"Cranberry Sauce"

Part I

By Kelly M. O'Connor

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It was inevitable that the Slayers stumble into this town. The town of Cranberry was having a Holiday Pageant and as we all know. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, and Zelgadiss were drawn to embarrassing situations like mice to cheese, or flies to sticky paper, or moths to those nice sweaters of yours, or... Lina and Gourry to an all you can eat for one silver piece restaurant per se. The prize for this particular humiliating endeavor was a thousand gold and a wish a person from Cranberry's "Holiday Oracle." Hearing the words "wish" and "oracle" in the same sentence excited Zelgadiss and Amelia enough to convince them, and Lina was tempted by the one thousand gold. As for Gourry... Well in this case he was just a long for the torture ride. Zelgadiss volunteered himself as the director for a tragic retelling of a childhood fairytale, and cast Amelia in the starring role as the Princess of Frost, Solace (much to Lina's chagrin) and Gourry, the Prince of the Sun, Leo, was her secret lover (also much to Lina's chagrin, even though she wouldn't admit it.) A starving thespian they hired off the street was playing Amelia's betrothed, Franc De Westerly. Lina was to play the remaining roles: Amelia's old ugly and devious mother, and Gourry's slightly mother, the beautiful sun queen. Zelgadiss insisted he be the director because there was no role fit for him in the play and because he didn't think his "freakish face" was fit for the stage. The real reason: He had a very bad cold.

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"ZELGADISS GREYWORDS!" Yelled Lina. Zel sighed exasperated and walked over to the sorceress who was wearing a grey wig and a mumu-esque white dress.

"But is ib vow Rina?" he asked as well as he could. Lina shook her head, it sure was hard to take stage instructions from a guy whose speech currently contained five consonants.

"I'll tell what it is! I'm wearing a muumuu, a wig, and a fake wart on my nose!" she shook her head, "I'm only doing this for the money, but why couldn't I have been the frost princess?!?"

"Rina, Amebia fits da row much bedder. Da frost Brincess is ubbosed do be beaudiful and mysderious. Ji's ubbosed do be wike omeone you gare for bud know you gan never have beguase you're a freag and ji's a beaudiful brincess...." Zel eeked and cut himself off.

"I'm beautiful and mysterious!" Lina yelled, "Wait Gourry's not a freak in this play... YOU LIKE AMELIA!!!! You were talking about yourself... Aaaaw how cute!" She began laughing and snickering like a madwoman and Zel could not have been more thankful that Amelia was currently shopping for fabric to make costumes. A crimson blush crept across his cheeks and he looked away.

"Shut-ub Rina, brease, gwuiet," Zel said quietly. Surprisingly Lina respected his wishes and was silent as Amelia entered the theatre with glittering white fabrics in her hand. Amelia smiled and approached Zelgadiss excitedly. He smiled lightly in return and began examining the fabrics. "Dey are berfect fer your dress Amebia," he said as he handed them back to her. "I gan't sew." Amelia facefaulted... neither could she and Lina could definitely not sew.

"I can!" said Gourry. He came into the room in full sun prince regalia, golden armor and all. Everyone sweatdropped.

"You sew?" they all said. Gourry just shrugged and took the fabric from Amelia. Amelia handed him the designs for the Frost Princess's royal gown.

"Yeah I sew, my great grandma taught me when it was raining one day, and I was just really good at it," he took the designs and looked them over, "Hmmm... Ball gown style, six layers of petticoats, five types of material, bell sleeves, a heart shaped neckline, and a boned corset.... Oh this should be easy. There's not much embroidery to do at all really." Lina was on the ground twitching and Zelgadiss and Amelia just stood there shaking their heads in disbelief.

"Jould we drust him Amebia?" Zel asked the tiny princess standing next to him. Amelia sighed and nodded.

"Gourry-san doesn't usually steer us wrong. The few times he does steer us in any case," Amelia said. Zel nodded in approval and Gourry headed back to get started on the dress.

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2 days later...

"All done!" the blonde tailor/swordsman said. He looked the dress over and smiled, "Pretty good if I may so myself. I better go show it to Zelgadiss-- Aah-- no I have an idea." He attempted to hide the dress behind his back, which was difficult because it was so poofy and took it down to Amelia's dressing room. No one was in the hall, that was good. He didn't want Zel to see the dress. Zelgadiss should be surprised, after all if what he said in his sleep was any indication, he liked Amelia... a lot. Gourry knocked on Amelia's door and waited.

"Who's there?" she asked.

"It's Gourry, I got your dress," Gourry said. The door flew open and he was greeted with a smiling Amelia.

"That's wonderful!" she replied, "This is the last rehearsal before the show so you are just on time." Gourry hung the dress on the door and Amelia gasped. It was stunning. Amelia hadn't told Lina but the group had spent more money putting on this production than the award for the winner was. She didn't really care though, she wanted Zelgadiss-san to be happy, and she knew a wish granting oracle could make him very happy. Quickly she gave Gourry a hug and thanked him before closing her door and continuing to get ready.

Poor, Poor, Zelgadiss Greywords. Everything was going wrong for the esteemed director and he was just about lose it. His cold had gotten worse, Lina was infuriated with her part (except for the part about the sun queen), Gourry needed cue cards to remember his lines, and the one male extra they had, a local man by the name of E.G. Nog was sick at home with the flu... meaning that poor poor Mr. Zelgadiss would have to be on stage after all, playing the role of the frost princess' betrothed. The one who tries to kill The Sun Prince. The last straw had to be when the people behind this contest came by and said his play couldn't be tragic, but had to be an upbeat winter story with a sweet ending and musical numbers. Out went the original ending, in which the Sun Prince was killed by the winter frost when he tried to stay with the princess in the frost kingdom, and a now listless princess married her true betrothed. Here I had this powerful drama, based on a story I was told as a child.... butchered! I had to butcher it!! And Lina can't sing worth shit! He thought as he readied the stage for the final dress rehearsal and tried to block out Lina's vocalization exercises. He glanced around, making sure everything was ready. "Badame Froib," he looked over to the accompanist... Luckily they had been able to secure one of those and a couple crew members for curtains and things. "You bay ztart glaying de overture bow." Zel walked backstage after she started and put on his best non panicked directors face. "Aight guys, Ji's ztarted da overture bow, get in you blaces!" The first scene of the play was a musical number (blech!) featuring the people of the sun kingdom. AKA Lina, Gourry and a female crew member who had volunteered to play a servant at the last minute. Zel looked at Lina, she sure looked the part of the overly flamboyant Sun Queen. She wore a large piece of golden fabric like an elegant Greek dress, had her hair up in gold clips and strings, and wore lots of golden shimmery stuff.... Yeah he called it shimmery stuff, for lack of a better word. Zel wasn't afraid to admit it, she did look very exotic, and quite beautiful... then again she didn't exactly look the part of sorcery genius at that moment. Gourry stood next to her in white pants, a white top, and gold armor that Zel had carved out of Styrofoam and painted. He sighed in disgust, Why does Gourry's costume have to be so ridiculous looking! Amelia's better be good. The curtain rose and Lina stood on top of her throne, making her still only a tad bit taller than her umm... son. Gourry took his "mother's" hand and began to sing.

A blazing ball of gold

Lighting up the day!

Giving life to the earth...

Heat taking it away!

Here in the kingdom of the sun!

Zel walked out onto the stage in a conservative black suit... he was the narrator after all, and even though he penned these song lyrics, he thought them awful. Gourry wasn't such a bad singer though. Zel cleared his throat and began to sing, his consonants came through better when he sang, but he prayed that by tomorrow night his cold would be better.

I shall now tell a tale

Of when the sun melts the frost

But this melting that occurs,

Is the melting of hearts.

Zelgadiss balked at the sappiness of his last part. I cannot believe I wrote that! He thought as he continued.

A blazing ball of gold

A shimmering world of white

A meeting of destiny...

Two worlds will unite.

The musical number continued for three ear splitting minutes before the curtain closed for a change in scenery. Zel walked out in front of the curtain and began to speak.

At one time, there were just two seasons... The summer, when the sun dominated, and the winter when frost blocked out the sun. Our story begins at the beginning of one particularly cold winter in the kingdom of frost....

The curtain rose on a wintry scene and Zel smiled, he and Amelia were the only one's who had to sing in this part. No Lina! Thank God. Lina sat on a glittering white throne in her sparkly white muumuu and long grey wig. She looked the epitome of a cold cruel winter... except for her red eyes! Gah! It just ruined the whole look. He shook his head and ran behind stage to change into his costume as Amelia's betrothed.

"My Daughter! Princess Solace, I request your presence!" Lina yelled in a harsh tone. She wasn't such a bad actor. Amelia picked up her skirts and walked onto stage. Lina smiled, Gourry sure had done a nice job.

"Yes mother," she said in a delicate voice. Lina's lips curled up into a sly grin.

"How are you feeling lately?" she asked. Amelia shook her head.

"Fine, why do you ask.... Is it because? Oh gods, next week is my birthday and I have to get married before the next eclipse!" Lina smiled.

"Ah, smart girl! But don't be concerned. I've already picked someone out for you! I'm sure you'll like him plenty...." Lina continued talking but her voice faded off and the lights focused on Amelia only so she could launch into her musical number.... it was the most cliché song of all, but Amelia's lovely voice made it work.

Eighteen winters have passed

Since the day of my birth

Eighteen years of loyal service

Tho I am a princess, It does not feel like it...

Beyond, the shimmer of the fabrics, and the luxury of my life....

I am little more than an overly dutiful daughter

Yes It seems so cruel, Yes I want to fly!

Eighteen years I have lived in this icy prison.

A paradise it seems to everyone else I know.

But I wish for freedom, I long for warmth....

Outside the cold countenance of my prosperity.

I have known of my fate for as long as I can remember....

Yet like the hot summer sun melting my kingdom.

It still seems so cruel... And I still want to fly

Across the frigid landscape and into the light...

The idea was for it to be a soliloquy-like song. Solace's private thoughts, which no one else could hear. It sounded like it worked, but Zel was too busy changing to watch the Princess sing her song. Her voice was not stunning, a little bit airy, but it had a very pleasant quality to it. The song ended and Zel got ready to go on stage.

"Yes, mother," Solace/Amelia said, "Of course." And the stage lit up again completely taking the spotlight off the frost princess.

"Aaah! Good then Solace, then I'd like you to meet your new fiancé," Queen Lina closed her eyes and gestured to stage left, "The Esteemed Duke, Franc de Westerly." Zelgadiss closed his eyes and walked onto stage. Sighing he opened them and crossed over in front of the Princess to kiss her hand... But he didn't get to her hand. For when he saw her, he completely froze. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Her dress, he observed fit her perfectly and the heart-shaped neckline showed just the perfect amount of her pale smooth décolletage-- Woh! He averted his eyes from that area and looked up to her face. Shimmering glitter shone on her eyelids and cheeks and a pale pink gloss covered her lips... Lips that he just wanted to--- Aaah! More nasty thoughts. Once more he snapped his eyes up a bit further, to her glitter stranded black hair and the wreathlike diamond-looking crown that lay on top of her lustrous raven hair. Indeed, he had never in his twenty years of life seen anything so exquisite... and so within his grasp. He could feel the heat rising in his cheeks, and didn't want to imagine the shades he was turning right now. He shook his head but when he looked up again he was blushing beet red.

"Ah Franc, Sir," she said, "I see you are blushing!" Solace/Amelia smiled and held out her hand, but before she had it in place she heard a thump and looked down... Zelgadiss had fainted. "Mr. Zelgadiss!" She squealed. Before she knew it everyone had rushed out onto the stage and hovered over the unconscious chimera. Amelia looked at him again, he seemed to have a euphoric grin on his face... Nah, just imagining things. She shrugged it off. And kneeled down next to him. "It must be his cold mixed with all the stress. His cold was awful he couldn't say much, and now he had to be one of the leads in the play. Poor Mr. Zelgadiss!" Slowly the chimera's eyes began to open. He looked straight into Amelia's eyes and blushed hotly.

"Bah!" He said, "Whad is with be doday?" he said as he began to stand up. Amelia pushed him back down.

"Mr. Zelgadiss, please sit down and rest for a minute," Amelia said gently. Zel shook his head in the negative.

"Bo, Amebia, da show bust go on," he said as he held up a hand. Amelia looked at him pleadingly. "Oh Vine, I'll rest." The princess smiled at him. Dammit, Zelgadiss though, She makes me into such a softy! Amelia sent the stagehand to get Zelgadiss some coffee and had Lina grab him something fluffy to use as a pillow. "I'm nod daking a nap!" Zel said as he reluctantly accepted the pillow.

"I know Mr. Zelgadiss," she replied smiling, "But I'm a little concerned about you! You're sick and you've been working so hard!" the princess said firmly but kindly. Zel and Amelia just sat there, frozen for a moment, finally Zelgadiss noticed the female stage hand giggling quietly with the coffee held right over Amelia's head. Zel rolled his eyes, now everyone would know how much he was blushing.

"Amebia, above you," he said. Amelia must have been in a very romantic mood because that's not what she heard....

"You love me!" She exclaimed her hands darted out and Zel's eyes bugged as she wrapped her arms around him, "That's so wonderful I knew it!" Zel pulled away in shock and disbelief.

"I didn't zay dat!" Zel said defensively. Amelia pouted, she looked to be on the brink of tears.

"You mean, You don't love me?" she asked. Zel bit his lip, Oh L-Sama, what was he supposed to do now. Say yes even though he was most definitely not ready or say not and completely break the poor girls heart.

"I didn't zay dat eider," he said rather irritably. Amelia didn't really notice the tone his voice had taken.... her emotions had done two complete somersaults in five seconds.

"Then you do love me!" She was happy again... to say the least. Zel put his hand on his forehead and sighed. The stagehand put the coffee down and headed off stage.

"I zed, above you.... my govee was above you," he said. Amelia looked up and saw no one. Sighing she put her hand on Zel's forehead checking his temperature.

"Are you having hallucinations? If there was coffee above me I would see it," she was quite surprised when Zel didn't pull away from her touch. "Your forehead feels fine." Zel gestured to next to her. A pot of coffee sat there with a holly engraved mug. "Oh I see," she said, "The stagehand had brought you coffee, and was standing above me." She sighed disappointed. Zel noticed, for her countenance was becoming more upset with each moment. He smiled gently at her.

"Amebia, I didn't mean do ubsed you," carefully the chimera took the princess' hand and kissed it, just the barest of touches... but one that sent shivers up Amelia's spine, good shivers. "I bewieve dat was by next zage direction," he said quietly. Amelia smiled brightly, Maybe not all hope is lost, she thought to herself. She held out her hand, which Zelgadiss took, and helped to pull him up. The young man brushed his back side off and cleared his throat. "Aight agdors! Dime do regommence!" Lina came back on stage, followed by the female stage hand, who played Amelia's older sister in this scene, and the accompanist, Madame Froid, who made her way over to the piano. "Ogay!" Zel sniffed, "No inderrupshions now! If I vall ungonshious again, revive me, and move od!" Amelia stifled a giggle, this was going to be a long rehearsal, but she didn't mind, she didn't mind at all.

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Disclaimer: Not mine.... Don't sue me because all my money goes to your products anyway!