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Episode #16

PASSION! Shall We Give Our Lives for the Stage?

Synopsis written by Tim Miller

An ominous roar echoes through the forest ... the sound of a very hungry sorceress's stomach. Lina and Gourry, and even Amelia, are almost to hungry to even move by this point; they could attack bandits for food now, except there aren't any bandits around. But apparently, their senses of smell are heightened by intense hunger - because they smell a pot of stew cooking, and follow the smell to its source and dig in. The pot is empty by the time the cook comes back, wearing the bottom half of a dragon costume.

It turns out that he's part of a travelling theater company, the Rossburg Players, which is en route to Mosquita for the annual arts competition there. The director, Mr. Rossburg, is either nuts for the theater or just plain nuts; fortunately, he doesn't seem to recognize either of the fugitives, but being in desperate need of actors, he hands scripts to all three of them, telling them to be ready for rehearsal by that afternoon.

Despite warnings about the rate at which actors are leaving the company, the three travellers are about ready to join the company so that they'll get closer to Sairaag - but the title of the play is "Grant Us Justice and Peace: The Death of the Abominable Fiend, Lina Inverse" and Lina practically blows her top (and their cover), protesting that she's not an abominable fiend. Amelia takes to acting like a fish to water, though, and quickly catches Rossburg's eye.

In fact, Amelia is cast as the star of the play, wearing an outfit which is strikingly reminiscent of a typical Magical Girl; not to be outdone, Lina asks Rossburg what role she can play - and, together with Gourry, gets cast as the dragon.

Rossburg lives up to his reputation; he's insistent on the actors' getting their performance right, and a harsh taskmaster to boot. But he keeps getting plays and reality mixed up; after seeing Amelia in costume, he's reminded of his little sister whom he hasn't seen in years ... and after it seems like Amelia, Lina, and Gourry have gotten their scene right where the hero defeats the dragon, Rossburg tries to add more "oomph" to the scene with explosives. Fortunately, he gets carted off stage by the rest of the cast and crew before anybody can get hurt.

They finally reach Mosquita, but Lina's starting to have nightmares about the whole situation, being chased by the costumes and having her way blocked by a giant Rossburg; on the other hand, Gourry's grown fond of the dragon costume, and Amelia thinks this may be her true calling in life. So when they reach the city, Lina takes a moment to slip away ... and winds up in an alley plastered with Wanted posters of her, Gourry, and Zelgadis. She's starting to head back to the caravan when a patrol of the city guard shows up and finds her; she's starting to try to bluff her way out of it when Rossburg appears in search of her, and calls her his daughter.

Lina promptly jumps in on the act in a touching display of "tough love" between father and daughter; the lead guardsman pleads with them not to hurt each other, and the patrol goes on its way. On the way back to the caravan, Lina asks Rossburg why he helped her; he says that it doesn't matter who Lina really is, but she's one of his precious actors ... and she reminded him of his real daughter. Lina starts to call him on the untruth, but sees a tear forming at the corner of his eye ...

Finally, the play begins, and it seems that everything's going to plan, but there are gatecrashers on the way ... Zangulus has caught up with them yet again, having been led to them by the actor who was supposed to play the hero before Amelia was picked for the role, and this time he has a bunch of company: a horde of animal-men of the sort who were working with Dilgear before. In fact, one of them looks like Dilgear with red-brown fur instead of gray ...

Rossburg is yanked backstage by a pair of reptilian (or amphibian?) arms just before the doors to the amphitheatre open, and a masked Zangulus enters, followed by a batch of animal-men. He joins in, apparently offering to help Amelia's character fight against the evil ones - and both the giant Lina and the dragon are cut into pieces. After their costume is cut, Lina and Gourry stumble onto a trap door just as Rossburg yanks on the cord which opens it ... and they land in the basement of the theater.

The amphibious creature which was holding Rossburg is stunned by Lina's Rocket Kick (aka throwing her half of the costume so that it hits feet- first), and Gourry asks if Rossburg is all right ... but Rossburg just starts upbraiding them for not continuing the play. Lina starts to protest, then realizes that nobody ever interrupts a play ...

Zangulus, who's been wearing a Goldilocks-type mask, is just about to move in and kill Amelia when the stage explodes underneath him, and Lina and Gourry rise into view. Lina immediately launches into a dramatic exposition, explaining that "we two holy warriors were transformed into a dragon" by the evil power of the Devil King, Zangulus, but have been restored to their true forms. Amelia tries to reclaim her role, joining in the new spirit of the play, and even Gourry manages a line or two before Zangulus calls in the reinforcements.

Gourry and Zangulus set to dueling again; Amelia busies herself with fighting the aforementioned reinforcements, and Vrumugun confronts Lina, shielding himself with a Blast Bolt spell which none of Lina's weaker spells can penetrate ... and she can't use a Dragon Slave here without killing the audience. But he didn't reckon on Mr. Rossburg, who rolls a keg of explosives over to the wizard just before it goes off. With the tide turned against him, Zangulus beats a hasty retreat, and the Rossburg Players win first prize for this year's play.

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