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
Chapter Eighty-Four: Women Always Have To Make A Big Deal Out Of Weddings / Stone Beauty
Andon led Zelgadis and Kerrin to another room a few doors down from the bathing room, where he presented each of them with a set of fine clothing, suitable for a ' good humor from his first water-fight in years vanished instantly as reality set in again.
He set his pile on a chair and turned his back to the other two, undoing the towel from around his waist to dry himself. I suppose no one knew who was going to be the groom, so they made outfits for both of us.
He had to take care to run the towel over his entire body, since he would not feel it if he missed any spots, so Kerrin was dressed before he was. Smartly clad in cobalt blue with white trim, his normally unruly reddish-brown hair now damp and neatly combed, Kerrin watched his older cousin and offered well-meant commentary, which only served to annoy the already cantankerous chimera.
"That shade of light blue looks good on you. It doesn't clash with your skin."
"Those slacks make you look taller. You used to be shorter, didn't you? Hey, when you're human again, I wonder who'll be taller, you or me?"
"With that towel on your head, you look like a pincushion," he chuckled. "Wow, your hair stays the same even if it's wet. You never even have to comb it. Lucky."
With each remark, the chimera's scowl grew deeper. Finally he lost his temper. "Kerrin! Please stop complimenting me!"
"Oh, did I embarrass you? Sorry." The young man took up his towel and knelt by Shiran, blotting at her lavender coat, which was giving out the strong smell of wet dog.
'Embarrassed' is hardly the word. I don't appreciate having someone point out the differences between my body and a normal human's, even if he didn't mean anything derogatory by it.
Under the watchful eyes of Andon and Kerrin, Zelgadis began to feel his old hatred of being stared at. He fumbled with the pile of clothes, trying to sort them out, flushing redly when Andon suggested that he put on the white shirt before the jacket.
"Why couldn't we have just done this without all the fuss?" he said peevishly. "This is all Amelia's fault. And Lina's. Women! They always have to make such a big deal out of weddings."
The other two men were silent.
If everything goes right, none of these clothes are even going to fit the new me, anyway. This is so useless. As Zelgadis fought to fasten what seemed like dozens of tiny white buttons, he grumbled, "And after all the worrying over whether we'd make it in time, Amelia's making us waste time like this... "
He finished with the buttons, tucked the shirt into his pale blue slacks and reached for the dark purple vest, which had a simple yet elegant geometric spiral-helix design embroidered in the corners, in shining silver thread.
Kerrin looked up from where he was kneeling next to Shiran, a disapproving frown on his usually cheerful features. "You know, Li," he said quietly, "I've heard that a girl's wedding day is one of the most important days in her life. She spends most of her youth planning it, and the rest of her life remembering it."
The stone man heard the gentle reprimand in his cousin's tone and winced. He's right. I'm doing it again, ignoring her feelings. What was it Lina said on the roof, about how Amelia looked at Martina's wedding? His fingers paused over the ornate silver vest buttons. I remember... she was so joyful, so full of dreams about when it would be her turn... He sighed, his shoulders drooping. How can I possibly disappoint her?
He finished buttoning the dark purple vest over his white shirt and reached for the pale pink strip of silk cloth that was apparently some kind of tie. As he draped it over the back of his neck, he turned to smile ruefully at his cousin. "Then I suppose it's my duty to make sure she remembers this day with happiness."
He watched his cousin's face light up in delight, so like Amelia's, and knew he had made the right choice. He smiled again, this time with a light heart.
Andon helped Zelgadis fasten the billowy tie to the front of his shirt with a small round silver tiepin, and handed him a pair of fine white leather shoes. The last item was the pale blue jacket with dark purple lapels, lined inside with shining white silk.
"You look like a prince." Kerrin beamed at him. "Come here, look!" The young man seized his older cousin by the arm and dragged him toward the full-length mirror in the corner of the room. As they approached it, Kerrin released Zelgadis and reached for the oak-framed mirror, tilting it to eliminate the reflection from the lamp. "There. You see?"
To Zelgadis' surprise, he discovered that the suit did look good on him. The lines of the close-fitting jacket flowed smoothly from his shoulders in to his trim waist, giving the appearance of a man slightly more broad-shouldered than he actually was, yet slender and athletic, well-balanced and graceful
Even his chimeric face did not seem too incongruous with such an outfit. Zelgadis stood taller, turning to the side to study himself, and could not stop a slow, shy smile from growing. Is that really me?
Somehow the man in the mirror seemed elegant, refined, even noble, despite his shining wire hair and rock-shadowed eyes. Zelgadis watched the man smile back, his expression one of pleased surprise.
I wonder how they knew my size, anyway? Amelia must have had a hand in this. He remembered how carefully she had chosen clothes for him at the festival in Tollik, and his smile turned affectionate. And she's right-this color really does complement my coloring.
"See?" Kerrin grinned at him. "I can't wait to see Miss Amelia's face when she sees you!"
As Zelgadis turned his smile on his young cousin, Andon cleared his throat and said, "The ceremony is being held in the south rose garden. Do either of you know the way?"
It occurred to Zelgadis that he needed to start learning the layout of the palace and its grounds, both by sight and by name.
Kerrin nodded. "Yes, sir."
Andon gave them a cordial, not unfriendly nod, and said, "Then, good sirs, you had best be on your way."
"Thank you, Andon," Zelgadis answered, already heading out the door, only pausing to pick up his Star Sphere from the chair and slip it into his pocket. Kerrin stopped to bow to Andon, then scampered off after his cousin.
Shiran shook herself several times as they went, slipping slightly on the polished stone floors, but Kerrin had managed to partially dry her fur while Zelgadis was dressing, so she only sent off a light spring shower instead of a monsoon. Her lavender fur resumed its usual sleek, silky appearance.
Once outside, they headed around the side of the castle. "I've had tea with Prince Philionel in that garden," Kerrin commented. "It's everybody's favorite. Not only because of the flowers, but because of the artistan."
"A famous artistan wanted to gift the royal family because of something they'd done for him, so he came here and created a really beautiful... with stones that... well, you'll see. Come on!" He set off at a jog, with Zelgadis and Shiran following him.
Stones? What does he mean, stones? Zelgadis opened his mouth to ask, then closed it, suddenly weary. Too much has happened today, on top of the last hellish week we've just been through, he thought, suddenly wanting to be alone. Even watching his cousin's eager strides made him feel tired, although it was not physical weariness so much as emotional exhaustion that had suddenly struck the chimera. I will be very glad when this is all over.
He was not too tired to notice that it was a beautiful evening. All around him, the night worked its own special kind of magic, with leaves rustling in the gentle breeze, insects filling the air with a peaceful chorus, and a sky of midnight blue with sparkling diamond stars stretching out into infinity above him. Silver moonlight bestowed a magic ambience on the world, tenderly guiding their steps as Kerrin led the way.
As they rounded a corner, Zelgadis saw a dim yellowish light coming from beyond a wall of dark, thick hedges at the other end of a very large lawn. There was a brighter spot where an opening in the hedge let out a fuzzy rectangle of light. Finally.
"That's it," Kerrin declared.
Zelgadis merely nodded. As they approached the opening in the hedge, the stone man saw that there were guards posted at regular intervals all along the bushy dark wall. Automatically he tensed, waiting for shouts of "Halt! Who goes there?" to begin, but to his surprise, the men closest to them stiffened respectfully.
"We're here," Kerrin announced, looking first at the two men standing on either side of the opening, and then over his shoulder at Zelgadis. "See what I meant about the stones?"
The chimera glanced down to where his cousin was pointing and saw a path of what looked like big stepping stones in the grass, starting from the opening in the hedge and leading inside. He shrugged, unimpressed.
"No, look closer."
Zelgadis eyed his cousin, but indulged him. They looked like ordinary stepping stones to him, flat and smooth and roughly circular, about eighteen inches each in diameter. They were in varying colors, some dark, some light...
Wait a minute. The stone man took a few steps forward, passing through the opening in the hedge to where it was brighter, staring downward with wide eyes. These aren't just different colors, they're different types of stone. That striped green stone is malachite. There's garnet... and blue sodalite, like that figurine Amelia bought in Tollik. They're all made from gemstones!
He continued walking forward, not noticing his surroundings or the fact that it was getting easier to see, following the curving path with a mild sense of wonder. Some of these are worth a lot of money. I can't believe they leave such valuable things literally lying around for anyone to steal.
His white shoes slowly passed over large disks of sparkling mint-green adventurine, golden-and-brown striped tigereye, which looked so much like highly-polished wood, soft pearly-peach moonstone, purple amethyst, warm rust-red jasper, and crystalized yellow alabaster, which always reminded Zelgadis of the inside of a lemon.
Then again, this is Seyrune. Either there aren't many criminal types here, or those who have been tempted have been caught and punished. By Amelia's hammer of justice, perhaps. He smirked. Actually, this would be a good way to test someone's integrity.
He admired the vivid red-orange carnelian, which looked like a little pool of rippling fiery-hot lava, the delicate green-and-purple crystal fluorite, the cheerful light-pink rose quartz, and last, the brilliant ruby-red spinel, gleaming lustrously among the emerald grass.
"So you like our stepping stones, do you?" came a familiar booming voice from just in front of him.
Zelgadis jerked his head up to see that he had followed the winding path of stones all the way to the center of the hedge-enclosed area. Although darkness pressed in from all sides, it was admirably held off by a ring of white pillar-candles, which had been placed around the edges of the large, circular patio in the center of the garden.
Prince Philionel stood between two of the candles, looming over the chimera with a big grin on his face. Zelgadis instinctively stepped back, and nearly stumbled as the surface under his new shoes changed from hard, smooth stone to soft, spongy grass. The chimera glanced quickly around the garden, looking for Amelia, but saw only Gourry, Xellos, and a meek-looking dark-haired man wearing a white priest's robe.
Gourry wore a deep bluish-purple suit with a pale blue vest and lapels, which contrasted nicely with his long blond hair-and complimented Zelgadis' own attire.
Gourry greeted him. "Hey, Zel, looking good."
Shiran gave the mazoku a token growl.
"What do you think of the rest of it?" Prince Phil asked.
Zelgadis ignored the question. "Where's Amelia?"
"Oh, she's not ready yet. You know how women are." Prince Phil was still beaming, showing big white teeth under his bushy black mustache. "She wants to look perfect for her wedding."
Zelgadis fumed. "I can't believe this." What is she doing? Do I have to go and drag her here? After all we've been through to get this far, she'd better not be getting cold feet now!
For all his apparent obliviousness, Prince Phil reacted instantly to the stone man's ire. "Now, now, no need to worry. She'll be here any minute now."
"She'd better be!" he snapped. I'll give her five more minutes, and then I'm going after her.
"We have time-see?" Prince Phil pointed up, over the top of the tall hedge, toward the palace roof. Silver moonlight illuminated the clock tower. It was just before eleven-thirty.
"We've only got half an hour." Zelgadis glared up at the big man, his face grim. "Are you sure that's enough time?"
"I trust my daughter." Prince Phil crossed brawny arms over his burly chest, looking as confident as ever, and cocked a bushy black eyebrow. "Don't you?"
Zelgadis sweatdropped. "Uh... of course I do." After I made such a big deal about trusting her, what else can I say? I just hope Amelia knows what she's doing!
"By the way, this is Head Priest Jarron," Prince Phil continued genially. "He'll be performing the ceremony-the other ceremony, I mean." He chuckled raucously at his own joke.
Zelgadis gave the unassuming man a cordial nod, but did not bother to speak.
An awkward silence followed. Even Xellos seemed to be taking this seriously, as no wisecracks were forthcoming.
"So... how do you like the mosaic?" came a soft voice.
"The what?" Zelgadis turned to see Kerrin standing quietly beside him, nodding his head toward the patio. The chimera glanced down at the surface under Prince Phil's formal gray boots, and blinked.
The object which he had taken for a patio was actually a work of art. As Prince Phil obligingly stepped down off of it, Zelgadis could see that someone had taken the time and effort to cut, shape and polish more of the valuable gemstones in order to create a gorgeous depiction of a flower garden.
"We use it for ceremonies," Prince Phil added, but Zelgadis barely heard him, utterly engrossed by the splendor in front of him.
The circle of thick white candles, set on the outer ring of the mosaic, provided considerable light. The base itself was a great circular disk of polished white marble, about four inches thick, inlaid with beautiful flowers of all kinds, from pastel amethyst lilacs to deep-purple amethyst orchids.
There were vibrant magenta garnet azaleas, delicate morning glories of rose quartz, peach moonstone, and white marble, and tiny citrine buttercups. Twirled through curving sprays of pale blue tourmaline delphiniums were vivid tulips of red spinel, orange carnelian, and yellow alabaster. Gorgeous roses of every shade of red, pink, peach, yellow and white flourished, and everything was intertwined with flowing vines of bright grass-green malachite with apple-green chrysoprase leaves.
In the center of the mosaic, a great tourmaline rose bloomed.
There's something familiar about that color... Zelgadis blinked. That's the same as the rose-colored light I keep seeing in dreams, the one that represents Amelia! And here... He found himself gazing down at a graceful arch of pale lavender-blue bellflowers-almost the exact color of his own wire hair. That could almost be me. As he studied the bellflowers, he decided that he liked their neat, orderly, non-frilly appearance.
Somehow he had come to associate certain colors with certain people-vaguely, he remembered a conversation with Amelia, who had described her color-oriented direction spell-and he could almost imagine seeing other people he knew, represented by certain flowers. Prince Phil-that big, bold purple iris-the king of flowers. That pair of cheerful yellow daffodils-Gourry and Kerrin, of course. And Lina-a tiger lily. How appropriate.
Zelgadis walked around the marble perimeter, awed. The entire mosaic was nearly fifteen feet across; a wonderfully vibrant portrayal of life. "It's... magnificent," he murmured.
Kerrin beamed. "I knew you'd like it. Everyone does. Prince Philionel says it took the artisan six whole months to finish it."
Zelgadis looked at Prince Phil, who nodded, smiling broadly. "Amelia was visiting his family's mine when there was a cave-in. She saved his little sister's life, and he was so grateful that he insisted on gifting us with this beautiful mosaic."
"It is... truly breathtaking." Zelgadis became conscious of the irony between the beauty of the stone mosaic and his own distasteful blue skin, which was a constant reminder of his cursed nature.
"Amelia has developed a special affinity for things made of stone in the last few years," Prince Phil commented. "Care to guess why?"
Zelgadis glanced up at the big man, who was grinning at him, and then down again as a pink flush appeared over his nose. He held a blue hand up in front of his face, turning it slowly, suddenly conscious of how Amelia might see him-as a creation of a master artisan.
Rezo was no artist, but the man was a master mage. I haven't thought about it in years, but I could have turned out much worse, a hideous twisted blob of flesh and stone, like some of his other creations... He shuddered. I suppose I should be glad I can pass for a statue. Some statues are actually quite beautiful...
He startled himself with that thought, but then forgot it as he noticed something-a small flower near the center of the mosaic. Well, what do you know? Shiran's namesake-a lavender orchid. I'll have to point that out to Amelia-
His pointed ears twitched, catching the sounds of people hurrying through grass. "Finally!" he said aloud, turning to face the opening in the hedge. Everyone else followed his lead.
"Well, it's about ti-"
He froze, his mouth open.
Before him was a shining angel, an exquisite, eminently loveable angel whose softly glimmering sapphire eyes gazed at him with such adoration that he could indeed have been a statue, so incapable of movement was he.
Author's Notes: Gomen for the long hiatus, but this is my vacation week, so look for new chapters in the coming weeks! There should only be another four or so to go...
Thanks for all the suggestions on different types of stone-I ended up doing research on both them and on all kinds of flowers, to see which kinds of stone would best suit which kinds of flowers. I wanted to have tons of flowers, so I used as many types of stone as I could.
I didn't want to get too technical with the stone-colors for the flowers-blue tourmaline is called indicolite, for example, which sounds like a carbonated soft drink to me. And red or pink tourmalines are called rubellites.
Kaeru Soyokaze asks: I love the touch with Xelloss and the earmuffs. Speaking of which...what is your personal opinion on him? I'm not really sure what to think about that guy...
I thought Xellos was hilarious in the first and second seasons, but when he showed his cruel side in season three I felt betrayed. I'd thought he was like the stereotypical trickster character, a 'Loki', but then he went from 'mischievous' to 'callus', at least in my perception. So I had a good long think about him, and my conclusions are what made up chapter 79's conversation between Amelia and Xellos. Basically, Xellos just doesn't think the same way a human does. He feels no need to preserve lives, unlike humans, who seem to be born with that common instinct. I wonder how mazoku reproduce? If there are no baby mazoku, then there would be no need for the gentler emotions at all, would there? But it would be easier to believe in cold, alien thought processes if he didn't look so very human, wouldn't it?
Miaka Kiri comments: PL, Nashua's largest mall, has a LOT of kiosks, and I work at the one that sells calanders during the holidays... What's carnelian?
You mean the Pheasant Lane Mall? I've been there. And carnelian is a semi-precious stone of an orangey color, sometimes more yellowish, sometimes more reddish. Some opaque, some clear enough to let light through. I have a clear red-orange tumbled-stone with little ripples in it-very bright and firey.
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