a Slayers fanfic
Prologue: Know How to Haggle
"Hey, Lina! Look at this one!" The swordsman stooped to look over the selection of expensive magical swords. Their latest bandit/sword-hunting trip had taken them all around the countryside, and during their stay in Port Aubergine, the pair of travelers had run across a promising magic shop.
"Wow... everything in this place is so expensive!" the sorceress remarked, looking through the shelves of potions and elixirs.
"I bet it's not just because of good quality, either," her companion echoed.
Lina processed the thought and blinked. "Good eye, Gourry. Guess my genius is finally starting to rub off on you," she teased.
He answered with a good-natured chuckle. "It's about time, too." The two gazed happily at one another. Anyone who caught a glimpse of them would know that they were inseparable. The brilliant blue of his eyes reflected in her bright scarlet ones, and vice versa.
Someone cleared their throat, and the couple broke their gaze, turning their somewhat embarrassed eyes on the shopkeeper. "Is there something I can help you with?"
Gourry nodded once. "These swords... they're all magical?"
"Well, this is a magic emporium, sir."
Lina shook her head. "That doesn't always mean they're magical. You wouldn't believe some of the junk vendors will try to pawn off on unwary customers."
The shopman looked somewhat offended. "Perhaps other places, madam, but we carry only the genuine article in this shop." He turned his attention to Gourry. "Is there any particular sword I can show the gentleman?"
"Who?" he responded dully, receiving an elbow in the side from Lina. "Oh! Me, huh? Well... what kind of magic do they do?"
The man gave him a bare grin, beginning to detail each. "This one generates a small magical shield for its user. The second carries an invisibility spell, which makes the wielder invisible when it's drawn. This carries a partial levitation spell, so any jump the user makes is amplified and cushioned. These next two are all but indestructible-I know the maker myself and his wares are always exquisite-then there's the Elven piece, there. It carries some sort of magical field, but we aren't really certain what it's for, and the one on the end-the cheap one-is a Howling sword."
The swordsman paused, holding his chin in his hand. "Hey, isn't that what that guy Zangulus had, Lina?"
"Yeah," she affirmed. "And then he got another one after you busted his first one."
The shopman added his opinion. "Yes, Howling swords, while rare, are not terribly expensive or sought after. They have a spell added to them to increase their durability, but they don't hold up well against other enchantments or heavy fighting."
"Yikes... I hope Zangulus got his on sale..." Lina winced.
Gourry thought for a second. "Why're they called Howling swords again?"
The sorceress's jaw dropped. "And here I thought you were getting smarter! Jellyfish for brains...They're called Howling swords because that's the sound of the wind they generate! Don't you remember those fights with Zangulus at all??"
The shopkeeper tapped her on a shoulder sheepishly. "Actually, madam, I believe it's called a Howling sword after its maker. Willam Howling."
Lina's jaw went slack. "You honestly expect me to believe that there's some guy out there named Willam Howling that makes these swords?"
The shopkeeper snorted. "No, of course not."
Lina congratulated herself. "I thought so."
"Willam passed away years ago, after he passed the family business to his son, Willam Howling the Second."
The sorceress nearly fell over, eyes bulging. "Ehh??"
"Yes, see," the man continued, holding the Howling sword up for her inspection. "He's pressed his name into the metal here on the hilt."
Lina gaped as she read the words "HOWLING II" and underneath, "FYNE SWORDS." "Ohh, I don't believe this..."
Gourry, meanwhile, had lost interest in the conversation and was inspecting the intricate etchings on the Elven sword. He focussed in on one element in particular. Unlike the rest of the intricate and intersecting knot designs and fleurs characteristic of Elven work, this seemed to be nothing more than two concentric circles, surrounding a tiny hole...
"Hmf.. just wait until Zangulus hears about this... him and his darn 'Howling Sword Part 2,' huh, Gourry?" Lina snorted as the shopkeeper replaced the sword on its display rest. When he didn't answer immediately, she looked over at him. "Gourry?"
"Lina, look..." he picked the long and heavy claymore up easily, holding it so she could see the pinhole in the design. The shopkeeper joined them in their examination.
"How odd... that's not a normal Elfin pattern."
"It's not?" Lina pressed.
The man shook his head quickly, curiously. "No. I've seen thousands of Elfin swords. I've taken rubbings of some of the designs in order to recognize them later. And never have I seen one with a hole in the hilt. What could it possibly be for?" he wondered aloud.
"Beats me," Lina shrugged. "Where did you say you got it?"
"I didn't say. But it previously belonged to a local man who died recently. I know he had been looking for an apprentice for many years, but I suppose he never found one. The state sold off his property in an auction, and I was lucky enough to know the worth of this piece and bid out everyone else."
The other two turned back to Gourry, who was digging into his pocket to pull out the tiny sewing kit he used to mend his clothes while he was on the road. He pulled out a needle and carefully inserted it into the hole. Something inside the hilt sprung back with an audible click. The blade slipped out and onto the floor with a resounding clank.
"That's certainly interesting..." the shopkeeper noted. "Why would anyone need a sword with a removable blade?"
Lina remembered a time when Rezo's men had been after them... a battle with Dilgear, the werewolf-troll, and following that, with a monster. She thought back to when Gourry had faced up to the creepy old spider guy...
...and had done a similar thing with his sword then.
An expression of dawning realization came over her face. "Oh, it probably just comes out so you can clean the blade. You know how nasty the joint can get, dirt, blood... who knows what else? That's probably the magic you detected... it works the catch in the hilt." She hoped she sounded truthful enough for the man to believe her.
"But Lina..." the unwitting swordsman began. "This is..."
"Shut up, Gourry," she replied, stomping on his boot sharply. "He'll take it."
The tall mercenary winced. "Yeah, I'll take it. Um, how much... is it?"
The shopman sighed and steeled himself. "Eight thousand gold."
Gourry flinched. Lina pinwheeled her arms as she nearly fell over backward. "Eight THOUSAND gold pieces?! For a sword whose only magic is a blade that comes loose?!"
"I did have to pay quite a bit for it in the auction, and I need to make a living as well." He observed the stunned looks on the faces of his customers. "Perhaps I could go as low as seven thousand pieces, since you did discover its trick..."
"Please!" Lina snapped. "If we hadn't have discovered that, you would have sold it to him for a thousand!"
"Since you put it that way, I could let it go at slightly above cost, at five thousand."
Gourry looked crestfallen. "Oh. I don't have that much money..."
"Then I'll buy it," Lina declared. "How about 4,500, and a personal endorsement from the one and only sorcery genius, Lina Inverse?"
The shopkeeper looked nervous. "L-Lina Inverse? The Bandit Killer? The Dragon Spooker?!"
Lina looked bashful, then halfway angry. "Leave the 'Dragon Spooker' off the sign, and I won't fireball you on the way out."
"You have a deal, Miss Inverse."
* * * * *
Lina squealed happily as she skipped out of the shop with the sword in her arms. She clutched at the fancy leather sheath the shopkeeper had been generous enough to throw in for free. "He probably hasn't had a sale that good in a long time! Oh, I can't believe it! I finally got a Sword of Light!"
Gourry smiled at her. "Thanks, Lina... Can I try it out now?"
She hugged the sword protectively and turned her back toward him. "No way, Gourry! This one's mine!"
"Come on, let me see it!"
"No! It's MINE!"
She cast a glance at him. The tall blonde looked heartbroken. She'd never seen him that ready to cry, even when she'd kicked him in the groin. She turned her nose up and started toward the inn they were staying at. The tall man followed her, looking like a whipped puppy.
*I just don't get her,* he thought. *She' so mean sometimes...*
"Hey, Gourry?" the petite sorceress's voice interrupted.
"What," he responded emotionlessly. She waited until he was looking at her. "What?"
She flashed him a coy smile with her head cocked cutely to one side. "Ya know, I think this sword may be too big for me to carry. Claymores are pretty heavy."
Gourry thought. "You could always take the blade out. You don't really need that part for it to be a great weapon."
For a second, she looked floored. "Well, I don't want such a precision Elfin blade to get left behind, either. I was thinking... Maybe you'd like to take care of it for me. Y'know... just until I grow into it." She heaved the sword into his arms.
Gourry brightened immediately. "You mean it, Lina?"
She smiled sweetly up to him. "Sure do."
He met her gaze with his own broad smile, then buckled the sword around his waist and put and arm around her shoulders. She clung to his waist as they walked down the street together. "Come on... I bet there's an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet around here someplace. I'm buying."
Disclaimer in short: Slayers and related characters aren't mine. Mayaki and various other incidental characters are.