Gundam Fantasy

Book Four


The sun had only been up for an hour before word reached the Palace of Sanq that another village had been attack.  So the Mages were sent out immediately to investigate traveling for what felt like a few hours. As the four rode into the destroyed farming village, the sun had barely begun to reach its peak.  But even that gave them enough light to see the carnage that had happened as they rested the night before. All that was witnessed by the Mages was nothing more then burnt out structures and burning fields.  The bodies and livestock that had resided there were scattered like forgotten playthings. 

             Duo’s ever-present smile slowly faded as he entered further into the ruined village. As he glanced around for survivors he noticed at least a few bodies of children that where brutally slain. The way they had been it was as if they where killed while fleeing. The young Fire Mage could feel as if his heart raged from the sight of innocents lost.

             Trowa seemed indifferent to what he saw as if his heart had frozen over.  His whole life he had seen nothing but loss and misery, to him this was merely another reason why he should not be involved with humans. Though for Quatre's gentle heart he would remain to aid the wind master in remaining calm.        

            Quatre was horrified at the vision before his eyes as they remained wide with terror. He couldn't look away from the death around him, for it covered the scenery at every turn. Though knowing that death can claim the lives of all mortals, this display of inhumane massacring left his gentle soul trembling.

            Wufei, angered by the injustice committed on helpless villagers as he and the other Mages continued towards the heart of this chaos. His dark eyes vowed that vengeance would be served for the fallen.  

            Dismounting from their horses and tethering them to the remains of a nearby fence, they made their way slowly through what seemed liked endless rubble.  People from neighboring villages and towns were pushing aside rubble to reach anyone that might still be alive. In their hearts they were glad that the people of the Kingdom would not hide in fear while their fellow man was in danger. But there was still yelling and much chaos around them as those same people pushed past the group of four with shovels, hoes and picks. 

            “This is horrible.”  Quatre finally said after the initial shock wore off.  “So many lives wasted.” 

            “This is why we have been called by the Empress.”  Wufei spoke calmly though at his side his fist was clenched tight as if wishing to inflict pain upon those who did such crimes, “To put an end to all this.” 

            The four young men soon continued on for several more minutes searching for those who needed immediate help. Each of them had been listening to the crying of the injured and dying for what seemed like an eternity. Quatre after a brief hour soon found it hard to control his empathic abilities and kept his arms and hands close to his chest.  He instinctively stayed close to Trowa as if trying to draw on his strength to get through this nightmare. 

“Over here!  There’s someone still alive!”  The Mages heard someone shout from close by. 

            "There’s a woman trapped!” They watched as more aid came to the woman’s side and began to help.

            “Hurry with those shovels!”  Someone else had ordered.  “Get those beams off her!” 

            Villagers scrambled to pull away broken pieces of wood and large chunks of clay and mortar to free the woman.  Her cries were still quite audible and grew louder with each piece of material that was moved.  Hearing her voice, the Mages realized just how trapped survivors might have been and rushed forward to assist in freeing the woman from the rubble. 

            “Let me through!  I can help her!”  Quatre yelled, running ahead of the others, as he neared the group of workers.  They were pulling debris off the injured woman.  Quatre’s heart fell when he saw the extent of her injuries.  Her legs had been crushed when the roof fell on top of her.  It almost looked like she had been stepped upon by something terribly huge. 

            Quatre regained composure from his shock and gently gathered the young woman in his arms.  His body jerked involuntarily as he felt her terror and fear, though he fought to keep it under control.  Her eyes searched for something in Quatre’s face, a glimpse of salvation from the pain that wrecked her body.  He concentrated on her and slowly began to ease her deep and painful suffering. 

            “You’ll be all right now.”  He said softly to her, knowing that it was all he could do for her. 

            “An angel?”  She said weakly, looking into the Wind Mage’s eyes.  “An angel has come for me…”   

            “I- I am no…” 

            “And you brought Death with you.”  The voice of the dying woman whispered. Her eyes widened as her fading gaze was directed in looking past Quatre.   

            Quatre slowly looked over his shoulder and found Duo standing there, leaning heavy on his scythe with remorse in his eyes for the dying woman before them.   

            Pulling his attention back from Duo, Quatre asked in hopes of receiving some sort of information as to what caused this tragedy, “What happened here?” 

            “Demons…” Her voice was becoming softer as she forced herself to speak with her final few moments, “…demons attacked us…just before dawn…” She closed her eyes and fell limp in the Mage’s arms, releasing the last sigh of air from her body. It was clear that she was gone from this World. 

            Quatre gasped aloud and shut his eyes tight as he felt her last emotions race over him.  His breathing became labored as he tried to catch his breath as if struggling not to be overwhelmed by this.  He hung his head down and pulled the woman closer to his chest as tears of deep sadness fell across his cheeks.  The other Mages behind him looked on as Quatre slowly began to rock back and forth with the woman in his arms. 

            “Hey, Quatre are you…?”  Duo started to say as he slowly reached to touch the man’s shoulder. 

            “Please… don’t touch me.”  Quatre voiced as he cried without turning to look back.   

            “But Quatre you’re,” Duo started to say but paused before trying to speak again, “Is she…?” 

            “Leave him.”  Wufei snapped coldly towards the Fire Mage in hopes of shutting him up.  “We need to see if there is anyone else alive who could use our help and tell us what happened here.  We can not help her anymore.” 

            “But, he’s crying…” Duo worriedly spoke out as Wufei started to walk away. 

            “There’s nothing Quatre can do for her.”  Trowa finally replied walking past Duo, “That’s why he’s crying.  She died in his arms.”  Duo could only look on blankly at the taller man, who seemed indifferent to what had happened.   

            “How can you be so cold?”  Duo snapped back trying to grasp how they could show no emotion over this.  “That woman just died!” 

            Trowa ignored Duo’s outburst and knelt beside the lamenting young man and spoke in hushed words to coax the Wind Mage back to the moment.  “Quatre…” 

            “I… I will be fine…” he whispered back hoarsely, as if he were trying to catch his breath.  “It’s just… never easy…” 

            “All right then,” Trowa answered back still in a soft manner, “We will come back for you shortly.”  Trowa rose to his feet then followed after Wufei, leaving Duo behind with the still kneeling Wind Mage. 

            “I don’t get those guys.”  He mused out loud to himself as he scratched the side of his head a bit flustered.  “And you,” he said addressing Quatre questioningly, “I thought you could heal?” 

            “Her injuries were beyond my skills.”  Quatre gently laid the woman back down.  He brushed the hair from her face and delicately straightened her dress.  Removing his riding cloak, he covered the woman with it.  “I could do nothing but ease her pain.”  He brushed aside a stray tear and slowly stood up, backing away from the body murmuring a soft prayer.  The workers that had remained around him carefully lifted the woman up and carried her off to be buried with the others. 

            Duo watched as Quatre turned his back on the ruined home and slowly followed behind Trowa and Wufei. 

* * * 

            The hours grew longer as the sun rose higher into the sky.  The four young men did what they could to help the village by removing rubble and help bury the dead.  But the day was far from being done and they had been all rubbed raw mentally and physically. Each one felt drained on one level or another but they still pushed on knowing the importance of finding survivors. 

            "Over here!  Quickly!"  Someone shouted in a panic.  "A child is trapped!"   

            Duo's head popped up from where he was helping another man to safety when he heard the cry.  Looking around he didn't see the other Mages, excusing himself he headed toward the next rescue.  A home was on fire.  Men and women stood outside it throwing water and dirt onto the burning embers.  Faintly from within the burning inferno, a child's terrified voice echoed.  

            A voice at the back of Duo's mind whispered, not again. 

            Thrusting the end of his scythe into the ground, Duo narrowed his eyes as they changed to a richer color of purple.  He pushed past those in front of him and ran into the burning structure.  The woman that had alerted the others of the fire, screamed out in horror as part of the roof fell behind the Fire Mage, seemingly blocking his only exit from the building.   

            "What has happened?"  Wufei asked the panicked woman, as he and Trowa ran up.    

            "That young man ran into the house!"  She said frantically her eyes still wide from the shock.  "A child is in there and he went in after her!" 

            Trowa glanced around the crowd and noticed Duo's scythe sticking out of the ground.  "It's Duo."  Trowa said calmly before looking at Wufei and the woman once more. 

            "What?"  Wufei's head snapped back quickly from Trowa to the burning home glaring only slightly.  "That idiot!" He screamed unsure if he should feel that the unorthodox Mage was either incredibly brave or insanely moronic for his actions. 

* * * 

            Inside the building Duo felt oddly at home.  He carefully made his way through the ruins of the house.  As he walked, the fire appeared to part and swirled around him.  The child's cry was growing fainter and this started to worry the young man.   

            "Where are you?!"  Duo yelled over the fire.  He waited a few seconds before calling again.  The Fire Mage heard a tiny, 'Here', come from the back of the house.   "I'm coming!" 

            Working his way toward the back, he found a bedroom door blocked by a ceiling support beam.  The Fire Mage heard creaking above his head and saw another beam slowly breaking away from the ceiling.  Duo threw out his right hand toward the falling beam and muttered an incantation.  The falling piece of wood seemed to freeze in place and explode harmlessly around him.   

            "Help me…" The tiny voice faintly cried out. 

            "I'm right here!"  Duo shouted.  "Just hang on!"  Looking at the beam blocking the door, the longhaired youth, placed both hands on the fiery piece of wood and drew the fire from it to him-self.  The fire danced along his hands and arms and quickly disappeared. 

* * * 

            "What's happened?"  Quatre questioned as he caught up with Wufei and Trowa.  They pair could only look on from beside Duo's scythe at the burning house. 

            "Duo ran into the building to save a child."  Trowa said still watching the blaze before his eyes. 

            "Apparently, when the attack came, the house was thought to be empty, so no one bothered to check it.  But a fire started and a child was still inside."  Wufei spoke with a mix of worry and calm as he began filling Quatre in on the situation.   

            "What about the child's family?" 


            "Oh dear." 

            As the Mages continued to think of a way to help one of their own, there was an explosion that drew everyone's attention back toward the house.  It had seem to come from somewhere at the center of the home.  The crowd that had swiftly gathered to watch, jumped back in surprise and cried as the house slowly collapsed on itself with Duo still inside. 

            "Trowa, a Water Spell, now."  Quatre ordered without much thought, inwardly he knew that the Fire Mage could be badly hurt from the collapse of the house and time was not on their side if they delayed any longer. 

            Trowa looked over at Quatre with a look of worry and panic in his eyes.  If he were to cast a spell now, it was most likely the spell would freeze and the house would be encased in ice, trapping Duo and the child within. 

            But before Trowa could respond in protest, the figure of a man walked toward them from the burning structure.  In Duo's arms was the shaken figure of a little girl, no more than five years old.  Her tiny hands and arms clung tightly around Duo's neck.  She was crying into his neck and shoulder.  Quatre rushed forward to meet Duo halfway inwardly feeling relieved to see the two of them alive.  As he arrived closer the Wind Mage noticed the large burn on the girl's lower right leg.     

            "Give her to me Duo."  Quatre said, reaching for the girl. 

            "No, I told her I would take care of her." 

            "Don't leave me."  The small child cried, tightening her grip on the Mage as if letting go of her savior would only lead to more harm for her. 

            "I won't sweetie."  Duo answered softly doing his best to calm the small girl.  "You're going to have to help her, while I hold her Quatre." 

            "That's fine."  Quatre replied with a relaxed sigh.  Closing his eyes, he gently placed his hands over the girl's burn. 

            "Is he going to hurt me?"  The girl sniffled worriedly as she watched where Quatre had placed his hands. 

            "Who?  Quatre?  Nah.  He's going to help you get better."  Duo smiled trying to put the dark haired girl at ease while adjusting his hold on her.  "I told you, he's pretty good at what he does." 

            With his eyes still closed, Quatre spoke up asking, “What's her name?" 

            "Tifa."  Duo answered. 

            "It's a very pretty name." 

            "My mommy gave it to me."  Tifa told Quatre and smiled a bit with pride at the origin of her name.  "But mommy is gone now."  She stated with a quiver in her voice as she started crying again into Duo's shoulder. 

            "Did the monsters get her?"  Wufei asked the child trying to know more about the demons.  Tifa only nodded her head but didn't look up at the Mages.  "Did you see them?"  She answered by shaking her head at Wufei's second question.   

            “TIFA!!”  A worried voice cut in interrupting Wufei’s line of questions.  “Tifa!  There you are!” cried a boy about nine year of age as he ran up to Duo and the others.   

            “Garod!”  Tifa cried out excited to see someone familiar to her.  Lifting herself off of the Fire Mage she began reaching out toward the boy as he continued running toward her.  Duo nearly dropped her out of surprise as she struggled to free herself from his arms.  Quatre suddenly stopped his healing while the girl fought to reach the other boy, sensing her sudden excitement.  “Garod!  I was so scared!” 

            “It’s okay now.  We’ll take care of you.  Me and Roby and Witz.” 

            Garod held onto Tifa tightly once he was in arms length. As they embraced two other men that came with the young boy also reached over for the pair.  They knelt down on either side of the two children and also hugged Tifa to comfort her.

             “Are you family to the child?”  Wufei asked the group feeling better that the young girl found those who where familiar to her.

             “No, we are friends of the family.”  Roby said realizing that others where present and stood up to speak with them.  “We were in the fields working when word reached us that this village had been attacked.  We came as quickly as possible to help.”

             “Roby, we should be going.”  Witz told the standing man with a hint of concern in his voice.

             “Yes, you’re right.”  Roby agreed then knelt back down to gather Tifa into his arms.

             “Wait please.”  Quatre interrupted not wanting the girl to leave just yet.  “Let me finish helping her first before you take her.”     

* * * 

            Duo watched silently, as Tifa’s friends carried her off.  His face went soft and his eyes darkened at the scene before him.  The Fire Mage let a small sigh escape his lips as he was glad that the girl would be well looked after now.  Quatre, who was still close to the Fire Mage, noticed the look in Duo eyes and saw something odd there.   

            “Are you okay Duo?”  The blonde-haired man asked with concern. 

            Duo blinked twice and his eyes returned to normal, his smile was soft and almost ghost like.  “Yeah, I’m okay.  She’s going to fine.  She has her whole life ahead of her now.” 

            More hours past and the remaining bodies were pulled from the carnage of the ruined village. It was now very much past mid-day as they eventually finished the work they came to do. Aching in some spots and tired all over, the four re-gathered near what remained of the entranceway to the village.  

            “We’d better return now and give our findings to the Empress.”  Quatre said wearily as he rubbed his shoulder to work a kink out.  “Besides, it’s going too late by the time we return to the Palace.” 

            “I agree.”  Trowa added quickly feeling his own soreness and fatigue, “I’ll retrieve the horses.” 

            “Uh guys…” Duo piped up a bit casually but hinted with nervousness towards their reaction, “I’ll meet you back at the Palace later.” 

            “What?”  Wufei said shocked that after all that had happened Duo would dare say such a thing.  “You will not be returning with us?” 

            “Nope.”  The longhaired man grinned in the manner they where most use to.  “I’ve got an appointment to keep first.  I’ll be home by breakfast, possibly in a day or two.” 

* * * 

            Hours later at the Catnip Palace 

Duo laughed boastfully as he raised a glass of wine towards his companion.  "You should have seen me, Milly!  I ran right in without thinking.  I found the kid and got out." 

            "Is she all right?"  Milliardo asked curiously, while leaning back into the arms of a young woman.

            "Oh yeah, sure she is."  He answered, popping a chocolate dipped strawberry into his mouth and continued to speak, “and she’s going to be fine now. Tifa had a slight burn on her leg but Quatre took care of that." 

            "Quatre?  You mean… Prince Quatre?  The guy who came to find you?”  Milliardo asked with surprise. 

            "Yeah that would be him - he's this Wind Mage with healing abilities."  Duo threw a second strawberry into his mouth chomping it down swiftly.  "Fixed the girl right up." 

            "Did the Empress call him as well?"   

            The braided hair man nodded his head swiftly before taking another long sip of his drink then responded, “As well as a Water and Lightening Mages." 

            "Interesting."  Milliardo thought to himself and glanced downward at this news.  Interesting in deed.   

            "You're telling me.  She's got us running all over the Kingdom." 

            "Why is that?" 

            "Well, you know all those mysterious attacks that have been happening, right before dawn and whatnot?"  Milliardo nodded his head in reply waiting for Duo to continue.  "Well, the Empress is having us track down the demons that are the cause of it." 

            "Demons?  Are you sure?" 

            "Yup.  She's hoping that we will be able to stop them." 

            "Have you seen them?" 

            "Nope.  We got there after they've destroyed the village.  All we know is that these guys are big.  Really big!" 

            "What do you plan to do if you actually see one?" 

            "Not sure, but until then I’m going to enjoy my stay at the Palace."  Duo smirked in his over confident manner.  “All the free food and board I can get.”     

* * * 

            Later that evening, the three remaining Mages returned to their separate rooms in hopes of getting much required rest for the night.  As the castle grew ever quieter with the passing of time, Quatre found him-self still very much awake.  He was uneasy, but not because of the task set ahead for him or the other Mages in having to protect the people of the Kingdom from an unseen enemy.  But there was something else, no someone else who still needed his attention for the day. 

            Quatre knocked at Trowa’s door and when he heard no response, he let himself in quietly in hopes of not to spook the taller man.  The front room was similarly decorated like that of his room.  He spied the second door that let to the bedchamber area.  The young man knocked at the door once he came closer to it.  He waited a minute before knocking again when he still got no response and let himself into the second room in hopes of finding the Water Mage.   

The room was surprisingly empty of the body that he was currently in search of. 

            “Trowa?”  Quatre called out, “Are you…” 

            At that point Trowa stepped from an adjacent room that remained unlooked upon.  “Quatre?  Is something wrong?”  He asked as he exited the smaller room wearing only a pair of loose fitting pants. Trowa paused for a moment as he tightened the bandages around his injured side.  His bare feet padding quietly against the cool marble floor as he continued to approach Quatre. 

            Quatre felt his face grow warm at the sight of Trowa’s slender form.  His breath caught in his chest as he felt his heart beating against his rib cage.  “I…  I was just wondering how your side was doing.”  He said, finding himself sitting back against Trowa’s bed, he blushed more but worked on composing himself quickly as he looked down at the floor.  “I was concerned that you may have hurt it more with all that had happened today.” 

            “My side?  It’s fine Quatre.  See…” Trowa raised his arm and exposed his left side for the other man to view.  “I was just changing the dressing when you came in.  It’s all right.” 

            Quatre let out a sigh of relief that caught Trowa’s attention.  The taller man hid his smile and kept his emotions hidden, as he moved to the other side of the bed and laid down atop it.  Trowa hid his pain as he rolled over onto his injured side to face his friend.  He was good at hiding his emotions, having needed to do so all his life. This time was no different from the others.  He watched as Quatre climbed onto the bed as well and lay down to face him. 

            “All this must seem very strange for you.”  The smaller man said gently. 

            “How so?” 

            “It was only weeks ago, that I helped you in the woods and now, you’re here in the Empress’ Castle.”  Quatre remarked. 

            “It is a very interesting coincidence.”  Trowa softly spoke back through half closed eyes. 

            The two men chatted late into the evening simply enjoying each other’s company.  Quatre laughed at many of Trowa’s comments, while Trowa himself continued to show little or no emotion. It had troubled Quatre at first but he had adjusted to his friend’s way of expression and accepted it.  After what seemed like a short time later, Trowa yawned and rolled back over onto his good side to get some sleep.  Quatre had long since fallen asleep during their discussion on the Fire Mage. 

            Grimacing, Trowa made him-self as comfortable as possible on his right side.  He lightly laid his right hand on his injured side as if it would help the pain there to go away. 

“Trowa… you’re side still hurts, doesn’t it?”  Quatre’s voice asked sleepily.  “You try to hide it, but can’t.” 

The taller man held his breath hearing the soft voice from behind him for a moment before answering.  “It hurts just a little.  It’s nothing for you to worry about.  Go back to sleep.”  Trowa tensed slightly as felt Quatre’s hand touch his bare shoulder. But relaxed he remembered those hands and their gentle grip slowly pulled him over onto his back.  “What?” 

“I know it hurts more than you’re telling me.”  Quatre said softly as he gently placed his hand on Trowa’s injured side.  Quatre felt Trowa’s body tense under his touch for a second time.  “I could feel it all the way to my room.  This has never happened before with anyone I have ever helped.” 

Quatre’s touch was soft and gentle like the first time the young healer had touched his injured leg.  A warming sensation seemed to radiate from Quatre’s hand as he pressed it close to the wound.  There was a calming sensation that passed over Trowa as he watched Quatre recite his incantation beneath his breath. It helped him relax and feel comforted by the feeling that continued to emanate from the blonde Mage. 

            Closing his eyes, Trowa listened to the words that Quatre spoke, not understanding them.  As he felt himself drift off to sleep, he reached over and laid his right hand gently over Quatre’s. 

* * * 

            An attendant knocked on the bedchamber door, announcing that breakfast was to be served shortly.   At the sound of knocking, Trowa was wide-awake, sitting up quickly in bed with great alert. Even with his movement, he had barely disturbed Quatre from his deep sleep.   

            "Yes?"  Trowa answered, trying not to grimace from the pain he felt as he had jolted awake. 

            "My Lord, breakfast will be served shortly.  You are expected." 

            Trowa cleared his throat to hide any pain that might have carried with his voice.  "Yes, I understand.  Thank you." 

            "By your leave then," Trowa listened closely as the attendant left, then let out a relaxed sigh. 

            Trowa looked back over at Quatre and found him still curled up asleep at his side.  The Water Mage watched his companion sleep and felt something from within.  If there were Angels in the World, then Quatre was one of them he mused to himself. The young blonde looked so serene as he slept.  Trowa slowly reached out to touch Quatre's hair, but jerked his hand back when Quatre slowly opened his eyes.   

            Hiding his embarrassment, Trowa quickly spoke up, "Good morning." 

            Quatre made a squeaking sound as he stretched his arms above his head.  "What time is it?" 

            "Time is for breakfast.  The attendant just came by." 

            "Oh, I better get back to my room before the attendant comes looking for me."  Quatre said hurriedly as if he realized just how long he had stayed, as he jumped off the bed.  "I'll need to change before breakfast."  Straightening his tunic to look neat, the Wind Mage continued preparing to leave before asking.  "By the way, how does your side feel this morning?" 

            "Much better.  The pain is almost gone."  Trowa said solemnly still pushing down nervousness from earlier.  "Thank you again for helping me." 

            "It was my pleasure."  The blond-haired man smiled brightly.  "I will see you at breakfast."     

“I will join you shortly.”  Trowa said as he watched Quatre leave. 

* * * 

            The dining hall was full of life as the castle attendants hurried about their duties.  Numerous large tables were scattered about the room covered with large platters of food.  Looking around the hall, Quatre spotted Wufei and Duo sitting at one of the tables.  Wufei was eating conservatively, being courteous to those around him.  Then there was Duo, Quatre noted, as he got closer to the table.  His plate piled high with meats and fruits and beside his plate must have been a least two or three bowls of soup and broth. 

            “Good morning.”  Quatre said, as he sat himself down at the table. 

            “Good morning to you.”  Wufei said, offering a plate to Quatre who gladly accepted it.  Duo said nothing but made a grunting sound as he nodded his head in Quatre’s direction.   

            “Has Trowa been here yet?”  The Wind Mage asked. 

            “No, Duo was already here when I arrived this morning.  Is there something wrong?” 

            “Ah no,” Quatre said quickly, trying to hide his concern.  “I was just curious.  He’ll most likely join us shortly.”  Or at least he secretly hoped.  

            Minutes went by and eventually Trowa arrived and made his presence known to the other Mages.  He waved off a plate of food offered to him and stood beside Quatre patiently.  It was at this point that the Hall became silent as Empress Relena and her aide, the Goddess Lady Une, entered the room and headed toward where the Mages were eating.  As she approached, the Mages stood in her attendance.  

            “Gentleman, please be seated.”  She said, waving her hand back toward the table as she sat down with them.  “The village, was it as bad I as feared?  The reports… I mean.”  For a brief moment the Empress seemed to lose her composure. 

            “It was as you had expected.”  Quatre said quietly.  “The Demons attacked at dawn, destroying everything.  Only a handful survived.” 

            The young Empress leaned back into her chaired and sighed softly.  “We need to stop these attacks…” Sitting back up, she began to say.  “This is why I have called you together… 

“The Legends say that long ago, five Mages came forth and defended the Kingdoms from Evil.  They fought in giant God Protectors.  When the battle was won and the Evil vanquished, the Gods returned to their places of rest until they were needed again.  The five Mages themselves disappeared.  No one knows who they were or where they went.   

“Then 150 years ago, that time came again when the Evil returned, but this time, there was only one Protector to save the Kingdoms.  Because the Five Kingdoms had broken down and could not find unity or peace with each other, the other four Protectors were not found and the Gods were never reawakened.  So it fell upon the shoulders of one man to defeat the Evil that had returned.  The battle was fierce and in the end, Heero Yuy, the Earth Mage, bound his enemy to the depths of darkness at the cost of his own life.  The Peacecraft Family, grateful for the sacrifice of the Mage, swore that no other Kingdom would only protect its own borders and united the Five Kingdoms into what you know today. 

“But it seems that an Evil now again threatens the Kingdoms.  There have been reports from the furthermost parts of our Five Kingdoms that villages are being attack.  I fear that this is only the beginning of something horrible.   

“Townships and villages are being attacked at our farthest borders.  And with each one, they come closer and closer to the Central Kingdom 

            “But as you see, I have only been able to gather four Mages.”  The Empress’s voice sounded quite sad.  “The fifth, the Earth Mage, is missing.  No one knows where or even who he is.  And without him we can have no chance of defeating this new Evil that threatens us.  So the four of you will have to resurrect one.” 

            “What?”  Duo blurted out, spitting food from his mouth, just missing Wufei who sat across from him.  Who, just barely dodged the flying food projectile.  Quatre let loose with a small gasp and looked up at Trowa with concern, not for what Duo had done, but for what the Empress had said.   

            Relena ignored the outburst and continued speaking.  “I’ve discussed this with my aide, Lady Une, and she tells me that it is possible with the right incantation.”  The Empress rose from her seat and walked toward a door behind her chair and to the left.  The four young Mages watched with interest as Relena returned with an older gentleman dressed in priest’s clothing.  The man was wrapped in a cloak and his head was cover by a hood that hid most of his face.  “This is Priest J.  He will be giving you four the incantations you need to perform the ritual.” 

            “So these are the new Mages you spoke of,” J said. 

            “Yes,” Relena nodded. 

            “They look a little young.”  J said, looking over the four young men before him.  “But they will have to do.” J folded his arms within his robes and pulled out four rolled parchments.  He handed each young man one and continued speaking.  “As the Empress has told you, you four are needed to resurrect a fallen comrade.  What I have given you, is that very spell needed.”   

Quatre and Wufei listened intently as the old Priest spoke.  Duo looked over the parchment quickly before tossing another muffin into his mouth.  Trowa, on the other hand, held the spell parchment tightly in his hand as though his very life depended on it.  

“I give you one week to learn this spell.  You must learn to work together when reciting it.  But I warn you.”  The tone of the old man changed and became deadly serious.  “This spell is in parts.  And each part must be said correctly.  Each word.  Each sentence.  If one is said without the correct inflection, the entire spell would be destroyed and there would be no second chances at correcting such a mistake.”   

* * * 

            Soon after breakfast, Trowa found himself sitting alone in Empress Relena’s private garden.  He sat at the edge of a large fountain, his face hidden in his hands.   

            “‘Morning Trowa.”  Quatre called out.  Trowa looked up briefly and sighed as Quatre sat down beside him.  “You didn’t stay for breakfast and then you left so suddenly.  Are you all right?” 

            “Forgive me Quatre.  I have been thinking.”  Trowa hid his face in his hands again.  “I shouldn’t be here with you and the others.”   

            “Why not?”  Quatre looked surprised.   

            “My magic’s… how can I do the spell required of me for the Living Storm, if I can’t do simple incantations?”  He looked up at Quatre with an expression that cut Quatre to the quick.  “I’m scared.  I’m afraid I’ll ruin everything.”           

“Don’t be.  I’ll help you with it.”  Quatre smiled, taking hold of Trowa’s hand.  “We’ll work on the spell together.”   

            “I don’t know Quatre...  What we’re being asked to do - I mean, it’s never been done.  I don’t think the Priest even knows if it’ll work.” 

            “It will work and you will do fine with it.”  Quatre stood and raised his hands above his head to stretch out his back.  “We’ve got a week to learn the spells.” 

            “It’s not that Quatre.  Learning the spell will be simple.  Controlling it… will be something else.” 

            “You’re afraid it’ll freeze.”  Quatre said softly.  

            Trowa nodded his head shyly.  “I was practicing here with the fountain.”  The Water Mage let out a heavy sigh.  “It froze almost instantly.”  Quatre reached out and pulled the taller man to his feet.           

"You are being too serious then with the spell… with any spell you cast.  You have to let the spell come from your heart.” 

* * * 

            Duo was investigating the grounds after breakfast when he came upon Quatre and Trowa.  He spied the two men sitting together, talking quietly amongst themselves by an enormous fountain.  He ducked back behind a retaining wall and watched with keen interest.  Something deep within him told him to have some fun with these too unsuspecting Mages.   

            He watched from his vantage point as Quatre grabbed Trowa’s hands and pulled him to his feet.  

What are they up to?  Duo mused as he watched the pair intensely.  He strained to hear what they were saying.  Quatre was smiling and laughing while his companion looked worried.  What's going on with those too?  Duo crept a bit closer to listen. 

            “You shouldn't worry about the spell at all.”  Duo heard Quatre say.  “It'll be just fine.  You need to calm yourself and find that special place within.  You have a gift and you must accept it.”  Trowa pulled away from Quatre at that point. 

            “No…  I never asked for this life.” 

            “You can't mean that.”  Quatre countered.  “You mean you would rather have been someone's slave for the rest of your life?” 

            Slave?  Duo thought, What's Quatre talking about? 

            Trowa rubbed the back of his neck and shook his head again.  “No, that's not what I meant.” 

            Duo crept closer to the two engrossed Mages.  His position was okay for hearing, but he couldn't see either of the two men very well.  As he sidled down the hedgerow he was hiding behind, his foot came down upon a stone that rolled underneath his boot.   

            “Ah shit!”  Duo hissed as the stone rolled out from under his foot, tumbling him forward into the hedge. 

            “Who’s there?”  Trowa yelled, pulling a pair of daggers from beneath his wrap and launching them toward the hedges.  Quatre had just barely heard the rustling of the hedges when Trowa threw his weapons.  “Show yourself!” 

            “Whoa-whoa-whoa!”  Duo stammered, as he crawled through the hedge and slowly stood up.  He hands rose up above his head as if he were giving up.  “It's only me!” 

            “What were you doing there?”  Trowa asked his voice tight with suspicion.  Quatre noted it was the same tone of voice that Trowa had used with him when they had first met. 

            “It's all right Trowa.”  Quatre said, placing a calming hand on Trowa's forearm.  “He meant no harm.”  Quatre then turned to the other Mage.  “Right Duo?” 

            “Yeah, no harm buddy!”  Duo quickly caught onto Quatre's subtle tone.  “I was just walking by and tripped on a stupid stone.  I didn't hear nothing.”  Gods… wrong thing to say…  Duo rolled his eyes.  “I'm sorry…  I was listening.” 

            Trowa looked sternly at Duo as he apologized.  “I don't like being spied upon.”  As he spoke, Trowa pushed passed the apologetic Fire Mage, reached into the hedge behind him from which Duo came through and retrieved his two daggers.  Trowa turned back sharply, “You best keep that in mind the next time.”  That said, Trowa turned and began to walk away from the two men.  “In the mean time, you might want to have your arm looked at.”  

            "Wha --?  My arm?”  Duo said. 

            “Trowa wait!”  Quatre called after him, but the Water Mage paid no heed and only waved his hand back as if to tell Quatre, ‘Not now’.  Quatre sighed and just shook his head.  He was about to say something else, when Duo's voice exploded in his ears. 

            “He cut me!”  Duo exclaimed.  “He actually cut me!”  

            “What?”  Quatre turned and found Duo holding his upper left arm, blood trickled down beneath his fingers and pooled in the folds of his tunic that rested at his elbow.  “Let me see.”  Quatre said, examining the wound.  “It's not that deep.  He only nicked you.  You were lucky.”   

            “Lucky?  He could have killed me!”  Retorted Duo. 

            “But he didn't.  I've seen what he is capable of doing.  Hold still.”  So saying Quatre placed his hand above the wound and concentrated.  And as Duo watched, his arm was slowly healed. 

            “I thought you said you were a Wind Mage.”

            “I have a natural gift for healing.”  Quatre answered nonchalantly, as he continued to heal Duo's arm.  “My Master saw that in me and while he trained me to control the wind, he also helped me to control my healing as well.”  Quatre looked up at Duo then, “All done.” 

            Duo marveled at his arm for a moment.  “No scar.  Man, what is his problem?” 

            “You must excuse Trowa.”  Quatre sighed, his tone changing as he looked back to where Trowa had stalked off.  Quatre's eyes went soft.  “He… is very uncomfortable around others and because of that, he is untrusting.” 

            “I'll say.  If he acts this way towards his friends, I'd hate to see how he treats his enemies.”  Duo joked, causing Quatre to fight back a smile.  “I mean, look at the fountain…”   

            The fair-haired Mage turned and looked at the fountain behind them.  It looked like a giant ice glacier.  Its waters frozen in time and as the pair watched, they could see the spell already starting to weaken as the frozen currents of rushing water slowly began to melt away under the morning sun. 

            The pair watched the ice sculpture as the water beneath slowly broke through the thinning ice that encased it, as it flowed once again freely.  They sat at the edge of the fountain talking, learning a little more about the other.   

In truth it was Duo doing all the talking.  

* * * 

            The week came quickly and the four newly acquainted Mages waited patiently for Priest J to make his appearance at the Shrine of Heero Yuy. 

            “This is it?”  Duo said, wrinkling his nose at the ancient structure that loomed above them.  “This place is a dump!  Are you sure this is the right Shrine, Quatre?” 

            “It is.  I guess, there was no one around to help with its upkeep.” 

            “You think they would, since it’s on the Palace Grounds.”  Trowa added nervously. 

            “Maybe they keep it this way on purpose.  You know to detour visitors or thieves.”  

“Gee... either that or the cleaning ladies are really slow....” Duo said. 

“This! This is where the remaining magic’s of the fallen Earth Mage Heero Yuy lies.”  The voice was creepy and took all four young men by surprise.  Trowa turned around quickly, a dagger held tightly in his right hand as he instinctively put himself between the older man and Quatre.     

“Eeeeeee Wufei!  Save me!”  Duo screeched and jumped into the other man’s arms almost knocking him over.  Angered Wufei quickly dropped him to the grassy ground and stepped back. 

            “Geez old man!  Don’t scare me like that!”  Duo exclaimed, one hand over his heart, his other hand gently rubbing his butt and hip from where he landed ungracefully, as he threw a dirty look at Wufei. 

            Before Duo knew what happened, Priest J hit Duo over the head with his walking stick. 

            “You need to learn more respect young man.”  He said as he walked past the four men and headed toward the sealed door of the Shrine.  “No wonder G was so quick to be rid of you.”  

            “Hey!”  Duo shot the older man a dirty look and his eyes flashed a rich violet in color.  “Take it easy old man!”  He growled.  “Not so hard!”  Duo rubbed the top of head. 

            “Priest J, the Empress told us to meet you here.”  Quatre said, gently pushing past Trowa. 

            “Yes, that is true.”  Priest J passed a feeble hand in front of a marble engraving on the door and muttered something beneath his breath.  There was a low rumble and the ancient stone door slowly parted before them. 

* * *