Seeking to obtain the legendary cure for the common cold to heal Gourry of his ailing, Lina ventures off on her own and finds herself pitted against a mysterious foe.
Arc 3: A Cure For The Common Cold
"Acho!" Gourry's voice echoed loudly across the inn room where he and Lina were staying. With a loud sniffle, he grinned sheepishly and tried again to communicate what he had been trying to say. However, his mind had gone blank, as if his thoughts had been thrown out along with the germs of the common cold. With nothing more to say, the blond swordsman only muttered unsure. "Um... Excuse me."
Lina blinked and let out a breath. "You're excused and bless you for the millionth time. And by the way, you're not going anywhere. Healing magic doesn't do a thing and I don't know what herbs to feed you." Who ever said idiots couldn't catch colds?
"But it's the common cold," Gourry reasoned with a sudden burst of logic. "It's not supposed to have a cure," he reminded.
"Until now," Lina daringly declared. "I've had it with this cold!" She growled with an unparalleled fury towards the microorganisms that caused the terrible incurable illness. "When you get over it, I get it and by the time I'm over it, you have it all over again."
"This cold's hard to kill," Gourry admitted with a groan. He sat down on the bed and it felt so good to rest that he decided to just sit there for a while. "It's a survivor."
"And we're its victims!" Lina emphasized. "No more!" The fierce redhead sounded dangerously determined. "I'll find a spell to cure you; I'll defeat the common cold!"
Gourry gasped, fearing the worse as Lina let out a stream of insane evil laughter. She looked very much like a crazy alchemist at the moment and that was certainly a cause for worry, especially since this as the Lina Inverse. "You're not gong to do weird experiments on me in your obsess quest to find a cure for the common cold, are you?" The flu afflicted swordsman coughed fearfully at the end of his frightened inquiry. Even if he felt like crawling under the covers and hibernating until his cold was gone, if it came down to Lina giving him an affirmative answer, he was ready to jump out the third story inn room window and run for his life.
"No," Lina replied, much to Gourry's relief. "But I have been doing some research. There's supposed to be some ruins or some such containing ancient findings about the super secret cure to the common cold. I've managed to pinpoint their location and that's where I'm going."
Noting the prominent use of singular pronouns, Gourry questioned, "you? As in not us?"
"Yes, you can't fight like this and I'll just risk getting the cold from you again. Stay here, I'll be back soon," Lina decided.
"But Lina," Gourry whined with a sad puppy dog expression.
The redhead paused at the inn room door. "No buts, stay here. I'll be fine on my own." Frowning unsure, Gourry finally nodded his dizzy head and laid back down on the bed.
xoxox xox xoxox
Time passed and Lina reached the supposed location of the ruins where the legendary cure to the common cold was rumored to be. She frowned at the whole lot of nothing before her. The area was empty of anything that stood out, for all it had was a large plain full of grass with some shrubbery and a few trees. It held nothing out of the ordinary and certainly no obscure legendary ruins. Lina was about to pull out her notes from the cape and try to see if she had misinterpreted the archaic clues that led to the location, but before she did, a peculiar feeling of foreboding overtook her. She took a few nonchalant steps forward, hand linked behind her back, then she suddenly turned around with such a fierce glare that it threatened to make even the astral being before her spontaneously combust. "Xellos!" Lina accused as if the act of being Xellos was a crime which, unconsciously, reminded her of when Wizer was trying to arrest her for being Lina Inverse.
"Hello, Lina," Xellos smiled as he always did, lifting one hand in salutation and keeping the other holding his staff. His face was as unreadable as ever, but it filled Lina with both hope and dread.
She hoped that this was indeed the site of the legendary cure to the common cold, because she doubted that if there really was nothing special about the place Xellos would just be there. She dreaded that his reason for being there was something else entirely, something troublesome that she would inevitably get dragged into, because she was Lina Inverse and it wasn't a crime, it was a blessing and a curse. "Let's just get down to business, what do you want?"
"Is that how you greet a friend?" Xellos frowned, feigning hurt.
"Enough with the false pleasantries!" Lina snapped with growing impatience. "What do you want?" She emphasized each word.
"It's not about what I want, dear Lina." Xellos shook his right index finger back and forth, his smile ever present. It was annoying.
"Right," Lina let out a half-groan, half-sigh. "What does Beast Master want?"
"To help you," Xellos' grin grew just a little.
"Right..." This time the sound that came out of Lina was very obviously an exasperated groan. "I'll play along, since you're going to word things however you want anyway. Details?"
"As you might already know, recently some archeological discoveries, that were publicized in various branches of the magic guild, reveal ancient clues to the location of a temple which contains the cure to the common cold. Given that you are here, I can only infer that you've concluded that this is the location of the ruins that contain said cure," Xellos explained.
"Oh no!" Lina fiercely interrupted. "I'm not going to let you destroy it!"
"Calm down, Lina," Xellos urged, noting that the red head looked just about ready to unleash a powerful spell upon him. "I'm not here to destroy it; I'm here to help you obtain it. If you would direct your gaze over there." He pointed to an area not too far away where the soil was disturbed and held only brown dirt without grass. "You'll notice that someone already dug their way in, though the soil seems to have mostly settled back into place. I'm here to teleport you into the underground ruins faster and more quietly than any of your spells could allow you to dig your way there."
"Well, that does sound useful," Lina eyed Xellos suspiciously. "But how is any of this useful to Beast Master? And don't say it's a secret!"
"It's not, actually," Xellos revealed. "Well, the finer details are a secret, but you'll figure them out soon enough. To put it simply, what I can share with you is this: Beast Master doesn't want your competition to obtain the cure. She would prefer it if you obtain it. It's a matter of monster principals, you see, a required common discourtesy. Once you have it, you may use the cure on Gourry," count on Xellos to know what went on in everyone's lives. "Sell it for profit or destroy it."
"I intend to replicate it, give it to Gourry and sell the rest, in case you're curious," Lina revealed, though her intentions were pretty easy to guess for anyone who knew her.
"That is fine," Xellos showed less signs of deception than usual, which had Lina rising and eyebrow and staring him down. The purple haired monster didn't flinch. "Shall we go?"
"Fine," Lina finally agreed. When it came down to Xellos, sometimes, most of the time, it was best to just play along.
xoxox xox xoxox
As expected, the underground ruins were dark, which Lina quickly solved with a Light spell, carrying the orb floating in her hand to reveal the path before her eyes. Xellos left her there and gave his goodbye, assuring that he would return if she called for him, not that she intended to do so. Thus left to her own devices, Lina explored the ruins. There were a few small traps here and there, but it was nothing big. The ruins had been buried for a long time and most of the traps had been worn and disabled by the passing of the years.
Finally, Lina arrived at a chamber where a strange contraption was. She approached it and examined it with curiosity. The thing was shaped like a half hour glass with many jewel-like crystals inside, which Lina greedily wondered if they were real gems. The bottom part of the gigantic hourglass was missing, the cone shaped glass top being supported by four pillars that held the encasement in a circle attached to them. The thin part of the glass allowed droplets of some shiny pale blue-green substance to drip out of it as if being extracted from the jewels. Yet Lina could somehow tell that the jewel alone weren't enough for the special process and that some kind of rare concoction was needed to refine them and make them drip out, ever so slowly, the shiny liquid that formed the elixir.
The tiny droplets fell into a glass bottle of rather small size below the large glass structure. Before touching the device, Lina examined the hieroglyphics on the walls. She pulled out a booklet from her cape and began translated what was not too worn and damaged to be read. Through the bits and pieces she could figure out, apparently this was indeed the cure to the common cold. While she was yet searching for the, likely terribly time consuming, recipe of how to mass produce it and become filthy rich, she heard footsteps approaching and realized that her rival had arrived. Immediately, Lina dispelled the orb of light she held and, before even seeing her opponent's face, she went on the attack to defend her prize. "Fireball!"
Once the burning projectile was launched, Lina made a run for the bottle with intentions of securing it in her possession. Yet the flames were countered by the mysterious foe with a defiant cry of "Freeze Arrow!" Another repeat of the same ice based spell towards the area near the dimly shining bottle stopped Lina in her tracks, though the spell didn't reach its target.
No other spells followed, confirming Lina's suspiciousness that, much in the same situation as her, the enemy did not clearly see her, but only caught an indeterminable glimpse from the light of the fire from her previous attack and guessed that she would dash towards the prize. From the action she could infer that the person was quick and had a decent level of skill, from the voice, she concluded that it was a man, certainly more able than the average bandit. Not that it meant anything for the Lina inverse. Her next attack came in a less obvious fashion, lacking the light of the fire that had announced her previous one. "Diem wind!" She purposefully extended the spell side ways making it less concentrated and therefore less intense. Yet it was just enough for what she needed.
A relatively soft noise rung out in the quiet of the underground ruins as the unknown man firmly planted his feet on the ground and refused to be knocked out by the current of wind. A glance at the dim bottle that shone just bright enough to be easy to locate, but not enough to shed any light on the battle, told him that the mysterious sorceress that he face had not gone for the price again. Unfortunately, he couldn't pin point her location in the darkness that they were both too stubborn to breach, as her voice echoed off the empty walls and the current of wind came from every direction.
Lina's case was more favorable. The grasp for balance by the change of her opponent's stance made a sound similar to that of shifting armor. It was soft, perceptible with relative ease only because of the quietude of the ruins they were in and too soft to make a significant echo. She knew where he was and she knew he was armed. He wasn't just a sorcerer, she inferred; if he bothered wearing armor and was strong enough to make its use practical, he must have experience in close combat, which meant that she had to keep him at a distance. She knew that the odds would be severely against her if this turned into a physical fight, but despite her petite form, surely her magical skills surpassed his, of that she was confident, she was the Lina Inverse after all. Yet she only had a small dagger to defend herself with if the foe came too close and if he carried armor, surely he would carry a sort of weapon as well, a sword, a spear, an axe, something that her dagger could hardly parry. "Freeze arrow!"
The light that came was the burst of magic, which was much dimmer as it was not accompanied by light originating from the magic's element itself. At that moment, the man's instinct took over and he fall back into his combat training, automatically using his halberd to block off the attack. The weapon became heavier with a block of ice attached to its end as the spell took effect on it, but the added weight was not a real burden to the strong warrior. Now his opponent was on the move and the sound of her steps revealed her location. She was, logically as expected, heading towards the dim light of the bottle again, trying to steal the treasure he was trying to obtain and getting ever closer. He dashed towards her, chanting something under his breath. "You who crosses between sky and earth..."
Lina wasn't sure what the man was planning to do, but she knew he was on the move and rapidly catching up to her with heavy steps. He was tall, she inferred, and with every piece of information that was added to what she knew about him the mental image became more complete, closet, yet not quite close enough, to a revelation of his identity.
"Gently flowing water..."
He was tall, strong enough to wear armor and wield a weapon of close combat and had some magical skill, though apparently melee battles were more so his forte than distant magical attacks.
"Gather in my hand and give me power..."
A deep strangely familiar voice, a preference for ice based magic thus far. He was chanting something, yet the words were spoken in such a low volume mixed with his steady strong breaths that Lina couldn't tell what he was saying.
Then the chant was over and the sorceress was forced to think on her feet as he called out a triumphant exclamation of "demona Crystal!" With the fierce certainty that the mysterious bandit girl would be encased in ice, buying him the time he needed to claim his prize and sort things out concerning her later, maybe even hand her over to the authorities.
"Raywing!" The reaction was so sudden, so instinctual and so harsh, that in an effort to dodge the freezing mist that came out of the ground, threatening to encase her in ice on contact, Lina flew too high and bumped her head on the buried ruins' ceiling. A rock was loosened on the collision and she hastily murmured "Levitation..." and floated a little lower and to the side. The stone that was loosened by Lina's thick skull fell from the cave ceiling and impacted the hour glass shaped structure. Resulting to be quite fragile by a combination of age and material, the structure shattered, sending the crystals it contained to rain down upon the bottle that held the time costly to make precious elixir below.
The loud crash made the man gasp as the glow of the small bottle was lost. He let go of whatever stubborn pride prevented him from lighting up the room if the bandit girl also refused to do so, no longer willing to give her the opportunity to choose the conditions of the battle field to suit whatever advantages she preferred. His eyes were fixed on the ruined contraption in horror, the bottle containing the cure to the common cold had been, without a doubt, crushed, its precious healing liquid lost.
Through the pounding in her head, Lina could not make herself look at the man. As the tragic mess was lit up, she could look at it alone for several seconds. Then she felt the man's eyes on her and he made a sound that denoted surprise. She didn't know what it meant, but sensed recognition in it. Perhaps he was realizing that the one who had managed to anger was the Lina Inverse, the famed bandit killer. Well it was too late for him, because now Lina was pissed off. Without even bothering to look at the man, she began a hasty chant, still floating in mid air by the power of Levitation. "Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power grows. I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands. "
"Lina, no!" The man cautioned urgently. The treasure was destroyed and if the temperamental sorceress didn't stop, she would destroy the clues about how to prepare it that were hidden in the hieroglyphics on the walls.
The redhead paid no mind to the plea that scarcely reached her ears beyond the concentration of her own rapid chant. "Let the fool who stands before me be destroyed by the power you and I possess!" Her eyes had been closed in a deep concentration to summon power to her hands while rushing the chant as much as possible. When she finally opened them, the power was ready to burst as the words automatically came to her despite the recognition in her eyes. "Dragon Slave!" A devastating explosion followed...
xoxox xox xoxox
"Recovery!" Kardis opened his eyes to stare into the face of an angry Lina Inverse. "What do you think you were doing?" She demanded, stomping her feet and resting her hands on her hips in a scolding pose. Kardis sat up and looked around the area. They were in a deep crater, deeper than the usual result of the Dragon Slave, as it took place underground. Vexed by his silence, Lina continued. "If that Dragon Slave wasn't rushed, if I hadn't managed to avert my aim at the last second." She waved her arms for emphasis, fuming, and poked him on the chest with her right index finger. "You'd be dead!"
"This was just a rushed spell, eh? Your power has grown," Kardis got to his feet, ignoring the soreness that clung to his every muscle after the ordeal. "But I should remind, you were the one who destroyed the elixir and the hieroglyphics that could possibly tell us how to make more."
"It was all your fault!" Lina screeched at the man who, at full height, towered over her. She tilted her head back to glare at him fiercely. "Why were you there anyway? I thought you were at Zephilia."
"I was, but Luna caught a dreadful cold and I came to hunt down the cure for her. Although it looks like she'll have to tough it out like any other person now," Kardis explained.
Lina paled, as the terrified syllables left her lips. "Lu... Lu... Luna..." She cringed, imagining her sister's disapproval, sick or not, she was still fierce. "I'm... uh... surprised that the knight of Ceifeed can catch a cold..." Lina muttered nervously.
"No one is safe from the horrors of the common cold..." Kardis ascertained bitterly, as if remembering something tragic. The tone made Lina tilt her head in curiosity, which prompted him to elaborate. "I was the one who caught the cold first. Luna kindly tended to me in my hour of need, but after I was feeling better, it was only to regretfully discover that she was sick. Rumors about an alleged legendary cure to the common cold had recently reached Zephilia and I assured Luna that I would find the cure for her."
"And you destroyed it," Lina huffed. "Way to go, knight of the knight of Ceifeed."
"You were the one who destroyed it, little sister," Kardis reminded.
Lina disregarded the information with a slight shudder. "Details, details, Luna doesn't need to know. Just tell her the rumors were only rumors and give her a get well goodie bag."
"Why don't we both go do that," Kardis challenged.
Lina took an involuntary step back. "I would go, but I'm very busy right now. Gotta go hunt down a certain purple haired trickster and hit him on the head." Without further arguments, Lina Raywinged it out of there.
End of Story 3
A request from Ryujin65, same as Story 1 was. This arc takes place after Arc 1, though it can also be placed after Chaos.
That's it for now, I'll have some more one-shot to post in various categories eventually, but for now I'm taking a much needed break from writing in general and focusing on pixel making for a while. Expect lots of updates on all the art archives where I post (which are listed on my profile.) Also, keep an eye on my site and add me on Twitter MiliAzure and Gameloft by the same name (or any of the other sites listed on my site, though I have different usernames on most, you'll find them all listed at my main site.) It's always nice to add new people, so do add me. :)