"Gotta get up, I try to open my eyes. I'm swimmin' through this haze, it's been around me for days. Don't wanna come down, but you were always around. And everyone's so strange, there's nothing that they can change. Take my hand... show me how this all fits in your plan. Understand... that I don't need you, I just need to.. . feel, how does it feel to crush the world in two, one more time, cause I am wasted. Feel how does it feel... to scream without a sound, one last time, cause I am wasted. -Zebrahead, Wasted

As a companion of Lina Inverse, Gourry had been through his share of large explosions. One might say he was something of an explosive connaisseur. From the relatively small, breath-stealing concussive blasts of your average fireball, to the terrifyingly empty, raging darkness of a Giga Slave, Gourry had been through them all. He wasn't very picky about what he liked in an explosion, he really had only one criteria that decided whether he liked them or not.

Namely, whether or not they were directed at him.

Unsurprisingly, he was also becoming very adept at coming out of unconsciousness in very odd places without any disorientation (at least, no more than the normal disorientation he felt with being awake. For Gourry, WALKING sometimes causes disorientation). Still, one can hardly blame him when he awakened from his rather rough handling and subsequent close proximity to a large detonation in a state of extreme shock. This might have been due to the fact that he was currently bound hand and foot quite securely to a wooden stake thrust into hay covered ground.

It was more likely because he was currently wearing what appeared to be a woman's bikini complete with fake breasts and a very poorly applied makeup job.

He glanced around confusedly, then, upon realizing the trick that cruel fate had paid on him, his head slumped forward. "Oh no... not again." he muttered miserably.

Perhaps if we could only understand WHY Gourry might have uttered such words, we might have a deeper and more profound understanding of the universe and why things happen to us.

Perhaps... but probably not.

An individual stood before him who bore a remarkable resemblance to the strange local they'd met earlier save that now he wore what might have been a bush, (except for the fact that bushes generally don't try to escape) some red facepaint (poorly applied... this pointed to him as the culprit who'd applied Gourry's unfortunate fashion statement) and what appeared to be a chicken bone through his nose-

-and not much else.

Well... save the pointy stick he held and liberal amounts of dirt, but that went without saying.

The man watched Gourry for a moment before nodding in approval. "Good... you're awake." (It should be noted that he still used his horribly mangled accent, but for ease of translation (and to prevent an author headache) it shall be assumed that Gourry is translating in his head. There's plenty of room.)

He gestured towards the rest of the group. They were all bound and dressed similarly. This included Langdelin. The only notable exceptions were Xellos and Hydra, who were nowhere to be seen.

"Soon we begin... the sacrifice."


Langdelin had been forced to wear some very silly outfits in the past. In a medieval society, and sometimes in religion, a person's importance is often denoted by the ridiculousness and uselessness of their clothing. (in one notable culture, the nobility in question spent the entire day getting dressed, and only held court for a two hour period during which they were wheeled out by servants to be viewed by an appreciative people. Contrary to what one might think, the empire was one of the strongest in history, since the nobility had absolutely no time to do anything other than get dressed and undressed, thus relieving them of the need to overrule (read as screw up) a perfectly good democratic government. The empire eventually collapsed due to a plague of boll weevils, who devastated their cotton crops, and forced the nobility to occupy themselves in something other than fashion, thus proving the age old adage that all good things must come to an end.) Part of the reason Langdelin had become a knight was because he hated getting dressed up all the time. Granted that now he had to wear armor instead, but while ridiculous, it at least served a purpose.

He'd never had the occasion to dress up as a woman though.

He didn't particularly care for it. His bikini bottom had an annoying tendency to ride up the crack of his... well... buttocks. Since wiggling his hips in an attempt to draw it out of hiding did nothing other than cause some of the odd individuals guarding him to look at him rather lecherously, (one remarked that he had a pretty mouth, to which he had thanked the man graciously and asked him if it wouldn't be too much trouble could he possibly release him... but the native had merely looked at him in confusion... no doubt unable to understand his high court speech. He really had to have a talk with mother about that. NO ONE outside of Xoana seemed to understand High Court speech.) so he was forced to simply deal with it.

"Zomelgustar... deliverst Thee thine humble servant from this atrocious butt floss, for verily doth it chafe most foul." he intoned solemnly.


Separated from the boys (this being a relative term, considering the boys current apparel) by thick iron bars, the women in the group slowly began to regain consciousness. Amelia, being the youngest and therefore the most resilient, awoke to find herself in a white bikini, shook her head muzzily and looked about the room with a confused expression that said "what did I do last night, and why am I in a revealing outfit surrounded by very hairy men and... eww.... hairy women."

"Miss Lina?" she inquired quietly. The "Miss" in question groaned and opened eyes that stared death at her tormenters. A few of them took involuntary steps (read as headlong flight) backward.


"Er... nevermind Miss Lina." Amelia sighed. One learned not to get the beast's attention, especially when it was awakened without food and coffee and dealing with the fact that someone other than Mr. Gourry had to have seen it naked.

Then Filia woke up.

Yawning she attempted to stretch, then blinked in confusion at her bound hands. Her gaze followed her arms down to her chest, then down to her legs in confusion. Something was just not quite right about this situation.

-Ah. Tied up. That would probably explain it. Well... this was... Hey. Is it cold in here... why is...-

She froze.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" she remarked reasonably, after discovering that she'd been dressed in a rather skimpy two piece frilly pink bikini.

Ignoring her indignant screams, the "Elder" (so titled based on the fact that he was dirtier and hairier than the others) smiled in gap-toothed satisfaction.

"Ah good. The chosen ones are all awake. We may begin."


The locals of Katatoe bowed as one to the elder, who had jumped up on what appeared to be a barrel, gesturing wildly with his pointy stick (this was the reason the locals had bowed... one did not want to be in the path of a wildly swinging pointy stick) and yelling at the top of his lungs.

"Listen up Y'all! This here's a sacrifice to the Ghost of the Mountain! Brother Maynard, consult the Book of Rituals!"

He waited.

He waited some more.

Finally one of the bowing "natives" nudged the unfortunate individual (you'd be unfortunate too if your name was Maynard with apologies to anyone out there actually named Maynard...) named Maynard hard in the ribs and he fell over, then stood up quickly looking quite embarrassed.

The Elder gave him an indignant look. "Well? Where is the Book of Rituals?"

He fidgeted under the eyes of his compatriots. "Well... er... yer Eldership sir... I was in the john and-"

The Elder rolled his eyes. "Go on."

Amelia looked over at Lina. "You get the feeling they haven't done this a whole lot?"

Lina shook her head in exasperation. "Only I'D get sacrificed by amateurs."

The luckless brother Maynard dug a toe into the dirt and continued with his excuse. "Well... er... I was out of toilet paper... and there it was with all those purdy pages-"

The elder closed his eyes. "You wiped yerself with the Book of Rituals?" he clenched his fist, quietly having an apoplexy.

"Not the WHOLE book... just er... pages one through fifteen."

The Elder sighed, releasing his anger. "Oh well. Just get what's left Brother Maynard... and er... skip the bad part."

Lina shook her head in disgust. "I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear that. I could go my whole life without that visual image."

Amelia sighed. "I can't believe this is a part of Sailoon."

Filia smiled to herself. "This is not happening. I'm at home... this is just a bad dream."

The two of them gave Filia a concerned look.

Several moments later the much relieved Brother Maynard opened the book and cleared his throat. Then began to YELL AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS.


He closed the book and the elder nodded, pleased with his own contribution.

Lina shook her bonds. "Someone please kill me."

Filia shrieked again. "This is NOT how rituals are supposed to go! What's WRONG with you PEOPLE?!!!"

Lina shook her bonds again. "Someone please kill her!"

The Elder shrugged. "So then we saw those big booms on the top of the mountain... and you folks come barrelin' down all smokin' and stuff, and we figured you riled up the ghost er somethin', so we strung y'all up as virgin sacrifices."

He looked inordinately proud of himself.

Lina looked up suddenly. "I have a daughter."

The Elder frowned. "Er... immaculate conception?"

Gourry shook his head and grinned sheepishly. "Not from my angle."

Lina growled at him. "No... it was the old fashioned way."

The Elder looked concerned. "Well... I guess we can't sacrifice you as a virgin..."

He looked at Brother Maynard, who flipped through the book at random.

Then he brightened. "In the event that enough virgins are not available, the town may substitute a crone, 'cause they're old and wise, and 'cause the old bats won't ever shut up."

Lina's jaw dropped. "I AM NOT A CRONE!!!!"

The elder grinned. "You'll do."

Lina began to struggle furiously, frothing at the mouth.

The Elder paled and cleared his throat. "Er, anyway, y'all riled up the Ghost, so y'all get sacrificed to the volcano. It's only fair. UNLESS..."

The group perked up. Lina awakened from her anger fugue and looked attentive (however this may have only been a ruse to draw the Elder into biting distance).

The Elder grinned. "Y'all apologize to the Ghost REALLLL loud."

They blinked. Lina looked at Gourry, who looked over at Langdelin, and so on and so on.

"Well... that doesn't sound so bad."

The Elder grinned. "IN RHYME!!"

They looked blank. Lina frowned. "Uh... we're really sorry....?

The Elder frowned. "NO NO NO... you have to RHYME!!"

Her eyebrow twitched.

"I'm really sorry we got caught... When I'm done this friggin' village is gonna be a grease spot!"

The villagers looked at one another in dismay. The Elder frowned. "Well... I guess that was an apology..."

Langdelin shook his head. "This is unseemly. Who didst come up with this hogwash?"

The Elder frowned.

Langdelin sighed again. "Very well. If I must."

"I'm sorry the mountain ghost I was daring... But most of all for what I'm wearing."

The villagers applauded. The Elder smiled. "Very good young man...er... woman."

Langdelin glowered.

Filia glowered. "You are all going to hell. You people should be ashamed of yourselves."

She paused.

"Oh, and I'm sorry."

The Elder frowned. "What kind of rhyme was that? The apology didn't even rhyme!"

Filia glowered. Her fangs showed. "What rhymes with "Help me, I'm on fire"?"

The Elder paled. "Er... moving on?"

Amelia frowned in concentration, then grinned. "I'm sorry for my trespass and my rhyme.. but if you think THIS is bad, wait for tax time."

The villagers "ahemed loudly". The Elder pasted on a fake smile. "That will be all."

Gourry looked trapped. He hated word games. He had a headache. He frowned. Everyone looked at him expectantly.

"Er... I'm sorry for...



Ten minutes later everyone was looking a bit bored. Gourry looked miserable, then he brightened a bit.

"Uh... I'm sorry for my sins and vices.... Lucky has the lowest prices?"

Everyone blinked. The Elder looked confused.

"Well... I suppose it rhymed..."

The Elder shrugged. "Well... I guess it'll work.."

The villagers clapped and heehawed and generally did what happy yokels do. This included spitting.

The elder smiled. "Welp... I guess we ain't sacrificin' ya to the mountain."

The companions sighed in relief.

"So... does this mean we're free?" Amelia chirped.

The Elder looked confused. "Ah... no... see, y'all DID go up on the forbidden mountain during our biggest grain festival, so we've gotta sacrifice ya to the grain god Wheat-Taw-Ded. Y'all understand right?"

Five separate individuals fought with all their might against their bonds, not so much struggling to get free in as much as they were trying to strangle the Elder. He took a step back.

Gourry stopped. "Wait a minute!? Why did you dress us up as girls?!"

The Elder grinned. "I knew y'all was gonna apologize so I thought ahead. Wheat-Taw-Ded only accepts female sacrifices." he looked inordinately proud of himself. "He's a beer god." He added. This explained everything.

Langdelin growled. "Thine religion doth blow."

A very large vat full of an amber fluid was wheeled out onto the hay covered floor. The heavily put upon group of adventurers stared at it in dismay.

"Is that what I think it is?" Lina stared at it in undisguised alarm.

Amelia sniffed, then sighed. "It smells like..."

The Elder grinned. "Ma's best one-hunnerd eighty proof corn whiskey. Y'all er goin' out in style!" he glanced around at the various captives and his gaze stopped on Filia.

"The one that threatened me goes first."

The villagers blinked. "Uh... which one?"

The Elder looked nervous. "Uh... the blonde one with the tail."

Filia blinked as her stick was lifted up out of the ground by a pair of burly natives. They "Hup-hup-hupped" it over to the vat. A large plank had been set across the lid, and the two burly porters hupped right up onto it and prepared to heave her in. She stared down into it in dismay.

"This is so embarrassing... how can it end like this?!"

The villagers began to chant. "WHEA... TAAA.... DED. WHEA... TAAA... DED."

Filia shrieked (more in rage than in fear). "This is not happening!!"

"OOOOOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!!!" The voice cut through all the reveling like a hot knife through a mime. Everyone clasped their hands on their ears (if they could) and looked upward.

Hydra floated sedately in midair, her arms crossed. She surveyed her enemies in disdain.

"This is HARDLY worth my time. A bunch of peasants. Well.... it appears the greatest sorcery genius of all time must come to the rescue!!"

"OOOOOOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!!" The villagers scattered in all directions to avoid the banshee wail what was undoubtedly the ghost's wife. So THAT was why he was always so pissed off....

The two villagers holding Filia released her in panic and ran for their lives, sanity and hearing. Filia "eeped" quietly as she bounced off of the board, then down into the vat...

A staff caught between her hands and she jerked to a stop inches from the liquid inside (which does not so much cause liver failure as it does simply kick the liver across the hall and step on it several times while stealing it's lunch money). She blinked in surprise, then looked up to see...

"XELLOS?!!!" she shouted in disbelief.

Xellos looked down from the position from which he hovered, holding the dragon girl from her plunge one-handed with no apparent strain. "Oh...hello Filia. Did I interrupt something?"

Filia huffed. "XELLOS.. You got us all into this. I don't need any help from YOU!"

Xellos seemed to consider this. "You know... I think you're right." He removed his staff and saluted her. "Cheers!"

Filia blinked, then began to shout out in fury when her mouth was suddenly filled with alcohol...

It should be noted that when Filia is angered (and boy has she got every right to be pissed, Xellos nonwithstanding) she has a tendency to do two things. One, is to inhale deeply in order to verbally assault her opponent. The other, is to take her more natural form, this being that of a (remarkably kawaii) golden dragon. She did both simultaniously. She stared at Xellos from the bottom of the vat, and yelled invective up at him. She hadn't apparently noticed that she was both submerged and a dragon at the moment.

Xellos grinned and mimed drinking a bottle. Filia growled, then her brain informed her that it would probably be a good idea to get up into where the oxygen was. The problem was that she was now rather firmly wedged into the vat, which bulged dangerously. Her vision began to get dark...

She struggled, glared, then began to drink furiously. She wasn't going down like this. She was going to drink her way to air.

-Damn that Xellos... why does he always have to do this to me... I... hey... you know... maybe it's cause 'e likes me...heee hee... hey... this is kinda good....ooo warm...-

Everyone stared in shock (with the exception of Xellos, who looked a bit concerned, though no one else noticed) as the level in the vat dropped down to less than half. Xellos frowned, then whacked the side of the vat with his staff. Something inside him was telling him (much to his dismay and consternation) that enough was enough. Somehow... seeing Filia being humiliated yet again did not bring the same rush of pleasure it once did. It was time to move on to more serious things. Talon had begun to move and Xellos needed the beleagured group to get in his way long enough to give Gaav enough time to do what Xellos wanted him to do.

The overstressed vat shattered with a crash and Filia (in human form.... though clad in her bikini... it is rather hard to remain pissed when one is soused) floundered disorientedly into Xellos' arms.

"Hey there stra'ger.." she cooed, her eyes refusing to focus. "You saved me."

Xellos blinked. Anger he could handle. Indignation too. What the heck was this?!

"I don't think-"

Filia put a finger on his lips, or tried to. Instead she shoved a finger into his mouth, giggled and smiled. "Don't think... I've ben wantin' to do this fer.." she frowned.

Xellos turned pale. This was beginning to look like an extremely bad idea.

Amelia and Lina exchanged knowing glances.

Amelia shook her head. "It's always the quiet ones."

Lina frowned. "You think SHE'S quiet?"

Amelia thought about it a moment, then shrugged. "Good point."

Langdelin shook his head. "Verily, she shalt regreteth this in the morning."

Hydra meanwhile, was trying to slip between the bars of Langdelin and Gourry's cage, without much success. Her... er...assets were preventing her from reaching him. She was forced to do this because the bastards who had the key had run away from her in terror, though she could hardly blame them considering her power.

Gourry looked at her in interest. Mainly because a young woman with large breasts trying to squeeze into a very small space is fun no matter how you look at it.

Langdelin sighed. "I don't think thy plan is going to work, Lady Hydra."

A sudden loud pop caught his attention. He blinked in confusion, then goggled in amazement as one of Hydra's breasts shrank from it's ridiculously huge size to a size more suited to a certain irritated sorceress.

"GREAT ZOMELGUSTAR.... y-.... you stuff!" He gasped.

Hydra paled and quickly slipped into the cage, hiding her chest with Langdelin's bulk. reaching into her cloak, she pulled out an uninflated spare and hastily blew it up, slipping it back into place.

The illusion was perfect.

Langdelin shook his head in wonder. "But... why?"

Hydra sighed. "I've got a reputation to live up to. Besides... you know what men look for in a girl, look what SHE married." she jerked a finger towards Lina.

Langdelin frowned. "Good point. Still... this doth change things."

Hydra sighed. "I guess I'm not the woman you thought I was, Langdelin."

Langdelin grinned. "Aye... t'is true. To be honest, I considered the you from before to be a plague from Zomelgustar. Though admittedly, thine chest has become somewhat diminished in His sight, thine true personality doth speak far better for thee then I hadst first considered." he looked skyward. "Besides... as the Great Lord Zomelgustar doth say... more than a handful is too much of a good thing." he smiled warmly. Zomelgustar never said anything of the sort, but Langdelin was far too nice to try to hurt anyone's feelings.

Hydra's eyes got moist, then she shook herself and laughed.

"OOOOHHHOHOHOHO!" Have no fear... I, Hydra, shall rescue you!" she looked furtively at the rest of the group. They were busy watching the improbable sight of Xellos trying to fend off an amorous dragon girl. This was quite a spectacle considering that the dragon girl had the hiccups, and everytime she hiccuped, she momentarily became a dragon. It was a testament to Xellos' power that he was still in one piece, let alone clothed.

She turned back to Langdelin and cut him free. He massaged his wrists and blinked at her. She whispered to him. "We'll discuss this later. By the way...NICE swimsuit."

He blushed.

Xellos was in turmoil. On the one hand, it would be very easy to take advantage of the situation. Hell... mazoku imperitive DEMANDED IT.

Something in him wouldn't let him do it.


Something was telling him this was WRONG.


He looked up at Lina... a momentary look of confusion that she barely caught. "What have you done to me?"

Lina blinked. "Huh?"

He frowned then sighed. "I'm going to regret this."

He tapped Filia lightly on the side of the head. She blinked, then slumped to the ground snoring peacefully. He glared at the rest of the group, then snapped his fingers. Their bonds were all released so suddenly that with the exception of Gourry, they fell to the ground.

"You will find your clothes in the last hut on the way out of the city. Consider us even. If you want to save your daughter..." he frowned. "Go to Sentinel."

Lina frowned. "What the hell is going on, Xellos? We aren't going anywhere until you level with us for once."

His face took on a level of coldness that she had never seen. She shivered involuntarily.

"Then your daughter will die. It makes no difference to me."

With that, he disappeared in a pop of displaced air.

Once they'd freed themselves, Gourry hugged his wife carefully. She blinked up at him in confusion.

"Why are you being so weird, Gourry?" Normally he hugged her so hard she thought her bones would creak.

He smiled. "I know all about them now Lina. I promise I won't damage them. I wouldn't want you to lose what little you've got."

Lina blinked. "Huh?"

Gourry smiled warmly and winked at her.


Xellos fled in consternation. Of all the times for inconvenient side effects to pop up... WHY NOW!!?



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