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 for mild language
Note: Ame- a short version of Amelia's name, pronounced AH-may. Also means 'sweet' or 'sweet foods' in Japanese.
Baritone- a male voice of medium range, between tenor and bass
Chapter Seventy-Six: Bubbles and Lullabies
In the midst of a howling thunderstorm, a small magic orb slowly descended. To all appearances it was as delicate as a soap bubble, but no matter how ruthlessly the wind gusts assaulted it, they could not break it.
Inside, conditions were stable but crowded, with the palomino mare Sunshine taking up most of the room. Gourry sat between her front and back legs with Lina in his lap, Shiran and their packs were draped here and there over the golden body, and Zelgadis was wedged between the mare's back and the outer wall, holding Amelia safe in his lap.
Amelia looked up at Zelgadis, feeling the stirrings of nostalgia. Her head ached, and the hard stone arms and legs under her body were somewhat uncomfortable, but their touch was familiar-and welcome-and their clothing did provide some padding. She could see his profile silhouetted against the dark stormclouds swirling outside of the Rei Wing bubble, looking noble, yet pensive.
A yellow lightning bolt flashed in the distance, followed almost immediately by a muffled boom.
She blushed involuntarily as he looked down at her, his face concerned. "Amelia, do you feel strong enough to cast a healing spell on yourself while I get us back down to the ground?"
An instant sense of déjà vu swept over her.
The chimera continued, "... If you don't, just try to rest until we land, and then I'll take care of you. The storm is moving east, so I'm taking us down at a westward slant. Hopefully, we'll be out of this rain by the time we touch down."
He sounds so gentle... just like that time-
"Amelia? What's wrong?" Zelgadis asked, making her realize that she was staring at him.
"Oh-n-nothing-I just- This is just like that time when we were in the ghost-city of Sairaag, when we were being chased by the zombies and I got hit on the head and you picked me up and carried me. You said the same thing, sort of, about me casting Healing while you carried me to safety in your strong arms... "
"Did I?" Zelgadis looked as if he was trying to remember.
Amelia reached up to touch his face, her sapphire eyes shimmering. "I remember... because that was when I first fell in love with you."
She watched as his face softened, and then he gave her the tender smile that was hers alone. "I'm sorry it took me so long to come around."
Amelia began to lose herself in his blue-green gaze, but just then Lina noisily cleared her throat, reminding the couple that they had an audience. "So how's your head, Amelia?"
Amelia felt a blush appear over her nose as she turned to look at her red-haired friend, and winced as the motion made the throbbing in her head increase. "Ooo, it hurts... " she whimpered, and reached out a hand toward her forehead, intending to cast Healing, but the chimera's next words stopped her.
"Don't strain yourself." Zelgadis gave her a worried look. "We'll be down soon-it won't be long."
I can still do a healing spell. Amelia almost spoke aloud, but then a small part of her mind pictured Zelgadis leaning over her, casting the cool soothing light that took away one's pain... The only time I've ever had someone else cast Healing on me is when I was unconscious. I wonder, can you feel the other person who's doing it? She resolved to bear with the pain-her curiosity was far more insistent.
Amelia closed her eyes to try to get some rest. For a long while the only sounds were the shrieks and wails of the wind outside of their small haven, which slid here and there as the gusts tried to play ball with them, and Amelia was thankful that she would only have to bear with it for a few more minutes. I think I'm starting to feel a little queasy...
"What are we going to do now, Zel?" Lina asked quietly.
Amelia opened her eyes-and instantly shut them, as the light-dim though it was-sent shooting pains through her head.
"I don't know. We can't Rei Wing home-this bubble's just too small. Even if I could expand the size, we can't keep Sunshine asleep for days."
"Why not?" Gourry asked.
"Because horses need to stand upright. Lying down too much isn't good for anybody, really-fluid tends to collect in the lungs, and then you've got a case of pneumonia on your hands."
"Really?" Gourry sounded interested.
Amelia felt the stone man's body shift slightly, as if he had nodded his head. "I used to own horses... I spent a lot of time hanging around the stables when I was a boy."
"Oh, if only we hadn't gotten sidetracked!" Lina sounded frustrated. "That damn Ponmar... "
"I admit his timing could have been better, but it wasn't his fault someone led him to believe that you were his enemy, Lina," Zelgadis pointed out.
Amelia smiled a little. Just what I was going to say. He sounds so good, coming to Mister Ponmar's defense like that! I'm proud of him.
Lina growled, and said, "Well, we can't possibly make it to Seyrune on foot."
"How do you know? Do you know how much further we have to go?"
There was silence. "... Not exactly. Do you?"
"I think I recognized a town I know... but things look so different from the air. I'm not really sure, either, but I think the first thing we need to do is establish where we are. Once we know how long it will take us to get to Seyrune, we can decide what to do from there."
I love it when he takes charge! the princess thought happily.
Lina argued, "Suppose we're more than a week from Seyrune? You can't miss that deadline."
Now the chimera was silent.
"What if we left Sunshine behind? We could find someone to look after her... "
"No!" Amelia jumped at the chimera's sharp tone. "Amelia's already lost one horse on this journey. I felt it, remember? I won't let her lose Sunshine, too."
Amelia was touched by his consideration of her feelings. Sunny's is the best horse I've ever owned, and besides, Mister Sanre sold his brother's horse to me because he and Rilloban believed that I would give her a good home. I can't disappoint them.
An awkward silence ensued, until Lina added, "I didn't mean for good. We'd come back to get her..."
"How about if the rest of you went ahead, and I took Sunny and followed you on foot?" Gourry suggested. "I don't like flying anyway, and you don't really need me to help with the cure, since I can't do magic-"
"No!" Now it was Lina who was vehement. "I'm not leaving you behind. That's final!"
Again, everyone was quiet as they each realized the extent of the situation and each others' feelings on the subject. "... Let's take this one step at a time, all right?" Zelgadis suggested. "We'll worry about all of this if and when we need to. For now, we need to look for a safe place to land. I need a good spot to tend to Amelia."
"How about that clearing over there?" Gourry asked. "See, by that little stream."
"I see it." Zelgadis' arms tightened around her. "Hold on, everyone."
The landing was rougher than usual, but Amelia clenched her teeth and managed to keep from yelping in pain as the bubble dissolved and they dropped to the ground. It was still raining, by the feel of it, but markedly less; a drizzle instead of a deluge. Zelgadis lifted her from his lap and laid her down on what felt like wet grass. "Amelia?"
The light rain sprinkling on her face made her think of tears, and she opened her eyes, squinting against the dim light to see her chimera bending over her. She smiled up at him, wanting to calm the concerned flicker in his eyes. "I'm okay."
Zelgadis felt a stab of alarm. That's what she said the last time. When the Hellmaster snuffed out her life, and she died in my arms... Already he was holding out his hands over her forehead as he'd been yearning to do ever since he'd seen her white, suffering face, letting the healing light emerge, bathing her face in its radiance. "Recovery."
"Mmm... " The lines of pain eased from her face, and she smiled up at him, feeling her entire body relax. "That feels so good... " I can just barely sense him... and that could be from the Star Spheres. Oh, well, I don't mind... it feels good to have someone take care of me once in a while.
As the young girl relaxed under the tender ministrations of her attentive chimera, she began to think about the conversation she'd overheard. She hadn't meant to feign sleep-the conversation had been so interesting that she'd forgotten that the others hadn't known she was awake-but she was glad to know that Zelgadis was showing the kind of judgment that rulers needed.
Not that I had any doubts... but a ruler needs to be aware of people's needs, and he needs to be able to prioritize tasks, and to have patience in difficult situations. She smiled wryly. I'm still working on that last one myself.
Zelgadis did not stop when the injury on her forehead was gone, moving his slender hands in graceful arcs over the rest of her body, soothing away all of her other minor aches and pains. Finally he asked, "Does it still hurt?"
Slowly the young princess moved her head from side to side, testing for twinges. "No... I'm fine now." The stone man held out a hand to her, and she took it gladly and used his support to pull herself to a sitting position, then let go and stretched her arms over her head, glad to be free of her formerly pain-tense muscles. She pulled off the damp cloth bandage, now free of blood, since it had all been absorbed back into her body
"What happened to us, anyway?" She stood up and looked around the little clearing, watching the trees' leaves flutter in the light breeze that brushed past her ears, blowing loose strands of her raven hair into her eyes. She reached up to touch the hair on the top of her head. Good-the ribbon Zelgadis tied is still there. I would have hated to lose it, after that time we spent together...
"That's what I'd like to know!" Lina put her hands on her slender hips. "For a while I felt like I was drunk or something-everything was funny-and then I realized that I'd been having a hard time breathing and I looked at Gourry and his lips were blue."
"Pressure." Everyone turned to stare at the chimera, who closed his eyes, his face grim. "I'm such a fool. I never thought about the change in pressure at that altitude-and after all the traveling I've done-"
"Altitude-of course! Like how the air's thinner at the top of a high mountain!" Lina grimaced. "I can't believe I didn't remember that."
Amelia looked back and forth between them. Lina was merely frustrated, but for some reason Zelgadis seemed to be taking it hard. A blue shadow darkened his face, and his expression grew hard, bitter, full of the self-condemnation that she abhorred seeing in him. It's not his fault!
"Don't feel bad," Amelia said to both of them after a moment. "I've heard of it too, but I didn't recognize the symptoms either. None of the mountains we've ever climbed were high enough to have to worry about the altitude... and when Miss Filia flew us she went so fast that we didn't have much of a chance to be affected. How could we know?"
"Yes, but now look at us-we've lost the Woodwind." Zelgadis clenched his fists at his sides.
Yes-her chimera was blaming himself for that loss. Amelia recognized the signs; he was heading into a major brooding session. But it isn't his fault-and we don't have time for that. With the Woodwind gone we can't use the gem to fly over obstacles-we're going to have to travel on foot. We might not make it in time. She opened her mouth to defend him from himself, but Lina spoke first.
"Well, what's gone is gone, and there's no use crying about it now." She flipped her long red-gold hair over her shoulder and gave them all her trademark cocky grin. "Come on, guys, we've got to get moving if we want these two lovebirds to make it to the altar in time!"
Even as Amelia exchanged embarrassed glances with Zelgadis-who had the cutest pink blush over his nose-she also mentally thanked her friend for distracting the stone man. Following Lina's bold example, the princess struck a dramatic pose, her index finger thrust up toward the sky, shouting in a singsong tone, "Through storm and wind and cold and rain, we will make it home again!"
Wow, I'm a poet. She grinned at Zelgadis, doing her best to infuse him with positive spirit.
"Hey, I like that." Gourry smiled and repeated her words, and then, to the young princess' astonishment, began to sing them in a clear, warm baritone.
Amelia blinked. "Wow, Mister Gourry, you have a really good singing voice!"
"You should hear him sing lullabi-" Lina cut herself off.
All eyes turned toward the petite sorceress, who turned nearly as red as her hair. "Miss Lina, does Mister Gourry sing you lullabies?" Amelia asked, surprised.
Lina avoided her gaze, still blushing up a storm, and finally muttered, "Yeah-but only because I was so sick I couldn't sleep!"
"Was this back when you were imprisoned together?" Zelgadis asked, and when Amelia looked at him she caught the tiniest hint of a smile at the corner of his lips.
Inwardly she cheered. Thank goodness; he's feeling better.
"Mm." Gourry nodded. "But now every now and then she asks me to sing to her-usually in Sunny's stall-"
Suddenly the tall swordsman was cringing in front of the tiny woman, who looked ready to beat his head in. "What'd I do now?"
His fear triggered Amelia's protective instincts. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about, Miss Lina. I think it's wonderful that Mister Gourry sings to you, even if it's just lullabies."
Lina's gave her a fierce glare, her ruby eyes flashing, and Amelia winced, bracing herself for a headlock. What did I say?
"You've got a very good voice, though, Gourry," Zelgadis broke in, smoothly dispelling the tension as he casually stepped in between the two girls. "Do you know any songs other than lullabies?"
Amelia blinked. Ah. I thought Miss Lina asked him to sing lullabies because she liked them, but I guess they embarrass her.
"If you want... I could teach you some."
Now all three of them looked at the stone man with wide eyes. "I thought you hated singing!" Lina exclaimed.
"No, I just don't like singing in front of an audience," Zelgadis said, averting his gaze. "At one time I thought I might become a minstrel, but I never enjoyed performing for large groups, so.."
"A minstrel?" Both girls gave him identical looks of astonishment.
"Yes-what of it?" The chimera's tone was definitely defensive.
"So that's why you play the guiolin so beautifully!" Amelia was delighted. "I'm so glad I gave you that guiolin... When you played for me, it was the most wonderful sound in the world... " She clasped her hands in front of her chest as a sudden memory returned. "You even promised me you'd come back and play it for me again, remember?"
Zelgadis was suddenly back in the little chamber where she had presented him with the most perfectly constructed guiolin he'd ever seen, all elegant lines and grace, softly shining with a warm golden hue. He remembered the beatific smile on her face as she had danced to his melody, allowing his music to guide her feet and body in a gentle, flowing pattern of happiness.
Happiness. I was happy. For the first time in months, I could smile, even laugh, all because of Amelia. And Lina, and Gourry... all of them have been trying their hardest to help me. Teaching Gourry a few songs is the least I can do.
Amelia was still looking at him expectantly, and he realized that he had not answered her question. "I remember." I also remember what happened afterward... Amelia's kiss, and her gift of the wa-the Star Sphere, which ended up saving both of our lives... Unconsciously he
deepened his gaze as he looked into the princess' eyes, and saw that she was remembering too. One of her hands came up to cover the large metal sphere on her other wrist.
Amelia looked up into the blue-green gaze of the handsome stone man, and felt her chest tighten. His eyes are so... compelling, like magnets. Back when I gave him the Sphere, he looked into my eyes, and I was so full of love that I just had to kiss him...
"Well anyway, Zelgadis, I'd really like to learn some new songs," Gourry said, breaking them out of their trance. Both of them blushed and turned away from each other as the tall swordsman continued ruefully, "But I'm not exactly the best student. Lina's always telling me how dumb I am... "
There was an awkward silence. Everyone knew of the swordsman's notoriously short attention span and tendency to fall asleep when Lina was explaining things to him, but no one wanted to be rude enough to agree with him. Likewise, none of them wanted to say that he was a good student, because the lie would be obvious.
"You never know, Gourry," Zelgadis smiled slightly. "Learning music is different from other kinds of learning. You remembered that lullaby from your childhood, didn't you?"
"Yeah... oh, I see what you mean. Maybe having the music with the words will help me remember?"
"Great! When do we start?"
"Tonight when we make camp," Lina interrupted. "We've got to put some land behind us. Good thing the rain's let up."
Surprised, Amelia looked up to see that the petite sorceress was correct. The sky was still overcast, but to the west a thin line of blue could be seen through the grayish clouds. "Oh, good! We won't have to walk in the rain."
"But first-a little help, here?" Amelia turned to see Lina pointing toward her legs. The blue-eyed princess drew in a breath of shock as she realized that her friend's red leggings were torn in a dozen places, with pale, blood-smeared skin showing through the jagged tears. "Oh! What happened to you?" she cried, dropping to her knees and beginning a healing spell. "Recovery!"
"Oh, this? Damn window broke. If Zel hadn't blocked most of it, I've have been skewered like a pincushion."
Amelia gulped, and turned to look gratefully at the chimera-who was gone. Zelgadis!
Author's Notes: Zel couldn't heal Amelia while maintaining the Rei Wing spell, because in the Slayers world a mage can't cast two major spells at once.
Slayers Premium is basically what you'd call an extra-long filler episode. No major bad guys, no saving the world; it's basically a comedy. Not really any romance beyond a bit of blushing.
deep sea dolphin and Claudia22 let me know that Slayers Premium is set between seasons 2 and 3.
Ichiban Victory says: If you ever get the chance, you ought to check out the manga. [for Slayers Premium] The story is much better...and Amelia doesn't get blasted away for most of the story!
There's a manga? Has it been translated yet and is it in stores?
Lina Gabriev asks: I still don't understand why Gourry was in a dress
If you recall, Amelia passed out right after she opened the pack containing her extra clothes. Gourry, holding an unconscious Amelia, kept having the clothes hit him while they were in free-fall, and probably thought they would end up flying outside of the ship (remember, the sides of the Woodwind had no doors, only sheets of cloth stretched between the front and back frames of the ship) so he tried to capture all the clothes, but ended up not having enough hands, so he put the thing he considered the most important-Amelia's dress-on himself, then began adding more things as he caught them.
Ishy-chan asks: Hm... Rei Wing? Why didn't Zel cast that instead of trying to spiral down?
To be honest, I don't know if Rei Wing can be cast any larger than about six feet in diameter, but for the purposes of my story, it can't.
Wakuchan asks: How long is it expected to be?
Well, the gang arrives in Seyrune in chapter 79, and right now I'm working on chapter 81. I expect to wrap things up with about 85 chapters, as I've got the ending mostly worked out; I just haven't written it yet.
|NEXT---Chapter List---DS's Fan Art---B!'s Library---Main|