Of Darkness and Shadows
(Warning: adult situations, gore)
The pain of Duo’s
injuries was magnified a hundred fold as the dark power of the Deathscythe
flooded through him. Not for the first time he regretted his ancestors
ingenuity in the creation of the glowing weapon.
Bright green light
flooded the room from the weapon’s blade and the very air hummed with energy
as he felt the stirrings in the shadows. The Lumiaria would protect
Quatre, which was good because he didn’t think the healer would be able
to defend himself in his weakened state. So that would mean that he’d only
have to protect Salipo. He was sure that both the Catron and the
dark elf could handle themselves even against the Calimari.
to his left he put himself between the young woman and the threat he felt.
A pale purple hand extended from the shadows, the claws on the hand were
long and sharp - colored by dry blood and pieces of flesh. Within
seconds the bald, deformed head emerged followed by the thin, elongated
body. Even though Duo had grown up around the Revered Magus’s monstrously
unnatural army he had never quite become used to them. He wasn’t
sure exactly how they had come to be but he was willing to bet money on
the fact that they’d come to their present state through the Magus’s necromantic
feet spread wide he held the Deathscthye in an easy and natural grip.
As a weapon it was anything but natural but all Shadow Tribe nobility was
trained to use a scythe from the time they could walk and despite the constant
power flowing through him he was able to move unheeded with it in his hand.
He waited only seconds before the Calamari struck its claws searching for
his blood. Easily side-stepping the fast but clumsy movement, Duo
brought the glowing blade around in an arc removing its head as well as
severing it’s body in two with his second blow. As he expected the
severed body parts continued to flay on the ground in an attempt to get
at their intended prey.
was the least of his problems. Warnings sounded in his mind as other
Calamari entered the room. Looking around himself Duo quickly assessed
the situation, Wufei and Heero were back-to-back and holding their own
against six of them but Trowa was having difficulty protecting Quatre as
well as Salipo from another bunch. Duo had to admit that the Lumairia
was good but not many could hold up against five Calamari while protecting
two other defenseless people… he realized he’d judged too soon as Salipo
used her bag of supplies as a cudgel on any part of the outlandish creatures
Twirling the scythe
in one hand he concentrated on the other, forming a small but hot ball
of fire, even while he slashed at the Calamari around the three of them.
One claw lashed out at the blonde woman, drawing blood and ripping her
shirt. Moving between the two of them he sent the small fire sphere
at the mindless soldier and smiled tightly in satisfaction as the purple
skin sizzled and dropped from the skeleton.
Fire was the only
real way to destroy the Calamari he’d discovered that little secret the
hard way when he had been much younger.
didn’t have that much magical energy left, not after everything he’d gone
through. Seeing the other’s strength wavering under the unrelenting
strain of battle he made a quick but hasty decision.
“If you five wish
to survive, get behind me. NOW!” Duo didn’t wait to see if
they would actually listen to him, he knew they would as soon as they realized
what he was planning to do.
the energy within the Deathscythe he used his own power to change and manipulate
it into a strange green colored fire that quickly encircled the scythe,
but unlike his own fire that wouldn’t burn him this fire licked at his
flesh hungrily and it was all he could do to keep a firm hold on the weapon.
Quickly, following the practiced moves of the pattern dances he’d learned
all his life he moved gracefully in and around the Calamari, sparing none
in his path. His enemies didn’t refer to him as Shinigami, the great
God of Death, for nothing. The name was well deserved.
The smell of charred
flesh filled the room quickly and Duo had to shove the fact that he was
sliding around in melted bodily tissue to the back of his mind to keep
from loosing what little food he’d actually eaten in the last few days.
He came to an abrupt
stop as the last of the Calamari fell and at the very same instant he banished
the strange fire though it left his knees so weak that he wasn’t sure if
he’d be able to stand on his own for long. Concentrating he sent
the Deathscythe back to whence it had come, sending a good part of his
burned hands along with it. Once again he was reminded of the fact
that the magical weapon was not to be controlled but to control.
He blinked slightly,
attempting to focus on the speaker and finally was able to give the blond
elf a half crooked grin. “Sorry about the mess your highness.” He
was deliberately ignoring the open concern in the pale blue eyes that watched
him, but it was costing him more than he was willing to admit to remain
standing as if nothing was wrong. Pain was something he had taught
his mind to handle but his body was often traitorous when it decided that
enough was enough. It was one of those times that Mind over Body
wasn’t going to work no matter how long he pretended it would.
Wufei found himself
staring in barely held back horror as he looked at the hands and wrists
of the Shadow Prince. They were blistered and bleeding unlike anything
he’d ever seen before, and he’d seen a lot of injuries including burns.
The burns as well as the other injuries the young man had already sustained
should have made him keel over in pain long ago and yet the boy remained
standing there, smiling as if he felt nothing. Perhaps the young
man had lost his mind, it was the only logical thing that he could think
of the support the fact that the injuries appeared to go unnoticed by the
other young man.
He watched as Quatre,
having found his feet earlier, moved forward; gentle face marred in concern.
“Duo, by the Ancestors, your hands…”
But just as the
small blond was about to take the hands into his own and use his healing
skill on them Duo pulled back out of reach, frowning slightly. “You
can’t do this, you’re too weak, you need to rest.”
“I’m fine Duo.
Just let me help you, you’re in so much pain and I could…”
The Shadow tribesman
shook his head emphatically causing his long chestnut braid to swing jerkily
along his back. “No, you need to rest and see a healer and so does
Wufei wasn’t entirely
too surprised to see the Herbal healer step forward stubbornly, “And what
about you? It seems to me that you’re the one with the most severe
injuries. You should see a healer first.”
There was a bitter
laugh that tugged at Wufei’s heart for reasons he couldn’t begin to understand
right then. “I’m not important. It’s already too late…
I’ve let down my people and my brother. I was their only hope and
I screwed up again.” He glanced down at his hands but there was no
self-pity there, only acceptance. “This is as good a punishment as
any for my failure.”
His cousin’s eyes
went wide in disbelief. “Punishment?! For what? You were
only trying to help your people! You don’t deserve to suffer for
anything that you’ve done so far!”
Amethyst eyes looked
searchingly over his cousin’s face, looking for what though, Wufei wasn’t
sure. Then quietly, so softly it was even below that of a whisper
the Shadow Prince spoke, his voice wavering unsteadily. “I’m not
so sure about that but it seems as if it isn’t in my control this time.
I just don’t have the strength to fight what you want to do. So,
do what you want.” With that the boy collapsed. There was no
other way to describe it, it was as if all the energy had been sucked out
of him and he’d fallen like a sack of grain.
Wufei found himself
by Duo’s side before any of the others, checking for a pulse, which he
found to his immense relief despite its weakness. He looked up meeting
Quatre’s eyes over the prone form. “He’s alive, but barely.
Are you strong enough to help him?”
But he might as
well not have asked the question at all because by the stubborn set of
the blonds’ jaw he had already decided to do what he could for the fallen
boy and despite his gently nature, Wufei knew from personal experience
that there was no arguing with him once he’d already set his mind on something.
Not even Trowa would be able to change his mind.
detached he sat back on his hunches and watched as his deceptively fragile
cousin held his hands over the injuries and a pale blue light spilled from
them, entering the body. The glow was easy to follow as it progressed
through the too thin form.
Next to him he
felt Heero shift and looked up, meeting hard cobalt eyes. Not many
people could read his friend and body guard very well, at least not like
he could, and right then he could tell that even the duty-bound Catran
wanted the Shadow tribesman to die. It wasn’t something that was
understandable, at least not if you considered the history between the
United Realms and that of the Shadow tribes. There’s had always been
a never-ending fight. True, it hadn’t been an entirely hostile exchange
until King Solo had taken over the thrown after his father had passed away
and, if Wufei was honest with himself, it hadn’t started to become hostile
until a few years after Solo’s reign had begun. It made him wonder
if there wasn’t some truth to what Duo had said earlier. If only
the Shadow Prince survived, he promised himself to listen to what the other
had to say. It had been far too long since any real communications
had actually taking place between the Kingdoms and maybe that wasn’t entirely
the fault of the Shadow tribes.
He watched worriedly
as beads of sweat stood out on his cousins’ pale forehead and caught a
brief flash of a mirroring emotion in Trowa’s eyes before it was hidden
from view. It truly was a pity that his cousin’s Kingdom could not
come to understand that love in any form was something that should never
be shunned. Love was much too difficult to come by to just allow
it to slip through your grasp when you finally found it. He knew
that well enough in the case of his deceased wife. If he’d tried
a bit harder to be the husband that Meiran had deserved she might have
lived a good, long life. That was in the past though and there was
no point in considering what he could have done differently. What
was done was done and could not be undone.
He gazed back down
at the Shadow Prince’s light skinned hands as they slowly reformed, once
again becoming unbroken skin. Quatre, beyond any doubts, had a once
in a generation gift. No other healer was as powerful, or as skilled.
But even his cousin couldn’t keep up the rate of healing he was putting
to use and ever so slowly he sunk back, leaning back against Trowa who
was by his side offering any aid he was capable of.
A tiny small broke
over the blonds’ face and he met Wufei’s gaze directly. There were
questions burning in those knowledgeable orbs that Wufei wasn’t ready to
answer and Quatre must have sensed that because he let his questions slide
for the moment. “I’ve taken care of the bigger injuries… there were
quite a few, more than I had originally thought but he should be fine if
he gets some rest. I think it’s safe to move him from prisoner status
to guest dignitary.”
slightly. “Are you sure that’s wise your highness?”
Quatre didn’t look
up at him instead he focused his gaze solely on Duo. “He allowed
me to read his mind Heero and he didn’t even try to hide anything from
me. Trust me, he’s had more than enough suffering in his life already
he certainly doesn’t need any more. Besides that, unless you’ve forgotten
what just happened, he did safe our lives. Those Calamari things
are even worse than what our magi had thought. Far more indestructible
than we’d even come to imagine and if Duo hadn’t been using fire to destroy
them none of us would have made it out of here alive. He’s even more
important to us now than he was as a prisoner and it seems to me that he
might even be the way to have peace be the outcome of this war.”
“Heero and I will
watch over him in our suite until you’ve had a chance to regain your strength.”
He didn’t miss the surprise on Heero’s face or the twinkle in his cousins’
eyes but chose to ignore the both of them as he directed his next words
to the green-winged Lumairia holding Quatre’s body upright. “Trowa
I would appreciate it if you could take my cousin to his own rooms and
make sure that he gets his necessary rest.”
Before the blond
could disagree the quiet, young guard scooped him up into his arms and
walked purposefully from the room without so much as a backwards glance.
He didn’t even hesitate at Quatre’s startled yelp of protest.
When he was certain
that the two were out of earshot he turned to look at his woman friend.
“If you go to the palace healers they will take care of that arm, if they
give you any trouble at all tell them that the Warrior Prince will have
“I’m sure they’ll
appreciate that.” The blonde woman said sarcastically though she
smirked at him. “I’ll be by as soon as they have to check on our
new friend. I trust that you won’t be putting him back in chains
now that he’s considered an ally.”
Wufei just glared
at her, “That would be unjust.”
She chuckled dryly
as she got to her feet. “Just checking.”
Heero sat watching
Wufei as he gently tended to the Shadow Prince. He had to grudgingly
admit his admiration for Duo’s warrior skills. He rarely met anyone
who he thought could give him a run for his silver, and he hadn’t been
sure there was such an opponent for the Warrior Prince. Now though
he wasn’t so sure. Even despite the harsh feelings he harbored for
all members of the Tribes he couldn’t be so certain that he felt the same
way towards the pale boy lying on the dark silk sheets of the bed.
His thoughts might
have had something to do with the fact that he’d never known either of
the other three to judge a person wrongly. But then he’d never seen
someone with the fighting spirit seem so utterly hopeless just moments
after a grand fight. It was simply unheard of among his kind and
he’d never seen any warrior brought to that point, not even after a hard
round of torture.
“You seem to be
thinking hard about something, care to enlighten me?”
“It’s of no real
importance Warrior Prince.”
Wufei gave him
a soft smile that was the only thing able to melt through his icy shield.
“Heero, how many times do I have to go over this? We’re alone so
you don’t have to use titles, not to mention the fact that we’ve been lovers
for nearly a year now. Keeping up pretenses is all fine and well
but you of all people are more than free to call me by my given name without
He forced himself
to relax slightly but restrained himself from pulling the dark elf into
his embrace. “Salipo stated that she would be by to check on the
Shadow tribesman, my Lord, it would be unseemly should she step in to find
our situation compromised in any way.”
Wufei shook his
head slightly still smiling. “Salipo has known about my feelings
for you longer than I have Heero. I doubt very much that anything
she could possibly step in on would surprise her.”
“And what of the
Shadow tribesman, my Lord?”
At that Wufei actually
laughed, a more rare thing Heero didn’t know of. “He’s out cold Heero.
I’ll be amazed if he wakes up in the next couple of days.” There
was a strange note in his voice.
lifted slightly in question, “You feel something for him?”
boy rubbed the back of his neck slowly, letting out a low sigh, “I’m not
sure I can answer that.”
“He is very beautiful
Wufei, I wouldn’t mind if you did, providing it was not a one-sided venture
on his side, or yours.”
It wasn’t often
he caught his friend by surprise but by the look on his Prince’s face,
he had this time. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m just stating
that even if you don’t realize what you feel those of us who know you already
know what you don’t and we don’t mind the idea.”
Wufei looked between
the figure on the bed and him a few times before speaking. “You’re
saying I should try to take him as a lover?”
“I’m saying that
you shouldn’t wait to act on what you feel. If I had not acted on
my own feelings for you Wufei, we wouldn’t be lovers now.”
Heero watched Wufei
thinking about it. “I don’t know anything about him Heero.
And from the way you were reacting earlier I could have sworn you thought
he was lower than a worm’s belly, so why the sudden change?”
At that Heero had
to stop and consider his own thoughts and emotions, cataloguing them efficiently
before proceeding with his explanation. “It’s the result of many
things, it’s not that I would trust you alone with him for any period of
time, you mean too much to me to allow that yet. But I will
say that he isn’t like any Tribesman I’ve ever encountered before, and
you know Quatre would have known if he’d had any false intentions towards
us. There is also the fact of his oath of truthfulness that is intriguing.”
Why do you say that exactly?”
it is something that he would die to uphold. Not many people these
days are so honor-bound. Besides my own People, I believe there are
only three others who I can speak that of.”
Wufei nodded knowingly.
“Those three being me, my cousin and my cousin’s bodyguard.
He calmly waited
allowing his Prince seemed to think it over before speaking. “Well
Heero, the way I look at it is that any move towards anything at this point
might be too much too soon. As you said yourself, you’re not to sure
you can trust him and not all Races are as open to differing sexual preferences
as the dark elves are. It would probably be best to wait and see
exactly how he’s going to react to us and his newly revised situation before
we make any hasty decisions.”
I merely wished to remind you that life is not a spectator sport, that
Wufei shook his
head and laughed, “And this coming from the person everyone in the Royal
court thinks has muscle for brains.”
Heero smirked slightly,
“Well, unlike those flamboyant wastes of skin, at least I have a brain
of some kind.”