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Episode #18

RETURN! The Red Priest is Back!

Synopsis written by Tim Miller

After a number of harrowing adventures, near misses, and harrowing escapes, Lina, Gourry, and Amelia have finally made it to Sairaag. While hiding in a haycart, they see the city of Sairaag and an immense tree which stands over the city: the holy tree, Flagoon. Lina remembers the story of how the demon beast Zanaffar was defeated by the Swordsman of Light (an ancestor of Gourry), and recounts how the warrior planted the holy tree in order to absorb and contain the miasma of evil which Zanaffar's dead body gave off. Gourry vaguely remembers hearing a story about this when he was a little boy, but - as he tells Lina and Amelia - he never paid any attention.

There's a very tight guard around the city of Sairaag; Lina knows she and her companions can't hope to sneak through, even hiding in the middle of the hay, so they decide to sneak into the city after nightfall. Of course, "sneaking in" under these circumstances means that Lina and Amelia fly over the wall, carrying Gourry between them. The dispute that ensues upon landing, when they're trying to decide on whether or not to accost a passerby for directions, is interrupted by a young woman in the garb of a priestess, who recognizes Gourry. Gourry sort of recognizes her, especially when she tells them her name: Sylphiel.

Later, at Sylphiel's home, Gourry explains that he remembers Sylphiel because of her wonderful cooking. Lina isn't surprised to know that's how Gourry managed to remember her name - but is surprised to hear one of the rumors that Sylphiel's father has heard about Lina, namely that she looks like a young girl but is actually ninety years old. After laying that rumor to rest, Lina and her friends learn about the one who put the price on their heads: a woman by the name of Eris, who is connected with Rezo, the Red Priest.

Mention of Rezo brings back several reasonably fresh memories for Lina, who remembers Rezo all too clearly - but of course, Amelia doesn't know what happened with Rezo before, and is only familiar with his reputation as a great sage and humanitarian. Gourry doesn't even remember who Rezo is, despite the fact that Rezo nearly killed him (and Lina) some time back ...

Sylphiel warns the three of them that she has a terrible feeling, that something bad is going to happen. With this warning in mind, Lina, Gourry, and Amelia head for Rezo's mansion.

When they get to the mansion, Lina explores briefly, then indicates a section of wall and says, "We'll go in here." Gourry quickly draws his sword and cuts a hole in the wall, providing their entranceway - right into a magical laboratory of some sort. Amelia sees something moving in one of the vats, and yelps in surprise when it looks back: this lab is for creating chimeras, or combination life forms. Lina knows a little bit about the making of chimeras - nothing practical, but she's aware of the theory, and notes to the others that sorcerers are divided about the ethics of it.

Moving on, the three of them find a large portrait of Rezo above the stairs in the main hallway of the mansion; just afterwards, Eris appears, accompanied by Zangulus and Vrumugun. Eris, who is a loyal servant of Rezo, openly takes credit for declaring the bounty on Lina and Gourry, and luring them to Sairaag so that she could get the Sword of Light. Gourry begins to refuse to give it to her; Lina finishes for him, saying that the sword "is MINE!" and she and Gourry get into a short-lived argument about the subject. The argument is short-lived, though, as Zangulus and Vrumugun go on the attack, taking on Gourry and Lina, respectively.

Taking advantage of the confusion, Amelia leaps up to the balcony and challenges Eris; Rezo's disciple simply turns loose a particularly ugly chimera on Amelia, and lets her fight it. Zangulus goes after Gourry with his full strength, unleashing the destructive power of the Howling Sword which Rezo gave him; Gourry is forced to use the full power of his Sword of Light just to maintain any kind of defense at all. Lina is also kept on the run by Vrumugun, who doesn't even give her time to cast any of her big spells; all she can do is snipe back with Flare Arrows against his Freeze Arrows, and try not to get hit by anything bigger, such as the Icicle Lance.

Finally, Lina gives up on magic and draws her sword. Vrumugun doesn't believe that she can fight magic with a sword, and launches another spell attack; Lina dodges it, closes in, and cuts Vrumugun apart. Amelia manages to finish off the chimera a moment later with a Bram Blazer, and the two of them help turn the tables against Zangulus. Unfortunately, just as Lina is getting warmed up for the interrogation, a very familiar cloaked figure appears and grabs Lina from behind: it's Vrumugun - AGAIN!

Then another Vrumugun appears ... and another one ... and Lina realizes why he never seems to mind all the times she's killed him: all the Vrumuguns are just Copy Men, or clones. The Vrumuguns confirm her theory dispassionately, and start casting - but before any of the spells can go off, another cloaked, hooded, and masked figure comes in through the window and starts killing the Vrumuguns, then rejoins Lina and lowers his hood and mask. Zelgadis has come to Sairaag as well, intending to find out who offered the reward for him as well.

Eris recognizes Zelgadis, and asks why he betrayed first Rezo, and then herself; Zelgadis is just about to explain his past with Eris when a familiar voice sounds from the darkness, accompanied by the ringing of a priest's staff ... and Rezo, the Red Priest himself, emerges from the shadows - seemingly in perfect health, especially for a dead man.

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