Hello, everyone. This is my first attempt at a Slayers fic, so
reviews are important. Thanks. Slayers is the property of Kadokawa
Shoten and TV Tokyo. I own only the writing. Please review or send
your C&C to me at doscher009@hotmail.com. Thank you. I hope you
enjoy this story, because I'm having a good deal of fun writing it.
^_^

Slayers: Faces Part 1
Sayonara!? Breaking Up Is Hard to Do!


Zelgadis sighed as he watched his three companions scarf down
their lunch with little regard to the simpler things...like manners.

"MINE!" Lina screamed, stabbing her knife down on a piece
of chicken that Gourry had just claimed.

"Mmmmnnn!" Gourry replied, his mouth full.

"Please, there's enough for everyone," Sylphiel told them,
reappearing from the kitchen carrying a tray ladened with slices
of cooked turkey.

Lina made a dive for the tray, but Zelgadis managed to
restrain her and keep her from attacking their host here in
the town of Bes.

"Great! Seconds!" Amelia cried.

"Eighth's, actually," Zelgadis pointed out, trying to keep a
handle on Lina, who was flailing about like a fish on a hook.

Sylphiel smiled politely and carefully put the tray on the
table before leaping back as two ravenous sorceresses and one
swordsman leapt at it.

Zelgadis sighed and shook his head. Sylphiel heard him and
turned to him, smiling. "You're not eating anything, Mr. Zelgadis.
Would you like something else? I don't mind cooking more."

"No thank you, Sylphiel. The sooner we leave, the better."

Sylphiel's face fell. "I'm sorry."

"It has nothing to do with you," he said deadpan. "It just
seems that the longer we stay in one place, the more easily we
get sidetracked by something."

"Sidetracked from searching for the cure to your curse, is
that it?"

He nodded. "Everytime we get closer, something pulls us away.
I honestly think that if I had just set out on my own, I'd already
be cured."

"Do you really think that, Mr. Zelgadis?" Amelia asked,
somewhat dejectedly.

Zelgadis blinked and blushed in embarrassment. He had not
meant for any of his traveling companions to hear that. "Yes, I
do," he said, recovering somewhat.

"It's not our fault!" Lina replied to his charge. "These
things just happen!"

"It's not a criticism, just a statement of fact," Zelgadis
told her. "Between a princess, the ancestor of the swordsman of
light, and the most dangerous sorceress in the world, this group
has an enemies list longer than Filia's tail."

"Well, excuse us," Lina said sarcastically. "It hasn't
exactly been a picnic for us, either. And you have just as many
enemies as we do, you know."

"Yes, but I've actually killed most of mine," Zelgadis replied
calmly.

"Look, Zel, we're *trying*, okay?!"

"I told you. It's not a criticism, it's just a fact."

"Well how the hell are we *supposed* to take it?!" Lina
cried. "We've all been through Hell together!"

"Yes, and the whole time, I've lived in my own private
hell along with it!" Zelgadis snapped. "How many times have
we delayed my search so you could have some obscure meal no one's
ever heard of?! Or chase after some treasure that didn't even
exist!?"

"Once or twice..." Lina said innocently.

"More times than I can count," Zelgadis told her.

"Well, if you don't want us around, why don't you just
say so?" Lina asked dangerously.

Zelgadis paused. "Where are we going next?"

"Well..." Lina began. "I'll have you know we're going to
hop a ship and sail to Krenek."

Zelgadis blinked. "What's in Krenek?"

"You know....important...sorceress stuff."

"Like that restauraunt you told us about, right Lina?!"
Gourry chimed in. Lina face faulted.

"And that magic dragon's egg that turns anything it touches
to pure diamond!" Amelia threw in. Lina hit the floor.

She looked up and found Zelgadis staring down at her. "A
restauraunt?" he asked. "A magic dragon's egg?"

"Yeah...well..." Lina said sheepishly.

Zelgadis sighed. "Go."

"Huh?" Lina asked.

"I said go," he told her. "Call it an experiment. You go to
Krenek. I'll look for the cure on my own. We'll meet back here in
three months. How does that sound?"

"Zel," Lina breathed.

"You want to break up the group, Mr. Zelgadis?!" Amelia cried.

He nodded. "We'll see which way is better."

Lina took a breath. "Well, Zel...if that's how you really
want it...." She looked at him. "We'll see you in three months."

Amelia looked close to tears. "Mr. Zelgadis...." She
stood up and hopped up onto the table. She threw her cloak
back and pointed out at the group. "SOMETIMES....SOMETIMES
FRIENDS MUST PART IN THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE!!!" She wiped a
tear away. "AND IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE, WE PART COMPANY NOW!"

Lina laughed. "Hey! This is just a temporary thing! In
three months, we'll back together again! Just wait!"

"Back together with who?" Gourry asked.

Lina sighed. "Thank you, Gourry."

"What for?"

"Renewing my faith that there are some things that will never
change."



Zelgadis woke up with a start. He was sitting in a chair
near the bed, something that had become a habit for him. It was
easier to snap awake and get moving from a chair than a bed.

Like now.

He reached out and slowly lifted his sword from the nearby
table. There was light coming from beneath his door. The sword
made a slight scratching noise as he pulled it from its sheathe.

This motion stopped immediately when he heard a knock and a
soft, feminine voice whisper through the door. "Mr. Zelgadis?"

He replaced the sword and stood up, walking to the door and
unlocking it. "Come in, Sylphiel."

The priestess-sorceress opened the door and stepped in, a
ball of soft, white light in her hand provided the light he had
seen.

"It's late," Zelgadis pointed out, a touch of irritation in
his voice.

"I know, Mr. Zelgadis, but I needed to speak to you, and I
was unsure if you would leave early this morning or wait."

"It's all right, Sylphiel. If it's important..."

"I think I know where you can find your cure," she said,
cutting him off.

He looked up at her sharply. "What?"

She cleared off the table and reached into a satchel she had
brought with her, producing a map. "My father..." she paused for
a second before continuing, "My father used to tell me stories,
growing up, about a...a...a kind of magical fairy land where there
was no magic."

Zelgadis sighed. "Children's stories are of little use
to me, Sylphiel..."

"Father never told me children's stories!" Sylphiel told
him. "Even when I was a baby, he used to tell me about the
wonderful world that was out there. He didn't need fiction to
entertain me, he had ancient legends and myths....and at the heart
of every legend is a grain of truth."

Zelgadis considered this for a moment, then nodded, inviting
her to continue.

"As I grew older, I found out that my father had...embellished
the story slightly. But it did exist. Supposedly, it's an island
far to the east, in the Sirian Sea."

"As I recall," Zelgadis ventured, "The area around the
Sirian Sea was the home to several Elf kingdoms."

"Yes!" Sylphiel said excitedly. "And Elf magic has always
differed from that of humans! From what I've learned in my
father's books, somehow, some way, the Elves created a place
where magic simply doesn't exist."

"Perhaps, but how would this help me?"

"It's not just new spells, it's *all* spells. *No* magic
exists there. Not even...not even chimeras."

Zelgadis looked at her. "What you are saying," he began
slowly, "Is that my curse wouldn't exist on this island? That
it would what? Fade away?"

"It might," she told him.

He looked down at the map before him, staring at it for several
minutes. Sylphiel watched him, observing his internal debate.
Finally, he spoke. "Sylphiel, I need to use your map."

"Of course, Mr. Zelgadis."

"Sylphiel...thank you."

She smiled. "You mustn't thank me...Not until we find it."

Zelgadis blinked. "We?"

"Of course," she told him. "It is I who have set you upon
this course. It's only right that I see it through as well."

"Sylphiel," he began quietly, "I'm not going on some picnic,
this is my own personal mission. The reason I'm not going with Lina
and the others is that I could move faster alone."

"I won't slow you down, Mr. Zelgadis," Sylphiel promised him.
"I want to go."

Zelgadis opened his mouth to tell her no...

"Please?" she asked quietly. "This...this is something I
have to do."

He looked at her, puzzled. "Why?" he asked skeptically.

She turned away from him. "Don't ask me why. It just is."

Zelgadis took a breath and thought on it. It wasn't as if
Sylphiel were anything like Lina. He wouldn't have to put up
with the constant distractions....or the noise. Amelia and Gourry
weren't with them, so he wouldn't have to put up with the constant
stupidity or grand pursuits of justice. He might just be able to
get something done...

And it would be nice to have someone there who could cast
the Dragon Slave...

"All right," he said. "We'll leave tomorrow. Early.
Pack only what you can carry. It's best to travel light."

Sylphiel nodded.

The edges of Zelgadis' lips curled up in a half smile. Perhaps
he was on the right track.



"MINE! MINE!" Lina cried, stabbing downward with her fork.
The metal instrument of gluttony was turned by a similar fork in
Gourry's hand.

"You got the last sausage, Lina!" Gourry warned as the two
struggled for supremacy. "This one is *mine*!"

"Darkness beyond twil..." Lina began to chant, but was
stopped when Gourry suddenly jammed a hard boiled egg into her
mouth. "Mmmmmph!!!!"

Gourry used the moment of distraction to pick up the sausage
and pop it into his mouth. He swallowed and stuck his tongue out
at the sorceress.

"BAKA!!!" Lina screamed as she decked him. Gourry hit the
floor of the inn, dazed.

"Gourry dear!" Sylphiel cried, and ran to his side. Lina
dusted her hands off.

"Well, that's about it for breakfast," Lina said casually.
"I guess we're off." She turned to Zelgadis. "Sure you won't
change your mind?"

Zelgadis only shook his head.

"Well," Lina said, "If you need us, we'll be heading toward
Giln, it's a port about three days from here."

"We'll keep it in mind."

Amelia blinked. "We?"

Sylphiel helped Gourry to his feet. "I have decided to
accompany Mr. Zelgadis."

Lina blinked at this. This was a new twist. She grinned
and couldn't help taking a shot at Zelgadis. "Why Zelgadis!" she
cried coquettishly. "It all makes sense now, you dirty little
chimera, you!"

"Excuse me?" Zelgadis asked, his eyes narrowing.

Lina clasped her hands in front of her and giggled girlishly.
"If you wanted to be alone with Sylphiel...curled up in front of a
warm campfire....all alone, you should've just said something!"

"MR. ZELGADIS!" Amelia cried. "IS THIS TRUE!!??"

"Of course it's not true!" both he and Sylphiel cried at
once, Zelgadis in anger, Sylphiel in shocked embarrassment.

Gourry blinked in puzzlement. "So you and Zelgadis are a
thing?" he asked Sylphiel.

Sylphiel waved her hands in front of her frantically. "No!
No, Gourry dear! Lina's just playing a joke!"

"Awww! I think it's cute!" Lina said in a syrupy sweet,
girly voice.

"It is most certainly not cute!" Amelia and Sylphiel
cried at the same time.

"Awwwww!" Lina squealed.

"Enough!" Zelgadis announced. "If you must know, Sylphiel
has information that might lead to a cure for my curse. That's
all."

"If you say so, Zel," Lina said with a wink. Zelgadis
only sighed.

Lina regarded him for a moment, then stuck out her hand.
Zelgadis blinked at this.

"I'm proud to have you as a friend," she told him seriously.
"Good luck."

"You too," he said, taking her hand and shaking it. "I hope
we live to be old friends."

She nodded.

"Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia wept, embracing him, "Please be
careful!"

"Gourry dear," Sylphiel whispered, taking the blonde
swordsman's hand. "Please take care."

"You too, Sylphiel!" Gourry said with a smile. "I hope you
and Zel have a wonderful life together!"

"But...Gourry dear..."

"I think you two make a wonderful couple..."

"Gourry dear...."

"But if you don't mind my saying," he whispered, "He's a
little gruff for you..."

"GOURRY DEAR!!"

"Yes, Sylphiel?"

She sighed. "Nothing, Gourry dear..."



Zelgadis held his cloak tighter around himself. His
chimera body might be great against things like swords, but
against the cold, it did very little. He looked out at the
valley below him. It wasn't snowing, not yet, but in the next
few weeks, they could expect it. Winter was coming.

They had been walking for two days. Zelgadis had never been
this way before, so he found himself relying more and more on
Sylphiel. Unfortunately, she had confessed to him not long ago
that the terrain ceased being familiar hours ago.

Even so, they had a map and plenty of supplies.

"Mr. Zelgadis! Lunch is ready!" he heard her call from
their campsite.

He turned and walked back to where Sylphiel was waiting.
He couldn't fathom it. It was cold and miserable out, and yet
she hadn't stopped smiling since this journey began. Not that
he was complaining. She was certainly a more pleasant traveling
companion than Lina. He watched her poke at a fish, still in
the pan. She was still smiling.

It wasn't him. He had no illusions about that. Sylphiel
had made her feelings for Gourry nauseatingly obvious...well...to
everyone but *him*, anyway. Not to mention that other one,
teency, tiny detail.

He had a hideous face made of stone...

"Here you go," she said, handing him the frying pan and a
fork. "Careful, it's hot."

Zelgadis took the pan and began to eat. He watched her as
she began to eat her own meal. "So what can we expect farther on?"
he asked her.

"I'm really not sure," she told him. "My father never
really went into the details of the journey to the island, just
the legend surrounding it."

"I see." He took another bite. Silence. "May I ask you
a question?" he asked her.

She looked up at him and nodded.

"Why?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why are you coming with me?"

"I told you. I want to help you."

He shook his head. "There's more to it than that. I can
see it."

She was quiet for several minutes. Then...

"I was lonely."

He blinked. He hadn't expected that kind of answer. His
suspiscious nature had caused him to suspect something else, an
ulterior motive like money or treasure...

A *Lina* motive.

"You don't understand," she told him quietly. "Before
two years ago, I had never been alone. Not once in all my life.
Then...Then Rezo killed Father, and...." She broke off and
looked down at the ground. "For awhile, it was fine. Gourry
dear and you and Lina were there. Then you left. For the first
time in my life, I was totally...fully...and thouroughly....
alone."

Zelgadis waited quietly for her to go on.

"I hated it," she whispered. "I was forced to leave my village
for the first time in my life... and it was so lonely out there."
She paused again. "After the last time we split up...I swore that
if I had the opportunity again, I would join your group and stay
with it. I just couldn't stand it anymore."

"Then why aren't you with Lina, Gourry, and Amelia?" he
asked.

She smiled. "Because, I have to go where I am needed.
With them, I'd be in the way. Here I can help a good man find
something's he's sought after for years. As much as I want to
be with Gourry dear, I realize that he..." she broke off.

Zelgadis said nothing.

"How is the fish?" she asked, breaking the silence.

"It's good," he told her, allowing her to change the subject.
"I wish I had thought to bring some salt."

As if on cue, a hand reached over his shoulder and sprinkled
some salt on his fish.

"Thank you," Zelgadis said without thinking. His eyes widened.
He turned suddenly and growled. "You....*again*?!"

A familiar figure in black robes and holding a staff grinned
at him. "Well! This is certainly a pleasant surprise!"

"Xellos," Zelgadis sighed in resignation. "Can't you go
bother Lina or Gourry....or *anyone* but me!?"

Sylphiel just watched the exchange quizzically.

"Bother?" Xellos asked innocently. "I have no intention
of being a bother. I just happened to be walking along this road
when I was stopped by the most delicious aroma!" He turned to
Sylphiel. "Can I assume that this was your doing, Ms. Sylphiel?"

"Well," Sylphiel began, blushing slightly. "Thank you,
Mr. Xellos. There's plenty if you would..."

"Cut the crap, Xellos!" Zelgadis growled, interrupting
them. "With you there's no such thing as coincidence. What
do you want?"

Xellos leaned forward and whispered conspiritorially. "Very
well...I'll tell you....just this once..."

Zelgadis and Sylphiel strained to listen.

Xellos smiled and spread his arms wide. "I want some of
Ms. Sylphiel's delicious pan fried fish!"

Zelgadis hit the ground. Sylphiel sweatdropped.

The chimera climbed to his feet and squared off with the
Mazoku again. "I really should've seen that one coming..."

"Well, one should!" Xellos chastised him. "Ms. Sylphiel's
cooking is nearly legendary...if one listens to Gourry..."

Sylphiel smiled. "Thank you, Mr. Xellos. Would you
care for..."

"Why are you following us?!" Zelgadis broke in again.

Xellos wagged a finger at him. "It's terribly rude to
interrupt."

Zelgadis placed the blade of his sword at Xellos' throat.
"Sue me," he growled.

Xellos sighed. "If it makes you feel more secure, this
really is just a coincidental encounter."

"I don't believe you."

"Okay, if it makes you feel better, I'm stalking you and
plan to kill you as you sleep. Is that any better?"

Zelgadis growled and lowered his sword. "I give up."

"An excellent move, Mr. Zelgadis!" Xellos commended him.
Xellos sat down next to their fire and rested his staff on his
lap. He took a pan of fish from Sylphiel and smiled gratefully.

"Fine," Zelgadis growled. "Eat your fish and take off.
I want absolutely nothing to do with you."

Xellos chewed and smiled. "Very well. I do have something
*very* important to ask before I go."

"Fine," Zelgadis replied irritably.

"Please! Be serious!" Xellos told him. "This is
important."

"And that is?"

Xellos smiled and held the empty pan out. "Can I have
seconds?"

Zelgadis' sword was in his hands and raised over his head
in a second!

"Mr. Zelgadis!" Sylphiel cried. "There's no harm in
sharing some of our food with him."

"I don't mind sharing food," Zelgadis told her. "It's
his presence I can't stand."

She tried a reassuring smile. "Surely he's not *that*
bad."

Zelgadis frowned and sat back down. "You'll learn."

"Mr. Xellos," Sylphiel began. "By any chance, do you know
about the territory east of us?"

"Oh yes! I take this road often!"

"Do you? Then could you tell us what's down it?" She smiled
and held out a hot pan of fish.

Xellos smiled. "Well, with an offer of such a delightful
meal, how can one refuse? If you continue down this road, you'll
come to the Wall of Wellis."

"A wall?" Zelgadis asked.

Xellos nodded as he chewed. "It was built by priestesses
from Femille to protect this area from monsters that live to the
east. It's millenia old."

"Passable?" the chimera asked.

Xellos nodded. "Of course." He stood up. "Well,
Ms. Sylphiel, thank you for such a lovely meal." He turned to
Zelgadis. "Mr. Zelgadis, a pleasure as always."

"Go away," Zelgadis said deadpan.

"Yes, of course," Xellos said. He started walking down the
road, the same direction they were taking.

Zelgadis sighed.

"Mr. Zelgadis, that was quite rude of you," Sylphiel
chastised him.

"You don't know him the way I do, Sylphiel," he told her.
"He has his own agenda, he always does."



Xellos, it seemed, was telling the truth, and it wasn't more
than three or four hours before they came upon what appeared to
be a long, solid brick wall that stretched out forever in both
directions. It didn't look too high, only twenty feet or so.
Vines and fungus grew over it, discoloring the bricks from their
original red to a sickly greenish brown. The road led right
into it without stopping.

"Odd," Sylphiel commented. "Shouldn't there be a tunnel
or a gate?"

"This wall was built by the priestesses of Femille," Zelgadis
reminded her. "I think they'd use magic." He ran his fingers along
the wall and paused. "Well, we don't have to worry too much.
Levitation!" The chimera began to float up towards the top of the
wall. once he had cleared it, he began to float forward....

Only to stop dead in the air. He tried to will himself over
the wall, but no matter how hard he tried, his Levitation spell
wouldn't move him in that direction. He realized what was
happening and floated down again. Sylphiel was waiting for him.

"The wall's enchanted," he told her. "It's not only
designed to block physical attacks, but magical ones as well."

"Mr. Zelgadis, I..."

"It's just Zelgadis," he told her gruffly.

"I'm sorry?"

"Zelgadis. No 'Mister.'"

"Zelgadis," she began again, "I found something." He followed
her and watched as she moved a browning shrub aside. A small
platform about the size of a tea saucer stood on the end of a stone
column about waist high. "I found another one on the other side
of the road. It looks like a magical lock system."

Zelgadis thought for a moment. "Meaning that two sorcerers
working at these locks could open a door through the wall."

"Exactly. I've seen locks similar to this before."

Zelgadis smiled slightly. "Then let's give it a try." He
walked across the road and found the platform's mate. He placed
his hand on it and began to concentrate, allowing the sum of his
powers to flow through it. Across the road, Sylphiel was doing
likewise. He could see the energy flow from her hand into the
lock, however...

There was no energy flowing from him into his lock.

He concentrated harder, focused on only the lock.

The wall didn't react in the slightest.

He shut his eyes and continued to try. What was wrong with
this damn thing?

His eyes snapped open when he heard Sylphiel moan. He looked
across the road and saw her collapse.

"Sylphiel!" He dashed across the road to her and knelt beside
her. "Are you okay?"

She looked up at him weakly and smiled. "It didn't work."

"No," he said with a shake of his head. "I don't understand
it."

Sylphiel thought for a moment, then closed her eyes and
groaned.

"What?! Are you all right?"

"I just realized why it didn't work," she told him. "It
was made by the priestesses of Femille."

"So?"

"So, you're a man, Zelgadis," she pointed out. "Have you ever
heard of anything the Femille make that works for a man?"

"Actually," Zelgadis said with a blush, "The Femille aren't...
er...*all* women..."

"Well," Sylphiel continued, rising to her feet, "It seems that
whoever created this wall was. It takes two sorcerESSES to open."

Zelgadis growled. "To be stopped....by sex discrimination..."

"We need Ms. Lina," she pointed out. "Or Amelia."

"Damn," he swore. "After coming all this way...We have to
go back."

"It's only a small delay," Sylphiel said, putting some
cheer into her voice for his benefit. "In a few days, we'll be
back."

He refused to be cheered by this. He now had to go
crawling back to Lina and beg for help...

He *knew* she was going to milk it too...

"I wonder what happened to Mr. Xellos?"

"Huh?" he asked.

"Mr. Xellos," Sylphiel repeated. "He was coming this way too,
but...where is he? He couldn't have gotten over the wall."

"Actually," he told her, "If there's anyone who could figure a
way over this wall, it's Xellos."

Dejectedly, the two started back to town.



Sitting on the other side, his back against the wall, his
staff across his lap, Xellos tossed a stone up and down to amuse
himself as he listened to Zelgadis and Sylphiel make their decision
to return to town.

He smiled.

"Well," he said to himself, "This is fortunate. More pieces
always make for a more interesting game."

He settled back and began to wait for them to return.



Zelgadis grit his teeth in frustration as he walked. He
damned his luck again. It was bad enough to be delayed like this,
it was compounded by the grin he *knew* Lina would give him when he
caught up with her and explained the situation. He could just
picture it.

("Wow! That was fast! Only gone a few days before you
realized you needed me! Of *course* I'll help, Zel! No problem!
Waiter! Dinner orders for ten! And charge it to the guy with the
blue hair!")

He growled low in his throat. "We'll keep on for a few more
hours, then make camp," he said. "We can't delay any more than..."
He stopped and turned when he realized that Sylphiel wasn't walking
beside him.

He blinked in surprise when he noticed that she was rather
far back, leaning on a staff as she walked.

"Sylphiel?"

She stopped and looked up at him. "I'm all right, Mis...
Zelgadis," she corrected. "Just a little tired..." She
punctuated this by collapsing.

"Sylphiel!" When he got to her, she was asleep. "Must have
been exhausted by the lock," he muttered. He gently picked her up
and carried her until he found a place for a campsite. He set up
camp and started a fire, letting her sleep next to it.

"Mmmm," she muttered sleepily, "Gourry dear..." She turned
fitfully under her cloak and continued to murmur.

He watched her do this for several minutes as he ate a travel
biscuit. Finally, he laid down on his own bed roll and closed his
eyes. The last words he muttered before sleep took him were,

"Gourry really is an idiot..."



Giln was a port city, but not a very large one. Even so,
it was the only place you could catch a ship to Krenek in this
part of the world.

And the last one had left only three hours before they
had arrived...

"We *missed* them..." Sylphiel muttered as she sat down in
the restauraunt near the docks. "By only a few hours."

Zelgadis growled in irritation. "The next ship for Krenek
leaves in a week, then it's another *two* weeks of traveling, then
who knows how long to search for them once we get there...Dammit!"
He pounded his fist into the table, leaving a rather sizable
impression.

Sylphiel sighed. "What else can we do?"

Zelgadis thought for a moment. "Actually, it's not that
much of a problem. We could always *hire* a sorceress..."

"Zelgadis," Sylphiel began, "First of all, the sorceress
has to be fairly powerful, and secondly, where are we going to
find a sorceress as powerful as Lina Inverse who will work for
what little money we have?"

It was at this moment that a chilling sound entered the
restauraunt from the door...

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOHOHOHOHO!!!!!"

Every head in the bar turned to the door.

"What the hell is that?" Zelgadis asked. Sylphiel saw what
had made the noise and turned slightly, blushing at the rather
skimpy outfit the source was wearing.

"OOOOOHOHOHOHO!!!" The laughing trailed off. "Did someone
mention the name of my greatest rival?" she called out.

The patrons looked to one another.

"Um...I don't think so, Miss," Sylphiel offered helpfully.

The woman, the source of the horrible noise approached
their table and planted the palms of her hands on it, facing them.
Her long, black hair matched the cloak and the skimpy outfit she
wore. Her hawk-like features suggested an aggressive, yet
cunning nature.

And her breasts were frigg'n huge.

"I believe you did, child," the woman told Sylphiel, her
face barely inches from her own. "I happened to be passing by
that window there when I heard someone mention my great, long-time
rival...." She stood up and posed theatrically. "LINA INVERSE!!!"

"Hmmm...She reminds me of someone," Zelgadis remarked.

"Er...Yes..." Sylphiel tried again. "I suppose we did, if
she's your great rival...Um...Do you know Miss Lina?"

"Know her?!" the woman cried in astonishment. "Do you have
any idea who you're speaking to, child?! I am the great Naga the
Serpent! Rival and Eternal Adversary slash Comrade of Lina
Inverse!"

"Funny," Zelgadis remarked, "She's never mentioned you."

Naga face-faulted.

"Not once," Sylphiel threw in. "Well...not to me, anyway..."

Naga hit the ground. She climbed to her feet and planted
her hands on the table again. "I find it hard to believe that
anyone who knows Lina Inverse would not have heard of me! Our
exploits are legendary!"

"Please, Ms. Nagi, calm down..." Sylphiel tried.

"'NAGA!' It's 'Naga!'" Naga cried. She sighed and sat down.
"Not once?" she asked again.

Zelgadis and Sylphiel shook their heads.

Naga began to shake. "I see....I see her plan!" She stood
up and posed again. "SHE INTENDS TO DEFEAT ME BY OMISSION! TO
HAVE MY GREAT NAME FADE FROM MEMORY!! WELL IT WON'T WORK, LINA
INVERSE! MY NAME AND REPUTATION WILL RISE LIKE THE MIGHTY PHOENIX
AND BURY YOU!!! OOOOOHOHOHOHOHO!!!"

As she continued to laugh, Zelgadis scratched his head.
"Damn, now it's actually bothering me...Who does she remind
me of?"

Sylphiel, however, wasn't listening. "May I assume,
Miss Naga, that you are a sorceress?"

Naga stopped laughing and grinned smugly. "You may.
Only Lina Inverse has defeated me..."

"Then you're a *powerful* sorceress," Zelgadis
commented with a grin, catching onto where Sylphiel was
going with this.

"That's right!" Naga said, her arms over her chest. Her
breasts jiggled slightly.

"Then perhaps we could help each other," Sylphiel suggested.
"We're looking for a sorceress who can help us open the Wall of
Wellis. If you could help us, we'd be sure to tell everyone that
it was the great Naga the Snake..."

"Serpent! Naga the Serpent!"

"Right...That it was the great Naga who opened the wall...
and not Miss Lina..."

"And...the payment for my services?" Naga asked smugly.

Sylphiel leaned over to Zelgadis. "How much do we have?"

"Two hundred," he whispered.

"Twenty gold pieces," Sylphiel told her.

"Done! Deal! SUCKER!" Naga cried, quickly shaking
Sylphiel's hand. "OOOOHOHOHOHO!!!"

"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" Zelgadis asked
himself. Sylphiel only smiled.



Naga tossed the potato from one hand to the other until it
got cool enough to eat, then began eating with gusto. Sylphiel
blinked at this and commented.

"Shouldn't we wait for Zelgadis to get back before eating?"

Naga shrugged. "If you want to wait, child, go right ahead,
but I'm hungry." She took another bite of her hot potato.

Sylphiel raised her potato, stuck firmly to the end of a
stick, and took a tentative bite. Not wanting to waste anymore
time, the trio had left Giln right after the deal was made.
Sylphiel was finding their new traveling companion fascinating,
especially the stories she told about her exploits back when Lina
was her sidekick...

"So, what happened after you defeated the dragon?"
Sylphiel asked.

"Well," Naga told her, munching on her potato, "The king and
his daughter came to an agreement about her allowance, and they
paid us. I gave Lina her twenty percent cut, and that was the
end of it."

Sylphiel nodded. She was learning more about Lina than she
had ever known. "I wonder what happened to Zelgadis," she commented.
"He should've been back with the water by now."

Naga smiled. "How long have you two been together?"

"Only for a few days," Sylphiel told her, not seeing the
grin on Naga's face.

"Oh..." Naga said smugly.

"Well, well, well," a scratchy voice oozed from the tree
line. A man in a brown cloak, holding a sword, appeared.
"You ladies traveling alone?" he asked with a grin.

Naga continued to eat, ignoring him.

"Actually," Sylphiel began, "We're waiting for a friend."

"Then perhaps I should wait with you," he said, still grinning.
"Two girls, alone in the woods, might make a rather appealing target
to all sorts of unsavory sorts, eh?"

Sylphiel's heart plunged into her stomach as she realized this
was *not* a nice man.

"Perhaps you ladies should let me hold onto your valuables
for you," he chuckled, raising his sword....

Naga took a bite of potato and said something. "Frzzz Brrrgo."

"Huh?" the bandit asked.

Naga swallowed and pointed at him. "I said, 'Freeeeze...BRID!"

A blue light shot from her finger and hit the bandit. Before
he could scream, he was encased in ice, the look on his face frozen
as a statue of horror.

Naga took another bite while Sylphiel just blinked in shock.
When Zelgadis returned a few minutes later, he eyed the block of
ice quizzically.

"What happened here?" he asked.

Naga shrugged. "Bandit. No big deal."

"Oh." Zelgadis nonchalantly pushed the statue over, then
kicked it down a hill. They heard a splash as it hit the river.



Naga placed her hand on the platform and grinned as energy from
her hand flowed into it. On the other side of the road, Sylphiel
closed her eyes and concentrated on her own platform. Zelgadis
stood in front of the wall and drew his sword, just in case.

With a dull, crunching noise, a section of the wall began to
move to one side, revealing a short, dark tunnel. On the other
end of this tunnel....

"Why hello there!" Xellos said with a friendly smile and a
wave.

Zelgadis stared at him in angry shock. "How...the hell....
did you get there?"

"Who? Me?" Xellos asked. "I took the entrance over
there." He pointed to an area farther down the wall. "The
priestesses of Femille made a doorway over there after the main
monster threat had passed. Didn't you know?"

Zelgadis grit his teeth.

"OOOOHOHOHOHO!" Naga laughed. "Nothing better than a hard
three seconds' work!" She held her hand out to Sylphiel, who
sighed and handed her a bag of gold coins.

"Don't worry yourself, Miss Sylphiel," Xellos told her as
Naga turned to leave. "Once we find the island, you'll get that
money back plus thousands more."

Naga stopped dead in her tracks.

"Thousands?" Sylphiel asked.

"Thousands?" Zelgadis remarked quizzically.

"Thousands!?" Naga breathed. She turned quickly.

"I suppose asking you how you know about where we're going
would be a waste of time," Zelgadis commented bitterly, sheathing
his sword.

"Time is always important, and shouldn't be wasted,"
Xellos agreed with a nod.

"Excuse me," Naga said, stepping up to Xellos, "But what did
you mean by...'thousands?'"

Xellos suddenly adopted an expression of sheepishness
"Actually...." he whispered. "That's a secret."

Naga grabbed him by the front of his robes, but Zelgadis
stopped her. "Don't bother."

As Naga was trying to rough Xellos up, Sylphiel suddenly
realized another part of what he had said. "Mr. Xellos, does
this mean you'll be traveling with us?"

"Why I would love to!" Xellos told her as if accepting a
grand invitation to a royal ball.

Zelgadis sighed. "Here we go again," he muttered.

"Well, are we going to stay here all day, or are we going
to get this quest underway?!" Naga asked, walking towards the
tunnel.

"Miss Naga?" Sylphiel asked.

"Well, you *did* pay me, so I suppose it would be rude to back
out now. OOOOOHOHOHOHOHO!!!"

Sylphiel smiled and turned to Zelgadis. He was grinding his
teeth. She continued to smile at him until his expression softened.

"Okay," he said. He showed a slight smile of his own.
"Let's go."

With that, he walked through the tunnel and into a part of
the world he had never seen before. Sylphiel followed quickly
after him. Naga practically ran, laughing that insane laugh, after
them both.

Xellos smiled and started to follow, but stopped. He turned
quickly and examined the forest around him, searching the trees
for something. The expression on his face was not the friendly
smile he had been showing, but one of irritation, annoyance...

And just a slight twinge of fear.

After a moment, he turned and walked into the tunnel.



Crouched on a branch in an oak tree not far away, a pair of
violet eyes watched Xellos walk through the tunnel. She smiled
and hopped down to the ground. She tossed her head and threw her
light purple hair back behind her.

"Ah, Xellos," she whispered. "My old playmate. This is
going to be fun."

The owner of these words quickly rushed forward and
through the tunnel right before it closed with an ominous clack.


To Be Continued....