The Blood of Peace
Second Movement, the First Part: Moderato
Treize sat on his throne, assessing the figure before him. Milliardo Peacecraft, the Prince Consort of Sanque, looked his part of diplomat and royalty. But beneath the thin veneer of politeness, there lurked anger and resentment. Treize smiled wryly at this peace ambassador, understanding his resentment and fury. Unfortunately, Milliardo did not understand Treize's plan for greatness of all humanity. So, Treize would help Milliardo comprehend the meaning behind the war to come. However, Treize was a cultured and smooth individual, so he would have to make his guest feel more comfortable before lecturing him on the greater cause.
"Ambassador Peacecraft, I hope that your journey was uneventful and your rest last night was comfortable. I am much obliged that you would personally come and visit Us. May I ask what your objectives might be?"
Milliardo clenched his teeth and tried not to lost his composure. Treize most assuredly knew why he was here. He must be mocking him. These uncharitable thoughts made Milliardo even more incensed than before and made his voice and words heated.
"Objectives? Where shall I begin? How about, why are you planning to invade Sanque? Or, why are you trying to ruin everything now that the world has finally settled into peace? "
By the end of the little tirade, Milliardo was literally shaking from fury. Unlike his sister who had much practice concealing her true feelings in the face of politics, Milliardo was more of a soldier than anything else. Therefore, the emotions of his heart ruled him more so than the logic of the brain. Besides, Milliardo saw no point in being calm and composed in front of this Oz emperor who was staring at him with a rather smug expression in his eyes. Treize should know how outraged he was about his plans to invade Sanque.
"Please calm your self, Ambassador." Treize spoke with the same elegant tone. He was never one to raise his voice and Milliardo Peacecraft's passion against him intrigued him. It had been a long time since anyone had dared to question him or outright yell at him. The two men stared at each other, one in mild amusement, the other in seething anger. This atmosphere must have caused some sparks since before Milliardo could vault the space between himself and the throne to do bodily harm to Treize, Lady Une stepped into the Throne Room with a large sheaf of papers. Milliardo, ever the gentleman, refused to show anger or blood in the presence of a lady, so he refrained from violent actions. After all, he was a pacifist. Even if he did want to drown Treize in his own blood at this moment.
"Ah, Lady Une, may I introduce you to Milliardo Peacecraft, the Ambassador from Sanque? He is Queen Relena's own brother."
Lady Une glanced at Milliardo and walked right past him to the throne with her precious load of papers. She did not bother with polite greetings – actually, she did not even slow down near Milliardo to nod at him. Instead, she thrust the papers at Treize and asked him in her usual chilly tone to read them over and then sign them.
Milliardo was flabbergasted that he had been just so plainly ignored by this lady. He had never experienced such indifference from anyone, especially a woman. Usually, women threw him coy glances and sent out subtle invitations to their bedrooms. They did not walk past him as if he didn't exist. Not knowing whether to be insulted or puzzled, Milliardo stared at this strange lady as she stood by Treize's throne while he looked over some of the papers. Then it occurred to him that he was being entirely ignored by everyone in this room. Treize was reading the papers, Lady Une was staring at Treize, and the courtiers in the room were talking amongst themselves. What the hell kind of hospitality was this anyway? If they were going to be impolite to a state visitor, then he would pay them back in kind. It seemed that he would get no answers in this arena. The entire empire of Oz must think Sanque was not worth their time to negotiate with, but must look at his home as a piece of land to be subjugated.
"Well, since you're so busy, Treize, I will leave and go back to my room. Later, I expect a private audience to discuss my proposals with you."
Milliardo spat out those words with as much venom as possible and stalked out of the throne room. He had promised his sister his best effort to find out Treize's intentions and to forestall this war. So far, his efforts were falling on deaf ears and it frustrated him. If Treize ignored his request, then he would have to abandon his pacifism for a short time and throttle this arrogant emperor.
Treize was fully cognizant of Milliardo's anger and departure. He decided to let him stew for a few days before sending him word to meet him in his private study. After all, even if he was going to conquer Sanque, he should give their Ambassador some form of recognition. He did not want to make an enemy of Milliardo Peacecraft, but for now, that was the only option. Milliardo would understand soon why Treize was doing what he was doing, and then they could be friends. And if things worked out the way Treize wanted, they would be comrades in this soon to come war.
WuFei put his pack down on the ground and looked around. All around him were warriors who were going to try out for Duke Dermeil's personal squadron. The choices of weapons were extremely varied, from swords to crossbows. He also noticed that all these men were older than him by a significant amount. He must have been the only one under twenty trying out for the scanty seven member squadron. He wasn't all that worried however. He looked around at these men practicing with their weapons and bodies and figured that he and his brothers could best all two hundred of these losers in one sitting. They looked rather pathetic to him, graceless and slow. WuFei felt a smirk coming on, the kind that usually popped up on Duo's face. Getting into the squadron would be a piece of cake, too easy for his formidable mastery. And besides, his Altron could not possibly be bested by any of these bumbling oafs.
Comfortable that his mission would go as planned, WuFei unpacked and pulled out his sleeping pack. He shook it out and laid it on the ground and then set up the rest of his camp. Everything was in precise order, the bedroll five exact inches away from his fire kit, his empty pack folded to be used as a pillow, and Altron resting on top of the bedding. It was still day time, but it was always a good idea to stake out a space before it got dark. WuFei noticed after his camp was set that everyone was taking him in with short glances and an occasional snort. These warriors (WuFei laughed at that thought) probably thought that his young age and smaller body would not stand up through the try outs. He could not wait to show them how wrong they were to misjudge him so grossly. Then he received a surprise. Next to where he had set his camp, another person his age dropped his pack and unslung his sword from his back. Then he turned to WuFei with a friendly but competitive smile.
"Hey, you are as young as I am, I bet. I guess we're just sword prodigies, huh?"
WuFei nearly startled himself into brain damage. The boy his age was a GIRL his age. The voice was too soprano to be a boy, even if the boy had not hit puberty yet. It was definitely a girl. WuFei automatically dropped his eyes to the girl's chest and saw that there were definitely non-boyish features about it. Apparently taking WuFei's silence and staring as an affront, the girl crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. This pervert, he was looking at her chest!
"Stop looking there, you pervert! Do I stare at your crotch to make sure you're a guy?"
Her outraged tone brought WuFei out of the staring and he looked up at her angry and embarrassed eyes. The dark orbs were flashing indignantly, her pixie face was contorted by her emotional state, and her short, dark hair was actually standing on end. She made such a funny picture that WuFei laughed. That was apparently a huge mistake.
"Are you laughing at me? How dare you? I'll slice off what makes you a boy and make you eat it!"
Then the enraged girl unsheathed her sword and dove at him. WuFei easily dodged and kept side stepping her efforts to, ah, unman him. He found this amazingly funny. The girl, however, still found it very unfunny.
"Stop moving around! How dare you insult Meiran of the Centaur Valley, the most gifted sword wielder to ever come out of that region? You insulting bastard!"
The rest of whatever she was saying was lost in her fury and the words became an incoherent collection of profanities and insults. WuFei still dodged all her slashes but he acknowledged that she was a good swordsman. Er, woman. Girl. Whatever.
"Hey, girl, stop this. You're bringing a lot of attention on yourself."
"GIRL? I'm MEIRAN!"
More incoherent shrieking followed and WuFei was dismayed to see that all activities around them had ceased to watch this crazy girl attack him. Rolling his eyes, he brought up his hands, grabbed her by her wrist and unarmed her with no apparent effort. Then he kicked her legs out from underneath her and watched her fall onto her back, knocking the breath out of her.
Meiran laid on the ground, staring up at the blue sky. Around her, people started to go back to their own amusements, this side show having come to an abrupt halt. WuFei stood over her, loosely holding her sword, and waited for her to regain her breath. When she did not get up after she started breathing normally again, WuFei knelt beside her.
"Hey, girl, are you all right? I didn't take you down that hard. If that made you give up, what makes you think you can make this squadron?"
Meiran heard the words, but the shame of defeat was strong. This boy had bested her with ease. He hadn't even drawn his weapon. Embarrassment and hurt pride coated her words as she responded to his insulting questions.
"I'm fine, boy. And I'm Meiran. Don't call me girl. I'm fine. Now, stop looming over me before I rip something vital out of you."
"Oh, okay, girl. You're welcome to try, but I don't think you can do anything to me. You got skills and potential, but you are no match for me yet."
With that, WuFei stood and backed up as Meiran got up from the dirt ground. She looked mortified, but she still faced him with flashing eyes.
"You mind if you give me back my sword? And what's your name, so that I can carve it onto your gravestone after I massacre you?"
WuFei handed the sword back to her and smiled at her. She may not be up to his caliber in sword fighting, but she certainly had spirit. And a great sense of humor, apparently. Meiran snatched the sword from him as he told her, "I'm Chang WuFei. Call me WuFei, if you want to talk to me. Next time, don't assume I was staring at you because I wanted to check out your feminine assets. You just surprised me, that's all."
Meiran eyed him suspiciously as she sheathed her sword. He seemed sincere enough but she was so sure that there was mocking in there somewhere. She just had to find it.
"What, you were surprised that I am a girl? What's wrong with girls and swords going together anyway?"
"I'm just not used to it, that's all. Not many women carry swords where I come from."
"And where do you come from?"
"No where in particular. Anyway, you should set up your camp, girl. Try outs begin in less than an hour."
With that, WuFei picked up Altron and sat on his bedroll. He began his meditation and breathing exercises, as he always did before swordplay. Meiran watched him as he closed his eyes and breathed through his nose. She would watch him closely. He had definitely made a huge mistake when he crossed her. Huffing, she set up camp. She would show him how good she could be in less than an hour. Had WuFei heard her sentiments, he would have laughed again. As Quatre was fond of saying, he sometimes had no idea that tact was an important thing.