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...