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

Notes:  Meiran finds out there is trouble with one of her allies.



Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment



Part Five


Meiran smiled as Treize held her in his strong arms, not caring that they were currently standing in the middle of the hallway
outside of her bedchamber.  Suddenly, he pulled out of her embrace, turning and drawing his sword in mere seconds.  Meiran
ducked behind him, knowing that there had to be some kind of trouble for him to do that.

Then Meiran heard Treize sigh.  She took a chance and peered around her lover’s body, snickering lightly at the sight that she
saw.  There Treize was, sword in hand, his other hand gently stroking the head of Meiran’s faithful servant, her familiar.

Meiran stepped out from behind Treize and knelt down beside the animal, gliding her hand along the sleek body of the white tiger
that she called a friend.  “Ah, Nataku, did Treize frighten you?”  Meiran asked, smiling as she stroked the tiger’s soft fur.  
Nataku responded by turning to her, nuzzling her face against Meiran’s body.

“Like I could frighten that beast of yours.”  Treize replied, sheathing his sword.

Meiran glared at Treize as Nataku snarled lightly.  “She is not a beast.”

Treize chuckled.  “No, you are more a beast than she is.”  

Meiran smiled, blushing slightly.  A shiver coursed through her body suddenly and she slowly rose to her feet, the skin on her
body prickling with goose bumps.  Beside her, Nataku growled and snarled, staring down the long corridor of the castle.  Meiran
did not hear Treize’s voice pleading with her to speak, to tell him what was wrong.  Instead, Meiran just stared down the
hallway, just as Nataku was doing.

An icy gust of wind washed through the corridor, nearly knocking Meiran down with its force, her hair whipping wildly about
her face as it seemed to go on endlessly.  Within the wind, Meiran could hear the screams of agony, the whispers of names and
words, only one repeated to her in crystal clarity, “Winner.”  As the wind finally died down a single voice droned out above all
the others, whispering with such sadness and fear.  “Please . . . why won’t someone help me?”

The wind stopped dead, and Meiran fell back, panting from shock of what she had just witnessed with her mind.  Treize caught
her before she landed on the stone floor.  “What is it?”  He asked, his hand gently stroking her cheek.

Meiran stood, pulling herself away from him as she rushed into her chambers, noticing that Nataku walked beside her as she
made her way inside her room.  This brought memories to her mind.  She knew who was in trouble, it had been the same
person as last time.  Only he would contact her in such a manner.


*Flashback*  


Nataku had been acting very strangely that day, pacing back and forth in front of the castle gates, pausing every now and then
to look back at the castle and then stare out at the gates once more.  At first, Meiran thought that this behavior was because
Treize had left on an errand.  But the thought was rejected quickly as she knew that Nataku didn’t care all that much for Treize.

Meiran attended to her guests.  Duo, the young man that she had rescued from that alley was asleep, resting in his room,
although every moment seemed to be agony to him.  He wasn’t recovering, his health just seeming to be failing.  It had been
months and barely any progress had been made in his condition . . . he was just wasting away.  If he didn’t improve soon,
Meiran would have to take things into her own hands . . . expend her own energy to see him well.

She left Duo’s side, letting the servants take over.  At least the herbs that the healer was giving him seemed to have made some
progress, although very little.  Meiran sighed as she watched him thrash about on the bed, hoping that soon he would regain his
strength on his own.

As she left the room, she passed by her other two guests, a young circus girl and her nameless friend.  Without Meiran, both of
them would probably be dead by now . . . she had saved them just a few days ago and already they were like family to her, as
was Duo.  Although that nameless youth still could have died . . . Meiran had meant to kill him herself that first time they had
met.  If not for the girl’s . . . Catherine’s . . . interference, that boy would be lying in a cold grave by now.

“Is he dying?”  The nameless one asked in a breathless whisper, his emerald eyes showing concern.  He was clad only in his
bedclothes . . . a dressing gown and a robe along with a pair of fur-lined slippers.  Of course he was ill, so he shouldn’t even
have been out of bed in the first place.  Most likely, Duo’s cries had awakened him . . . Duo did cry out in his sleep, something
in his dreams tormenting him.

“I hope not.”  Meiran replied.  Then she lay her hand on the young man’s cheek, the fever burning within him making his skin
hot to the touch.  She frowned as he winced at the physical contact.  He was as shy as ever, frightened and timid.  Still, she
smiled kindly at him, letting her hand fall from his face.  “You best get to bed . . . I did not spare you so that your condition
could worsen.”  

“Yes, my lady.”  The nameless young man nodded quickly, apparently still terribly frightened of Meiran.

Meiran sighed.  “You really do not have to fear me . . . I will not hurt you.”

The young man cast his gaze downward.  “I know . . . it’s a habit though.”  He replied, speaking quietly.

Catherine stepped forward, wrapping her arms around the nameless youth’s shoulders.  “Come on, I’ll help you back to your
room.”

“Thank you, Catherine.”  He sighed, allowing her to lead him away.  Meiran just watched them leave, hoping that the youth
would get over his fear of her . . . his fear of any person for that matter.  At the moment, Catherine seemed to be the only one
who he’d let near him without flinching.

Meiran sighed once more at the thoughts of the nameless youth, hoping for him.  Then she turned and walked along the
corridor, heading out of the castle.  She walked across the courtyard, her eyes locked on Nataku the entire time.  “What is it?  
What’s wrong, Nataku?”  Meiran asked as she approached, although she knew that the white tiger could not answer her.

There was something off in the air, Meiran was sure of it.  She looked to Nataku, watching the tiger continue to pace and snarl,
sniffing at the air and every once in a while scratching at the gates as if she wanted to be let out.

“Come, Nataku.”  Meiran said, turning and walking back to the castle.  She knew that Nataku would follow, since her familiar
was completely loyal to her.

Meiran led her faithful friend to her bedchamber, knowing that was where she could find out the problem.  Nataku had never
behaved so oddly before.  Meiran had to know what was troubling her familiar so.  The air was fairly crackling with tension.  
She remembered a spell that she had cast when she had first taken over this old palace . . . one that would let her see what she
wanted if she had to.  She rarely used it . . . not liking the idea of spying on someone.  This instance, however, she felt it needed
to be done.  

Slowly, she approached a cloth-covered object and removed the black silk to reveal a full-length mirror.  She murmured the spell
that she needed to recite and concentrated on what Nataku must have been sensing.  The mirror started glowing a slight violet
and Meiran opened her eyes.

“What troubles Nataku?”  Meiran asked.

The mirror flashed and she saw, instead of her own reflection, an image of a pale boy thrashing on a bed . . . crying out in what
seemed to be pain and fear, although no one was touching him.

“Where is he?”  She asked.  The mirror flashed again to show a splendid palace that was surrounded by a busy village.  It looked
so pleasant, the people smiling and happy.  “How can I get there quickly?”  The image panned swiftly to Crossroads . . . and
focused on an ornate sign that had an image of a dove and the word ‘Winner’ on it.  Satisfied, Meiran closed her eyes and the
mirror went dark.

That very same day she left her home, taking Nataku with her as guardian.  Since Treize was away, she needed someone to act
as her bodyguard . . . and Nataku was an excellent bodyguard.  In just five days, they arrived at the gates of the palace in the
Winner Empire.  They had only stopped once in Crossroads three days prior, to change horses, Meiran deciding it would be best
to sleep in the carriage along the way.  That young man she had seen in the mirror didn’t look as if he would last much longer.

As soon as Meiran stepped out of her carriage, the palace guards paled, one of them running off into the palace.  “Queen
Meiran?”  A few people gasped, turning to one another and whispering gossip to each other.

Meiran ignored them, knowing that time was short.  She and Nataku walked past the guards, entering the palace.  The guards
made no move to stop her.  In the throne room, she found the King, speaking with a few men.

“I am sorry, my Lord, there is nothing we can do for your son.”  One of the men, apparently a doctor or an apothecary, said as
he bowed to his king.

The King lowered his head, a few quiet sobs escaping him before he waved his hand to dismiss the men.  Meiran watched him
for a moment, seeing as he buried his face in his hands, already mourning for his son when the young man wasn’t even dead
yet.  Once she had enough of the scene, Meiran stepped further into the room, Nataku by her side.

The King noticed her approach and looked up, his eyes red with weariness and sadness.  “What do you want?”  He asked,
glaring at her through his tears.

“I come in the hopes that I may be of some help to you.  Your son seems very ill . . . I may have the knowledge to assist him.”  
Meiran replied, giving a small curtsey as a sign of respect.

“You are Queen Meiran, aren’t you?  The sorceress?”  The King asked, wiping the remnants of his tears away.

Meiran nodded.  “That I am.  And this is Nataku.”  She reached down, stroking her hand along Nataku’s head.  “She is my
bodyguard on the journey I have taken to get here.”

“An impressive animal.  If my son were well, he would no doubt enjoy seeing something as lovely as she.”  He gestured to the
animal, then turned his attention back to Meiran.  “You said you might be of help to my son?”

Meiran nodded again.  “I hope to be.  First, please tell me how his illness started.”

The King stood, but made no move toward Meiran.  “For a while now he complained of headaches . . . I just thought they were
due to the stress of his training to take over the throne.  But then two months ago, he said that he was hearing things . . .
whispers that annoyed him.  He said that they kept getting louder . . . he was terrified and confused.  None of the doctors could
do anything . . . and he just got worse.”  He sighed, brushing a single tear from his eye.  “For a week now he has been
bedridden, exhausted because the voices keep him awake . . . he gets no rest and he seems to be in pure agony, screaming and
crying.”

Meiran stepped forward, laying her hand against the King’s shoulder.  “Then I came in time.  Please, take me to see him.”

The King nodded, and led Meiran out of the throne room.  As they walked, Meiran could hear and see a number of people
crying, servants, slaves . . . every person they passed in the hall was weeping for the young prince.  He must be loved by all,
Meiran thought.  She would do all she could for him.

As they continued to walk, the hall became crowded, a number of girls standing along the sides of the corridor.  “My
daughters.”  The king said, gesturing ahead to the young women that parted to let the King and Meiran pass.

Meiran smiled at each young woman that she passed, counting them to find that there were twenty-nine princesses.  And all
were heartbroken about the condition of the young prince.  She was glad to see that he was so loved by so many.  As the king
opened a door at the end of the corridor, Meiran reached out and brushed the tears away from the cheek of one of the
princesses, a girl that could have been no more than sixteen years of age.  The girl sniffled and feigned a smile.

As soon as she stepped into the prince’s bedchamber, Meiran felt her heart breaking.  Lying in a bed, a lovely blonde was curled
into a tight ball, his pale body shivering every once in a while, strained sobs coming from his lips that alternated with harsh
screams of pure agony.

“If you can help my son, I will be allied with you until the stars lose their shine.”  The King said, gripping her shoulder.  
“Anything you want . . . I will give it to you . . . but please help him.”

“What is his name?”  Meiran asked.

“Quatre.”  The King replied.

Meiran nodded and rushed over to the young prince’s bedside.  She sat on the edge of the bed and reached out to him, gently
gripping his small shoulders and rolling him over onto his back.  She frowned at the amount of sweat soaking his clothes, the
paleness of his skin.  His eyes remained closed, tightly clenched as he struggled for control.  Meiran pressed her hand to his
forehead, wincing at the heat she felt coming off of him.

“I got here just in time, it seems.”  She muttered, reaching into the pouch that she had packed and pulled out a few candles and
incenses.  She chose white candles, knowing that it would be best in this type of healing . . . some lilac incense to attract
harmony, also some dragon’s blood incense to dispel negativity and make the other incenses’ power stronger.

“Please, leave me alone with him.”  Meiran said.  “Return in the morning.”

“Yes, of course.”  The King replied, quickly leaving the room.

As soon as the King departed, Meiran began her spell, hoping that it would work.  For hours, she did what she could, watching
with satisfaction as he became stronger.  He had uncontrolled psychic powers, that was his trouble.  Meiran used her own mind
to shield him from the voices tormenting him, knowing that this was only a temporary solution.  

All night, Meiran watched the young prince sleep . . . enjoying the sight of a smile on his face.  She wasn’t shocked . . . the
poor young man probably hadn’t gotten a decent night’s worth of sleep in . . . she didn’t even want to speculate on how long it
had been since Quatre had really had a chance to rest.  A groan from his small form, alerted Meiran to the fact that he was
waking, so Meiran stood from the chair she had taken a rest in and sat on the bed beside him while she called a glass of water to
her hand.  She smiled kindly as the loveliest pair of aquamarine eyes opened to look up at her.

“Who are you?”  Quatre asked, his voice a harsh whisper from the abuse his throat had received from his cries and screams
while he was ill . . . still his voice was the sweetest thing that Meiran had yet heard in this place.

Meiran smiled.  “I am Meiran . . . you might have heard of me.  You called me, and I came.”

Quatre’s brow furrowed.  “I . . . called you?”

Meiran nodded as she helped Quatre to drink some water.  When he was done, she put the glass aside.  “Yes.  Your pain . . .
disturbed my familiar.  So I had to do what I could to alleviate it.  How do you feel?”

“Tired.”  He blinked and then sighed blissfully.  “They’re gone!”

Meiran had to laugh, if only slightly.  “No . . . no they aren’t.  I merely shielded you for a time . . . until you can put your own
mental blocks up.”

His face contorted into a deep sadness.  “What’s wrong with me?”  He whimpered, crystalline tears seeping from his lovely eyes.

He sounded so worried that Meiran had to pull him into a hug.  “There is nothing WRONG with you, young prince.  You are an
empath . . . and so you sense emotions and thoughts.  I can train you . . . to hone that gift.  But not right now.  Right now . . .
you need to rest.”

Quatre nodded as she pulled away from him.  “Yes . . . I am tired.”  He yawned then smiled again as Meiran helped him to get
settled in, covering him snugly with the blankets.

Nataku nudged Meiran’s hand and she turned.  “Oh, I forgot to introduce you.  I am sorry.”  She smiled at the young prince,
noticing that his attention was solely focused on Nataku, even if his eyes were barely open.  “This is my familiar . . . Nataku.”

“She’s beautiful.”  Quatre grinned, raising a weak hand to pet the tiger.  Nataku stepped closer and butted her face against his
hand, apparently appreciating his touch.

“She likes you, my lord . . . a rare honor.”  She brushed her hand through Quatre’s bangs.  “Now go to sleep.  If you wish,
Nataku will stay by your side.”

“I would like that.”  Quatre said, yawning once again.

Meiran nodded and patted Nataku’s side.  The tiger carefully climbed up onto the bed, cautiously laying down beside the young
prince.  Quatre’s hand continued to stroke Nataku’s fur until it fell limply to the bed, the pale blonde finally falling into a peaceful
sleep.

A few minutes later, Meiran turned at the sound of the door opening.  The King stepped in, his shoulders hunched, appearing as
if he had been carrying the weight of the world on his strong shoulders.  “H-how is he?”  The King asked, his gaze focused
entirely on the floor.

“He is resting peacefully, my lord.”  Meiran smiled.

The King suddenly raised his head, a smile appearing on his face as he stepped closer to the bed and saw for himself that his son
was sleeping.  He laughed a single time, sitting down and grasping Quatre’s hand.  “Thank you.”  He whispered, a tear dripping
from his eye.

“There was nothing truly wrong with him.”  Meiran said, waiting until the King met her gaze before she continued.  “He’s an
empath that was never trained.  It came into full force and he was overwhelmed before he could put up a barrier.  I have
managed to shield him for the time being.  But my spell will wear off.”

“What can be done to help him?”  The King asked, worry obvious in his expression.

Meiran smiled.  “I will help him if you wish . . . train him to control his powers . . . to shut out the voices and emotions until he
calls them forth himself.”

“Yes, anything.  Please.”  The King nodded.  “Take as long as you must . . . I only want to see my son healthy again.”

Naturally, Meiran agreed to it.  Over the next few weeks, Meiran taught Quatre control . . . to block what he wanted . . . to let in
only what he wanted to let in and not be flooded with emotions or voices.  In that time he regained both his physical and mental
strength, the first week devoted to his body, the other two to his mind.

Three weeks after she had arrived, Meiran approached the King, with an offer to further train him so that he would be able to do
even more with his mind.  She saw great potential in him.  The King refused though, not wanting to burden Quatre.

“Pressure, my lady, can turn coal into a diamond . . . but it can also turn it into dust.  Quatre has much on his young shoulders
as it is.  When he turns eighteen, you may return and train him so that his abilities can be honed.”  The King said, turning to
smile at his fifteen-year-old son, stroking a hand through his hair.  “A king who can empathize with his people is a wonderful
thing . . . and I would not discourage that.”

Quatre stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Meiran in a gentle hug.  “My father gained a new ally and I . . .”  He ducked
his head shyly against her shoulder.  “I have gained another sister.”  He pulled away slightly.  “If you don’t mind, that is.”

“Of course I don’t mind.”  She ruffled her fingers through his hair.  “That makes three brothers I have now.  Someday I hope
you get to meet the other two.  We aren’t related by blood, but we love each other as if we were family.”

Quatre smiled.  “I guess that means I have two brothers by default.”

Meiran chuckled.  “When your eighteenth birthday comes, I’ll bring them to meet you.  I think you and Duo would get along
wonderfully.”  She gave Quatre one more quick hug, then curtseyed to the King.  “Goodbye.  Nataku and I will see you again.”


*End of Flashback*


The memories drifted away and Meiran was left with nothing but worry for the young prince again.  That had been the last time
she had seen Quatre, and upon her return to her own home she had found Duo near death.  She had returned just in time to save
Duo’s life, almost ending her own in the process of healing him.  

Meiran could only hope that she would be in time to save Quatre from whatever danger he was in.  She pulled the cloth from the
mirror, murmuring the spell as she looked at her own reflection, seeing Treize step up behind her.  

“Show me the Winner Empire.”  She commanded.

The mirror flashed a violet light and Meiran gasped as she saw nothing but ruins before her.  The castle was crumbling, all the
buildings in the village burned to the ground.  There was nothing left as smoke billowed into the air, numerous bodies cluttering
the streets that had once been filled with such happy villagers.

“Show me Quatre.”  She whispered, her voice choked as her tears began streaming from her eyes.

A sob escaped Meiran’s body, her heart aching with fear and worry as she saw the lovely blonde prince.  He was chained to a
bed, his body only covered by the thinnest of sheets.  He was crying, his head turned to the side and laying against his pillow as
he sobbed.

Meiran reached out, letting her hand linger on the surface of the mirror, wishing it was Quatre’s face she was able to caress.  
But she could do more than watch from her mirror.  Anger welled up inside of her and she clenched her fist, pulling her hand
back as she sucked in a gulp of air.  

“Who did this to him?”  She hissed, the mirror immediately changing to show the face of a vile King, a man that she had grown
to hate over the years, Dekim Barton.  He wanted to conquer Meiran’s lands, and had tried various schemes throughout the past
few years, all of which failed.

Meiran sighed, letting out a long breath as she released the spell.  Quickly, she uttered another string of words, this time for a
communication spell, and called out to a friend.  “Trowa.”

Only moments later, the mirror’s image rippled, to show the face of one of her loyal servants, Trowa Barton.  Sure the name
was not his own . . . He had taken it while on a mission for Meiran, killing Dekim Barton’s only son and taking his name and the
letter of introduction the youth had on him so that he could get close to a man named Tubarov.  

Tubarov and Dekim had been plotting once again, trying another scheme to take over Meiran’s lands.  Tubarov had been
gathering money for Dekim to fund a new army.  When Tubarov disappeared along with all of that money, all the men that had
been backing Dekim grew angry and abandoned him.  

When the mission was over, the young man who had been nameless had claimed Trowa Barton’s name as his own.  And now
his image was in front of Meiran, his green eyes shimmering as he looked at her.  “Meiran!  What is troubling you, my Queen?”  
He asked, his face remaining calm.    At least he was not so shy as he had been when Meiran had first met him.

“One of my allies is in danger . . . the heir to the Winner Empire.  His name is Quatre.  He is about your age with pale blonde
hair.”  Meiran said, frantic to save the gentle young prince.

“What has happened to him?”  Trowa asked.

Meiran let out a shuddered breath.  “King Dekim has destroyed his kingdom and has taken him prisoner.  I do not know what
Dekim wants with him but I can sense a powerful spell being made. Trowa . . . You must hurry.”

Trowa closed his eyes for a brief moment.  “I will go at once, my Queen.”  And then his face disappeared, apparently having put
away the handheld mirror that Meiran had given him to use so that Meiran could contact him anywhere.

As soon as Trowa’s face vanished, Meiran sank to her knees, sobbing and shivering.  Quatre was so kind . . . she didn’t want to
think of him being in pain or suffering in any way.  Hands gripped her shoulders from behind, but Meiran shrugged them off,
letting her body fall forward as she leaned against the cool stone, her crown falling from her head, clattering as it hit the floor.

“Come, Meiran.”  Treize whispered, wrapping his warm arms around her and lifting her from the floor.

“He is so gentle, Treize . . . his family are pacifists.  They have never harmed anyone.”  Meiran sobbed, clutching tightly to
Treize’s clothes as she buried her face against him.

Treize picked her up and carried her over to the bed, gently setting her down.  “I'm sure that Trowa will find Quatre and get him
out of there.”  He said, trying to be soothing as he stroked his fingers through her hair.

Meiran wanted to be positive, but it was so difficult.  Dekim was a cruel man . . . she already knew that . . . and he wanted to
do something with Quatre, something that he needed a spell for.  That could only mean trouble, and probably a great deal of
suffering for the young prince.

Meiran continued to sob, fearing for Quatre, for everyone of the Winner Empire.  She hoped that some of the royalty had
escaped, that not all of the villagers had been killed.  Her hopes and fears warred within her mind and body until Meiran fell into
unconsciousness, tired from the spell casting, exhausted in her worries over the people that she cared for.



To Be Continued . . .