Only Stone on the Outside

by Dreamsinger

Only Stone on the Outside

by Dreamsinger

2003I 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 for minor swearing

Note: Ame- a short version of Amelia's name, pronounced AH-may. Also means 'sweet' or 'sweet foods' in Japanese.

Chapter Seventy-Five: Disaster Strikes!

"Do something, Lina! We're falling!" Gourry yelled.

Lina opened her mouth to ask him what he expected her to do without her magic, but just then a smelly clod of fresh horse manure zipped by her head, and she jerked away in reaction, spinning around in midair. Her long hair got blocked most of her vision, but through the rippling red-gold strands she caught sight of something cream-colored.

"Amelia? Amelia!" The petite sorceress grabbed hold of the nearest section of wall and used it as a push-off to fling herself through the air toward the dark-haired princess, who floated limply in the center of the supply area, surrounded by assorted clothing from one of the packs, which had somehow gotten open. The girl's forehead was streaked with bright red blood, trickling a strand of crimson pearls into the air.

Gourry helped her do a quick check of Amelia's injuries. "Only got knocked out, I think," Lina sighed gratefully, flinging her bright hair out of her eyes, and then shouted over the wind, "Here, Gourry, you hang onto her and try to wake her up while I go see what happened to Zel. One of them's got to fly this ship!"

The swordsman nodded grimly, his long yellow hair swirling in the air.

Lina pushed off from Gourry and used the momentum to 'swim' for the violently flapping curtain that separated the front from the rest of the ship. As she reached it, it smacked her in the face several times before she could grab it, triggering her famous fury, and she growled and tore the thing halfway off its nails and shoved it aside.

Zelgadis and Shiran were there, outlined by dim light coming through the front window, which showed that they'd already passed down into the cloud layer again. Alarmed, Lina looked desperately at Zelgadis, noting instantly that he was unconscious. His clothing and Shiran's fur were fluttering like mad, his limbs swaying loosely in the wind, which, although strong, wasn't quite as fierce here with three walls to block some of its force.

All of the walls were creaking and groaning under the tremendous force the wind was exerting on them. Lina eyed the window tensely. I hope that glass doesn't shatter! This craft wasn't designed to fly in conditions like these!

Shiran stared at her with wild glowing green eyes as Lina propelled herself toward the chimera. One of his randomly waving hands managed to whack her on the shoulder before she could dodge it. "Ow! Quit that, you jerk!" She nearly hit him back, but managed to clamp down on her fury before she did unnecessary damage to herself.

"What happened to him, girl?" Lina asked the dragonwolf, wishing the beast could answer. The dragonwolf gave a low howl that Lina had no trouble interpreting as He's hurt-and I don't like this!

Lina gave the stone man a quick once-over. "He doesn't look injured, just knocked out... Hey, did the gem do this to him?"

Just then a new sound was added to the already deafening scream of the wind-the rumble of heavy rain pouring down on them. Suddenly a flash of blinding white light burst in the air all around them as an earsplitting crash of thunder shook her very bones. Shiran gave a howl of fear, and Lina could hear the others yowling as well, but she couldn't blame them, for she too was screaming, sick with terror at being literally caught in a thunderstorm without her magic, and utterly helpless.

Just then Zelgadis jerked, his eyes flying open to look wildly up at her. "What-"

Lina ignored her brief flash of relief that he was all right in favor of the current crisis. "Never mind the questions; just fly this damn ship!" she shrieked at him, shaking him violently by the front of his tunic.

Helplessly his arms and legs flailed in midair, trying to find a purchase. "Let go, Lina!" he yelped.

She gave him one more shake for good measure, then growled and shoved him away from her. The stone man flew backward, colliding with one of the walls with a satisfying thud.

Even as the hot-tempered sorceress smirked smugly at her success in punishing him for whatever he'd done to let the Woodwind get into such a situation, a jolt of alarm struck her as she realized, No! I'm heading right for the open side!

Something red fluttered out of the corner of her eye and she snatched at it, managing to snag it as she sailed past. The stiff, heavy fabric slid through her fingers and she panicked and dug her fingernails into it, and finally jerked painfully to a stop. Lina found that she was clutching the door-curtain she'd torn earlier, swinging from it like a kite as she looked into the back of the ship.

She was nearly drowned by the deluge-water was not so much falling in as being driven in by the shrieking winds, and most of the cloth 'roof' was gone. Gourry was holding the still-unconscious Amelia around the waist, both of them soaking wet, with clinging clothes and stringy wet hair that streamed water as the wind raked cold fingers over them.

Lina felt her mouth drop open. What the... ? The swordsman was wearing what looked like Amelia's pink ball gown over his usual blue outfit-the very gown that Zelgadis had worn during the rescue from Ponmar's cave. She started to laugh, but then choked as she noticed that the arm holding Amelia had the oddest of adornments: several pairs of girls' white panties, and even a couple of large bras that could only belong to Amelia. Why that- "What are you doing, Gourry?" she bellowed, red-faced.

Startled, Gourry looked over at her. "Help me, Lina!" he shouted over the wind, his face showing no signs of embarrassment or guilt.

What? Blinking, Lina took another look at the situation in front of her. The blonde swordsman was clinging to the wall of Sunshine's stall with both legs like a bucking bronco rider, clutching Amelia with one arm and holding out his other toward Sunshine, trying to soothe the panicky horse, who was still neighing and kicking as she fought vainly to regain her footing. Every now and then she made contact with one of the walls-thankfully, the stall was larger than average or the horse might really have injured herself-but each time Sunshine's kick would merely shove her away from the potential support.

Lina could see the mare's wet white mane whipping Gourry across the eyes, but he merely lowered his head and kept trying to reach for the horse, as if his touch could calm her, or at least stop her random gyrations. Lina forgot about her fiance's strange fashion sense, afraid for both of them. Watch it, Gourry! Oh, gods, I hope she doesn't break a leg!

The petite sorceress quickly climbed up the curtain, hand over hand, until she could reach the wood that supported it, then used the solid surface to push off, straight down toward the mare's stall. She held out her hands. "Sleeping!" she cried, putting every last bit of power she possessed into it.

Almost instantly the horse's eyes glazed, and she gradually grew still. Lina breathed a huge sigh of relief. It's a good thing that a sleep spell generally uses no more magic than a light spell. It's one of the few I can still cast at this time of the month.

The desperate look in Gourry's eyes eased noticeably, and he reached for her with his free arm, catching her hold of her hand and anchoring her from flying off again. Just as he opened his mouth to ask her a question, the wind level toned down, and slowly the floor came up under them, gradually tilting so that it was level by the time it reached them. The entire ship groaned with the effort, and Lina could hear the alarming sounds of wood cracking and snapping all over the place.

Sunshine settled to the floor on her side, and Gourry turned to his sorceress, releasing her hand. "What happened, Lina?"

Lina crouched on her hands and knees, panting and shivering from the adrenalin in her system, wanting to go back and beat Zelgadis' head in. "I don't know, but I'm damned sure gonna find out!"

She got to her feet and turned around to see the stone man on one knee in front of the window, clutching the gem to his chest in one hand, bracing himself against the floor with the other. He looked terrible.

"What the hell was that?" she yelled, darting toward him.

Slowly the chimera looked back at her, his eyes showing his bewilderment. "I don't know... "

SCHPOW!

Lina screeched in abject terror as the entire front of the Woodwind lit up in a spectacular flash of light, outlining the staggering chimera in blinding silver-white brilliance, accompanied by the most horrendous blast she had ever heard outside of a Dragon Slave.

Then Zelgadis was stumbling toward her, saying hoarsely, "That was a close one! We've got to get out-"

SCHPOW!-KSHH! Before she even had time to scream, Lina found herself clutched in a bruising stone embrace, her face pressed painfully into the chimera's hard stone chest as a second lightning bolt shattered the front window, sending dozens of jagged glass shards flying all over the place. The Woodwind dipped and rocked, and Lina expected to feel the bottom drop out of her stomach again, but somehow Zelgadis managed to keep them airborne.

Powerful gusts of wet-smelling wind began to wash over her, and she looked up, horrified, to see that the entire front wall was gone, as well as part of the roof and supporting walls. The odor of burning wood choked the air, bringing her attention to the orange tongues of flame that were crawling along the shattered remains of the walls and floorboards, heading in their direction. The poor Woodwind groaned and cried out with the effort to hold together, but the crack of wood splitting and tearing said that it was a losing battle.

"Are you all right?" Zelgadis shouted at her over the wind.

She nodded, suddenly aware of the stings from a dozen cuts, mainly on her legs, but after glancing down she decided that none of them were serious. If Zelgadis hadn't shielded her with his own body, she might have been sliced to ribbons. "Thanks!" she said belatedly.

"This ship's not going to last much longer!" Zelgadis pulled her with him by the arm as he strode through what had once been the demarcation between the front and back rooms. Only a shred of the original bright cloth that had saved her life remained, waterlogged and sad, hanging in the upper corner.

The central/back area offered no protection from the driving rain, but at least the area near the stall wall offered a bit of protection from the fierce winds which howled their way right through the roof and the empty middle of the craft.

Then she realized that Gourry and Amelia were nowhere to be seen. "Gourry!" Lina shrieked, suddenly terrified that he had fallen out of one of the sides of the Woodwind.

"What?" A wet blonde head adorned with strands of hay popped up from behind the stall wall. The swordsman wore his typical 'bewildered' expression, the one that Lina could never decide if she found more adorable or annoying. She put a hand to her small bosom, breathing a sigh of relief, too glad to see him to be angry at how much he'd scared her.

"Is Amelia with you?" Zelgadis looked as frightened as she had been.

Shiran's head appeared, her glowing emerald eyes displaying her gladness that her bonded one was all right, her damp lavender mane sticking up wildly all over the place as Gourry answered, "Yeah, she's still unconscious, but she's okay."

"Uncon-"

"No time for explanations." Lina shrugged the chimera's hand off of her arm, taking a good strong grip on the top of the wooden wall for support. "How are we going to get down?"

The stone man shook his head as if trying to regain his scrambled wits, rubbing a hand over his face with an odd scraping/tapping sound, the sound of stone on stone. "I'm already trying to descend, but this wind is so strong that I feel like it's trying to pull the Woodwind away from me. It's all I can do to keep us level-and that last lightning bolt nearly did us in."

"Lightning?" Gourry yelped. "Was that was those big scary crashes were?"

"Yeah," Lina said absently, distracted by the smell of smoke. We've got to get ready to leave.

The swordsman looked beyond her, into what had once been the front room. "Lina! We're on fire!"

"I know that! Okay-listen, Gourry-I'll look after Amelia while you start gathering up our supplies. We might have to jump ship."

"We might have to what?"

Lina gave a him fierce look, her ruby eyes smoldering, and the large man jumped to his feet and leaped over the wall of the stall in hasty obedience, his pink dress flying. Nobody messed with Lina when she was in that mood!

She turned to Zelgadis, who seemed a bit distracted by the pink chiffon. "Get us down. Now."

He nodded, reaching out to take hold of the stall wall for support as his eyes narrowed in concentration. "I'll try a spiraling motion-it may help us to cut through the wind better."

Lina used the gate to enter the stall, wincing as another lightning bolt flashed, but this time the boom of thunder was further away. Already she was getting used to the Woodwind's creaking and groaning, tuning it out. Sunshine lay on her side on the wet bare wooden floor, with Amelia curled in a ball next to her, her head still bleeding, but not as badly. Shiran was sitting next to her bonded one, cleaning the cut on the girl's forehead with her long pink tongue as tenderly as any mother dog-or dragonwolf-would.

Lina wrinkled her nose. Eww.

She knelt down and reached out to place a hand over the younger girl's forehead, trying to perform a healing spell, but except for a slight tingle, nothing happened. I had to use too much power on Sunshine. The diminutive sorceress looked up, spotting a large scrap of material caught in a crack of the stall wall, and pulled it down. The blue fabric was wet, but it was clean enough to make a good bandage for the princess' head.

Shiran whined deep in her throat, and Lina looked up to see two soulful emerald eyes peering down at her. "Don't worry, Shiran," she said, stroking a hand through the dragonwolf's storm-tossed purple mane. "She'll wake up soon. You'll see." I hope.

Gourry tossed the waterlogged packs in to her. "That's everything, Lina," he said, setting a hand on the top of the wall and bounding over it, not bothering with the gate. Shiran moved aside to make room for the tall swordsman, who crouched on the floor, the torn pink gown trailing, his eyes nervously glancing around as if he expected the boards to drop out from under them all at any moment.

Lina couldn't resist. "Nice dress, Gourry," she smirked, "-and look! It's even your color! But are you sure the panties are going to fit?"

The blonde swordsman glanced down at himself and gave a wordless exclamation, then hurriedly stripped off the offending garments as the redhead snickered at him. "I couldn't reach her pack, okay?" He scowled at her mirth. "And I needed my hands free to handle Amelia and Sunshine."

As the diminutive sorceress continued to laugh-she needed to, to release some of the tension bubbling and fizzing within her-Gourry opened one of the packs and donned his armor. This was probably not the smartest thing to do in the middle of a thunderstorm, but since he would need it after they got back down on the ground anyway, it was a choice between wear it or carry it. "Come on, Lina, quit laughing, will you?"

The Woodwind was constantly shifting, sliding sideways or backward, tilting and dipping like a boat in a stormy sea-which it was, in a way. Lina could see Zelgadis' head and shoulders from where she knelt, and he looked both grim and noble as he fought the stormwinds to bring them down safely. Her mirth abated. It's at times like these when I know what Amelia sees in him. He'd determined to save us all. She allowed herself to relax slightly.

Too soon.

SCHPOW! The ship lurched violently as a huge yellow lightning bolt shot down through the nonexistent roof, striking the floor of the supply area with such force that wood shattered and flew, impaling anything not made of stone.

Lina was in shock, staring a shard of wood that was an inch away from her nose as it protruded from the wall of the stall. Gourry began howling in terror, and Shiran joined him, her wild voice sending shivers up the redhead's spine, adding to the surrealistic feeling that had taken over her mind.

Almost idly, she watched as a large crack grew along the floor, right down the center of the ship, slowly bisecting the floor and the wall. The wind whistled up through the widening crack, and vaguely she wondered why there was something wrong with that, when a voice that she recognized as Zelgadis' cried out, "Rei Wing!"

Something happened. The rain stopped. The wind stopped too, its absence so abrupt that she fell over, having become used to bracing herself against it. Someone else fell on top of her, knocking the breath out of her, and for a long moment she could only lay there, half-conscious, choking and gasping against the pressure that kept her from filling her lungs.

"Sorry, Lina." Gourry's voice. The pressure lifted, and she felt hands helping her up, but the world had grayed out and she couldn't see at first.

Eventually her head cleared, and the diminutive sorceress discovered she was being held in Gourry's lap, with his concerned face hovering over hers. "You okay, Lina?"

She groaned, feeling the aches and pains from the multiple cuts and bruises she'd received. "Yeah... I'll live."

Her fiance looked relieved. "Thank goodness."

Before she could stop him, he pulled her close, hugging her to his chest. Ow-damn armor. Still, having his arms around her was comforting... until she remembered that they were not alone. Instantly she pushed away from the swordsman, looking around wildly, expecting to see Zelgadis smirking at them-and felt her eyes bulge at the sight that greeted them.

Sunshine's slumbering golden bulk was taking up most of the available room in the Rei Wing bubble, with Shiran and the supply packs half on top of her, but what drew Lina's attention was the pair beyond them. The stone man was sitting on the other side of the horse, oblivious to everything except the small dark-haired girl cuddled tenderly in his lap. As Lina watched, he lifted his hand up to stroke Amelia's cheek, gently brushing her midnight locks from her face, then moved his fingers to touch the piece of blue cloth that Lina had tied around the girl's head as a makeshift bandage.

"Amelia? Ame... Please, wake up." His tone was both loving and worried, and the anxious, caring look on his face brought a lump to Lina's throat. "I need you to wake up now. Can you hear me, Amelia?"

The petite sorceress felt her eyes sting with tears I've never seen Zelgadis look so... so vulnerable. So concerned. So... in love. All thoughts of teasing the chimera died aborning. "She'll be okay, Zel," Lina murmured reassuringly. "Give her some time."

To his credit, the stone man showed no embarrassment at being seen in such a compromising situation. "What happened to her?" he asked quietly, his gaze never leaving her face.

Gourry shifted slightly underneath Lina. "We don't know, exactly. I was kissing Lina and then the next thing I knew we were falling and Amelia's head was bleeding and-"

"I did a dumb thing."

Lina, her face blazing, stopped in the middle of elbowing her blabbermouth fiance for his indiscretion as the Seyrune princess spoke.

"Amelia!" Zelgadis' face broke into a glad smile, and again Lina was stunned at the transformation. He looks like a different man.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

Amelia began to nod, winced, and answered, "I think so. My head hurts something awful, but I don't think anything's broken."

Zelgadis let out a visible sigh of relief. "Don't scare me like that. You've been hurt too many times on this gods-forsaken journey... "

Curious, Lina interrupted him. "What did you mean, 'a dumb thing'?"

A small flush appeared on the younger girl's nose. "Oh... when I woke up and realized that we were falling I cast Levitation. I wasn't thinking about how the Woodwind was falling around me too, so when I stopped, it didn't. Pretty dumb, huh?"

"... Not that stupid."

All eyes turned to the chimera, who put a sheepish hand behind his head. "I did the same thing."

After a long moment, Lina admitted, "Me too," and all three of them exchanged embarrassed grimaces. "It's instinctive, you know? If my powers hadn't been out of commission I'd probably have ended up like you guys."

Gourry piped up, "See, sometimes not having magic is a good thing!" He chuckled at his own cleverness.

Lina smacked him.

Author's Notes: For those of you clever readers who wondered, yes, the title for this chapter has two meanings. I used it as a pun for the phrase 'lightning strikes'. Foreshadowing, you know?

Sylver-Ajah asks: I was a bit confused at the end of this chapter...you said that Amelia and Gourry passed out, but then they were just awake right after?

I put in an explanation for that-they were all awakened by the pain of being struck with flying objects. The line that starts out 'Screams reverberated throughout the Woodwind'.

Ishy-chan comments: 'Though honestly I can't see Zel being as verbally forward about his amorous thoughts as you've portrayed him'

I base this on Zelgadis' personality-when he decides to devote himself to something, he's very gung-ho about it. There's a scene in Next where he voluntarily begins to dress up like a woman in order to get a chance to look at a copy of the Claire Bible, and yet, in another episode where Lina makes him dress up, he fights it every step of the way, so really it comes down to whether he wants to do whatever it is. If he decides 'I love Amelia and I want her to know it, because she deserves to after all she's done for me' then he will make the extra effort to say nice things to her.

-Oh, and in chapter 74 where he makes the comment about 'looking at more than just Amelia's hair', I was going for a semi-drunk comment, since he was suffering from oxygen deprivation at the time. I figured it was a little more forward, as you said, than he would normally be.

Jessiejames says: Omaesan is the Japanese word meaning 'you' or 'my dear'.

Thanks, Jessiejames. Another helpful fan, Aino-kaachan, said 'I actually don't think there are any widespread pet names that Japanese husbands would use for their wives. The "you" word they commonly use is "omae", but that is not really an endearment - it is a very straightforward way of saying "you", devoid of any softening politeness; which, in the Japanese culture, does make it either rude or intimate. Curious language, it is.'

If you add -san to 'omae' I'm guessing you add back in the politeness. I've decided to use 'Dearest' and 'Ame' as Zel's intimate words. I would guess that 'Dearest' might translate as 'omae-san', so I guess we're both thinking along the same lines. 'Dearest' sounds a little more old-fashioned and formal than plain 'dear', which makes it charming, in my eyes. (And ears.)

Guess what? I just saw Slayers Premium, the newest Slayers movie. It's only 34 minutes long, so it can hardly even be called a movie, but I liked it. The main storyline was kind of stupid, but I did like the humorous bits- Gourry- 'Lina, I love you,' Lina- 'What does that mean?' -and how we got to see Amelia traveling alone with Zelgadis. If I recall, someone said that this movie takes place between two season of Slayers, and by the amount of 'flat-chested' Lina jokes and Amelia's over-the-top behavior I'd say that it was right after the first season. (By season three Amelia had matured a lot and they hardly had any jokes, as I recall.) Zel is treating Amelia like an overzealous little sister, someone to be looked after. It's cute.

I watched it at a friend's house, so I only got to hear the English voice track. They got Crispin Freeman to do Zelgadis again, which was awesome, and the people who played Gourry and Amelia were fine, but I really missed Lisa Ortiz' voice for Lina. I've seen the other Slayers movies, so I know it's the same voice actress as those, but she just doesn't have that fearsome quality that the TV-series Lina has when she gets royally ticked off.

It's ten bucks at Best Buy, at least in my part of New Hampshire, USA, and when I checked on ebay (the cheapest place I know of to buy anime online) it started at $8.00 and went up from there, so with shipping it'll cost the same as at Best Buy.

In the extras there's an interview with Crispin Freeman about voicing Zel after so many years, after his style has grown and changed. It may not interest some of you, but since Crispin is around my age, I guess I'm more willing to listen to him talk, if only to compare his speech patterns to Zel's. I did notice that in the beginning of the movie Zel's voice sounded a little lighter than it used to be, but soon enough it deepened to what I recognize most clearly as 'Zelgadis'.

Also, I rather like the way the characters were drawn in manga-style. Zel's face is less classically 'beautiful', but more human, more expressive, with much larger blue eyes, and I find I like the purplish color of Amelia's hair better than black.

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