Only Stone on the Outside

by Dreamsinger

Only Stone on the Outside

a Slayers fanfic

by Dreamsinger

2003

I do not own this terrific series; I just wish I did. Please let me know if you'd like to print or archive my story, though, because it's a real boost to the ol' faltering ego. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing really descriptive. PG for minor swearing.

Many thanks to my friend Shell Presto, a wonderfully talented writer/artiste (check out her A/Z story One Third Human) for her invaluable editing commentary. Thanks also to Marie, for being my faithful sounding board and offering ingenious solutions to convoluted plot problems.

Note: As with most Earthlike parallel worlds, there are a few differences. In this case, the musical instrument the minstrel plays is called a guiolin. Pronounced 'gee-oh-lin'- 'g' as in 'great'.

Chapter Three: Concert Musings

The trip to the concert hall was surprisingly uneventful, apart from Amelia's tendency to step on the front hem of her cloak, nearly tripping several times. Amelia kept her head down and did not chatter as he expected her to, although he could tell by the way she walked that she was excited, and was restraining herself from skipping along.

Amelia's thoughts were jumbled with excitement. I can't believe I'm out for an evening with Mister Zelgadis! Oops-almost tripped again. I wish I'd chosen a shorter cloak-the last thing I want to do is fall on my face in front of him and make a fool out of myself.

Her mind wandered back to the conversation they'd had on the balcony. She'd been on the verge of telling Zelgadis about the time she'd blown up one of the city's towers to determine whether or not Lina was a 'bad guy'. I hope no one ever mentions that to him. She'd never seen her father so angry. Of course, if it hadn't been for that little... miscalculation... she never would have had all those adventures with Miss Lina... and she never would have met Mister Zelgadis.

The concert hall was a large, beautiful building with walls of polished white marble, with several gracefully carved pillars flanking the doorway. The echoes from within demonstrated its perfect acoustics. Zelgadis found an inconspicuous corner for them both, with a fairly clear view of the center stage.

How did I let Amelia talk me into this? Nervously, he looked around. There were about a hundred people milling about, dressed in various levels of wealth, but none of them seemed to find anything out of the ordinary about him or Amelia.

He became aware that she was leaning against him, probably to let a rather large woman pass in front of her. He stepped back to give her more room. Neither of them said anything, simply watching the crowd. Within a few minutes, the lighted oil lamps were dimmed. Zelgadis relaxed. The semi-darkness made him feel safer.

An ordinary-looking young man with a well-polished guiolin stepped into the spotlight. He introduced himself, and announced the name of the first song. It was a light, cheerful one, designed to put the crowd in a good mood. As the first notes were played, Zelgadis realized Amelia had been correct-young as he was, the man was a skilled performer. The chimera didn't notice the nostalgic smile that curved his lips as he allowed himself to be carried away by the music.

Amelia smiled, too. She could tell Zelgadis was enjoying himself, in spite of his dire predictions. He didn't seem to realize he was nodding his head in time to the tune, as a lot of the other people were. She was very glad she had made him come here tonight.

Poor Mister Zelgadis. He always seemed so serious, if not downright despondent-and he really seemed to believe he looked monstrous. Amelia wondered if it was because he saw himself with his own features altered, whereas she'd never known him to have any other appearance than his current one. He certainly wasn't ugly to her. He was very unusual-looking, sometimes intimidating, but attractive. Maybe he was right-if his human face had been even more handsome than the one he had now, he might well consider himself deformed.

The young girl looked down, a little embarrassed. It wasn't just his appearance she admired-a slender, slightly elfin look that belied his great strength-he had many other qualities that she was enamored of.

The stone man was an odd mixture of strength and gentleness, of graceful elegance and blushing awkwardness, of sharp intelligence and ready wit, or stammering indignation, depending on the situation. The epitome of cool, level-headedness, although on occasion he could display a wild recklessness equal to anything Lina Inverse was capable of.

In battle, he radiated controlled power; a magnificent sight. He'd saved her life more than once. And yet, he had a soft side. Amelia still had dreams of the look in his eyes after that game of Brass Rackets she'd played a couple of years ago. The trophy cup was reputed to have a clue to the Claire Bible inscribed on it. Amelia's team had won (by default, courtesy of Lina) and she'd never forgotten the brief look of grateful affection on her friend's face when she'd offered to let him have the first view of the cup-or his quiet "Thank you."

He could be tactless and cold, true, but Amelia understood that for the most part, he didn't mean to hurt people's feelings. It was just his way.

If there was anything Amelia regretted about his stone body, it was that it made any sort of intimate contact with him awkward, if not downright uncomfortable. Even a simple hug was problematical, not so much due to the hardness of his stone skin, but to his self-consciousness about his body, and dislike of physical contact. She'd leaned against him earlier because she wanted to, and to see if he would let her. No luck.

She sighed, almost wishing her heart had not chosen someone so elusive. Somewhere along the way she'd come to care for this lonely stone gentleman, whose innate pride and dignity would not let him ask for help. And he was so adorable when he blushed!

The princess glanced up at him. All she could see of him in the dimness were his large, bright, slanting eyes, and a lot of the lovely silver-blue wire of his hair where it appeared around the edges of his mask. What luck that the best minstrel in the surrounding kingdoms happened to be visiting Seyrune! Amelia knew Zelgadis liked music, thanks to Lina's 'ghost ship' story.

She wondered if she'd ever learn anything more about his mysterious past. A long time ago, she and Lina had once spent an entire afternoon speculating about it, among other fascinating things.

FLASHBACK

Lina: "It's my guess that as a descendant of Rezo he's from a pretty high-class family. Maybe even equivalent to a lord, depending on which kingdom he's from."

Amelia: "Why do you think that?"

Lina: For one thing, he's got way better manners than your average bumpkin like dumbell over there." She jerks her thumb at Gourry, who is snoring obliviously on the grass beside them.

Amelia (temporarily sidetracked): "Miss Lina, do you mind if I ask a personal question?"

(It was always best not to trigger her friend's notorious temper.)

Lina: Well, that depends. How much you got on you?"

Amelia blinks.

Lina (laughing): "Go ahead-you can owe me."

Amelia (not at all sure Lina is joking): "Well, I was just wondering if you've told Mister Gourry you love him yet."

Lina (drops over on her side, then springs back to her sitting position): "What?"

Amelia (shrinking back, index and pinkie fingers extended): "I'm sorry! I just thought by now the two of you would be a couple! Mrs. Martina said-"

Lina (her head appears to grow ten times its normal size): You talked to Martina about my love life?"

Amelia (trying to talk her way out of it): "Well, I had to go on another diplomatic mission to New Xoana, and you know what a gossip Mrs. Martina is!"

Lina (clenching and unclenching her fists): "Just what exactly did Martina say?"

Amelia: "Only that she saw you hold back after Hellmaster Fibrizzo kil-, um, put the rest of us out of action... until Mister Gourry's life was threatened."

Lina's expression of rage fades, to the princess' relief, to be replaced by a serious look. She gives Gourry a long glance.

Amelia (encouraged): "And I saw the two of you when you reappeared-you sure looked like something had been going on between you."

Lina (stiffening up): "Well, nothing did! ...At least I don't think so. I wish I could remember..."

Amelia: "So, you're saying you don't have any feelings for Mister Gourry at all?"

Lina: "No! Yes! I don't know!"

For once, Lina looks as confused as Amelia often feels-but this time it is she who understands the situation.

Amelia (quietly): What's so bad about loving Mister Gourry? I mean, he's brave and strong and nice... and not at all bad-looking..."

Lina (almost shouting): "Because he's stupid! A moron! A mental midget! How could I ever love someone like that?"

Lina's tirade triggers Amelia's sense of justice.

Amelia (defending Gourry sternly): "He's very sweet-tempered. And he certainly adores you, the way he puts up with how you treat him sometimes."

This floors Lina. She glances at Gourry, who apparently has snored his way through the whole conversation.

Amelia feels a flicker of jealousy. At least the two of them are together.

Amelia (sadly): "Besides... love conquers all, right?"

Lina (softly, giving her a quick, perceptive glance): "Haven't heard from Zelgadis, huh?"

Amelia (in a small voice): "No..."

Lina (obviously trying to shift the conversation away from the whole Gourry issue): "Well, cheer up! Maybe he's found his cure, and he's on his way back right now."

Amelia: "No, he hasn't. The last I heard, one of the royal couriers saw him a few days ago in Porthos."

Lina: "So you have been keeping tabs on him!"

Amelia (blushing a little): "Only in case I-someone needs to contact him. Like if his cure is found. He's never tried to contact any of us, after all... and... I would like to know if-when-he's finally cured."

Lina (sympathetically): "Me, too, Amelia."

Amelia (wanting to get away from that distressing topic): "So, what makes you think Mister Zelgadis is a lord?"

Lina (apparently deciding to go along with Amelia's subject change): "Well, for one thing, did you ever notice how he blushes and won't look at us if he thinks we're dressed-well-immodestly?"

Amelia nods, a smile beginning to show.

Lina: "And remember that time we had to dress up and sing in front of Martina and all those mazoku? I didn't think about it at the time, but later it hit me-where did Zel learn to read sheet music? And that ghost ship..."

Lina gives Amelia the short version of the 'ghost ship' story, including the fact that Zelgadis apparently knew how to play a guiolin, although the one he'd brought from the ghost ship turned to rotten, bug-infested wood soon after the ship sank.

Amelia: "I didn't know he liked music. Actually, I got the impression that he hated singing in front of people, when we had to do that dance."

Lina (shrugs): "Well, some people just aren't performers."

Amelia (fascinated): "What else have you noticed about him?"

Lina: "He did a pretty nice job carving that mural on the wall of the dragons' temple. With just a hammer and chisel, no less."

Amelia (remembering): "And I wonder how he learned how to pick locks without using magic. He never did get around to telling me."

Lina (double-takes): "He what?"

Amelia shrugs.

Lina (pauses, then continues): "It's a pretty safe bet that he's used to giving orders, not taking them. He had two guys working for him when we first met... they got killed by Shabranigdo. I think they were probably his family's old 'retainers'. And... they seemed to have been his only real friends. Besides us, now."

Amelia (realizing an important detail that had hurt and puzzled her in the past): "That would explain why he doesn't seem to want to let anybody get close to him, in case something happens to them, too."

Lina: "It also explains why he goes off on his own a lot-he's not used to being part of a group. If he was an only child, you can bet he was spoiled, and used to getting his own way."

FLASHBACK ENDS

I should have known Miss Lina never makes jokes about money. I sill can't believe she charged me three hundred gold... oh, well. It was worth it. The dark-haired princess turned to look at the enthralled chimera beside her, and smiled.

Author's Notes: One of the things that I think adds a lot of flavor to any piece of writing is the unique bits, like a certain food or device that is native to that particular world. Sometimes it can be something identical to our own world, but be called by a very different name. Thus 'guiolin' -sort of a mix between 'guitar' and 'violin'. I know they didn't show Zel's guiolin rotting away at the end of the ghost ship episode, but come on, it was HOW old?

Oh, yeah, I was originally going to have this entire story told from Zelgadis' viewpoint, but there are some things that other characters think that I felt the readers needed to know. Plus there are several 'reflective' chapters, some of which are better told by people other than Zelgadis.

My ideas on Zel's past were influenced somewhat by the American voice actor, Crispin Freeman, (whom I later heard had done a lot of Shakespearean acting). I know the Japanese Zel is supposed to use less-polished language, but that doesn't mean he couldn't have started out well-to-do and decided to talk rough to seem tough.

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