The Blood of Peace
Third Movement, the Seventh Part: a Double Duet
Bodies swarmed around each other, taking swipes with their swords. Again, Earthian and Oz locked into battle in a valley between two hills, soldiers yelling and hacking at each other with no visible sanity. The green grass was already soaked in blood and the morning sun pitilessly highlighted the empty eyes of the dead. Some men were on the ground clutching their wounds, some were tottering unsteadily looking for their missing limbs. It was a tremendous battle with soldiers killing each other stretching from one side of the hill to the other. From a distance, it could be beautiful.
Up close, it was gruesome. In the middle of this heedless melee, Heero fought like a man possessed. He was in constant motion, killing everyone who came near him with an Oz uniform. He ignored their faces and shut out their cries as they died by Wing. He had retreated into his emotionless shell and his body only moved by sheer rote instead of thought. It was better this way for if Heero had been conscious of his actions, he would have been wretched. A genuine soul like his could not face such overwhelming death, not even if it was for the right cause. They had been attacked shortly after dawn, woken rudely from sleep by scouts screaming bloody murder. Somehow, the palace infantry unit had snuck up on them. So here they were, engaged in the business of death, decimating each other on a day so beautiful that it brought tears to a poet's eyes.
Heero continued his adrenaline powered killing spree, showing no mercy and giving no quarter. He knew that Duo was right beside him, fighting along with him. That was a comfort. Then dead ahead, Heero saw the sun glinting off a silver mask worn by a man who was killing as many Earthian soldiers as he was killing Oz soldiers. A man in a red coat the same shade of blood wielding a long blade the color of blood. Their eyes met and challenges were issued. Heero and the masked man stepped towards each other and stopped in the middle of the battlefield and looked at each other.
"I am Heero, prince of Earthian."
"Zechs Marquise, chief general of Oz."
Both of their voices lacked any emotions even though their blood was swimming with excitement. This would be a duel.
Duo saw Heero confront the taller man in the mask. They looked as if everything else in the world had ceased to exist except for each other. Violence vibrated in the space between them, humming brightly and loudly. Duo understood that this fight was not his and that he must not interfere. So he stood back to give them room and fought soldiers who dared to come near them. If Heero wanted a duel against that man, Duo would make sure he got it.
WuFei found himself running up the hill that led to the Oz encampment. He had fought his way out of the lines of battle to achieve his goal – to kill Treize Kushrenada. It had taken him nearly all morning to fight through the layers of Oz soldiers, but he was so close now. In a few more steps, he would be in front of Treize's tent and then he would send Treize to the netherworld. Although Heero had not approved of the plan, he had finally acquiesced when WuFei had argued that a dead Treize equaled the end of the war. His mission was just a few yards away now. Because WuFei did not believe in tact or sneaking up on the enemy, he merely killed the guards at the entrance of the tent and entered without hesitation. Inside, Lady Une stood in front of the man who had to be Treize. She had her sword out, a slender epee designed for quick, close combat. Obviously, she was ready to defend Treize. As much as WuFei loathed killing women, he figured he would have to kill her. She didn't seem the type to just step out of the way. Then his problem magically solved itself.
"My dear Lady, would you please excuse us? It seems that this young man and I have some things to discuss."
Shock and dismay danced across her strangely delicate features. She turned her head slightly to look at her emperor who merely motioned her to leave. After a few attempts at speech, Une gave up and then stalked out of the tent, disapproval and worry pouring out of her every pore. When she was gone, Treize turned his attention to the young man who was pointing a sword at him. This young man, he had fire in his eyes. Treize liked him immediately.
"I am Treize. And you are?"
"I am Chang WuFei, Master of the Sword to prince Heero. I am here to end this wretched war."
Treize stood and smoothed imaginary wrinkles on his jacket. Then almost lazily, he drew the sword at his side. Tapping the blade to his leg, Treize spoke to this young man, this WuFei.
"I gather that you mean to kill me then. A duel should do nicely."
WuFei curled his lip and snarled in a way that would have made Meiran proud. It seemed that this emperor was mocking him.
"It would, Treize. That is the way of a true warrior."
"Then we have no more need for words. En guarde, warrior."
WuFei carefully assessed his opponent. He seemed very comfortable with his sword, just standing there relaxed, daring him to make the first move. When opportunity presented itself, one should never waste it. WuFei leapt and slashed downward with Altron. His speed was incredible and his form was flawless. A lesser warrior would have been cleaved in half by now, but Treize neatly deflected Altron's advance and lunged in with his own strike. WuFei barely avoided being sliced in two, then recovered his balance and form, and tried to cut Treize's legs out from under him with a low sideswipe. Treize gracefully stepped back, effectively avoiding WuFei's counter strike. Then he brought his sword out in a wide arc and hit Altron with enough force to tear it from WuFei's grasp. Before WuFei could dive for his sword, Treize had his blade against his throat.
"This duel is over."
WuFei stared at the blade at his neck. It just was not possible, but he had just lost. He had lost so quickly and completely. The shame of it, the losing and the failure of his mission, brought the sickly taste of bile to his mouth. WuFei looked up at Treize with hatred and mortification burning in his eyes. Treize did not even look like he was happy to have won. He looked like he had just announced that tea was ready.
"Aren't you going to finish me off, Treize?"
Treize considered that. But he like this young man, so full of spirit and skill. It would be a shame to kill him so early on in the game.
"No. I will let you go today. You have lost. Next time we meet, perhaps you may not lose. Go, WuFei. I hope to meet you again."
With that, Treize withdrew his blade from his throat and sheathed it. WuFei, still crouched on the ground, felt even more shame. Not only had Treize beaten him, he was also denying him the honorable death of a defeated warrior. WuFei was being disgraced in the worst way possible by being allowed to live after this. With a wordless snarl, WuFei snatched Altron from the ground and ran out of the tent. He had lost. He had failed. He was no longer worthy to be the Master of the Sword.
Pure white blade clashed against a bloody red one. Sparks flew. Heero and Zechs danced a deadly dance together to the music of the ringing of their swords. Duo watched them as closely as he watched the perimeter of the dueling ground. He would not allow any dirty tricks from Zechs or his lackeys. The duel would be fair. He watched Heero's perfect slash at Zechs's torso. He also saw the smooth parry Zechs made with his own sword. They kept dancing, feet shuffling, arms and swords snaking out, their entire bodies in constant motion. Neither had touched the other as of yet. They were almost too eerily silent, not shouting epithets at each other like most other duelist were wont to do. They spoke with only their weapons. Then Zechs shouted out to Heero over the din of the surrounding battle.
"My weapon is Epyon, the great god of warfare. This blade is made of blood, just like peace. I fight for peace, Heero of Earthian."
Heero responded in kind.
"This is Wing, the blade of the heavens. And it will vindicate you, Zechs Marquise. Or should I say Milliardo Peacecraft!"
Duo started. That was why that masked guy seemed so familiar. Milliardo Peacecraft. Of course.
"Milliardo Peacecraft is no more, Heero. You fight Zechs Marquise. So fight me to the death."
Then there were no more words. Heero and Zechs continued their duel. They were so evenly matched that the outcome was uncertain. If there was to be an outcome. Then all of a sudden, Duo heard a slight buzzing in the air. Almost too late, Duo saw a crossbow quarrel going for Heero who was standing and sizing up his next move. With a shout, Duo dove for Heero, intending to get him out of the way of the deadly arrow. However, as fast as Duo was, the arrow was faster. Duo hit Heero just moments after the arrow struck and the force of it threw the both of them back a yard onto their shoulders. Duo scrambled up from beneath Heero and saw the crossbow quarrel deep in Heero's chest. Heero was coughing up blood and losing massive amounts of it onto the ground.
"Oh GODS, Heero, don't you move. I'm taking you the fuck out of here. Just hold on, I'm taking you out."
Duo picked up his beloved into his arms and started walking toward the healer's tents in the Earthian encampment. If he ran and no one got in his way, he could be there in a short time. Then a shadow fell over him. Duo looked up to see Zechs Marquise standing right in front of him.
"The duel is over, thanks to your dirty trick. Now, get the hell out of my way. You're wasting time."
There was an immense amount of pain, anger and worry in Duo's voice. Zechs picked up on it all and realized just how much this young boy loved his prince. His sister, she could not match this boy's intensity in loving Heero.
"Take the sword. And go. Tell Heero I will see him again, and next time, there will be no tricks. Tell him that I did not mean for this to happen. I will find who did this. I did not mean this."
"Whatever. Now, get the hell out of my way."
Zechs handed Wing to Duo then stepped aside. Then Duo was off and running with Heero in his arms. Blood dripped down Heero's limp arm, making a trail of Duo's path. Duo, for his part, was running faster than he had ever run in his entire life. He could feel the life slip out of Heero and it scared him more than anything. Heero had to live. There were no other options.
"Heero, don't you die on me. Don't die. Don't die. Don't die."
The world was black. No, his eyes were closed. Slowly and painfully, he opened his eyes and winced at the bright sun that pierced his head. Soon, the world came into focus. He realized that he was laying down on a futon of sorts with blankets on top of him. The surroundings were completely foreign. Then he saw a girl sitting cross legged next to him, knitting something or other. Suddenly, she turned to him and her face lit up with a friendly smile.
"You're awake! I'm so glad. For a while there, we didn't think you'd make it. How are you feeling?"
He tried to answer, but his voice did not cooperate. Nodding, the girl reached over behind her and produced a cup.
"Here, drink this. You'll feel a hundred times better."
Gratefully, he took the cup and tried to sit up. It was painful. His entire body throbbed in protest. Understanding his dilemma, the girl helped him sit up by supporting his torso. Finally, he drank some water from the cup. Then he tried to speak again.
"Where. Where am I?"
His voice did not sound familiar to him. He must not have drank enough water.
"You're about three or so miles from the River of the Heroes, Earthian side. We found you on the banks of the river about three days ago. You were pretty badly injured. But you're awake and feeling better now! What's your name?"
He opened his mouth to answer, but realized that he had no answer.
"I.. I don't know. I don't know my own name."
Shock was evident in his voice as was the confusion. The girl took pity on this lost boy.
"Hey, that's okay. I'm sure it will come back to you in time. Anyway, I'm Catherine. Catherine Bloom. Nice to meet you."
He nodded slightly to acknowledge that he had heard. He wanted to introduce himself, but he couldn't. He couldn't remember a damn thing. Not even his own name.
"Do you have any idea who I am?"
His question sounded absurd to him. How would she know?
"No, I don't. I'm sorry. But until you figure it out, you can stay here with us. It's dangerous out there. There's a serious war going on."
War? There was a war? He couldn't recall, but for a short moment, something flashed through his head. It was too hazy to grasp firmly, but something was there in his head. He had knowledge of himself in his head and he had to find a way to unlock it.
"I'm grateful for your kind aid. I wish I could tell you something about myself, but I can't. I'm sorry."
Smiling, Catherine reached out and ruffled his hair. He was such a cute boy, just like her brother used to be.
"Hey, don't worry about it. But we should call you something if you're going to stick around. I wonder, what should we call you? That is, until you remember."
He thought long and hard. Even if his past was blank, he seemed to know a few things. Looking Catherine straight into her blue eyes, he said, "Call me Nanashi. It means no-name in the old language. I will be Nanashi until I have my name again."
"Okay. Welcome to our home, Nanashi. Now, get some sleep. You don't look all that great just yet."
Catherine helped him lay down again and stayed until his green eyes shut and his breathing evened out. Sadly, she smoothed his hair back from his face. Poor Nanashi. She hoped that he would remember.
Nanashi dreamed. In his dream, he heard voices calling something to him. A gentle voice, a hard voice, a friendly voice, a determined voice. They seemed so familiar yet so far. And they comforted him. He also saw things, but they were shrouded in fog, indistinct and formless. Yet, the last thing he saw in his dream before deep sleep claimed him was a pair of aqua eyes. Aqua eyes that loved him, saddened him, hated him. And Nanashi shuddered.