Ch 21: The Mother's Own
"How would you like to watch as your precious boytoy is slowly broken?" Irdarr sneers, rising from his throne and slowly striding towards us, his cloak whispering on the floor.
I strain to move, but the spell on me is too strong. I cannot tear my eyes away from Heero long enough to glare at my hated enemy. "Don't touch him. I'll kill you, I swear I'll kill you."
"You? Kill me?" Amusement creeps into his voice as he halts a few feet to my right, his eyes sweeping up and down his two bonded prisoners. "You are so forgetful, Shinigami. Dieties cannot kill one another. Especially in their own homes." The triumphant ring to his voice starts up a wave of despair in me, and I practically choke on bile that rises in my throat.
I ignore Wufei's calm voice, still straining against the paralyzation.
--Duo-- His voice is more insistent this time, and I hesitate. Duo. Why does he keep insist on calling me that? Instead of Shinigami or Maxw--
My eyes widen slightly.
Is he trying to tell me...
..to make me realize...
My attention is immediately diverted as Irdarr reaches forward a deadly claw and runs it across Heero's cheek, not quite hard enough to pull blood, but leaving behind a white scratch. A whimper/growl forces its way from my throat of its own free will. "Iya..."
He chuckles, glancing across at me, just out of reach. "What's wrong, Shinigami?" he asks mockingly, slowly circling around so he is standing before Relena. "Don't want me touching them?"
He lifts her head by curling his finger under her chin, and I think I hear the slightest whimper. Her eyes are squeezed tightly shut, betraying her consciousness. Her chest is rising and falling rapidly with her frightened breaths.
"Hello, pretty one," he croons. "You were a naughty girl, weren't you? You disobeyed your little obsession's orders."
Eh? I blink. Orders? Is he talking about Heero? What orders did he give her?
Irdarr grins at me maliciously, his grip on her chin tightening slightly. "Oh, don't you remember, Shinigami? 'Don't let her look'." He smirks down at her. "You looked in the mirror, you naughty girl."
My breath catches in my throat.
'Don't let her look.' Oh, gods... He *didn't* mean to keep her from seeing the sight of him so bloodied...
He was trying to warn us not to let her look into the Sugatami no Naisei. She must be someone important or something... Someone Irdarr should not have gotten his shearing claws on.
Fuck. I wince, apologizing inwardly. 'Gomen, Heero...I didn't understand.'
'Don't come for me.' Trying to protect us...In his eyes, the loss of one soldier is more than enough...
Heero, damn you...
Irdarr can see all this sinking into my head, and his cruel laughter echoes in the bare room. "And now watch them both die," he purrs, flexing his grip suddenly tighter. Relena's eyes fly open, her mouth opening in a strangled cry of pain.
My own eyes widen, my breath catching in my throat as I see the dim, sickly glow that is just barely visible around her.
"That's right, Shinigami," Irdarr says, twisting her head cruelly to the side and up, studying her pulsing white throat with interest. "Do you recognize her aura? I admit it is faint in these conditions, but.." He shrugs carelessly, his eyes drifting up and locking with mine. "She is the Seed of the Earth. Its Daughter. Its only. Mother Earth's.." his claws slowly dig into her flesh, "..precious..." blood slowly trickles down her neck, and she gives a small sob. Irdarr's eyes burn into mine. "..Child."
Behind me, Trowa curses softly and Wufei's growl causes the goblins to shiver and inch closer to their master, keeping their wary eyes on the two servants of the Mother. Quatre is only watching with a faraway look in his eyes.
I close my own eyes and swallow hard, my heart hammering. Fuck. I had no idea...And I doubt she did, either. If he kills her...
Damn damn damn DAMN.
Heero, you were supposed to protect her all along. On some level you knew that, didn't you? She sent you to protect Her daughter... She asked, and you accepted. You just didn't remember...And I always tried to interfere.
Forgive me, Relena.
Her eyes open, shrouded in pain, as if she can hear my thoughts. "Duo.." she croaks, and I hear the trembling in her voice, the underlying terror and confusion. She is new to this all. She is only just beginning to grasp who she is and how important she is.
"Silence, wench." Irdarr says impatiently, and she quickly closes her mouth, afraid to swallow because of the claws pricking the underside of her jaw. Hatered churns in me, and I glare heatedly at my cousin as he lazily meets my gaze, unafraid.
Slowly he releases Relena, and she sags limply, hiccuping with sobs, her aura a little fainter than before. A few of the goblins dance closer, plucking at her ragged dress and laughing, turning their ugly faces upwards to grin at her.
The God of Despair walks around so that he is standing between me and Heero, though he takes care to station himself slightly to the side so I can see everything he does.
Bastard bastard bastard...
Once more I strain to move, and fail.
"Ahhh," he breathes, running his cold fingers down Heero's face. Still the Perfect Soldier does not move, his head still lowered, eyes closed. I cannot tell if he is unconscious or not. "A real treat, here. The unexpected bonus of the Mother's Own was nice, let me assure you..." He sends me a quick, triumphant look, "but this is what I was after, once I discovered you had him in your company, Shinigami." He laughs quietly, running his claws through Heero's blood-matted hair. Bile rises in my throat.
"Don't touch him," I say, my voice helplessly unsteady.
He ignores me, of course. "What did you think, when you discovered who he was?" he asks mildly, lifting his hand from Heero's scalp and smoothing his palm over wirey biceps, tugging momentarily at one of the green tank-top sleeves. "Were you surprised? Or did you suspect all along, even before you took this theif's body you now reside in?"
I say nothing, my eyes riveted to Heero.
"The Mother's Own and...this one..." He slides his gaze lazily from one captive to the other. "You realize, of course, that with the death of them both, these petty wars you fight in will become a hundred times worse, with thousands more deaths, and an unconclusive, tragic end." His silver eyes fairly glow with the thought. "It's enough to make shivers run up one's spine." He chuckles softly, finally removing his hand from his prisoner, motioning to me to step forward. My feet obey of their own accord, despite my frantic inner struggle to resist the spell. He grips my chin in two vice-like fingers, staring dispassionately into my eyes. I feel trapped, like a mouse before the hawk. My throat goes dry.
"And now," he hisses, his cold breath, smelling of blood, blasting into my face, "you will sit and watch your three friends over there die. And then you will kill these two.." Relena whimpers as if on cue, and a fanged smile spreads across his handsome face, "..with your own hands."
"RECTA UDUM POLDAR KIFNAME JURYAGA..."
Startled, Irdarr looks quickly over my head, his painful grip on my chin relaxing slightly, his eyes narrowing. "What..."
The monotonous words continue, slowly gaining in volume, echoing around the room. "OLDANARUM GERTU IRDANAR ME LOLADUUM...."
Those words...I recognize them!
With all my strength I manage to turn my head a few inches, straining to see out of the corner of my eye.
"Wufei.." I croak.
He stands enveloped in a shimmering, crackling aura of black, pulsing energy, his wings fully expanded, palms placed together, eyes closed, face a grimace of intense concentration and pain, sweat trickling down his bronze face, his hair fanning around his face. "YUDE TERNIGO MEJII KERU NEHTEV..."
"Stop him, you fools!" Irdarr shouts, shoving me aside roughly.
The goblins leap for the dragon, screeching, but they bounce off his shield easily, wailing in pain. How on earth did he manage to reserve that kind of strength?! Did he know to save up some Power deep inside before we entered the tree?
"QUEDY UJICK OPINUMBI GERTA FALIIR...."
His eyes open slowly, but instead of their ordinary black, they are dragon's eyes.
Slitted like a cats, and dark ruby red. As he speaks those ancient words, I see that his teeth are sharper than before, and a longer, touching his lips. His arching wings send a shudder through the mortal in me.
It is as if he resembles death, and not I.
His mental voice rings through my mind and through the others', as well. Irdarr flinches instinctively at the ringing growl that speaks into his head.
--YOU WON'T HURT THE MOTHER'S OWN, GOD OF DESPAIR. I WON'T ALLOW IT--
"Ch'..." My cousin's grimace turns to a snarl of irritation. "How could I forget...? All you earth-bound brats have some sort of 'loyalty' to this Earth Goddess of yours."
"I have no such loyalties to this Mother," I say calmly, stepping in between the diety and Heero quickly, while his concentration is distracted, lifting the spell from me momentarily. "But I will not allow you to kill them just to destroy everything. And I won't let you hurt Heero."
"Oh, really?" He turns to glare at me angrily.
"RECTA UDUM POLDAR KIFNAME JURYAGA..." The crackling energy around Wufei slowly begins to expand, and his words sound strained.
::Duo, keep him busy. Buy Wufei time,:: Trowa silently urges.
I lick dry lips, nodding just barely. I face Irdarr with a fearless face, spreading my legs slightly, hands lifted instinctively.
I am ready to do battle.
And I am not going anywhere. Nothing short of brute force or magic will remove me from my spot before Heero.
"Stay away," I say warningly. I add a sneer to my voice. "Go crawl back under your slimy rock and find yourself a little pre-teen fuck toy like you always do."
The poke at his pride works. His eyes narrow to silver slits, his breath hissing out between his teeth as he snaps his fingers furiously, barking, "Jova!"
Immediately a form leaps from a niche in the ceiling, landing in a half-bow a few feet behind the God of Despair. I recognize the man from before-- the one that controlled the beast --and curse inwardly. "Take care of that Dragon," Irdarr orders, never taking his eyes from me.
"Yes, M'Lord," the handsome man says calmly, bowing low. He turns his attention on Wufei, listening thoughtfully to the spell before closing his eyes and crossing his thumbs, lifting his hands before his face, palms outward as he begins to murmur a rapid chant. A bubble of flickering orange Power begins to form around him.
I quickly turn my attention back to Irdarr, tensing in readiness.
The diety before me flexes his claws, eyes boring into me in hatred. "I am going to show you that there are things much worse than death."
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