A Vision of Escaflowne Fanfiction
The standard disclaimer: Yeah, okay I stole these characters from the marvelous creators of The Vision of Escaflowne...and Rurouni Kenshin too. Yadda yadda yadda. Please don't sue me ^_^ The main story line is of my own delusional imaginings. Blah blah blah. Please do not distribute. Thanks.
A Broken Land shall rise again;
Vengeance and Hunger as Guidance.
The Wheel of Fortune turns.
Feathers tipped in Blood;
The Dragon's Sword forged in heated Battle.
Thy Kingdom's Heart it shall possess.
CHAPTER V: "Crossroads"
Van stood out on the balcony of the conference room looking out at the beautiful forests of Fanelia. Below him in the courtyard there was a bustle of activity in preparation for the celebration of his twenty-first birthday. Raden had insisted that everything should be looked after early so no details would be missed.
Van wore a black, long sleeved, high neck shirt that had the Fanelian emblem on the left side of the breast, and black pants. His sword, testament to his kingship, was slung over his left hip.
Van had discovered that with kingship, his customary red shirt and tan pants were "not acceptable". He had experienced such a rapid growth spurt in his first years of ruling that the tailors simply gave up trying to size and resize his old clothing. What didn't help was the fact that is seemed that he was STILL growing. Better to just start with a whole new wardrobe.
Van grimaced. He spent two hours with the damn tailor this morning, being poked and prodded like a pincushion. Finding "comfortable" clothes had become difficult for Van in the past few years. Even his leather gloves were forbidden to him unless he was sparring and working on his sword technique.
Of course, the damned high neck shirt would make it difficult for him to rip off if he was to perhaps fall off of some tall building and needed to use his wings. It wasn't as if he would be allowed to jump off a cliff now that he was king anyway.
All of this "fastidiousness" was the diabolical handiwork of Van's Advisor, Raden. Raden Badou was formerly a citizen of the Austurian Empire. It was Drydan who introduced Raden into Van's services, knowing that Van was looking for an Advisor to help encourage and expand his country's economic situation. The mercantile business and economy was one of Raden's specialties. He was a former colleague of the infamous merchant Meiden Fassa. Friends they were not, but constructive competition were the keywords. Raden and Meiden had learned much from each other, though neither would admit it. Each man considered himself to be the best out there in the merchant world.
With the wisdom came certain peculiarities, one of which was Raden's idea of what a "king" should look like. If Raden couldn't control his king's actions the least he could do was make his Highness look good while He was doing whatever He liked to do. Eccentric as his Advisor was, Van knew without a doubt the man was fiercely loyal to his King.
Van's brow furrowed into a frown as he tapped his finger against the railing restlessly. He had received news that there had been activity regarding the former empire of Zaibach, and he wasn't happy.
"Raden, I don't understand at all. Why didn't I hear about this before? Rumors didn't just pop up overnight. We've barely been gone for two weeks! Why didn't we hear anything about this crap until now, especially while we were in Asturia? They must have heard something about this."
Raden fidgeted with his quill and shook his head. "I really don't know, your Highness. Apparently, the local merchants have been talking about how the trading with the smaller countries near Zaibach is becoming increasingly difficult. There are rumors that bandits have taken to ambushing the merchants, taking everything they can carry away."
"And rumors begin for a reason," muttered Van. "Have any of the local merchants been attacked? Why didn't any of them come to tell us what was going on?"
"We believe it's because the local merchants haven't been attacked themselves. They've only heard from other travelling merchants they meet on their runs. That's why no one has come forward with news. They don't want to raise a false alarm and cause themselves trouble. It would just cause chaos, and no one wants to believe that there's another possibility of war after this long. The farmers think it's all hogwash anyhow, the babbling of greedy merchants. They still aren't happy with the move towards the mercantile trade in Fanelia.
"Why? The mercantile trade is a big reason why the farmers are subsidized the way they are! Without the merchants and trade we would of never been able to rebuild Fanelia as quickly as we did, nor be in the economic situation we're in right now. The farmers complain now because they're afraid that maybe what the merchants say is true, that there will be war." Raden sighed and slumped his shoulders as if exhausted by his little lecture.
Van snorted. "Well, all the economics aside, we can't ignore the farmers. The agriculture here has be a big part of Fanelian life. Whether you like it or not, Fanelia won't be a miniature replica of Austria. The rural way of life will always be a part of Fanelia, and it won't be swept under the carpet like #&$@_0!"
Raden sighed. "Please your Highness, you should really watch your language."
Van stared out over the vast patches of forest. "We can't ignore the signs of war either."
Van walked back into the room and wandered over to the table where a letter was laid out, the edges of the paper curling slightly. The letter bore the seal of Dryden Fassa. Van slowly flattened the paper and reread Dryden's unsettling message:
Van's mouth thinned into a grim line. Things didn't look good, but until Dryden arrived nothing else could be done. They needed the information that Dryden would provide. Though Van found Dryden to be a little overwhelming, he was aware the man had a good head on his shoulders and was not a stranger to politics. After all, no matter how short, he WAS married to Millerna during the Great War, and ruled in King Aston's stead while the King was ill.
Van's eyes focussed on the name that the hostages gave and felt a shiver run through him. He remembered a dream that he had a few years ago...and he couldn't, for the life of him, figure out why he was doing so now.
There was a discreet knock the chamber door and at Raden's answer, a guard poked his head through.
"Excuse me Lord Advisor, but Sir Allen and his sister Lady Celena have arrived. Sir Allen expressed his wish to meet with His Highness privately, and as soon as possible at His Highness' convenience."
Raden glanced back at Van, who nodded.
"Once they're settled, bring them into the Hall. Find Calder for me as well."
The guard nodded and withdrew. Raden looked at Van, a question in his eyes. Taking one last glance at the letter in his hand, Van set it back onto the table. He took a deep breath, and left the room.
* * * * *
Van's audience chamber was a roomy area that provided enough space for the Samurai to move with freedom without allowing many places, if any at all, for spies and would be assassins to hide. Not that there were very many attempts mind you. Fanelian loved her King, but there were a couple of fanatics out there who thought that Draconian blood would be the doom of them all.
Van shifted in his chair and glanced to his left at Raden, who was grumbling quietly to himself about wasted time. Raden ALWAYS complained about audiences. He was a big fan of Van attending them, but when the rule applied to him, it irritated the hell out of him.
Van hid a grin. Revenge, even so little, was still sweet.
On Van's right his chief Samurai, Calder, stood calmly with an ever-present frown on his face. His bark was much nastier than his bite, unless it was his sword. Though one wouldn't guess it from his appearance, Calder had a gentle heart and a wicked sense of humor. Van was grateful that Calder didn't put up a fuss about the audience like Raden. Nothing was worse than hearing a grown man whine, except two grown men whining together.
Calder probably hated audiences as much as Raden but considered it his duty to protect his king from possible threats. Anyone who wanted to get to the king would have to go through him first.
It would prove to be a difficult task for any assassin wanna-be. Calder Penreth was one of the three Great Swordmasters of Gaea. Balgus, Fanelia's former Chief Samurai, had also been a Great Swordmaster. Now that he was gone there were only two that remained, Calder and a mysterious person named Musalen. There were very few in Gaea who could actually confirm the existence of Musalen at all. Those few who knew couldn't agree what the third Swordmaster even looked like.
Calder had, on occasion, trained with Balgus during their travelling stints in order to refine their techniques. Calder had been much younger than Balgus when they had first met. Despite their age differences, with Balgus as senior by 10 years, they had been good friends sharing their knowledge with each other. Eventually they both went their separate ways.
After the Great War, Calder had reappeared to pay his respects to Fanelia's new king and the passing of Balgus. To Van's complete surprise, Calder offered his sword in service to Van. Calder had been bitter about the slaying of Balgus, for he was off in the mountains seeking to better himself during the Great War and had returned to civilization too late to help. He returned vowing to protect what Balgus had sacrificed his life for, Fanelia and her king.
Van was grateful for Calder's service. Bereft of Balgus's guidance, Calder's intensity and discipline helped Van improve his own techniques.
The guard at the entrance of the Hall coughed to catch Van's attention.
"Your Highness, Sir Allen and Lady Celena are here."
The guard opened the door and let Allen and Celena in. With a grin, Van hopped off his throne and met them halfway before Raden could protest. He tried, but it was a weak one and no one heard him anyway.
Allen and Van pounded each other on the backs their mouths stretched in smiles so big their faces looked like festival masks. Not to be outdone, Celena gave Van a hug and a kiss on the cheek that had Van blushing.
There was a time when Van couldn't even look at Celena, the memories of Dilandu was too fresh. As time went by, even Van could see that Celena was a different person all together and he had come to consider Celena a cherished friend. They would tease each other mercilessly, delighting in each other's embarrassments. Raden could only throw his arms up in the air. Now with all three of them together and throw Merle into the mix, things always got interesting.
Pulling away from Celena, Van turned to Calder waving him over. "Calder, come and meet the new Asturian ambassador, Allen Schezar."
Allen glanced at Van who shrugged off the look. "He's my chief samurai and the closest to me next to Raden. Why shouldn't he know?"
Calder bowed to Allen. "It's a pleasure, Ambassador. I've heard great things about you and your swordsmanship. Perhaps you will consider a demonstration to the soldiers if the time permits?"
Allen grinned. "Anything to accommodate a Great Swordmaster like you, Calder Penreth."
Van leaned on Celena and slung his arm around her shoulder. He affectionately mussed up her hair as he asked, "So how was your trip over?"
Allen shrugged and glanced at Celena who was attempting to tickle Van in the ribs. "It was alright. I probably would have been better if Celena didn't force me to ride in the carriage."
Celena finally punched Van in the stomach to make him let go of her head, and stood up chuckling. "I didn't force you at all." Van laughed at the outright lie.
Allen sighed with a mock pained look on his face. "The abuse I put up with," he said mournfully. "I pray for the day that unshaven money-making freak takes you away from me..."
Before Celena could protest the outrageous comment about her fiancé, Allen turned to Van, frowning, "Van, there was something I wanted to tell you. The other night Celena and I saw something really strange..."
He broke off when he heard a commotion outside. Calder stepped from his post, his hand on his sword ready to draw.
The doors at the end of the hall burst open. "Allen! Celena! I though you'd never get here!" Merle cried as she flew in to give Allen a furry hug.
To everyone's amusement, Calder groaned as he relaxed and gave Merle an admonishing glare. "Must you barge in like that, Lady Merle?"
Merle grinned and winked. "Ah Calder, you know it brings excitement into your life."
"The highlight of my day, Lady."
"Merle! Oh it's so good to see you!" Celena rushed forward to hug her friend. Merle returned it enthusiastically.
"Celena! How have you been? Where's Dryden?"
"Feh, my fiancé can come and get me when he's finally ready to get married. I'm tired of waiting around for the big goof."
"Ah, I see..." Merle murmured. Suddenly she straightened up. "I almost forgot! Let me introduce you to a friend I just met! Van, I wanted to ask you if I could get something for Seiki to wear to the celebration tomorrow. The poor girl has nothing appropriate to wear that Sosa hasn't messed up and those "noble" bitches sniffing around you will probably try and tear her apart. Isn't that right, Seiki?...Seiki?"
Merle looked around her. Celena grinned. "So do we get to meet your invisible friend too?"
"Eh?" Merle huffed and then stalked back outside. Seconds later, the group could hear a female voice protesting.
"Merle! Merle don't! I don't need to attend the dinner! I don't need a dress! Ah *bleep*! Merle are you listening? I wasn't invited dammit!"
Merle appeared dragging behind her a slender girl with her silver hair in a long braid.
"Don't be silly Seiki. I invited you as my friend. Honestly!"
Van looked at Merle, puzzled. "Why are you even asking for a dress Merle? You know you don't need my permission to buy anything."
Merle shook her head. She glared at Seiki who was intently studying her shoes. "I'm trying to convince Seiki that it's alright for her to attend the dinner." Merle heaved a frustrated sigh. "It seems you'll have to invite her yourself before she'll agree to come!"
Van raised an eyebrow as he heard Seiki mumble to herself, "But I don't WANT to *bleeping* go."
Allen spoke up, voice pitched to sooth and flatter. "Come now. Would you deny the King and I the pleasure of your company?"
Van almost flinched at the sugary words. How Allen ever came up with those types of phrases was beyond Van's comprehension. It made his brain hurt.
To Van's surprise, instead of swooning like most women did, Seiki recoiled at Allen's words. She took an unsteady step back and slowly raised her eyes to look at Allen.
"I couldn't, couldn't possibly..." she stammered. Suddenly she froze in mid-sentence as her gaze finally met Allen's blue eyes.
Van didn't hear Allen respond as he watched Seiki's green eyes widen in horror and the pupils became painfully large. Recognition flickered visibly on her face.
"Allen..." she whispered. "...Schezar?" Her eyes flickered to Merle and then Van as panic spread across her face. "Merle...Van Fanel?"
Seiki collapsed in a dead faint.
Van quickly caught Seiki as she fell despite Calder's warning to let her fall. He understood Calder's fear of treachery, but there was no way Van was going to let a woman faint at his feet, or rather was that Allen's feet?
As Van gently lowered Seiki on the ground, Celena quipped, "Gee Allen, you've always had a way with the women..."
Merle sat down beside Van and brushed away silver hair from Seiki's face. Merle checked Seiki's pulse, pried open an eye. "She's breathing a little erratically and her pupils are dilated. What the hell is it?" she muttered to herself. She leaned back and looked at Van. "Wonder why Seiki said our names like that."
Allen frowned as he kneeled on the other side of Seiki's prone body. Celena stood behind him, lightly resting her hand on his shoulder.
"Allen," she asked, "Have you seen this girl before? She knew your name."
Allen shook his long blonde hair. "No, I've never seen anyone like her. It's not like my name is a mystery after all. But if I did, I would remember her. She has eyes like..." Allen stopped short as he look at Van.
"Like Hitomi," Merle whispered, finishing his sentence.
"Van," Allen leaned towards his friend. "Do you know where Seiki is from?"
Van was staring fixedly at Seiki's face.
"I don't know," he said tonelessly, "I met her on the way back from Asturia."
Raden grunted making it clear that it wasn't his idea to allow the strange girl to travel with them.
"The day you left?" Allen questioned softly.
Allen sucked in his breath as he looked up at Celena. That night...could it be? Celena nodded slightly. She was thinking the same thing.
A gasp from Merle caused them both to glance back. "Van," she said in a shaky voice, "the pendant...it's glowing!"
Van touched the pendant. It had fallen out of his shirt when he caught Seiki. Merle was right, the pendant was glowing...again. After all these years it had reacted to nothing. Now twice in less than a week and both times SHE was near.
Van's gaze returned to Seiki's sleeping face only to find himself staring into fierce green eyes.
* * * * *
Seiki knelt on the floor and warily eyed Van's chief samurai whose body language was screaming full protective mode.
One wrong move, his grim face said, and I'll chop you into itsy bitsy pieces like mushed up liver. Yuck what a thought. Seiki hated liver.
Seiki closed her eyes. Her head felt too big and her thoughts moved sluggishly, which would explain the thoughts about liver. Seiki struggled to understand the last moments before she passed out.
Van was off to the side, still vehemently arguing with his Advisor, most likely about whether or not she was dangerous.
Opening her eyes, she caught the blue gaze of Allen Schezar. He had the most peculiar expression on his face. With her head in the messy state it was in, she couldn't tell what the expression was. He stood with his sister and Merle just to the side of the throne. Seiki knew that the drama was the result fainting after announcing all their names in a nice, mysterious way.
She was probably going to make it worse too.
Van and Raden had finished arguing and Van was wearily returning to his throne.
When he reached it, he simply stood in front of it, his back turned to Seiki.
"We would like an explanation."
Seiki bit her lip and stared at her hands still wrestling with the chaotic thoughts in her mind. The eyes of her dragon ring started to glow slightly. Seiki tightened her hand into a fist glaring at the ring.
Raising her head she looked at Van who had turned around to face her. The pendant at his neck was glowing as well. Van's jaw tightened and she knew that he saw. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She blinked in surprise. A single though rose clearly in her mind and she knew what to do.
"It's time..." Seiki's voice came out gravelly, sounding rusted and unused. She cleared her throat painfully.
Seiki hesitated as she met Van's eyes. They were stormy and his red eyes dark with conflict. She look away.
"I have a message for you. For Merle. For Allen."
Van scowled. "From?" he grated.
Seiki looked at Merle who met her gaze and nodded. Surprised with the support it was still barely enough to squeak the words past her mouth.
"The Mystic Moon...from Hitomi."
Everyone froze and the look on Van's face was a cross between hope and pure terror.
Afraid? Seiki understood. He was afraid of what news she brought.
Van clenched his fist. "The message," he ground out. "Where is it?"
Seiki shook her head. "It's not on paper." She felt her face redden in embarrassment. "It's in my head somewhere."
"Excuse me?" Van sputtered. "It's somewhere in your head? What the hell does THAT mean?"
Seiki coughed. Her ears were turning red too. "It's not like I put it in there okay? I didn't even know I was CARRYING one until I saw all three of you together."
Merle's ear twitched. "We were a trigger?"
"Yeah, kinda like that I guess." Seiki shrugged. "Think of it as a big jigsaw puzzle. When I first saw...His Majesty, that was the first piece of the puzzle. You can't tell what the picture is with just one piece, so you try and find another piece."
Seiki frowned and fiddled with the end of her braid. "When I met Merle while chasing that little brat, that was the second piece. I knew something was weird but I still didn't know what was going on. I just knew that I was in the right place."
"So Allen is the final piece?" Celena asked curiously?
Seiki nodded. "Seeing all three of you completed the puzzle." Seiki laughed sharply. "Pretty overwhelming when the picture is telling you that you're a blindfolded messenger."
"What's the message?" Allen asked, frowning.
Seiki smiled. "Don't have a clue."
"WHAT?" roared Van. Allen clasped his shoulder to prevent Van from leaping down to strangle the white-haired bitch.
Seiki rolled her eyes. "For crying out loud. SHE went though this much trouble to hide FROM ME that I was carrying the message. You think she would let me know what it is?"
She stood up and froze when Calder stepped forward to make sure she didn't do anything stupid. *Too late.*
"I need the key in order to give you the message."
"Key? What key?" Allen sputtered.
Seiki said nothing in response but just stared at Van. "It's time," she said simply.
Merle turned to Van and murmured to herself, "Puzzle? We are the pieces of the puzzle...and the key?..." Her eyes were drawn to the glowing pendant. She heard Van and Allen sunk in their breath as they realized at the same time what the key was.
Raden stumbled to Van's side. "Majesty, I don't like the sounds of this. Please, leave it be."
Calder suddenly pushed Raden aside, ignoring the Advisor's squeal of protest and shouted to Van, "Highness! Look out!"
Whirling, Van's mouth worked in surprised as he saw Seiki disappear. Calder drew his sword and stepped in front of Van slashing at the air before him.
Merle shrieked as she saw Seiki reappear in front of Calder, barely ducking in time to save her head from being lopped off. Her silver hair fell loose, the tie holding her hair cut free.
Moving like something possessed, Seiki slipped past Calder's deadly blade up to Van and grasped the glowing pendant.
The glow widened and engulfed them both. Calder shouted in horror and watched helplessly as the light reached out and took Allen and Merle as well.
* * * * *
"Majesty!" Raden screamed and ran to the pulsing sphere of light as if he intended to pull the King out himself.
Someone firmly grabbed Raden's arm and held him from going further. Twisting wildly, Raden saw Celena shaking her head as she clung to him.
"Don't." she said hissed. "We don't know what will happen if you interfere." She look at the light and then turned back to Raden gripping both of his arms. Then Celena spoke in a slow, clear voice like she was instructing one of the local children, "Raden...This_is_not_an_ordinary_thing."
"How can you say that?" Raden snarled furiously, too upset to realize that he completely missed the point of Celena's comment. "Your own brother was taken by that...that THING!"
"Enough Advisor," Calder rumbled in his deep voice. He stared at the undulating light that contained his King, comrades and that GIRL. That girl...
"Lady Celena is right. We will wait and hope that little girl intends to deliver only a message." Calder turned away from the light and looked at Raden. The expression on his face made Raden shrink back involuntarily.
Celena watched the light and hoped that she was right.
The Prophecy, original characters, artwork and links © Melinda
Ho, dragonmmho 1999 - 2004. All rights reserved.