Prologue: The BridgeEdit
From the journals of Gervasse Welltessler,
Grand Cleric to Luo Glaon.
It has now been several days since Master Luo has descended into the depths of his latest discovery, but for some reason... I doubt it can be linked with the clerical arts. I know he instructed me to stay and watch over the 'Bridge', but I find myself... strangely troubled.
The Bridge itself was first discovered by the Master nearly three weeks ago. He had spent a great deal of time studying the legends of the staffs, and his ultimate goal was to create the Bridge. Now, upon it's creation, he has not been able to let go of it. The first two weeks were spent in study, mainly. But once he crossed...
I had feared he would not return. He left instructions to me that should he not return within the allotted time, to close the Bridge.
The allotted time passed nearly two days ago, but I still remain hopeful.
I will continue to watch the portal, and study his findings for an answer.
I have discovered something of great interest. It would appear that my master was not merely wishing to travel to one of the other staffs, but to another plane altogether. From reading his studies, it would appear that he has managed to hurdle the other three staffs altogether. He has gone far over the Sea of Chaos and...
...and come out with a new staff entirely. A... fifth staff, previously unknown. From his research, I have managed to discern a few facts, including the reason that Master Luo hasn't returned.
Magic on the fifth staff is nearly nonexistent. The God and Demon King of the staff have been gone for so long, it has allowed magical forces within the staff to settle into mere life.
But life is abundant within the world. For Master Luo to have traveled would have meant that he knew his arts would be severely weakened. Therefore... It is quite possible that he has perished.
The Bridge is still open, and I will close it tonight. But I must know what has happened to Master Luo. Whether or not he still lives.
I have sent a messenger to Zefielia, to search for the much-rumoured Knight of Ceiphied. If anyone can help, it would have to be him. I expect a reply within a few days.
The Kingdom of Zefielia, seven days later (Day 54):
"Hey, Luna," Gillian greeted while flipping through the mail. "You've got another letter."
"Let me guess," Luna said, sighing. "A request for help?"
Gillian opened the small envelope and began to read.
"Dear Sir Knight of Ceiphied," she began. "That'd be you, Luna."
"Sir Knight. Oh boy, I like it already," Luna deadpanned.
"Anyway, it says something about... some guy named Gervasse Welltessler in Seyruun."
"Grand Cleric to Luo Glaon? Why didn't Luo himself just pop by if he needed help?" Luna asked, picking up a dirty dish from a table.
"Umm, it says that Master Luo is... well... gone."
"Gone?" Luna asked.
"Yeah, he's... gone to the fifth staff, whatever that is. Something about weakened magic, and he can't get back."
"Weakened magic? Why would Luo have done something that stupid?"
"Going on another quest?" Gillian asked.
Luna shook her head. "Nah, you know I never leave Zefielia. You know just as well as I do this city would fall without me around."
"Oh yeah," she replied.
"I think this'll be perfect for little Sis', though. I hear she pulled through pretty well on that whole Sairaag thing."
"That was little Lina?" Gillian asked, blinking.
Luna nodded. "I'll send word to her. She'll probably gather her little troupe together and get this done. Hey, is he offering any money?"
Gillian scanned the letter. "Doesn't say."
"Oh, well. No matter. She'll do it anyway. Get the messenger, would you?"
Outside of Atlass City, twelve days later (Day 66):
"Come ON, Gourry!" Lina exclaimed. "You'd think they were heavy or something!"
"They ARE heavy. Remind me again why YOU aren't carrying anything."
Lina sighed and put her arms behind her head. "Because, Gourry dear, I'm far too delicate to carry such... thugs."
"Hey, uhh... We didn't mean it you know," one of the men Gourry was carrying on his back pleaded.
"Yeah, seriously," the other said. "We really didn't know you were Lina the Bandit Killer. Otherwise we would have left ya alone."
"Yeah, what he said," the first continued.
"What's the bounty on these two, again?" Gourry asked.
"Five hundred," Lina said, dismissing him with a wave.
"Five hundred?" one of the thugs asked. "Last I saw, we had a five thousand gold piece price on our head."
Lina locked up. "Err... Did I say five hundred?"
"Miss Inverse?" a man asked as he stepped toward the two travelers. "Miss Lina Inverse?"
Lina blinked in surprise. "Yes?"
"Thank goodness, I've finally found you. I've got a message for you," he said, pulling out an envelope from his pocket and handing it to Lina. "I've been looking for twelve days. You are a very hard person to find, you know."
Lina frowned. "Yeah, I kind of prefer it like that." She looked down at the envelope and opened it as the messenger said his good-byes and wandered off to the west.
"Dear Lina," she began. "How's it going? I hear you made a little noise in Sairaag recently. Mom is fi--" Lina paused.
"What is it, Lina?" Gourry asked.
A few moments later, Lina turned completely white. Even her hair began to take on a lighter shade.
Her pupils began to dilate.
"Hello?" Gourry waved his hand in front of her face. "Are you asleep?"
She fell over a moment later.
"Hmm. Must have been something she ate."
The road to Seyruun, the next morning (Day 67):
"Remind me again," Gourry asked. "What did we let them go for?"
"There's something much more important that needs to be done," Lina said, trying to sound mysterious. Considering her voice was still cracking, it failed miserably.
"And what was that show about yesterday? What was that letter about?"
"It was from my sister," Lina said. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Okay," Gourry said, shrugging. "But what are we supposed to be doing?"
"Master Luo Glaon is missing."
Lina was honestly not surprised, but she still turned on Gourry. "Master Luo Glaon? One of the Five Sages?!"
"Oh, like that Rezo guy? What does this Loony Gloon guy turn into?"
"Nothing, hopefully," Lina said, sighing. "But he's missing. And... it looks like we're going to have to find him... but... a fifth staff..."
"Gourry, you do know our world rests upon a staff that floats upon the Sea of Chaos, right? I've only explained it to you like... eight times?"
Lina sighed. "Look, our world rests upon a staff that floats upon the Sea of Chaos. There are only four known staffs, including ours. Each staff has a God and a Demon King, but... to travel to another staff, let alone an UNKNOWN staff... It's crazy."
"Oh, so this Loophole Glowworm guy went on a trip?"
"A trip into the unknown, Gourry. But why, I don't know."
"And we're going to go find this guy?"
"And we're gonna go into this unknown place, too?"
"And we're getting paid, right?"
"Err... Well... no."
"Who are you and what have you done with Lina?"
The White Magic Capital, Seyruun. Six days later (Day 73):
"Ah, are you... the Knight of Ceiphied?" Gervasse asked, poking at Gourry's stomach.
"The who of what?" Gourry replied, scratching his head.
Lina pushed him out of the way and looked up at Gervasse. "I'm Lina Inverse," she said. "The... Knight is a little busy this weekend, so we were sent."
"Lina Inverse," Gervasse said, as if considering the name. "I've... heard that name bef-- Ahh! Aren't you the scourge of Zefielia? The horror of Sairaag? The Dragon Spooker? The Enemy to All Living Things?"
Lina kept her anger in check... for about five seconds.
Gervasse was knocked against the back wall in seconds and Lina started to charge up another shot before Gourry managed to distract her-- by mentioning something about her breast size.
It managed to distract Lina enough to ignore what Gervasse had said by knocking out Gourry instead.
"Now," Lina said. "Where's Luo Glaon?"
Gervasse stood up and brushed himself off. "Follow me," he said.
Lina dragged an unconscious Gourry behind her as Gervasse led the way down a steep flight of stairs.
"Nearly two months ago, Master Luo discovered a source of magic that allowed him the power to cross to another staff. Two weeks later, he crossed into one. However, it wasn't until later that I found out which one."
"Yes, it said something about the Fifth Staff in your letter."
"Indeed," Gervasse nodded. "I was instructed to close the Bridge after five days, but I waited an additional four days before doing so. I can easily open the Bridge again, and I believe I have discovered a way to strengthen magical power within the Staff. What I do not have, however, is sufficient power in the Shamanistic or Black arts to fight off whatever horrors they may have there."
"So you called for me," Lina said, looking around.
"No, I called for the Knight of Ceiphied. But if he sent you, I'm sure that will be enough."
"Yes... I'm... sure," Lina said through clenched teeth.
"I have strength enough in the white arts to keep a... tunnel, of sorts open within the Bridge that will allow anyone on the other side to access the magic arts of this staff without much difficulty. It may be weakened somewhat, but a spell as powerful as say... The Dragon Slave should still cause a great deal of damage."
"It had better," Lina mentioned.
Gervasse led them down to the base of the stairwell and stood before a large door.
"This is it," he said. "The room. This is where everything will happen."
Lina dropped Gourry at the bottom step and touched the door. "Just send me," she said. "I'll have this over with as soon as I can, and you had beter keep the Bridge open."
"What of your friend?"
"I'm in a bit of a hurry," Lina said. "He'll be fine."
The Fifth Staff. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Twelve minutes later:
The green flash didn't go by completely unnoticed by the Canadian populace. It started from high about Mount Seymour and descended across the city, over the downtown core, past Granville Island. It was witnessed by hundreds, mainly by those of no importance. The homeless, the prostitutes, the junkies and dealers. To them, it meant nothing. Just something else to tell them that things were bigger than their problems.
But there was one person who witnessed the flash that knew what it meant, and knew what it wrought.
Silently, Luo Glaon swore under his breath, and raised a single hand. If the Bridge was open again, that could mean...
"Gervasse, you fool," Luo said, sighing. From the month he had spent upon that staff, he had realized why there was no magic...
Magic in a world of such technological wonders could offset everything... If someone from this world discovered the Bridge, it meant that they could also discover magic, and thus could find a way to make it run.
He looked up at the smoky trail as it streaked across the sky. It meant someone had come to look for him. It probably wasn't Gervasse, as he had displayed his absolute fear of the Bridge from the start... but...
He paused and frowned. That meant he had gone outside for it. If anyone from his own world were to discover the Bridge, that also meant... Mazoku... Evil men could use it to their own whim.
From his one month in that world, he had experienced and witnessed many stages of the destruction that people from the world could render upon one another. If a bandit gang were to get ahold of guns, they could easily become as powerful as the strongest army. If a dark warrior were to find the secrets of the... atom bomb... It could make the Dragon Slave look like a cherry bomb. He had seen some of those, too.
Luo got up from his soft blanket and looked around the alleyway. Over the past month, he had come to call this alley home. Even with the life of one of Vancouver's homeless, he preferred it over his own staff.
But now... It appeared as though there would be no choice. He would have to go back.
He turned to face his newfound friends and sighed.
"Wassamatta, Loo?" Jim, one of the more... impulsive drinkers of the alley asked. "Ya look like ya seen--"
"I've got... something I need to do," Luo said. "I may not be back."
"What, you one of those rich folks that just pretend to be bums?" Al asked. "Hey, can I borrow a house and car?"
"Something like that," Luo said, smiling. "I'll be back before it's time for me to leave, and I'll... explain what I can."
Jim raised a bottle of the cheapest alcohol he could find (which happened to be a half-case of Vodka screwdrivers that some guy left outside of his car) and saluted his new found friend.
"All right," Al said, shrugging. "Good luck, then."
The same time, above the city of Vancouver:
Lina could barely take in all of it before her mind went into overload. First it was the Bridge itself. It was nothing more than a swirl of colours, and a single moment of pain. Not so much that she couldn't take it, but more of a... shift in the way she was, physically.
The green light had surrounded her like some kind of... moth attracted to a flame. It felt like a Raywing, but didn't act as she commanded it to. The shield was covering her on every end, and to see outside--
Yes. She could see outside, but not well. She could make out tall trees, like those that are usually found in the northernmost regions, like the Kal-Taart Mountains. And further down--
--a city. A city unlike any she had ever seen. Buildings that dwarf the tallest of trees, even the Great Tree of Sairaag. Lina coasted over them as she tried to take in as much as she could. There were roads below, that much she could see. But the carriages, they were... different. Too many, and...
Dammit, she couldn't make out much with the shield.
Soon, she coasted out over the ocean, into a large bay with ships and bridges. She turned her body to look back at the city, her senses in overload, and her mind somewhere else.
And that's why she never saw it when she hit down.
The shield completely disappeared about fourty feet above the surface of the water, and Lina fell. It wasn't until she realized she could see clearly that she began to summon a raywing--
--but she couldn't. The magic was still too weak, and Gervasse was probably in the process of strengthening the hold of the tunnel.
She hit the water like it was a brick wall, head first.
Without the extra acceleration the shield had added, she may have just hit and been able to swim to shore. However, the last thing she felt was the cold sting of the water as she splashed down, half a kilometer from shore.
Lina had lost consciousness that very moment.
Chapter One: Amazement! A Whole New World?Edit
"No, no... this won't do at all... not at all," the frantic voice repeated. "That wasn't supposed to happen."
Gourry groaned and opened one eye. He had felt like he had just been dragged down several flights of nasty stone stairs. Come to think of it, he probably had. Lina had knocked him out pretty good.
He managed to sit up and rub his head as he took the room in. It reminded him of...
...well, quite frankly, it reminded him of a dungeon. Obviously one of those magical laboratories, like the kind that Rezo guy had, except... smaller, and much more homey.
There was a nice potted plant right next to him, several chairs, a lovely oak table, and bookshelves stocked with tomes of magical knowledge.
Of course, all Gourry saw was a whole lot of books.
More curious than the books, however, was the greenish light emanating from the center of the room. That Gervasse guy he saw before losing consciousness was busily pacing back and forth around it, mumbling to himself.
The light itself didn't seem to have a source. It just seemed to linger in the air, almost like... a window of some sort.
Just then, a thought formed in his mind. "Hey," he said. "Where's Lina?"
Gervasse spun to face Gourry as though he were an unwelcome alien presence. "You--" he began. "Oh yes, you were with Miss Inverse, were you not?"
"Miss Inverse? You mean Lina?"
"Err... yes," Gervasse replied.
"Yeah," he said, getting up and still rubbing the back of his head. "Where's Lina?"
"It would appear that my calculations were somewhat incorrect. I should have tested the waters, so to speak, before sending Miss Inverse over. Or at least strengthened the tunnel. It's hard to say what happened to her, but she did cross over at an amazingly high altitude, and... without the magic to assist her in crossing, she may have been injured."
Gourry blinked. While what he was saying at first made absolutely no sense to him, he did manage to pick up the last bit.
"Injured?" he asked. "What?"
"Yes, it was a mistake. The Bridge is more stable now, and should let people off at a ground level, and the Tunnel has been set in place. Anyone else I send should be relatively safe... in the transit, anyway."
"Yeah, but what about Lina?"
"This may have to be a double rescue mission should she be injured," Gervasse said, sighing. "I know not of what lies on the other end."
"Well, then let me--"
"Let us not get ahead of ourselves. She has been instructed to check in with me in within several hours. If she does not, then and only then should we send someone for her and Master Luo." He looked up at Gourry. "Sir Knight, perhaps now you should go out and purchase some supplies for the trip. By the time you return, we will either have heard from her, or found need to send you."
Gourry blinked. From what he was able to gather, the man said something about buying supplies and then going to get Lina. Was she really hurt?
He didn't like it, but when Gervasse tossed a small pouch towards Gourry, he changed his mind. There was no point in wasting time here.
Especially since there were about twenty gold pieces in the pouch.
Gourry nodded and turned to leave the room.
"Come back in about six hours," Gervasse said. "By then we should have our answer."
The dawn found itself rising over the Vancouver skyline a mere three hours after the mysterious green light descended down past the city and into the bay. The city had continued on it's usual path, regardless of whether the people saw the light or not.
For one family, however, the strange sighting would change many things. The reason that they had decided to walk along the beach that morning, after having stayed the night in a Vancouver Inn following a trip from Alberta was completely unknown.
But they still walked the beach.
"Yeah right," Tasha, the oldest of the two children scoffed. Of course, she was only older by about ten minutes. She was 'the better half' of a twin pair.
Quinn stared at his sister and frowned. "I'm serious! The clerk was talking about it, too! It started from over by Mount Seymour and landed in the bay."
Tasha looked over the surface of the water and shook her head. "Look, do you SEE any UFO's out there?"
"No, because it's underwater! Duh!"
"Then where are all the military ships and stuff? You'd think if a UFO crashed into the bay, that there'd be some big stink going on about it, right?"
"Are you guys going to fight all the way home?" Jim, the father asked.
Tasha crossed her arms. "I don't see why we just didn't drive the rest of the way last night. It was only an hours drive."
"Because, dear," her mother, Janet, said. "We'd much rather have slept in a hotel bed than a hospital bed."
"I wasn't tired! I could have driven!"
"Yeah, right," Quinn quipped. "Then we definitely would have ended up in a hospital bed."
Before Tasha could reply, Quinn had made his way down to the surface of the water, where the waves were crashing against the shore.
Tasha just frowned and looked back up at her parents. "I'm sixteen," she said. "I'm old enough to drive."
"Correction," Jim said. "You're old enough to get a learners permit, and old enough to get in that graduated licensing program... Not old enough to drive by yourself... and you STILL haven't gone for your permit yet."
"Yeah, well... I will when we get home, okay?"
"Hey, check out this piece of driftwood!" Quinn called from the shore.
Tasha continued to ignore him.
Janet, however, looked down to the shore and frowned. "Honey," she said. "I... Oh my God, I don't think that's driftwood."
As if on cue, Quinn reached down to the driftwood and pulled it to shore.
And then he screamed.
"Hey, there's someone here!" he exclaimed.
Janet rushed down to the shore as fast as she could. Arriving there, she examined the person.
It was a girl no older than her own daughter. Though the strange clothes meant nothing to her, the very fact that she was unconscious sent her heart into fear. This girl was someone's daughter. This girl had a family, and she may have been--
--alive. A quick check of her pulse confirmed it. The girl was alive. She must have grabbed a hold of that piece of driftwood that kept her from drowning.
But that didn't mean she was out of danger.
"Honey, call the hospital!"
Gourry yawned as he finished off his meal. The small outside restaurant had offered a good meal for a good price, but had the minor disadvantage of being out in the marketplace, and Gourry had been bumped several times by passerbys. Not on purpose, of course, but enough to distract him from his meal.
But for a mere three pieces of gold, the meal had been filling. Gourry did manage to get a good hold on what had happened, though. Apparently, earlier in the day, Lina had gone into that... bridge thing, whatever that was, and may have gotten hurt--
--but that Jerky guy didn't know for sure. Figures.
Gourry stood up and allowed the waitress to gather his dishes, which had practically been wiped clean by Gourry. Looking around, he scanned the area. Perhaps it would be an idea to buy a few supplies with the remaining money. After all, he didn't know what to expect on the other side of that Bridge thing.
He got up and walked across the marketplace, purchasing odds and ends as he went by. A few days worth of rations, a spare blade for his sword-- just in case, and a number of other things.
But unfortunately, he picked up something he definitely hadn't intended to.
"Gourry, is that you?!"
Gourry froze. He was in Seyruun, of course he would have to run into HER. He slowly began to turn around.
"Gourry!" Amelia exclaimed. "I didn't know you and Lina were in town... err... Lina IS in town, right?"
Gourry scratched his head. "Uhh... not exactly."
Amelia blinked in vague understanding as Gourry related the story of how he came to be there that day to her. He remembered to include every bit he could remember, including the bit about that Jerky Willmuster guy.
"Jerky Willmuster?" Amelia asked. "Who's he?"
"Some kind of servant to a guy named... uh... Loony Glowworm or something."
"Loony Glowworm?" Amelia asked, her finger up against her chin. "Why does that sound... Oh! Luo Glaon?!"
"Yeah, I think so."
"Then you mean Gervasse Welltessler!"
"And Lina has been trapped on the Fifth STAFF, not Half!"
"Err," Gourry blushed. "Yeah, maybe."
"Then it's our responsibility as warriors of justice to retrieve BOTH of them!" she said, and grabbed Gourry by the collar. "Come, Gourry! To Master Glaon's home!"
*Now what is this all about?* Sylphiel thought to herself. She caught a view of Gourry only minutes before, when he was busily eating a hearty meal. She didn't want to disturb him, but still felt the need to follow him. She had planned to walk up to him and say hello when she spotted Amelia.
While she had no reason to hide, she still couldn't quite think of a good excuse. Apparently, it hadn't occurred to her to simply tell the truth, that she had spotted him during one of her travels from Sairaag.
And now, he was being dragged along rather... roughly by Amelia, who had that 'warrior of justice' look on her face once again.
Rather than make her presence known at this point, she decided to follow as stealthily as she could.
"Well, brother?" Julian asked.
"Well, what?" his brother, Brantus replied.
"What, you are going to tell me you did not see that?"
Julian pointed to the young princess in the distance, pulling the blonde swordsman along with her. "That."
"So what?" he said. "It's nothing of interest."
Julian bopped his brother on the head. "It is obvious you are one of strength, but not of mind, brother. Did you not hear what they spoke of?"
"Figures," Julian huffed. "They spoke of a Fifth Staff."
"You ARE dense. The Fifth Staff is only legend among our kind. Did you not hear what they said?"
"I just told you I wasn't listening."
Julian shook his head. "Come, we should gather Merton," he said, then grabbed his brother by the collar and carried him in another direction.
"What's her condition, Doctor?" the first voice asked.
*Who's there?* she wanted to say.
"Well, it's stable, Mrs. Pierce," the second replied. "She had a light case of hypothermia, but she's already out of it. It's a good thing you found her when you did. She also has a slight concussion, but we'll have to wait until she wakes up before we can diagnose it properly."
*Hypothermia? Concussion? Are they talking about me?*
"What about her parents? Her family?"
*My... family? I...*
"Mrs. Pierce, all we can do right now is wait for her to wake up. There's no sense in notifying the police until she wakes up and tells us who she is."
*Police? Where am I?*
"Her clothes were weird," a third voice said. "Like she was at a costume party or something."
*A... party... I don't think... I'm... not sure...*
"It's possible. She could have been on a yacht or a large ship for some sort of party and fallen overboard. Perhaps they never realized she fell over. The concussion she has could have been from striking the water at a high speed."
*Speed... I remember... falling...*
"Yeah, but that doesn't explain those weird gems. They look... expensive," a fourth voice said.
*Gems... I can't remember...*
"Mr. Pierce, we can only wait until she wakes up."
"I want to wake up NOW!" she exclaimed as she shot up. After a moment, she looked around the white room. There were various devices on the white walls and sitting on tables here and there. There was a small curtain that separated her from the rest of the room, but the five people that stared at her questioningly were what had her full attention.
"Where am I?" she asked.
"Miss, you're at Saint Paul's General Hospital. I'm Doctor Burns, how do you feel?" the man wearing the white coat asked, running over to check her out.
"I'm... my head hurts. I..." She put her hand to her forehead. "What happened?"
"Well, we were hoping you could shed some light on that subject, Miss. You had a nasty bump, and these people found you at the beach, unconscious. Can you remember anything?"
"I... I'm not sure," she replied. "I... I remember falling."
"Can you tell us your name, Miss?" the doctor asked, checking her eyes with a pen light.
"I'm..." she paused. "I... I'm not sure."
The Doctor sighed. "I see." He turned to the people standing behind him. "Mr. Pierce, Mrs. Pierce, may I have a word with you?" He took two of them by the shoulders and left the girl alone with the other two. A girl and boy about her own age. The girl was brunette, wearing a blue jean jacket and matching bellbottoms. The boy was also brown haired, wearing a plain blue t-shirt and baggy jeans. It took her a few moments to recognize the duo as twins.
"Hey, are you okay?" the boy asked.
"I... I don't know who I am," she said, nearly in tears. "Where is this?"
The boy and girl looked at each other and swallowed.