Categories > Anime/Manga > Slayers

Moonlight in Winter

by BeccaStareyes 0 reviews

Amelia attends a late winter festival in the mountains, and goes for a walk in the moonlight. (Zelgadis/Amelia)

Category: Slayers - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Published: 2006-07-25 - Updated: 2006-07-25 - 2129 words - Complete

To my beta-reader, Zanne Chaos, who helped a LOT with the legend part of the story.

Disclaimer: Slayers copyright Hajime Kanzaka/Rui Araizumi/Kadokawa/TV Tokyo/Medianet.


The full moon shone on the snow, sandwiching the world between black and white. It had risen red, but was now a warm yellowish white, contrasting with the cool bluish white of the snow. Amelia drew her cloak closer around herself. She had been traveling all winter, touring Saillune as a representative of the Crown. She had finally come to Talae, a small town near the northern border just as the annual Snow Lily Festival was to begin.

To the side of the gathering were the bonfires, died down to embers, with a pile of small stones near them, useful for putting in pockets or gloved hands to keep the chill out. Amelia stepped closer to them as she listened to the village's priestess tell the story of the holiday.

"A long time ago, before even the great war that threatened to resurrect the Dark Lord, a village of elves lived in these mountains." The hushed conversations ceased as the priestess began talking, in a storyteller's voice -- clear, and just loud enough to be heard in the back without being painful to the front. "One day, a young farmer was looking for a lost pig in the forest, when he met an elf maid gathering mushrooms. He was besotted by her beauty and grace, and starstruck, he approached her. He told her she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen, and, right then and there, dropped to his knees and asked her to be his wife.

"The elf maid was startled by his earnestness. Never before had she seen a human, and she was new to their ways. The young man continued, swearing the moon and stars to her, promising that their love would be as brilliant as the short sweet summer of the high mountains. She turned to go, murmuring words of regret, of parting, and he grabbed her hand in haste. With a quick spell, though, she was gone in a wisp of smoke." Amelia jumped as the fire flared in a storm of colorful sparks and smoke. She glanced over to the priestess to catch the old woman tucking a pouch back into her cloak.

"The young man refused to give up, and vowed to find the elf maid and bring her back to his farm. He packed up his hatchet and knife, fishing pole and snowshoes and set off into the wilderness. He traveled up and down the mountains in the fall leaves and winter snows, living off what he could catch. And he still could not find any signs of the elves.

"In late winter, when the storms are the worst, he was caught away from his shelter by a sudden blizzard. Blinded and lost, he searched in vain for any hollow to curl up in. Finally, he collapsed, exhausted, cold and hungry."

The high priestess paused, long enough for the crowd to look around expectantly. A high, sweet voice rang out from the darkness behind Amelia, "Look for a child of the moon, a herald of spring. With that meager sign, you will find what you seek." She turned around, but the flash of the fire a few minutes ago meant all she saw was shadows.

"Perhaps it was only a dream from the cold," the priestess continued, with only a glance to the back and a slight nod, "but the farmer struggled through the snow towards the source of the voice until his legs gave way. But, there, before his very eyes, was a flower, pale as moonlight, and miraculously blooming in the snow.

"He freed his hand to pick it, and heard a cry. Strong arms wrapped around him, and dragged him to a shelter in the snow. It was a young shepardess from his village, who bundled him in blankets and furs. As he warmed by the fire, he learned how she had worried about him once the snows set in and his farm remained empty. She had searched through the winter, ever wondering if his body had been buried by the snow, forgotten to all save one. She begged him to give up his foolish search, and return to the village with her.

"The farmer was weak and hungry, and the shepardess's smile was as warm as spring. Touched by her loyalty to him, he agreed to return with her. When the storm ceased, she lead him out of the woods and back to the village. As the land greened, his health returned, and his heart warmed. By the end of spring, when the lilac was in bloom, the young man only had eyes for his shepardess, and, under the auburn boughs of fall they were wed. Ever since then, it is said that the Snow Lily is scared to lovers, and that a couple that meet across it will be eternal as this cycle of winter and spring."

Amelia watched the young men and women in the crowd as the priestess spoke. Many of them had lanterns, and all of them wore bright woolen cloaks over their wool-and-fur clothing. Most of them would look but briefly, combing the hills nearest the town, and, with out without the legendary lily, return to the warmth of their hearths with their sweethearts.

"Remember to be safe," the old priestess concluded. "Stay in pairs, and keep the lanterns lit. Mark your way, and, at the first sign of coldness or fatigue, return." As the crowd dispersed, the priestess pulled her aside. "Prepared for the weather, Your Highness?" she asked.

"Oh, yes, ma'am," Amelia showed off the heavy white woolen sweater she wore under her winter cloak. She felt like she was covered head to toe in wool and fur and stuffing.

"Good. It would be bad luck for someone to freeze out there." The priestess gave her a half-smile. "Watch out for things in the forest, Your Highness -- the trappers have been saying that there's something up in the forest."

"Well, I'm not going alone. That wouldn't be safe. Mister Steven is going with me."

The priestess looked at the Princess's guard, a middle-aged man waiting by the fire. "I see that. Normally a young woman brings her sweetheart. But perhaps you're a bit young for that."

"I'm seventeen. That's old enough," Amelia answered. It wouldn't be the first time someone misjudged her age. "I'm going to give it a couple more years, then decide what to do."

"Just don't let it get away from you, Your Highness," the priestess smiled as she turned towards the village. "You know, there's another folk legend about the Snow Lily. They say if a woman puts it under her pillow..."

"She'll dream about the person she will marry?" Amelia finished. A lot of those legends tended to sound the same.

"Well... in a sense, yes." The priestess blinked a few times. "Perhaps we should just leave it at that. Good luck, Your Highness."


The forests were very quiet at night. All Amelia hear was the crunch of her boots near the snow. It had been warm that day, and the snow had melted, only to refreeze when night fell, creating a slick, icy crust over the ground.

"Are the snows always this deep?" she asked, as Steven had to help her retrieve her boot from a drift in the clearing.

"No, Your Highness. This was a mild winter. Normally the young people in the festival have to travel by snowshoe."

"Wow... it hardly ever snows in the capital." That wasn't strictly true -- it snowed maybe once or twice a winter in Saillune city, a dusting that would look pretty for a couple of days and be enough for children to build snowmen in. Mostly they saw cold rains that just made everything look dreary, and even a short trip outside a chore. She had only seen real snow, the kind that drifted and was really and truly cold in her travels. "Did you like the festival, Mister Steven?"

"It was all right. It's really a young person thing, Your Highness."

"I see... it seems like a nice festival, though. A lot of the local festivals in the villages are so... so colorful and different. It's nice having something unique to each village." Amelia picked her way through the snow, avoiding the drifts.

"As you say, Your Highness." Steven had gotten ahead of her. He leaned against a tree, head down, waiting for her to catch up.

Looking off to the side, she spotted an opening in the trees. She turned, heading towards it -- Steven would follow her. It opened into a clear area surrounding a large outcrop of rock. Moonlight shone on it, coloring the entire scene in whites and grays. She spotted something shiny at the top of the outcrop, and squinted for a closer look. It looked like some sort of plant. "Gotcha," she said to herself.

She started to climb. There was very little ice on the rock, but she had to take off her gloves to get a grip on it. It was very cold, and she thought that maybe it would be better if she just climbed down before she got frostbite. She looked down. "I'm almost at the top. It would be a waste to turn back now. You can do it, Amelia!"

She put her hand on the ledge and scrambled for a handhold. Something grabbed her wrist, and she yelped, nearly losing her footing. "Give me your other hand before you fall," a voice, muffled a bit, and rather familiar said.

"/Levitation/!" Rather than rely on help, she floated the rest of the way up. Her would-be assistant was wearing off-white, barely visible against the snow. She recognized the clothing first, and a look to what little of his face she could see confirmed it. "Mister Zelgadis, why didn't you tell me you were going to be in my very own country? I put a Vision spell on that bracelet for a reason."

"Nice to see you too, Amelia," Zelgadis replied. "I wasn't aware I had crossed into Saillune. It's been snowy for the past week, and I couldn't get a good look around to determine exactly where I was. I saw a few trappers out, but none of them would let me get close enough to talk to them. I should have known better than to trust a guidebook that some gentleman was selling out of a sausage cart. Why are you up here, anyway?"

"Looking for something..." She peered past him. He had left his pack resting against the highest part of the outcrop. About six feet above it was a hollow where a bit of dirt and snow had accumulated. Through the snow grew a series of narrow, dark green leaves and a slender stalk. Atop it was a flower bud, just beginning to open. "There it is."

Zelgadis turned to see what she was looking at. "You climbed all this way for a flower?" He stepped over to the rock, standing on his toes to reach it, and picked it. "There. Now get down and go somewhere warm before you freeze." He held the flower out to her.

Amelia blushed. He probably didn't know the story, or he wouldn't be so casual. But still... it was rather romantic. The lily seemed to reflect the white of the snow and the moon and his cloak and her sweater, and its own brilliantly pure white in the center. She reached out and took it, holding it in both hands, like a talisman. "Thank you, Mister Zelgadis." She blinked a couple of times. "But wait... you aren't planning on staying out here, are you?"

"I was going to fly down and camp on the lee side of this rock," Zelgadis shrugged.

"You most certainly are not!" Amelia grabbed his hand, switching the lily to her other hand. "We are getting you back to Talae and getting you an inn room there. I don't care if you are a chimera, Mister Zelgadis, you will still freeze to death if you spend too much time outside, and I would then be forced to contact your ghost just to tell you how selfish and unjust that was. /Raywing/."

The two of them flew down, nearly landing on top of a worried Steven, who had not seen her change directions.


She placed the flower under her pillow that night, pressed in a book for safekeeping. Funny, she never had heard about that variation of those legends about pillows and maidens. Thankfully, Zelgadis didn't seem to notice the flustered look she had at breakfast. At least, if he did, he said nothing.
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