6-20-2001

TITLE: Dreams on Dragon Wings
PART: 2
AUTHOR: AJ from NZ
E-MAIL: firemooncatblue@hotmail.com
ARCHIVE: Celestial Chronocles – http://www.celestialchronocles.homestead.com
GENRE: AU Fantasy
RATING: PG
PAIRINGS: 1x2, 3x4, 5x6, 11x13,

DISCLAIMER: I don’t own GundamWing – if I did I’d make sure they’d got out to New Zealand by now. I acknowledge that they belong to some other lucky personages… **sighs**

WARNING: OOC for all; yaoi - hopefully lemons will abound if I can get my head around writing them, violence, nasty Relena, fighting queens… **smirks**

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This fic is based ever-so-slightly on the wonderful books of Anne McCaffrey; and also those of Raymond E. Feist. To some extent Terry Pratchett also has something to answer for. Expect weirdness.

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Duo awoke to soft sheets and a feeling of relief. He’d managed to tell his tale, and more importantly it was now in the hands of those more capable of dealing with it than he was. After all, what could a mere Messenger be expected to do? He conveniently managed to forget that he was not a ‘mere’ anything. Although he’d described himself as a Messenger First Class, Duo was actually a Mage-messenger.

Mage-messengers were rare, and normally not expected to go out on normal runs, being assigned to the nobility or military to assist in the accurate relaying of information. Duo however, had wanted to be more active – he got restless if cooped up too long; and he was adept at reading deeper into people than most realised. Duo respected neither rank nor privilege and he wasn’t backward about being forwards if he thought it was called for. Few appreciated it, and fewer were prepared to put up with disrespect. So Duo was free to roam the country, delivering messages and keeping an eye on things for the Guild. He was a trouble-shooter of sorts. It was a lifestyle he enjoyed, though few others would have.

He enjoyed the freedom that it offered him; freedom from constricting rules and regulations – not that the Guild had many anyway, freedom from the boredom of having to remain in one place longer than he wanted to, freedom from other people’s opinions and expectations of him. Duo valued that freedom greatly and any attempt to curtail his precious freedom angered him.

The wholesale slaughter of his fellow Messengers by the Neaseans had opened his eyes to the fact that to some Messengers and their freedoms from ordinary restrictions weren’t as sacrosanct as he’d thought them to be.

Something had to be done to stop the Neaseans before they invaded Citir and took away his freedom. He snorted slightly; it wouldn’t just be his freedom they took away. It would be his life. And if they knew that some of the Messengers had escaped their slaughter… well… he shuddered thinking of what they’d do to rectify that oversight. Neaseans were notoriously ruthless when it came to witnesses to a military disaster – no witnesses… no disaster. He wasn’t the only witness, but the youngsters he’d help escape had been taken in by the Yhtacians and would be more than safe in that country.

No one tangled with Yhtac… not if they wanted to remain the same shape or species. The curse-casters of Yhtac were phenomenally accurate and known to be rather single-minded when avenging a slur on their homeland. No country wanted their military to suddenly turn into swine or develop a terminal outbreak of plague. Attack Yhtac and that’s what would happen – what had happened until the surrounding countries had had the lesson hammered home to them.

Duo had known this, which is why he took the trainees there. The fact that he was half Yhtaci hadn’t hindered him either. He simply approached the head of his mother’s clan and explained things. No fuss, no bother and the trainees were quietly assimilated into the clan to be taken to the nearest Messenger House when circumstances allowed it. Even if the Neaseans were so stupid as to attack Yhtac… they’d hesitate before entering Flametree territory. The Flametree Clan was renowned as Death-cursers. Even the other Yhtaci clans hesitated before entering into their territory.

Duo stretched, uncurling himself from his nest of blankets. “Time to get up I suppose,” he murmured. As he stood the door to his room opened and a curly head poked through. Restraining himself from hurling something at the invader, Duo waited for the other to speak.

“Healer Branagan was expecting you to awaken about now,” chirped the curly-headed one, in a distressingly perky voice. “There are clothes laid out in the bathing room and when you return there will be breakfast.”

Again restraining the urge to hit the servant – Duo hated early-morning-perkiness, and deemed it an unforgivable sin – he followed the girl silently.

“Do you want me to wait on you Sir?”

The hopeful look in her soft brown eyes told Duo everything he needed to know… another infatuation. “No thank you, I am quite capable of caring for myself. If you would bring my meal to my room as soon as possible?” He smiled at her and then ignoring her presence began to shed the light robe he’d been dressed in. He looked up, realising that she hadn’t moved. “Is there anything else?”

“N-no,” she stammered, admiring his slender form. She looked up, and catching his mildly annoyed glance, blushed. “Sorry Sir, I’ll see to your food.” Still blushing she backed out of the room, reluctantly letting the door close behind her.

Duo sighed. “Why is it always the fluffy shy ones that are attracted to me?”

Receiving no answer he proceeded to enjoy a long relaxing soak in the bathing pool, finally feeling clean. He only left the water when his skin started to wrinkle. Briskly towelling himself down he dressed in the clothes supplied. To his surprise, rather than being a Messenger uniform – which he’d’ve preferred – someone had supplied him with clothes suitable for a formal appearance at the court. “Damn! Couldn’t they find a uniform?”

He wrinkled his nose in disgust but donned the clothes with no further complaint. He hastened back to his room and the promised food – he was starting to feel as if he’d not fed in several weeks. After peering cautiously around to determine that the fluffy servant wasn’t lurking in the corners, he entered and did justice to the mini-banquet he found on the covered dishes.

After eating every last morsel and feeling comfortably replete he leaned back in his seat, closing his eyes. Relaxing in the security of the plushly upholstered chair he sent his spirit out to make contact with the Messenger Heart. Without delay he conveyed the events that led to him being ensconced within the Imperial Palace, and received commendation and directions that soothed his mind. As he slowly returned to his physical body, he became aware of another presence in the room… someone other than the fluffy maid.

He opened his eyes and was greeted with the sight of a black tipped dagger sailing through the air towards him.

Even as Duo raised his hand to deflect the dagger a staff suddenly crossed its trajectory and the dagger went sailing off course. Even as the dagger sunk into the ornate plaster wall Duo threw the nearest thing to hand at the assailant. The sound of the heavy plate hitting the assassin on his head was audible through the sudden silence, as was the small ‘oof’ he emitted before collapsing unconscious to the floor. Only after securing the assassin with both physical and magical bonds, did Duo think to look at his surprise rescuer.

He blinked, shook his head, looked again and collapsed in laughter. “Oh my! Thanks for saving me… but… really…” He choked to a stop unable to continue.

Dark blue eyes narrowed in anger as his rescuer glared at him, adjusting the rather rumpled maid’s uniform. “I save your life and you laugh?”

“Sorry,” snorted Duo helplessly. He looked his rescuer over. “I think you’ve got a run in your stockings my good… lady.”

Another glare and some more adjustment of the rumpled dress rewarded the quip. “Stop that! You think I like dressing like this?”

Duo couldn’t control his sniggering. “I have no idea what you get up to in your private life… but you certainly make a sweet little maid.” Still grinning he reached out to chuck the ‘maid’ beneath her chin.

“Stop that!” The cross dressed maid grabbed the Messenger’s arm, preventing Duo from completing his action. “Treize said I had to do this – someone’s got to keep an eye on you and it seemed the most practical method would be as a member of the staff.”

“A maid?” Duo choked out. “Couldn’t you find any male clothing?” He leered at the other youth. “Not that you don’t make a really fetching young lass.”

“Hn,” grunted the young man, ignoring the still chuckling Messenger. “We have to leave here. Treize thought something like this would happen… the Neaseans know where you are… and they won’t wait all that long to strike again.” He grabbed the Messenger’s arm and tried to hustle him out of the room. “We have to go!”

Duo dug in his heels and refused to budge. “No way! Not until we’ve questioned the knife thrower over there… I want to know how he found out where I was, and more importantly who told him!”

“Treize said…” began the dark haired man, his manner urgent.

“No,” interrupted Duo. Despite his initial trust of his unlikely saviour he had no intention of being rushed around without say in the matter. “Call Treize here… we need to find out the reason behind this… and if I’m not safe here… where would I be?”

“In a Mont,” came Treize’s calm voice.

Duo started, not noticing the DragonLord’s entrance. “A Mont?”

Treize smiled calmly. “Yes, Messenger, we’ve decided that if you can’t be safe within the sanctuary of the Imperial Palace, then the safest place for you would be in one of the Monts. Heero will take you there.” He gestured to the dress clad youth at Duo’s side. “I sent him here earlier to safeguard you.

Duo acknowledged that forethought with a nod to both DragonWarriors. “Never the less, what would Emperor Brendan think if I fled like this?”

“I’d think you were taking all necessary precautions to prevent your premature demise.” Brendan entered the room, behind him were several members of the Palace Guard. “I agreed with Treize’s decision to have one of his warriors guard you… you are the only witness to the Neasean’s atrocity and must be kept safe!” His tone was final. “You will leave with Flight Leader Heero this morning.”

Duo frowned slightly. “Don’t I get a say in this?”

“No,” stated Brendan firmly. “This is an imperial order – despite your status as a Messenger, and therefore granted autonomy of action, I am speaking as your Emperor. I am also speaking with the authority of your Messenger Council. They don’t want your life needlessly lost due to your dislike of authority.”

Duo sighed, knowing he was beaten. A quick flick of his mind confirmed the Emperor’s statement. The Grand Council of Messengers were firm on this matter… he was to be protected. “Accepted, and thank you Dragon Lord for sparing one of your Flight Leaders, especially the much respected Heero of Yui, as my own guard. I am grateful.”

A groan attracted the attention of everyone in the room to the bound figure of the would-be assassin.

“It looks like my unexpected visitor is coming to again,” Duo smiled without humour. “Now we can find out who and how.” Before he could move any closer to his assailant Heero interposed his body between them. “Excuse me?”

“It is possible that he could still harm you,” he stated. “You will not approach him any closer than this.”

Brendan laid his hand firmly on the young Messenger’s arm, effectively stifling any complaints before they were uttered. “Listen to him Duo.”

Another sigh was forced from Duo’s lips. “If you insist.”

“I do.”

Heero and Treize approached the bound figure and hauled him roughly to his feet. The man’s ice blue eyes glared at each figure in turn before settling on Duo. “You will die.”

Duo shook his head. “Not for a while blue-eyes, and not by your hand.”

‘Blue-eyes’ tried to push his way past the restraining hands, his eyes glinting madly. “The King knows how you are and what you are… you and all of your kind will perish in the cleansing flames of Lehcar and your ashes shall be scattered to the winds!”

“Really,” drawled Duo in a bored voice. “I hate to burst your little bubble but Lehcar is the patron Goddess of the Messengers, and she isn’t overly pleased with the thought that her chosen disciples have been slaughtered by filth like you Neaseans.”

The blue-eyed fanatic jerked as if he’d been stabbed, and a frown creased his head. “Lehcar serves the Messengers?”

The confusion evident in the man’s voice tipped Duo that he was ignorant to the Messenger Guild’s other role. “No, Lehcar doesn’t serve the Guild, the Messengers serve Lehcar. We are her priests, her chosen means of gathering information from the mortal realms. We serve her until death and even after.”

The assassin wasn’t the only one in the room amazed by Duo’s explanation. Even the Emperor looked stunned; and the expression in both Heero and Treize’s eyes was unfathomable.

Duo smiled to himself. “It appears that no one has ever enlightened any of you to our true profession.”

“No,” agreed Brendan, his forehead creasing in a frown. “But… Lehcar is the chosen Goddess of Neasa – how then can she approve of what happened there?”

“She doesn’t.” A new figure entered the room, pushing past the guards with no fear of reprisal. A grim smile quirked her lips as the High Priestess of the Pantheon took in the scene. “At the moment the priesthood in Neasa are discovering that the sacred, ever-burning fires have gone out. The Goddess has withdrawn her favour.”

The assassin collapsed, moaning as if in pain. The High Priestess knelt by his side, brushing back the platinum locks that obscured his face. “You’re a priest aren’t you? One of the Holy Terrors of Lehcar I suspect.”

The man nodded his visage one of a man completely shattered in spirit. Continuous shivers wracked him and his face turned ashen. “I am… was... Milliardo, Priest of the Holy Knife; charged with destroying all those who sin against our Lady.” Lost eyes sought the Priestess’s for absolution. “Is She… has She really withdrawn her favour from Neasa?”

Noin, Priestess of Ehtetum and accepted leader of the Priests of the Pantheon smiled gently down at the broken man. “Yes, Lehcar has repudiated Neasa. The slaughter of her Chosen has offended her and it will be long before she forgives.”

“I’m sorry,” whispered Milliardo. “I listened to the words of mankind and was swayed from the path of the true… how may I redeem myself?”

Noin cast a considering gaze on the Holy Terror. “I can promise you naught, but redemption is possible. It isn’t up to me to speak for Lehcar though – you should ask her own priest.”

As one all eyes turned to Duo. He solemnly regarded the man who’d tried to murder him mere minutes before, then closed his eyes, drawing on that part of himself that was linked inextricably to the Goddess. Finally, after what seemed like hours to the silent watchers, he opened glowing amethyst eyes and gazed beatifically down on the erstwhile assassin. “She commands that you severe all ties to Neasa. You must be taken to the Guild MotherHouse – there you will be cleansed and purified and then, if She deems that you are truly repentant, you will be taken into service in Her everlasting name.”

-tbc-