Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  This part is all in Meiran’s perspective.  Some G-boy torture ahead.



Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment



Part One


Meiran walked along a road, inspecting her lands.  To all that saw her she was a beauty, the Queen of the land, the ruler of
everything as far as the eye could see.  Her garments were invariably black, her hair shoulder length and hanging loose.  Her skin
was pale, as white as cream.  A crown of white gold adorned her head, a few pieces of jade decorating the surface.  To all the
peasants of the countryside, she seemed to be in mourning . . . it wasn’t exactly untrue.  

If she were in mourning in her own land of China, she would have been wearing white, not black.  But as Treize had explained
it, to the peasants here black was the color of mourning.  Treize walked by her side now, no other soldiers in sight.  Of course
being as powerful as she was, no one dared to attack her.

No one knew of her past . . . that only five short years ago she had watched her clan being massacred.  No one knew that she
had once been a simple woman.  She was a queen now . . . a powerful sorceress . . . no one dared to go against her.

And still she searched for those that had killed her people.  She had yet to claim her vengeance, to punish those that had
wronged her.  They had stolen the lives of those that she loved, and for that they had to pay . . . had to die long suffering and
agonizing deaths.

She walked into the town on the outskirts of her kingdom, noticing as several villagers cowered away from her in fear.  She was
the Sorceress Queen after all.  She smirked as the people parted in the streets to give her room to pass.  As much fun as it was
scaring the peasants, she had business to attend to, so she couldn’t spend all day playing with the townsfolk.

This town was the Crossroads.  It was as its name indicated, a meeting place where lands collided.  Various kingdoms ended
somewhere within the walls of Crossroads.  So it was only natural that this town had become a meeting place for the dignitaries
when they met to discuss various issues such as land boundaries or peace accords.  Various men and women sold their wares
along the streets, using the opportunity of the visiting dignitaries to make some money.

However, today Meiran was here for no meeting or peace accord.  She was looking at the many slave markets, searching out
any of her fellow countrymen.  When she found one, she set them free if they so wished to be, paying for their passage home if
they wanted to go back to China, helping them however she could.  It was her way of saving lives, of trying to make things
right again.  It made her feel empty though, knowing that she would find none of her own clan amongst those that she saved.

As she walked, memories of a previous visit resurfaced in her mind.  She smiled and let them come, pausing to glance down a
familiar alleyway.


*Flashback*


Meiran sighed, during another trip to the slave markets.  There hadn’t been any of her countrymen for sale that day, hadn’t been
any for the past few visits.  She had to wonder if the vendors were keeping them hidden from her somehow.  The thought was
shaken off, knowing it couldn’t be true.  She would have detected it if she had been lied to.

A faint whimpering drew her curiosity and Meiran followed the pitiful sounds.  They led her into an alley.  Treize stopped her
from venturing any farther, grabbing her arm.  Sometimes he could just be too overprotective of her.  Maybe it had been a
mistake to make him the Captain of her Guard.

“I’ll be fine, Treize.”  Meiran said, although Treize hadn’t said a word.

Treize sighed and reluctantly let go of her arm.  Meiran nodded and turned back to the alley, stepping further into the darkness.  
She moved slowly, not sure of what she’d find.  She raised a hand, conjuring a simple fire spell as she continued walking.  The
blue flame stayed alight in her palm, casting enough illumination for her to see.

The sight before her made Meiran gasp.  Two forms were lying on the ground, two young men.  One had short brown hair,
although it could have just been a dirty blonde.  The other had a long braid down the middle of his back.  The braided youth was
hunched over the other, his body shivering as sobs escaped his emaciated form.  They both looked to be starving.  And then
Meiran saw it, a crimson stain surrounding a hole in the tunic of the lighter haired youth.  He was dead, the braided one
mourning for his friend.

Meiran felt pity for the young man and stepped forward, kneeling down beside him.  She allowed the blue flame to lift from her
hand, using her mind to hold it above them as she tentatively pulled the shivering youth into her arms.  He wrapped his own
arms around her almost frantically, sobbing onto her as he choked on his tears.  “They killed him . . .”  The boy said.  “He stole
the food for me . . . they killed him . . . my fault . . . he wouldn’t be dead if it weren’t for me.”  He continued on like that,
mumbling out his self-blame through thick choked out sobs.

“No . . .”  Meiran hushed, stroking her hands along his back, frowning at the feel of his bones through his thin rags.  “Do not
blame yourself.”  After a moment she pulled the shivering youth away from her body, wiping tears from his dirty face as she
offered a kind smile to him.  “Who did this?”  She asked.

“Soldiers.”  The young man replied, still sniffling.

Meiran narrowed her gaze, the memory of those that had destroyed her own home coming to mind.  Why did there seem to be
no good soldiers other than her own?  Everywhere she went there was suffering and pain, and soldiers were usually the cause.  
She softened her gaze, seeing that the young man was shivering, apparently afraid of her.  “What’s your name?”  She asked.

“Duo . . . Duo Maxwell.”  He turned, gesturing to the dead youth.  “That’s my brother, Solo.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Duo. I am Meiran.  And this is Treize.”  Meiran replied.

Duo gasped.  “Queen Meiran?  The sorceress?”  

Meiran smiled, seeing that she was well known in this town.  She nodded.

Duo’s response was to stare at her numbly for a few moments before his eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out.  
Meiran chuckled and easily lifted the young man into her arms, frowning at his weight, or lack thereof.  She paused, looking
down at the deceased youth.  “Take him, Treize.  Give him a proper burial on my lands.”

“Yes, my Lady.”  Treize said, bowing respectfully.  “I take it you are going to adopt this youth?”

“He needs someone to care for him.  I will not let him starve to death on the streets.”  Meiran replied, carrying Duo out of the
alley and to her own carriage, knowing that no one would interfere with her journey.  As it was, most people just moved out of
her way as she passed, whispering gossip, some saying that she meant to kill the young man or use him in a wicked spell.  She
just smirked at those fools.  She would never harm anyone . . . but of course no one else knew that.


*End of Flashback*


Meiran smiled at the memories.  She heard the jingling of bells behind her, felt a warm arm wrapping around her waist, but didn’
t need to turn to know that it was Duo who had approached her.  The bells alone attested to the fact that it was him.  Besides,
no one other than Treize and Duo were permitted to touch her when in public.

He walked around her, standing before her in his jester’s outfit, bright purples and crimsons decorating his slender, yet healthy
frame.  The bells he wore were woven into his hair, which as usual was twisted into a long braid behind his back.

“Is there something you need, my lady?”  Duo asked, bowing before her before looking up and grinning madly.

Meiran smiled at her jester, the young man that she had saved from starvation.  He was nothing like the shivering wreck that
Meiran had rescued from that alley three years ago.  He was so vibrant now, full of life.  And only a few knew of his hidden
side, the other face of the joker that served as Meiran’s personal assassin.

No one ever thought that a sorceress as powerful as Meiran was would use an assassin.  All of her enemies’ safeguards were
against magic, not an attack from another man.  Duo was the best, of course.  Never had he been seen or left a trace of
evidence that anyone had even been in the room with the recently deceased.  He was the best in the business, and for his loyalty
Meiran rewarded him generously.

There were those that wondered why a simple jester had won Meiran’s favor so greatly.  Duo had his own manor, which was
on her lands and so stayed under her protection.  He had his own servants, his own slaves.  People gossiped about his true
duties in her court, but Meiran and Duo both ignored them, not even willing to give such rumors their attention.  They had no
right to the truth if they so quickly jumped to conclusions.

Meiran smiled at Duo, brushing a hand along the side of his face.  She didn’t care about the stares or gossip of the others.  “No,
Duo . . . I do not require anything.”  

“As you wish, my lady.”  Duo grinned, taking hold of Meiran’s hand and kissing it gently.  “If you would be so kind to allow me
. . . may I venture into town and do a little shopping?”

Meiran giggled, enjoying this side of Duo.  “Yes, by all means.  Go and have fun.”

Duo nodded, smiling the entire time as he backed away.  Then he turned and skipped away, the bells in his braid jingling as the
length of chestnut hair swayed behind him, the end of the braid reaching well past his waist and almost to his knees.

Meiran watched him leave, glad to see that he was much healthier when they had first met each other.  Then she turned her
attention back to the street, once again beginning to walk.  She looked at each slave in the slave markets, searching once again
for her own countrymen.  Today there were none it seemed.

“Shall we go, Your Majesty?”  Treize asked from his place beside his queen.

Meiran nodded, smiling down at a young slave girl, brushing a strand of blonde hair from her face.  She looked to the man
selling her.  “Be sure she gets a good home.”  Meiran warned, allowing a blue flame to flicker within her eyes, if only to watch
the man jump back in shock.

It worked, the man did jump back, and nodded emphatically.  “Yes, Queen Meiran . . . anything you say.  She will be in a good
home.  I will make sure of it.”

Meiran nodded.  “You best make sure she is.  If I find out that she has been harmed in any way you will pay the price of my
wrath.”

The slave seller nodded again, keeping his eyes lowered to the ground in front of him, sweat beginning to pour from his chubby
face.

Meiran smiled once more at the child, then turned away, starting on her journey home.  

“Was there really a need for that?”  Treize asked quietly.

“It was fun.  Besides, that child should not be mistreated.”  Meiran replied.

“You could have just bought her yourself.”  He said.

Meiran chuckled.  “But I have no use for more slaves, Treize.  I have no jobs left to fill in my home.  She would be doing
nothing if I were to purchase her . . . and by the look of her she has already been trained for some duty.  And to free her would
just be cruel.  She has probably been a slave since her birth . . . to free her would just confuse her.  She would be alone and
unsure of what to do.”

“I understand, My Queen.”  Treize said.  “I will return in a few days to check on her welfare if you wish.”

Meiran smiled.  “Yes, I would like that Treize.”  She replied.

Everything was silent after that, their walk quiet as they made their way to a carriage that Meiran had left waiting a few miles
away.  She enjoyed walking through the countryside, and the streets in Crossroads were already crowded enough . . . no need
to add her carriage to the traffic that always cluttered the streets.

She was within sight of her carriage when she heard a loud curse, followed by the sound of a lash striking flesh.  Curious,
Meiran went in search of the source of the sounds, eventually walking around a small hill that had obstructed her view.

There on the ground was a cowering slave, down on his hands and knees.  A large rotund man, obviously his master, was
whipping him, delivering strike after strike against his body.  The slave just stayed where he was, whimpering and flinching with
each hit.  Otherwise, he was perfectly silent, taking his punishment as any good slave would.  

Meiran did not like to see anyone beaten, slave or not.  She stepped forward and grabbed the man’s wrist as he was getting
ready to deliver yet another lash to the already beaten slave.  “What has he done to deserve so harsh a punishment?”  Meiran
demanded.

“Take your hand off of me!”  The man yelled, wrenching his wrist free of her grasp.  His eyes glared daggers at her, but she
ignored it.  “This is no concern of yours, now go or you will taste the lash just as this insolent slave has.”

Meiran felt nothing but fury that this man showed such disrespect to her.  “How dare you speak to me in such a manner!”

“I do not know you . . . Leave me be!”  The man scoffed, turning back to his slave and delivering a strong kick to the slave’s
mid-section, causing him to fall to his side groaning in pain.

Meiran knelt next to the slave, grasping his shoulder.  Sweat glistened on the slave’s mostly bare form, his garment no more
than a plain loincloth, shackles around both his ankles and wrists.  Various scars marred his body, the freshest marks being from
the whip that he was being beaten with.  Meiran traced her fingers over one bleeding gash, frowning at the shiver that coursed
through the body of the slave.  Meiran looked at his face, only to see that it was covered by a curtain of ebony hair, covering his
appearance with the greasy and unkempt strands of his dark hair.

Slowly and carefully, Meiran reached out, brushing back the filthy hair, only to see that his face was mostly obstructed by a
plain black veil that covered everything below his eyes, held up by a thin cord that was tied securely behind his head.  It was this
way with all slaves of course, so Meiran wasn’t surprised.  

All slaves were forced to wear veils, an agreement that had been made during some diplomatic meeting a few years back.  It left
only the masters with the privilege of seeing their slaves’ faces.  However, it was the eyes of this slave that had captured Meiran’
s complete interest.  He was Oriental, Meiran was certain of it, despite the filth that marred what features she could see.  

“Get away from him!”  The slave owner yelled.

“Do not speak to Queen Meiran in such disrespect!”  Treize shouted as he approached the scene.  He stopped beside Meiran,
offering an apology for lagging behind.

“Queen or not, she has no right to touch what does not belong to her.”  The slave owner replied.

Meiran had heard enough of this.  “Fine!  How much do you want for him?”

Treize sighed.  “My Lady . . . you cannot save all of your people.”  He said, his voice merely a whisper.

“I can try though.”  Meiran replied, just as quietly.  Then she looked to the slave owner again.  “How much?”  she asked.

“Ten pieces of copper and he’s yours.”  The man said, shrugging as if this meant nothing.

Treize didn’t even wait for Meiran to say anything.  He just reached into his money pouch and pulled out the coins, handing
them over to the man.  The man took it, quickly counting through them.

“Kisama . . . give it BACK to me!”  The slave shouted, the first thing he had said so far.

The man raised his hand, causing the slave to cower back.  However, Treize caught the man’s wrist before he could hit the
young slave.  “I wouldn’t do that.  He doesn’t belong to you . . . neither does whatever you took off of him.  It must be very
important if he reacted like that.”  Treize held out his other hand expectantly.

The man glared, but handed a small object to Treize.  Treize let go of the man’s wrist then handed whatever the object was to
the slave who took it in a trembling hand, shivering as he stayed bowed on the ground.  Meiran didn’t see the object, thinking
that it was not her business to look at it when it belonged to her slave and not to her.

Meiran rose to her feet.  “Can you stand?”  She asked the shivering slave.

There was silence for a moment and then a quiet reply.  “I am sorry, Mistress, but I cannot.”  The slave said, his voice barely
audible.

Meiran nodded.  “Treize, put him in my carriage.  As soon as we get home have him cleaned and put into bed.  He will need to
recuperate before I can find a use for him.”  She headed off in the direction of her carriage, knowing that Treize would be right
behind her.

As soon as she walked around that hill again and could see her carriage once more, she saw Duo stroking his hand along the
muzzle of one of the horses.  He turned when he noticed her approach.  “We leaving?”  He asked, smiling.

“Yes, Duo . . . and we have a new slave.”  She gestured behind her.

Duo frowned when he looked to the new slave, apparently seeing the condition that his body was in.  “Will he be okay?”  Duo
asked.

“I do not know yet, Duo.  I hope he will make it to the castle.”  She sighed.

Duo stepped over, laying a hand on her shoulder.  “I’m sure he’ll be fine.  And once you get him healed up he’ll probably make a
fine addition to the servants.”

Meiran nodded, but didn’t reply.  She stepped up into the carriage, Duo giving her a hand before following her in.  Only
moments later, Treize also got in, the slave cradled in his arms.  Meiran saw that the slave was unconscious, his one hand still
clutching tightly to whatever Treize had returned to him.  As the carriage started moving Meiran kept her eyes fixed on the slave’
s limp body, hoping that Duo was right and that the slave would survive long enough to receive treatment.



To Be Continued . . .