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, though, just 'cause I like to know people are interested.
Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!
PG-13 for minor swearing and lime-i-ness
Note: I've used some old-fashioned language in one of the scenes in this chapter. I got most of the idea from Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series-one of my favorites-but I know some of the grammar isn't quite right. Still, since this is a Slayers world, I'd say that their archaic language would be somewhat different than ours, anyway.
ken- 'know' or 'learn'
Doth or doth be- 'is' or 'do be'
"I choose men by their guise, all tell me."- "Everybody says I pick men by their looks."
aye- 'yes' or 'right' or some kind of agreement
thou'rt- 'you are'
mayhap- 'maybe' or 'perhaps'
I got the name 'Mellesande' from the awesome movie 'The Flight of Dragons'. Pronounced 'Mel-eh-SAHND, with the first two 'e's as in 'elf' and the last one silent.
Chapter Seventy-Three: The Origin of the Ward Bracelets
Where am I? Where is everyone? Zelgadis? Amelia tried to ask, but heard only her own thoughts.
Then her hands did move, seemingly of their own volition, slowly turning the dark-blue metal spheres. Amelia distractedly noticed that the familiar stars were absent.
Who said that? Was that... me?
"Finally, all but done," Amelia heard herself say. "Ne'er again must I needs worry 'bout a scoundrel deceiving me! Figranel... the cad! 'His heart be mine', so he spake, and ne'er wouldst I have ken'd o' the other female if not for Gaderi! Ooo, Papa doth be angry!"
The girl's voice laughed triumphantly. It was a somewhat higher voice than Amelia's, now that she thought to notice, and the hands in front of her were not her hands, either. The dimness of the room had kept her from noticing immediately that the skin color was a few shades darker, the nails were cut even shorter than Amelia kept hers for traveling, and there was a small scar on the left thumb that Amelia knew she did not have. They were heavily calloused as well.
Amelia was starting to suspect what was going on. I'm in someone else's body? Am I a ghost, possessing her? But I don't remember dying... and that wouldn't explain what I'm doing with these bracelets, anyway. They look so much like mine... and why does she speak so oddly?
"Off Papa went wi' a troupe o' guards- Poor ol' Figgy-it be a thrashing he'll ne'er forget, I say. And ne'er will he show hisface in Seyrune 'gain!" The girl's voice had a righteous, satisfied tone now, one that sounded vaguely familiar to Amelia, although her friends would have recognized it right away as Amelia's 'justice' tone.
It was a long time before the girl spoke again. I wish I could tell what she's thinking, Amelia said to herself. I wish I could talk to her, to let her know I'm here!
Eventually the girl said quietly, "In truth, part o' the fault may be mine."
The girl answered Amelia's unspoken question. "I choose men by their guise, all tell me. Surely not, I say... and yet, none have e'er stayed wi' me. None truly wanted me, only the power I may bring as one o' the Seyrune princesses!" The girl sounded as if she were close to bursting into tears.
What? Amelia was stunned. Princesses? Of Seyrune? But that's my job! ... Or is it? She speaks so archaically... almost as if I' d somehow slipped into the past or something... Is that possible?
The hands in front of her closed tightly over the small metal spheres and held them to her chest, and the girl's voice had a hint of a quaver in it. "'Love doth be blind', aye? Him that I wouldst pass by for lack of a pleasing guise may in truth be the one destined to stand by my side! All tell me, 'Thou'rt too young', and 'The time to choose be long and away.' Yet now be the time I doth want love!" The girl's voice became somewhat petulant.
It occurred to Amelia that the girl sounded rather young. Maybe thirteen or fourteen... Hey, that's about the same age I was when I first began traveling with Miss Lina's group. I met Zelgadis then... and things didn't get off to a good start between us. I was a lot more childish then. It took a long time for me to grow up-and it sure took a long time for us to realize that we loved each other... She smiled mentally. But I wouldn't trade him now for the world.
"Why must I wait years for the right man?" the girl continued longingly, "He be out there somewhere now, aye? Must needs I wait for my beloved if in truth I possess the means to find him now?"
What? Amelia listened closely.
"So, these bracelets will I enchant to bring us together. A man who doth love me for me, not for the crown nor the power I may bring."
Can she really do that? For a moment Amelia was fascinated, but then something that had been drilled into her head all her life came back to her. But she's the princess. What if the man the bracelets choose is a bad ruler? The kind of man a fourteen-year-old thinks is perfect might be someone who only cares about her and not the kingdom. I was always told to choose my husband wisely so that my people wouldn't suffer.
The girl walked toward a diagram drawn on the stone floor of the dark room. From the glimpses Amelia caught of the surrounding room, it appeared that she was in some kind of underground storage area. Several candles were arranged in some kind of pattern around her, their golden pinpoints the only source of light in the room.
And besides, three years ago when I met Zelgadis, he was so different. He was so... cold, as if he'd forgotten how to care. I've watched him heal over the years... First we were comrades-in-arms, then friends, and when love finally grew between us he tried to deny it, even to himself, even though doing so actually proved how much he loved me, because he was doing it out of concern for my safety. He was willing to sacrifice his cure for me...
As Amelia felt the girl's arms lift into the air, she shouted desperately, Listen to me, Princess! The man who's right for you has to care about more than just you! He has to be a good ruler, a just ruler! Someone who will lead Seyrune into a bright future! Please, think about what you're doing!
Amelia felt the girl hesitate, as if having second thoughts. That's right, Princess! The man for you may not be the same now as he will be in the years to come-trust me-I know! And you will need someone who will love the person you become, because you too will change as the years pass...
"Mellesande!" came an irate female voice from what sounded like the room overhead. Amelia felt the girl jump as the other voice called, "Where be ye? The feast be soon!"
"Damn!" the girl swore. "Must needs I finish this spell 'fore they find me. My second sister will ne'er forgive me an I miss her wedding!"
The girl stood for a moment longer, then raised her arms again and began to chant some words in a language that Amelia recognized-vaguely. She felt a thrill of excitement. Is that the ancient language of holy magic that we've lost? She tried to remember the words, but Mellesande spoke so fast that they all ran together, and little by little Amelia's enthusiasm died. Oh, I can't make out what she's saying! In my time only Filia and maybe some other dragons can do any of the really powerful holy magic. I should ask Filia to teach me-if this girl can do it, so can I! Now that the barrier's gone...
She listened to the tone of the words, rather than trying to make out their meaning. Sometimes it sounded plaintive, sometimes almost conversational, and sometimes commanding. I hope she's being careful.
Amelia became aware that the girl's body was beginning to shake, sweating heavily. This is really hard for her. Maybe it's too hard for a human to cast holy magic-I wonder if in this time the Barrier exists yet? If it does, then the fact that she can cast this spell at all means that she must be an incredibly powerful sorceress.
Amelia suddenly caught a word that she remembered from one of her magic lessons. That's an old, old word for 'Golden Dragon', isn't it? I was taught our history, but to many people, Golden Dragons are a myth. From what I remember, Golden Dragons were once very close allies with humans-at least, with the people of Seyrune. Then after the Barrier was cast upon us, they began to have less and less to do with the human world. Hmm... Maybe she's friends with someone from the Golden Dragon clan-someone who gave her some help to do this spell even with the Barrier?
Mellesande's voice rose into an extraordinary, passionate crescendo, and as she cried the ancient
words, the power in her tone was so phenomenal that Amelia thought in awe, This girl will be a woman to reckon with someday!
In a final, vibrant burst, Mellesande finished her breathtaking oration and then suddenly dropped heavily to her knees, her head bowed, breathing deeply. Amelia watched through her eyes as the twin metal spheres cradled loosely in the girl's hands began to glow. At first the radiance was solid brilliant white light, and then it narrowed, taking on the shape of a familiar pattern. The stars...
For several minutes Mellesande did not move, obviously recovering her energy after such an ordeal. Amelia mused, It looks like I was right. Holy magic is much more draining on its casters... although I wonder if it's because of the Barrier? Maybe the power that would normally have come from Cephied-sama came from Mellesande instead? That's dangerous-humans don't have that kind of power in themselves; that's why most of our magic is done by calling upon other sources. She must be a very powerful sorceress.
Eventually the girl staggered to her feet, clutching the spheres to a bosom that was much smaller than Amelia's own, on a par with Lina's. "It be done," she said, her voice full of weary relief. "Mayhap that be the last holy magic I shall e'er cast... but the spell will endure for centuries. More than I shall find lifelong happiness, that they will."
I have, Mellesande, I have. Even though I met Zelgadis before I started wearing them, maybe they helped me to see the good qualities in him that weren't so obvious back then.
Mellesande bent over to brush the worst of the grit from the floor off of her skirt, explaining to her unknown visitor, "The Star Spheres shall do more than simply find their wearer a mate. For me-no longer care I 'bout his guise. To all who see him he may be as a beast, but what be important to me be his heart. He must be fit to rule, a good man, a man who be strong and wise and just... "
Good girl, Mellesande! Amelia would have beamed with delight, if she could have.
"A man with the nature of a king-though rule he will not, methinks. Eight older siblings be 'tween me and the throne-and welcome to it!" Amelia heard Mellesande chuckle. "In truth, I would choose to travel the countryside, aiding the people with the skills I learned from our Dragon brothers."
I was right! She must have learned healing magic from the Golden Dragons-and a lot of other holy magic besides.
"Times be dangerous, now, with the accursed Barrier in place... More and more mazoku and other filthy night creatures lurk the lands, preying on the helpless, so the Spheres shall also serve as a beacon. They shall bond their wearers; thus we be together e'en when we be apart; an peril finds one, the other shall be warned, and can act swiftly to save their beloved."
Amelia suddenly recalled the way the wards' light had guided Lina to Zelgadis when he was drowning, and how she herself might have died from the vicious stabbing she'd received not too long ago if the wards hadn't made Zelgadis come running. Your spell worked, Princess... I only wish I could tell you how grateful I am.
"Most important, he must make the Sphere-wearer happy, and love me he must, for now and forever."
Amelia was touched. Oh, Mellesande-that was so beautiful! If I could cry, I would! ... She sounds so sad, so lonely. I wonder why?
Amelia watched through the girl's eyes as Mellesande made her way toward the doorway and stopped to look into a large oval gold-rimmed mirror that hung on the wall. The face that looked back at her was most definitely not her own. Although Mellesande had the deep blue eyes that seemed to run in the Seyrune family, her thick waist-length hair was a rich, dark blue-green color. Amelia mused, Almost the shade of Zelgadis' eyes.
Amelia took a good look at the girl's face and realized with a pang that the girl was lucky that she was a princess. She'll never be very pretty. She's a tall, tough-looking girl, but her chest is no larger than Lina's. She has a strong face, but it's strong the way a man's face is strong, with a big square jaw and heavy bones around the eyes. Her hair is beautiful, though. Maybe if she wore some makeup... Mentally she shook her head. Now I know why she wanted to make sure the man loved her for herself. Most girls want to look as pretty as they can to attract a man's interest, so he'll want to get to know her better and she can learn about him at the same time, but I'm sure the only men Mellesande attracts are power-hungry throne-hunters.
"An I meet someone whom I doth believe may be worthy, I need tell him naught about the Star Spheres." Amelia watched as Mellesande suddenly grinned a naughty-little-girl grin, reminding her inevitably of Lina. "I shall gift him with the Sphere, and gaze upon him as he dons it. An he be worthy, it shall accept him; an he be unacceptable, it shall reject him. His hand will turn troll-green and be slow to fade."
The teal-haired girl snickered.
Amelia tried to suppress her own internal laughter. Mellesande, that's mean! ... But I guess that's one way to single out the unjust. I wish I had a spell like that in my time-one that wasn't meant to search for husbands, anyway. Wow, what if the wards-I mean, the Star Spheres-hadn't found Zelgadis worthy? He wouldn't have liked walking around with a green hand!
Mentally, she snorted in amusement, but then a chill of ice ran down her nonexistent spine as she thought: What if he hadn't been wearing the Sphere when he was drowning? What if he'd taken the guiolin instead, as I'd planned? He would have died!
Shaken, she gazed at the girl in the mirror, who was running her fingers through her blue-green hair to get rid of the worst of the snarls, with the tip of her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth. Thank you, Princess Mellesande. Thank you-you have no idea what this spell of your has done-will do-for me.
Suddenly, with a jolt, Amelia opened her eyes and saw dark tree branches and a pale gray sky high above her. A dream...
She closed her eyes again. I've... had that dream before. Yesterday afternoon, I think, when I fell asleep on the Woodwind and Zelgadis and I played a game of tag after I woke up. I'd forgotten about it-I think I woke up before I saw Mellesande in the mirror.
As her mind began to grow more alert, she realized, Mellesande... Figranel... Gaderi... I know those names! They were from the journal, the one that led us to the Oracle! Can it truly be that my ward bracelets were made by the very same woman who was engaged to the chimera Gaderi? The chimera who spent five years searching for a cure for so that he could marry her?
Then... was it just a dream, or did I really travel back to the past? At the time, the Barrier had only been in place for about a hundred years, so there were still some few humans with the knowledge of holy magic, even if they weren't as strong as they had once been, so Mellesande could have been one of them.
I wonder if Gaderi was already a chimera at the time I visited there-I mean, then? Maybe Mellesande never would have bothered to get to know him if not for the spell she cast?
Why me? Do you suppose there's some kind of connection between us because our situations are so similar, with both of us being in love with chimeras and all? She opened her eyes again, idly noticing that it looked as if it were going to rain soon. The sky was growing darker.
Well, I'm glad she was so careful about what kind of man she wanted the ward-I mean, the Star Spheres to look for. I wonder if somehow she heard what I said-if I was able to influence her? I told her to choose a fiance for her people as well as herself, the way I chose Zelgadis...
Fiances... Suddenly she frowned guiltily and sat up, absently adjusting her clothes and fluffing out her hair with her fingers. Then again, I chose Kerrin without really getting to know him, so maybe I'm not any better than Mellesande. I liked him right away because he looked like Zelgadis, and he seemed to be so friendly and kind, but I don't really know who he is at all. I know he must have at least some good qualities, since the guests for my balls were all chosen carefully by Daddy and his staff, but still...
Amelia bit her lip, then glanced at Zelgadis, who was sleeping peacefully next to her, and all thoughts of any other fiances left her mind. The Seyrune princess knelt by his side, bending over to look at him, her hands pressed over her heart, her eyes shimmering. He was meant for me...
A surge of love rose up inside of her, a great tenderness that was both fierce and gentle, and she felt a powerful urge to reach out and touch him. She wanted to run her fingers through his shining wire hair, to smooth it back from his face so that she could gaze upon his beauty as he slept. He always looks so different when he's asleep. So peaceful, so content, not guarded or stern or sarcastic...
She wanted to stroke his face, to lay her head down on his chest to feel him breathing, to hold his hand or maybe take off his boots so that she could tickle his feet. Oh, right. Her enthusiasm faded a little. He probably wouldn't feel much. She sighed. I really understand why he would want to be human again, when I think of things like that...
She watched the faint shadows from the tree branches above them ripple over his face, her thoughts moving forward. Even if I was allowed to marry him, it would sort of take a lot of the fun out of it, wouldn't it? Especially for him, since his skin isn't as sensitive...
A shiver ran through her, and she closed her eyes for a moment, partly because of the awful sadness of his current situation, and partly because she'd had a brief, wonderful flash of what the future might hold if his cure was successful, with a fully human Zelgadis who was ready, willing and able to do the kinds of things that married couples did...
When she opened her eyes again, Zelgadis was looking up at her. Instantly she felt her face grow warm, and she sat back on her heels. For a moment the chimera's face was expressionless, but then he smiled, and Amelia couldn't help beaming back at him even as she put her hands to her hot cheeks in embarrassment. I wonder if he heard what I was thinking? Since the ward bracelets-I mean, the Star Spheres, do connect us somewhat-
"Oh!" she exclaimed as the memory of her dream came flooding back.
"What is it?" Zelgadis asked, sitting up.
"I had this dream... "
Amelia spent the next few minutes describing her dream-or was it a vision?-to the stone man, and to Lina and Gourry after they woke up.
"Are you sure it wasn't just a dream?" Zelgadis asked.
"M-mm." She shook her head. "It was too real. And when I look at the Spheres I can sense the magic in them, and it's definitely holy magic."
Lina was intrigued. "Hey, I wonder if they work for anyone?"
Amelia answered thoughtfully, "I don't think so, Miss Lina. Mellesande made them for Seyrune's heirs, to help them choose husbands-or wives, I suppose-who would be both good husbands and good rulers. I think you have to be part of Seyrune's royal family."
Lina shrugged. "Oh, well. I already found my prince without having to depend on some old heirlooms."
Gourry's eyes widened, and then he smiled at the petite sorceress with such sweetness that Amelia practically melted. "Oh, I'm so happy for both of you!" She found herself blinking back tears of joy. Her voice lifted into her strident speech-making tone. "I knew you two were right for each other all along, and now I know for sure that Zelgadis and I were meant to be together as well!"
"Huh?" Amelia's dismay was echoed in the faces of her friends as all three of them gaped at Zelgadis. "Wh-what do you mean?"
The chimera's face was solemn, thoughtful. "The ward-excuse me, the Star Spheres-were programmed to identify men with certain characteristics, right? So that means I'm a potential match, that's all. It doesn't mean I'm the only one, or even the best choice."
For a moment they were all speechless. Then, upset, Amelia protested, "But Mellesande said-"
"You never had the chance to use them, since you didn't know how they worked, right?"
"Then our future is by no means assured."
Tears stung Amelia's eyes. Why is he saying such awful things? He sounds like he used to, back in the days when he was so callus of others' feelings.
Apparently the stone man did notice the distress on her face, for the gentle smile that she so loved returned to his face and he added warmly, "... But I'm honored to have made the cut."
Amelia sighed in relief, and so did Lina, who reached up and bonked him on the head with her gloved fist. "Stupid, don't say things like that! Amelia already chose you-don't talk like there's some other guy!"
Amelia's eyes widened as a chill passed over her. She looked at Zelgadis, easily reading his grave countenance. Miss Lina doesn't know about that other fiance I have, Kerrin, the one who Zelgadis thinks might force me to marry him because he's my official fiance.
Just then a light sprinkle began to fall, making clearly audible tapping sounds on the leaves above them. This distracted Lina, who groaned, "Not again!"
Gourry shaded his eyes from the drops as he looked up. "The clouds are awfully dark... I'd say this is gonna be a real downpour. Might even last all day."
Lina let out her breath in exasperation. "We can't afford to keep getting held up every time it decides to rain!"
Amelia had a different reaction. I'd rather spend the time with Zelgadis, since there's no way of knowing if we'll be able to be together once we get to Seyrune. There's just so many things we aren't sure of, so many things that could go wrong... Again she traded glances with the stone man, and she could see that his feelings mirrored her own.
"There's no hurry, Lina," said Zelgadis, confirming her thoughts. Amelia's heart leaped.
The princess gave her chimera her support. "To tell you the truth, this is probably the last time I'll be able to travel for a while... It's like a vacation. I... don't want to hurry, either." She met Zelgadis' gaze, and savored the warmth in his blue-green eyes.
Lina glanced back and forth between the two as they stood there, lost in each other's gaze. "What's with you guys? Zelgadis, when did you get so blasť about all this? You were the one who said that this isn't a sure thing."
Amelia watched the stone man's expression waver. Please, don't...
Slowly, Zelgadis took a deep breath and his features became resolute. "You're right, Lina."
Oh, drat. Amelia scowled. There goes my 'vacation'!
Author's Notes: The 'married by age 17' law was created after Mellesande's time period.
LeaMarie F. Rocket- If you want to print my fic, that's fine. It makes me happy that people like my fic that much.
I had vacation last week, and managed to do two whole chapters, so I'm on chapter 80 now. Usually it would take me six weeks to do that much! I'm into the home stretch!
BTW, I'm getting ready to put together a May calendar page. I just got a lovely pic from Beedoo, (THANKS) but there's always room for more! ^_^
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