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 references in this chapter to several episodes from Next which may confuse some people, but the only spoiler is a small scene description in the Author's Note at the bottom from Next. PG for minor swearing.

Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!

Chapter Ten: Sea Dragon! A Tragic Loss

A gargantuan-sized silver-green sea dragon was heading straight for them, a wild hunger burning in its gold-green eyes.

"Oh, great. You'd think we could go through one lousy sea voyage without a dinner none of us knows how to cook attacking us!" Lina grumbled aloud.

The sailors had a different reaction. "Help!"

"We're doomed!"

"Mama!"

Great. They're not gonna be any help. The red-haired sorceress shouted, "Everyone get back! Gourry, Zelgadis and I know how to deal with a sea dragon."

As the seamen hurried to obey her, Zelgadis took up a position at her left elbow, as Gourry stood on her right. "We do?" Gourry asked, drawing his excellent, but non-magical, sword.

"Sure we do!" Lina was making this up as she went along. "Gourry, you saw the old chef slay that lake dragon we were going to eat, didn't you? Well, if Zel and I distract it, you can do the same to this dragon."

"B-but a sea dragon's not the same as a lake dragon! Besides, I was sorta busy drowning at the time!" the blonde swordsman yelled back in a panic.

"Stop complaining. You survived, didn't you?"

Zelgadis exchanged glances with Gourry and said scornfully, "And people call me cold!"

Gourry suddenly turned to his petite companion. "Wait a minute. Lina, why don't you just Dragon Slave it?"

"Because, jellyfish brains; the last time I did that the ship we were on got wrecked!"

He wilted. "Oh, yeah. Right."

"Look out!" Zelgadis shouted as the dragon's tail came swooping over the side of the ship, aiming to knock them into the water. They scattered hastily.

"Burst Rondo!" Lina chanted, to give them some time. The multiple small red and white balls of fire exploding around it wouldn't really hurt the dragon (unfortunately), but they would distract it.

Except they didn't. The huge dragon dove right for Lina. She frantically cried, "Rei Wing!" and barely zipped out of the way as the enormous silver-green body swept past her and over the other side of the ship, breaking some of the wooden railing with a great crash of wood snapping.

"It went right for you!" Gourry said what they were all thinking. "This guy's smart!"

"Yeah. It must have had contact with other mages before." Lina's eyes narrowed. "Okay, so this might be a bit of a challenge," she declared confidently.

"Might be?" both men repeated, aghast.

As the dragon approached again, Zelgadis called out, his voice ringing, "Dam Brass!" A large red sphere shot from his hands; the sonic vibrations it contained would act as an internal earthquake. Unfortunately, the great beast spotted it, dodging underwater.

As it surfaced, the dragon gave a thunderous roar and switched tactics, ramming the side of the ship with a head half as long as the ship itself. All three adventurers went tumbling heels-over-ears as the ship pitched steeply from side to side. They landed together in a heap. Fortunately for the softer-fleshed people, Zelgadis ended up on the bottom.

Lina looked up from her position of flat on her back with her legs over the chimera's back to see Gourry on top of her, his face buried in her modest bosom. She had had the breath knocked out of her, and was too busy sucking in shaky gasps of air to react. Gourry didn't move.

Zelgadis shifted under her. "You guys all right?"

With a groan, the blonde swordsman tilted his head so that he was looking at Lina with his chin in her modest cleavage. It took several seconds for his position to register. Then, just as she was pulling in a breath to either yell at him, or maybe fireball him, his eyes widened and he scrambled backward. His voice was panicky. "I'm sorry, Lina; it was an accident! I didn't mean it. Please don't kick me!"

His last statement puzzled the redhead enough that she forgot her anger. Why would he expect me to kick him? And why should that scare him more than a fireball?

The ear-splitting bellow of the sea dragon made her shelve that puzzle for later. As she and her companions regained their feet, Lina shouted, "Elmekia Lance!" on the off-chance that the dragon had a spirit that could be hurt.

Some did, but not this one. Her streak of yellow light struck the dragon full in the face, making it wince, but otherwise not affecting it. As it discovered itself unhurt, it snapped at Lina. She dodged behind the wooden cage of frantically squawking chickens that had been secured to the deck.

CRUNCH! The diminutive sorceress felt a gust of wind from the dragon's passage. The entire crate was gone, chickens and all.

"All right! That does it! Nobody eats my food and gets away with it," Lina snarled. Her friends' eyes bugged out, and they backed away from the thoroughly ticked-off sorceress. An angry red aura appeared around her. Her hair and clothes fluttered upward in a psychic wind. She strode to the side of the ship closest to the dragon.

"Oh, boy; she's mad now!" Gourry commented, impressed.

"No, Lina! You can't Dragon Slave it! Not here!" the chimera protested, recognizing the futility of trying to dissuade Lina when she was this incensed.

The redhead wound up, and flung her arms away from her. "Ly Briem!" A huge wave of icy air shot from her hands, blasting the dragon and the water around it. Instantly the gigantic animal was coated in ice several inches thick.

"Whoa, Lina, you got him!" Gourry cheered.

Lina smiled at her longtime companion's appreciation. "Yeah, but not for long. It'll break out in no time. So get going, Gourry."

"Huh?"

"Go up there and stab the back of its neck. Like the old chef did."

"But-but Lina-" he protested.

"No buts! The ice won't hold it much longer. Come on, Gourry, get your butt moving!"

"All right, already!" The blonde swordsman leaped from the ship to land on the dragon's back. Immediately his feet went out from under him, and he started sliding down toward the frozen water. "Whoa!"

"Oh, for the love of-Rei Wing!" Zelgadis heard Lina groan as she lifted from the ship and flew to catch her usually nimble-footed friend. Just as she grasped his outstretched hand, a loud CRACK! signaled the imminent outbreak of the sea dragon. Large chunks of ice began falling around the pair, smashing into the icy sea below.

"Hurry, Gourry!" Lina shouted, swinging him up and away from her toward the dragon's neck, releasing his hand. He almost missed his perch, as the huge neck, now coated in only large patches of ice, began moving.

Hoping to distract the enormous beast, the fiery-haired sorceress flew in a wide circle around in front of it. It lunged for her, and she wildly dodged it with a yelp of fear.

Zelgadis flew up beside her. "Let's see what we can do to distract it," she told him. He nodded grimly, glancing down at the dark water-and-ice-soup below them.

I hope Gourry's got a good grip on it. Lina paused for a moment to try to look for him.

Apparently Gourry's sword had been busy, as the sea dragon gave a truly deafening scream of pain and whipped its head back and forth. "Look out, Lina!" Zelgadis called out-too late. The dragon's huge scaly head bashed into her, throwing her down toward the water. Everything went black and wet.

"Lina!" The pain-crazed dragon snapped at the stone man as he flew down toward his friend. Its teeth actually caught his cape, tearing it. He ignored it, recasting his modified version of 'Rei Wing'. A shield of wind created a bubble around him, protecting him and giving him air as he mentally guided it down underneath the waves. Just as the water closed over his head, he heard Gourry scream, "Lina!"

Lina was sinking, unconscious, her hair spiraling upward in the ocean's currents. The chimera brought the bubble down to engulf her. She lay on the curved bottom of the sphere, unmoving. A trickle of blood came from her mouth-a sign of internal injuries. He clenched his teeth and his fists. I need to heal her-and I have to get us both out of here before that dragon catches us. I can't count the times I've wished it were possible to cast two high-powered spells at once.

The stone man brought them to the surface, and landed them on the ship, dissolving the bubble. The dragon was shrieking in pain, but didn't seem to be interested in attacking, so Zelgadis tuned out its screams and knelt down next to his injured friend. "Recovery."

The white light that emerged from his hands sped up her body's healing process a hundredfold, but it was still an agonizingly slow process, showing how badly wounded she'd been. Vaguely, he was aware of the fading cries of the sea dragon.

When he looked up, Gourry was kneeling nearby, sheathing his sword. "Is she gonna be all right?" he asked, obviously more concerned about the young woman who lay before them, than about his own injuries. The swordsman's face and hands were scraped and bruised.

"Yes, she will be-are you all right? How did you get rid of the dragon?"

"I tried stabbing his neck like Lina told me, but there's an awful lot of neck on a dragon, you know? And when I saw her fall into the water..."

Zelgadis pictured the scene, as Gourry described it: With hair flying, eyes deadly serious, the powerful young man leaped through the air , and brought his sword down in a mighty slash across one of the sea dragon's eyes, half-blinding it. "I guess he decided he'd had enough-or maybe he wasn't hungry anymore after eating those chickens. So he left."

"If it's smart, it won't come back." Zelgadis gave his friend a half-smile, and some rare words of praise. "Good work, Gourry."

"Thanks," the young man answered, still watching Lina. One of his large hands reached out to cup her cheek gently, his thumb wiping away the line of blood. Zelgadis noted a rare, tender look appear on the other man's face. "Lina," Gourry murmured.

"She's almost healed," Zelgadis said reassuringly. Then for some reason he added, "She's a remarkable woman, isn't she?"

"Yeah," Gourry agreed.

Even Zelgadis was surprised at the next statement that came out of his mouth. "I envy you." Gourry looked at him questioningly. "You've found your lifelong companion. She may be egotistical, and violent, and have crude table manners... but you love each other."

Gourry opened his mouth as though to protest, but then one of those uncommon thoughtful looks crossed his face, and he remained silent. After a long moment, Zelgadis said softly, his head lowered, "There can be no one for me until I've been cured. What woman would ever want a hideous monster like me?" The chimera's silver-blue hair hid most of his face.

He didn't see Gourry's eyes light up, or notice him open his mouth to say something, because just then Lina moaned and opened her eyes. Instantly both men's attention was on the petite redhead. "How ya feeling?" Gourry asked her.

"All right, I guess. Hungry. Hey-what happened to the dragon?" Lina jumped up. "Did you get it? All right, Gourry!" she cheered.

Relieved that neither of them had come to harm, Zelgadis smiled at the scene of tall Gourry standing sheepishly with his hand on the back of his head, looking down at her. "Actually, I only got one of his eyes. He ran-er, swam away."

"Oh. Well, at least it's gone. So, Zel, let's have another look at that map."

He reached for it, intending to let her examine it while he healed Gourry's minor injuries. His hand went through his cloak. The dragon's teeth had left two neat slices in it-and one went through the pocket where the book was. Or had been. "It's gone!" he exclaimed, aghast.

"What?" Lina yelped.

"I must have lost it when I went into the water to rescue you." Zelgadis stood frozen in horror, looking exactly like the stone statue he so resembled.

"Maybe we can look for it. Dry it out..." Lina suggested after a moment, sounding doubtful.

"No use. By now it's been dissolved by the salt water. It was a very old book."

"Oh, Zel," Lina murmured.

He hung his head as a wave of hopelessness engulfed him. This is it. Never to be human again. "I guess I always knew I'd spend the rest of my life as a freak," he said softly, hardly noticing he'd spoken aloud.

"Don't say that!" Lina sounded shocked. "You can't give up now!"

"Sorry to call off your treasure hunt, Lina, but-" he began bitterly, but she interrupted him.

"Never mind the treasure; what about Amelia?"

Even amidst his despondency, Zelgadis was surprised. Lina doesn't care about treasure?

"Are you gonna waste all ou-her months of hard work just because of a little setback like this? You saw the map, didn't you?"

"Well-yes. But-"

"No 'buts'! You're gonna lead us, Zelgadis."

He protested, "I don't know if I can remember it right. And I didn't get the chance to finish the book-I have no idea what we'd be facing when we got there."

"Since when has that stopped us?" Lina walked up to him and grabbed the front of his shirt, staring into his eyes, an intense look on her face. "Come on, Zel, Amelia's counting on you to be back by her wedding ceremony! You don't want to disappoint her, do you?"

"I-" The chimera's common sense told him to protest, but a combination of Lina's fierce determination, his old longing to be human, and the mental image of Amelia's face if he returned as a chimera made him subside.

Lina nodded. "Okay. Hey, captain!"

Captain Barrig had emerged from below decks with a cleanup crew of sailors. "What 'tis it, Miss Lina?"

"What instructions did Amelia give you about our journey?"

Again, Zelgadis noticed that the captain looked at him first, as though to make sure Lina was authorized to ask such questions. He nodded to the man as if to say, go ahead.

"Aye was told to take ye north up the coast for two weeks, then dock where ye specified. Then Aye'm to wait for your return."

"That's all?" Lina looked disappointed. "Well, then, we're gonna need a map."

"A map?"

Lina made Zelgadis write down everything he could remember about the old map on one of the captain's maps. Watching her, the stone man couldn't help but pick up a little of her hope. Just a tiny flicker, but after the dark inner chill of depression, it was very welcome.

Lina studied the map. "So Seyrune is here, and the temple we need to get to is almost directly north of there. However, there are several mountain ranges between here and there, which would make a round trip of about two months. That's really too close to our time limit for comfort. Seyrune's not a coastal kingdom, but by sailing northeast by river, and then north by sea ought to eventually cut off about two weeks-not to mention it's a lot more comfortable way to travel. Of course, we also risk storms, and attacks by sea monsters, but I think we can handle those."

Zelgadis didn't miss the appreciative glance she gave to Gourry. For once, the swordsman noticed it, too, and smiled back at her warmly.

A little uncomfortable, Zelgadis turned to the captain and volunteered to help guide them. "I know how to use a compass, and other navigational tools."

Captain Barrig accepted readily, saying in a hearty voice, "Glad to have the help, sir."

Author's Notes: For those of you who haven't seen all of Next yet, when Gourry asked Lina not to kick him he was referring to an episode where Xellos tricks Gourry into touching Lina's chest; she responded without thinking, kicking him fiercely between the legs. Gourry may not have a good memory, but that's gotta stick in his mind!

By the way, I know sometime after Try Gourry is supposed to acquire another magic sword called the Blast Blade, if I'm not mistaken, but in my fic he's using a nonmagical one.

Gourry is less analytical than his friends, which to me indicates that he would see the dragon as a live entity, in this case, male, rather than an 'it', as his friends refer to it.

This is my first try at writing Slayers-style comedy. Hope you all got a chuckle or two out of it! ^_^

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