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

Notes:  Trowa takes Mariemaia to Taura.  Duo has to hasten his pace to Meiran when Heero’s condition worsens.



Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment



Part Twenty


Trowa leaned back in his seat in the carriage, deciding to relax as he was taken away from the castle he had called home for the
past month.  Beside him sat Mariemaia, the young girl that he had silently vowed to protect.  She was the rightful ruler of these
lands, not Trowa, and he would see to it that she became Queen.  However, he wouldn’t force her into it.  No one should be
forced to do something they don’t wish to do . . . it just didn’t seem right to him.

“Wow!”  Mariemaia exclaimed, her young voice filled with awe.

Trowa looked over at the girl, wondering what she found so impressive.  “Why so excited?”  Trowa asked.

“I . . . I’ve never really been outside before.  I’ve seen it from my window, but I was never allowed out of my room.”  
Mariemaia replied, her gaze focused out of the window at the passing scenery.  “It’s lovely.”

Trowa smirked.  “Yes, it is.”  He replied.

Mariemaia turned to face him, her face lit up by a bright smile.  “How long until we reach Taura?  That is where you said we are
going, right?”  She asked, energetically.

“Yes, we are heading to Taura.  It’ll be at least two days.”  He answered.  “We’ll have to camp during the nights, but we should
arrive by late afternoon the day after next, maybe not until dusk though.  Taura, although close to Dekim’s lands was never
overthrown by him.  The Tauran royalty has allegiances with both the Peacecraft and Lowe houses, very formidable allies, too
much for Dekim to handle all on his own.”

“But Quatre’s lands were overthrown by my grandfather, weren’t they?”  Mariemaia asked.

Trowa nodded.  “Yes, but the Winners have always been known as pacifists.  They would not have fought back against him
since they did not believe in fighting.  If Dekim hadn’t snuck in during a celebration, the Winners would have had time to request
assistance from one of their neighbors and save themselves.  But by the time Dekim’s forces were seen, it was too late to do
anything.”  Trowa said, his thoughts focusing on one particular Winner . . . Quatre.

“Ah . . . I see.”  Mariemaia said, turning her attention once again to the window.

Trowa  sighed, closing his eyes as he thought about Quatre.  The young blonde’s health was the first thing that came to mind,
wondering what was ailing him.  These vomiting spells were most distressing.  Then there was the depression that Quatre
seemed to be in.  All in all, Quatre was not well, and this left Trowa concerned about him.  He hoped all would be well.


*****


Duo turned in the saddle, taking a glance over at the two riding on a horse beside him.  Hilde rode with her arms around Heero’s
waist, forcing him to remain upright as they traveled.  Heero was slumping forward, and it was taking Hilde a good deal of
strength to keep him from toppling over, which left her unable to steer.  It was a good thing that their horse was tethered to
Chaos, or else they wouldn’t be getting anywhere.

“S-Stop . . . please stop.”  Heero weakly pleaded, groaning as he slumped forward even more.

Duo pulled both horses to a halt.  He leaned over, laying a hand on Heero’s shoulder.  “Are you okay?”  Duo asked, concerned
as he watched Heero’s face carefully.

Heero closed his eyes, sweat beading on his brow.  “I think I’m going to be sick.”  He whispered, curling his arms around his
body as a shudder ran through his form.  “Soon.”  He added as an afterthought.

Duo’s eyes widened, hearing that.  Perhaps it had been a bad idea to feed Heero at all, since they were unsure just how severe
his injuries were.  Well, it was too late to do anything about the past now.  Duo jumped down from Chaos, reaching up and
wrapping his arms around Heero’s body as he quickly pulled him down.

Duo set Heero on the ground, then knelt beside him, hastily removing the veil from the young man’s face.  He frowned, seeing
that Heero was biting into his bottom lip, hard enough to make it bleed.  Duo settled his hand on Heero’s back, urging him to
bend forward so that he was down on hands and knees.

“It’s okay . . .”  Duo urged, whispering quietly as he ran his hand along Heero’s back in gentle circles.  “Let it go.”

Only moments later, Heero vomited, spewing the contents of his stomach onto the grass below him.  Duo turned away, curling
his nose at the sight he had just witnessed.  He listened to Heero’s repeated retches, not turning back until he was satisfied that
Heero had finished.

Duo pulled Heero back, laying him down across the cool grass.  He leaned over the young man, watching with fear as Heero
struggled for breath, his eyes barely open as he trembled almost constantly.  Duo pressed his hand to Heero’s face, his heart
pounding as he felt the fever burning within him.  “Oh God, you’re burning up!”  Duo gasped.

Hastily, Duo fixed the veil on Heero’s face, not caring if it was crooked or not.  Then he pulled Heero into his arms, allowing
Hilde to hold him only until he was mounted on Chaos.  Then he took Heero from her, lifting him up to ride on Chaos with him.  
“Sorry, Chaos buddy . . . but we have to hurry.”  Duo said, hushing his steed as it shook its head angrily.  “Hilde, catch up with
us.”  Duo said, removing the tether between their horses as fast as he could before he kicked Chaos into a gallop, speeding off
to Meiran’s castle, keeping a tight hold on Heero with one arm as he held Chaos’s reigns with the other.

Several long minutes later, Duo halted his horse within Meiran’s courtyard.  Servants rushed to help him, one taking Heero from
him as he dismounted.  Duo took Heero back, holding the young man carefully in his arms as he raced into Meiran’s home.  

“Where is the Queen?”  Duo called out as he passed by several servants.

“In her bedchamber, Lord Duo!”  Someone replied.

Duo nodded to himself, continuing on his way, hoping that he had not sought out Meiran’s help too late.  As he turned a corner,
he saw Treize speaking with some guard.  “Treize!”  Duo yelled, not stopping as he passed by Treize.  

“Duo?  What is wrong?”  Treize asked, following Duo quickly.

“My new slave . . . let’s just say that he’s hurt badly and I need Meiran’s help.”  Duo replied, seeing Meiran’s door just ahead of
them.  “Would you mind getting the door for me?”

“Not at all.”  Treize said, running past Duo and hastily opening the door, closing it once they were all inside.

“Meiran?  I need your help!”  Duo said, quickly crossing the room to Meiran’s bed, where the Queen had been laying.  On the
other side of the bed, a young dark-haired youth scrambled off the bed, crouching down and warily peering over the edge at
Duo.  Duo remembered him as the slave that Meiran had bought about a month ago, idly noticing that he looked a lot better than
the last time Duo had seen him.

“Duo . . . who’s this?  What happened to him?”  Meiran asked, rising from the bed and stepping aside to give Duo room.

Duo set Heero down on the bed, then turned to face Meiran.  “I was in town last night . . . I heard a scuffle and I found this
slave being abused by his master.  I bought him.  I was bringing him here so that you could see if he was going to recover or
not when he told me he felt sick.  He vomited and when I felt his face he was burning with fever.”  Duo said in a rush, frantic
about his new slave’s health.  He didn’t want the young man to die.

Meiran leaned over, pressing a hand to Heero’s face, frowning deeply.  “Wufei . . . will you help Duo to remove the garments
and bandages from this young man?”  Meiran asked, looking over to the other side of the bed where that dark-haired young man
still hid.

Wufei raised his head, nodding before he slowly climbed onto the bed, moving over to Heero’s side hesitantly.  Duo moved
forward faster, hastily removing bandages although he did try to be gentle.  While the two of them were busy with Heero,
Meiran stepped across the room.  Duo heard the clinking of jars hitting each other, knew that Meiran was doing something, but
since he was focused on getting Heero undressed, he didn’t bother to turn and find out what it was she was doing.

“Treize, a basin of water, please?”  Meiran asked.

“Yes, of course.”  Treize replied, before leaving the room.  A few moments later, Duo heard the door open again and turned to
see Treize approaching the bed, setting the basin of water on the bedside table.

Duo returned to his task, tossing the strips of bandages aside as soon as he had removed them, until Heero’s body was bare of
both clothing and bandages.  “There.  What now, Meiran?”  Duo asked, turning his attention to her.

Meiran smiled, looking over her shoulder.  “Clean his wounds.”  She said, working with her herbs, using water from a nearby
pitcher every now and then as she mixed her concoctions.

Duo turned, smiling as Treize handed him a water soaked cloth, watching as the tall Captain of the Guard handed another cloth
to Wufei.  The three of them carefully began to clean Heero’s body, Duo frowning every time he accidentally opened one of the
wounds, hating that he was causing him any pain.  He looked at Heero’s face, offering what he hoped was a comforting smile to
the barely conscious youth.  “You’ll be okay.”  Duo whispered, laying a hand against Heero’s face.

Heero opened his mouth, but all that came out was a weak little whimper before he closed his eyes.  Duo let his smile drop,
fearing for Heero’s health.

“Let’s turn him over and do his back.”  Treize suggested.

Duo nodded, helping to flip Heero over onto his stomach.  While Treize cleansed Heero’s legs and lower half, Wufei was
washing Heero’s left side, and Duo contented himself with washing off Heero’s other side, trying to be as gentle as possible.

“That’s fine.”  Meiran said, approaching the bed.  She pushed aside the basin, setting a goblet and a jar of ointment on the table.  
“Sit him up, and find me some bandages.  His wounds must be covered soon after I apply the ointment.”  She said.

Treize moved off of the bed, leaving to someplace unknown, while Duo and Wufei moved Heero into a sitting position.  They
held him up as Meiran took the jar, dipped her fingers in, and smeared some of the ointment onto the lash marks that covered
Heero’s back.  

“What is it you are using?”  Wufei asked, his voice almost a whisper.  Duo was curious about that as well, so he patiently waited
for Meiran’s answer.

Meiran smiled, continuing to work.  “Bai ji and san chi . . .”  She smiled again, shaking her head as she looked at Duo and saw
his bewildered expression.  “Sorry, I sometimes forget to use English, but I know the names of my herbs in my own language,
not yours.”

“It’s okay.”  Duo said, grinning in reply as Treize returned with the bandages.

“Bai ji is an orchid with violet blossoms, but it’s the bulb that is the medicinal part.  It reduces swelling and will promote healing
and regeneration of his wounded tissues.”  Meiran said, moving around and applying the ointment to Heero’s chest.  As soon as
she was done with both his chest and back, Treize wrapped Heero in bandages.  “And san chi is an herb with yellow flowers
and the root is what is used.  It will help healing in all forms of bleeding wounds.  It would have been better if I had applied this
immediately after he was wounded, but it will still help him.”

“I thought he needed rest.”  Duo whispered in reply, he and Wufei laying Heero down on the bed once Treize had finished
wrapping the bandages around Heero’s upper body.

“Don’t blame yourself for his current condition, Duo.  You could not have known he would get this ill, even with his injuries it is
surprising.  A slave should be able to take this kind of a beating and still be able to do many of his duties just due to training.”  
Meiran said.

Duo sighed.  “He wasn’t trained.  He’s a prince, kidnaped from his castle about a month ago.  He told me that he’d never even
seen the sky before he was kidnaped because his father feared assassins.”

Meiran gasped.  “Oh dear . . . that would explain this then.”  She said.  “It’s stress as well as injury.”  Meiran said, continuing to
treat each of his wounds.  “What will his duty be in your house, Duo?”

Duo felt himself blushing.  “Um . . . well he’s going to be my new pleasure slave.”  Duo said, ducking his head shyly.

“Why, has something happened to Hilde?”  Treize asked.

Duo shook his head.  “No, she’s pregnant.”  Duo said.  “That was my other reason for coming here.  I’m going to set her free
and wanted to speak with your healer about letting her be his apprentice.”

Meiran smiled at him.  “That is a wonderful idea, Duo.  Hilde will make a very good healer.”

Treize tapped Duo on the shoulder, gaining his attention.  “If you don’t mind me asking . . . what happened to this slave’s hands
and feet?  They’re cut up very badly.”

“I was wondering that myself, Treize.”  Meiran commented, even as she applied ointment to Heero’s feet.

Duo sighed again.  “He was dragged behind a horse, from Crossroads to here and his last master ground his hands down onto
glass shards in an alleyway.”

“I hope that you dealt with this man appropriately.”  Meiran hissed, anger apparent in her voice.

“Actually, Chaos dealt with him.  The bastard raised his whip to me after I had bought the slave from him.  Chaos trampled him
to death.”  Duo replied, knowing that he was grinning.

Finally, Meiran finished with applying the ointment.  Treize and Wufei wrapped the bandages around the remainder of Heero’s
wounds.  “You were wise to come to me, Duo.  Without my help he would never be able to use his hands properly again and he
would probably walk with a limp for the rest of his life.  However, I can help him . . . it’ll just take time.”  Meiran said, wiping
her hands off on a cloth before she grabbed the goblet and sat by Heero’s side.  “What is his name?”

“His name is Heero.”  Duo said, ecstatic that he had done the right thing in bringing Heero to see Meiran.

Meiran nodded.  She turned to Heero, reaching out her hand and sliding gentle fingers along his unbruised cheek.  “Heero . . .
wake up, Heero.”  She urged with a whisper, lightly tapping his face to rouse him.

A moment later, Heero’s eyes drifted open, unfocused as he looked around.  Then his gaze settled on Duo, watching him
unsteadily.  “Where  . . . ?”  He asked tiredly.

“You are in my castle.”  Meiran said, waiting until Heero looked at her before she continued.  “I am Queen Meiran.”

Heero blinked, but seemed too tired to do much of anything.  However, he did look quite frightened, a shiver moving throughout
his body.

Meiran smiled.  “Ah . . . I see you have heard of me.  There’s no need to be afraid, I won’t hurt you.”  She said, laying her hand
on his cheek, apparently to calm him.  “Now, my companion, Wufei is going to help you sit up and then I want you to drink
this.”  She held up the goblet for him to see.

Wufei moved forward before Heero could say anything, helping the young man to rise.  Heero groaned, biting his lip and
clenching his eyes shut.  For a few moments, he stayed like that, controlling his breaths until he finally opened his eyes again.  
Duo assumed that the pain he was in was horrible, seeing his reaction to just sitting up.

Meiran patiently waited, then held the edge of the goblet to Heero’s mouth.  “Drink.”  She urged.

Heero turned away.  “What is it?”  He asked weakly, sweat dampening his hair, his breaths still coming to him in short ragged
gasps as he shivered.

Meiran smiled.  “Duo’s right . . . you haven’t been trained.  Slaves generally don’t refuse a Queen.”  She said, then she
shrugged.  “This is a decoction of lien chiao . . . the fruit of a medicinal herb.  It will help to fight your fever.  Wufei has been
taking this for some time, he has been ill himself lately, still recovering from his own injuries after a month.”  Meiran said,
smiling.  “Will you drink?”

Heero nodded.  “Fine.”  He said, allowing Meiran to raise the goblet to his lips again and tip it so that he could drink from it.  
When Meiran pulled the goblet away once again, he licked his lips and grimaced.  “It’s bitter . . .”  He whispered.  “But thank
you.”

Meiran laid her hand against his forehead, then brushed back his bangs.  “Now, you rest . . . soon you will be healthy.”  She
said, nodding to Wufei to lay him back again.

Heero closed his eyes, asleep before he was flat on the bed.  Duo turned his attention to Meiran, still worried about Heero.  “Did
you mean what you said?”  He asked, almost frantic.  “Will he be healthy soon?”

“Duo . . . I will do all I can.”  She said, offering a smile.  “He seems willing to live at the moment, but I cannot foresee the
future.  Many things could go wrong.  However, right now I do not see any reason why he wouldn’t make a full recovery.  He
just needs time and care.”  She set the goblet aside.  “He cannot be moved, not for some time, so I guess you two will be
staying here for now.  Treize, Wufei, and I can move to one of the guest quarters until your slave is well enough to travel again.”

Duo looked between all three people in front of him.  “That true?”  He asked.  “None of you mind?”

Wufei merely shook his head, not speaking.  Treize grasped Duo’s shoulder.  “You should stay with your slave, and if he cannot
be moved, then we don’t really have any choice but to sleep in another room.”  Treize said.

Duo smiled.  “Thanks.”  He yawned, not knowing why he felt so tired.  Perhaps it was stress, he had been worried about things
lately.

“Duo, why don’t you get some rest as well . . . you look tired.”  Meiran suggested.

Duo nodded.  “Okay.”  He watched as Wufei, Meiran, and Treize left the room, his eyes focused on Wufei until the young man
had departed.  There was something wrong with him, Duo was sure.  He wore slaves’ garments, and yet didn’t act completely
like a slave.  Meiran must have freed him, Duo thought.

He shook his head, clearing his mind.  He reached up, unfastened his cloak and let it drop to the floor, kicking off his boots and
walking around to the other side of the bed.  Duo stripped off his tunic, ignoring the bells in his hair that jingled whenever he
moved and climbed into bed.  

Duo settled himself beside Heero, reaching down and pulling up the blankets to cover the two of them, sighing as he closed his
eyes.  Duo smirked, letting his one hand curl around one of the few bare sections of Heero’s arm, allowing himself only that
sparse amount of contact while he wondered if Heero would be as difficult to train as Duo hoped he would be.  Duo didn’t want
to train him too well, just enough to get him to be obedient, not some mindless drone that would do anything for him.  Was that
too much to ask?



To Be Continued . . .