Gundam Fantasy

Chapter Seven

Heero had spent many an hour sitting in the window that was best for over looking the palace grounds, and had been doing so routinely since the events between the other two mages in weeks prior. He had been so lost in thought that he was unaware of being watched by the other Mages. Though if he had noticed the group watching him, most likely it would not have fazed him in the slightest.

"He's awfully quiet. He's barely spoken a word today." Trowa whispered to the others showing no real signs of concern in his voice. "Do you think he'll agree to it?"

"This is a terrible shock to him." Quatre pointed out to the water mage inwardly knowing that he truly was. "We've pulled him back from his eternal rest and flung him into a world he knows nothing of. And as much as we have tried to help him adjust, he continues to pull away."

"And considering what happened the last time… I would not be surprised if he never speaks to any of us again." Wufei said, recalling the disaster in the courtyard as he idly rubbed the side of his arm.

"Can we just ask him so we can get going?" Duo whined impatiently having let the incident slip from his mind.

Without saying another word on the matter, Quatre and the others walked up to Heero. Even as they came closer, he still remained sitting on the windowsill just staring at nothing. Quatre politely cleared his throat not wanting to startle the sullen man too greatly.

"Excuse me, Heero." Quatre said as politely and as calmly as he could. There was no response from the Blood Mage so he gently continued to speak. "We're going into town and well... we wanted to know, if you would join us." The silent Mage shifted his position enough to turn and face the others with his expressionless face.

Heero's dark eyes bore into Quatre as if trying to figure out whether or not the gentle blonde man had any ulterior motives. After a minute of silent uneasiness, Heero spoke up to them, "Why?"

"Well," stammered Quatre surprised that he even said a word to them, "You haven't left the palace in several weeks. And we've learned that there is a festival today in the marketplace. Please join us..... You might feel better if you had a change of scenery."

"Hn." Heero seemed to growl beneath his breath at the notion of having 'fun' while their duty was to protect this palace and the people within.

"Oh forget him Quatre!" Duo finally piped up annoyed by how depressed the blood mage seemed. Turning on his heels to leave the boastful fire mage flipped his braid back over his shoulder. "You know he's going to say 'No', so let's just get going so we can have some fun before we have to find our God Protectors."

Apparently patience is not one of Duo's finer points. Heero thought, as his gaze shifted to the Fire Mage as he stalked off down the hall.

Trowa and Wufei just shook their heads at the lack of manners, while Quatre turned red and quickly apologized for Duo's rudeness.

"I'm sorry Heero. Duo's one to find trouble head on if he's not careful."

Sliding off the windowsill, Heero calmly walked passed Quatre and the others, speaking nonchalantly, "Well then, I guess we better go follow him to make sure that doesn't happen."

* * *

By the time the others had caught up with Duo, he was already passed the main gates of the palace. Seeming to be in his own world he didn't even bother to look back once to see as if anyone was following him. The young blonde watched this and sighed before trying once more to get the fire mages attention.

"Duo!" Quatre's voice called out. "Wait up!" The Fire Mage paid no heed to the others as he continued on ahead.

The four young men entered the market and found it full of revelers who went about their businesses enjoying the events of the day. Just ahead of them Duo cavorted in the crowd, generally making an ass of himself where he felt the situation needed his touch. The other mages, minus Heero, let out a deep almost humiliated sigh at viewing his behavior. Heero could only coldly narrow his eyes and felt his teeth grind at Duo's actions.

A woman appearing to be in her mid-twenties approached towards Duo's location quickly, darting through the crowd as though in fear for her life. She turned her head to look behind her and before she could turn it back she ran straight into Duo, knocking him to the ground and then falling on top of him.

"Hey watch it!" Duo yelled rudely before realizing that it was a young woman who looked at him in fear. Staring for a brief moment at the woman in certain area he realized that there was something wrong with her. Grabbing at her shoulders Duo tried to help the young woman to her feet in hopes of helping out his lovely maiden in distress. But when he touched her arms with his hands, the woman screamed aloud.

"Let me go! Let me go!"

"It's okay! I'm not going to hurt you!" Duo quickly said, seeing that the young woman was obviously frightened and fearful. "I…" he stressed once again seeing as how it didn't catch on the first time, "…won't hurt you."

"Please Sir, you must help me." She began in between soft whimpers of fear, "There are men chasing me."

"How many?"

"Five or six, I can't be sure." The young woman continued to look back over her shoulder nervously.

"Well, I can take them on easy. Don't you worry Miss, I won't let anyone touch you." Duo leered at the girl he now hugged to his chest somewhat chauvinistically. The girl looked at him in shock that he was so confident in his abilities and thus thanked him. The other Mages quickly joined Duo having thus far witnessed the events that began their holiday. Duo quickly filled them in on what the young lady had told him and they positioned themselves around her.

"Why are they chasing you?" Wufei asked.

"I don't know Sir." The young woman turned around frantically when she heard angry voices getting closer and closer. "Please... you must help me!"

A group of men burst through the crowd just in front of the five Mages and the terrified woman. "There she is!" They heard one man yell as he pointed to the woman. "Hey! You there! Don't let that woman get away!"

"Please…. Don't let them hurt me!" She pleaded, wrapping herself around Duo and hiding her head in the crook of his neck. "I have done nothing!"

"We'll handle this." Duo said seriously, making himself to be the maiden's hero and protector.

"Stand aside!" One of the angry men shouted. "That woman is nothing but a common thief!"

"She's stolen from all of us!" Many of the men voiced out seeming just as angered.

"Shut up, you oafs." Duo yelled out obscenities at the crowd as he curved his body to shelter the woman from any attacks. The other Mages, however, while still standing protectively around the two, seemed perturbed by crowd's accusations.

"Hand her over now!" The woman winced hearing the accusations slipped swiftly out of Duo's arms and pushed her way passed her would-be protectors and disappeared into the crowd.

"There she goes! Get her! Catch her!"

"All of you... just leave this to us." Heero said calmly, standing before the mob, Wufei, Quatre, and Trowa standing in support behind him. Duo stood staring in the direction that the woman had run off, wondering how she disappeared so fast. "If what you say is true, then we will bring her to justice. Not some unruly mob."

"And what makes you so special that you can order us around? We've never seen you around Sanc before. Maybe you're working with her." The man accused narrowing his eyes towards Heero and the others.

Heero narrowed his eyes at the ringleader, taking a step closer to the man as if to see what he would do to him. The bandages on Heero's arms slowly came to life and worked their way toward the man.

"Mages..." One of the other men whispered in shock. "They're all Mages..."

The leader of the group paled and quickly bowed before Heero nervously. "Forgive me Sir. I didn't realize... We will allow you to conduct your investigation." A moment later the men turned and ran in the opposite direction.

"So, are we going after her?" Wufei asked looking back towards the still stunned fire mage.

"Only if what they say is true." Heero answered in annoyance that this had to happen in the first place.

"It's true." Trowa spoke with a great calmness in his voice, as if it were no big deal. "But those men were incorrect when they called Lady Sylvia a 'Common Thief.' A criminal genius would have been a more fitting title."

"How do you know, Trowa?" Quatre asked.

"When she ran into Duo. She grabbed his money." The taller Mage said nonchalantly, as he watched Duo pat himself down looking for the stolen purse. "I wasn't sure at first, but there were little signs that tipped me off. Plus I thought she looked vaguely familiar. When I was a child I met her. She stole every scrap of money and valuable items the mercenary group I was in had at the time. The captain swore if he ever saw her again he would kill her, but we never did. She was incredible then and that was over ten years ago. If she has gained any skill since then, you can bet she has already gotten what she came for, and is already gone."

"That bitch..." Duo muttered under his breath realizing that Trowa's words where true. "How could I have missed that?"

"She's good alright, but not that good." Trowa replied, as he pulled Duo's purse out from a hidden compartment in the scarf he wore around his throat and tossed it to him. "Catch." The others looked at Trowa closely, especially Quatre.

"But how...?" Wufei asked wondering what else he didn't know about the taller water mage.

"When she pushed passed to escape those men. She made sure to bump into me. In the process of trying to take my money, I took Duo's back."

"You mean you…"

"Some habits are hard to break, it seems."

* * *

Having turned aside the rabid crowd of men, the five Mages went in search of the lovely female pickpocket. Trowa continued to explain that she more than likely was working with several others and that they should be on their guard. The others agreed that they should, even if she wasn't working with others only since her appearances where very deceiving to begin with. This was not a matter they wished to bring anyone else into.

It wasn't long before they found her hiding place within a deserted alleyway. And Trowa was correct, she was most definitely not alone. Surrounding the lovely female thief had been at least thirteen men in various street garbs. The young woman was laughing and handing out the stolen money purses to the men.

"Now here's your share. You guys just have one last task to do and I'll get the prize. Are you ready?" As if on cue, the five Mages entered the alleyway to break up this gathering of thieves.

"Give back those pouches you've stolen!" Duo ordered in mild anger, while taking the lead into the alley. The four other Mages followed closely behind keeping watch on both the fire mage and the men with the woman. Lady Sylvia and her band of thugs turned calmly as if expecting their five new opponents. Sylvia carefully moved behind her men and mockingly laughed at Duo.

"You want these?" She said teasingly while holding up several string purses that hung off her fingertips, "Come get them." She challenged with a wild grin, as she no longer had the need to pretend to be the meek young woman who had asked for their help and assistance.

"Wha...? You don't think we can handle you? You're just a girl and your men look to be even less of a threat! Don't you know who we are?" Before Duo could say anything more that would be foolish, Heero placed a hand on the Fire Mage's shoulder.

"Don't." Heero said gently towards the angered mage, the slightest of smiles crossing his lips. "Let them find out for themselves who they are dealing with." Duo's eyes smiled back soon understanding what the Blood Mage was saying and nodded his head in agreement.

"Bring it on." Duo grinned widely, his eyes flashing a deep purple.

"Boys… they're all yours!"

The alleyway suddenly exploded with commotion, as the combatants poured out into the busy market. Each was armed with either a knife or their bare fists as they charged forward. The Mages nodded towards one another and prepared themselves for the incoming attacks.

* * *

Three men immediately set upon Heero figuring him to be the leader of these do-gooders who dare challenge their boss's authority. They rushed at Heero who sidestepped this way and that, not giving the men a chance to touch him. He showed no need for weapons or magic to dispel these ruffians. Seeing it was obvious that their attacks where unrefined and not as challenging as fighting off demons. The rest of the Mages noticed that Heero was able to handle himself and quickly scattered throughout the market place, with groups of Lady Sylvia's men hot on their heels.

* * *

Duo led three more men on a merry chase through the busy market place. He taunted them to no end, making them even madder than they were before. Duo leapt and dived over carts that were in the center of the market place. Once out in the open and sure that the three men were still behind him, Duo made his stand to face them. The braided hair young man didn't have to wait long as the three men burst through the crowd, pushing and shoving spectators out of the way. A crowd of people hovered at the edge of the market waiting in anticipation as the young man with the flaming tip of hair waited with not a care in the world.

"There he is!" One pointed out.

"Get him!" The second shouted.

"Make fools out of us, will he!" The first said.

The third man stood back as his companions rushed the idle young man observing the fight at least for the moment. The target just stood there as if he had no fear at all continued to grin wildly.

Why is he so cocky? The third thought seeing as how the braided boy ran from them only moments before. Then he saw the braid whipping round and round, and soon realized what they were going against.

* * *

Duo stood casually twirling his long braid in his hand as he waited for his adversaries impatiently then yawned. The tip of his braid left a fiery trail as it was spun around in small circles. He looked up as he heard the men shouting and smiled wide as if this where nothing but a game. He readied himself as two of the men came at him both with fists clenched tight. Duo noted the third man falling behind and curiously watching the battle for the moment. Since he wasn't actively fighting against him, the Fire Mage decided to pay him very little attention at least for now. The Fire Mage's eyes suddenly darkened as his opponents descended upon him and his grin became wilder.

The first man charged towards the stationary man with fist cocked back ready to fly. Duo dropped his head down as the man drew near and released the burning braid from his hand. The flaming tip of his hair whipped around and smacked square into the man's chest setting his clothing instantly on fire. Duo then threw his head back up, flipping the larger man over his shoulder and back. As Duo straightened up, the second thug plowed into him knocking back and tripping him on the writhing body of the previous attacker. As Duo fell back his feet kicked out landing with a stomach-turning crunch in his attacker's jaw. The man threw himself to the side howling in pain and clutching his most likely broken jawbone.

The third man looked on as the high-spirited mage quickly took down his comrades. Mages were never this active and never this fast at least that was what they had been led to believe. He looked around anxiously, and grabbed a broken tent pole that lay on the ground nearby. He waited until his opponent had climbed to his feet before crying out a challenge and charging forward.

Duo froze as the man rushed towards him, a long sharp-ended stick aimed straight for him. Glancing quickly around, he could see nothing but the two men at his feet. He dove and rolled off to the side as his assailant made his first pass, barely missing Duo's chest as he came by. As Duo sprang to his feet again he grabbed the cloth wrap that had served as the belt of the man with the broken jaw, and pulled it off from him. The last attacker swung around and prepared to charge again as Duo ignited the length of fabric in his hands.

The last man began his second pass, certain that the Mage could have no place else to go, and no defenses left. But as he ran, his certainty turned to terror as he watched a simple piece of cloth quickly ignite and shape itself into a short fiery scythe. The Mage wielded the simple weapon expertly and unable to stop his charge, the man screamed as the flame formed weapon sliced like butter through his makeshift spear and half way through his shoulder.

* * *

Trowa had been caught off guard as he tried to keep an eye on Quatre and defend himself as well. The thieves had plowed into him, throwing him into a seller's booth scattering its wears all over the place. Killing the three men that had attacked him would be easy enough, too easy for Trowa. However he knew that if he did so, Quatre would become upset and he knew he would be unable to face those sky-filled eyes. The very same ones that did nothing more then only reflected back the Wind Mage's true feelings. Throwing off one of his attackers into a small cart, he grabbed a second by the collar and swung him into the third as he scrambled to get up from the broken pieces of the cart. The first charged towards him again, with his fist aimed at Trowa's face. Trowa looked up narrowing his eyes as he met the charge and blocking the man's clumsy swing, he quickly drove his own fist straight into his assailant's gut.

* * *

"Please, I don't want to hurt you." Quatre said taking a step back from the two men whom approached him. The Wind Mage continued to back away from the two advancing thieves acting as if he was truly worried about confronting them. Both men had easily outweighed Quatre by at least 300 pounds. The men laughed at Quatre's comment of 'not wanting to hurt them' and briefly looked at each other with a sinister look upon their faces, then charged the delicate looking man. Shaking his head with a heavy sigh, Quatre threw his hands out in front of him and a blast of wind toward his would be assailants. Just as the two men came into range of Quatre's attack, they were picked up off their feet and thrown back several yards by the force of the winds. "Stop this now!" Quatre yelled at the two men as they were moved further away. "I don't want to be forced to hurt you!"

The men looked up from their landing place and saw storm clouds start to spiral inward towards each other. As they combined, the winds began to surround the slender formed Mage on the ground, who seemed to be centered just beneath them as their fulcrum. His head was lowered in concentration and they could hear the murmur of his voice just above the rush of wind that began to pick up.

* * *

Trowa noticed the sudden increase in wind and quickly glanced back to where Quatre stood. His gaze was quickly forced back as one of his attackers tackled him from behind, throwing him to the ground. As he struggled to get up, his eyes once again came to a brief rest on Quatre's image. The rush of the wind around him blurred the delicate figure but it was obvious to tell that he was in there. His eyes were squeezed tight in concentration, so he did not see the four larger men forcing their way over through the gale forces that tore and turn.

"Quatre!" Cried the immobilized Mage. "Quatre you are..." Trowa struggled furiously against the man who was now sitting on his back. His assailant had grabbed a length of rope from where he landed earlier and was now using it to choke Trowa. The wolf like Mage clawed at the rope to no avail, it was too tight against his throat. In a last ditch attempt, he tried to roll underneath his attacker in order to get the pressure off his neck. Half way around he realized his imminent danger of being punched and pummeled in a less advantageous position. Looking up he also saw the storm clouds swirling above. His eyes widened as an idea came to him.

* * *

Quatre knew the four men were approaching him, but he was not ready yet to implement his plan. He continued to concentrate and let the wind lift him into the air until he was hovering about three feet off the ground. He tightened the swirl of the wind around him until it was traveling at an immense speed but in a radius of only a foot beyond his body.

Feeling the pressure they were fighting against slack off, the four men rushed toward the hovering Mage, drawing short swords and daggers from within the folds of their clothing.

* * *

Trowa shot a mental cry into the sky above and the clouds rolled as thunder cracked and suddenly rain began to fall. The man pounding on Trowa stopped and snarled in pain as a single raindrop fell past his cheek, slicing it with a scalpel's delicacy. The attacker brought up one hand and touched his cheek. Pulling back his hand, he found the side of his face bleeding. He seemed confused about what he saw. Trowa looked up into the man's eyes and smiled grimly. He was unable to move because the attacker's knees had pinned his arms. Then without warning, the rain began to fall quite rapidly on the two of them.

Biting back a cry of pain as a silver raindrop shot through his thigh and another nicked his ankle. Still the water mage remained focus on staying alive long enough to help Quatre fend off his attackers. But it was the man on top of him that bore the brunt of his attack as it became far worse. It had only been moments later when the rain slowed to a stop and Trowa rolled the man's limp form off of himself.

* * *

As Quatre's four adversaries reached striking range, the fair skinned man shot straight into the air disappearing from sight. He paused briefly about fifty feet above his surprised attackers who searched the sky for him. Looking down, he watched with a brief concern as Trowa picked himself up off the ground, the body of a man at his feet. Thus assured that his companion was safe he allowed him-self to return his focus to the task at hand. Chanting softly Quatre gently flicked his wrist, which caused the upward draft beneath him to dissipate.

The first man hit the ground screaming in agony, his left shoulder was broken and twisted at a sickening angle behind him. Quatre had dropped from the sky at an immense speed, the protective wind acted as his shield while he plowed into the first of his attackers. The wind mage flew passed in a heartbeat using the shielding winds to give him a sense of slight levitation. As he came to the second man he latched onto his arm and swung sharply around. The man was shocked, for now his sword hand swiftly became caught in Quatre's grip. Now helpless to do anything as he was wrenched around and slammed into a stone obelisk in the center of the market. The other two men disappeared into the crowd before Quatre was able to make a third pass.

Quatre gently set down next to Trowa and made a quick inspection of the taller Mage's throat and his other injuries. Determining that no serious damage had been done, Quatre sent Trowa off after the two fleeing men as he began to clean up the mess that had been created by the fury of his wind based attacks.

* * *

Wufei's face was extremely grim as he sidestepped and dodged the punches thrown at him. To him the two rugged looking men had been far too slow and too easy to disarm in this fight. This was just like another exercise that his Master would have put him through for training, except for one small difference. Wufei's current ability and speed had kept the two men busy and he noticed that the two were tiring quickly as they continued trying to touch the smaller man. This feeble display left Wufei empty on the inside, for within his heart he knew his true challenge awaited him somewhere in the darkness of the shadows. The very same dark shadows that had ruined village after village within the last few weeks.

It was too dangerous to call forth Nataku in the market place, since there was the chance of others who had nothing to do with this to become injured. Besides, she liked having to deal with crowds even less than he did. He would have to dispatch these villains another way so this display of skill versus lack of skill would be finished swiftly. To him they were no different from the countless children and adults who had tormented the young lightning mage in his youth. Their attacks were easily quelled and Wufei stood there watching as the two men left, fleeing in a cowardice retreat.

* * *

In the confusion of all the fighting, the young woman smiled from her vantage point. For she had been positioned high upon the rooftops of a nearby building, which had been over looking the market below. Sylvia smiled and shook her head as she watched her thugs being taken down by two of the Mages who had challenged her. Her men were working out perfectly, although she was certain they would look on their role in her plot a little less favorably. In that regards she didn't even care, to her they where nothing more then pawns for her amusement. Her eyes scanned the rest of the marketplace until she found the right person she was looking for. Pulling the hood of her cloak that she wore up and over her head and then wrapping an additional scarf around her throat to conceal her features even more, she turned her back on the activities below and jumped from the roof into the crowd disappearing from sight.

* * *

Wufei came running around the corner when he heard cries of help worrying that innocent lives where dragged into this battle. Upon arriving closer he discovered the Wind Mage Quatre standing there quietly talking to one of the sellers in the market.

"Quatre, are you alright?" Wufei asked, slightly winded having pushed himself to try and reach the once endangered shopkeeper.

"I'm just fine." The blond haired man answered with a warm smile, has he handed the young woman in the booth some money for all the trouble she had to endure with. "I'll take this one. Thank you." Quatre bowed and tucked a slightly damaged book under his arm for safekeeping. To him this was the least he could do for dragging the young lady into such a horrible event.

"What happened to the..."

"Oh, they're about." Quatre smiled towards his new friend, pointing a finger above the street casually as if it was nothing unusual. Wufei followed the direction of Quatre's finger as well has his gaze upward, then smiled coyly back at the Wind Mage who continued smiling as he spoke. "Trowa went after the other two."

"You're good. I would not have thought you would do such a thing."

"Thank you." Quatre said bowing modestly with a shy grin upon his gentle features. "Shall we find the others?"

As the two Mages walked off, high above the market, and clinging for dear life were two of the thieves that attacked Quatre only moments earlier. One held up the other who seemed unable to use his left arm and wobbled a bit from his perched location. Both had been far too terrified to look down from the top of the obelisk in the center of the market place.

* * *

Heero looked at the circle of men brandishing swords and knives with a calm expression upon his face. Most of the crowd had left this area, although there had gathered a few small clusters of spectators huddled in protective debris of shop stalls. That of course was his only reason for being unable to avoid the three men who were attacking him, but he wasn't one to let a situation escalate into something he couldn't handle. When the thugs that attacked him were joined by more of their band, it seemed that his fate was sealed.

"Give up while you can!" Called out one of the bandits in a gruff yet smug voice, "There is no way you could possibly defeat all of us."

Heero smiled harshly as he slowly drew out a six-inch dagger from a concealed sheath at his side. He shook his head when he saw Trowa wend his way towards him from one of the larger crowds of onlookers. As if he really needed any assistance in disposing of these foes. Heero focused on emptying his mind of all thoughts other than the seven men positioned around him.

Lady Sylvia gasped as the young dark-haired man raised a small dagger into the air then quickly brought it down again, burying it deep into his chest. This would be easier than she thought, but it was shocking that a purported Mage of no small power would give up his life with so little a fight. Narrowing her eyes slightly she could not bring herself to look away from the events that followed.

Heero fell to his knees, his hands clutching at the hilt of his dagger. Blood trickled down the blade and onto the hilt, seeping between Heero's fingers. The rasping pain in his breathing seemed deafening in the suddenly silent marketplace.

"Wait, Heero!" Trowa cried out in horror seeing the heavily bleeding mage. He plunged through the ranks of Heero's adversaries and rushed to the crumpled Mage's side. Heero's survival was of great importance and spoke with a hint of nervousness in his voice, "I'll go get Quatre!"

"No! Get… away from me!" Heero choked out painfully, blood bubbling from between his teeth with every breath. Waving Trowa off with a bloody hand, Heero continued to speak, "I can't contain them much longer… ahhg!" He panted in agony as he continued to warn his ally, "Get away from me now!"

Trowa had started to back off quickly but not nearly quick enough. From Heero's hunched form, came what seemed to be hundreds of bandages, which shot forth in every direction latching onto anything living around him. The bandages wrapped themselves frantically onto Heero's attackers. Trowa brought his hands up in defense as several of Blood Mage's wrappings caught him as well, catching his arms and legs. The tall Mage pulled and struggled to free himself, as did those around him. Trowa had seen what the Blood Mage's bandages were capable of doing to a person from having witnessed the fight between Duo and Wufei. The quiet Water Mage did not wish such a fate upon himself.

Heero's body spazmed and jerked him to his feet against his will. His scream was unearthly as his back arched and his hands, unbidden wrenched the offending dagger from between his ribs. The Blood Mage's arms were outstretched to at his sides, as his wrappings moved and coiled on their own snaring everything in its path.

Lady Sylvia crept towards one of her now almost motionless men wrapped in Heero's strange bandages. A single tendril un-looped itself from the man's torso and drifted sinuously toward her outstretched hands. With a blinding swiftness, she sliced through the wrapping with a tiny silver dagger in her right hand and with her left she scooped up the writhing bandage into a concealed box in her cloak. Having completed her task, she melted once again into the shadows of the crowd behind her and disappeared.

* * *

A crowd gathered at the entrance of the alleyway talking amongst themselves as they looked on in horror at what lay within. Having pulled Duo away from a half dozen or so young ladies, who marveled at the way the Fire Mage had dispatched the thieves, the three remaining Mages made their way back toward the alleyway and where Heero and Trowa had last been seen. As they neared it, the talkative crowd slowly quieted down and parted making way for the three Mages to walk through. There was an uneasy calm that hung thick in the crowd as they passed. As they neared the opening of the alley, Quatre was the first to see what the crowd was gawking at - nine motionless bodies literally scattered about like forgotten rag dolls. Duo walked into Quatre, since he wasn't paying attention at time. His reasons for being a distraction was his boastful bantering at Wufei, whom was trying to ignore the chatty Mage and remain calm.

"Quatre? Why'd you stop?" Duo asked curiously looking at the back of the blonde mages head.

When Quatre didn't answer Duo and Wufei exchanged glances and looked around and past their fellow Mage. The fair-haired Mage continued to say nothing as he ran into the alleyway. He quickly knelt beside Trowa's still form and placed a trembling hand on the still Mage's cheek. His skin was still warm. Quatre relaxed his mind as he touched Trowa's face. The empathic Mage sighed in relief finding that Trowa was uninjured, just only in a deep sleep. Quickly glancing over at Heero, Quatre saw the bloodied dagger on the ground lying within arms reached.

"Oh Heero…" The others heard Quatre say as he gently rolled Heero onto his back to examine the wound in his chest. Quatre lightly touched the blood soaked tunic and found the entry wound. As he had thought, the wound was already healed. Softly he sighed and spoke low for Heero to hear, "…there was no need for such extreme measures…"

"Quatre!" Wufei called out as he remained at the other fallen mages side. "Trowa's coming around."

"That's good."

"What about these guys?" Duo asked, as he knelt over one the unconscious thieves and poked at the still man with his finger almost childishly.

"Go find the authorities and have them arrested." Quatre replied looking calmly at Duo not wishing to discuss this openly at the moment.

* * *

A young woman walked with utmost confidence into Treize's private chamber within the palace. She stood patiently as she waited for Treize to make his appearance. Glancing about the room, she began admiring all the little trinkets and art that adorned the room.

"You return so quickly?" Treize said, as he entered the chambers, his long cloak rustling behind him with the sound of flapping bat wings.

"My Lord…" The woman said loyally, as she bowed before the Demon. "I have brought what you have requested. Something that belongs to your enemy." From within the folds of her cloak, she produced a small wooden box and stepped forward just enough for him to see more clearly. Holding the box out in front of herself, she opened its lid and showed Treize its contents.

Treize's eyes narrowed and he smiled cruelly as he looked up from the box to the face of the young woman. "Yes, I can feel his magic within it. You have done very well. Better even than I would have expected. You will have to impart how you managed to get hold of something that is more than likely the core of his very being."

"Thank you My Lord." Sylvia smiled then beamed towards the demon, bowing again as she replaced the lid upon the box. "Of course I will tell you everything I know."

* * *

The Empress found the five Mages sitting together in what was most appropriately named the 'Sun Room' of the castle. Since it was one of the few rooms within the palace walls that let in enough light that you felt as if you where sitting outside. It had been almost a week since the incident in the Market Place but almost everyone knew. The news had been spread fast like a wild fire throughout the Kingdom. This news of course had been that the Empress had brought together five Mages, but for what purpose no one really knew. Though with speculation and rumors spreading as swiftly as the news, she felt now was the best time to dispel all false rumors and let the truth be put into light.

Upon reaching the room, Empress Relena made sure to dismiss her personal guards as she entered. The Five Mages stood as she came into the room and bowed to her. Looking upon their faces she knew that she was in no better hands then theirs. Additional guards would simply be nothing more then additional bodies where there could be other matters to attend to, which is what she calculated thus off they went.

"You're Highness." They collectively said as they stood up better.

"Gentlemen." She smiled warmly as she continued to look upon each of their faces, "Won't you join me for a walk in the garden?"

* * *

Relena walked within the garden, her hand resting on Heero's arm. Though inwardly she felt her heart flutter by the attention and their current closeness to the former Earth Mage. But it was he who had spoken first to ask if he could escort her, and so she accepted. The others walked loosely behind the pair to give them space but had also been listening to what she had to say. "Tomorrow you five will set out on a journey that will hopefully save our Kingdom." Her voice was soft and delicate, but held tight with worry. "You must do this as quickly as possible. Everyday, I receive more and more news of towns and villages being attacked. The people of this Kingdom look to me for guidance and I am at a loss to help them."

"Do you know who is responsible for the attacks, Empress?" Quatre asked as he felt his heart sank within his chest at the memory from the dying woman he once held in his arms. If more had to have suffered so greatly as she did then he had to do what he could to prevent more tragedies from occurring.

Relena regrettably shook her head in answer to the Wind Mages question. "Many of the attacks continue to come at night as you have seen for yourselves from that one village you had gone to. So no one sees what actually happens during that time." The Empress sighed with a deep sadness towards how helpless she felt while her people suffered, "Only twice have there been attacks during the day and those villages were completely slaughtered." She sounded as though her voice would crack and tears would begin to fall but carefully held back to regain composure.

"Not one eye witness?" Wufei asked almost shocked that not a single person was a witness.

"Not one that has survived. There have been conflicting reports as to whom or what is doing this horrible thing to our people. It's heartless and this enemy must be stopped and stopped soon. For I fear something more terrible is on its way."

* * *

A high-pitched whistle from near by caught the attentions of both Heero and Trowa first. Both Mages stopped suddenly and listened to try and locate the direction in which the sound originated.

"The trees!" Trowa yelled the moment he realized where as he pointed toward a small grove on the Castle's Estate. Pulling out a pair of daggers from beneath his wrap, Trowa made no hesitation as he launched them into the nearby grove. As quickly as he had thrown the knives, he brought up an ice barrier, covering their small party with all intent on keeping the Empress protected. Upon it's creation a hail of arrows that where nothing more then just a sound moments ago, bounced harmlessly off the shield.

"Get down!" Heero exclaimed loudly, as he pushed Relena to the ground and covered her with his body.

"What's happening?" Relena asked with worry in her voice.

"How many Trowa?" Heero inquired, still not moving from his present location. Until he was positive it was safe for Relena to stand once more.

"At least four attackers."

"Check it out!" the stoic blood mage ordered.

The Water Mage nodded his head at the order then motioned with his hand. "Wufei, Duo let's go."

"Are you all right Empress?" Quatre asked as he examined her for injuries. Heero slowly stood at attention, scanning the grounds for anything out of the unusual. He brought up a shield as well, protecting himself, Relena, and Quatre from any further attacks.

"I'm fine… just startled a bit." She tried to smile, obviously disturbed by the whole incident. "What's going on?"

"It looks like our enemy knows who we are and doesn't want us to find the God Protectors. That, and they want you out of the way as well." Heero said grimly.

"How can that be?" Relena asked in shock that someone could have guessed what she was going to ask of the mages. "I have made no announcements of our plans."

"The Market Place!" Quatre said in horror as it suddenly dawned on him, "It must have been Lady Sylvia."

"Good guess… that is possible." Heero replied still grim as to the situation. As the other three Mages headed back toward them, he noticed that one was carrying a body with them. Palace guards ran toward the Empress as they heard the yelling from the garden. Though their appearance and assistance was a few moments too late.

The unidentified man was dropped at the feet of the Empress. A dagger that had been thrown by the water mage currently remained protruding out of his chest.

"Do you recognize him?" The Blood Mage asked in general seeing as how Trowa had known of Lady Silvia before hand.

"No…" She said shaking her head, horrified by the man's grim look. "I have never seen him before."

Turning to the guards that arrived, Heero addressed them, "Take the Empress back indoors. Keep her away from all windows until we return. Quatre go with them." Once Relena was safely indoors, Heero turned and addressed the others still with him. "Anyone else?" Heero asked slightly glancing Trowa in hopes that the group was stopped.

"No. I was only able the catch one and part of a second's cloak."

"We need to split up and search the grounds for anything out of the unusual." Ordered Heero once more not wanting these thugs to get away with a near attempt on the Empress's life.

* * *

It was some time after the attack on the Empress's life that a strange young man, dressed in a semi-loose green tunic and pants had appeared before the castle gates. Remaining behind him, a snow-white steed with two strange shapes draped over its back stood patiently as it casually glanced around the area. The gates opened before the young man after a short wait, allowing both he and the beast to enter within the castle walls.

Heero stood just inside the gates and watched as the boy made his way toward him. The gate guards had told them that someone had wished to specifically speak with the Empress on a matter of great importance. The other Mages were there, as well standing just behind him, save Quatre, who had remained inside to make sure the Empress had suffered no hidden injuries.

"Who are you, and what business do you have here today." Heero questioned coldly, wary of the figure that now appeared in his view.

The young man smiled slightly and bowed his head in deepest respect. "And a good morrow to you Lord Heero. I have come to visit with the Empress Relena." Even though the man looked very young, his manner and the way he spoke were archaic, reminding Heero of a strange familiarity from his previous life.

"Who are you?" Heero repeated trying not to waiver from the memories of old. "And how do you know who I am?"

Again the man smiled in a slight manner. "When I was but a little child upon my mother's knee, she told me of a young warrior with a pure heart who would save the Kingdom when he found the God Protector, Wing Gundam. A year later she was killed in the battle which determined the fate of the Sanc Kingdom." Lifting his gaze to meet Heero's the young man spoke again, "As has always been my family's role, my mother showed you the resting place of the God Protector Wing Gundam. I am called Thea. Empress Relena summoned me here today most likely for the purpose of leading you each to your God Protectors."

"You're Amara Sinha's child?" He said inwardly surprised as looked upon the young man before him, though his face did not show such emotion his eyes told of his expression, "I remember her. She was a trusted friend." The fond memories came back quickly as Heero remembered the Elvin maiden. She had been his friend and confidante in his past life. Amara had been a dear and perhaps his only friend for which he could talk to when things became too rough for him.

"She was a good woman and her memories live on at our village. She like you, dear warrior, has become a great legend within our homes and hearts." Thea replied gently, shaking his head for a moment then quickly changed the subject. "I believe these two men whom you are looking for." Looking over his shoulder and whistling like a songbird in the wind, the white steed trotted up toward Heero. Draped across its back with two men with short arrows sticking out of their bodies.

Trowa and the others moved up and removed the dead bodies from the animals back. The Water Mage noticed a tear in one of the men's cloak as he settled the corpse onto the ground. Studying the tear more carefully he knew immediately that this was the man his dagger had come close to hitting.

"It's them Heero." Trowa said confidently as he stood up once again and looking back towards the Blood Mage. "Word will not get back to our enemies now."

* * *