"There's a house that's cold as ice, through a vault that's made of stone, all the years the walls got higher, all the years the walls have grown. Is there anybody in there? In this self inflicted tomb? If you peel away the layers, is there someone in this room? If you peel away the skin?" -Oingo Boingo, Skin

In order to get a proper perspective on a place, without actually having been there one's self, it is sometimes necessary to consult the proper literary authorities. The tourism board of Sailoon has the following to say about the Katatoe Mountains, one of the stops in it's "Magical Tour of Sailoon" (LTD) brochure:

"A scenic mountain vista, where one can meander through the natural stone labyrinths, and visit the quaint and rustic mountain village of Katatoe."

This is somewhat revised from previous brochures, which made sure to include bits about the large number of dragons in the region. Surprisingly, the brochure is not all that far off from the truth. The Katatoes are undoubtedly mountains, and do provide such scenic and soul-moving views as, "That Big Lump of Rock Over There" and "Miles and Miles of Unidentifable Trees of a Conifer Variety," to name a few.

One can also meander through the labyrinths as well, though it should be noted that meandering in this case is just another way of saying "wandering aimlessly through the most confusing puzzle ever discovered since the invention of the Rubik's Cube."

The town is indeed "quaint and rustic". The towns folk are so "quaint" and "rustic" as to follow the time honored tradition of not bathing unless one happens to be caught out in the rain. The town of Katatoe is entirely inhabited by people who entered the labyrinth, then couldn't find their way back out of it. Anyone with any intelligence leaves the town as soon as they are able, so only the shallows and occasionally whatever gunk that gets caught in the filter of the gene pool ends up there permanently, thus lending credence to the fact that while nature may abhor a vacuum, she is not above stuffing embarrassments in a conveniently hidden niche in order to fill said vacuum.

The dragons, the only majestic and compelling reason (one can't argue that dragons aren't both majestic and compelling, particularly with the dragons themselves. If one does not respect the majesty of a dragon, one will rapidly find a compelling reason to be elsewhere) to explore the Katatoe Mountains, disappeared some ten years ago and have not been sighted since.

So with things as they are, one can say that sales in "I traversed the Katatoe Mountains and all I got was this stupid tunic" tunics have declined noticeably.

Not to mention that according to local superstition (or stupidstition, depending on who you ask) a vengeful ghost haunts the Katatoe Mountain valley...


The "vengeful ghost" in question awoke blearily in what had become his routine fashion; with a stiff neck and aching back from falling asleep over his desk. Not that it could be called a desk other than the fact that it had four legs of approximately the same length, an essentially flat surface, and provided a relatively stable place to put items... interior decoration is somewhat hard to do when the major resources one has to work with are stone and wood in its upright, leafy form. Zelgadis was an extremely resourceful individual however, and had managed (with some small difficulty) to put together a functioning work bench that also served as a coffee table, desk, and occasional bed. He actually was in possession of a mattress, since the local natives (who almost all answer to the name Bill or Bob in one form or another... even the females) left him large amounts of their only valuable resource (sheeps wool, sheep being the only animal aside from the locals themselves to find itself trapped in the labyrinth) in an effort to appease the "vengeful ghost".

At the moment, the only thing vengeful about Zelgadis was his hair.

Brushing the tangled mess irritably out of his face, (Zelgadis did not spend an overly large amount of time styling his hair these days, as he didn't have anyone to impress, and he had nothing to worry about as far as hair damage went, save the occasional outbreak of rust) Zelgadis stretched and yawned, then put his hand down hard on something that somehow managed to squeak and rattle at the same time. Blinking, Zelgadis looked down to see a perfectly proportioned, six and three-eighths inch tall woman with little black antennae and gauzy dragonfly-like wings fluttering in distress. The distress was currently being generated due to the fact that she was currently trying to maintain her balance while holding up a full teacup and saucer (easily bigger than she was) and the weight of Zelgadis' hand at the same time. Managing a shaky smile, she looked up at Zelgadis brightly.

"GOOD morning Master Zelgadis! I thought you might like some tea before breakfast..."

Zelgadis lifted the tea cup and saucer away from the beleaguered pixie and approximated something between a grunt of affirmation and apology. Zelgadis was a well mannered and cultured individual but he could never be considered a morning person.

Even in the afternoon.

The pixie waited patiently with her hands crossed behind her back, beaming sunnily up at him the whole while. One got the impression that Zelgadis did not bother to put sugar in his tea... the little woman was saccharine enough.

After he had ingested enough of Mrs. Fenwick's wicked brew (Mrs. Fenwick's tea contains little to no caffeine, it is simply so awfully strong that it offends the senses into wakefulness in much the same manner that a swift kick to the genitals will offend one's sensibilities) to become coherent enough to utilize higher brain functions, he spoke.

"Sorry about that Pix... I didn't see you there. Good... er tea."

She blushed a delicate pink and beamed up at him. "Oh that's perfectly alright Master Zelgadis... I'm SO glad you like the tea."

"Pix..." he sighed. "We've been over this... you don't have to call me Master."

If the irrepressable pixie was bothered by this, she gave no sign. "I know I don't HAVE to, master. I CHOOSE to."

Zel frowned. He'd spent a large portion of his life beholden to Rezo, and as such he had a very dim view of dependency. While the circumstances by which Pix had come into his life could not be considered normal in any sense of the word, the diminutive creature WAS dependent upon him. The highly caustic tea percolated memories in his mind's eye, and he found himself in a far away place 5 years ago, following the quest that had driven him for most of his adult life...

>>>EAT AT JOE'S!!! EAT AT- er... sorry about that... Er... hi... um... this is where the wavy lines of a flashback are supposed to be, but we appear to be having some kind of a technical difficulty and hold on a sec... -JOHN!!! GET OFF YOUR ASS AND FIX THIS FRIGGIN'- oh is this thing still on? Bugger<<<


The laboratory was dark, cold, and covered completely in a light patina of dust. Not for the first time, Zelgadis cursed his grandfather's habit of creating a scattering of magical laboratories all over the world and fully stocking them with magical traps and monsters. The last few labs had yielded little that would help him in his quest, though he had picked up an ingenious method of trapping a corridor with a large slab of stone and a pivoting--

He shook his head, this was not what he was here for.

A slight variation in the border between two of the great stone blocks that made up the walls of the corridor he was currently pushing his way down caught his attention. Bringing his light spell closer, he ran a stony finger down the crack, then leaned his ear up against the block and rapped lightly on it. Frowning slightly, he moved over a few inches, then repeated the action. A hard, satisfied little grin graced his features and he pushed hard against the left side of the block. The panel pivoted on its central pillar, revealing a dark maw of a tunnel with a nearly indetectable downward slope. A damp, moldering smell assaulted his nostrils, and he cautiously pushed his way down the roughly hewn tunnel, his light spell hovering peacefully over his open palm like a tiny star. He continued down into the depths, the light making a little bubble of visibility and throwing strange, distorted shadows on the walls. After traveling down the nearly unvaried course of the tunnel, seeing only the path he'd walked behind him, and unchanging darkness in front, only his well honed sense of direction assured him that he was moving forward at all. The atmosphere of the place was a cloying mixture of emptiness and gloom, and it might have been unnerving, had Zelgadis been inclined toward such reactions.

He was not. He had, after all, made a traveling companion of Lina Inverse. Very little seems strange or unsettling after being with her. Sitting through a single meal with her was usually enough to sate even the most jaded appetite for the bizarre (though not usually enough to sate the most jaded appetite for food; eating with Lina Inverse tends to be a very light repast for other food war participants).

Just as Zelgadis was beginning to wonder if perhaps Rezo had put some sort of magical trap in this hidden passage, the tunnel abruptly widened into a well-constructed room with several bookshelves lining the cold stone walls. Interspaced between the bookcases were several sconces which contained unlit torches. Zelgadis puzzled over these for a few moments...

Then the light spell went out.

Frowning slightly, Zelgadis intoned the words to another light spell.


A globe of light once again illuminated the room-

-and just as quickly, extinguished itself.

Frowning irritably in the darkness, Zel prepared to cast the spell again when a faint sound reached his sensitive ears... he stopped in puzzlement, listening carefully...

It sounded...

It sounded like...


Drawing his sword, he squinted into the darkness...


The room was thrown into a bloody glare as magic infused his blade, turning it a brilliant crimson. He scanned the room intently, searching for the source of the rasping breath he had heard-

-his sword flickered slightly, then died.

"What the?!" Zelgadis asked intelligently.

A very faint, almost unnoticable voice entreated him.

"...help... me... master."

"Who are you? Show yourself!" he thundered, casting about for the source of the quiet plea.

Only silence greeted him.

Scowling silently to himself, he patted his person for a piece of flint, or a stone... whatever the hell was in this room with him, it seemed to feed off of magic, making any magic useless... he needed...

He stopped momentarily, blinked, then slapped his forehead.

Right. A stone.

The clicking sound of steel striking stone intermixed with a small spark in the darkness until finally the room blossomed into visibility as Zelgadis held a now merrily burning torch, and a slightly embarrassed look on his face. Conducting an extensive search of the room revealed only what he'd seen upon first entering, walls of books, a few unlit torches... he scratched his head in puzzlement, then froze and looked up.

Hanging from what appeared to be an iron chain, a few feet from the rather high ceiling, sat a cage.

A very... small cage.

Again he heard a small, weak voice desperately whisper, this time definitely coming from inside the cage.

"Please.... help... me..."

Zel frowned... this COULD be a trick of some sort...

Then shrugged. What could it possibly be? A monstrous canary? Setting the burning torch back into its holder, he returned to the center of the room. Bracing himself he leaped from the floor. A quick flash of firelight off steel, the snick of a sword passing unbelievably fast through a thick iron chain and then back into a sheath, and Zelgadis found himself standing in the center of the room with a golden cage resting in his arms and himself staring intently into it. A small pair of beautiful violet eyes stared back at him. The eyes were set into a tiny, beautiful face framed by blond hair, with two little black antennae hanging limply from a pale forehead. She stared at him from the bottom of the cage, having barely the strengh to lift her head. She was perfect. She was beautiful.

She was about 6 inches tall.

"What... ARE you?" he asked wonderingly... he'd never encountered anything like her in all of his travels.

She opened her mouth, shuddered slightly, then closed her eyes and sank fully to the floor.

Alarmed, he frowned, casting about for something, anything...

Something clicked in his mind. The voice hadn't started until his magic had disappeared... the torches... Rezo had built most of his laboratories with magical lighting... why would he stock this one with torches?

Unless something in it fed off of MAGIC.

Setting the cage on the floor, he backed up a bit, then focused his concentration.


A storm of bluish. crackling astral energy tore across the ground, struck the cage...

Then disappeared suddenly with a slightly confused FZZT!

Walking over to the cage, he lifted it up by what was left of the iron chain and stared concernedly inside.

The occupant of the cage came up to a sitting position, stretching lazily and arching her back (causing Zelgadis to avert his eyes slightly... for a very very small woman she was... well... very well proportioned) yawned, then looked at him brightly.

"That was delicious! Got anymore... Master?"


So it was that Zelgadis found himself a companion... of sorts. Since the events with Dark Star, Zelgadis had gone on with his original plan for finding his cure; go to the source itself. Rezo was a meticulous man, and in his quest for sight he had explored a wide variety of magical research and documented it all. It stood to reason that Zelgadis had been a byproduct of some strange branch of Rezo's explorations into magical theory and, as mentioned above, the man had documented every step on his quest for magical knowledge. The problem was that Rezo was also a very secretive man who traveled extensively; he had caches and storehouses of magical research hidden all over the lands he'd traveled. Tracking them down was something of a difficult prospect, but one that Zelgadis was sure would lead him to the clues he needed to reverse the Red Priest's terrible spell.

What it had led him to instead was Pix.

Zelgadis had been able to piece together what Pix had been originally intended for. The little creature fed off of and stored magical energy, any magical energy, white, black AND shamanistic. The usefulness of a magical battery was immediately apparent... what Zelgadis had never been able to reason out was why the Red Priest had crafted it into a living magical artifact. He chalked it down to another of the many quirks evident in a man obsessed with magic. Perhaps it was the cruel streak within him... a little bit of Shabranigdo coming to the surface that he should create a being that was as woebegone as himself...

For Pix had an insatiable appetite for magic... yet was completely incapable of using or generating it herself. Sadly, Zel had been unable to use any of the research into the tiny being to help her OR himself, the starved pixie had only been able to survive by slowly leeching the only available magic within her reach once Rezo had abandoned her... the very tomes that detailed her construction. In the dark and damp for several years, without the magic that preserved them, the tomes had been almost completely unreadable.

Zel was now in a rather strange position. On the one hand, he wasn't much for company, being largely uncomfortable in social situations... he knew what he looked like. On the other, he felt a kinship for this little being that Rezo had thrown away... it reminded him alot of himself. Further, he felt responsible for her... she needed a daily source of magic (which could be annoying, because if she was hungry enough she had no control over what she drained of energy) to keep her alive, and Zelgadis was the only person who would give her that without using her.

Not that that didn't mean she wasn't grateful... far from it... it was sort of nice having her around... she was bright and cheerful without being obsessive (like a certain justice loving princess) and she didn't even seem to notice that he was...

Well... rock.

Putting down his half empty cup of tea, he brooded over the book he'd fallen asleep on. He didn't have much hope of finding what it was he was looking for. He'd exhausted nearly every possibility of finding his cure among the books he'd salvaged from Rezo's collection... the information he needed simply wasn't in them.

"Whats wrong, Master Zelgadis?" Pix asked him worriedly. Zelgadis was essentially her entire world, but he had a tendency towards depression and brooding, despite her constant attempts to lighten him up. Though she honestly couldn't understand what it was that was so important about finding his cure (she thought he was quite handsome and unique personally) she knew that it WAS important to him, and so it was important to her.

He sighed. "All of these books are useless. The only thing that could help me now is the Claire Bible, and I'm no closer to finding the way to THAT either."

Pix frowned (an expression that was uncommon for her) and patted his hand. "I thought the Claire Bible was right here... I mean, that's why WE'RE here isn't it?"

He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Yes Pix, this is the location of the Claire Bible... the problem is that its hidden in a magical labyrinth that only a very few people know the way through... the information is so close and yet..."

"Well what about Lina Inverse? She's-"

Zelgadis waved his hands as though trying to ward off a plague. "Oh no... I'm not involving HER in this... every time I get mixed up with her I end up sidetracked and wandering about trying to save the world from whatever menace is threatening it this time... which also usually ends up putting me in some ridiculous mess that has nothing to do with anything other than embarrassing the hell out of me... it took me a long time to convince her that I was through with adventuring, I'm not about to-" he stopped ranting and seated himself...

"I'm sorry Pix... its not your problem... its not Lina's problem... this is MY problem."

"Besides... Lina's in no position to help me as she is now... I wouldn't want to endanger her."

Pix nodded sadly, then brightened up. "Well breakfast is ready whenever you are!"

Zelgadis managed a slight grin. "Thanks Pix."

She nodded, then fluttered off into another area of the cave they'd set up shop in, humming merrily to herself.

Zelgadis' gaze became distant and somewhat melancoly... no... he didn't think he'd be adventuring with any Inverses any time soon.


He frowned slightly... for a moment, he could have sworn he'd heard someone giving him the raspberry....


"Bless you." Red remarked absently to Mina as the two of them made their way down the long road to Katatoe.

Mina sniffed. "Thank you." she frowned... was she allergic to something around here? She'd been sneezing an awful lot lately.

"So who is this Zelgadis guy anyway?"

Mina frowned. "Well... before I was born, mom and dad used to travel around er... adventuring as heroes.." she gave him a warning look... but his face was neutral.

Studiously so.

"One of the people that used to travel with them was Zelgadis." she frowned. "I remember every year we used to celebrate Valgaav, he's this bratty kid I used to know... one of my mom's friend's kid, and my birthday at the same time... cause they were real close together and everyone lived so far away from each other."

Red frowned... Valgaav... that name sounded familiar... why did he know these people so well? "Go on." he encouraged her.

She sighed. "There's really not a whole lot to tell... he stopped visiting by the time I was 5... I always got the impression that he was uncomfortable being around kids. He was quiet and calm... which is alot different from my mom and dad let me tell you... and he had this real nice voice. His skin was like rock, and he had wire for hair. Mom said that's part of the reason he was so uncomfortable ... he's real touchy about it. I don't remember him too well, but I remember he always gave us really cool presents... usually that he made himself."

Red frowned. The look on her face was one of curiousity and fondness... he wasn't entirely sure how he felt about her being so interested in another man.

He grinned. "You're not into the quiet mysterious type are you?"

Mina gave him an equally evil look. "You mean as opposed to big, loud, and obnoxious?"

He blinked. "You think I'm loud?"

"Oh... no more than your average THUNDERSTORM." she retorted, smiling.

He looked somewhat offended and she started to chuckle.

"Hey... you forgot some things on your list." he asked, almost too casually.

"Like what?

"Strong, fast, and vengeful."

"Vengeful? What do you ACK-"

Mina found herself being hoisted not unlike a bag of potatoes. Red whistled contentedly to himself as she struggled (in vain) to free herself.

"Red... put me DOWN!" she tried to sound irritated, but its somewhat hard to do this while one is giggling.

"What? I'm sorry... can't hear you over all the NOISE I'M MAKING!" He intentionally increased his volume by a few decibels.

"Seriously Red...put me down... your hair is tickling me...."

"Oh... you shouldn't have told me THAT!"


It was a fortunate thing that Dnarc was several miles away at the time...

Though whether it was a fortunate thing for the two of them or him is another question entirely.


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