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Thread: Down to the Brass Rackets

  1. #1
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    Default Down to the Brass Rackets

    Rating: PG
    Fandom: Slayers
    Pairing: Zelgadis/Amelia

    Author's Note: I've never been much for fanfiction, but I do love writing. I'm trying to get into the habit of writing more without feeling the need to torture myself about it. So I've decided to write fanfiction for fun and practice. This particular story is set in, as you can guess, the Slayers NEXT episode about the Brass Rackets tournament, otherwise know as "Bitter Curve Balls! Gutsy Fast Balls!" (which you, yes you, can watch freely and legally on Hulu.com along with the rest of NEXT and of course the first season of Slayers!) except it focuses more on Zel and Amelia and is from Zel's perspective. I don't envision this to be longer than a 2 or 3 part story. Enjoy, if at all possible. Also posted on my neglected fanfiction.net account

    Part One

    Brass Rackets. Can you believe it? It's ridiculous, ridiculous that this game should have anything to do with the Clair Bible and thus my quest to return myself to normal. But it does. I have to do whatever I can to get a look at that trophy. Why there should be a clue as to the location of the Clair Bible on a trophy for an enchanted sports match is a bit beyond me, but that doesn;t change the fact that I need that information. Desperately.

    Er... which probably doesn't excuse the wearing make-up thing. But damn it, just because Brass Rackets teams have to have one male and one female on them is not reason enough to stop me from getting this information! This may be my only hope to restore myself to my human appearance and if Lina's not going to take up this Rudo guy's offer to be a team-mate than I'll do it. There are very, very few things I'd be willing to wear girl's clothing for and this just happens to be one of them.

    But, of course, the rest of them don't take it seriously at all. Oh, that's just Zel going on and on about regaining his human form. It's never really going to happen and we don't care because we like laughing at him. Bah.

    I'm pretty sure Amelia was giggling behind her hand. I'm sure it was the… lipstick and all, so maybe she had the right to laugh. But she should understand how hard this is for me. Reversing a chimeric transformation is practically unheard of and may be impossible. Searching for a cure is like looking for a needle in a haystack when the needle looks just like every other piece of hay and might not even be in that specific haystack.

    I think I may have overextended that metaphor. I'm just a little upset about the whole wearing-make-up-to-disguise-self-as-girl-in-a-public-place thing. And it was for nothing anyway. Lina took the guy up on his offer. Well, now she has to win. At least then I might actually get a chance to see the Clair Bible clue. Of course, she's so focused on finding a method to defeat Gaav’s monsters that she’s probably forgotten that we originally went on this journey to help me.

    That’s why I wanted to go alone. With Lina, everything's all about her, Gourry needs a roadmap to get him through adult conversations, and Amelia... well, Amelia just doesn’t understand sometimes. She actually thought I'd want to stay this way.

    ....She did say "cool" though. I didn't just make that up. I wonder if she meant it or if she was just being nice.

    ...

    She was probably just being nice.

    After all, she did laugh behind her hand!

    ...But that really wasn’t from myunfortunately chimeric appearance. And at least she tried to hide her laughter, unlike Lina and Martina who just laughed straight in my face.

    So, maybe she does think I'm "cool". Wait. I mean that I look "cool". I guess that would be kind of like her. She does try to look for the good in people, especially her friends/"allies of justice".

    But there’s no real need to be dwelling on Amelia, right now. The important thing is, that despite the fact that my search for a clue to the location of the Clair Bible has been derailed into yet another Lina vs. Martina grudge match, I can still have a little hope as long as Lina wins the tournament.

    Another, perhaps equally important thing is, I can't get this make-up off my face.

    Stupid, cheap, water-proof gunk... I've been scrubbing for hours! I don't know what else I can do. There’s no one who would help me either. I'd just be a laughing stock again.

    Unless...

    *****

    "I just don't understand why it won't come out," Amelia said, soap encrusted towel in hand. "Where did you get this anyway?"

    "Purse of the lady in the table next to us," I mumbled.

    "Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia said in her aghast, high-pitched tone. "Allies of Justice do not steal!"

    "Well that's alright," I responded. "Because, as I've tried to explain many times, I am not an ally of justice." My bold statement was slightly damaged by the fact that, in her fervent effort to wash off the powder from my face, she'd flicked some soap in my eye. "Ow."

    "Sorry!" she cried, throwing the towel to the side. "Here, let me wash that out." She leaned in, uncomfortably close, held open my eye, and poured a trickle of water into my irritated eye as gently as possible. Her skin was soft against my rocky brow and mygod I can't believe I just thought that.

    I blinked and the pain receded.

    "Better?"

    I nodded.

    She lifted her head back and looked thoughtfully at me for a moment. "Well, even if we can't wash it off, it'll probably just flake off in a day or two."

    That was too much. "First of all, I'm not waiting a day or two," I said harshly. "And secondly, in case you've forgotten, my skin's not like yours. It doesn't just flake off. It's rock." I knocked on my chin to illustrate the point, perhaps a little harder than I should've. Ow again.

    She looked like a kicked puppy. "I'm sorry."

    I hate it when she does that. It makes me feel like apologizing and I really don't want to. I settled instead for a slightly rueful, "It's not your fault." I tried a reassuring smile. "We'll get it off somehow."

    She nodded. And then, a moment later, the hurt look vanished as she brightened and crossed over to the sink. "We still haven't tried the wire brush," she said with a smile as she pulled it out from a cabinet.

    Oh no. This is going to be painful.
    Last edited by Skiyomi; 19th June 2009 at 9:52 PM.

  2. #2
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    Anybody out there? *crickets chirp* Alrighty then. Nevertheless, here's the next bit.

    Part Two

    Well, with the help of Amelia, who is surprisingly strong for someone her size, we finally washed the make-up off.

    By "washed" I actually mean "scraped away along with a layer of my skin", but that doesn't really matter. What does matter is that the make-up is gone, I've regained feeling in my face in the last hour or so, and I don't think anyone can tell.

    "Hey Zel, is it just me, or does your face look different?"

    Damn you, Gourry. Damn you and your sporadic observational skills.

    "It's just you, Mr. Gourry," Amelia said tersely. "He doesn't look any different at all to me."

    Despite the fact that she’s a little on the crazy side and has way too much energy, I am occasionally grateful for Amelia. That was one of those moments.

    Not that I'm going to tell her.

    We were on the ledge of what looked like a giant quarry. Rudo had dragged us all here for some highly questionable training for Lina. It"s probably not necessary. After all, it's mental energy and personality that counts in this game, right? Well, Lina's got to be at least three times as temperamental as Martina, and Martina is probably the most frightening person I've ever had to work for. (and I've worked for a long line of frightening and unpleasant people. This includes, but is not limited to, a man with purple clown-hair who collected stuffed-animals and plotted the revival of demon beasts, a woman who stuck jewels on people's foreheads to control them, and a sorcerer who shrieked his every word and thought that his enemies could shrink themselves to microscopic size and mess with his digestion. I have a lot of credibility in this area.)

    Still, this is the Clair Bible we're talking about, so she'll have to be prepared for anything.

    "Alright! Let's begin!" Rudo called out from below, where he stood with Lina.

    "Well," Gourry began, looking down at them. "that’s easy for him to say, but…"

    "Is this really such a good idea?" Amelia asked uncertainly.

    It was kind of drastic, I had to admit. But then again, it's "Clair Bible" kind of drastic. I had to communicate to them how important this was.

    "Lina has to be the one to win," I said definitively. "This is the only way."

    "Oh, wow. You look so serious Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia said with a mixture of admiration and concern.

    I should've known there was no way she'd understand.

    "I'm always serious! Now let's go!"

    I... probably didn't need to shout.

    We strode over to a gigantic boulder that had been preselected for this particular exercise and began the labored effort of pushing it toward an equally giant groove in the rock that led directly down to Lina and Rudo.
    Hey, it may seem like overkill, but this is what Lina signed up for. I know I'd do it if I was in her place. And she can just… run away if it looks like she's going to get squashed!

    …Which probably won't happen, of course.

    "I hope she doesn't haunt us," Gourry grunted, bearing most of the weight of the boulder, "if she dies."

    "I believe in Miss Lina," Amelia enthused even as she was pushing a rock more than twice her height.

    Here goes.

    And the rock went rolling down the incline, not rolling down in a gentle, laid-back kind of way, but instead in a thundering with intent to crush anything in its path kind of way.

    Lina seemed to be psyching herself up for the challenge. She was probably griping to herself about Martina's unfortunate mention of certain parts of her anatomy that aren’t quite the size she wished they were.

    I mean, seriously, grow-up Lina. Ha. That’s what she wishes she could do.

    With a roar of "Damn you, Martina!" that echoed violently up to us, Lina rammed forward her racket and smashed the boulder to dust.

    I…won't be telling that joke out loud anytime soon.

    "You did it, Miss Lina!" Amelia cheered.

    Couldn't say what she was so excited about. It's not like she has any stake in this Clair Bible thing. I mean, I actually do and have to constantly remind myself why I get caught up in all this nonsense.

    But I do have a reason.

    I looked at Amelia and Gourry. "Well, that worked," I said. "Should we try again with a bigger boulder?"

    Gourry and Amelia looked slack-jawed at my question, and Gourry responded with, "Umm… I don't think there are any bigger boulders."

    "Really?" I said, casting my glance around. "Huh. I guess not. Well then, I suppose we're done."

    "I think you're enjoying throwing boulders at Miss Lina a little too much, Mr. Zelgadis," Amelia observed.

    "Well," Gourry said, scratching his head thoughtfully. "You've got to admit, it's not like we're ever going to get a chance to do this again…"

    The three of us exchanged a meaningful look.

    "I think there might have been some more rocks where we came in," Gourry put in.

    "We should go get them then," Amelia said quickly.

    "But this is just for training."

    "Right."

    "Of course."

    "It's for her own good."

  3. #3
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    In the silence I scream: Neeeext Bit!! (there'll be another after this)

    Part Three

    Well, it looks like Lina’s highly questionable training seems to have paid off considering that she’s just knocked another player down.

    “Knock-down!” The referee declared, much to the crowd’s excitement.

    “That’s the way!” Gourry shouted from the seat next to me.

    “Miss Lina, you’re so great!” Amelia shouted from my other side.

    I’m surrounded by hero-worshippers in a stadium of crazed fans being forced to watch a ridiculous sports match. I wonder if there’ll be a riot? Wouldn’t that be fun.

    “Aren’t they supposed to score points in this game?” I asked, more out of frustration than to find out the answer.

    Considering I could hear the flicking of pages from the row behind us I figured I’d soon be receiving my answer from Xellos and his inexplicable guide book on an obscure sport. I wasn’t disappointed.

    “Brass Rackets is a battle game played by controlling the ball. As long as you keep the ball in-bounds of your opponent’s court, you’re allowed to knock one of them down.”

    I was snapped out of marveling over the stupidity of Brass Rackets by the announcement of the next match.

    “…siblings vs. the team of Martina Zoana Mel Navratilova and Keith. Martina and Keith now serving.”

    What is it with royalty and overly long names? Hm. Maybe I should ask Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun.

    But that’s not the issue here. No matter how stupid this whole situation is, I have to focus on victory. Martina cannot win. If she does win she will surely give the clue about the Clair Bible to Xellos since she’s, at least currently, in love with him (the girl has problems). I can only hope that her display of skill back at the inn was misleading and she’s not as good as she seemed.

    “Go, Snake’s Hold!” Martina’s voice echoed throughout the stadium as she served and the ball arced violently toward her opponent swirling rapidly around him before smashing straight into him and sending him down.

    “Knock-down!”

    Crap. There goes that hope.

    “Oh boy. I wonder if Lina can beat her,” Gourry said in awe of the spectacle.

    “A most twisted high speed technique,” I commented, “Truly deserving the name Snake’s Hold.” I turned to see what Amelia thought, since it seemed like she was being unnaturally quiet, especially for her, only to find her seat was empty. “Hey, Amelia…”

    “Hey, Xellos is gone too,” Gourry said, turning back to look at the row behind us.

    “Huh,” I said. That’s… weird. I thought Amelia really wanted to see the match, and Xellos generally seems to not want to miss opportunities to watch people get injured or upset. What could they possibly be off doing?

    It’s… probably nothing. Amelia probably just left to… to use the lady’s room. And as for Xellos… well… maybe he’s using the lady’s room too. Ha. Take that.

    I turned my attention back to the court below. It seemed that Martina and her partner Keith had just won their way into the semi-finals. She was exiting the court as Lina was entering and as they passed they appeared to be exchanging words, and by words I mean open threats, knowing the two of them.

    The announcer took up his microphone to set the next match. “The Lina-Rudo Team vs. The Amelia-Xellos Team.”

    Huh?!

    “I know it’s sudden,” Amelia said in full Brass Rackets uniform from the court below, “but I’m ready to play Miss Lina!”

    “Hello!” Xellos said with a wave.

    “Xellos?!” I shouted, jumping to my feet and accidentally shoving aside the two people sitting in front of me. “When did he ---?!” I mean seriously? How did he sneak—? And then she—! “Argh!”

    “Excuse me, sir,” said a fussy voice from in front of me.

    I turned away from my, uh… foot-stamping to the man who was addressing me. He was one of the people I might have, uh, encroached on the space of in my shock at this sudden betrayal.

    Okay, maybe not betrayal, but still.

    “What?” I asked, even though I knew full well what.

    “My date and I are trying to enjoy the match,” the frowning man informed me, gesturing to an irate looking woman with her arms crossed. “Your outbursts are making that rather difficult.”

    “Sorry,” I said briskly, taking my seat.

    Apparently they weren’t buying my “sincere” apology since they were still glaring at me. The woman was shaking her head and making tutting noises.

    “Well, go on,” I said, waving my hand. “Sit down or no one’s going to be able to see the match.”

    They did, but I distinctly heard the man mutter, “It’s people like him that ruin Professional Brass Rackets for everyone, Debbie.” Debbie nodded.

    Idiots.

    Lina was clearly as thrown off by this development as I was, since she shouted, “Hey you guys, what’s the big idea?”

    “Oh well,” Xellos drawled, “it was boring just watching you play so I decided to enter, and Miss Amelia used her influence to get us in the game.”

    “That’s how it happened,” Amelia confirmed.

    Well, if Amelia wanted to join the game she could’ve asked… someone else. Anyone else! For example, me! She knows how much I want the clue on the trophy and now she’s jeopardizing that just because she and Xellos got bored. Between Martina and this, Xellos has double the chances of getting the clue.

    “Don’t underestimate me just because I got in on influence,” Amelia said, throwing the ball up in the air. “Hammer of Justice Serve!” she shouted before sending the ball flying towards Lina.

    “The I-Have-Nothing-Against-You-But-If-I-Don’t-Beat-You-I-Can’t-Face-Martina-In-The-Finals Smash!” Lina roared in return, rocketing the ball back from whence it came.

    I admit, I gasped. It was a pretty bad looking hit, straight in the face with, I’m guessing, tooth-breaking force. She stood for a minute, the ball popped off her face leaving a giant red imprint, and then she fell over.

    “Winners – The Lina-Rudo Team!”

    “Ha ha! Yes!” Lina celebrated, as Amelia picked herself back up.

    “That was stupid,” I said because it was.

    Xellos stayed on the court for a moment as Amelia exited. He was probably reflecting on the failure of his plan to get the trophy – either that or congratulating Lina. I choose to believe the former. It’s been a bad day.

    Amelia and Xellos sheepishly returned to their seats.

    “I lost,” Amelia said, before taking her seat next to me.

    I bit my tongue before saying Yeah, you did. There’s no point in getting childish about this, the final match is beginning and Lina has to win. Even if she hogs the clue all to herself, Xellos can’t be allowed to get it.

    The officiate announced Lina and Martina’s teams to raucous audience cheering. I don’t see how they can be so excited about this. They can’t have heard of either of them before today. And this is a professional sport, apparently.

    It was safe to say the crowd was far too into it. The guy next to Gourry had his hands clenched to his face in an expression of nervous focus and the couple in front of me were complaining about the commercialization of Brass Rackets.

    Martina didn’t bother announcing her signature serve’s name, she just roared and lobbed the ball with all the force she could muster.

    “Here it comes!” Lina shouted, moving into position to volley. “Got it!”

    Something went wrong. She was in the right place and the ball should’ve hit back, but somehow it missed and smashed into her face.

    “Lina!” I jumped up again and knocked into the man in front of me again as I tried to get a better look at the court. It looked like Lina was really going to fall for a minute there, but she recovered.

    “Sir, I’ve already asked you once,” the man said, whipping his head around to scowl at me. “You know, it’s people like you…”

    “I know,” I said impatiently, “I ruined Professional Brass Rackets. Now, shut up and let me watch the match.”

    “Don’t let him talk to you like that, Dan!” Debbie ordered in an unpleasantly high voice.

    But Dan was, apparently, too much of a coward to actually start a fight so he straightened out his shirt fussily and turned back to the match.

    “What’s going on?” Amelia asked, looking worriedly down at the match.

    “Lina’s racket has been switched with another,” Xellos said as though he was laughing every word, “with the results being clear to see.”

    “What?!” Amelia and I both exclaimed.

    “So, uh, is that going to hurt her somehow?” Gourry asked, slow on the uptake as usual.

    “This game is played with specially made rackets,” Xellos explained, flipping through the guide book again. “If they aren’t used, the player cannot amplify her emotional energy.”

    How did this happen? Damn it! Lina hasn’t fallen yet, but Martina’s really taking advantage of the situation. That last hit nearly took her down.

    “This is cruel. She’s getting beaten up.”

    It looked like one more hit would finish her, and then Martina would take the prize.

  4. #4
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    I'm not dead. Part four is done, and Part five will hopefully be along sooner than it took to get this done.

    Part Four

    “Oh, look,” Xellos said suddenly. “I happen to have Lina’s racket right here.” He pulled the racket out of his cloak. “Oh dear,” he said, as though the news was just as surprising to him as it was to us, “this must mean I was the one who switched Lina’s racket.”

    “HUH?” Gourry and I both shouted, staring back at Xellos and probably annoying the Brass Rackets enthusiasts in front of us for a third time.

    “But why are you confessing all of the sudden?” Amelia asked, pointing at him in shocked disbelief.

    “It would’ve been boring to watch her finish this match so easily, wouldn’t you all agree?” He explained looking back at us, and no we didn’t all agree, thanks. “It’s better for Lina to have a handicap like this. Now let’s see her show us a really great match.”

    I guess an enchanted sport that transforms anger into a violent high speed barrage of projectiles isn’t amusing enough for Xellos. No, he had to cheat. Again.

    “Mr. Xellos,” Amelia said. “Isn’t that logic a little… warped?”

    Yeah, I think you’re talking to Mr. Warped, Amelia. It’s your fault he was able to enter the tournament and steal her racket in the first place. Which is why if you were gonna join, you should’ve joined with me!

    Gourry, in an act that was, ironically, more clear-headed than any of us were acting at the moment, snatched the racket from Xellos, held it up and shouted out from the stands: “Lina! Lina!!”

    His shouts drew the attention of occupants of the court. Martina turned around. “That’s—” she began, looking none too happy.

    “That’s my racket!” Lina said excitedly, meeting Gourry’s eyes.

    “Take it!” Gourry shouted to her, as he hurled the racket her way with all his might, sending it soaring over the heads of the crowd. It only narrowly missed decapitating Debbie and Dan, Brass Racket’s favorite fans, as they stood up to whine about us ruining their special day once again. They ducked just in time. Too bad, really.

    “Thank you, Gourry!” Lina said, reaching out her hand to smoothly catch the racket and continue the game.

    Except… she missed by just a little bit and the rocketing racket made a beeline straight for her face. Amelia gasped and I cringed. Now, that looked painful. I think we all thought for a moment she was going to be knocked down and disqualified, thus losing the game and my chance to get the Clair Bible clue.

    Okay, maybe “we all” only thought the first part and I was on my own on the second part. But, despite our expectations, Lina straightened up, looking furious with a red line down the center of her face where the racket had made contact, and pointed her racket determinedly at Martina. The crowd went wild.

    “Looks like Lina is declaring a knock-down attempt!” The announcer proclaimed over the roar of the crowd.

    Amelia let out an “Oooh,” of nervousness and said, “I think this game just got a lot more dangerous.” Meanwhile Gourry was in the midst of the muffled hysterics of fear. From the row behind us I could hear Xellos sneaking away like the sneak he is.

    I was considering following suit, though of course I would not sneak away like a sneak because I am not a sneak. But running away seemed like a pretty fair option considering Lina’s track record in the rampaging violence department.

    Martina and Keith were clinging to each other in abject horror, and I really couldn’t blame them. Lina looked out for blood. I’m 70% that red glow I witnessed around her was just my imagination, but you never know with Lina Inverse.

    Lina was not glaring daggers at Martina, she was glaring machetes. She shot the ball over the net and across the court. Martina winced, but instead of hitting her, the ball hit her partner Keith knocking him out and leaving her completely alone. But she didn’t stop there.

    “Damu Brass serve!” Lina shouted throwing the ball high into the air and probably breaking some sort of Brass Rackets rule by using spells but apparently not caring at that point. I thought that was going to be the shot to take out Martina but for a moment I saw her eyes flicker to the stands.

    “Out of the way!” I shouted, jumping from my seat and pulling Amelia and myself out of the way of the projectile of death that had once been a standard issue, regulation Brass Rackets ball, at the last second. Gourry, however, wasn’t so lucky, and took the full force of the blast, knocking him from his seat and down into the court below, landing with a thud on the hapless Martina.

    Amelia was blubbering about “Poor Mister Gourry,” and how it “wasn’t really his fault,” and I privately agreed. But still, it has to be said: nice shot.

    By the time I had looked up at the court again, Lina had crossed over to Martina’s side of the court looking murderous. Martina had extricated herself from Gourry. “You call that guts?” Martina asked with a definite note of hysteria in her voice. “That’s just being really angry!”

    “Just shut up Martina,” Lina said in a low, dangerous voice. “This time we finish it.”

    I turned to Amelia, who was still in the midst of her paroxysms of sympathy. “I think we should go,” I said. “Now.”

    Her expression suddenly fiercened. “Right,” she said. And with that we both fled toward the stadium door. But not like sneaks.

    From behind us we could clearly hear Lina shout, “Dragon Slave Serve!” to mingled screams.

    …And then the stadium exploded.

    *****

    My ears hadn’t stopped ringing by the time I’d pried a large piece of plaster off my face, but I managed to get up. I brushed bits of debris off my clothes while headlines like “Freak Brass Rackets Explosion Kills Dozens”, “Princess of Zoana Murdered in Sports Grudge Match”, and “Travelers Fined for Property Damage; Hanged” swam through my dazed head. We’d need a lot more than Amelia’s influence to get out of trouble this time.

    Wait a second. Amelia…

    I looked around the devastated landscape that had once been a bustling stadium, but there was no sign of her. I began shifting the rocky remains and trying not to get too nervous.

    If Lina got hurt it’d be her own stupid fault for casting that damn spell and Gourry has survived so many of Lina’s Dragon Slaves it’s practically laughable. Xellos and Martina are probably fine, if only to spite me, and if they aren’t then good riddance. My, uh, condition has left me a bit more indestructible to things like flying rubble than most, but Amelia is so… crushable.

    Finally, after much huffing and puffing I caught sight of a glimpse of blue and pink beneath a large chunk of concrete. It must be Amelia’s bracelet. I lifted the block, barely daring to look at what I might find underneath.

    It… was Amelia’s bracelet. Just her bracelet. No lifeless corpse reaching out from under the tomb of rock, so let’s just wipe that imagine from our brains as quickly as possible, shall we?

    I picked it up gingerly and inspected it. No trace of blood, so that’s good. Of course she must have survived. She must have. But on the other hand, where was she? Deciding that she must be nearby I resolutely looked ahead and began to move forward to pull her from the clutches of the wreckage if need be!

    “Oh! You found it!” said a female voice behind me. I fell down, which was probably overkill, but I was caught off guard. Too much drama.

    “Are you alright, Mister Zelgadis?” Amelia asked worriedly, as she held out a hand.

    “I’m fine,” I said in a low, defeated voice, casting my eyes away as she helped me to my feet. “Here,” I said, offering her the bracelet half-heartedly.

    “Thank you,” she said, taking it and strapping it to her wrist. “I thought it was lost for good. I was out looking for it. And you of course,” she added as an afterthought.

    “Well, here I am,” I said dully. There didn’t seem to be much else to say.

    “Everyone’s gathered over there by that clear area,” Amelia said, pointing some ways in the distance. “The referees are trying to figure out what to do now.”

    “Are we going to be arrested?” I asked uneasily.

    “I don’t think so,” Amelia said cautiously. “They seem more concerned about choosing a winner than anything. They’ve been going through all the rule books that weren’t destroyed in the blast.”

    “So Lina still might get the Clair Bible clue after all?” I asked, pulled out of my bad mood.

    “Maybe,” Amelia said. “Let’s go find out!” She grabbed my hand and we started running toward the clearing. I decided to forgive her for not needing to be rescued and let it go. We might get what we came for in the end, anyway.

    “So,” I asked her in a seemly casual voice as we ran along. “Is anyone dead?”

    “Nope,” Amelia said cheerfully. “Mister Gourry got pretty banged up, but Miss Lina will probably heal him once she stops being mad at him. For now they’ve got him wrapped up in bandages like a mummy. He can’t even talk.”

    “Well, that should be an improvement.”

  5. #5
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    ...And it's finished!

    Part Five

    The first thing that greeted us when we reached the encampment was an angry looking man holding a comically large book. “Where have you been?” he asked, glaring at Amelia.

    Only looking for survivors in the rubble, I thought. Nothing nearly as important as, I tilted my head to see the title of the book, “The Sport of Gentleman and Gentleladies”.

    “Have you made a decision about the match, then?” Amelia asked, ignoring his question.

    “Yes, yes,” the man said hurriedly. “There’ll be an official announcement. We just need to get all of the participants together.”

    “Can’t you just tell us who won?” I asked impatiently. All this runaround was getting ridiculous.

    The man ignored me. Apparently if you don’t play Brass Rackets your words are worth nothing. Instead he turned to Amelia. “Do you know where your partner is, by any chance?”

    Amelia shook her head and I began to walk away. “Where are you going, Mr. Zelgadis?”

    “I’m not a Brass Rackets player so you don’t need me,” I said with my back turned. “You and Xellos want to line up to get your little third place medals, right? Well, have fun,” I said with no conviction whatsoever.

    I walked away, pointedly not looking back, and found a post that was still intact to lean on while I waited for the official announcement. Gourry sat dejectedly some ways off, and, just as Amelia said, he was wrapped up like a mummy.

    “Hey,” I said.

    “Mebph,” he said through his bandages. I nodded. This was an unusually profound statement from Gourry.

    I turned my attention to the stage (actually it was just a section of plywood that wasn’t completely burned to cinders, but let’s not mince words). Only three teams seemed to have survived and were waiting to hear their fates. The match’s referee stumbled up toward them. He was covered in soot and looked like his hair had been burned off. In other words, he was lucky to escape the Dragon Slave alive. I’m sure he didn’t see it that way.

    He coughed out at the assembled crowd of Brass Rackets enthusiasts (including Debbie and Dan our erstwhile seat-mates who had unfortunately survived). “Since the outcome of the final match cannot be determined, not to mention two of the competing teams were disqualified,” at this he shot a look of pure acid at the Lina-Rudo and Martina-Keith teams, “and the other players have disappeared: the winners are the Amelia-Xellos team.” At this he handed Amelia a large golden trophy that symbolized so many things; victory, prestige, and most importantly a clue to the location of the Clair Bible.

    Maybe justice does triumph… well, crap.

    “Thank you very much,” Amelia said like the polite girl that she is. The small crowd applauded with all it was worth as though trying to make up for their lacking numbers.

    Third place nothing. I suppose this means that Xellos gets the clue to the Clair Bible. Another gambit ends in failure. I guess I should be used to it by now.

    “Mr. Zelgadis?”

    “Huh?” I said smartly, looking up to see Amelia holding her golden trophy.

    "Here,” Amelia said, holding it out to me. “You wanted to see this right? The clue to the Clair Bible?”

    I just… I didn’t even know what to say for a minute. After all this, it actually does work out in the end? Why didn’t it ever occur to me that she would…? I took the trophy dazedly and decided on, “Thank you.”

    Amelia just smiled her little smile. “You’re welcome.”

    “Is that why you-,” I stopped before I could say “entered the tournament in the first place”.

    Amelia shrugged her shoulders. “I just thought, y’know, the more of us that entered the better our chances.”

    “Yeah, I suppose,” I said, still in some kind of stupor from the surprise of thinking that my dreams were crushed and instead being given a trophy.

    There was a long pause in which neither of us said anything. The only sound was Martina and Lina shouting about something in the distance.

    Finally Amelia said, “Aren’t you going to look at it?”

    “What?”

    “The trophy,” Amelia prompted helpfully.

    “Oh, yeah,” I said, feeling a little stupid. I cast my eyes down the gold-leaf finish.

    The 47th Annual Brass Rackets Championship
    1st Place
    “Battle on Champions. You’ve proven your worth.”
    ~Clair Bibble


    I read it twice just to make sure before shouting out to the world in general: “What the heck is this?! It says ‘Clair Bibble’ not ‘Clair Bible’!”

    “Clair Bibble?” repeated Xellos, appearing from nowhere with his stupid guidebook. “Oh! The name of the person who invented Brass Rackets!” He looked down at the page and clucked his tongue. “Oh dear,” He said, without any trace of contrition. “I must have read it wrong.”

    “Why you! You knew, didn’t you?!” I wasn’t buying that for a minute. I had had it with this day and with Xellos and certainly with Brass Rackets. So I did what anyone in my position would’ve done. I lobbed a fireball at Xellos.

    “Huh?” Xellos said, like he didn’t deserve it, as he jumped out of the way dooming the small crowd behind him to a barbequed fate. “Oh please!” he said as he landed. “I really didn’t know at first!” At first, huh? I’m so glad my second fireball hit him with a satisfying fwoosh. “Ugh, didn’t see that one coming,” he said, before he crumpled to the ground.

    I was tempted to pull an Amelia and declare “Victory!” since I really need the pick-me-up, but I have a little too much dignity for that.

    Speaking of Amelia, she really came through for me, I thought as I watched Lina and Martina terrorizing their former partners for some unknown reason. Sure, it didn’t work out, but that wasn’t her fault. It was Xellos’ fault, I thought savagely. I looked over at Amelia and Gourry watching said Lina and Martina terrorizing.

    I won’t forget this.

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