A Slayers Fanfic.
By: Niki 'NeeP' Paradis

Chapter Three:  Let the Search Begin!

    One young thief woke up to a pounding headache and queasiness in her stomach.  She felt drained and wondered if the particular experience that she was feeling was what a hangover was supposed to be like.  She was quick to assume that it was.
    I have decided that I DON'T like hangovers, thought Kitsuan to herself.  She shook her head and immediately regretted it.  She waited a few more minutes until the spinning in her head had stopped.
    She had opened her eyes to a comfortable room and bright cheery sunshine streaming through her windows.  She groaned and turned over to bury her head into her pillow.
    Just one more hour, she thought.  Or actually, another day wouldn't hurt either.
    Unfortunately, she was out of luck.
    "Kit?" came a familiar voice from outside her door.  "Are you awake?"
    "No, I'm not," she mumbled as she heard the door to her room open anyway.   
    Copy came strolling into her room, closing the door behind him, and opened the curtains.  "It's time to get up," he said.
    Great, sighed Kitsuan, he's a morning person...
    "Leave me alone, Copy...," she moaned.  "I'm dying here..."
    Copy looked at her sympathetically for a moment.  "What you need is some food in you," he said.  "Everything's always better after breakfast."
    The young thief was starting to understand that 'Food' was Copy's answer to everything.  "Why aren't you suffering like I am?" she asked.  "You had waaaaaaay more to drink than I did."
    Copy sat down on the edge of the bed, as if the act of thinking was draining him of all of his energy.  "I don't know," he said finally.  "I woke up with a headache, but as soon as I wished for it to go away, it did."
    Kitsuan sat up suddenly and regretted it instantly.  "You wished for it to go away?  And it did?" she asked as she held her head.
    "Well...  I might have said something else," admitted the young man, "but I have forgotten what."
    Kit fell back into the pillow.  "Figures..." she mumbled as she pulled the blankets over her head.
    "C'mon, Kit.  We really have to be going soon," he insisted.
    "I don't wanna," Kitsuan whined.  "Why do we hafta go so early?"
    "Hohohohohohohohohohohohoo!" came an evil laugh from outside the room.
    "Well," said Copy, " I wanted to get away before she came to."  He jerked a thumb towards the closed door.
    The door burst open and Naga the Black Serpent strode into the room.
    "There you are!" she exclaimed.  "Did you think that you could get away from me?"
    "Uhm..." said Copy as he strove to think of a suitable reply.
    "I don't wanna deal with this," groaned Kitsuan as she pulled the blankets even tighter around her head.  "Go away, like the bad dream that you are..."
    "Oh, no, you little thief," growled the tall scary woman as she pulled the covers off of the bed.  "You took something from me that I needed!"
    "Hey!" shrieked the young girl.  "What the hell do you think you’re doing?!?  There's a guy present!"  Kit stole a glance at Copy as she used her hands to cover herself up.
    "Relax," muttered the scantily clad woman, gesturing to Kitsuan's tank top and panties.  "You're wearing more than I am, and you don't have as much to show anyways."
    "Hey!"  Kit was now feeling more angry than exposed.  She looked at Copy to see what he thought, but found him otherwise occupied.
    "Huh?" said Copy as he tried unsuccessfully to remove his eyes from Naga's heaving chest.  How do they stay in there? he asked himself.  Glue?  It must be one of the greatest mysteries of life.
    "Copy!" shouted Kitsuan.  How can he be so fascinated with that woman's chest?
    The tall strawberry-blonde young man tore his gaze from the strange mystery and look towards his friend.  "Gee, Kit...  Where are your clothes?"
    "Ahhh!  Copy!  Turn away!"
    Copy spun around, confused.  Why was she yelling at him?  
    In disgust, Naga threw the covers back onto the bed.  "Never mind him.  Where's the bag you stole from me?"
    "We won the medallion fair and square!" exclaimed Copy who was still facing the other way.
    "The medallion, maybe.  But my purse?"
    "Purse?" asked Copy as he turned around.
    "Yeah," grunted the tall woman, "my purse."
    "Kit..." One of Copy's eyebrows lifted ominously as he turned to face her.
    "Yeah, yeah...  I'm sorry that I took your stupid purse," she mumbled as she sat up.  "It's over there, on the chair."  She pointed in the proper direction.
    The tall woman strode to the piece of furniture and picked up her missing property.  She harrumphed and stuffed the small pouch down the front of her brassier.  Copy's eyes bugged open wide as he watched the action.
    "You mean that there's room in there?!?" he asked incredulously.
    Naga smirked at the tall dumb man.  "With babies this big, there's almost nothing that I can't keep in between them."
    "Oh."  No real emotion or intelligence showed on the young man's face, so Naga quickly figured that he was a lost cause and turned to leave.
    "You better leave that medallion behind," suggested Copy.
    The white serpent stopped suddenly.  "Whatever do you mean?" she asked, her voice straining to sound innocent.
    "I know that you stuffed in with your purse," said Copy.  "We won it fair and square...  Give it back."
    The tall woman turned and stared challengingly at the foolish man.  "Take it from me, if you dare," she said.
    "Um..."  Copy didn't know how to respond to that.  He knew that it was wrong to stuff hands down where they weren't welcomed.  He knew that it meant trouble if he did it by accident, and he certainly didn't want to try it on purpose.
    "Hohoho!  I didn't think so..."  The tall woman turned to leave.
    "For cryin' out loud, Copy!" snarled the young thief as she leaped from her bed, blankets and all and grappled with the taller woman.  She plunged her hand into the region where her friend did not dare to tread and pulled out the treasure.  She leaped off of Naga and thrust the medallion at Copy, who took it dumbly.  Then she drew the blankets tighter around her and practically leaped for the comfort of the bed.
    The White Serpent stood stunned for a moment, her face red.  Then she went thoughtful.
    "'Copy'..." she mused.  "Now what was it about that name that I have heard before..?"  Then she reached again down the front of her brassier and pulled out a piece of parchment.  She began to chortle, as she looked it over.
    "Now what?" groaned Kitsuan from under the pile of blankets on the bed.
    "I have just remembered something of great importance! Hohohoho..."
    "What is it?" asked Copy.
    "Someone important in a puny town called Leyrun has put out a warrant for your arrest...  Did you know that?"
    The young man sighed.  "I'm not really surprised," he said.  "They were pretty upset."
    "They didn't say why, but they insist on having you brought in."  The scary woman reached once again down into forbidden depths, and pulled out what appears to be a small gem, and she held it up casually.  "I have never had the use of these things before, but I am certain that it would do the trick.
    "What is it?" asked Copy in a confused voice.  There was something in the back of his mind that was telling him to run, but he didn't know why he needed to be afraid of a little jewel.
    Naga flicked the small gem with unerring aim towards Copy.  He yelped as he felt a sharp pain in the middle of his forehead.  Kitsuan poked her head out from under the covers at the sound.  She looked towards her friend who stood, stunned.
    "Copy?" asked Kit to her friend.  "Hey, Copy?  Are you okay?"
    He didn't answer.  
    The young thief got out of bed with the blankets still wrapped around her.  She went up to her friend and waved her hand in front of his face, trying to grab his attention.  It didn't work.
    "Copy?" she asked again.
    Kitsuan was beginning to become concerned.  He wasn't reaching for his sword, or even looking at Naga.  He wasn't reacting at all.  He just stood there with a blanker expression than what she quickly had come to know as normal.  She wondered if the crystal that had adhered to her friend's forehead had something to do with Copy's lack of response.
    "Hohohohohoho oh ho!" chortled the barely clad sorceress.  "He is under my control, little thief.  He will do whatever I say!"
    "No!" cried Kit in disbelief.
    "Copy!" commanded the tall woman.  "Seize her!"
    Like a marionette, the young man turned to the young girl and started to move stiffly towards her.  Kitsuan backed away, nearly tripping over the blankets wrapped around her and quickly bumped into the chair where she left her clothes the night before --and her dagger!  
    She seized her trusty dagger and yanked it out of its sheath.  "Back off, Copy!" I don't want to hurt you!"  But her words had no effect on him.
    Now she had a problem.  Copy was the first person she felt that she could trust in a very long time.  She didn't want to kill him.  But as long as he had that damn crystal on his forehead...
    As stiffly as Copy was moving, Kitsuan had the advantage.  She chuckled at how easily it would be.  As Copy reached to grab her, Kit used the pommel of her dagger against his forehead --and the crystal.  
    It broke.  
    And Copy fell to the ground unconscious.
    Naga stood stunned at the moment, over how quickly her plan had come undone.  The she snarled at the young girl.  "You owe me for that Control Crystal!"
    Kitsuan was astounded by the charge.  "You Bitch!" shouted the young thief.  "What the hell did you think you were doing?!?"
    "My job," retorted the tall woman.  "Even a woman of my famed ability has to earn bread to eat, and that-" she pointed to the still unconscious Copy, "--was going to be my meal ticket!"
    Kitsuan was suddenly standing in front of Naga, her protective covering of blankets were left on the floor behind her.  She had the point of her dagger just under the taller woman's chin.  Naga's eyes were opened wide.
    "What are you doing?!?" she asked in a very small panicked voice.
    "What I am doing," said Kit softly, "is giving you until the count of three to leave...  Or else."
    "What will you do?" asked Naga.  "You won't kill me.  And even if I leave, I will be free to track you down later."
    "I will deal with that later.  But for now, you better leave."
    The tall woman sniffed, spun around and strode out of the room.
    Kit glared at the still opened door for a moment, then she slammed it shut.
    "Wow, Kit.  That was pretty impressive."
    She turned to face Copy, who was starting to sit up.  "How are you feeling?" she asked him.
    "Okay, I guess."  The young man winced.  "Except my headache seemed to have come back."
    "It will go away in a bit," assured the young girl.  I hope.
    Copy nodded.  "I'm gonna go downstairs," he said.  "I am very hungry."
    "Okay, I will be down in a bit."
    Copy grinned.  "Alright."  He got up and walked to the door.  He pulled it open again, paused and turned around.  "Hey, Kitsuan?" he asked.
    "I dunno if green panties suit you.  You might want to try another colour."
    The young thief shrieked.  And Kit's dagger was suddenly imbedded in the door jam beside Copy's head.  Actually, only an inch away from it.
    "I was just trying to be helpful..." protested Copy.
    "Get out!!!" yelled Kitsuan.

    An hour later, Kitsuan and Copy were sitting at a table with the remains of an extremely large meal sitting on it.
    Aside from feeling a little miffed at Copy, the young thief did feel better after she had eaten.  Her headache was still there, but now it was manageable.  She was surprised at how much orange juice she had drank.
    "Well, we had fun over the last couple of days," commented Kitsuan.  "Now what?"  
    "Um," grunted the tall young man.
    "Did you want to stick together?" she asked in a half hopeful way.  "Is there something that you have to do?"  Kitsuan didn't want to be on her own again so soon.  Copy was a nice guy, even if he doesn't seem to be completely there all the time.  Not that she thought of him as anything else but a friend.  But she hadn't had a friend for a very long time.
    "Well," said Copy slowly.  "I have to go find someone...  Or two someones, actually..."
    "Oh?" asked the young thief.  "Who?"
    "I gotta go find Lina.  Maybe Gourry too..."
    "Um..."  Copy suddenly seemed unsure of himself.  "You promise not to laugh?"
    "Promise," she said.
    The tall young man took a deep breath.  "There's something in the back of my mind that I don't understand.  I have Gourry's memories, so I know that he never had this, uh, feeling before.  And because I know that, that must mean that Lina might know what's this odd feeling is."
    "So, you're gonna go look for this Lina because of a 'feeling'?"
    "That's a pretty strange reason, Copy," said the young thief.  "But it works for me."
    "Really?  You want to come along?"
    "Yeah, sure.  Why not?" Kit grinned at her friend.  "It could be fun."  More fun than being on my own again, with no one to trust.

    "Where are we going, Lina?" asked Gourry Gabriev as he trudged behind the young sorceress.
    Gourry had the right to ask.  He, Lina and the others have been travelling for a month.  They had met with Zelgadis and Amelia in the city, and now they were travelling together.
    "We are going to a small town called Leyrun," replied Lina Inverse.
    "According to the information that I've dug out of the Royal Library, there's a manuscript that contains a translation of the runes on this other manuscript."
    "And according to the historian," commented Zelgadis, "this manuscript is being held in a school in the village."
    "Do you think that we can find a cure for your condition, Mister Zelgadis?" asked Amelia.
    "One can always hope," sighed the Chimera. Providing that I get to it before Lina does..., he thought.
    "What are the chances that we would all meet in Seyroon, all looking for the same idol-whatchamacallit?" asked Gourry cheerfully.
    "Yeah," muttered Lina.  "What were the odds..?"  Now I have to share...
    "Well," said the swordsman, "it's great to be travelling together again."
    "Yeah!" agreed Amelia enthusiastically.

    Soon, they came to the outskirts of the town.  It was almost twilight, and most everyone was inside his or her homes eating dinner.  Thus, the streets were empty as they strolled along.
    "There's something very familiar about this place," commented the redhead.
    "Do you think so, Miss Lina?" asked the Princess.
    "Yeah, I do."
    "Is this something that you should be sharing with the rest of us?" asked Zelgadis.
    Gourry was distracted by a sheet of parchment that was nailed to the side of a building.  He walked towards it and took a closer look.  Then he pulled it off the wall and walked back to the group.
    "Hey, Lina.  I think you should take a look at this."
    "What's that, Mister Gourry?" asked Amelia.
    Lina grabbed the parchment from her companion's hand and stared at it.  She started cursing under her breath. "I have forgotten about that," she finally muttered.
    Zelgadis took the parchment from the young woman.  He sighed as he looked at it.
    "What is it?" asked Amelia.  The chimera passed the sheet over.  The princess gasped as she realised that she was staring at a wanted poster for Miss Lina.  They were asking for a lot of money too.  "What are we going to do, Miss Lina?"
    "Aside from leaving as soon as possible, I can't really think of anything."
    "We're lucky that everyone's inside, then," said Gourry.
    "That's for certain," agreed Zel.
    "Should we go get some disguises?" asked Amelia.
    "No!" exclaimed the men of the group.  The idea of disguises disturbed them for some reason.
    "We don't have time," grunted Lina.  Let's go in, find this Master Thomas, get the manuscript and leave as soon as possible."
    "But what if the headmaster isn’t at the school?" asked Gourry.
    "We'll figure it out then.  We'll know in a few moments anyhow."  And it was true, as they had just reached the gates of the school grounds.  
    An old man was just locking up the school for the night.  After checking the lock, he turned away from the doors and saw them standing there.  His eyes opened wide at the sight of Lina and her companions.
    "You!" he shouted.  The tone was accusing.

    In an extremely comfortable house, Lina and company sat around a huge meal, served by a very cheerful older woman.  
    "So, you're the famous Lina Inverse!" exclaimed the woman.  "The one who destroyed Phibrizzo and Gaav?  More than glad to meet you."
    "Uh, thanks," said Lina.  "You know, this food is really great!"
    "As always Tilly," agreed Master Thomas.
    "It's great to be cooking for someone else again," bubble the older woman.  "Since Copy left, I don’t get to cook as much as I would like.  Thom and I don't need to eat as much."  
    "Copy?" asked Gourry with his mouth full.
    "Our nephew," replied the aging wizard.
    "You remind me a great deal of him," said Tilly to Gourry, as she piled another couple of scoops of mashed potatoes onto the swordsman's plate.
    "I do?" asked Gourry.
    Lina noticed that Master Thomas suddenly rolled his eyes up at the comparison of his missing nephew to her partner.  Maybe Mistress Tilly compared a lot of young men to this Copy.
    "You eat the same way that he does," replied Tilly.
    "We're really sorry about that last time," said Amelia contritely.  
    Lina stopped eating.  The last time? she thought.  
    Master Thomas actually chuckled.  "Not a problem, Lass.  I got that kopii machine up and running again within a few months.  No lasting damage was done to it."
    Oh, that.  Lina blushed.  That was why the whole town and the old man seemed familiar.
    "Yeah," she mumbled.  "Really sorry about that."
    Gourry looked blank.  As usual.
    Soon dinner was done and the old wizard looked apprehensively at all of the empty dishes.  Amelia immediately offered to help with the cleaning, but Tilly refused.  Guests do not assist in the cleaning.  It just wasn't right.  Amelia sighed, then turned back to the conversation that Lina was having with the old wizard.
    "Anyway, from what the scholars of Seyroon were telling me, you have a particular manuscript that I need."
    "Aye, lass?" asked Master Thomas as he drew on his pipe.  "And which manuscript are you talking about?"
    "It is an old worthless thing, really," said Lina, as she drew out a sheet of parchment on which she painstakingly replicated the odd Symbols that she couldn't understand on it.  She didn't want the old man to see the original.  Zelgadis nodded his approval at Lina's caution.
    The headmaster of the wizard's school studied the scrap of parchment.  "You know lass, I think that I just might have that manuscript that you require.  I do not have a use for it."
    "So, you'll give it to us?!?" Lina asked with excitement shining in her eyes.
    "Nay, I will not just give it to you, lass," retorted Master Thomas.
    "But," replied Lina, turning on her charm, "you said that it is of no use to you..."
    "That I did, lass."
    "But..." sniffled Lina.
    "What do you want for the manuscript, Master Thomas?" interrupted Zelgadis.
    "Ah," smiled the old wizard.  "You're willing to bargain?"
    "Depends on the cost," countered the chimera.
    "All right, lads and lasses, we shall deal.  For this manuscript that you need, I will gladly give to you  --If you could go find my nephew and bring him here."
    "You want us to go get your nephew?" asked Lina incredulously.  "Look pal, we're no bounty hunters."
    "No lass.  What you are, are a group of determined young people who need a scroll from me.  So, you will find my nephew,      Copy, and bring him here to us."
    "We'll do it," said Zelgadis immediately.
    "But..." protested Lina.
    "Please lass," insisted Master Thomas.  "I am truly worried about him, and Tilly misses him.  I need someone to go and tell the lad that things aren't as bad here as they once were."
    "Right," sighed Lina.  "So which way was your nephew heading?"

    Kitsuan was sitting at the table at the inn, waiting for her friend to return.  The remains of a small plate of a strange local food called nachos sat in front of her.  She was thinking about her relationship with the strange young man who called himself  'Copy'.  But the thinking did not distract her from getting her work done.  She reached over and managed to discretely snag a heavy purse from the pocket of an overly dressed and overly fed elderly gentleman.  Trying not to hum to herself in triumph, the young girl pocketed the pouch into her own pocket.  Now that she had acquired the funds to feed her companion when he returned, she could now focus her attention on figuring him out.
    Who is Copy, anyway? she wondered.  He was a tall young man, with lavender eyes and incredibly long strawberry-blonde hair.  He had an open honest face, which at most times appeared to be totally devoid of thought, and at others seemed to hold deep knowledge of strange things. He was a fabulous swordsman, who sometimes seemed positive that there were other methods to do things.  But whatever the other knowledge or methods were, he didn't seem too positive that he knew exactly what they were.
    He had confided in her and explained that he was a kopii, a duplicate of another person, but an imperfect one.  He was actually created out of two people, when he was supposed to be of only one.  He had all of the memories and skills of a professional swordsman, and some undefined 'feeling' that he had inherited from a magic-genius.
    Kitsuan wasn't sure that she understood Copy's mission either. He said that he was on a quest to find the infamous Lina Inverse, the bandit killer.  He said that he was positive that she would be able to explain the reason for the unusual thoughts and bits of knowledge in his head. --or something.
    But until he found what he was looking for, he assumed the role of a mercenary, a swordsman for hire.  Which suited Kitsuan just fine.  Between her own skills and the money that Copy brought in, they should be able to earn enough to travel comfortably--providing that the profits weren't eaten up.
    Kit was surprised that she agreed to go with Copy on his bizarre search.  She had made casual contacts before with people when it suited her needs, but the relationship would end once the task was done.  She couldn't quite figure out why she wanted to stay with the young man.  She knew that despite his off remarks, that he wasn't at all interested in her as anything outside of a friend.  Which suited the young thief just fine.  She wasn't in the market for a boyfriend yet anyway.  But Copy was a good friend already, and she knew that they would get through any situation just fine as long as they stick together.
    And the search was made even harder by the fact that there were bounty hunters after him.  Sometimes they were after Copy with a warrant from the town of Leyrun, where he came from and sometimes a bounty hunter would mistake him for a Gourry Gabriev.  Between Copy's and her own skills, they had managed to keep the bounty hunters at bay.  So far.
     Kitsuan started to pick at the plate of nachos, wondering again about how the heck they were going to find a single sorceress who could be anywhere--anywhere in all the land.  She was concentrating so hard on the situation, that she wasn't aware of anyone walking up to her until she heard a voice.  They have been travelling for over a month now, following rumours and hints that seemed to lead to other rumours and hints.
    "Please don't tell me that is all there is for food," commented a dismayed voice.
    "Don't worry, Copy," replied the young thief, " I got the money for more."  Then she looked up at the face of her companion and gasped.  "What happened to your hair?!?"
    Copy sat down at the table and rubbed ruefully at the back of his head and his new haircut.  "I sold it.  I figured that it was the easiest way to earn the money for the headband.  It cost me quite a bit, you know."  He fingered the plain black headband on his forehead.  Then he started to eat what was left of the nachos.
    Kitsuan snorted in disgust.  "But it's so plain.  If you wanted a headband, I could've gotten you a better one and much cheaper too."
    "You mean that you would have stolen one for me, is that it?" he asked.
    There was no answer.  Copy shook his head, and shook a nacho chip at her.
    "I'm not going into that lecture again, Kit.  You know how I feel about your stealing.  But this is a special headband.  It will keep off those Control Gems that that scary woman and any other bounty hunter could throw at me."
    "They didn't seem so powerful."
    "Well, that Naga woman simply wasn't very good in using them."
    Kitsuan blinked in confusion.  "So why get it now?  Why not right after that attack?"
    "This is the first town that I could find that carried the things, y'know?"
    "How do you know that the headband is going to work?" she asked.
    Copy stopped.  He looked confused.  He looked thoughtful for a moment.  Then he shrugged.
    "I really don't know how I know," he said.  "I just do."
    A huge sweat-drop formed on the young thief's head.
    "B-but your hair..." she whimpered.
    "It will grow back," said Copy confidentially.  "It's just that in the present circumstances, I'd rather have free will than long hair."
    "You'd better grow it back," muttered Kitsuan.
    "No problem."  Copy blinked at his friends concern over his hair, then looked sadly at the now empty plate in front of him.  "Can we order more food now?" he asked hopefully.
    "Sure," said the young thief loftily.  "Order anything you want."  She remembered that earlier that day, she and Copy had shared a huge breakfast.  She was positive that he couldn't possibly be too hungry.
    "Great!"  Copy waved over a serving girl.  "Hey Miss.  What the house special today?"
    "Roast beef with potatoes, peas, carrots, garlic bread and salad," replied the girl.
    "Sounds good --but I'm not as hungry as I usually am..."
    Kitsuan breathed a sigh of relief.  Maybe there will be money left over for once, she thought for herself.
    "...So I'll only have five servings today!" finished the young man.
    Kitsuan fell out of the chair with a thud.  Her hands and legs were in the o-yakusoku pozu position.
    Oblivious to Kitsuan's position on the floor, Copy looked around the room, then he focused his attention on the young girl as she was climbing back into her seat.
    "Are you okay?" he asked.
    "Yeah, sure.  Just peachy," she muttered.  "I'm just surprised that you're not eating as much as you usually do," she said sarcastically.
    "Yeah," said Copy, oblivious to the sarcasm.  "Usually I eat seven or eight servings."  He sighed.  "I guess I'm just not that hungry..."
    Yet another sweat-drop formed on the back of the young thief's head.  "You're amazing..." she said under her breath.
    "So did you find anything about where Lina went to?" he asked as he absent-mindedly rubbed his audibly growling stomach.
    Kitsuan shook her head.  "Only that she and her group of 'brigands' went through here a few months ago."
    "Oh?  Did you find out which way they were going?" he asked.
    The serving girl came back to the table, heavily laden with huge platters that threatened to topple.  She managed to set them down before Copy grabbed a fork and stabbed the nearest roast.  Shaking her head in astonishment, the girl turned to the young thief and presented her with the bill.  Kitsuan sighed and handed the girl most of the money that she had just liberated from the elderly gentleman.  She turned back to her companion to reply.
    "I only heard that they were headed east."
    "Mmmph.  Then that's a good place to look then, right?" asked Copy with his mouthful, already on his second serving of roast beef.  
    "Yeah, I guess," started the thief.  Then she glared at her companion.  "Why do you have to eat like that?!?  Doesn't your memories tell you how Lina Inverse ate?  I'm willing to bet that she was more civilized."
    Copy put down his chunk of roast beef for a moment.  "Nope!" he said cheerfully.  "She was much worse.  Me--I mean, Gourry and Lina often competed to see who ate the most and who got the last bite of food."
    Another huge sweat-drop formed on the back of Kitsuan's head.  "And you want to find this person?!?" she asked, astonished.
    Copy took a breath between mouthfuls.  "I already told you why."  Then he went back to inhaling his meal.
    The young thief could only watch in amazement as the food disappeared into the black hole that was her companion's mouth.      Ten minutes later, Copy was wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
    "That was great," he beamed, patting his stomach.  "I wonder what this place has for dessert..."
    Kitsuan shot up out of her chair with rage.  "No dessert!  We can't afford dessert!" she yelled.  You already ate up most of our funds, Copy!"
    "Copy?!?" asked a burly man who resembled a thug but was dressed in a gaudy purple wizard's robe.  He stood up from the bar and sauntered over to the table where the two sat.  "Let me see if I understand this right, you're name is Copy, right?" he asked pleasantly.
    "You got it."  The tall young man, nodded enthusiastically.
    "Hey!" hissed Kitsuan.
    "Then I, the great wizard, Faaboo, shall bring you to Justice!"  The big man struck what he thought was a heroic pose, but instead looked foolish in the robe that he was wearing.
    A sweat-drop formed on both Copy's and Kitsuan's heads.
    "Another bounty hunter?" asked the young girl in a tired voice.
    "Looks like it," muttered the young mercenary.
    "I almost didn't recognise you with that haircut of yours," chuckled the wizard moving towards them.  "The description describes you with long hair.  But with your identity revealed, I can now take you out, in the name of Justice!"
    This guy is worse than Amelia!  Copy stood up, reached to pull out his sword, the simple but well crafted weapon that Master Groning had made, out of its scabbard and was about to attack the other man when the innkeeper, a really big, really mean-looking woman, shouted from the doorway into the kitchen.  "Hey!  Take it outside!  You wreck the place, you're gonna pay for it, you clowns!!!"
    The three combatants stopped, looked at the innkeeper, hung their heads in shame, and then dejectedly walked out of the inn and into the street.
    At least I got to finish my meal, thought Copy in relief.  "Well," he said confidently.  "Where were we?"
    "We were at the part, where I defeat you and claim the reward money--in the name of Justice!" announced the huge man.
    "You're not, by any chance from Seyroon, are you?" asked the young man.
    "Huh?"  The Great Faaboo looked confused.  "No.  Why?"
    "Never mind, it's not important."
    "Defend yourself!" shouted the wizard.
    Kitsuan pulled her dagger out from its sheath.  She stood ready, facing her opponent.
    "Just you?" she asked teasingly.  "Jeepers!  And I thought this was going to be a real fight."
    "Just you wait, little girl," sneered Faaboo.  He looked at her appraisingly.  "When I'm done here, I'll show you what a real man could do."
    "And who's the real man that you have in mind?"  Kitsuan grinned.
    The man growled and started to chant a spell.  A sullen glow formed around him.  Kit was suddenly afraid.
    "Oh, no you don't!" shouted Copy as he charged at the wizard.  He swung his sword towards the bounty hunter's head. Faaboo ducked, and was startled out of his concentration, he stuttered and the glow that surrounded him faded away.
    "You leave Kitsuan out of this!  It's me you want!" shouted Copy as he swung his sword again.
    Faaboo dodged with surprising speed for such a huge man.  He threw something at the young man, which bounced off of his plain black headband and shattered against the wall of a nearby building.  Kitsuan, who was wisely trying to stay out of the way, saw the remains of a Control Gem on the ground.  Well, what do you know?  It DOES work , she thought.
    The wizard scowled as he realised that his main attack was a failure, and he knew that the young man that he was attacking was faster with the sword than he was with his chanting.  So, he decided to fall on his back-up plan.  He whistled.  Copy stopped his attack, confused.  A whole army of thugs came out of the shadows of nearby alleys and doorways.  They surrounded the duo with surprising speed.  Kitsuan started to swear under her breath.
    Faaboo gave an ugly laugh.  "You didn't want to make it easy for me, eh?" he asked.  "Now lets see how well you fare against my Army of Justice!"  He motioned the goon squad to close in.
    "Are you sure that you're not from Seyroon?" asked Copy again as he defended against the many knifes and swords.  His curiosity was quashed as a knife tore through his sleeve and nicked him.
    Kitsuan was getting panicky.  In her imagination, she saw what a bunch of barbarians could do to her young, supple, well-built body.  She turned to her companion.  "Copy!  There's too many of them!  We can't fight them all!  What will we do?"
    Without saying anything, the tall young man sheathed his sword.  The young thief's mouth dropped open in astonishment.  She watched as he crossed his hands over his chest.  The gang of thugs stopped, wondering why even an idiot would put his sword away in the middle of a serious brawl.
    "Whatareyadoing?!?" she cried out as she turned around to face the on-coming thugs again.  "Pull your sword back out, dammit!"
    A voice filled with power spoke out from behind her.
    A huge gust of wind came up out of nowhere and Kitsuan felt strong arms slip under her own and pick her up.  She almost dropped her dagger in disbelief as she watched as her feet leave the ground and the astonished Faaboo and his cronies behind.  She shut her eyes for a moment, believing that she was seeing things.  But when she opened them again, she found that she was still flying high over the city.  She swallowed and struggled in the grasp of the person holding her.
    "Easy, Kit," said the voice behind her.  "Don't struggle or you'll make me drop you."  The voice was very familiar.
    "C-c-copy?"  She stopped her struggles.
    "Yeah.  It's me."  Pride filled the young man's voice.
    "You're doing this?" asked Kitsuan in a small voice.
    "Yeah!  Pretty good, huh?"
    They were now sailing over the countryside.
    "I didn't know you can do this," she said.  "How come you didn't tell me?"
    "I didn't know I could.  This is the first time I done this."
    "You've never done this before...?"
    "Nope!" replied Copy cheerfully.
    Kitsuan felt sick to her stomach.  That lasted only a moment as she realised that the ground started to come up quickly.
    "Copy?" she asked.
    "We're falling..."
    After a few moments of panic, Copy tried to slow down and descend gently onto a nearby hilltop.  Unfortunately, the move was only partially successful.  They reached the hill and were only ten feet above it when the spell finally gave out.  Both thief and swordsman crashed into the ground with a very audible thud.  They lay there quietly on the hilltop for a few moments, catching their breath, while the local scavengers wondered if they just hit the jackpot.  Unfortunately, to their disappointment, their would be dinners started to stir.
    "You HAVE to work on your landings," groaned Kitsuan.
    "I will," promised Copy in a pained voice.  "But I never done that before."
    There were a few more minutes of silence.
    The young thief sat up.  "How did you do that?"
    "I told you, I don't know."  He looked thoughtful.  "I wonder if Lina might know..."
    Kitsuan looked towards the setting sun.  "You can ask her when we find her.  Meanwhile, it's getting dark and we ought to set up for the night.  This place is as good as any."
    "Yeah, I guess you're right."
    "And as soon as we can, we have to buy some armour for you.  Those goons were a little too close for comfort and its gonna be tough for you to be a proper mercenary if you don't look the part...  Not to mention that you may want to keep your skin."
    "I guess you're right," he sighed as examined the cut on  his arm.
    "But to do that we're gonna have to save money, and not spend it all on food."
    "Kitsuan!!!" wailed Copy.  "No fair...!"
    Meanwhile, back in town...
    Most of the shops had closed for the night, and all of the hired goons all went home to their wives and children.  However, Faaboo still looked towards the horizon where his quarry had flown off.  He was royally pissed off, and regretted not hiring his army for more than one day.  He shook in rage.  No one told him that the guy he was chasing was able to use magic.  But he won't give up.  Now he had a real challenge.  He started to cackle in anticipation.
    "I'll get you my Copy," he shouted, "and your little thief too!!!"
    Nearby a stray dog howled.
    The innkeeper opened a window and shouted.  "Shut-up, you idiot!"  Then she threw a washbasin at him.  The huge bowl struck the wizard in the back of the head and he dropped to the street, unconscious.

    They were standing in the middle of nowhere, at what seemed to be a sort of crossroads.  The sun was shining overhead and there was absolutely nothing to stand under.
    "Now where do we go?" asked Amelia.
    "I have no idea," sighed Lina.  "Zel, let's take another look at that map."
    "All right."  The chimera opened the map up and everyone crowded around him.  There were moans of dismay as they realised that they really were in the middle of nowhere.  There were towns in four directions from where they were standing, and every one of them were two weeks away, if the distances were correct.  The last town that travelled from was two weeks back on the one road, and the other towns on the map were spaced at least the same distance apart.
    "So, which way do we go?" asked Gourry.
    "I say that we go west, towards this town here, um, Vyranda," suggested Lina.
    "I'd rather go east towards Mompton," said Zelgadis.
    "I hear that there's a great beef specialty in Felinda," said Gourry, pointing to the northern town.
    "I think that we should go back to Sunnyvale," said Amelia, pointing south, behind them.  "We could get more supplies and head off towards a town that's closer to there."
    "I hate backtracking," complained Lina.
    Then a voice came out of nowhere...
    "Hello, Lina Inverse," it said. A mysterious figure stepped out of the shadows, which was rather impressive, as there were nothing around to cast any. He was wearing the clothes of a travelling priest.  His hair was straight and shoulder length and he carried a staff topped with a well-polished red stone.  His face was in what appeared to be a permanent disarming smile as if he was laughing at the world. He regarded the group with a cheerful look.  "Long time, no see."
    "Xelloss."  It was not a greeting.  Lina did not want to play any games with the mazouku.  Moreover, according to the faces of Amelia and Zelgadis, they weren't too thrilled to see him either.  Gourry's face was a blank for a moment.  Then he smiled at the newcomer.
    "Hey, Xelloss.  It has been quite a while, hasn't it?" Gourry beamed, pleased to greet an old acquaintance.  However, the others remained quiet.  Xelloss raised an eyebrow as if in question.
    "Well now...  That's no way to greet an old friend now, is it?"  His face and voice remained ever cheerful.
    "Who ever said that you were our friend?!?" shouted Lina.
    Xelloss' eyes opened wide for a moment, revealing violet irises with cat-slit pupils.
    "Whatever do you mean?"  The eyes closed again quickly.
    Amelia pushed her way through to the front of the group.
    "You know exactly what we mean, Mr. Xelloss!  You deceived us, then abandoned us to that awful Hellmaster guy.  That was a very bad thing to do.  So in the name of justice, I will have to punish you!"  Amelia pointed and aimed her righteous wrath at the false priest.  Before she could charge, she was frozen in place with a restraining spell.
    "I'm sorry, Amelia, I'm afraid that this is not a good time for me to play with you.   I have some information that you may find very interesting."
    Lina crossed her arms and looked properly sceptical.  "Such as...?"
    The corner of Xelloss' mouth turned up even further.  "It's information about the man that you are charged to bring back."
    "You mean the man called 'Copy'?" asked Zelgadis.
    "That's the one." the false priest confirmed.
    "What about him?" asked the chimera.
    "There's more to him than you think."
    "Oh?" asked Lina.  "Such as...?"
    "Copy is more than just the man's name.  It is what he is."
    "Huh?" asked Gourry.  Lina shoved an elbow into the swordsman's ribs.
    "Listen, stupid.  Remember that lab where that old man was making little versions of you and me?"
    "Yeah, I think I do..."  Gourry scratched his head thoughtfully.
    "Well, those were 'kopiis' --duplicates of you and me.  Like that Kopii-Rezo.  Remember him at least?"
    "No, not really."
    Everyone, including Xelloss, face faulted and fell to the ground.
    Lina's anger made her seem to swell to ten times her normal size.
    "That kopii almost killed us!!!  How can you NOT remember?!?"
    Wiping the sweat-drop aside, Zelgadis asked, "So what you are saying is that not only is 'Copy' the man's name, it is actually what he is, right?"
    "Bingo."  Xelloss smiled even more.
    "Okay.  I got it."  Lina looked thoughtful.
    "So this Copy's a kopii.  Is that right, Miss Lina?" asked Amelia.
    "That appears to be the case..." mused Lina.  "So, Xelloss...  Who is this 'Copy' a kopii of, anyway?"
    "Well," mused the Beastmaster.  "I can't tell you."
    A red aura glowed around the small sorceress.  " And why not?!?"
    "Because, my dear Lina Inverse, that..." Xelloss winked at her and wagged his finger, "that is a secret."
    "AAAAARRRRRGH!!!!!"  The scream could be heard for hundreds of miles.  Gourry had to hold Lina back before she could launch herself into the mazouku.  Lina struggled with all her might.  "I'm gonna KILL him!" she shouted.
    Zel scratched his head.  "But I don't get it.  Why do you want to help us?  I'm sure that it isn't in your master's best interests."
    Xelloss waved his hand.  "I know, I know.  But you have to understand...  Monsters thrive on chaos, you know.  While most monsters yearn for total destruction and the return to the primal chaos, I prefer the little bits of chaos that can happen in day to day life and make it interesting."
    "Is that why you keep coming to torment us like this, Mister Xelloss?" asked Amelia.
    "That's it exactly."  Xelloss nodded.   "And by the way, you will find your man that way..." the mazoku pointed east.