Only Stone on the Outside
a Slayers fanfic
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, just 'cause I like to know people are interested. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing really descriptive. PG for minor swearing.
Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!
Note: Here's a guide to help with name pronunciation:
Shiran-Shi-rahn, 'i' as in 'chip'
Gerrik-gehr-rick, 'g' as in 'great'
Tollik-tol-(rhymes with ball)-ick
Chapter Twenty-Four: Searching for Shiran
As Amelia mulled over Rilloban's words, the chestnut mare Amelia was riding began to wander toward the green grass at the side of the trail as she sensed the princess' inattention. With a firm nudge of her right knee, the girl brought her back to the side of Rilloban's black horse. "Are you the only one who believes Shiran is innocent?"
"No." This question finally drew a smile from the serious young man. "My father Sanre thinks so, too. Mister Toban and some of the others aren't s-sure, but the one who really wants to have Shiran k-killed is Gerrik. He's lost more animals than anybody. Father says it's b-because he's careless and doesn't keep his animals in secure enough areas. I think he's j-just got a mean streak. I heard he tried to get Mister Savari to sell Shiran to him, and when he refused, G-gerrik started trying to turn people against him. Nobody listened to him, then-everyone knew Mister Savari was a t-true gentleman."
The young man sighed. "It's a shame he's so q-quarrelsome. His daughter, Kembri, is always apologizing for him...sometimes I wonder how as man as b-belligerent as Gerrik managed to have a daughter as sweet as-"
He broke off, and Amelia smiled to see him blush. How cute! He has a crush on her.
"Ahem, well, anyway, M-miss Amelia," Rilloban asked her seriously, "Could you tell me-how did Shiran behave toward you? W-was she aggressive? Were you at all afraid of her?"
She tried to recall the events of the afternoon, although it seemed to have taken place years ago, instead of just a few hours. She'd been so disoriented at the time... "I remember...being attacked, lying on the ground, trying to get up with my head feeling like it was about to explode...and then seeing a flash of lilac fur. I think I was scared at first-she was so fearsome...but after she drove the leapers away she was so...so sweet and gentle-I just knew she wasn't going to hurt me."
"I knew it!" Triumphantly, Rilloban held up a fist. "I knew she hadn't gone rogue! Oh, th-thank you, Miss Amelia!"
Amelia grinned at his enthusiasm. "If I'm to call you Ril, then it's only just that you call me Amelia."
"O-okay...Amelia." Rilloban grinned back at her.
When they arrived at the village, Toban stopped his horse and told the others to go on ahead to the town hall. Amelia was surprised when he gestured to her. She moved her mare up alongside his dark brown stallion with an inquisitive look on her face.
The auburn-haired man's face was serious. "Miss Amelia, I'm sure young Ril there has explained what we know of Shiran, and why so many people want her done away with. My personal opinion is that she's innocent, but I have no more proof of that than the ones who claim to be able to see Shiran's own toothmarks in their dead animals. Now, with this latest attack-on a human-I'm afraid that's all they'll need to get the town council's consent to form a hunting party."
Amelia covered her mouth with her hand in horror. That beautiful, heroic beast killed-because of her? "But-but she didn't attack me; she saved me! I already told you that! What reason would I have to lie to you? Let me speak to the council-I'll make them believe me!"
Toban's face broke out into a huge grin, his rich bass filling the air with his approval. "Good girl! That's just what I was going to ask you. I wasn't sure you'd feel up to it, or if I had the right to ask you to get involved. It's likely to be a very stressful situation. Are you sure you want to?"
Amelia nodded determinedly, growing more and more animated as she spoke. "I cannot stand by while such injustice is permitted to exist. It is my calling in life to stamp it out wherever I find it!" She finished with a flushed face, her index finger pointed toward the heavens.
Toban looked at her, his face expressionless. Several of the nearby citizens were gawking at her. Such things never used to bother her-as a princess she had pretty much been the center of attention her entire life. However, traveling with Lina's group, especially seeing how Zelgadis reacted to other people's negative gazes-'Staring at me. Always staring at me!'-had made her more aware of the need to behave in a more decorous fashion, at least in public. Too many things could go wrong in negotiations if the wrong people were offended.
Amelia pulled the offending hand down behind her head, laughing in embarrassment. "Ahem, well I'm ready."
The town council meeting was as noisy and emotionally heated as Toban had warned. After the first ten minutes of listening to everyone shouting accusations, Amelia was ready to give them a taste of Lina's disciplinary techniques-just grab the offenders in a headlock until they're ready to listen. Why doesn't someone tell them to be quiet so we can all get a chance to speak? She looked at Toban, who was sitting near the front of the room.
Finally he did. "All right, Gerrik, you've stated your views-abundantly. Sanre has taken the opposing view, and today a witness has appeared to provide us with a complete event of Shiran's recent behavior. Miss Amelia?"
Amelia stood up and walked to the small platform at the end of the room. She repeated the same tale of her experiences that she had just told Rilloban, focusing only on the most relevant events, leaving out the part where she had used her healing magic, for now. "Shiran is a wonderful, noble beast, and I believe she should be allowed to live in peace!"
Sanre and some of the others told their parts in discovering the young girl lying beside the dragonwolf, and their surprise when she turned out to be alive. They also noted the recent leaper tracks and evidence of a fight gouged into the earth.
To Amelia's indignation, Gerrik tried to discredit her integrity. The black-haired man stated, "Why should we believe the word of some unknown waif? Just what were you doing in that forest anyway-trying to steal one of the famous sheep?"
Amelia leaped to her feet, glaring at his sneering face. "How dare you! How could a horrible man like you be on this town's council?"
All around the room there were snorts and fake coughing as people tried to hide their amusement. Gerrik looked around angrily. Suddenly her father's patient lessons came back to her. Don't let them make you angry. If you respond to their insults, you'll lose control of the negotiations. Instead, try to discover the real wants and needs of each of the parties, and work toward a reasonable compromise. Amelia realized her instinctive comment had made Gerrik look bad in the eyes of his people. Maybe if I tried to find out why he hates her so much...
The room quieted as the young girl simply sat there staring at Gerrik, unconsciously imitating Zelgadis in one of his 'thinking' poses, her loosely-curled hand gently touching her chin. The short, black-haired man shifted uncomfortably under her solemn gaze. "Mister Gerrik, why do you really want to have Shiran killed?"
"Because-" he cut himself off, looking sharply at her. Amelia tried to look innocent, while watching him carefully for hints.
"I told you why-she's a menace! We're not safe around here-no one is!"
"So she's vicious and bloodthirsty, right?"
"Then why am I still alive?"
That floored him.
"Why did she save me?"
One of the other men in Gerrik's group spoke up. "Miss, we don't want to murder the beast in cold blood. It's just that these attacks started right after the old mage died-there's too much of a coincidence to ignore. And I for one am not going to risk the lives of my family for a chimera." A thoughtful silence spread through the room as everyone mulled over his cool statement. Toban waited a few beats, then said, "Let the council vote now."
An hour later, Amelia was biting her fingernails in anxiety. "What's taking so long?"
Rilloban was sitting next to her, his golden-brown hair creating a curtain around his face. "It's not a good sign," he answered gloomily. "The council has to consider the safety of everyone in this v-village. People are afraid for their ch-children. To tell you the truth, if I hadn't gotten to know her as well as I did, I m-might be afraid of her, too."
Rilloban's mournful prediction was correct. Ten minutes later, Amelia sat with Rilloban in the empty council room and listened to the verdict with rising horror. '"We have regretfully deemed it prudent to eliminate what we believe is a viable threat from this town. The dragonwolf is to be disposed of by whatever means necessary."'
"Oh, no!" Amelia cried. "This can't be-it isn't right. It isn't just!" She began to walk toward the inner chambers, to try to convince them by sheer force of personality, if nothing else, but was stopped by Rilloban's hand on her arm. She looked at it, then up at him in surprise.
"Miss-I mean, A-amelia. Listen...there's n-nothing you can say that will make them change their minds. From their p-point of view they're doing the r-right thing." He looked at her sorrowfully, his long golden-brown eyelashes lowered. "I've s-seen this coming for a long time now. Listen, I...I have a favor to ask of you." He released her arm, looking at her seriously with his deep green eyes.
Her own eyes widened. "What is it?"
Vehemently, Rilloban answered, "I w-want you to take Shiran with you when you leave. She c-can't stay around here any more-even if we got this hunting p-party stopped, there'd be others. And-and besides...I think Shiran m-might be happier somewhere else-somewhere that didn't r-remind her of all of her losses." His soft voice was full of sadness.
"Ril..." Take Shiran with her to meet Zelgadis and her other friends? Take her to live in the city? "What about you?"
"I love Shiran," the young man admitted softly. "B-but I can't leave my parents to run our farm by themselves. They're getting older-and besides, this is my home. Most of the p-people here are good, hardworking citizens. Like Kembri." He put a hand on her forearm. "Please, Amelia. It's Shiran's only chance."
In years past, Amelia would have agreed instantly, full of outrage for such injustice. But this is her home, too. On the spot, the black-haired princess bit her lip, but was saved from having to answer as Toban approached her.
"Miss Amelia, I've obtained a horse for you to continue your journey. I have arranged for you to have a room at the inn tonight, free of charge, as compensation for your misfortunes."
She hesitated. "Are you all going out after Shiran now?"
"Then I'm coming with you," she stated firmly, her dark-blue gaze allowing no discussion. The red-bearded man opened his mouth, got a good look at her face, and closed it again. He nodded, and turned to leave. The two young people followed him.
Amelia was given a gentle palomino mare to ride. The friendly horse nickered and gave her face a gentle nudge when the young princess approached her, her white forelock falling over the large star in the center of her golden head. Gently Amelia stroked her, straightening the forelock. "Why, she's lovely. What's her name?"
The watching men smiled at her. Toban answered, "Her official name's Golden Charmer, but she has such a nice disposition that most of us call her Sunshine. She's as friendly as can be-likes people better than other horses. Her owner sells mostly plow horses, but Sunny here will do better as a riding horse, so he's decided to loan her to you for a while. You will have to return her within a reasonable length of time."
"Oh, that's no problem-I have to pass here again on my way home." The dark-haired princess easily mounted the long-legged mare.
"Really?" Rilloban rode up to her on his handsome black horse. "W-where are you going, anyway, if you don't mind my asking?"
"That's a long story." Amelia grinned up at him. "I'll tell you on the way."
Amelia was careful not to reveal her royal identity, sticking to her father's 'incognito' rule, which was basically that you accomplished more if other people were relaxed around you. They were more likely to tell an ordinary stranger their problems, which was exactly the sort of information Prince Phil needed to know.
"So n-now you're on your way to meet the guy you love, and you hope he's b-been cured, so you can get married. And your father set a time limit on this? What a t-terrible thing to do to his own d-daughter!" Rilloban gave her a look of indignation on her behalf.
"Oh, it's not Daddy's fault-he uh, he has obligations. It's not his fault." Smiling nervously, Amelia changed the subject. "Do you see much of your friend Kembri?"
"Only at school..." Rilloban's eyes widened. "W-why are you asking about her?"
Amelia grinned, her eyes sparkling. "I sort of thought she was someone important to you."
The young man looked around, making sure that the other riders were out of earshot. "I g-guess you found me out. I've had a crush on her for a long time, but...well, I've n-never gotten up the nerve to talk to her-to see if she likes me, too. And then there's her father, Gerrik..."
"Oh. But Ril, don't you see, someone has to take the first step. If you don't you'll end up regretting it for the rest of your life!"
Rilloban's light brown hair rippled in the breeze as he considered her words, a serious expression on his face. "I g-guess you're right. I've been making excuses to myself for a long time now...b-but having a stutter isn't nearly as bad as being turned to stone. I-I suppose if your Zelgadis could get up the courage to ask you to marry him, then I can at least t-try to talk to her."
Amelia opened her mouth to correct him, then shut it. She turned away, feeling the heat of shame burn her face. Who am I to be giving advice on love? I can't even bring myself to tell Mister Zelgadis that I love him, let alone ask him to marry me. She looked down at the white mane in front of her. I'm just a coward.
Rilloban noticed her silence, and smiled encouragingly. "Amelia, I've got an idea. If-if Zelgadis hasn't found a cure by the time you catch up to him, w-why don't you bring him to see our village healer when you bring Sunshine back? I j-just went to see her not long ago-I was hoping she could do something about my st-stutter, even though it's not really an illness. You see, her powers have gotten steadily s-stronger over the last year or so. The village elders say it's b-because the Barrier is gone, although I don't understand how just removing a magic wall around our part of the world should have any effect on magical abilities."
"Oh, well, that's because the Barrier was created by the Mazoku to block Cephied's power." Amelia explained without thinking. "All clerics-white magic users-get their powers from Cephied, you see? And that means with the Barrier gone-" Amelia stiffened as the implications suddenly hit her. For a moment it was as if she'd become a gray stone statue, completely paralyzed.
Rilloban raised an eyebrow at her. "Say, Amelia, how come you know about all this stuff?"
The stone seemed to crack apart and fall away, leaving her breathless and flustered. "Oh, oh, well, I-I suppose it's because I'm a shrine maiden, I guess." She laughed awkwardly, her hand behind her head.
"You're a shrine maiden?"
She nodded, her head still spinning from her revelation. I've been so distracted for months now-it never occurred to me that my own powers might be growing! My shamanistic powers might not be affected, but I wonder if I can work white magic at Sylphiel's level now-maybe even Filia's! Think of how much good I could do!
"And you couldn't cure Zelgadis on your own, huh? He must be under a really powerful curse," the young man said sympathetically.
Amelia looked at him, stunned. That never occurred to me either. She didn't answer, looking off into the bright blue sky which she had so admired a few hours ago. Mister Zelgadis was cursed by the red priest, Rezo, who had a piece of the evil lord Shabranigdo's soul inside him. Miss Lina says it was really Shabranigdo who did such a terrible thing. That would explain why Mister Zelgadis hasn't been able to find a cure. Even if I had magic at Filia's level, it wouldn't be enough to break a spell cast by the Dark Lord, but with the Barrier down, that must mean his chances are even better than I thought!
Her spirits soaring, Amelia couldn't help herself: "Yes, it is very powerful, but I believe that if your love is pure, and your heart true, nothing is impossible! Justice is on our side!" She stood up in the stirrups, her arm raised high above her head, giving the 'v' for 'victory' sign. It was a good thing Sunshine was so even-tempered, or the princess might have found herself dumped unceremoniously on the ground.
Rilloban stared up at her, a sweatdrop appearing on his head. "Ah...yeah. Okay. W-whatever you say."
She sat down, thinking about the various white magic that would have been affected by the Barrier's fall. Healing spells, exorcisms...nothing that'll help us locate Shiran. Still, I have to try. "Rilloban," she asked abruptly, making him jump. "See if you can get Toban to let us look for Shiran by ourselves. I can try to locate her with my magic."
Unfortunately, although Toban agreed that breaking up into smaller groups would increase the likelihood of locating Shiran, he decided it wasn't safe to let them go alone. Gerrik and a few other men were assigned to go with them. Sanre, being skilled at footprint tracking, led one of the other groups, and Toban the third.
Once again, the two young people dropped behind their group so they could talk. Rilloban regarded her with unhappy green eyes. "I think we made it worse. Now we have to find Shiran before the other groups do."
Amelia stuck out her chin determinedly. "We'll just have to make them see they're wrong to want to kill her. I know I can show them she's not just some crazy wild beast. Let's go tell them about my magic."
Author's Note: Minna, does anybody wonder-
Is the definition between regular Shamanistic magic and magic where you call upon the Lords all that separate? With the lighter end you have Cepheid's 'holy' magic and regular white-Shamanistic, and toward the darker side there's black-Shamanistic and-? Unholy?
Now, Lina apparently does both, but no one separates her magic into black and 'unholy', it's all just called 'black'.
I figure the average person in the Slayers' world doesn't care so much where the power comes from as much as what the results of a particular spell are. Thus anything seen as beneficial would be called 'white', etc. Even people like Lina, who know the difference still tend to use the more general terms-sort of like how she knows 'Dragon Slave' should be 'Dragon Slayer', but even with the mispronunciation the spell still works. That would explain also why Amelia, a 'white' magic cleric, can do so many of the more aggressive spells which are actually listed as Shamanistic by several of the most reliable Slayers websites.
If that's true, I wonder how many spells that were meant to originally call on the Lord of Cephied are still in use, just diminished in power. People would have long since dropped the parts that mention the Lords' names, if they found that the spell still worked. But that might mean that some of the 'white' magic spells will have unpredictable results now that the Barrier's down-at least in my own interpretation of how the Slayers' world works.
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