few moments for the pain to fade, blinking away her tears as she writhed on the floor.
‘Damn it, I can’t seem to find any weaknesses in the spell holding me inside rthe castle,’ Naga thought as she got up, dusting herself off.
Naga’s muscles ached but she made herself start to move, fighting through the pain. With a shake of her head Naga staled off, determined to try another section of the castle and see if she could get out there.
In another part of the castle the sorceress Hectate paused, her eyes unfocusing a moment as she sensed something magical. “M’lady?” Gwenyth asked respectfully, the pink haired girl waiting nearby for any of her mistress’s requests.
“Naga’s still working her way around the castle,” Hectate noted, the lovely blonde smiling in admiration, “testing the limits of her confinement spell.”
“Should I order one of the guards to stop her?” Gwenyth asked, frowning.
“I gave her my word,” Hectate reminded her firmly, “that Naga could have the freedom of the castle.”
“But mistress, she...” Gwenyth started.
“Does my word mean so little to you?” Hectate demanded, eyes flashing with sudden anger as she leapt up from her chair. She slapped Gwenyth hard, her hand leaving a flaming red mark on the girl’s cheek.
“I’m sorry,” Gwenyth staggered back, her cheek throbbing.
“I have compromised my honor to save myself from my fate,” Hectate said coldly as she looked down at Gwenyth, “but I will not violate my word. Is that understood?”
“Yes mistress,” Gwenyth whimpered, holding her hand to her cheek.
“Good,” Hectate stalked back to her seat, her robes flowing around her beautiful form. “Now,” she said in a much more casual tone, “where are Inverse and the other Naga?”
“Taking the main road towards Cimeria,” Gwenyth reported seriously, still watching her mistress warily. “They’re using the inn’s and road houses and our agents are having little trouble in tracking them,” she explained.
Hectate frowned slightly, picking up her goblet of wine and drinking a bit. “Why are they being so obvious?” she wondered.
“Over confidence?” Gwenyth offered. Quietly she added, “They have so far defeated the bounty hunters we set after them.”
“True,” Hectate conceded. She swirled the red fluid around in her glass as she thought, “Are any of the giants available?”
Gwenyth’s eyes widened, but she did didn’t argue or debate. “Most of them still remain in their castle Utgard in Jotunheir, m’lady,” she reported. A pause, “But the offering of a powerful enchantment might call one to your aide.”
“As long as it isn’t a disguise spell,” Hectate said after considering the issue a moment. “Their assaulting mortal women is a sin I have no wish to assist,” she added firmly.
Gwenuth nodded, “I’ll send them a message requesting their help, as well as including that condition.”
“Good,” Hectate said, “you may go.”
“Ma’am,” Gwenyth nodded.
As Gwenyth left Hectate added a bit more gently, “You’d best put some ice on that cheek, too, to prevent swelling.”
“I’ll do that,” Gwenyth said with a sigh.
“Ma’am?” the tall, brown haired female guard blinked as Gwenyth appeared, seeing the flaming red mark on the woman’s cheek. She fell into step beside her, as usual since Naga had been set free to wander the castle at will.
“Don’t ask, Jira,” Gwenyth cut her off. Seriously she said, “I need a messenger to go to Jotunheir, one that hopefully won’t start a war with the wrong words.”
“Strife or Dan,” Jira said after a moment’s pause, “they’re both reliable, good men, and if the giants eat them their expendable.”
“Good,” Gwenyth said, “send them.”
“What, both?” Jira asked.
“One can keep the other out of trouble,” Gwenyth visibly winced as her cheek throbbed. “I need some ice too.”
“Come on,” Jira said gently as she lead the way.
After first waving down another guard and passing on the instructions Jira took them into the storage rooms, massive chambers holding meat and other goods to feed the castle’s many residents. Carefully scooping up some of the mountain ice that was shipped in daily Jira pressed it gently to Gwenyth’s cheek.
“Oh that’s nice,” Gwenyth sighed while shivering a bit with the chill air of the cold room. Still, it was better than enduring her throbbing cheek.
“I’m glad,” Jira murmured, the taller fighter sliding a arm around Gwenyth’s shoulders.
Unconsciously Gwenyth leaned into Jira’s warmth, “Thank you.”
Jira gulped, glad that Gwenyth couldn’t see the desire plainly written on her face. “You’re welcome,” she answered softly.
After a moment Gwenyth sighed, pushing away from Jira. Regaining her composure she said, “We’d best get back to work.”
“Of course,” Jira said as she held open the door to the room.
Briskly Gwenyth seemed to abandon any sign of vulnerability as she said, “While the mistress has ordered Naga given the freedom of the castle, that doesn’t mean we can’t keep an eye on her.”
“Oh?” Jira asked. Both women had been concerned by Naga’s new freedom, but neither had been given a choice about it. ‘Maybe it was during those talks I first noticed her?’ Jira thought as she looked at Gwenyth.
“Have a guard shadow her, but don’t be obvious,” Gwenyth ordered.
“Of course,” Jira bowed, her eyes twinkling.
Gwenyth punched her shoulder, “Don’t mock me, please.”
‘Never,’ Jira thought, a smile teasing her lips.
To be continued...
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