Author's notes: Here is an idea I thought up some time ago and decided recently to start on. This story has not been pre-read. Anyone interested in pre-reading should send an email to brindani2000 (at symbol) yahoo (dot) com.

Disclamer: Don't own it, never have, never will.

Nightmare's Avatar

By: brindani

Chapter 1: A bargain struck

"It doesn't matter. If the choice comes between the world and Gourry, I choose Gourry." Lina thought to herself as she cupped her hands together.

"Well it looks like you are finally ready," Hellmaster said as he turned from cracking Gourry's crystalline coffin to find the beginnings of the incantation that he had waited for so long.

"Darkness beyond blackest pitch, deeper than the deepest night!
King of Darkness, shining like gold upon the Sea of Chaos, I call upon thee!
Swear myself to thee!
Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed... by the power you and I possess!

Lina focused all of her will upon the ball of pure chaotic energy, furiously struggling to keep it under control. Her concentration faltered only a moment, but it was all it took, Lina shrieked in agony as the spell expanded dramatically, barely contained.

"This is the moment. Let the souls of the dead pierce your mortal body." Cried Hellmaster, his hands spread towards Lena, laughing maniacally.

Starting from the base, light rose from the mammoth crystal shooting towards Lina's vulnerable form. Lina's desperate control wavered as the hot pierce light tore threw her, robbing her of consciousness.

With a shudder, the giga-slave slammed down, engulfing her body whole, her world faded away.

Lina knew only the foggy haze that clouded her mind. It would be so easy to let it enfold her; to go into the darkness and never have to worry again.

"Lina…" A voice? Why couldn't it leave her alone? It was preventing her from reaching the welcoming embrace of darkness.

"Lina…" There it was again. Shuddering with weariness, Lina slowly, as if lifting a great weight, cracked her eyes open.

One momentous task complete, she blearily blinked as she found herself floating in a bleak dimension. Craning her neck around, Lina found that there was no ground, no sky, no nothing. She wasn't even certain whether she was falling or floating.

"Lina." Lina turned and miraculously shot up to her feet. Where there was nothing was now… herself? Not a mirror or reflection, but an exact duplicate, glowing with an ethereal golden halo.

"Who are you?" Lina asked tentatively for once in her life, awed by the overwhelming power washing over her emanating from who or whatever stood before her.

The other Lina only smiled. "No, I am not you."

"Then who?" Lina blinked before remembering. "Wait, what happened to Gourry? Where is Hellmaster?" Lina asked looking around, half expecting them to appear in this strange place.

"You don't remember?" Asked her opposite while she slowly walking on thin air, circling Lina.

"I was fighting Hellmaster and then…"

"Yes?" The power that inundated this place felt familiar, something she had used before… no it couldn't be.

"Are you… the Lord of Nightmares?" Lina asked, afraid of the answer.

The being stopped several feet in front of Lina letting a small smile appear on her lips. "That is one of my many titles. I am also known as The Beginning, Gea, Earth Mother, and The Goddess of Creation. In reality I am both creation and destruction. But I doubt you're interested in titles currently."

For a moment Lina looked at the other blankly before her eyes widened in realization. "What happened?"

The glowing Lina finally smiled fully. "Yes, that is the question isn't it? Do not worry. Gourry and the others are safe for now."

"For now?" Lina asked, raising her voice, unconcerned that she stood before the strongest being known to existence.

Not even raising an eyebrow, the Lord of Nightmares continued. "Yes, we are currently in your mind. Time does not exist normally here so none of it has passed since the giga-slave engulfed you."

"Ok, so what happens now?" Lina asked, knowing full well that this meeting was not coincidental and its outcome could either save Gourry and the others or send them to their graves. It all depended on meeting the demands of the entity before her.

"I have a deal for you," The Lord said lightly, taking a seat in a plain wooden chair where one hadn't existed before.

"What kind of deal?"

"The question you should ask yourself is what would I want? You do know the answer to that, don't you Lina?" She asked cracking open an eye to watch Lina carefully.

"…To regain your body, but with that you would have the power to turn everything back to nothingness. Not just this world, but the whole universe."

"I think you misunderstand, your planet sees me as some omnipotent being of death and destruction. In actuality I embody both sides of the coin. So why would I want to destroy my own creation?"

Lina gawked at the woman before her. "That would mean…"

"Yes, I created this universe. I create and I destroy. It is just the nature of life. For the most part, I am content to simply watch." Lina continued to watch her golden twin, her mind in overdrive leading her to a realization.

"That's all you can do, isn't it? You don't need your body to increase your power; you need it as a conduct, something to channel your power. That means… that if you were to have your body back, you could do whatever you wanted with your power."

"Excellent, you are more intelligent then I had hoped." The other Lina said, with a bright smile, standing back up the chair which disappeared to wherever it had come from. "The deal that I want is not so grandiose as my body for your friends' lives. They will be saved regardless. The difficulty is that if you do not accept, your body will not be able to handle the strain of my help and you will be lost in my essence for all eternity.

What I purpose is to make you my avatar or champion if you will. To regain the body lost to me long ago." The lord raised her hand to stop Lina's outburst. "There would, of course, be restrictions that I would uphold. I would not touch your plain or anyone living in it unless through your willing hand."

The great lord went silent giving Lina a chance to think. Taking the opportunity, Lina firmed her resolve. There were countless other worlds that could fall under the Lord of Nightmare's sway if she didn't stop this now. "I would never serve a demon, no matter how powerful."

"That is where you are wrong, Lina. You are heading down that path right now. You have already sworn yourself to the dark lord Shabringdo many times."

"I have never…"

"I pledge myself to darkness … Those who oppose us shall be destroyed by the power you and I possess. Sound familiar? Every time you cast a dragon slave you have given another part of your soul to him. If it were not for a similar oath to me you would serve him already."

"No, that's impossible."

"Isn't it? Haven't you noticed becoming more violent even for you?" An image flickered into existence behind the dark lord, revealing Lina's first meeting with Gourry.

"I thought I was saving a babe, a gorgeous damsel in distress, not some flat-chest little girl." Gourry said obviously distraught, turning away from Lina

'So what if I'm kinda short for my age…' Lina went on a little distraught with how this meeting was going.

"So what? That doesn't mean anything."

"Doesn't it?" The golden hughed Lina replied, making an off hand gesture behind her revealing another screen of the dragon slave she cast directly after meeting Gourry. "That was your third time doing the dragon slave, am I correct?"

"Well yes…" The screen blurred momentarily fixing onto a screen with a bandit.

"…built like a bean poll… then that's her, Lina the bandit killer!" A large gruff man screamed in obvious fright.

"You mean that stringy little thing?" A slip of a boy accompanied before all of the bandits ran away, fleeing for their lives.

"Ya jerks! Do you think I'm gonna let you go that easy after what you said about me! One bandit killer coming up," Lina said putting together her hands forming a crimson sphere.

"Darkness from twilight, crimson from blood that flows...
Buried in the flow of time... in thy great name, I pledge myself to darkness!
Those who oppose us shall be destroyed by the power you and I possess!

Victory!" Lina finished by posing; her arm outstretched with the victory sign prominent.

"So what? He called me a bean poll. He deserved it."

"He may have, but you'll notice that you resorted to the dragon slave with hesitation the first time and only with something as serious as an actual dragon? The next there was no hesitation and against mere humans. His aura has already begun to saturate your soul. It will eventually turn you into his willing slave."

Lina blanched remembering how her behavior had become more violent. She even remembered recently kicking Gourry where the sun don't shine, knowing full well how painful that was for him.

The golden embodied demon let Lina ponder for a moment before continuing. "This deal wouldn't be without other advantages. Tell me, what have you always wanted Lina?"

"Wanted? To become the most powerful and beautiful sorceress of all time of course."

"Now, can you imagine someone more powerful then my avatar?" She gave Lina several moments to think that over. "In addition, as you gather the pieces of my body; you will also become more powerful and better looking."

Lina pouted as she thought of the implications of what was offered her. 'I save Gourry, I become powerful, I become beautiful, I avoid becoming Shabrinigdo's laky, she will never harm my world, it's a very tempting offer. However, if she does get her body other plains of existence could be in trouble.'

Lina stood, gazing distantly thinking about the option lain before her. 'My choice is simple, become the Lord of Nightmare's avatar or become lost within its essence. Both ways led to saving Gourry and the others but… I want to live!' Lina opened her eyes, focusing on the Lord of Nightmares who simply stood awaiting her decision with a calm demeanor.

"Exactly how could I help you get your body back?" Lina asked, resolution with a touch of curiosity coloring her tone.

The lord of Nightmares smiled at her briefly. "That involves a little history. Centuries ago I made this universe and all of the planets therein. It was devoid of life; merely colorful rocks floating in space. I decided that my creation was incomplete so I created life. In a single instant, all of my precious worlds were thriving with life both human and animal. But I made a mistake, by creating life on such a grand scale so quickly, my body polarized and shattered against itself. Each piece lived on to become a god or monster to start an epic war of endless battle against the other."

"I see, so the gods and monsters are actually your body, but you're so powerful, why couldn't you gather the pieces without my help?"

"True, my mind is a formidable power, but as you have already mentioned, it is unable to focus in the material world without a focal point. Even then it is unable to gather the parts together. This is where you come in. I will give you a tool to gather the parts and the energy you gather will become a part of you, making the most powerful being to exist."

"What's the catch?" Lina knew there was always some kind of complication when dealing with all powerful beings.

"Your magic is currently tainted with Shabrinigdo's energy. For this to work, it will have to be cleansed, temporarily sealing your power away." Lina flinched at the stipulation, but the other continued before she could complain. "As you gather my various parts, your link to me will strengthen and you will be able to use my power directly without calling upon the giga-slave. In essence, your magic will return far stronger then it ever was."

"Still, locking away my power even temporarily will really slow me down."

"I know, but I've waited untold milla, patients has become a way of life."

Lina thought deeply to herself. 'I will live, it sounds like she may only want to create, but if not I will make sure that she does not wantonly destroy; I swear this to myself,' finishing her thought, Lina slowly nodding her head. "Okay, I'll become your avatar."

"Wonderful," the word was hardly out of her mouth before she winked out of existence."

"What?" Lina gasped as a spell circle flashed into reality surrounding her, stretching as far as she could see in all directions; looking closer, she found intricate diagrams inscribed within the circle linked together through a mesh of interconnecting links to frame the whole. Most were unrecognizable, but several main sections were symbols she recognized as elder gods and monsters from her plain and some legendary ones from other plains.

Starting in the horizon, blue lights flashed along the edge, quickly permeating the full circle, engulfing her whole. That was when things became odd. The whole circle began to rotate into a sphere. She was amazed to see the wondrous sight. The blue transformed into green and then red and white, multiple colors bled into her forming a veritable rainbow cascading through her.

Lina clutched her stomach as she felt a twist deep within; that part called magic ripped away from her. Tears started to pour out of her eyes, she was frightened; without that reassuring feeling, Lina felt alone and powerless.

Lina's mouth flew open as something else; something unimaginably larger took its place. It was as if the presence of the Lord of Nightmares had filled her to the brim with incredible power; making the dragon slave feel like a small candle in the vast oceans of the sun. The energy coursing through her veins was ecstasy in its purist form.

Blinking through all of the emotions surging in her, Lina realized something was pulsing before her. It radiated power. It called to her as a slow outline formed, refining into a sword that seemed the very definition of black. Instinctually, Lina extended her hand, taking the sword by the intricately engraved handle. This was destined to be hers; the 'Soul's Bain'.

Drained of energy, the spell globe faded away disappearing moments later.

"Now why don't we go and save your friends, hmmm?" asked a voice echoing around her.

The black dimension vanished as Lina became aware of her body in the real world. She was surrounded by the giga-slave giving the effect of still residing in that black void she just left. Her first instinct was to be frightened by the awesome power, but instead Lina felt invigorated by the touch of her patron deity.

Lina reached out an arm and with a twist of her mind easily focused the giga-slave into the palm of her hand, becoming a brilliant flashing crimson globe.

With the giga-slave out of the way, she was once more privy to the world. She was relieved to find that all of her friends still floated in their capsules, alive and well. She would make sure that they stayed that way.

Hellmaster's insane laughter sputtered to a stop as Lina reappeared. The monster simply gawked at her as she looked around with fresh eyes now colored a brilliant gold, her hair a pure white.

"But how? It's not possible. You should have been destroyed."

His voice drew Lina's attention, causing him to flinch from the frightening smile that crossed her lips. "I guess things didn't go as expected, did they?" With a simple nudge of her mind, a globe of power flared in front of Hellmaster, smashing him like a rag-doll against his own crystal.

Shaking to his core, Hellmaster's form became transparent as he tried to escape within the prism to flee this unexpected complication.

"Not this time." Lina whispered to herself as she grasped him through the power, dragging him kicking and screaming out of his protective crystal. He dangled twenty feet in the air, stammering ravingly.

"This isn't possible. She controls the power. How can this be happening!"

"For you, it will not matter shortly." Lina answered as she slammed her hands together. With a thunderous clap of wild energy that echoed through the cavern, Hellmaster disappeared into small flecks of dust. 'Damn the piece got away,' Lina realized to herself as she saw a black shadow fleeing through the top of the dome to be reborn as a new monster. 'Still there are other things to worry about right now.' Turning her will to the crystal, it became hazy, slowly fading away, the artificial Sairaag following shortly afterwards.

With her work done, Lina instinctually released the power falling to her knees as her energy went with it. Before blacking out, she noticed Gourry's crystal fade away, leaving him unharmed and moving. 'It worked.' Lina thought happily, allowing herself to fall into the welcoming arms of sleep.

Author's end notes: This is more of a side story that I will work on as inspiration hits me. Of course if enough people show interest it will become a priority. The incantation for the giga-slave and dragon-slave where found here http(colleen)(forward slash)(forward slash)surbrook(dot)devermore(dot)net(forward slash)herosource(forward slash)herospells(dot)html.

Thanks for reading,