Story: Slayers Mirror (chapter 16)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 16


Slayers: Mirror

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...

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