Chapter 13 - Women of the Dome
It was a large structure, a dome. It had stood for more than three thousand years, had seen more history than any other structure on the planet. The Dreamer’s Dome had been built some time in the age of True Balance, way before the Apocalypse. It was an architectural marvel, a building that surpassed time and current scientific and engineering knowledge. It was also in the middle of nowhere, much to the relief of most people. Unfortunately, for those who had to go there, it was a pain in the ass.
"I see it getting closer, but I don’t think it’s all that close."
Sally and Noin threw Duo an ugly look over their shoulders. Duo, the smart boy that he was, ducked behind Heero and smiled nervously. Since the night before, all five boys had been extremely well behaved. They had run like hounds of Light were on their heels and then had stopped and waited for the Dreamers to catch up to them when they had thought it safe. That had been only a couple of hours ago. Noin and Sally were still insanely angry and they were afraid of what would be done to them once they got to the Dome.
"Torture became illegal about a century ago," whispered Quatre, making sure that Sally and Noin could not hear, "but I don’t know if it constrains Dreamers."
"Stop being so pessimistic. They can’t torture five warriors who are supposed to save the world." Duo’s hissed comment did nothing to assuage Quatre’s fears. He was a gentle boy at heart, but he had an imagination that could run with the wild horses.
"Why not? As long as they don’t damage us permanently, who is to say that they can’t do something nasty to us?"
"Shut up, Quatre," Heero butted in, "we’ll know when we get there. Sally and Noin are mad, but I don’t think they would do that to us."
Four heads nodded in mute optimism. They could only hope.
"Stop whispering and walk faster! We’re almost there! Darkness.."
Sally fumed at the lagging boys and resumed her walking. Behind her, five shoulders slumped as their optimism died a slow and painful death.
The door to the Dome was as impressive as the structure itself. The sun high in the sky showed off the magnificent carvings of ancient writings and animals. What the writing said or what the animals were, no one could say; but that did not detract from the sheer formidable nature of the huge double door. Duo was just contemplating how anyone might open the massive door when Sally pushed a hidden catch in one of the animals. Then with a gentle whoosh, the doors opened inward.
Sally and Noin walked in quite confidently while the five boys hesitantly followed, almost awkward with nervous tension. As soon as they had cleared the door, the door shut itself automatically, shutting out sunlight. Five sets of eyes struggled to adjust to the sudden lack of light. When their eyes finally regained sight in the twilight darkness of the Dome, the five Warriors found themselves the center of attention. Absolute silence ruled while every person in the Dome stared at them. A commanding voice broke the silence.
"Welcome, Warrior Mages."
Heero sat on an uncomfortable chair, resisting the urge to fiddle with his hands. Duo had no such compunction and was busy twitching every viable muscle in his body. Quatre kept swallowing what little spit he had in his mouth while Trowa ruined his air of nonchalance by incessantly tapping his index fingers onto the chair. Wufei sat like a man about to face his executioner. They figured they had every right to be nervous. First off, Sally and Noin had abandoned them as soon as they entered the Dome to be stared at like a bunch of livestock by the other Dreamers. Then the Oracle herself had welcomed them and ushered them into her private chambers. Now they sat staring at the person who held one of the most legendary posts in the history of their world. Even for a high noble like Quatre who had dealt with many important and ranked officials, it was intimidating.
"I hope the journey wasn’t too harsh."
The Warrior Mages started at the sudden conversation starter from the Oracle. It was as if she was actually waiting for an answer. Much to everyone’s expectations, it was Duo who replied.
"It wasn’t too bad, Your Excellency.. or Highness.. or.. um, how do you do?"
Duo was not at his most eloquent, but it made the Oracle smile.
"I can see that all of you are nervous, but I assure you, there is no reason. You are our most honored guests. And please, call me Une. Sally has already reported on your names and status, so there will be no need for introductions."
Une was glad to see that all the boys visibly relaxed during her short speech. She had a preliminary report from Sally and Noin about what had happened so far, but the details were still lacking. But of one thing she was sure. These five were the Warrior Mages.
"I believe Sally and Noin have told you all about your duties and intended fate. Do you have any questions?" A tentative hand rose.
"That’s me. Um, Lady Une.. can we possibly.. if it’s not too much trouble.. get cleaned up? Unless there is pressing business, I mean.."
Maybe they weren’t as relaxed as she thought they were, but not many people were. Not even some of her own Dreamers.
"No pressing business. I just wanted to acquaint myself with you all. Sally and Noin are waiting outside. They will show you to your rooms and accommodations for cleansing."
Thanking the Oracle, the five quickly stood and left her chambers. When the door closed behind them, Une stared at nothing, lost in thought.
‘So,’ she thought, ‘they are the Warrior Mages. I wish I could have faith in them.’
Sally and Noin led the boys down a small curving corridor. Now that they were back in the Dome, their moods had improved significantly and it showed in their serene steps.
"Are you still mad at us?"
Noin paused and turned to face Duo. He looked half frightened and half anticipatory. She smiled at the Water Glider and shook her head in denial.
"No, we’re fine. I think the stress got to us. It’s not often that we leave the Dome, let alone for six months. And be honest Duo. You five have not been well behaved."
"Oh, Noin, let it go."
Five heads swiveled in surprise to Sally. She had sounded.. motherly. Ignoring the surprised looks, Sally faced the boys.
"I’m sorry I was not pleasant for most of the journey. I’m usually much better. Now that I’m back in the Dome, you’ll find it hard to make me angry. Even if you accidentally try to kill us by practicing magic."
Wufei stared at Sally owlishly. This was not the same woman who had threatened their lives the night past. Suspicious as always of sudden switches in personality, Wufei narrowed his eyes at Sally. "Right.. So, you’re not going to maim us or torture us, is that what you’re saying?"
Sally actually looked horrified.
"Why, of course not! How barbaric of you to even think that."
Noin rolled her eyes. Sally had quite the selective memory. But it was in the past, so she would let it go, as Sally suggested.
"Enough dawdling. You have to get cleaned up in time for the meeting."
Heero tilted his head at Noin.
"Weren’t we just in a meeting?"
"Yes," Noin replied patiently, "but in three hours, there will be a formal meeting between you five, me, Sally, the Oracle and the Guide. So, we shouldn’t tarry."
Without waiting for a response, she turned and resumed walking. Sally followed almost immediately and motioned for the boys to do the same.
It was half an hour to the formal meeting time and the five boys had gathered in Duo’s room to discuss a few matters. Even if they were the Warrior Mages, it had not settled in their minds quite yet as to their importance. After all, they had never heard of Warrior Mages. However, the Oracle and the Guide, those were figures that everyone knew about. They were feared, respected, loved, hated. Whichever it was, they were legends. And they would meet them together. Soon.
"So, what did you think of the Oracle?"
Duo chewed on his fingers and thought over Wufei’s question. What, indeed, did he think of the severe looking woman with braids tied tight enough to seem painful?
"Nice. Commanding. Wouldn’t want to piss her off." Heero nodded in agreement. If Sally and Noin’s anger had scared them, he could only shudder to think what the Oracle would be like if she ever got angry.
"Do you think the Guide is like the Oracle?"
Duo quirked his eyebrows at Trowa. If he was asking questions..
"We’ll find out soon enough. No need to be terrified. Right?"
Grimly, Heero agreed with Wufei. Soon enough, they would find out.
Quatre sat stiffly, ignoring the scratchy feel of his overly starched neck cloth. To his right sat Trowa in an outfit similar to Quatre’s, a tunic, soft leather pants, a matching vest, neck tie and a coat. It looked wonderful on his tall and lanky frame, but Trowa seemed uncomfortable in his current state of dress. On his left side sat Sally, calm and content in her gleaming white Dreamer’s robe. Quatre craned his neck slightly to look at the others. Everyone was dressed quite nicely, even Duo who had whipped off his neck cloth as soon as he had put it on. The Oracle was in her robe just like Sally and Noin, but her white robe was banded around the wrists and hem with intricate designs. They were all sitting and waiting for the Guide. As if on cue, the door to the Oracle’s private chamber opened and a tall girl glided into the room.
"Welcome, Dorothy. I hope you are well."
Dorothy nodded and took her seat. Once settled, she turned her blind eyes to the Oracle.
"Une, we have a problem."
Une gave Dorothy a mildly disapproving look, but agreed with her.
"Yes, we do. What should we do about it?"
"I have a solution, but it is as taboo as our meetings. But at this point in the game, it matters little what is forbidden and what is not."
Sally and Noin had puzzled expressions on their faces that matched the Oracle’s. The boys had absolutely no idea what anyone was talking about.
"You are the Warrior Mages. Much younger than I wanted, more inexperienced than I hoped, less than what I expected the Darkness would send."
This statement did not sit well with any of the boys."We’re what you get, so live with it."
"Young? We’re no younger than you!"
"What do you know anyway?"
"Who do you think you are?"
Five unflattering remarks flew out from each of the Warrior Mage’s mouths at the same time. Dorothy merely twisted her lips into a smile. "You all have pride and spirit. That is good. I’m the Guide, Dorothy. So you see, I know more than you think."
Dorothy raised her hand to forestall more commentary. She turned her head to Une and spoke directly at her, but it was clear that she was speaking to all of them.
"My visions have shown that the Light has found its Child and a champion to nurture her. This Child will be powerful because she will have proper training to use her powers. We have no such thing. We have five children who know nothing of their powers. Defeating the Light like this will be impossible."
Sally gripped the table until her knuckles turned white.
"Her. You keep saying her. Do you know who the Child of Light is?"
"Yes, Sally Po, I know. So does Une. She didn’t tell you?"
Sally and Noin stared at their leader feeling slightly betrayed. After all they had done to find the Warrior Mages, they had not even been told.
"I see that you two are disappointed that I didn’t say anything, but the time was not right."
Noin leaned forward and hissed, "Is the time right now?"
"Yeah, we’d like to know who we’re fighting, if you don’t mind."
Duo’s sarcastic remark was accompanied by four nodding heads.
"Relena Peacecraft. She is the Child of Light."
The silence was thick. It was oppressive. Then Wufei had to go and ruin the ominous atmosphere.
"Our enemy is a girl? Damn it!"