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

Notes:  Trowa arrives in Taura and gains an audience with the royal family.



Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment



Part Twenty-Four


Trowa glanced over at the child that was napping on the seat across from him and tried to dredge up a smile for her, but couldn’
t quite manage it.  It had taken two days for them to get to Taura.  It would take another two to get back, and he had no way of
knowing how long he would be detained here.  He would just have to make it clear that time was of the essence and that he
simply HAD to get back as soon as he could.

Quatre was waiting for him, and the beautiful blonde was ill.  Trowa dreaded coming home to find Catherine waiting for him
with horrible news.  It was a fear that was substantiated.  Since the young man was ill, his health could have declined in Trowa’
s absence . . . still, Trowa tried not to think about it, he stayed positive, hoping for the best.

He reached over and gently shook Mariemaia awake and managed the smile he’d been trying for as the girl yawned.  “We’re
here.”  He whispered, turning as a footman opened the door.  The girl rose from her seat, tiredly rubbing her eyes.  Trowa
smiled, allowing the girl to exit the carriage first, then he followed her.

“Is the King in residence at this time?”  Trowa asked, finding himself faced with a rather well dressed man . . . the chamberlain
no doubt.  “I have a matter of the utmost importance to discuss with him.”  He nodded slightly to Mariemaia, who was looking
about with wonder in her eyes.  “Queen Meiran has sent me to see to this child’s welfare.”

The chamberlain bowed to Trowa.  Meiran was a respected and beloved ally of Taura.  If her name couldn’t get him an
audience with the King then nothing would.  “His royal majesty, the King, is in an audience with her royal highness, the Princess
Lucrezia at the moment, but he will not wish to detain you.  You have undoubtedly traveled far.  Would you partake a meal, or
do you wish to see him immediately?”

Trowa sighed.  A meal that didn’t consist of dried meat or stale bread would be welcome.  As would a bath and a night’s sleep
in a comfortable bed.  First things first, though.  “Time is of the essence.  I have another urgent matter awaiting me when I
depart here . . . although I will accept the King’s generous hospitality after I have spoken with him.”

The chamberlain nodded.  “Follow me, then, my lord.”

Trowa motioned to Mariemaia and took hold of her hand before following the chamberlain as directed.


*****


“ . . .Understand?  You should mind your lessons.  Your habits and disposition are what chases all your suitors away.”

Trowa shook his head.  He had heard from Meiran that the King felt his daughter too bold for her own good, that she acted too
much like her brothers.  It was an old argument.  The Princess wanted to be treated like any man would be treated, while the
King just wanted to get her married.  At least, that’s how Meiran had made it sound when describing the situation to Trowa after
her last visit here.

“Father . . . I don’t WANT another suitor!  I want to learn how to fight.  I KNOW that Milliardo is still alive somewhere.  I don’
t know how I know, I just do.”  The young woman said, standing before her father’s throne and pleading her case.  “That he
hasn’t been seen, must mean that he’s a prisoner somewhere.  I need to be strong so I can help him.”

“Lucrezia . . . your hope and faith in Prince Milliardo being alive is commendable, but the fact remains that he disappeared five
years ago and no trace of him has been found.  The boy is probably dead, and you should move on and marry one of the other
princes.  They are all eager for your hand.”  The King replied.

Princess Lucrezia bowed her head.  “Please Father, allow me just a little more time . . . I cannot give up on Milliardo.  He's the
only of my suitors that I ever cared for.”

The King sighed.  “As you wish, Lucrezia.  I give you until your birthday in one month’s time to find this missing suitor.  If you
cannot, then on the eve of your twenty-third birthday, you will choose another and marry him within the week.”

“Thank you, Father.”  Lucrezia said, although her head remained lowered.  Only a month . . . surely not much could be done
with so little time.

The chamberlain cleared his throat, ushering Trowa and Mariemaia further into the room.  He bowed respectfully.  “Forgive the
intrusion, your royal majesty, but we have a visitor from Meiran’s realm.”  The man said.

Princess Lucrezia moved to stand by her father’s side as the King spoke.  “Come forth, lad.  What is your name?”  He said,
gesturing for Trowa to approach.

Trowa bowed, noting out of the corner of his eye as Mariemaia curtseyed.  “I am known as Trowa Barton, your majesty,
though that is not my real name.”  He said, hoping to avoid a conflict by declaring the truth as hastily as he could.  The Barton
name was not well liked by most.

“Barton?  If that is not your name, then what is it?”  The King asked, his eyes narrowed as he looked at Trowa.

“I have no name that I know of, Sire.  For most of my life I have been called, Nanashi . . . which means ‘no name.’”

The King nodded his head.  “I see.”  He said, although he took a breath and let his eyes wander over Trowa’s form again,
probably looking for any sign of danger.  “You say you come on behalf of Queen Meiran?  Please, tell me what business she has
you do this fine day.”

“It concerns young Mariemaia here.”  Trowa said, pulling the girl around him, setting his hands on her shoulders, partially to
keep her there, and partially to keep her calm.  “She is Dekim Barton’s granddaughter.  I found her shortly before assassinating
Dekim.  She is the daughter of Leia Barton and an unnamed soldier.  Her royal majesty, Queen Meiran, is concerned about the
girl’s safety.  Dekim was not well liked, and the subjects of his lands might make an attempt on her life rather than have another
Barton rule.  Queen Meiran asks that you help in this matter, perhaps make her your ward and have her lands held in trust until
such time as she can assume her rightful place.  There are no other heirs, and I have no desire to assume the position myself.”

“So . . . you say that you are an unnamed youth, who took the name of the son of one of our enemies, and that you have
brought a child, who no one has ever heard of before, here out of concern for her safety?”  The King shook his head, most
likely not trusting Trowa’s words one little bit.  He was a wise king, then.  “You also claim to have been sent here by our great
ally, Queen Meiran.  Do you have any proof to your claim?”

Trowa bowed.  “Of course, your majesty.  If I may be allowed to open my pendant?”  He said, gesturing to the amulet that hung
from around his own neck.

“Very well.”  The King nodded, gesturing for Trowa to go ahead with a simple wave of his hand.

“My thanks.”  Trowa said.  He took hold of the amulet and opened in, clearing his throat before calling out to his queen.  
“Majesty?”

There was a pause, and then Meiran’s worried face appeared within the shimmering surface of the mirror.  “Trowa?  Is
something wrong?”  She asked, probably concerned as to why Trowa would be contacting her.  He never did unless he had
good reason.

Trowa shook his head.  “Nothing, my Queen, except the need to prove my allegiance to you.”  He said, taking a step toward the
King and handing his mirror over to him.

“Ah!  So the youth was not telling a falsehood.”  The King exclaimed, a smile crossing his features.

Meiran’s words reached Trowa’s ears, although he could not see the lady.  “No, my friend.  It is good to see that you still retain
your levelheaded wisdom in matters of verifying someone’s identity.  I assume that your concern was with the name he gave?”  
At the King’s nod, Meiran explained.  “Trowa disliked not having a name, so assumed the name of the first person he
assassinated while in my employ.  I believe that I mentioned the mercenary child that I took under my wing?”

“Oh, yes!”  The King grinned.  “And also the street child.  Will I ever get to meet this . . . bundle of mischief, as you so called
him?”

Meiran’s laugh was sweet, and made Trowa smile as she replied.  “You must visit me in order to do so, my friend.  He has
acquired a new slave for himself, and unfortunately the youth is quite badly wounded.”  There was a short pause.  “You keep
putting off your visit to my lands.  You would have met Trowa long ago had you traveled to my kingdom.”

The King nodded.  “True . . . true.”  He looked thoughtfully at the mirror.  “There’s something different about you.  I can't quite
put my finger . . . AH!  It’s like a shadow of pain has been taken from your eyes.  You’re a little happier than when I last saw
you.  You don’t look as haunted.”

“Something wonderful has happened, but I really can’t say more at the moment.”  Meiran replied.  “I have things to tend to, you
understand how that is.  It was good seeing you, though.”

“And you.  I will visit one of these days.  Farewell.”

“Farewell, my friend.”  Meiran said.  The King handed the amulet back to Trowa. “And to you too, Trowa.”  She said, bidding
him goodbye as well.

“My Queen.”  Trowa nodded.  The mirror returned to normal, and Trowa closed the amulet, returning it to its place around his
neck.

The King rose from his seat.  He stepped over to Mariemaia and knelt down in front of her so that he could look her in the eye.  
“I will take this child under my protection.  You have my word that no harm will come to her.”  He said, then brushed his
fingers over her cheek before he rose to his feet again.  “I owe Queen Meiran many debts, I would be honored to serve her in
such a manner.  Is there anything else you require?”

“Just a meal and a good night’s rest, sire.  Unfortunately I am needed back in Dekim’s lands.  I left some acquaintances there to
keep watch over things.”  Trowa replied.

“By all means, you are quite welcome to spend the night with us.  I hope you will join my family and I for breakfast before you
depart?”

Trowa nodded.  “I am honored by your hospitality.”  He bowed.

“I’ll have the servants clean and air out the nursery.  The little queen will take up residence there tomorrow once the dust has
been cleared.  It’s been so long since those rooms have been used.  Tonight . . . she can sleep in a room adjoining yours, Lord
Barton.”  The King declared.

“I’ll escort them to their rooms, Father.”  Princess Lucrezia announced, stepping forward.

The King nodded.  “Thank you, daughter.  If you would be so kind as to see to it that all who traveled here with him are treated
well . . . meals and baths for them all.”

The Princess curtseyed.  “As you wish, Father.”  She said, then started to walk away.  As she passed by Trowa, she gestured
for him to follow, which he did, taking hold of Mariemaia’s hand as he did so.



To Be Continued . . .