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fic - the faithful and the brave : 28 [novella] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
turnippatch
turnippatch
fic - the faithful and the brave : 28 [novella]
Title:  The Faithful and the Brave
Part:  28



The Faithful and the Brave
Part 28


Duo simply lay there for a few moments, reveling in the fact that he was still breathing.  And then it registered that Heero was still half on top of him, and he was still breathing.  Hard.  He swore, hands moving automatically for a status check, then stopping for fear of causing pain.  "Hey, you okay?"

Heero appeared to make an effort to even out his breathing.  "Status?" he barked.

Quatre responded.  "We're okay!"

The confirmation seemed to calm him.  He drew in one last ragged breath, held it for a second, and let it out in one bracing puff.  With that, he gathered himself and levered himself off of Duo with a grunt of pain.

"Heero?"  Quatre peered at them through a gap in the stack of banquet furniture separating them.  With a thought, he cast light over to their side.  Beside him, Wufei and Trowa were quietly discussing how best to open a path through the debris.  "Are you injured?"

Duo answered for Heero while helping him to sit up.  "Arm.  That fucking knight-thing broke it."

"Compound?"

Heero waved off Duo's tentative fingers and explored his forearm gingerly with his good hand after pushing up his sleeve.  "No."  His arm felt like it was on fire, but there were no bones sticking out through his skin.  He glanced up at Duo.  "Thank you.  For keeping me from landing on this."

"Heh, well.  I just really hate it when bones stick out of people.  Uh.  Speaking of which.  Hey, I'll help you guys out in a minute, but, um, we should probably set Heero's arm or something."  He looked back at Heero.  "I, uh, really hate setting bones, too."

"That's alright," Heero answered levelly, extending his arm in Duo's direction.  "Just hold this for me."  Duo took a hold of his hand with both of his own.  Heero waited for him to get a good solid grip before turning his attention back to his forearm.

"Just get it done, more or less," Quatre instructed, knowing Heero to have experience in such things.  "If we haven't gotten the wall down by then, I should still be able to reach your arm to finish it off.  Do you have anything to splint it with?"

Duo looked around, careful to keep his hands steady but more than happy to have his attention taken off the procedure going on right in front of him.  "Uh.  Sure.  We'll find something.  So... how's that wall looking?"

"There's more stuff trying to fall out of this hole," Trowa answered.  "Like this table.  Quatre, if you could direct some light upward, please?  Think I might jump up there to take a look."

Robbed of his conversational partners, Duo stared studiously at the debris, even going so far as to scrutinize the weave of the old rug trapped within, trying to evaluate its date, origin, and worth.

"My apologies," Heero said, breaking into his distraction.

"Hm?"  He winced a little as Heero slightly readjusted the direction of his pressure and ugh, maybe it was his imagination but he could swear something just slid into place.  He'd seen all kinds of wounds in his day, but there was something about broken bones that violated his fundamental sense of rightness.

"Done."

"Oh."  He looked down automatically.  The arm was red and inflamed, but there wasn't anything else to see.  He moved his attention to their joined hands instead and momentarily lost himself in the warmth of Heero's palm, the firm squeeze of Heero's fingers.  "Um.  Splint.  Right."  There were no pieces of wood within easy reach and he didn't want to chance releasing the pressure quite yet.  With one hand, he undid the buckles on the long knife sheath riding his thigh and strapped it on nice and tight to Heero's forearm, with some assistance from Heero's left hand.

"Thank you," Heero said once more, strangely touched by the lending of Duo's personal equipment for the cause.  "And also... for being on my side of that wall."

"Heh.  Well."  He was partially responsible for that wall, but it had been in the service of saving the others, so whatever.  "I didn't know if that was an open invite or not."

"What?"

"Your 'come and take me'.  I'll come and take you any day.  Or take you and come.  Either way."

A moment of silence.

"Did you really just say that?" Wufei asked incredulously.

"Hell yeah!  Near-death makes a guy horny, yanno?"

Heero almost-chuckled, a faint huff combined with a definite tilt to one side of his mouth.

Duo grinned madly.  Maybe near-death made a guy a tad bit hysterical, too.  But whatever.

"Alright, already," Quatre chided.  "Heero, come here."

Duo watched as Heero went to do as instructed.  Quatre would be soothing the pain, fixing the bone in place.  "Hey, you got some dead knight-things over there, yeah?  We can use his cape as a sling or something."

"'Knight things'?"  Wufei glanced at the bodies before agreeing that the capes would serve.

"Well, yeah.  Those guys..."

"Weren't normal, to be sure.  I sensed something... 'other' about them."

"Oh yeah!  Shit!  I think they got the rock.  One more of 'em came and joined the party while we were playing wolf and prey with these things.  Told the knight-thing on our side that they got what they came for.  And then they left."

"Hm.  I see.  That is unfortunate."  Wufei pushed a cape through one of the openings in the wall.

Duo snagged it and sliced up a section for Heero's use.  "And, uh..."

Heero took the hint and finished the tale.  "The Stone was not their only objective, it would seem.  They indicated that they no longer had need of me."

"You?" Quatre asked, releasing his arm.

Heero nodded his thanks.  "They deliberately separated me from the rest of you."

"And it totally kinda if not really explains why they only seemed interested in arresting Heero," Duo added.  "Even though obviously we were all guilty of the same thing."

"What could they have wanted from you...?" Quatre mused, tapping his lips thoughtfully with a forefinger.  "Are they done with you, or did they find an alternative?"

"Hey," Trowa said from the room above.  "We should be able to twist this table enough to clear a path, though you'll likely want to keep an eye on some of the other debris."



They checked on the Virgo Stone on their way back to the library.  It was, as suspected, now missing from its stand.  They trudged up the stairs in a somewhat dejected mood.  The fact that they had not protected the Stone from theft outweighed the little information they had learned from their confrontation.

The monastery was still quiet when they emerged from the basements.  The ill-lit trek and the intensity of the battle distorted time's passage, but dawn was still some time away.  As they drew near Pargan's library, Quatre abruptly hastened his step.  "Something's wrong."  He gestured, impatiently and dismissively, at Trowa as he swung his glaive to the ready.  "Not that.  But..."

All the same, Trowa cut in front of him before he laid hand upon the knob and opened the door himself, senses on alert.

Quatre slipped past him and fell to his knees after rounding a table that was no longer set parallel to the wall.  "Pargan!"

Trowa joined him and helped him turn the old man onto his back while the others secured the room.  Dark bruising was already discoloring the scholar's face in several spots, and blood from several nasty cuts stained half his thick white mustache with deep red.  The disarray of his robes and the chairs hinted at the struggle.  Several books and a sheaf of loose sheets littered the floor.

The white mage bent over him, eyes closed in concentration, and a few seconds later, Pargan's eyes fluttered open.  "Magister Pargan.  Are you alright?"

Pargan mumbled unintelligibly at first, but with increasing lucidity.  "Young man... What..."

Wufei came up to them and took over so Quatre could work his healing magic.  "Magister Pargan.  We've just returned from the basement.  Can you tell us what happened?"

"The..."  He blinked blearily several times before his attention focused.  "The Stone.  What of..."

"Gone, I'm afraid.  They got past us and took the Stone.  I'm sorry.  Were there others up here?"

"Others... Yes.  Knights.  But... not just..."  His brow furrowed as he questioned his memories.

"Templars?" Wufei suggested levelly.

"Templars... Yes.  But... why would..."

"We also encountered Templars in the basement.  What did they want here?  In this library?"

"They wanted... I'm not sure..."

"Sylvia?" Heero interrupted.

Wufei glanced at him before repeating the inquiry for the old man's benefit.  "Where is Sylvia?"

"Sylvia... Sent her... upstairs... before..."

Heero leaned toward Duo to speak quietly, so as not to break Pargan's train of thought further.  "I'm going to look for her.  In case she's near."

"They came...," Pargan murmured, almost to himself.  "They came... searching.  In search of something.  Something...  Not sure...  A key.  They said... a key."

"A key," Wufei echoed thoughtfully.

"A key.  Ajora... To Ajora's..."  He moaned softly.  "I do not know what they were seeking.  Nor where to find it."

"Ajora's demon, perhaps?  We believe they seek the return of the demon Ajora vanquished.  Perhaps they require a key..."

Pargan shook his head weakly.  "No.  No, not... Cannot... the demon..."

"The Templars we met below were possessed of dark powers," Wufei informed him, gravely and firmly.  "And they have spoken before of a resurrection."

He shook his head once more.  "There is no demon...!"

Wufei looked at him, uncomprehendingly.  "Ajora defeated it, according to the scriptures, but perhaps he did not destroy it.  Perhaps there is still a way."

"What did you mean, 'there is no demon'?" Trowa stepped in to say.  The old man had rushed out the words in one urgent breath.  The words sounded deliberate to Trowa's ear, to be interpreted literally.

Pargan's eyes bounced unsteadily between him and the mage, and then he seemed to shrink into himself.  "No... No, I... misspoke.  I..."

"'There is no demon'," Trowa repeated.

"I'm... confused... I..."  His eyes slid shut.

Wufei came to believe as Trowa did.  "Pargan.  What do you know?  If there is something you know, something that could help us... against whatever it is that is coming..."

The response was slow.  "What is coming...  What is coming...  I do not know what is coming, young mage."  He opened his pale eyes to spear him with a look.  "But it cannot be... what does not exist."

"There is no demon," Wufei said softly, only half a question.

"I do not know... what is coming.  But it is evil.  I know that.  I... Those Templars.  They... do not serve the gods.  You... intend to fight them?"

"We do."

"Then... you... already know.  And I... would not have you wasting your efforts... chasing stories.  There... my notes... in my desk... Take them..."  He raised a weak hand to point toward his office.

Duo immediately went to the office door.  It was unlocked this time.  Perhaps Pargan had been working inside when the Templars had come.

Pargan's hand fell to his side and groped blindly toward a pocket.  "This key... the bottom drawer... on the right... underneath... the false bottom...."

Trowa gently pushed his hand aside and reached into the pocket to draw out the key.  He glanced over his shoulder to see Duo already emerging from the office with a thick notebook, so he pressed the key into the old man's hand to give him some comfort.

"Yes... you will learn... but perhaps... you already know."

"Enough," Quatre said soothingly, opening his eyes.  He put a hand to the scholar's forehead.  "Get some rest."

Pargan did not struggle as he heeded Quatre's magic-backed command and fell asleep.

Quatre stood unsteadily.  Pargan's injuries had not been life-threatening, but elderly patients required far more care than the usual to avoid unintended harm.  It took him only a couple of seconds to shake off the effects of the healing and bring his attention back to the matter at hand.  "Duo?"

"I assume this is the one," he answered, shutting it after taking only a brief look at its contents.  He'd noted the drawer with the false bottom on his previous foray into the office, but hadn't had the time to take a peek before the old man had shown up.  He held the notebook out to the mage for inspection.

Quatre took it and leafed through it, wandering over to a chair at one of the tables.  "Hmmm.  Pargan was an expert in translation of ancient texts, he said.  This looks like a copy of an ancient text of some sort, translated and heavily annotated."

"What ancient text?" Wufei asked, moving to a seat next to him.

"Let's see... Here.  The... The Scriptures of Germonique?"

"Germonique?"

"Since when does he have Scriptures?" Duo asked, puzzled.  "Apostates don't get Scriptures."

"They may be apocrypha," Wufei answered absently.  "Obviously, according to the Church, they would be.  But they wouldn't be to the person that wrote this."

"Germonique himself," Quatre said, pointing to some notes.

There was a quick tap on the door before it opened.  Heero entered and shut it quietly behind him.  He shook his head in response to the querying looks.  "She's not around.  But the sun is not yet risen.  She's likely asleep somewhere upstairs.  I did not search far.  Everything seems quiet up there.  The normal sort of quiet.  Pargan?"

"Resting," Duo responded.  The two mages were already caught up in their study of the notebook.

"Knights?"

"Looking for some sort of key, he said."

Heero took a moment to digest this.  "Book?"

"Old guy's secret notes.  'There is no demon', he said.  I'm guessing the notes'll tell us what he meant by that."

He frowned.  "No demon?"

"Yeah, we don't get it either.  We'll see."

While Quatre and Wufei muttered to each other over the notes, Duo and Trowa moved Pargan into his office.  The man was a dedicated scholar and kept a narrow cot there to see him through his late nights.  Heero took it upon himself to try to wash some of the blood from the old man's face with water from a jar in the library, but Duo shooed him off after watching him trying to accomplish the feat with just one hand.  Heero turned instead to picking up the papers that were strewn across the floor, but after that, there was nothing much left for them to do.  They left the book to the mages and snatched a bit of sleep while they could.





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Comments
ramenkuri From: ramenkuri Date: February 16th, 2017 11:11 am (UTC) (Link)
So happy to see a new chapter! Must go catch up
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 21st, 2017 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Bit of a lull here before getting into the next big set piece.
sharona1x2 From: sharona1x2 Date: February 20th, 2017 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I know I should make some comments about the plot (especially there being no demon, whatever that means), but I'm still too busy laughing at this part:

"Your 'come and take me'. I'll come and take you any day. Or take you and come. Either way."

I love your Duo. :-)
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 21st, 2017 07:17 am (UTC) (Link)
There's just something about him that Heero can't help but be attracted to. =)

(much to wufei's consternation. ^^)
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: February 22nd, 2017 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Wait... guys? Let's go back upstairs...
LOVE the Heero/Duo moment, (and poor Wufei), and glad you didn't kill Pargon. There is no demon... I'm baffled.
And eagerly awaiting the next part. ^^;
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 24th, 2017 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Can't go back upstairs until they have their 'moment', now can they? =D

This is like the 3rd fic where it would have been convenient for me to kill off Pargan, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. ^^' But also killing off an ally is really hard to justify when you have a stinkin' white mage standing right there. -_- I've already toned the healing way down for the purposes of story, but...
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: March 5th, 2017 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, the struggles of converting game to fic... but you are doing an awesome job of making it believable.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: March 7th, 2017 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
This fic was somewhat longer before... and then I realized that a lot of the story was probably just intended to give the player more opportunities to do battle, so... things got cut.  Hope I've stitched everything back up well enough.

So long, Dorothy.  She was supposed to make her appearance right about now.
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