Chaos ensued after that statement and it took the combined efforts of Lina, Zelgadis, and Lina's money pouch to sooth things. With the Restaurant owner safely paid off into silence, Lina and Zelgadis hauled Black Fox back to their inn.

For the most part, Black Fox was very tolerant of the treatment he received. In fact it wasn't until Lina informed Zelgadis that they would have to share a room that he even reacted. (all the other inn rooms were full up, coincedence, ne?)

"You are not sleeping in the same room with her." Black Fox informed Zel from his precarious position thrown over Zelgadis's shoulder. "I will kill you first."

Zelgadis ignored him. Instead he turned to face Lina, who was fumbling with the locked door to the inn room. "How do you know this person?" he asked in a dangerously calm voice.

"Gourry and I were hired to reecover an artifact from him once...." she started.

"The Crystal Goddess." Black fox supplied helpfully. "One night when she and the blonde were chasing me, I happened to get a good look at her beauty in the pure moonlight." he sighed. "It was love at first sight!"

Lina made an unflattering noise in the back of her throat. "He fooled me by throwing a fake crystal Goddess at a wall and I flew to catch it... landed in a pile of garbage." she shot an angry look at Back fox who just batted his eyes back at her.

"Yes... you were covered in it, weren't you?" he mused and sighed romantically. "but then, you said it yourself, you're attractive no matter what you wear are you not?" his eyes (disturbing to see in a woman's face) carressed her leisurely. "Espcecially in that fetching new out fit of yours, have I complimented you on it yet?"

Lina got the door open and while entering Zelgadis unintentionally banged Black Fox's head on the door frame (an accident, I'm sure).

Lina sighed and rolled her eyes. "Let him down, Zel. There's not much more damage he can do."

Zelgadis snorted, obviously of another opinion, but set Black Fox down and dispelled the bonds at his wrists and ankles nonetheless. Black Fox immediatly sat up and turned into a tall man (about Gourry's height) in a green body suit with a long black ponytail that reached his ankles. He had an odd sort of mask over his eyes that didn't really disguise anything but made for an interesting accent to his face.

Lina made a strangled noise. "You had better not be Xellos playing another sick prank!" she threatened but relaxed at the soft bamph of displaced air behind her.

"Dost thou speaketh my name in vain?" the Mazoku in question asked.

"Speak of the devil..." Zelgadis groused but trailed off as he witnessed the uneasy expression that spread across Xellos's face as he laid eyes on Black Fox and the ferocious one that flashed across the Master Thief's upon seeing the Mazoku.

"Hello, Xenos..." Xellos said slowly. "I didn't know you were in town."

"Of course you wouldn't." Black Fox,or apparently Xenos, replied in a tight voice. "You never did have much time or attention to spare, Dad."

Lina and Zelgadis exchanged helpless glances.

"You know that being a General/Priest for the last Dark Lord isn't exactly a job with a lot of free hours..." Xellos said in what his two companions fervently assured themselves wasn't a sulky tone. "and this really isn't the time or place to air out old laundry. Ne, Lina-chan... where exactly did you meet up with -him-?"

Lina opened her mouth to answer but Xenos interuppted her. "I'll thank you to stop being so familiar with my fiance!"

The shade of red Lina turned was nothing compared to the one Zelgadis managed. He grabbed Xenos by the collar and hauled him eye to eye. "Since when was she your fiance?" he growled.

"Do you really think she'd say no?" Xenos purred, not resisting the furious chimera one iota.

"I think if you asked her she'd tell you to take a long walk in a plasma dragon's stomach." Zelgadis said through gritted teeth. His grip on Xenos's collar tightened. "In fact, the moment she says so, I'd be happy to assist you on your way there!"

Xenos glanced over Zelgadis's shoulder. "Is that so, Lina my darling?"

"Go take a long walk in a plasma dragon's stomach." Lina said coldly, with her arms crossed over her chest. "Sic'im Zel."

Zelgadis smiled down at Xenos and it was the sort of smile that inspired nightmares. "With pleasure!"

"Ah, perhaps Xenos and I need to be elsewhere." Xellos mused outloud. "In fact, I think it would be most healthy for both of us to be as far away as possible."

The Gereal Priest snapped his fingers (quite a feat considering he was wearing gloves) and Xenos disappeared out of Zelgadis's grip. "TTFN, ta-ta for now!" he said cheerily to Lina before vanishing himself.

"Good riddance." Zelgadis said with feeling.

Lina shook her head and sat down on the bed, Zelgadis followed suit and took his place in the chair before the small vanity the inn room sported.

"This has been one hell of a day." She said after a while and Zelgadis nodded.

"It has." he agreed. "Of all the people to come across; Xellos's son."

"I'm surpsied he got here so fast." Lina mused. "Actually, I'm surpsied Aiden sent him a message at all."

Zelgadis's brows drew down. "Pardon?"

Lina flsuhed. "Oh, um... Aiden is the Thieves Guild member I talked to to get your sword back. I told him that if he couldn't get it back then he was going to contact Black Fox in Dimston for me. As you can see, we have Astral Vine back so there wasn't really a need."

"Lina." Zelgadis said darkly. "There's no way he could have gotten a message through to Dimston and then travelled all the way here in one afternoon."

Lina chuckled. "That's what you think. It is -entirely- possible for the Thieves Guild. I've heard they have a contact crystal matrix set up that encompasses the entire continent."

"A -what-?" Zelgadis asked.

"A crystal matrix is a communications network. Small crystals are ensorcelled to pick up or emit signals that are relayed by other larger crystals. If we had one of those small crystals with us here right now, we could conceivably hear everything going on in the entire Theives Guild." Lina explained. "A typical Thieves Guildhouse has at least one person monitoring the reciever/transmittor crystal at all times so that they are up to date on what's going on with the rest of the guild." she looked wicked. "Of course, no one but a member of the Thieves Guild should know about the Crystal Matrix so don't go blabbing around that I know. It's supposedly this great kept secret."

(Think of a Crystal matrix like a trucker's short wave radio)

"Then how do you know about it?" Zelgadis asked Lina skeptically and was rewarded by one of her mischievous giggles.

"Oh, I knew an old Guild Master once long ago. He decided that someone who got into as much trouble as I do should have as much esoteric knowledge as possible." she shrugged. "But you're right, though. Aiden had no reason to contact Black Fox." she looked thoughtful. "Hmmm. Perhaps next time I see him, we should have something of a talk."

"Not alone, you aren't." Zelgadis muttered and Lina laughed at him.

"I should have been able to guess that Black Fox was related to Xellos just by the way you took to him." she chuckled. "you have a sixth sense concerning Xellos."

"Bite your tongue." Zelgadis snapped. "I am connected in no way to that... that... Fruitcake!"

This of course only made Lina laugh harder.


Notebook Entry # 1

Date : The Third day of the Seventh week, Blue month, Year of the Sphinx

Moon phase : Waning, past-full

I am Zelgadis Greywords, supposed Shaman 1st rank and now informal apprentice to Lina Inverse.

Under my 'Master's' instruction, I have begun to make regular recordings in this book that is supposed to act as a combined referance-book, journal, and progress chart. Lina (my 'Master') is keeping one of her own that she records her impressions of me and my progress in.

I must admit, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do in this 'personal journal' section, I have already recorded the lesson Lina has imparted unto me thus far. (see Invokation Charts #1-5, sec. 3 pg 1 and 5 Elemental Summ. Outline, sec. 2 pg. 1-2) I know that Lina puts great store by her own, although it is death to read it. Truly, I have no wish to leave -any- record of myself as I am now. I suffered a grievous injury at the hands of my grandfather that has disfigured me so badly that my face strikes disgust into all who look at me... well, most everyone. Lina says that look, quote, 'cool', but then Lina is not most people. Far from it, to be precise.

I search for a cure for my disfigurment; to become a normal human being again. That is my mission in life and thus why I have subjected myself to the humiliation of re-learning the craft that I had supposedly 'mastered' years ago. The man who made me into the hideous creature I am today also taught me my magic... or at least what magic I know. It seems Grandfather has done me one last ill-turn-- from beyond the grave, even.

Lina is an... interesting person to learn from. Heretofore I have known her as only a sometimes travel companion and battle mate, of course just that has been enough to win her my eternal respect... if not more. Now I find mself face to face with the teacher in her, whose existance I had suspected before now, but the reality is far more that I had ever expected. Lina has always been prone to launching into a lecture at the drop of a pin (or going into her 'Professor Dramatta' mode as the others and myself fondly call her at those times)

I had never realized before, though, how much she enjoys teaching or how very good she is at doing so. I strongly suspect now, that once she tires of her adventuring and treasue hunting that she will settle down to a life of terrorizing poor Sorcery students.

That makes me wonder what -I- will be doing when I become tired of this lifestyle...

Oh wonderful, now I am becoming depressed again and Lina will notice (if she happens to look up from her breakfast, which is unlikely) When she does I shall find myself eating Fireball again. Sometimes having skin made of stone is a benefit. In fact it may be a requisite to living a happy (healthy) life with her.

It has been a few days since our disatrous meeting in Canturbury and I have never been so glad to put a place behind me as that town before. There has been little sign of The Damned Fruitcake or his Lecherous Son and for that I am grateful. I have never considered myself a jealous man, but something about Xenos (aka Black Fox) strikes me the wrong way, especially when he begins making moves on Lina.

This is pure foolishness, a mere three months ago I was ready to stand aside and let Lina run straight into Gourry's arms. Hell's Fire, I was ready let her knock me down while she did so... but then Gourry finally remembered to propose to Sylphiel and Lina was just so... so... calm about it! She was actually HAPPY for them! I was so deeply in shock at the time that I barely even reacted when Gourry tried to make me Sylphiel's 'Bride's Boy'.

Now that Xenos, who is admittedly an attractive specimen of the male gender, appears on the horizon I'm ready the rip him apart. What is the difference between letting Gourry have Lina and letting Xenos have Lina?

Oh wait, suddenly it makes sense. Lina liked Gourry, being with him made her happy. He is a good man who would have done his best to make her content and keep her safe.

Xenos, on the other hand is a dirty, rotten, half-mazoku thief that she can't stand the sight of. To top it all off he dressed up like a woman to try and poison me and claimed Lina as his fiance without even asking her!

No wonder I hated him on sight!

Strange, merely writing out my thoughts makes them easier to understand. Perhaps this journal serves a purpose after all.


The camp-site that night was just outside of a dense forest, one that Lina and Sylphiel refused to enter after dark. Gourry and Zelgadis had been annoyed because they stopped a near noon. If they had kept travelling through the forest they would have reached the town on the other side a little bit after sundown. However, Lina and Syphiel were iuncharacteristically adamant about -not going in-.

Apparently it was a rather infamous forest because of the colorful legends centering around it-- the bloody kind of legends. There were also old tales of a tribe of warriors cursed by the gods to spend the rest of eternity as ravening beasts. In and of itself, the stories weren't enough to scare a seasoned adventurer such as Lina but she had heard rumors of slaughtered livestock and the occasional missing children in the farms surrounding the forest. The last time she'd gone to a Bounty Hunter's Guild office, there had been an unholy amount of money offered for someone to go in and kill whatever lived there. After soem careful asking around she'd discovered that seven groups had already disappeared in that forest.

Lina was wisely leery of it, considering her life so far, and when Sylphiel had quietly mentioned to Gourry that she sensed something evil inside the forest that cinched it. They'd camp at the edge, or at least well away from the edge, that night and then go around the next day.

Lina and Sylphiel were detailed to collect firewood while Gourry and Zelgadis pitched camp.

"I really don't like that forest, Lina-sama." Sylphiel said quietly as Lina dumped another load of dry kindling into her arms.

"Neither do I, Syl. You just stand there, hold the wood, and keep every sense tuned in case something comes out at us." Lina replied quietly. "Black mages may not be able to sense 'evil' per se, but I've spent my life learning how to tap into the energy of mazoku and various monsters. I know when one's around."

"As do I." Sylphieal agreed. "There is something, or many somethings in that forest."

"As long as it or they stay in that forest and out of my face they may live a long and happy life." Lina raid ruthlessly and gathered up another armload of wood.

"You do know the likelyhood of that happening is very slender, don't you Lina-sama?" Sylphiel suggested cautiously.

The petite sorceress stood up straight with a sigh, her arms were now full of kindling. "Unfortunately, yes. Still, I'm not going to go looking for trouble today. Enough of it finds me without any help. Chaos, I'm tired of being the only hero around."

"There are other heroes around still." Sylphiel consoled her as they headed back for the camp. She cast a glance over her shoulder as she felt something stire just beyond the shadows at the edge of the woods. "We had best take watches tonight and erect wards around the camp. Something knows we are here."

Lina turned around and blew a raspberry at the forest. "Here's a hot tip!" she yelled. "Bug somebody else and you'll live longer!"

Sylphiel gasped as she felt the presence retreat at a fast pace. "It's leaving... it could be going for reinforcements..."

"Back to the camp, Syl-chan!" Lina decided. "Post haste!"