"What's wrong with her, Doctor?" Janet asked. "Does she have Amnesia?"
The doctor nodded. "I'm afraid so, Post-traumatic, Dissociative Amnesia seems to be our culprit here."
"Well, what can we do to help?" Jim asked, sounding sincerely concerned. "I mean, we found her... It's only right that we do something to help."
The doctor sighed. "Well," he began, coming out of a moment of thought. "At the moment, the hospital is amazingly overcrowded. It may be better for her to stay in a family oriented environment, mainly for health reasons. I fear if she stays in such an environment as this hospital, her recovery will not be as... quick."
"Wait," Jim began. "You want us to take her in?"
"It's your choice," he said. "We will continue to keep her in the hospital should you decline, but her recovery may be many times faster if she is in a home-like environment."
Jim looked at his wife. He could see the range of emotions her face was moving in. He knew that if he declined, the guilt would eat both of them inside. But on the brighter side, why not? It's a good deed. There's extra space in Tasha's room, and they could move the spare bed down from the attic. Money wasn't much of a problem, especially with Janet and him holding down very well paying jobs.
Jim bit his lip and looked over at the doctor. "Okay," he said. "We'll take her."
"Very good," the doctor smiled. "I'll write a prescription for her, and she should be ready to go in a few hours, just after a few more tests."
Merton placed his game piece on the board before him and smiled.
"Your move, Gren," he said, his teeth bared.
Gren growled as well as a human being could. "You did it again, Merton," he snarled. A moment later, he placed a small pouch on the table.
"All in a days work," he said. "You really should learn not to underestimate the Survivor king."
"Blasted game," Gren shot.
"Merton!" a voice called from behind him. "News, brother!"
Merton sighed. "What is it, Jules?"
"Err... News that shouldn't be spoken around hu-- err... other living beings."
"You'll excuse me, please, Gren," Merton said, and then stood up, facing his brothers. After walking away for a few moment, he frowned. "What is it, Julian? I had that mortal in the palm of my hand. He would have challenged me to another game if you had not--"
"We may have found a way to another staff!"
Merton paused. "Truly?"
Julian nodded. "Brantus and I overheard a story about a mortal that has been trapped on a Fifth Staff."
"The Fifth Staff is mere legend," Merton scoffed.
"But if it's TRUE brother, think of it!"
"Our kind passed to the Fifth Staff hundreds of years ago. Our magic was weak there, and it makes no difference now."
"But we have the knowledge to STRENGTHEN it now, Brother! If we cross over, we could very well rule the staff in the name of Ruby-Eye!"
Merton paused in thought. "Indeed it would be better than to merely... cheat these peasant mortals out of their money..."
There was a pregnant pause before anyone said anything. "All right," Merton said. "Explain the details."
"That... voice... Lady Amelia?" Gervasse spun around, allowing himself a moment of distraction from the Bridge and the Tunnel. A wide smile appeared on his face. "Lady Amelia, my days have been long without your glorious smile to brighten it up!"
Amelia, of course, smiled. "It has been a while, hasn't it?"
Gourry blinked. "Err... You two know each other?"
"Of course!" Gervasse beamed. "Before I came to serve under Master Glaon, I was Teacher to young Lady Amelia here."
"Teacher? I thought your dad taught you all of that stuff," Gourry said, his finger at his chin.
"Nay, I afraid Prince Philionel never found much time for magic. He was too busily spouting off silly notions of justice," Gervasse corrected. After noticing a stern glare from Amelia, he quickly rephrased it. "Err, did I say silly? I meant... righteous."
Amelia let the smile return to her face. Apparently, his correction had sated her... for now. "Sir Welltessler, I hear Miss Lina may be in trouble. What happened?"
"You know of Lina Inverse, Lady Amelia?" Gervasse asked, his eyes wide open.
"Of course. Don't you remember about my time in Sairaag?" she said. "I helped Miss Lina and Gourry here to prevent the resurrection of Zannafar."
"Now that you mention it... I do recall something several months back... something about the destruction of much of the palace," Gervasse said, his finger at his chin.
"Err..." Amelia blushed.
"But anyway, that's beside the subject... Yes, it appears Miss Inverse has indeed fallen prey to something, and I can blame none but myself..." He turned towards the Bridge. "While it is easy enough to discern certain things, like altitude or inertial force... It's impossible to see past the Bridge. That's why Master Glaon passed over in the first place, and why I have sent Miss Inverse to gather him... But it is also why I must send Sir Gourry over."
Amelia clenched her fist. "Sir Welltessler, I shall go to! It is unjust for me to just sit and wait. Who knows what could be being done to Miss Lina right this moment?"
Gervasse turned around and raised an eyebrow. "You, Lady Amelia?"
Amelia put her hands at her hips and looked toward the sky. It was harder than it seemed, especially since they were deep underground, and the ceiling was made of stone. "Yes!" she said. "I, Amelia wil Tesla Seyruun will take this quest under my arm and emerge with great success, not for my sake, not for the sake of Miss Lina, then for the sake of justice!"
Gervasse blinked. "Indeed," he said. "And what does Prince Philionel say of this? Your magic training hasn't suffered, has it?"
"I've mastered the Rah Tilt! I can do it!" Amelia jumped.
Gervasse raised a speculative eyebrow. "And your father?"
"He let me go to Sairaag by myself. I can handle this."
"This isn't Sairaag, Lady Amelia. Nor is this high in the Mountains of Tears. This isn't even past the god-sealing field," he said, sighing. "This is another world, entirely. Things may not work the same in that world as in this one."
"Still, to stay behind would be unjust!" Amelia insisted.
Gervasse sighed. "Very well... But if Prince Philionel should show up, I'm telling him that it was at your insistence that you cross."
Amelia blinked. "It was at my insistence."
Gervasse smirked, then turned back toward the Bridge. "It has now passed the agreed upon check-in time. I fear that Miss Inverse may have been injured, or worse. It leaves me with no other choice than to launch another rescue mission."
"How was she hurt?"
"It was my own folly. I neglected to prepare for the initial inertial force, and forgot the altitude at which she'd be entering. I've now repaired my former follies. You should cross over with zero inertia, and... as far as I can tell, within five feet of the ground." He turned around and walked toward a shelf. "You are to check in as soon as possible after arriving. You can do so with a simple communication spell. After that, try to check in at least once a day. If you were to get lost, or injured, then there would be nothing I could do to prevent the entire army of Seyruun from crossing over in order to find you."
Amelia nodded. "I won't get injured."
"And do try to take it easy on the justice bit. You don't know how things may work on the other side of the bridge."
Amelia and Gourry nodded.
"And lastly... Please, try and blend in. I shudder to think what would happen if one of the... people of that world were to find the Bridge. We're still not sure if they are hostile, or not," he said, stepping back from the shelf with something in his hand. "Here, you should use this. Hopefully, they'll use gold on that world."
Gourry's eyes bugged out as Gervasse handed Amelia a pouch of gold pieces... a LARGE pouch.
"Now, if you please... All you must do is step into the Bridge," he said, gesturing toward the field of greenish light that stained the entire room.
Amelia nodded and shut her eyes, and then she stepped through.
Gourry just followed her nonchalantly.
Gervasse closed his eyes. "I wish you both the best of luck."
The greenish light had filled her vision as if it were everything. It turned into such a pure shade of the colour, that to simply call it 'green' would be an understatement. It was emerald. The colour filled every sense she had. When she closed her eyes, it was still all she could see.
But deeper, further ahead, there was another colour, invading the purity of the green and degrading it. It was...
It was hard to describe, especially with the emerald hue of the Bridge. But it seemed to be... blue? They sky?
Yes, it was a sky. A sky of another world entirely.
The source of strangeness grew in scale as she found herself drawn nearer. Not by choice, but by mere force.
And then she heard a sound.
Within a split second, her entire view had changed. What once had been emerald became a blinding collage of blue, grey, brown and white. She shielded her eyes with her cloak before it had a chance to fully blind her.
A moment later, she felt the presence of Gourry behind her, and her vision began to settle.
Slowly, she removed her cloak and took in the view before her.
To call it a city was an understatement. The twisted spires of metal and glass before her was... there was no word for what she saw. A bustling metropolis. An amazing collection of steel and rubber. A rough taste in the air made her cough, but there it was before her.
"Big..." she heard from behind her. Amelia turned to face Gourry, who was busily staring at the city like it was the end of the world.
"Gourry," Amelia said, tugging on a piece of armour. "We've got to contact Sir Welltessler."
Gourry nodded, and Amelia brought her hand up in front of her. "Sir Welltessler?" she asked after a moment of meditation.
"I hear you, Lady Amelia. Things are all right?"
"Yes, sir," Amelia said. "This place is... enormous."
"We have time enough for descriptions later, Lady Amelia. Right now out main concern is for Miss Inverse and Master Glaon."
"Right," Amelia said. "We'll start on that right away."
Gervasse smiled. "I wish you luck, Lady Amelia, Sir Gourry."
"Thank you, Sir Welltessler," Amelia replied, and then broke the connection.
Gervasse lowered his hand and sighed. How long was she going to stand there.
"You may come out of hiding now, Miss."
He heard a sharp gasp as the woman fell from behind the door. Quickly, she stood up and brushed herself off.
"I could sense your magic," he said. "For one who is finely tuned in the White arts, it's quite easy to find another who is highly skilled."
"I..." she smiled. "I apologize, Sir Welltessler."
"Now then," he said. "Care to explain why you were hiding?"
"I... well, I saw Gourry dear in the marketplace... and then... Miss Amelia dragged him off... I was curious."
"Ahh," Gervasse said. "Then am I to assume you are somehow linked with Miss Inverse, as well?"
The woman nodded. "I'm... Sylphiel Nels Lada. I'm from--"
"Sairaag, yes... I knew your father," Gervasse mentioned. "He was a good man." He looked over to the girl. "So you're Sylphiel, then? My, I must have aged a great deal. I still remember the news of your birth."
"You knew... father?"
"Indeed. The news of his passing shocked me greatly... but let us not dwell upon the past, young Sylphiel... Obviously you are here for some greater reason?"
"Yes, I know. I could sense you, remember?"
"Then Miss Lina is... hurt?"
"Quite possibly," he said. "Don't tell me you, too wish to--"
"No," Sylphiel said, stopping him. "I... I don't think I should... at least, not yet."
"Then I shall respect your decision. Four from our world is quite enough... At this time."
"Four? Did you hear that?" Julian said, smiling.
"He's linked the Bridge with magic," Merton sighed. "That would mean those mortals could use it as well."
"Umm... How come he could sense her and not us?" Brantus asked.
"Because Mazoku energies are far different than a mere white mage, now hush," Merton ordered.
"So how are we to cross? He will obviously shut down the magical link if we are seen going through, and killing him would solve nothing," Julian said.
"That is why," Merton said, holding his hand out and summoning a small sphere of energy. "He will not know of our crossing." He clenched his fist and caused the ball to pop. "Come, I have an idea."
"Hey, check this out," Quinn said, poking around in the small wardrobe closet where they had stuck the strange girl's things.
"Quinn, you pervert. Get out of there," Tasha said, blushing furiously. The strange girl was asleep again, but Tasha didn't want her to wake up finding her twin brother rooting through her things... Even if she couldn't remember who's things they were.
"No, I'm serious... there's a knife in here," he said.
Tasha got up and stalked over to her brother, and opened her mouth to berate him-- until she saw it.
There WAS a knife in there. She pulled it from her brothers grasp without another thought.
"Hey!" complained Quinn.
Tasha examined the knife. It was more of a short sword, really. Why hadn't they noticed this before?
Well, probably because she was soaking wet, and that.. cape was wrapped all around her, probably the knife as well.
She examined the hilt. It appeared to be worn in and... well used. That scared Tasha a bit, but she managed to keep a straight face.
"We shouldn't be looking through her stuff," she said, then looked to her brother. "What else is in there?"
Her brother pulled out a small length of metal. "Hey, look here, it looks like a sheath or something."
Tasha blinked. "A sheath?"
"Yeah, there's writing on it, too... Look, it says... property of... Lina Inverse... well, what the hell kind of name is that?"
Tasha looked toward the sleeping girl. "I think it's her name," she said.
"Okay, Lina I can understand. There's that girl in my Biology class named Lina, but... Inverse? What kind of family has THAT for a last name?"
"Quiet, Quinn. She might hear you," Tasha said.
Quinn shrugged and passed the sheath to his sister, and then did a bit more searching through the small wardrobe closet. "Hey, what's..."
Tasha looked over her brother's shoulder as he produced a small pouch. He frowned.
"It's heavier than it looks," he said. He shook it and looked up at his sister. "Sounds like spare change. If she's rich, why does she have to carry her change around in a pouch?"
Tasha frowned at her brother as he opened the pouch and poured a few coins out into his hand.
Both of them dropped their jaws like they were hot potatoes.
"Tash... this... this is..."
"Gold," she said, then swallowed.
Suddenly, she caught a view of her parents approaching from behind the curtains. "Quick," she said. "Hide it!"
Quinn thought as quickly as he could, and then dropped the coins, pouch and all, into the leather belt-pouch he was wearing. He quickly stood up and watched for his parents.
"Guys," their mother said, moving the curtain to one side. "We've got to talk..."
"I don't know about you, Gourry," Amelia said, walking down the sidewalk. "But I feel out of place."
"Yeah, me too. It might be because we're not from here," he offered.
"No, the clothes, too."
Gourry looked around. Indeed, he hadn't noticed the fact that people around him were wearing... strange clothes. None of them wore armour, or had weapons by their sides.
Oh, and they rode around in those big metal contraptions. That was weird, too.
He looked around at some of the nearby signs. He could read them well enough, so at least that was confirmation that they spoke the same language... But they were nowhere near the same. Gourry blinked.
"Maybe we should get some clothes, and try to blend in... people are staring at us," Amelia said.
"Do they take gold here?"
"I don't know," Amelia said. "Let's ask."
Gourry blinked as Amelia walked up to a woman standing on the side of the road. She tugged lightly on her shirt and asked her a question. The woman seemed to laugh almost and replied. Amelia looked back with a strange look on her face.
"What'd she say?"
"She said she charges extra for under-agers and same genders," Amelia said, scratching her head. "And that it'd be sixty... bucks. What's a buck?"
"Foreigners?" a man asked, walking up to Amelia and Gourry. "Visiting from abroad, eh?"
"Umm... you could say that," Amelia said, her attention now divided between Gourry and the man.
"Well, welcome to Vancouver. It's a fine city, as long as you avoid the... well... riff-raff," the man said, pointing a thumb back at the woman. "I'm Gerald."
"Hi," Amelia said. "I'm Amelia, this is Gourry."
"Ahh, all right... Say, have you found The Lord?" Gerald asked, a smile on his face.
"No, we're looking for Lina," Gourry said.
"The Lord of what?" Amelia asked.
"The Lord of... The Lord. THE Lord. God, the Holy Ghost. Don't tell me you've never heard of God?" Gerald asked, his eyes wide.
"God? Which one?"
Gerald's jaw dropped. "Which... which one?!" he stammered. "What is that supposed to mean? Are you mocking The Lord?!"
"The Lord of what?"
Gerald threw his arms into the air. "I just EXPLAINED that!"
"No you didn't," Gourry said. "You're muttering about some god, but won't tell us which one..."
"Gourry, maybe they only have one god on this staff," Amelia whispered.
"We're sorry, we didn't mean any disrespect... We're just... unused to the local customs," Amelia said.
"You mean to tell me you don't have any believers in your country?"
"Believers in what?"
Once again, Gerald threw his hands into the air.
"Wait... Take her HOME with us?" Tasha asked. "You're serious."
Her mother nodded. "The doctor thinks she may need a homelike environment. Besides, the hospital is very crowded, and would probably do the poor girl more harm than good."
"But--" Tasha began, but not before Quinn elbowed her in the side. "Ow! What was that for?"
"Oh, I don't know, sis," Quinn said. "Seems to me like a *golden* opportunity." He practically oozed the word.
Tasha blinked, and then got the idea. "Err... Okay," she said. "I... guess we could take her home with us."
"Good," Janet sighed. "The hospital needs to run a few more tests on her, and prescribe something, and then we should take her home... About four hours, and we'll be back on the road. Then we should worry about giving her a name. She'll need one. We can't just call her, 'Hey, you.'"
"I think her name's Lina, mom," Quinn said.
"What makes you say that?" she asked.
"We found this in her clothes," he said, pointing at the metal object his sister was holding.
Janet frowned. What was a girl her age doing with a dangerous weapon like that? Needless to say, she would have to keep an eye on her.
"All right," she said. "Lina it is... I want you two to head back to the car and pick out some clothes for her to wear... She can't wear those wet things home... besides, they look bloody silly."
The kids agreed quickly, and ran out of the small enclosure, on their way to the car.