Slayers Special: Wrongfully Accused (Part 1)

Slayers Special: Wrongfully Accused (Part One),
Written by Hajime Kanzaka, Illustrated by Rui Araizumi
Published in Slayers Special Volume 9: Elize’s Journey
Translated by rebmastu@gmail.com (9/25/12), commissioned by Anonymous

“Are you Lina Inverse?”

Naga and I were seated on the terrace of a local café that bright and sunny afternoon, shoveling their special teatime platter down our throats in a fierce eating competition like the dainty little flowers that we were when I heard a man’s voice calling out to me. I glanced up to see an older man, probably past his forties, walking purposefully in our direction. He didn’t seem to be a man of wealthy means, but he was neat and sharply dressed, which was enough to tell me that he had class nonetheless.

“Mm-hmm,” I mumbled at him around the wad of half-chewed cake in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong; under normal circumstances I would have tried to wave him off or change the subject, or told him he had the wrong person to avoid any trouble, but this was one contest I couldn’t afford to lose—and I mean that literally, since the bill we’d racked up at the café was riding on the loser. Every second I was wasting talking to this guy was another second I could be shoving another bite of food into my mouth, and I wasn’t about to waste precious time or money making up excuses. Hey, it was a big bill.

The man rummaged around in his breast pocket while we continued our furious feeding frenzy and after a moment produced an item that he held up in his hand. Clearly he meant for me to see it, but seriously, he wasn’t pulling me away for anything at that point. That is, until he introduced himself.

“Inspector Wizer Freion, of the Ruvinagald Special Investigations Bureau,” he said.

My jaw froze and I choked down what was left in my mouth. Now, that got my attention. I glanced over to see a pendant inscribed with something that looked for all intents and purposes to be a royal crest of arms dangling from his proffered hand.

The Kingdom of Ruvinagald… You would think it’s a grand and glorious country from the name, but truth be told, the name is the only part of it that really fits the bill. In actuality, it’s a little-known country only notable for its inclusion in the Alliance of Coastal States, despite being small enough to rival a large city in size and not being anywhere close to a large body of water. It’s a generally forgettable plot of land whose only real worth lies in its production of Ruvina Cedar, used mostly in the construction of boats (which it does very well, in all fairness); otherwise, people usually wave it off as “one of those countries in the alliance.” Heck, the only reason Naga and I were even there to begin with was because it happened to come up in conversation and we figured it’d be fun to drop by just to say we did.

The question was, though, what did one of the royal inspectors want with the one and only Lina Inverse? I was drawing a blank, but whatever the case, he didn’t seem to want my autograph.

“The Sorcerers’ Guild was kind enough to inform me you were in the area,” he continued in a crisp, business-like tone of voice as he carefully replaced the pendant in his pocket. “Lina Inverse,” he said, “I am investigating you on suspicion of your involvement in a series of kidnappings.”

I think I stopped breathing.

“You’re what?!” I cried out in disbelief before I could stop myself. “W-Wait a minute! I don’t know about any kidnappings!”

Wizer barked a laugh. “Don’t play innocent with me, Lina Inverse. I know for a fact that you are the culprit behind the disappearance of children everywhere in Ruvinagald, and the sooner you admit to your crimes, the better off you will be!”

“Like hell I am!” I spat. “We only just got here a couple of days ago! Tell him, Naga!” I spun to face my traveling companion, but let’s just say she wasn’t any help.

Naga’s fork never slowed as she relentlessly continued her assault on the plates of cake in front of her, a small smile playing on her lips all the while. “Oh, tell him, Lina,” she cooed. “You might even convince him to go easier on your sentencing.”

“Come on,” I growled. “You know I didn’t—!”

“That settles it, then!” Wizer cried triumphantly, cutting me off before I could cut Naga off. He jabbed a finger into my face and proceeded to proclaim in a voice loud enough for every patron in the restaurant to hear, “My deduction was correct! You are, indeed, the culprit!”

“I told you, I didn’t do it!” I insisted, and then narrowed my eyes. “What are you basing this on, anyway?”

Wizer proudly puffed out his chest. “My gut!”

“Your gut?!” I leapt to my feet, accidentally kicking over my chair in the process. “You mean to tell me you’re accusing me of a crime that you think I committed because of your gut?! Where in the world are you going to find a judicial system that accepts that kind of logic? Is everyone even remotely suspicious to you automatically a criminal?!”

“Precisely!”

“This can’t be happening,” I groaned as my head dropped into my hands. I was stunned. Flabbergasted, even. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that people who relied exclusively on their gut instinct actually existed; yet standing here before my eyes was the irrefutable proof that they did.

On that note, I’m sure this was all a riot to anyone looking on from the sidelines, but if the quite frankly stupid idea of giving a guy like this power in any kind of system crosses your mind, do us all a favor and ignore the impulse, because the guy’s going to be a liability to himself, the system, and everyone else around him. Case in point: The geezer standing right in front of me. Back to the story.

“Listen,” I snapped, “If you go around arresting every shady character you see on the street, your inspector pals would be outnumbered two to one! Do you even have any proof to say I did this crime of yours?”

Wizer scoffed. “If I did, you’d have been apprehended long ago. However, several related cases clearly suggest that only you could have been the one behind them!”

“Really.” I snorted in disbelief. “Okay. Let’s hear about these cases of yours, then.”

“Surely you must know it’s too late to feign ignorance by now,” he said with a laugh. “But I would be more than happy to remind you of the countless heinous crimes you’ve committed.” I wasn’t sure what he meant by “too late,” but, boy, did this Wizer guy seem proud of himself. Before my eyes, he produced a small memo pad from his pocket and began to read.

“Approximately one month ago in the village of Medelt, a little boy named Tom, five years old at the time goes missing, and there was found the colossal footprint of what appeared to be a lesser demon in a cornfield nearby!”

“Okay, and?”

“Clearly this could only have been done by Lina Inverse!”

I couldn’t say anything at first. How was I supposed to respond to a statement like that? I mean, I’ve heard of jumping to conclusions, but this was just ridiculous. In the end, I settled for the most intelligent reply I could muster at the time.

“Huh?”

“Several days afterward,” Wizer continued, “little Jessie, three years of age, goes missing in the town of Farlit, where soon thereafter a witness claims to see a mammoth beast rear its head from the depths of the nearby lake! Once again, this could only have been accomplished by Lina Inverse!”

“…You’re kidding, right?”

“At the same time in the village of Rumafik, Bob is taking his son Rick, just shy of five years old at the time, home in his wagon at dusk, when suddenly an orange light appears in the night sky, and…”

“Hold it, Mister,” I said as I drew myself very close to Wizer. “Are you implying that every single strange event in the world is somehow my fault?”

“Naturally!” Wizer replied without hesitation. “Surely you don’t mean to suggest you are not familiar with your own reputation?”

I jerked back with a grunt. Well… Yeah, sure, people say things about me. Some call me the Robbers’ Killer, some say a dragon would step off to the side to avoid me, and they say other things that I’d rather not go into right now. The point is, I’ve got what you might call a reputation, and between all the nicknames I’d been given, most of which may or may not have been grounded in actual fact, not to mention the exaggerations and the rumors that were out-and-out false, it wasn’t hard for me to see where he was coming from.

“To wit, your so-called ability to project a mysterious light from your mouth, capable of annihilating a group of bandits in mere seconds, not to mention your ability to shoot tentacles from your forehead, with which you capture and devour flies!”

“Enough!” I bellowed.

“Now, I ask you,” Wizer continued, “Can this Lina Inverse, to whom so many strange and unnatural feats are attributed, truly be considered human? The answer is nay! Nay, she cannot! Then I can find no reason not to believe that every strange and unnatural incident which takes place in this world is, in fact, the nefarious doing of Lina Inverse herself! Thus has my intuition as a Special Investigator spoken to me, and thus do I know it to be true!”

“You’re just pinning this on me, dammit!” I screamed in frustration and without thinking, I lashed at him with a mighty screw kick that sent Wizer crashing into the table next to us. But no, the inspector wasn’t dissuaded. An unsettling smile spread across his face and he slowly raised himself from the wreckage of the dining set with a low chuckle.

“So now that you’ve failed to convince me of your ‘innocence’ with words, you resort to physical violence, instead. Your guilt is clearly evident!”

“A girl can only take so much abuse before you cross the line, pal!” I bellowed. “Anybody else would have done the same thing!”

“Oh, I beg to differ! As I understand it, you unconsciously lashed out because your crimes had been laid bare for the world to see, and you could not withstand the guilt. Your excuses are no match for this Inspector!”

“You’re no inspector! You think some fancy title gives you the authority to declare that everything you say is right?! ‘Cause if you do, I suggest you clear out whatever sorry excuse for a brain you have stuffed between your ears and come back when you get something better to fill the void!”

Wizer laughed. “Strong words, from a criminal!”

“I’m not a criminal!” I shot back. “And at least I’m not half as bad as the guy trying to pin a crime on the innocent girl with nothing better to go on than his gut!” Wizer and I stood face-to-face, and for a brief moment, you could feel the flashes of lightning spark between our eyes, the tension was so thick. But then…

Ho, ho, ho! It seems I’ve won this battle, Lina Inverse!” And who should leap to her feet with absolutely no consideration for the situation or the flabbergasted people around us with her patented and absolutely ridiculous laugh but the one, the only, Naga the Serpent!

“Naga!” I turned to her in surprise. “I forgot you were here.”

“You… forgot?” Naga deflated. “Oh, Lina… You’ve been so distant lately…”

I sighed. “I’m kind of in the middle of something, Naga. What’s up?”

She chuckled. “Oh, you can’t talk your way out of this one, Lina. You remember the end of the deal, now pay up.”

…Oh, for the love of–! Between Wizer here showing up and having to deal with the insane charges he was thrusting on me one after the other, I completely forgot about my eating contest with Naga over who was going to pay the bill! My eyes shot to her side of the table and sure enough, there were the demolished remains of what used to be all ten portions of the teatime platter. I’d lost! I, of all people, had lost an eating contest! And as if that weren’t insulting enough, now I had to pay the bill on top of it! I inwardly groaned. The shame would follow me for generations.

“I’m being accused of a crime over here!” I snapped. “I think this is just a little more important!”

Hooo, ho, ho, ho! If you think a piddling trifle like that is enough to varnish over the fact that you’re paying, then you are sadly mistaken!”

Damn. She saw right through me… But instead of letting my inner disappointment show on my face, I just rolled my eyes and turned back to Wizer. “Look!” I said to him. “If you don’t have any basis for these accusations and if you don’t even have any proof, then you have no right to talk to me this way!”

“Lina, the bill!”

“I mean, why would I want to kidnap a bunch of kids in the first place?!”

“Kidnapping children is included in every criminal’s dastardly repertoire!”

“On what planet?!”

“Don’t ignore me, Lina!”

“I don’t know what your problem is, but at least find some proof and establish a motive before you go around calling people criminals!”

“What a foolish notion! Can you not see that the very reason I’ve come here is because I have neither proof of your guilt nor motivation?!”

“And you’re proud of this?!”

“Pay the bill!”

Yeeeeek!

The shrill scream of a woman suddenly pierced the air, and the fight between me, Wizer, and Naga came to a screeching halt.

“What was that?!” cried Wizer.

“It came from outside,” I said. “Let’s check it out!”

“Lina! The bill!” Naga’s voice called after me as Wizer and I flew out of the restaurant, but before she was able to follow, I saw the staff rush out to stop her and collect our payment before she left. Yes! That meant Naga was stuck with the bill after all!

That meant all I had to worry about at that point was dispelling Wizer’s suspicions about my criminal activity. On second thought, maybe it would have been easier to handle the bill, instead…

“Inspector Wizer Freyon of the Royal Special Investigations Bureau!” barked Wizer. “What’s the problem?” Maybe that overblown title of his was useful after all, because the folks around us practically fell over themselves to explain the situation.

“…I don’t know what it was, sir… But it flew off and took a child with it!”

“Which way did they go?” Wizer demanded.

“The waterfront!” yelled another bystander, and Wizer and I simultaneously took off at a run as fast as we could go.

Unlike most of the country, this town actually was facing a body of water – a lake, to be precise. From where Wizer and I were running, I could see the mist rising from the glimmering blue surface in the distance.

“Lina! Wait!” cried a faint voice from behind us. “I paid the bill, but don’t you dare forget to pay me back!” Oh, perfect! Naga! Just the person I DIDN’T want to deal with right now! Couldn’t she take the hint?!

“Now’s not the time, Naga! Someone’s been kidnapped!”

She laughed. “And I suppose you’d like to try and get me to forget about the bill in all the confusion!” I missed a step. Jeez, she can be sharp when it comes to money…!

“We’ll talk about it later! The kid is more—“

“There!” Wizer cut me off in mid-speech. My eyes snapped back to the front and after scanning the horizon, I managed to make out the quickly moving form of a creature against the blue sky.

“A lesser demon?!” I cried out before I could stop myself. Flying with its back to an all-too-clear blue sky and moving quickly toward the body of water was, indeed, a lesser demon. And in its arms was a child, no more than three or four years old.

I’d heard stories that lesser demons, a low-class branch of mazoku, were able to sprout wings and fly as the situation called for it, but that was the first I’d ever seen it with my own eyes. I quickly shook my head. Now wasn’t the time for casual observation. I turned to Wizer who was easily keeping pace alongside me as we trailed after the demon.

“You see that?” I shot at him. “There’s your culprit right there, not me!”

“And you could just as easily be controlling it, yourself!” returned Wizer. “For all I know, you could have used some sort of trick to cause the incident while you were being interviewed by an inspector to keep from drawing attention to yourself. Just the sort of thing a common criminal would stoop to!”

I stumbled forward another step. O-Of all the hare-brained, stupid ideas….! He’s hell-bent and determined to pin this all on me!

“Lina! Quit changing the subject!”

“Not now, Naga!” I snapped. Just as the words left my mouth (with a backup-chorus of the same echoing in my head), we reached the edge of the lake. I bit my lip. At this rate, the demon would make off with the kid and there wouldn’t be a damn thing we could do to stop it. I did have a spell in my arsenal that allowed for high-speed flight, but the drawback was that even if I did manage to catch up with the demon, I wouldn’t be able to use any other decent spells while the spell was activated. Worse, if it noticed that I was hot on its trail, it could launch an aerial attack at me, and I wouldn’t have a prayer of deflecting or counterattacking.

I could attack the demon from the shore, but if my aim was even slightly off, I could hit the kid in the process. And even if I did hit just the demon, well, the kid would probably fall and drown in the lake. Which meant….

“Linaaaa,” whined Naga, “The bill!”

“Dammit, Naga!” I roared. “DROP IT!”

“Hah! Fine!” I guess it took me losing my cool for Naga to finally get the hint. She casually flipped her long, black hair over her shoulder. “First, we do something about the current situation, and THEN we’ll talk about the bill!” As soon as the words left her mouth, I heard her begin to recite a spell. And not just any spell…

Hold on, was that an attack spell? Did she want to blow the lesser demon out of the sky?! At first I considered delivering a nice, quick kick to her solar plexus to interrupt the spell, but another idea quickly formed in my mind and I began chanting a spell of my own. Naga finished hers, first.

“Gaav Flare!” An attack spell extremely well-suited to delivering fatal wounds to nearly any mazoku. Naga held out her hand, and a blast of red light shot from her palm into the sky, heading straight for the demon. Almost at the same time, I activated the spell I’d finished chanting:

“Ray Wing!” I soared into the air and flew parallel to the red light of Naga’s spell. My plan was to wait until her spell hit the lesser demon, and then snatch the kid out of the air as he fell. The only problem was, as long as the spell was active, it would cast a barrier of wind around the caster, which meant that if the kid got close enough, I wouldn’t save him—I’d more than likely blast him away with the same air surrounding me. In that case, there was only one thing I could do.

As Naga’s Gaav Flare blasted into the lesser demon’s back and vaporized it back to nothing, I twisted myself to fly underneath the falling boy, and then…

I dropped the spell. I held out my arms as the child spiraled downward and caught him as we both plummeted down toward the open lake. The wind howled in my ears as it zoomed past and the surface of the lake loomed bigger and bigger before us—and just before we plummeted into its icy depths, I finished chanting the spell I had begun as soon as I’d canceled the Ray Wing.

“Levitation!” I cried, and our speed rapidly decreased to a gentle descent. With the child still in my arms, I corrected myself as we gently floated lower and lower, until it seemed as though I was standing on the surface of the water, hovering in mid-air.

*******

“You saved the day!”

“That was awesome, lady!”

When I returned to the shore, I was greeted by a mob of cheering onlookers. While not too far away, a mob of a different kind was throwing in their two-cents as well…

“What were you thinking?! That was dangerous!”

“What if you hit my little baby?!”

“Eeek?!”

Naga had been cornered by a couple that looked to be the child’s parents plus a crowd of unsympathetic onlookers. I decided to stick with my side of the party and basked in the praise of the onlookers for a while.

“That was quite the show, Lina Inverse.”

Sometime after the crowd had thinned out, I was approached by Wizer who was wearing an ironic smile on his features. I stared silently at him for several moments before I finally opened my mouth.

“Something tells me none of this changed your mind.”

He chuckled. “Of course it didn’t. But I can surmise your intentions: cause a small incident, resolve it in a way that I, the Inspector, could witness in order to gain my trust and absolve yourself of any suspicion. Another common trick, but the eyes of an Inspector cannot be fooled!”

“Then get ‘em checked for cataracts!” I snapped. “And for that matter—“ I jabbed my finger out toward the open water— “if a NORMAL person saw a lesser demon flying that-a-way with a kid in tow, ORDINARILY they’d think, ‘Well gee, maybe it means there’s something out there!’”

“An ordinary way of thinking is ill-suited to an Inspector!”

“Just because your way of thinking isn’t normal that doesn’t mean it’s right!” I snapped.“Heck, look out at the water! Has it occurred to you to wonder WHY there’s all that fog in the middle of the lake even though there’s not a cloud in the sky and it’s the middle of the day?” I demanded. “Don’t you think that’s just a little strange? Why are you investigating me, and not that?”

“Trying to dodge the question again, are you?” Wizer chuckled. “I suppose you assumed you would be caught at some point, and caused the incidents in the villages and towns around the lake to instigate a pointless investigation!”

Wait a minute.

“Hey…”

“What is it?”

“These… incidents,” I began slowly, “Are you telling me they’ve only been in towns and villages facing the water…?”

“Indeed they have,” said Wizer. “And what of it?”

I suppressed a groan. I don’t like where this is going, I thought. “You… have investigated the lake… haven’t you?”

“Certainly not,” he scoffed. “I would never waste my time on such a fruitless search.”

As soon as the words left Wizer’s lips, I let out a deep breath that seemed to extend from the very bottom of my core. The place practically screams suspicious… and he waves it off…?

“How can you be so incompetent?” I groaned.

How dare you?!” Wizer bellowed. “I’ll have you know that even among the most respected of inspectors, all the local wives agree that I am the sharpest and most able of them al!”

If he was sharpest of the bunch… I shuddered to imagine how the rest of them stacked up. But that was irrelevant. One thing was clear in my mind: Until Wizer found his imaginary proof for whatever crime I didn’t commit, I wasn’t going to get him off my tail anytime soon. I hated the thought of sticking with him a minute longer than I absolutely had to, but there was literally nothing else I could do.

“Fine,” I sighed at last, turning to Wizer.

“Finally willing to confess to your crimes?”

“I’m not confessing to a crime I didn’t commit!” I snapped. “But If I prove to you that I’m not the culprit here, then will you finally leave me alone?”

Wizer chuckled. “And how can you find proof that doesn’t exist?”

Watch me,” I said. “All I have to do is find out whoever really is kidnapping all those children.”

“Oh, yes,” he laughed. “I’m sure you’d like to make your grand escape by running off to who-knows-where on some wild goose-chase to find this ‘real culprit’ of yours and disappear just like that, wouldn’t you? Oh no, you won’t fool me that easily!”

“Oh, for the love of-! If you can’t trust me, then feel free to come along for the ride!” I cried. “If it’s proof you want, I’ll find it. Heck, I’ll even throw in some testimonials while I’m at it! Either way, if I find the guy who’s really responsible for this, then will you be satisfied?!”

“What, this so-called culprit of yours?” He barked a laugh. “Very well. As you wish, I’ll play along with this farce of yours. If nothing else, I’m sure you’ll slip and give yourself away at some point.”

I rolled my eyes. “You’ll choke on those words by the time this is over, pal.”

“Linaaa,” whined a voice next to my ear, “the bill…” But I blew Naga off (really though, how long was she going to keep hanging on to a little thing like that?) as Wizer and I continued to stare daggers at one another.

*******

Now, as for the actual investigation… Honestly, everything was pretty clear-cut as soon as that ridiculously suspicious lake was brought to my attention. I knew that as long as I kept my questions limited to that, we’d get all the answers we needed. That’s not to say we could go around asking questions in every single town and village dotting the countryside in the area, of course; that would be a waste of time, and I wanted this done and over with as quickly as possible. Instead, I needed to narrow my area of investigation to a settlement where none of the kidnappings had taken place, while still being on the lakefront. And there was only one place that fit the bill.

The lake was still covered with fog the day the three of us came to town, appropriately enough.

I kept my line of questioning simple and to the point: First, I needed to know if there were any points of interest inside the fog on the lake, and second, if any ships went into or out from there in fixed intervals. The answers I found were… interesting, to say the least.

According to the townsfolk, there was, in fact, a small island in the middle of the lake, and it’d been several months since the fog had gotten too thick for the fishermen to go out far enough from the shore to fish. As for the ships, well, no one paid enough attention to notice.

On the other hand, the fishermen who lived on the beach couldn’t tell me anything; nothing at all, in fact.

“Something is definitely wrong here,” I said pensively as I brainstormed with Naga and Wizer around the table of the restaurant on the first floor of the inn we were staying at, some ways away from the lakefront. “They were practically screaming it.”

Wizer laughed and added sarcastically, “Oh, I’m sure. Leave it to an opportunist to twist a testimony to suit their own means.”

“Like you’re in any position talk about people twisting stories…” I muttered.

Naga cleared her throat. “Lina, if we could return to the subject of that bill? Need I remind you, you still have yet to reimburse me…?”

I’m sorry, did I say brainstorming? Because that would have implied a certain amount of brain activity, which was sadly absent in my present company.

“When in doubt,” I said with a glare to shut Naga up about that damn bill, “it never hurts to turn to good ol’ fashioned footwork! Tomorrow we’re renting a boat, and we’re going to that island in the lake to take a look around ourselves!”

“A waste of time,” Wizer scoffed. “But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to go along. I am a man of my word, after all.”

“Lina, really,” Naga persisted. “The bill…?”

I slammed my hands on the table and howled. “For the love of all that is good and holy, Naga, can’t you give it a rest?! I get it, all right? Look, when we figure out whoever’s behind this, I’ll give you some of my share of his loot, okay? Would that make it better?”

“Would you, Lina?” Naga exclaimed. “You wouldn’t hoard any of it to keep for yourself while I’m not looking, would you?”

“’Course not.”

All the while, Wizer was looking on with consternation evident on his face. “Ladies,” he sighed, “kindly refrain from discussing your dastardly pillaging schemes in front of an Inspector, would you?”

Oops. Time to change the subject!

I cleared my throat. “Well, we’re setting sail pretty early tomorrow, so let’s hit the sack and get some rest.”

*******

I had a sneaking suspicion that someone wasn’t about to let everything go according to plan for us. Turned out I was right.

KA-BOOOOM!

Later that night, one of the rooms on the third floor of the inn we were staying at exploded in a furious ball of flame. My room. From the darkness of an alleyway near the inn emerged two shadowy figures, whose eager eyes were directed toward the burning wreckage of what was once my room.

The first chuckled darkly. “An easy kill,” he said.

“I don’t know who you are or where you came from,” said the second, “but poke your nose where it don’t belong, and this is what’s gonna happen to you…”

“Gee, fellas. Sorry I couldn’t have put up more of a fight for you.”

The men cried out in surprise as their heads snapped up in unison toward the voice above their heads to see the silhouette of a lone figure floating in midair, backed by the crescent moon hanging high in the night sky; the form of the one and onlyLina Inverse!

“Now, stop me if I’m wrong,” I said, “but in my experience, nothing shuts a few fishermen up like a threat from some big-time organization. If I made no secret of the fact that I was looking for answers, I figured I wouldn’t have any trouble drawing them out into the open.” Here I paused for emphasis, then smirked. “Glad to see I was right.”

“But you were supposed to be in there!” one of the men cried out in shock. “How did you know we were going to—?!”

“Easy. While I was sitting down with my companions, I couldn’t help but notice the two shady-looking characters eavesdropping from the table next to us. I suspected they might be planning something for later tonight, so I pretended to go back to my room while I kept watch from a safe distance up here.” I grimaced. “In all fairness, though, I wasn’t expecting you to blow it up with a Fireball.”

The men cursed under their breath and quickly began to mutter incantations; at the same moment, I dropped my levitation spell to land on a roof nearby, and began to incant an attack of my own. But they were faster.

“Freeze Arrow!”

“Damu Brass!”

Two attack spells simultaneously fired off at me from under the cloak of darkness, both of which I was easily able to dodge thanks to the position of the roof. That’s not to say I was at a complete advantage, of course. From my position I wasn’t able to make out the men clearly, and even if I managed to draw them out far enough to see their faces, I was only giving them that much more of an opportunity to blast me with spells in the meantime.

What they didn’t know was that I knew a spell tailor-made for situations like these: the Van Rail. The spell works by extending a vine of ice from the caster’s palm which edges along the ground and over or around walls, freezing anything it comes in contact with. If I used that spell to freeze the men in place, I could jump down, beat the information I needed out of them, and that would be the end of everything. Everyone lives happily ever after, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I finished chanting the spell and thrust my hand down against the rooftop, when—

“I’ve been looking for you, Lina Inverse!” bellowed a voice in my ear.

“Nwwwhaaa?!” The shriek was out of my mouth before I could stop myself. I whipped around, and don’t ask me how he knew where I was or how he got up there without me noticing, but staring me right back in the face was everyone’s favorite bumbling Inspector—you guessed it—Wizer.

“Wh… What are you doing here?!” I blurted out.

“It is an Inspector’s most sacred right to show up where he is least expected!” he declared.

Of course it was. “Oh, whatever!” I cried, and jabbed my finger down at the alleyway. “Those are the guys who lobbed that Fireball into the inn earlier!”

“Again with your transparent lies,” Wizer scoffed. “I’m more willing to believe you blasted your own room with a Fireball in some scheme to make it seem as though you were murdered by some mysterious outsider, but you cannot cloud this Inspector’s eyes with your petty tricks!”

I let out a wordless cry of frustration. “Would you just LISTEN to me, already?! I’m telling the truth! If you don’t believe me just look down—“ I hadn’t even finished my thought before my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth as I was hammered by a sudden realization. The spells had stopped.

The two assassins had vanished.

*******

“The case’d be closed by now if you hadn’t gotten in my way last night,” I grumbled. “And we wouldn’t have to go out on some stupid boat at this stupid time of morning either.”

“Hah. Still defending that ridiculous display from last night, I see.”

“….Hmph…! That aside, you WILL be paying for breakfast at least, won’t you, Lina?”

The dew was still fresh on the ground as we marched along the lakeside early in the morning after the attack. I wish I could say we’d decided to go on an early-morning stroll, but no; at this unholy hour when every eye in the town was still shut in blissful slumber, we were on a mission to find a boat to ride out to the island in the center of the lake.

“I’m still concerned about this boat-renting business,” said Wizer as he kept pace alongside me. “If the local fishermen haven’t been going out to fish in the morning, surely they must still be asleep. Given those circumstances, how in the world do you propose we rent one of their craft?”

I closed my eyes and heaved a sigh. “Let me guess. Nothing seems strange to you about the fact that they won’t go out fishing anymore, does it?”

He sniffed. “I’m offended you would think that. Indeed, I have my own theory on the reason behind it: that Lina Inverse is to blame!”

….Of course he’d say that.

“At any rate, we should get some clear answers once we get to that island. Now, about that boat…” I trailed off as we reached a plethora of ships anchored to the dock, and I made my way to a random craft in their midst. “How’s one of these work for you?” I asked as I clapped my hand on the side.

“N…. Now wait just a minute!” Wizer cried out, aghast. “Are you suggesting we take one without the owner’s permission?!”

“Yeah,” I nodded like it was no big deal.

But it made sense. It was obvious at that point that someone was putting pressure on the townsfolk, which made it pretty unlikely that anyone would lend us a boat if we came up to them and asked. Our hands were tied.

“But… But this is theft!”

I snorted. “Of course it isn’t. We’re temporarily appropriating it to aid in an investigation.” If you read between the lines, you could easily see the other meaning of my words: “If anything goes wrong, It’s all on you!♥” Luckily for me, Wizer didn’t seem very well-versed in the art of double-talk.

“B… But…”

“Look, I know it’s not exactly something an upstanding citizen would do, but the longer it takes us to get this investigation underway, the higher the likelihood that something would happen to those kidnapped children because of it. Are you willing to put them in even more danger?”

“C…Certainly not. By all means…” Wizer gestured his consent with his hand.

“Great. Now let’s set sail!”

*******

Creak….
Splish…

Only the the creaking of the oars and the gentle lapping of waves against the side of the boat broke the silence around us as we continued our journey further into the lake. Every so often you could make out the sound of what I guessed were fish leaping out of the water and splashing back in. Meanwhile, the pure white of the fog remained impenetrably thick all around us.

We were completely cut off from the rest of the world.

The boat we’d appropriated was average, at best. As long as it wasn’t loaded with fish, I suppose it could have handled four people; maybe five, if you were willing to get friendly with your fellow passengers. At the helm of the boat was, of course, Inspector Wizer; if anyone should be doing the muscle-work in this situation, I figured it was fair to leave it to the only guy in the party.

“How much farther is this island…?”

“Dunno. Fog’s too thick to tell,” I said in reply to Wizer as he relentlessly continued to work the oar. Even as I looked around the boat, all I could make out around us was the rippling surface of the water and the white of the fog.

“Hmph! I’m warning you, Lina Inverse, if it turns out you’ve dragged Naga the Serpent all this way for nothing, then I—Aiieee?!” Naga’s voice pitched as the sound of water splashed around us.

I turned around expecting to see Naga hanging from the side of the boat, but all I saw was the rippling surface of the lake, instead.

I rolled my eyes. “I knew that overblown chest of hers was bound to set her off-balance again at some point…”

KER-SPLASH!

No sooner were the words out of my mouth, when suddenly the lake split apart to reveal a sight I wasn’t about to forget anytime soon!

(Wrongfully Accused: To be continued!)

Next chapter Preview

What was the strange sight that greeted our eyes as soon as the lake split?

Wait awaited us on the island in the middle of the lake?

Will I EVER get Wizer to drop his charges against me?!

And more importantly, am I ever going to make any money on this adventure?!

You might get all the answers you’re looking for in the next chapter—and then again, maybe you won’t! Either way, please stay tuned for Wrongfully Accused: Part 2!

Slayers Special: Wrongfully Accused (Part One), Written by Hajime Kanzaka
Translated by rebmastu@gmail.com (9/25/12), commissioned by Anonymous

2 Comments

  • Gruic says:

    That was very funny and exactly what we want from a Slayers story. The mythological part is also very interesting to understand well the events of books 9 and 10 of the Main Serie.
    And, as usual, the translation is perfect.

  • surskitty says:

    This is wonderful ♥

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