The Blood of Peace
Second Movement, the Third Part: Sonatina
Trowa nodded to a fellow guard as he changed shifts. Being a palace guard was very boring, just standing and looking at the walls. Information gathering was easy since no one paid attention to a guard and the nobles in the palace tended to talk in carrying voices. So far, it seemed that Treize was trying to keep his time table but Duke Dermeil was insisting on moving it back so that the army he had assigned his lackey Tuborov could be ready. And of course he had heard that Milliardo Peacecraft had arrived and had yet to be granted a private audience with Treize. Occasionally, he saw Milliardo stalking around in the courtyard and more often, saw him as he made his way to the training room with his sword in tow. That guy must be going through some serious aggravation.
Whatever Peacecraft was going through was not really his objective here. He saw Quatre everyday to share information and to spend some quality time together. The people at this palace did not notice that they spent every night together, but they were still careful. Even if they did not engage in anything beyond kissing and petting, it would compromise the mission if they were found out. Thinking about Quatre, Trowa quickened his pace to his room. Quatre should be waiting for him there.
As he walked down the vast rose colored marble corridor, he wondered about this nation and its emperor. Everything he heard only spoke well of Treize. He was a great leader of men, admired by practically everyone. Some even revered him. People here were fanatically loyal to Treize and that posed some serious problems. Loyalty did not produce good informants. And Trowa had yet to find a weak link in the palace who would betray his country. He opened the door to his room and walked in to find it empty. Quatre was usually here by this time, so his lateness worried him a little. Shaking off the worry, Trowa unbuckled his sword and sat on his bed. Quatre could take care of himself, he just must have had something else to do.
As part of the palace infantry, he was always off somewhere doing exercises. Instead of worrying needlessly, Trowa took out Heavyarms from under his bed and unwrapped the oil cloth protecting it. He carefully wiped and sharpened the edges, being careful with the whetstone. It would not do to throw off the balance of his delicate weapon with overzealous sharpening. While he was concentrating on his task, the door opened and Quatre walked in. He looked a bit tired, but his aqua eyes still shined with happiness when they landed on Trowa. Wordlessly, Trowa put Heavyarms down and embraced Quatre.
"What took you? I've been waiting for you."
Quatre smiled at Trowa's inquiry. It was nice to have him here with him. Reluctantly, Quatre disengaged himself from his love's arms and sat down on the bed. Trowa followed and when they were settled, Quatre burst out with the information that he had been digesting all day.
"Trowa, you won't believe this. Lady Une is looking for people to become part of her elite forces. They would have greater access to the higher ups and more freedom to walk about the palace. I think we should try out."
Trowa carefully considered this information. Being a palace guard was not very informative when it came to vital information. This opportunity was just too good to pass up.
"Yes, we should definitely try out. But Quatre, you're with the infantry. We need your information as much as we do from Lady Une. You're always being sent out to do training and scouting. Your information is too valuable for you to drop out."
"I know Trowa. I guess by we, I actually meant you. So far, all I know is that the palace infantry is extremely well trained. They don't match up to us or our brothers, but they may be a close match for the Earthian army. The letter we got from Heero said that the army they were with was large but untrained. This army is a much more dangerous obstacle."
Trowa had to agree with Quatre there. They had received a message from Heero and Duo at the first cycle, detailing their sheer disgust at the untrained army. WuFei's letter had said almost the same thing about Dermeil's little guard. However, when Trowa and Quatre sent our their letter tomorrow at the third cycle, Heero and Duo would have more to worry about than keeping their talents hidden. Neither he nor Quatre could figure out Treize's exact intentions with the little information they had, but it was clear at least that Treize was keeping his elite army under wraps until the war started. It was a good thing that they had decided to infiltrate Oz. Otherwise, they would have faced too many surprises.
"Trowa, are you going to try out? You would make it so easily that they may decide to keep you in Oz."
"Don't worry about that, Quatre. When are the try outs?"
"Tomorrow evening. I guess I'll tell Heero, Duo and WuFei about our little change in plans. It would make this mission better anyway."
After their decisions, they laid down on the bed to get some rest. Tomorrow would be a long and tough day, with Quatre out again and Trowa trying for his new position. So they snuggled and enjoyed the moment of closeness.
Duo flitted from shadow to shadow, blending in so completely with the darkness that he was a shadow himself. His face showed no trace of humor or cheerfulness, just a deadly calm. He sighted Mueller's tent not far from his current hiding place and he made a proverbial bee line for it. Without a noise, he got close enough to assess the situation. There were two guards at the entrance of the tent and the tent was surrounded with sleeping bodies. However, the nearest sleeper was about ten yards from the edge of the tent. The two guards looked sleepy and if they were as inept as everyone else in this camp, it would be almost too ridiculously easy to get by them. Careful as always when on an assassination mission, Duo made no noise as he gracefully made his way to the back of the tent. The lights were out so his shadow would not show through the tent. However, if he ripped the canvas, there would be noise. That would be no good. So Duo decided to make his entrance through the front of the tent.
He went around to the front and peeked at the guards over the side. They were standing, their long spears pointing outward. Neither looked very alert and that would be his advantage. Moving quicker than anyone would think possible, Duo noiselessly slipped behind the guard closer to him and stabbed him in the kidney then slit his throat. There was no noise, just a slowly crumpling body which did not get noticed by the other guard who was also falling over. Within seconds, the two guards were stretched out in front of the tent, bleeding and dead. There had been no noise. Duo made his way into the tent and found Mueller sleeping on his back with his arm around a camp follower. Duo did not like killing women, but he really had no choice. The whore had just chosen a wrong night to bed down with his victim. Face of Shinigami firmly in place, his eyes glinting with a certain promised doom, Duo swiped Deathscythe's deadly blade across the woman's throat. She died without ever waking up. Next, Duo turned to his target, Mueller. He had not woken up yet, and maybe he never would. But he was the target. He had to know who was sending him to eternity. So with quick flicks of his wrists, he wielded Deathscythe to sever Mueller's knee and elbow joints to immobilize him. He did it so quickly, the victim did not even feel the bite of dark steel. When Mueller finally opened his eyes from the discomfort of wetness of his bedmate's blood, he realized that his limbs would not move. Then the next thing he knew was a pressure in his throat.
Duo planted Deathscythe into Mueller's larynx, cutting off his voice and breath. Mueller stared at him with terror and hatred in his eyes, but could not move or make a noise. Duo leaned down so that Mueller could look into his eyes, violet orbs filled with nothing, eyes which betrayed no human emotion. The eyes of Shinigami. Then Shinigami whispered gently to Mueller, "You do no die in vain. Look upon the face of Death, become purified. Be free, Mueller."
Mueller died screaming insanely in his mind. The last thing he saw before his death was more terrifying than dying itself. It was a relief to die. And that was Shinigami's gift to his victims.
When Mueller let go of his mortal life, Duo removed Deathscythe from his throat and wiped its blade on Mueller's bed sheets. He walked out of the tent as carefully as he had come in, avoiding the fallen guards and their pools of blood. In the deepest shadows of the night, Duo sheathed Deathscythe. The black blade with its smooth black handle slid into Duo's right arm, its sheath. When Deathscythe was sheathed, the face of Shinigami fell away and Duo's eyes sparkled with emotion again. There was no regret, but a satisfaction of a mission being successful. Duo made his way back to his camp site, all the while thinking that if Heero knew where he kept Deathscythe, he may wonder about how he received it. Some things were best left alone in the past. Rubbing his right arm, he carefully slid into his bedroll. The moon was almost at the top of its cycle and the night still had a long way to go. Duo was glad that he could get a decent night's sleep. Taking a final look at Heero's face in sleepy repose, Duo closed his eyes and went to sleep. He did not dream.
Relena punched her pillow, trying to shape it into some semblance of comfort. Lately, sleeping was hard. She worried about Sanque, her brother, Heero, and countless others she felt responsible towards. So far, Milli had sent word only once and that letter had been less than promising. Although the fašade of hospitality was ever present, her brother had not yet gotten to talk to Treize in private. His frustration had been evident in his words and his agitated handwriting. And more worrisome than Milli's situation was Heero's. When she had received Noin's note that Heero and his Masters had disappeared rather mysteriously after a plot to send spies into Oz, Relena had constantly worried about Heero. What was he thinking, going in himself as a spy into Oz? Wasn't that why he had his Masters, so that he would not have to needlessly risk his life? To Relena, it was a paramount disservice to everyone if a leader chose to risk himself. A prince, a queen, a king, anyone in power positions should not risk their lives. They were symbols to give people strength and hope. Their deaths depressed the populace, doing more damage than good no matter what the reason. Heero was being irresponsible for risking himself so. He should know that his life did not solely belong to him. It belonged to everyone in Earthian.
So Relena worried. She had not told Milli of Heero and his Masters' presence in Oz. Anyhow, she did not know where they were. It would be of no help to anyone to divulge information she had no right to disclose. She had a bit of comfort though. Noin and Hilde had gone into Oz as Sanque's emissaries right after Heero and the rest of them disappeared. They could at least make sure everyone would come out of this in one piece. She hoped. She prayed. She did not sleep.