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-15 for minor swearing and lime-i-ness
Note: Ame- a short version of Amelia's name, pronounced AH-may. Also means 'sweet' or 'sweets' in Japanese.
Chapter Seventy-Four: High
"But how are we going to fly in this rain?" Gourry asked, looking up through the trees at the light gray sky. "The Woodwind's front window gets so full of water that you can hardly see anything-what if you fly us into another tree, Lina?"
She smacked him. "I didn't fly us into a tree-well, almost, but we missed it, didn't we? And besides... " All of a sudden she turned red, and as everyone looked at her curiously she mumbled, "It's that time of the month again."
Zelgadis tried not to blush, knowing that it was a normal part of life for every woman-indeed, even Amelia went though it, although she was generally more discreet about mentioning it. Besides, if everything somehow works out and we actually end up getting married, I'll be dealing with such a thing on an intimate basis for a good long time...
Gourry looked at his blushing comrades and scratched his head. "I still don't see what's so embarrassing about it."
Zelgadis' lips twitched as he suffered another rare attack of humor. "You'll find out soon enough, I'm sure," he said, his voice deepening with amusement.
Lina glared at Zelgadis, but for once didn't let Gourry sidetrack her. "We can't keep getting delayed. We've got only one week left, you know? Amelia's birthday is a week from today."
The stone man blinked. "It is?" My calculations were off, then. I must have missed a day somewhere, probably when I was wandering around in that mental fugue. I thought we had eight days at least.
"Yeah, you idiot, why do you think I've been bugging you to get your tail moving?" Lina retorted. "This isn't a picnic, you know!"
Zelgadis nodded, giving Amelia a quick, apologetic shrug when he noticed her disgruntled look as she realized that they would not be able to take the day off 'work'. She scowled at him for a few moments, then smiled wryly, forgiving him.
He returned her smile, then gazed across the clearing at the nearby trees, unconsciously placing the side of his index finger to his chin as he considered the problem ahead of them. What kind of modifications could we make to the Woodwind to let us fly in the rain?
The others let him alone. Lina and Amelia each took up their favorite 'thinking' positions while Gourry watched them all for a few moments and then got up to start cooking breakfast before the rain got any heavier. His own thoughts wandered over their dilemma. I'm not as smart as the others, but it seems to me that if you can't go through an obstacle, then you should go around or over it. That's common sense, right? "Hey, Lina?"
"Don't bother me right now, Gourry. I'm thinking."
"Sorry." He was quiet until he'd finished cooking, and then as the others drifted over and began to absently eat pieces of fish and fruits-except Lina, of course, who snatched a double handful at a time and devoured it enthusiastically-he said, "Hey, guys, remember that time Filia flew us on her back? Remember how high up we were, so high that when we looked down we could see the clouds below us?"
Suddenly he was the object of everyone's intense gaze. "What did you just say, Gourry?" Lina's tone was sharp, but he wasn't sure why.
"Rain comes from clouds, right? So if we go above them, they can't rain on us, right?" He wondered why they were all looking so stunned-it seemed logical enough to him.
"Right," Amelia answered in a surprised tone.
Lina groaned, "I can't believe I didn't think of that!"
Zelgadis nodded wryly. "Never underestimate one's friends."
Hurriedly they finished eating, wanting to take off before the rain got too heavy for them to navigate through the dense forest.
Amelia found her thoughts drifting, remembering the time that she had seen Lina and Gourry kissing in Sunshine's stall. It's not really any more private than any other part of the ship, but when I know our friends are in there and I can't see their heads or hear them talking, I stay away. I think we're all getting like that... I wonder... Her lips curved in a small, secret smile. I wonder if Miss Lina and Mister Gourry would stay away if Zelgadis and I did what they do? If we... if we were kissing in the hay? I know he's too self-conscious to ever try to kiss me while he's still a chimera, but I... I don't want to wait. I want him to kiss me. Maybe I'll try it...
She never got the chance.
Zelgadis took the first shift. All four travelers plus Shiran gathered in the front section of the Woodwind, watching out the window as the craft rose vertically through the air. The soft patter of raindrops on the heavy cloth covering the central part of the ship served as an intricate counterpoint to the louder drumming on the two wooden roofs at either end.
All of them noticed that their ears had developed an uncomfortable sensation that went away if they swallowed repeatedly. "It's like being underwater," Lina commented thoughtfully, and then winced, glancing at Zelgadis, who gave her sour look. "Sorry, Zel. I didn't mean to bring up bad memories... But at least there's plenty of air to breathe up here, right?"
He merely scowled, reducing the Woodwind's upward speed to ease their discomfort, since even his ears were not spared from the odd affliction. After several minutes, stray wisps began to pass by the window, gradually thickening until nothing could be seen except an endless gray void.
"It's like fog," Gourry commented.
Lina smirked at him from where she was sitting next to him. "It is fog, dummy. Fog is made of water vapor, and so are clouds. It's just that people call it 'fog' when it touches the ground."
"... " Lina got up and headed for the curtain. "Well, never mind that. I'm going to go and make sure Sunshine's okay."
"Wait, I'll go too, Lina... " Gourry's voice faded as he followed her.
Amelia smiled at Zelgadis, who smirked back with raised stone eyebrows, sharing her amusement, but soon he had to break eye contact as the ship began to tilt. "I didn't anticipate this," he murmured.
"It's difficult to keep the ship level with no visual clues. All I have to go on is my internal orientation-you know, that sense that tells you if you're upside down-even in the dark, or when your eyes are closed."
"Hm." He glanced at her and saw that her eyes were closed. Then she began to lean to one side, her topknot flopping over, and the rest of her midnight hair flowing off of her shoulders to hang loosely as her agile body bent into a graceful arc. She held the position, obviously trying to sense her surroundings for when it would be her turn to fly the Woodwind.
Zelgadis couldn't help admiring her lithe body. He loved to watch her move; right now she looked so graceful, as if she was posing just for him, with one arm stretched out parallel to the ground behind her for balance. He knew that she was probably not thinking about how she looked to an observer, being the innocent girl-young woman-that she was, but all the same, it affected him.
As the stone man gazed at his love, he thought he saw her moving back into an upright position, but then realized that only her hair was moving-and that he was the cause. The princess' eyes popped open as he immediately shifted the ship so that it was level again. "Amelia, that's it!"
She sat up. "Huh? What's 'it'?"
He caught her puzzled look. "I can use your hair as a visual cue. When it shifts to one side, I'll know we're not level."
"I see." Amelia was quiet for a moment, then added cheerfully, "Then it's a good thing I don't mind you looking at me."
"I guess I can't keep my eyes off you." He chuckled quietly. Beside them Shiran wagged her fluffy tail at the happiness in her bonded ones' tones.
"But I can't promise that your hair is the only thing I'll look at." He winked at her teasingly, making her blush.
The layer of clouds that held rain was not all that thick, fortunately; since the everyone except Zelgadis could feel how much colder it was so high above the ground, but at least the sun was shining brightly through the scattered layers of clouds still above them, helping to warm them.
Amelia clapped her hands. "Look, we can see everything from up here! It all looks so small; it's cute. Go higher!"
"Yes-please? We didn't exactly get the chance to see much when we were with Miss Filia-she flew so fast."
The chimera shrugged, not particularly caring about the view-the rainclouds below them obscured a large portion of it anyway-but he was willing to please her. "Fine by me." He complied with her request, raising the Woodwind so high that the land was spread out below them like the map that had started them on this quest in the first place, and then set the Woodwind on the usual southwesterly course, using the sun as a guide.
He concentrated on speed now, worried about having less time than he had thought to complete the journey. I know in the Woodwind it should only take us about two or three more days, but as Lina said, something could happen. I'm not sure why I've been so placid lately...
He looked up at Amelia, who was sitting in front of him. She had her legs pulled up with her arms around her knees, and she was gazing at the sun with a peaceful, happy expression, humming a pretty little tune that Zelgadis liked. It was quite different from the 'fight for justice' songs that she usually sang; this tune was meant only to express her happiness.
"It's you," he realized, smiling.
She turned to him, a puzzled look on her face. "What's me?"
"You're the reason I've become so calm-so blasť, as Lina said. Watching you, I can't help but feel that everything is going to work out right after all."
She melted. "Oh, Zelgadis... That's so sweet! I love you."
The stone man felt a pang in his heart-a good pang. Slowly, he reached out and placed his hand delicately on her cheek, caressing it as gently as he could with his thumb. "Dearest," he said solemnly. "You're the sweet one... Ame."
The young girl blushed to hear herself called 'sweet'. She reached up and pulled his hand from her cheek, moving it toward her lips so that she could kiss it.
Zelgadis was glad to see that she hadn't pulled away as his instincts still kept telling him she would, but he definitely hadn't expected her next move-to kiss his palm, as she had once before. Not that he felt much, but the look in her big shining eyes as she peeked over the edge of his gloved hand was as welcoming as he could ask for.
He smiled. "You're so cute, Amelia," he said, letting his love for her show in the deep, rich tone of his voice.
After he said it he winced, expecting her to protest the word that she had once said was too 'babyish', but to his surprise she released his hand and grinned at him. "Oh, yeah? 'Cute' how?"
For a moment he was speechless, but then he caught on to her playful frame of mind and smiled back at her. "Well... like your hair. That topknot is cute, especially when it bobs around when you move your head."
She made her head tilt from side to side, letting the dark sheaf of hair dance at him, and giggled.
His smile widened into a grin.
"What else?" she asked him.
"You're cute when you smile, and when you laugh. When you're playing with Shiran, or kissing Sunshine on the nose." He was a little surprised at how easily the words came to him, but then, he'd been suppressing how he felt about her for a long time.
"You're cute when you first wake up, and your hair is all tousled... and you're very cute when you're asleep. I like to watch you sleep," he confessed. "You always look so peaceful."
That made Amelia laugh, and when he asked her why, she said, "I like to watch you sleep, too! For the same reason."
The merry laughter that they shared was one of a small but growing number of times that Zelgadis had laughed since he'd been turned into a chimera, and he savored every moment of it.
Neither of them realized that their current giddiness was a symptom of a larger problem.
Gourry sat in the hay, watching Lina with Amelia's palomino mare Sunshine. "Sunny's such a nice horse, isn't she, Lina?" Gourry commented, watching his love stroke her hand over the serene mare's golden sides and back, half-wishing that she would do that to him.
"Yeah, Gourry... I can see why she wanted to take Sunny with us. She's a first-rate riding horse, and so friendly," Lina agreed. Then she put her arms around herself and shivered. "Brr. I didn't know it would get so cold up here."
"Come sit by me," Gourry suggested. "I'm good at keeping you warm."
Yeah, in more ways than one. Lina grinned at him, remembering how he'd kept her warm in Ponmar's cave, and the many other occasions since then that had taught her just how 'warm' he could be.
She joined her companion in a way that had rapidly become a habit, dropping gracefully sideways onto his lap, her arms around his neck. Eagerly his arms came up to hold her, still carefully touching 'safe' areas, but this time Lina decided to do something about that. She reached over and took hold of one of Gourry's hands from where it rested against her shoulder and moved it downward, placing it firmly on her hip.
The blonde swordsman's sky-blue eyes widened, and he froze. "Uh, Lina?"
"It's okay, Gourry." Lina was mildly surprised to realize that she hadn't a trace of her former fear-only a feeling of security and a yearning to become closer to him. Her voice grew softer, huskier. "I trust you. I know that you'd never hurt me."
"You-you sure about this?" His voice too had dwindled to a mere whisper.
She nodded, and leaned up to kiss him.
Time passed, and the Woodwind flew on.
Amelia was laughing at something silly that Zelgadis had said when she sneezed and realized how cold she was. I'm shivering...
"Better go put on some warmer clothes. Even I'm startin' to feel the chill," Zelgadis said, slurring his words in a way that she found funny.
"'Kay," Amelia giggled, and tried to stand up. For some reason the floor refused to stay flat under her feet, and she stumbled. "Hey, keep it level, will ya?"
"It is level," he insisted drunkenly, watching her stand on shaky legs and stagger through the back curtain. In the back of his mind he felt a twinge of alarm at her behavior, but as soon as she disappeared though the curtain he forgot about it, gazing at the white clouds that filled the blue sky, thinking muzzily about how they were always ahead of him, no matter how fast he flew the ship.
Amelia dropped heavily to her knees beside the stack of supplies and reached for the nearest pack. As she fumbled with the fastenings, it occurred to her that the bag was unusually difficult to hold onto. "Keeps tryin' to get away," she muttered, ignoring the black spots swimming in front of her eyes. "Come on, you stupid thing, open! I'm freez'n... "
Then her eyes rolled up into her head and she collapsed over the pack.
Lina had to break off kissing Gourry to catch her breath. He too was panting, although that wasn't exactly unusual, considering their situation, but the exciting tingly feelings that she normally looked forward to weren't there. I feel strange... really tired. At a time like this I ought to be thinking about how his hands feel, but it's all I can do to keep my eyes open.
She felt a flicker of alarm. Something's wrong. We just got up-it's not time to sleep yet!
"Gourry-" She turned her face up toward the swordsman's and got another shock when she realized that not only were his eyes closed, his lips were turning blue! "Gourry!"
She shook him, or tried to, only then realizing that most of her strength was gone. What's the matter with us? "Zelgad- 'Melia-" she gasped out, trying to stand up to go for help, but she could barely crawl, her face bumping painfully along on the wooden floor. Ow! Somebody help, please!
In the front area, Shiran's long tapered ears perked up, and she whined.
Zelgadis was slipping into a dream state, for all that his eyes were open. He saw the familiar rose-colored light, and heard Amelia's voice. As she appeared out of the light, her sapphire eyes were glowing with love, and when she reached out to take his face in both of her small hands he felt only a moment's trepidation-his own, not hers-and then he was leaning toward her face...
Suddenly a shaggy ball of lavender fur appeared in front of him, and he heard a low howl that sounded as if it was coming through a long tunnel. In the next second, he felt a terrific shove, and the floor came up and hit him in the face.
As his mind snapped back into awareness, the first thing he noticed were the noises: crashes and thuds and Shiran howling and the wind screaming fiercely past the Woodwind, which was falling-
Instinctively he reached out to touch the floor of the ship and used his mind to bring the craft to a halt-which was the worst thing he could possibly have done, as everything-including himself and Shiran-was in free-fall. He only had the barest instant to realize what was about to happen before the floor-and his own stone arm-came at his face.
Screams reverberated throughout the Woodwind as her passengers were painfully jerked from unconsciousness, repeatedly struck by flying objects that kept ricocheting off the walls.
Both Lina and Amelia automatically cast Levitation on themselves, but since Lina was still magicless, she was the lucky one. Amelia had much the same experience as Zelgadis, although she was knocked out almost instantly by one of the packs, cutting off her magic before the moving craft could hit her, which saved her from more severe injuries.
The entire craft was at a crazy angle, with the bright red cloth that used to be over their heads now flailing wildly off to one side, part of it torn loose and rapidly shredding into rags in the fierce winds. Ominous creaks came from the Woodwind itself, as it had not been designed to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Sunshine was screaming and thrashing in mid-air, but somehow she had managed to avoid hitting the two humans in her stall, and the duo quickly launched themselves out of her way once they regained some of their wits.
Each of them clutched at a section of the stall wall. "What the hell happened, Gourry?" Lina bellowed over the roaring wind that tore through the little area, making stinging whips of her clothes and hair. She ignored the pounding in her head and the sickening waves of nausea in her stomach as it protested its dislike of falling.
The blonde swordsman didn't answer at first, too busy fending off wads of hay and what would have been a nasty encounter with the pitchfork, which he stabbed forcefully into the wooden floor to keep it out of mischief, then turned to her, wild-eyed with panic. "Do something, Lina! We're falling!"
Author's Notes: Sorry this week's update is a bit late-I had a bunch of stuff I'd been putting off that all had to be finished this week, so my fic had to sit on the back burner for a while.
Matsu Shindou-You have pictures for me? Yay! My email address is
(If deletes my email address, just look up the information in the 'authors' section of . I haven't updated it in a while but it's still the same email address.) I'm looking forward to seeing them!
Fuji the Hobbit- Oh, Kerrin? Right now I'm working on the chapters where they're back in Seyrune, and Kerrin's there. I may have a scene from his POV; I haven't decided yet. And yes, I'd love to see my fic on another website besides -especially one that also does reviews! Is your site up yet? Let me know when I can visit it!
Lina Gabriev asks: 'in Zel's dream, with the different color's representing his friends, is purple Shiran, Sylphiel, or...Xelloss'?
It's Shiran. I used the colors that Amelia saw when she and Zel were searching for Lina and Gourry. Shiran's color is lavender with silver at the tips, sort of like a spherical pincushion.
Knid asks: 'does the jewel continue to exert an influence for a time?'
No, it only works on you if you're touching it. Zel is acting on his own with Amelia now, feeling more free than he ever has to be able to let his gentler side show. As for The Flight of Dragons and how it was based on the book The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson, yes, I've read it. And the hardcover book The Flight of Dragons, which was basically a physics/science lesson on dragons' anatomy and flight ability, which was explained less technically-and was therefore less tedious for me to follow-in the movie. I recall being disappointed with The Dragon and the George. I can't really remember the plot very well, but I think Dickson's writing style didn't appeal to me, and I believe his main (human) character was hard to identify with, so I couldn't bring myself to care much about him. Or maybe it's because I'm old enough to have watched the show Three's Company. One of the actors from that show voiced the main dragon character in the movie, and I've always been very fond of Peter the Dragon because of that.
Shahrezad1-Oh, you noticed about the timing of the girls' periods. And you're right, Lina gets hers after Amelia finishes hers.
Amelia would have used 'daisuke' in Japanese when she said 'I love you' in this chapter. I thought about having Zel say it back to her, but even if it was more common than it is in Japan, somehow I see Zel as the kind of guy who has a hard time with that phrase.
The 'bad memories' Lina was talking about is the time when Zelgadis nearly drowned-chapter 13, I believe.
This chapter's title is both a description of where the Woodwind flew and a pun on the characters' behavior-can anyone guess why they're all acting so weird?
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