Machiavelli said in The Prince that it is better to be feared than loved. Lina Inverse sort of mixes those together. In reality, her friends follow her because they love and respect her. Because underneath it all, she's a decent person.

Lina has a magnetism about her that has little to do with normal Leadership qualities. In peace, she isn't the Leader - she's the Bully. It's only on the battlefield that Lina takes the Leadership role, and she's smart enough to take inspiration and advice from those who follow her and use it effectively (see The Defeat of Copy Rezo; a great example of Lina's battlefield leadership).

Lina claims to know a lot, but she does admit when she doesn't know something. She claims to have a lot of power, which she does, but she also acknowledges powers greater than hers. She's not so full of herself that she can't see what's in front of her nose. And she makes the most effective use of her friends' powers and abilities on the battlefield.

Of course, Lina and her companions would not be nearly as formidable if it wasn't for the close bond they all had with one another. If they followed Lina purely out of fear, they would never be able to work together the way they do. As an example: the fight against Mazenda, where Lina and Gourry arranged a feint inside a feint inside a feint inside a feint to defeat her. Very intricate, yet startlingly simple - and they did this without verbally setting it up with each other. They just KNEW what the other would do. If theirs was a relationship based purely on Gourry being afraid of being on the wrong end of a Dragon Slave, I have no doubt they could not have done that without some sort of discussion or plan, which Mazenda would've overheard. Especially with Lina being unable to use her magic.

Which isn't to say the others don't fear her. They do, when she's angry. But they also know that she wouldn't do them any real harm. She's gone out of her way to help them all, even Sylphielle, whom she wasn't at all close to. Lina nearly died for Sylphielle's sake, because Lina is genuinely a good person. She's just gruff and violent because she's afraid of seeming weak. She doesn't want to be taken advantage of or hurt, so she has her shield of tomboyishness and ultra-violence to hide behind.

Her real friends see through that. Someone once said, "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

Lina's friends know every note.

Certainly Gourry does. Now I'm not about to get into the coupledom debate here and now, but as her self-appointed protector, Gourry has made a career out of saving Lina's skin. Not that he generally has much to do - except when Lina sends Gourry to do something instead of doing it herself. (I believe part of the reason she occasionally has Gourry fight baddies instead of fighting them herself is because it makes her look more important: she has a retainer to fight FOR her.)

Gourry is slow to pick up on complicated concepts, but he understands, as all human beings do, the basic and yet not-at-all-simple ideas of love, friendship, loyalty and sacrifice.

Amelia's always been so Justice-happy that she's been oblivious to certain things. But traveling with Lina has smartened her up some, or perhaps just taken the edge off of her.

She tells Lina at the end of NEXT that she doesn't want to hear WHY Hellmaster Phibrizzo wants Lina. Whatever Hellmaster wants, it's going to be bad. If Lina helps him with it, even under duress, then Amelia would be obliged to STOP Lina from helping him. The only way to stop Lina would be to keep her from going to Sairaag in some way.

But if Lina doesn't go to Sairaag, then Gourry is lost. Amelia chooses her friendship for Gourry over her constant Battles for Justice.

Even Zelgadis, who acknowledges that going with Lina to Sairaag is a bad idea, comes up with an excuse so that he can accompany her. She is one of the few friends he has, and he's willing to do just about anything to keep them. They help each other and Lina out because of love and respect and trust and friendship.

So in the end, Slayers has this shojo-esque quality to it - the good guys win because they utilize love and trust and all the goodness of the world. Slayers just hides it a little better, makes it a little less preachy and obvious.

This is a group brought together by unusual circumstances, but they stay together out of mutual respect and friendship. As for Machiavelli...well...he doesn't exist in their world anyway. ^_~

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