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 descriptive. PG for minor swearing.

Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!

Chapter Fourteen: Say, Lina , do I have to kiss him?

Sorry, Zel. Having no choice, Lina stood on the injured chimera's chest again. Desperately she hopped several times, increasing the force of the jumps when light ones brought no response. Finally Zelgadis jerked, and started coughing and gagging and gasping for air, sputtering as water ran from his nose and mouth.

Thank goodness. Lina thought in relief. I wish I hadn't had to do that. I've gotta get him to someplace solid so I can heal him. She bit her lip, noticing the darkish colorof the water on the chimera's face. She stepped off of him and began to mentally guide the bubble full speed back to the ship, wishing for the hundredth time that it was possible to use two powerful spells at once.

It was easy to find her way back, as her earlier light spell continued to hover over it like a beacon. It took only a few minutes to fly the bubble back to the slowly sinking ship, but Lina was alarmed to see that Zelgadis showed no signs of waking up. His breathing was shallow, shaky. Every now and then he would stop breathing for a long moment, and Lina would tense up, ready to move, but then he would gasp in a little air.

She was not too concerned to notice that the light that had seemed to surround him in the water had a source-the bracelet Amelia had given him, which was still attached to the strap of his canteen. She filed that fact away for later thought.

The light spell globe that she had cast above the ship earlier was still active, thankfully. It was a good thing light spells were relatively easy spells, which didn't need much tending, as they went out on their own after about an hour or so. As soon as she was close enough to the battered ship, she started yelling. "Gourry! Captain! I've got Zelgadis-but he's really hurt! Tell everybody to move back, and clear some of that debris off the deck!"

She landed them on the hastily cleared deck and dissolved the bubble. Gourry leaned over the stone man, his face taking on a worried expression. "Lina, is he-"

"He's alive-barely." She held her hands out over the chimera's chest and said, "Recovery!" A healing white light surrounded her hands and his chest. There was almost complete silence for several minutes, as everyone watched and waited. The only noises came from the destroyed ship-creaking, groaning, squeaking, and the splashing from sprays of water from a hundred leaks. Lina noticed the light from Amelia's bracelet gradually fading.

Finally, Zelgadis began to breathe easier. Captain Barrig leaned over the pair to ask, "Is he going to be all right, then?"

"I think so." Lina answered absently. He really should have woken up by now. She leaned down to put her ear to the wet cloth covering his chest, listening to his labored breathing. Still sounds a little waterlogged. Lina stood up. "Come here, Gourry."

"What's up, Lina?"

"I think Zel still has some water in his lungs. My spell made his other injuries heal, but it can't remove that."

"What can we do, Lina?"

"I want you to stand on his chest."

"What?" Gourry looked at her as if she'd lost her mind.

"Listen, Gourry, his chest is too hard to push on. You have to hop on it to force the water out. I tried, but I guess I didn't get it all. You're heavier than me, so get your butt over there! Hurry up!" she ordered impatiently.

"Well, okay," Gourry shrugged, and stepped onto of the stone man's chest. Zelgadis' breath whooshed out of him.

"Now hop on him."

Gourry obeyed, bouncing tentatively, then giving a little hop. A splurt of water came out of the stone man's mouth. "Hey, it worked." He jumped again.

Zelgadis was floating in a dark void. It was cold...empty...cheerless. Suddenly, he noticed a source of light to his right. He turned, and saw a shimmer of bright rose-colored light shining nearby. There was comfort in its light, and warmth...and something familiar about it, too. He felt himself drawing strength from it, could feel waves of reassurance and love and support emanating from it. He began to move toward it, wanting to make contact, wanting to feel more of the wonderful, caring emotions flowing over him. So familiar...As he got closer, he almost recognized its identity...

He jolted awake as something hit his ribs painfully. A familiar feminine voice shouted, "Not that hard, idiot! I'm trying to heal him, not kill him!"

"Sorry, Lina," came the contrite reply. "Say, do I have to kiss him like the old chef did?"

Zelgadis wrenched himself up to a sitting position. "No! I'm fine!" he cried, and then bent over to cough, pain searing his lungs. It was well over a minute before he could speak. He was aware that Lina was using her magic to help heal him.

Soon, he was able to breathe freely. He remembered the horrible injuries he'd suffered from the dragon's teeth, and the grueling ordeal of trying to keep afloat long enough to be rescued. The image of the rose-colored light receded into the back of his mind.

"Thank you, Lina," he said as soon as he could speak.

The relief in her ruby eyes was tinged with warmth. "Just returning the favor, Zel." The petite sorceress smiled at him affectionately.

Amelia was on her feet again, running across the yard in the darkness toward the stable, her bracelet seeming to guide her way, when the urgent feeling of danger faded. She could almost feel her love's faltering heartbeat settle into a reassuring rhythm. Her steps slowed. Relief washed over her, so powerful that she again dropped to her knees, her heavy silk skirt sliding on the thick grass.

"Amelia, is he..." Prince Philionel knelt in front of her, reaching out a hand toward her face.

"No...he's fine. He's alive," she murmured. She held up her wrist, and the two of them watched the white light fade away, leaving her bracelet the seemingly ordinary piece of old jewelry that it had always been. The two of them looked at one another in the dimness, the only light coming from the flickering lamps mounted on the palace walls. "I guess now we know what the spell is for."

Her father nodded. "It links two people, to let one know if the other is in danger."

"That would explain why they seemed to be dormant all these years. They're not meant to be worn together."

"Zelgadis has your other ward bracelet?"

"Yes-I gave it to him when he left, so he wouldn't forget-" Amelia stopped. Oh, no. Guiltily, she looked into her father's face.

The dark-haired princess wasn't sure exactly what she had expected when her father found out-shock, maybe, or disapproval, or even anger. Somehow, the last emotion she had expected to see in her father's face was understanding. She couldn't speak.

Prince Phil's eyes were filled with empathy. "You really care about Zelgadis, don't you?"

Mutely, Amelia nodded.

"Then go to him."

Amelia's eyes widened. "What?"

Her father gently smoothed back a piece of her dark hair that had fallen into her eyes. "Daughter, I understand now why you haven't been interested in any of the suitors. You've already found the one for you."

The young woman gave her father a shy smile, relieved that he seemed to understand. Vaguely, she noticed the sound of footsteps approaching rapidly.

The crown prince continued, "I've suspected it for some time now, but you didn't say anything, so I couldn't be sure. I've done what I could to help you-to give you the opportunity to help him find a cure-because as we both know, the people would never tolerate a chimera ruling over them. At the very least, it would cause a lot of political unrest. At worst, it would mean civil war." His rough voice was full of regret.

Amelia felt her hope crash and burn. For a moment, everything had been okay-her father knew of her attraction to Zelgadis, and seemed to approve-but then he mentioned the very reason that had held her back from openly declaring her love, and despair swept over her.

"Ohhh, it's so unjust!" she wailed, distraught. "People should not be judged by their appearance! It's their deeds, not what they look like, that mark them as an evil person!"

"You can say that again," a voice replied.

Amelia turned a tear-filled glance toward the voice to see Prince Kerrin walking toward her, before her father took her by the shoulders. His dark-blue eyes were huge and shimmery under his shaggy black brows. "Oh, Amelia, my daughter, how proud I am of you! My little girl has grown up to be a true champion of justice!"

He pulled her into a bear hug as they knelt in the grass. For a moment, she relaxed in her father's arms, taking comfort and drawing strength from his love. She rested her cheek against his warm chest, hearing his heart beat, feeling the echo of another heartbeat which she had recently come so close to losing.

After a few moments, Kerrin cleared his throat and said apologetically, as if he were afraid to interrupt, "I-I told everyone you weren't feeling well. They're all leaving."

Reluctantly, Amelia leaned back out of her father's embrace. "Thank you, Kerrin," she said wearily, but gratefully.

Her reply seemed to encourage him. "Are you all right? What happened?"

"My chosen one-he-I-he was-" Amelia had to stop for a moment, swallowing hard. "My ward bracelet lets me know when he's in danger. He was...he was drowning, I think, and there was nothing I could do to help him. Nothing!" Sudden hot tears filled her eyes.

"Is...is he-" The young man's brown eyes were wide with horror.

"Oh, no-he's alive! I can sense it. But, I want-I need to be with him. I have to help him. And I feel so powerless here..." She bowed her head, fists clenched, eyes shut, with tears running down her cheeks.

"Go." Prince Phil said to his daughter. She looked up, still not believing he would let her do this, even though it was the second time he'd said it.

"Daddy?"

He took her by the shoulders again. "Go to him. Help him if you can. I can allow you to do that much. But you must be back in time for the ceremony. Whether or not he's found a cure."

Amelia's dark-blue eyes were serious. She nodded gravely. "I understand, Daddy. And thank you." She leaned forward to hug him goodbye. Then she stood up, a little shakily, and began walking toward the stable.

Just as she reached the door, Kerrin asked her, "Are you sure you want to leave wearing that?"

Surprised, she looked down to see her beautiful lavender ball gown, now sadly torn and grass-stained. She realized what a mess she must look, and suddenly she burst out into peals of laughter, her swirling emotions finding an outlet other than tears.

The other two began laughing as well. Amelia felt the last of the tension wash away, in the warmth of the shared laughter. "I suppose I can take a bath and change into traveling gear before I go," she giggled.

The ship was sinking. Captain Barrig ordered everyone to abandon ship, taking along what supplies they could. He joined Zelgadis, Lina and Gourry in their small wooden lifeboat. Zelgadis tried not to look down at the dark water, carefully keeping to the center of the boat. Fully healed, he and the other two men took turns rowing, keeping within shouting range of the other boats. It took them all several hours to make it to land.

Finally, everyone was safely on shore. While the sailors set about making a temporary camp for the rest of the night, Captain Barrig turned to Zelgadis. "Have ye decided what course of action ta take yet, Mister Zelgadis?"

It took him a moment to realize the captain was asking him, and not Lina. The chimera looked at the working men, thinking about the next leg of their journey and realizing that the answer was obvious. They'd just slow us down. "You and the other seamen will take the rowboats south, along the shoreline, until you come to a town with a ship that can take passengers back to Seyrune. Lina, Gourry and I will go on alone, on foot."

"Should I send a ship back here ta pick ye up?"

Zelgadis hesitated. "No. If we go overland, we should arrive back within a few days of our time limit. If we stay here, it may take longer than we can afford to wait for you to find a ship and send it here. Besides, that sea dragon's likely to cause trouble." The stone man didn't mention the fact that he had developed a serious aversion to sea travel-understandable, considering the circumstances. He did not care to tempt fate twice.

"All right, then. We'll start out in the morning." The captain excused himself and went off to supervise the sailors.

Zelgadis slowly sat down on the ground. Lina joined him. "What a night! I guess it sure made up for the peaceful trip we had on the way here. But at least we made it."

Gourry sat down on Lina's other side. "Yeah, we're all safe, and that's what counts." Zelgadis noticed the protective arm Gourry put around Lina's shoulders-and that she allowed him to do it. Maybe she's finally starting to accept the truth. The chimera glanced sideways at his friends, and smiled a little.

They sat silently for a while in the darkness, listening to the surf sweep up and down the shoreline. Eventually, Gourry fell asleep, sprawling on the sand.

"Are you all right, Zel?" Lina asked quietly. "You had a pretty bad experience."

"More or less," he answered, not really surprised that she had picked up on his uneasiness. "I may suffer a few nightmares...but I'll live."

"Of course you will! That's the spirit!" Lina said, slapping him on the back, and wincing. "Ow! When will I ever remember not to do that?"

In spite of himself, the chimera chuckled under his breath. He felt better. I often forget that real friends are there for you when you need cheering up. He wondered what Amelia would have said to him. She'd probably sing one of those funny little songs she's so fond of. He pictured her perky features, beaming with delight, and smiled without realizing it.

Author's Note: Perhaps you wonder why Lina can't use two spells at the same time, since I have her maintaining a light spell over the ship while she uses Rei Wing to rescue Zel. Well, in the Slayers' world you can really only do one spell at a time, according to the manga and one of the Slayers episodes. I think it has to do with the fact that any new spell you chant will automatically dissolve the old spell.

Light spells are one of the spells that are created with a set time limit, so you decide as you're casting it how long you want it to last. Then you are free to use other spells. But as far as I know, it's only light spells that you can 'preprogram' like this. I figure the more powerful the spell, the harder it would be to do both correctly anyway-you don't want to risk something going wrong when you're using high-powered magic!

Really, Amelia should be calling Kerrin Ke-kun, since he's younger than she is, but since this is for American audiences I left it this way. Besides, I like his full name.

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