Gundam Fantasy

Book Nine


Once Trowa recovered from his ordeal it only took the traveling party a few days to reach the edge of a majestic emerald forest. The travel would have taken longer, but it was agreed among the group, thus they didn’t waste much time sleeping during the night for there was a great need to hurry. By cutting back on the amount of sleep, despite the Fire Mage’s constant grumbling, they had arrived by early daybreak.

According to Thea, this was where Wufei was to find the God Protector of the Lightning Mage, Shenlong. Jumping from his horse’s back, Wufei prepared to enter the lush forest. He could feel the faint presence of the God Protector, deep within it and that knowledge sent a slight shiver over his skin. Thea having long since disappeared left this part of the trip for the five behind to search alone.

“If I must destroy this forest to free the God, I will.” The others heard the Northern Mage say with determination in his voice.

“You can’t.” Trowa spoke up sounding troubled by the Lightning Mage’s words, as he began climbing down from his mount.

“And why should I?” Wufei asked slightly annoyed, by the slight growl in his voice while narrowing his dark eyes. “Must I not reach ascension to free my Gundam?”

“Yes, but by destroying such a beautiful forest?” Trowa replied once again but still as calmly as he could. The Water Mage stepped between the determined Lightning Mage and the forest’s entrance. “This forest is one of the oldest in all of the Five Kingdoms. I can’t allow you to do this.”

“You’re now telling me what I can and cannot do?” Wufei angrily shot back, bringing up an accusing fist as if Trowa was robbing him of something destined to be his.

“Heero…” Quatre started to say softly, as his voice carried with it an air of worry, “…what do we do?” Heero raised a hand to Quatre, motioning for him to just wait and observe what would happen next.

“I will not let you harm even one tree or beast.” Trowa answered sternly after a pause, as he spoke the entrance of the forest was suddenly blocked by a pack of wolves.

The pack leader whined and stepped toward Trowa, who kneeled to greet the beautiful animal. After a moment of silent communication between the two, Trowa stood up again and the wolf pack melted back into the forest. Turning back to Wufei, Trowa apologized for his interference.

“I have withdrawn my request to my friends. You may proceed as you wish in obtaining your God Protector. I should not have interrupted you. But be aware, this forest is a living entity. It can hear and feel and speak in its own way. If you try to hurt it, it will defend itself.”

Wufei eyed Trowa closely as the taller Mage walked fluidly back to his mount and waiting patiently with the other Mages. The Lightning Mage nodded slightly as if agreeing that Trowa had been wrong to stop him. His focus was now attuned to the immense power he felt sleeping within the forest. He quickly began his journey, ignoring the sharp thorns and twigs of the underbrush that scratched and pulled at his clothing.

The four other Mages followed after him slowly, allowing him to blaze the trail. After several hours, Wufei came across a sense of otherworldly magic. It wasn’t his sleeping God Protector, but the energy was strong and all around him. Nevertheless he ignored the feeling, and pushed on ahead.

Wufei eventually entered a grove where a stream had broken off into a myriad of little streamlets that created quiet laughter at the base of the forest trees, which they flowed around. There was a sense of peace and tranquility here, which Wufei ignored. The Lightening Mage plowed through the streams and jumped from tree root to tree root making his way towards his Gundam. At the center of the glade Wufei came to a large tangle of trees that blocked his path. He tried squeezing between two of the smaller trees, but only managed to rip his jacket in the process.

“Looks like somebody’s takin’ a few lessons in fashion,” floated Duo’s chuckling voice over the quiet laughter of the brook. The other Mages’ voices sounded strangely detached as they hushed the cocky Fire Mage.

Wufei snarled slightly, but ignored the men behind him, for his focus was on something more important then Duo‘s idiotic banter. Looking around he could see no way of passing the mass of trees. Such a roadblock only further angered him as he closed his eyes while choosing his target and let a single blast of lightening crash into the heart of it.

The bolt of lightening effortlessly ripped through foliage striking a sapling, nearly tearing the young tree in two. As the echoes from his strike died away it soon became apparent to Wufei that all sounds in forest had completely stopped. Not a bird chirped melodically, the wind didn’t rustle the leaves gently in the trees, not even the water laughed anymore as it moved among the tree roots.

Wufei confident that he opened a proper path, turned back toward the others, “We can go through here…” To his surprise, all of the Mages were gone, as he continued to scan the area and beyond realized that they were nowhere behind him. He couldn’t even hear Duo’s voice as much as he strained to listen.

Turning back around, he found himself staring into the eyes of a young woman. She had long green willowy hair and paler green skin from which shown large sapphire eyes. As he looked into those eyes, he felt that he might drown in them. The young woman glared at Wufei and realized that she was much older than she seemed.

Her eyes… so much like Nataku’s.

“You have violated our trust, intruder.” The woman spoke with annoyance, her soft voice sounding very much like the wind in the trees. “We allowed you to enter our forest and yet you betrayed us. For that we will have our revenge.” So saying, the young woman stepped back toward a tree and melted into the bark as if it were water.

All around Wufei a breeze came up and roared through the trees. The sounds of a thousand angry voices assaulted his ears as he was pelted with small twigs and stones.

“I will not be detained!” Wufei yelled foolishly with pride, “I will free my God Protector! There are more important things than a tree. You will not stop me!”

A large branch cracked above Wufei hitting him on the back of the head, dropping him to the forest floor. Slowly his vision swam back before his eyes as he slowly recovered from the attack. When his vision finally became clear again, his eyes were wide with surprise. All around him in every tree, a small girl with green or brown hair and pale green skin glared at him with vengeance in her eyes. Again they began pelting Wufei with leaves, rocks and twigs.

The wind whirled around him and clouds covered the sun turning the forest shadowy and dark. All of the strange girls’ faces were twisted in rage and they bared fangs and wicked looking claws.

Battered from all sides, Wufei could not move in any direction without suffering branches slapping into him or claws raking at his exposed head and arms. His fury rising again, he brought up a cracking blue electrical shield around himself, which effectively blocked all the girls who attacked him.

Wufei gathered three electrical balls around him and threw them into the trees. They crackled and flashed as they impacted with each tree they came in contact with causing them to burst into flames. The three balls bounced and ricocheted from tree to tree. Some of the girls screamed and tried to put the fires out. While others jumped down to the forest floor surrounding Wufei. Vines whipped through the air entangling the Mage and the sky grew black until Wufei’s lightening spheres were the only source of light in the grove.

With a twitch, Wufei destroyed the vines. An aura of blue light radiated from his body. Three of the girls ran towards him shrieking and before he could blink one had latched on his forearm, sinking her teeth into his flesh. Another just grazed his cheek with her claws. Wufei spun around wrenching his wrist from the biting girl’s jaws and upon completion of his spin he backhanded her to the ground. Grabbing the last girl as she flew past him, Wufei caught her by the throat and threw the green-haired girl to the ground, pinning her beneath him.

She snapped and snarled at him, her soft feminine features shifting too more animalistic and vicious features. Vines twined up and around snaring him from every angle, but Wufei was prepared for that. He lowered his hand to hover just above the girl’s throat. It glowed, an eerie blue and he glared at the growing ring of blue sapphire eyes that surrounded him.

“Stop!” The voice sounded like a snapping branch. The young woman who first spoke to Wufei stepped forward. “You’ve won this battle and we request that you harm no more of our kind.”

Wufei slowly backed away from the girl he had thrown to the ground. He stood guarded and ready for any trick these ‘women’ might throw his way.

“Look and see what you have done murderer!” The blue-eyed girl said, and as she turned she waved her hand above herself. The clouds parted in places allowing sunlight to stream down in small shafts of light that lit up the damaged forest. Centered in each beam were battered and bleeding green girls. They sat in trees or on the ground and their muffled weeping grew louder and more heartrending with each new beam that broke through the clouds.

Wufei was caught off guard by what he saw. His energy ball should have done nothing more than stun the strange green girls. But the injuries he saw were much, much worse.

“Look at my daughter.” The young woman told Wufei. Tears made of golden sapling streamed down her face and all the other girls wept with her. Underneath the brightest patch of sunlight at the base of a ruined sapling was a child, no older than seven or eight of age. She lay upon the ground in a crumbled heap. Dark blood pooled around her still form and dark burns marred her pale green skin from head to toe.

Wufei shook his head in horror. “No, I did not do that!” He insisted. “None of my attacks were lethal. I could not have killed that child!”

“You aimed straight for my daughter’s heart and dealt a blow intended to destroy her, murderer!” The older girl darkly shouted as she pointed towards him with a cold look upon her face. “And we know that you could destroy us, so we will not challenge your passage through our forest. But know this... vengeance will be ours. You will be the only one to walk out of our forest.” The ethereal woman raised her hand and flung it behind her as if to show the mage what she meant by her words.

The Lightening Mage looked behind the green girl and saw four more young ladies and just beyond them was the four missing Mages, each entangled in a web of vines. Heero and Duo were unconscious. The vines of the forest wrapped around their arms and legs, lifting them off the forest floor. Quatre and Trowa were still conscious, but only barely. Vines wound themselves around the two Mages bodies, entangling about their wings holding them fast.

“I don’t believe you. It’s all an illusion!” Wufei shouted with a mix of fear and horror in his voice. He couldn’t believe that he had killed the child before him nor would he believe that the other Mages were so easy to capture.

The green girl shot her hand out behind her once more. “An eye for an eye…”

Four green spikes shot from her hand, extensions of her fingers. One struck Trowa in the shoulder. He barely made a sound as the spike cut deeply into the trapped Mage’s shoulder. But the other three struck Quatre in his chest with deadly accuracy. The Wind Mage screamed in agony and quickly fell silent. Trowa looked over at Quatre and bowed his head in despair. A single tear fell from his usually visible eye.

“…A life for a life.” The woman continued coldly as she sneered slightly in a bitter contempt that it wasn‘t Wufei‘s life she was taking.

Wufei screamed for her to stop and ran toward his fallen companions, but as he began to reach them a vine web came up from the forest floor between him and the other Mages. He struggled to get past the living wall that separated him from his companions but to no avail.

“Your friends will pay for your crimes, unless you are willing to make up for them.” The young woman still spoke coldly and watched the lightning mage struggle to get closer. “They suffer because of your selfishness and greed.”

Tears streamed down Wufei’s face as he shouted to his comrades from the edge of the barrier. All he wanted was the God Protector to save people and protect those whom he could consider worthy allies, friends even. His body shook in horror at the mere thought that it could all end so swiftly before any thing could really happen.

“Trowa, why didn’t you stop them?” he choked out noticing that the Water Mage was breathing still.

Trowa lifted his head weakly and looked at Wufei with a deep sadness in his eyes. “I apologized for interfering already. I will not interfere again. I warned you, the forest would fight back if you tried to hurt it. The Dryads are the Guardians of the forest. Their word is law here.” Having spoken those words, Trowa lowered his head once again, and resigned to his fate so that he may join his companions.

“No! You must fight!” He shouted in vain hope of reawakening a fighting spirit in the still living mage. “How can you let Quatre’s death go unanswered?” Trowa said nothing as his body went limp within the tangle of vines that supported him. Wufei turned back toward the young woman and prepared himself. “Your fight is with me! Leave them out of this!”

“It is far too late for that!” She snapped bitterly, “You should have thought of that before you attacked my daughter!”

“I… I didn’t know.” Wufei softly choked in defeat.

“You didn’t listen.” The young woman snorted out firmly.

“What must I do to amend this tragedy?” He asked not looking up to face his accuser.

“Bring my daughter back.”

The young Mage’s head popped up in surprise by this request. “But I am not a healer. I can’t.”

“You will.” The spirits tone was cold as her eyes remained locked on the mage.

* * *

Wufei concentrated on maintaining the steady electrical field around the child’s body and the body of the broken sapling. His arms and back ached from holding the same position for so long, but he knew he must endure. Thinking back to his youth, the young mage remembered that he once held similar forms while training with his master, but never for such an extended period.

The sun had long since set and the moon was at midpoint in its trek across the sky before he began to see the results of his efforts. The sapling began to heal and grew into a split trunk, while the child’s wounds were healed at a much slower pace. There would be scarring on the child’s body that no healing could ever repair. Eventually the child slowly awoken then stood up swiftly making her way to her mother who embraced the child with great joy.

As Wufei watched the reunion with relief that he was able to accomplish such a difficult task, he soon felt a sharp twinge in his back. He wasn’t sure at first if it was just his back aching, but then the feeling continued to grow. The Mage allowed the pain to sweep over him, accepting what he felt and after enduring for what seemed like an eternity, he was gifted wish a pair of white-feathered wings that unfolded slowly from his back, leaving him with the tattered remains of his tunic.

“You have earned your award.” Wufei heard the woman say before looking up slowly. And as she spoke, the tangled mass of trees nearby seemed to part on their own. Hidden deep within the grove of lush greenery was the God Protector - Shenlong. As Wufei stumbled toward the impressive figure, he watched as more vines pulled themselves away from the resting God. The moon’s light radiated down on the Mage as he prepared to fly to the God Protector. The chest plate opened slowly welcoming Wufei as he neared the Protector. Wufei paused before the entrance, reflecting on the events that had unfolded nearly hours before.

What did it matter now that he had his God Protector? He wondered to himself still staring at the protector as it laid in wait before him. Quatre was dead and without all Five Mages there was no chance in defeating their enemy even if the remaining Mages found their Gundams. Regretfully, the Lightening Mage entered his.

* * *

Wufei landed gently beside the sapling and looked up at Shenlong. It was finally completed, his task finished but at what cost? He had completed his ascension, yet there was no pride in this, he still felt miserable for what he had done and for what had happened to the other Mages. Touching the gem he wore, the God Protector vanished. Once it dematerialized, Wufei dropped to his knees in defeat, his wings draped heavy over his shoulders as if he bore the weight of the world upon them.

“Why do you weep speaker of spirits?” The Dryad asked curiously.

“I let my desire to find my Protector overwhelm me. Blinded to what was around me. I do not deserve this… I have brought shame upon myself and my Master.”

The Dryad reached down and cupped Wufei’s chin, raising his face so she may look at him. He looked exhausted and his face held many lacerations. “You are worthy of such an honor. You have done well and passed our tests.”

“What?” He said somewhat stupefied, as he began blinking away his tears.

“See for yourself.”

Wufei glanced slowly from side to side, finding the forest grove peaceful and tranquil, as it was when he first saw it. The damage he had caused gone. The brooks once again sounding like children’s laughter.

“I don’t understand.” Wufei replied in a state of shock. “The sapling… your daughter…”

“Yes, you killed her. She knew the risk, but you did bring her back. Only one worthy could have. You have learned a powerful lesson in humility.”

“Then… my companions? Are they…”

The Dryad gently turned Wufei’s head to look behind him. Just beyond the opening of the grove, he saw the other Mages. They stood and sat around a small campfire enjoying the night and plotting over their next move. “Your friends are safe.” Wufei wiped his eyes of tears with the back of his arm to hide his tears incase they saw him.

“They were never in harms way, besides how could we hurt one of our own kind?” She said gently, looking toward the waiting Mages, her eyes falling upon the Fire Mage as he laughed. For a brief moment Duo turned his head in the direction of the Dryad and their eyes met. The Mage’s eyes flashed a deep violet as if he knew she was speaking of him. He gave the forest maiden a quick smile and a wink before turning his attention back to those around the fire.

“But, I saw… heard…” He stammered as the maiden slowly helped him to stand. “Wait… what do you mean one of your own? Who do you mean?”

“You saw and heard what we wanted you to see and hear.” The Dryad gently pushed Wufei toward the others ignoring the rest of his questions, “No more questions now. They are waiting for you.”

Wufei turned back to thank the maiden and found the grove empty. All he could hear were the sounds of the brook and the chirping of the crickets. He slowly made his way back toward the other Mages but had not fully forgotten the maidens’ words.

The Northern Mage slowly walked out of the corral of trees and headed back toward the others. Every few steps he would stop and look back into the trees, trying to spy any of the maidens in the grove. As he reached the makeshift campsite, Wufei turned around one last time. He closed his eyes and opened his heart and mind to the whispers of the forest around him.

Thank you. He thought.

You are very welcome. He heard back softly.

Trowa spoke first as he looked up past the fire. “Here he comes.” Quatre sat up from where he was leaning against Trowa’s shoulder and rubbed the sleep from his eyes and yawned into the back of his hand. Heero stood like a statue and watched as the bedraggled Mage walked back toward their camp. Duo, on the other hand, stood grinning like a madman as he looked from behind Heero.

“Well?” Heero calmly asked as if waiting for confirmation.

Wufei looked up at the Blood Mage and spoke wearily right before collapsing into Heero’s arms exhausted. “Shenlong has accepted me.”

“Wufei!” Quatre exclaimed in surprise for not noticing sooner. The moment he was able to get to his feet, the young Wind Mage rushed to the fatigued Mage’s side, as Heero gently laid him to the forest floor.

* * *

That night the group rested in the forest under the dryad’s watchful protection. Trowa leaned against a tree. It was his turn to watch over the group that night. Closing his eyes, he listened to the songs of the spirits as there otherworldly voices drifted into his ears. Eventually he sat down and continued to listen. He was so relaxed and at peace with the music that he didn't notice Quatre until the Wind Mage snuggled in against him to sleep.

They had remained for the night solely to let Wufei rest from his ascension. Duo slept near the fire muttering in great annoyance about the cool air of the night. The Water Mage watched as the Fire Mage nearly wrapped him-self around the campfire, and for a second believed that the rowdy mage would end up sleeping on top of the flames. Heero slept off to the side and away from the others. Trowa opened his eyes again. It had soon dawned on him that there where only two God Protectors left. And they belonged to Duo and Heero.

By the morning, Thea arrived like he usually had done so in the past. Bright and early with new supplies for the Mages along with a map of where they were headed next.

“Fire Mage…” Thea excitedly spoke up with a giggle in his voice. “Today we find your God Protector.”

Duo smiled at the thought of his own God Protector and replied, “Wonderful!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that.” The young Ranger warned.

“How so?”

“Your Ascension will not be as easy as the others.”

“What are you talking about?” Duo protested with much foolish pride. “I go off by myself, free my God Protector, and get my wings. How much more simple can I explain it to you?”

Thea laughed light heartedly as he watched the Fire Mage scowling slightly. “You think it is that easy? My, my… you haven’t been paying attention at all, have you?”

That just seemed to make Duo angry as he narrowed his eyes giving off a fierce coldness to them.

“You’re crazy!” He yelled in defiance of the thought that he wasn‘t as prepared as the others, “I’ve been paying attention! I know what is expected of me!”

“No… you haven’t truly been watching.” Thea replied with a sigh before standing before Duo and gazed deeply into his violet colored eyes. “Yes, there.” The young Ranger stood on tiptoes as he continued to look directly into Duo’s eyes. “I wasn’t sure at first, but I am now.” Thea tipped his head from side to side continuing to look into Duo’s eyes as if expecting something to happen.

“Hey! Cut it out!” Duo reacted, backing away quickly from the boy. There was something about the look that didn’t settle right with him at all. “You don’t know what you are talking about.”

The others did nothing more then look back and forth between the pair. Speechless and having nothing to really say on the subject, packed their supplies up and readied their mounts for the road ahead.

“Oh but I do.” Thea smiled. “Your Ascension is to be shared.”

“Hey man, you’re starting to creep me out.”

“Heed my warning Fire Mage,” he said, “… this new power you are about o receive comes at a high price.”

“Excuse me Thea,” Quatre chimed in interrupting the young Ranger. “Is Duo’s life in danger?”

“Yeah, is it?” Duo added quickly.

“You misunderstand me. His life will be fine. It is the gift of the God Protector that concerns me.”

“How so?” Heero asked.

“A God Protector’s power is share by the one who pairs with it. But you Fire Mage are quite unique.”

“You can say that again.” Wufei muttered.

“Will this keep him from ascending? Heero asked again.

“It shouldn’t, though it will be up to Death Scythe to accept him or not.”

“Death Scythe?” The braided-hair man chirped. “Is that my God Protector’s name?” Thea nodded his head. “It’s even got a remarkable name!” He crowed.

Trowa softly sighed catching Quatre’s attention. He watched as the taller man shook his head at Duo’s antics.


Thea explained that their next location was a half-day’s journey into swamping lands. Their horses would have to stay behind once they entered. The swamps and marshes there were dangerous and were known to swallow animals’ whole in mere seconds. With that knowledge parted to them, the five Mages and their guide headed off.

As the day went on, Duo grew evermore excited about his impending ascension with Death Scythe. Reaching the outer lands of the marshes, Thea bed them goodbye and quickly disappeared vowing to return again come the morn.

Trowa spoke to the horses before letting them roam free. He had explained that they would return again once their business within the swamp was completed. The neighed their various responses, the horses went back to their grazing.


Their trek through the swamp was an unpleasant one. Slime and mud caked their foot ware making it difficult to walk. While with each step of muck carried to their shoes, their clothing didn’t fair as well as mud splattered up on them. At one point both Wufei and Quatre became stuck. Instead of asking for assistance, they called forth their wings and pulled themselves out with minimal mishap. Quatre lost a boot in the process and had to go back and retrieve it.

They continued their march through the soggy soil. After a while Duo help up his hand and told the others to stay behind. The presence of the God Protector was close. Finding a small patch of dry land, the others took refuge as Duo went on ahead.

The Fire Mage made his way through the bog filled swamp they found themselves in, using his scythe as a walking stick. It wasn’t a lack of sleep that caused him to behave like this. But the soggy and wet earth that threatened to pull him under if he didn’t keep walking had. He grumbled to himself as he did however, for it had seem that the muck from the area some how had gotten into his boot. To the mage it wasn’t’ fair that only he had to trek around in this ill-gotten area. But Thea warned and insisted that the others had to remain behind on a small island, while he went in search of his God Protector.

“Stupid Thea and all of his stupid rules…” he growled beneath his breath still bitter from the events a few days earlier. Stopping briefly he scanned the murky area for any signs of his God Protector, growling to himself once again as he saw nothing, Duo continued forward, “I bet this isn‘t eve-… ”

He stopped short, pausing in his words and unable to complete his grumbling, as he glanced towards what his scythe had bumped against beneath the dark, murky waters. Duo’s heart raced in his chest as he caught his first glimpse of his God Protector peering out at him. His right hand gripped tightly on his scythe’s staff when the first wave of pain hit him. The usually boastful mage suppressed a cry of pain even as a second wave wrecked his body violently.

Dropping to his knees, instinct took over as his hands pushed out forward to keep him from hitting the ground. This action caused him to let his weapon fall beside him in the water. Duo was momentarily worried about his ‘precious’ scythe as he noticed that he had now become slightly covered in the murky filth. Duo scrambled after it not wanting his only gift to become lost in such a place. But just as his fingers where barely able to brush over its metal shaft, a third more powerful wave of pain struck against his toned frame causing him to sprawl full length into the brine filled swamp.

Wufei remembering Duo’s mocking ways the first time he saw one of them stumble caused him to choke out a slight laugh. Though as quick as he realized that this was no laughing matter, he tried to hide and suppress his laughter when Duo fell into the slimy waters of the swamp for a second time. Glancing over to the side Wufei’s body stiffened slightly and quickly silenced from just a single look from Heero. He knew the Blood Mage wouldn’t tolerate such behavior, he knew this was important to not only Duo but for them as well.

From the safety of the little island a several yards away from the struggling Fire Mage, the other Mages looked on with concern. As the Ascension gripped Duo, each remembered their own ascensions and how arduous they had been. Quatre gasped. He wrapped his arms around himself as though he was reliving it, as a result his wings materialized. The others turned their attentions away from the Wind mage just in time to see Duo’s back split open over his shoulder blades. Duo belted out a scream in agony that nearly sounded inhuman as he fought to push himself up out of the water. His cry echoed throughout the swamp in an odd tone.

Once able to steady himself upon his knees, Duo wrapped his arms around himself, as twin streams of flame erupted from his back raining flamelets out into the water and vegetation. Through the flames two wings grew out and slowly unfurled. When they were fully formed and hanging over the sides of his body, the flames died away revealing a beautiful pair of ebony feathered wings. Heero and the other three winged Mages stood staring at Duo, and knew that his ascension was completed.

“Black… wings?!” Quatre asked in surprise by what had transpired. Blinking he turned towards Heero and asked for the older mages guidance, “Is that normal? IS this what Thea was speaking about?”

Heero was still staring himself when the question was asked and slowly he shook his head. “No… It’s not normal. I... I’ve never heard of wings coming forth in such a fashion. In all the legends, there has never been a set of black wings on a Protector. This is highly irregular.”

“So is Duo.” Wufei pointed out as if the color of his wings was only a reflection of the mage himself.

“But he is no different from any of us where it matters though. He is just a person.” Quatre responded in slight defense of the newly ascended mage. “Right?”

“What does this mean?” Trowa asked, ignoring the question of Duo’s normality.

“I’m not sure.” Heero answered still unsure of what this could mean, “I don’t understand why he could be any different. At least, he seems to be all right though… now all he has left to do is claim the God Protector…”

Duo reached out and picked up one of the embers from a small brushfire beside him. He shaped the hot ember into a fireball and concentrated on enlarging it. The fireball grew in his hand and suddenly turned white hot. There was a new power within him as he let loose and fired the living inferno at the water filled sinkhole before him. There were ‘booming’ and ‘hissing’ sounds as clouds of steam billowed up around him.

Through the massive clouds of stream, the Mages saw numerous fireballs being created and thrown into the water in quick successions. After a moment the steam faded away revealing the God Protector Death Scythe set free of its watery prison, with Duo standing on the Gundams shoulder laughing like a maniac. One hand rested on the ‘face’ of the God Protector while the other held his scythe.

The Fire Mage continued to laugh as he did until the chest piece of the mighty giant creature opened up to allow the smaller being inside of it. A new wave of concern passed through the Mages that a waited on the island as they watched Duo become one with his Gundam. For there had been something they all found unsettling within the Fire Mage’s laughter.


The group traveled into the night and fell asleep in the next forest they came across. By the next morning Trowa rose to find himself caked with dirt from the swamp and his clothes dirty. Hating the feeling of the added weight, he calmly scanned around the area careful to not awaken Quatre or the others. He soon found a small lake leading out to a small river with a waterfall at its opposite end.

Quietly discarding his clothes, he slipped into the cool water for a refreshing swim. He dived beneath the surface and came up behind the waterfall. There the water came up to Trowa’s waistline, which was fine by him. Walking directly beneath the falling water, the young man closed his eyes and let the water wash over him getting out whatever dirt or filth had clung to him during the night.


Quatre had awoken sometime later, being that is was the moment he had felt that the warmth he was getting from Trowa’s form wasn't there anymore. Gracefully he got to his feet and made a face from noticing how dirty he really was. He thought and inwardly hoped that perhaps Trowa had felt the same way and left to go find him. After walking a short distance away from the camp, he noticed the pile of clothing by the lake.

Grinning to himself the Wind Mage quietly made his way toward the water, stopping only at the clearing’s edge to watch for Trowa. He sighed when he spied the Water Mage’s slender form, glisten with water completely freed of both dirt and clothing. Quatre slowly moved back and leaned against a tree with a soft sigh as he gently wrapped his arms across his chest. Trowa looked so relaxed by the water’s edge. It was almost foolish to pass up the opportunity. Looking back toward camp, the other Mages were still resting and that gave Quatre an idea. Lightly pushing off the tree he started down toward the water and Trowa.


“Come on Thea! Join us in the water!” Duo yelled from water’s edge happily enjoying getting the muck off his body as he kicked his feet and splashed water everywhere.

“No, that will be all right.” The young ranger answered back with a hint of shyness in his voice. “I will wait at the camp for you.” Thea cheerfully replied as he turned to leave but, didn’t get too far before he heard the sound of splashing water and felt wet hands grab his shoulder and arm.

“What are you so shy about?” Duo asked chuckling as he spun Thea around. “We’re all guys here.” It was at that point Thea’s eyes went wide as the rowdy Fire Mage tugged on both shirt and vest then skillfully pulled them up and off of the young man.

“How dare you!” Thea screamed, as she spun around to backhand Duo with a closed fist across the face.

Duo held his cheek in surprise as he continued to stare at Thea’s chest as the ranger quickly moved to cover her chest back up. He was almost at a complete loss for words. “I... I… didn’t… know…” He finally stammered.

“Well now you know my secret!” Thea yelled more angry than upset at the Fire Mage. The rangers face was red from embarrassment that all of the mages present had most likely gotten a good look at ‘his’ body.

“Why did you try to hide this from us?” Quatre asked feeling a little undressed all of a sudden, as he quickly pulled on his pants behind the covering of some near by foliage.

“The Elders of my village did not want to send me. There were afraid that… worried that… my mother’s fate would be mine as well.”

“But you are not following us into the final battle, like your mother did with me.” Heero pointed out, as he too got dressed, along with the others to save the female ranger any further embarrassment. “You are only here to guide us to the God Protectors and nothing more.”

Thea looked down ashamed that she had kept such secret from those present, especially when it was from someone who had known her mother so well in the past. “I’m sorry. I did not mean to deceive you. I only wished to help.”

“And you have.” Wufei replied reassuringly, while tying off his tunic.


It had been exactly two months worth traveling for everyone to finally gather they’re God Protectors. But now the group had finally reached their destination, the Sanq Kingdom. They reached early enough that they had time to change and freshen up a bit more before their audience with the Empress. Time marched on quickly as the five Mages now dressed neatly for the occasion, soon found themselves standing before the Empress once again. Though this time it was different, all that had been a part of the court at the Sanq Palace had also been in attendance as well.

“We have returned and have found four of the Gods.” Heero announced respectfully to the Empress and those of her court.

“And what proof do you have.” Relena asked gently as she held back her excitement with their success. Her chief aid, the woman known to many as the Goddess Lady Une, waited patiently beside her for this moment. While the mages had been away the Empress was informed by her aid that asking for proof had been part it being ceremonial for those in Court.

Heero turned to the others and nodded his head towards his fellow mages. One by one, Fire, Water, Wind and Lightening concentrated and from their backs immerge their large feathery wings. The only proof that anyone needed to know that they were the Protectors of the Five Kingdoms.

Murmurs of excitement and awe rippled through the court at the sight of the angelic visions before them. The Empress’ voice gentle cut through the low chatter like a knife silencing them for the time being.

“And what of you, Heero? Where is your proof?” Relena asked curiously as inwardly she bit back her nervousness that the legendary mage was unsuccessful in his mission, “Have you found you’re God Protector?”

Lightly closing his eyes the young man looked down as if he where about to deliver to the Empress of the Five Kingdoms, news that would sadden her greatly. “I know where mine is. As to proof…” A pair of majestic feathered wings gleaming white slowly emerged from his back as the Blood Mage spoke. The other four Mages could only stare at their comrade in disbelief and wonderment at the site. Heero opened his eyes and looked up towards the Empress, “I have already gone through my Ascension. Therefore is no need to go through it again.”

* * *