|The Blood and Heart of Gaea :2nd Edition
Author: Ayeka Penor PM
An attempt is made on Van's life and Hitomi finds herself back on Gaea! Now, what does an energist that grants wishes have to do with people from the Mystic Moon? And who controls this energist? COMPLETERated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 6 - Words: 31,400 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 04-18-04 - Published: 03-12-04 - Status: Complete - id: 1769126
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
::Okay, this is really The Heart and Blood of Gaea 2nd Edition. I wrote this story years ago and posted it as my first fic on ff.net…but all at once. Not that many people were interested in reading a fic that took 56 pages in one shot, and I didn't get as much feedback as I'd hoped since I considered this my pride and joy.
This time, I'm replacing it with re-worked chapters around nine or ten pages long. Please do flame me, or whine and complain, it helps me to improve.
Sometimes Hitomi Kanzaki would get caught staring off into the sky, as if she was trying to see something she knew to be there. Her parents were concerned, because ever since her best friend Yukari went to England with Amano, Hitomi seemed to have lost her motivation. She constantly daydreamed in class, and could be found on most clear nights on the roof, watching the sky. At first they thought it was just a phase, she was a fifteen-year-old girl whose best friend just moved away. When graduation came around, Hitomi was still in a slump. Her grades stayed respectable, and she got a scholarship to Boston University for track, which is where the story continues.
Hitomi looked at the clock above the door and sighed. Five more minutes, just five more minutes and she could go to the track. She pinched herself for being so easily distracted and tried to pay attention to what the professor was saying. Then her concentration slipped again and she was staring out the window at the sky.
With her newfound fascination in the nighttime sky, she'd decided to go with astronomy. Then she'd started to wonder about how she would spend her life. She was still staring out the window when the boy next to her leapt to his feet as he slammed hiss book shut. Hitomi jumped and realized she'd missed half the lecture. Silently berating herself for daydreaming—again—she rushed for the door. The professor tapped her on the shoulder and motioned for her to follow him.
She nervously waited in front of his podium as the other students left. Had he noticed her lack of attention? Was he going to reprimand her for her laziness? Or was it that her latest paper about supernovas had been particularly bad?
Doctor Grebe leaned on the podium as he did during class and tapped his fingers together, looking intently at her face. "Miss Kanzaki, I'm well aware that you had a tough time your freshman year adjusting to the States, but I've noticed that you remain detached from the rest of the student body as well as from class."
Hitomi blushed, so he had noticed. Then he went on. "You see, I've noticed your lack of attention in class, but you have been able to convey such a passion for astronomy in your assignments…" It was hardly the kind of talk Hitomi had been expecting, but she accepted his praise graciously and was about to dismiss herself when he handed her a pamphlet. "Here," he said, "this is an invitation to an astronomy club meeting out of town, a place in the suburbs. There's only about ten other members right now, but I think you'll enjoy our meetings."
She accepted the invitation and half ran out of the building. The invitation went into the nearest trashcan, and she speed walked to the student parking lot. Her only friend on campus, Lisa Grout, was leaning against the hood of a beat up Toyota, waiting. "Well? What kept you?" she asked.
Hitomi pointed over her shoulder. "The Professor wanted me to go on some astronomy club field trip."
Lisa narrowed her pale, blue eyes at Hitomi. "You didn't say 'no,' did you?"
"No, but I threw the invitation away. If I'm going to look at the sky, it's going to be on a night with a full moon—" she barely caught herself before she said, 'to see if I can find Gaea.' In the five years since her fateful trip, she had yet to convince herself that she would never see her friends again. Not Yukari and Amano, but Millerna, Allen, even the cat-girl Merle. But most of all, she missed Van.
Since she left Gaea the last time, she'd tried to get back once. She had just won the finals for the hundred-meter dash back in Japan, and was catching her breath when she realized no one she cared about was there to congratulate her. Her parents had been unable to make it, and her little brother, Yoii, had been at a friend's house all day. Amano had left for England, with Yukari not far behind. She'd been hit with an overwhelming wave of loneliness, and had dashed out of the stadium to stand outside with her tears. Then she'd wished furiously to go back to Gaea, back to Van and the others, but nothing had happened. A single white feather had floated down out of nowhere to land on her shoe and disappear. The feathers always made her feel better, they reminded her that despite the distance between them she and Van would never be lost to one another.
Lisa raised and eyebrow at Hitomi's sudden stop, then shrugged and opened the driver side door. "C'mon, get in. If we hurry, we can still get in about three laps before everyone else arrives."
One of the key factors in their tentative friendship was that they both took classes in the same building at the end of the day, and were hopelessly devoted to track. So far, they'd won almost every event they participated in. Even though they were only sophomores, they were on the varsity track team, and were unbeatable at relay races, no matter who else was on their team. Hitomi knew that there was something in Lisa's past that made her want to run away—like her. It forced them to break records and win.
In addition to their track practices, they ran around the block their apartment was on for twenty minutes each evening and morning. They couldn't spare any more time than that, because in addition to school and track, they had part time jobs to help pay the rent. In the locker room, Lisa tied back her long, brown hair and checked her shoelaces. "Let's go!" she said. The only time anyone in the student body could ever say they've seen the two roommates truly happy, is when they're racing and breathless with the effort.
After practice, they dashed off to the showers and drove to work. At home that evening, they were studying for a math quiz when the phone rang. Lisa picked up the phone and handed it to Hitomi, who gave her an exasperated look and took the receiver. "Hello?" she said.
"Konnichi-wa, Hitomi!" Hitomi gasped at the familiar voice.
"Hi, Mom!" she said, switching to Japanese. "How is everyone? Why'd you call?"
There was a pause on the other side of the line. "Hitomi, for winter vacation, we decided to come visit you instead of you coming back over here. Would that be Okay? Your father and I would like a chance to see the campus, and Yoii wants to see Boston."
Hitomi was surprised. Her parents had wanted her to stay in Japan for college, but when the scholarship was offered, it was an opportunity too good to miss. They worked out a time and rendezvous point at Logan Airport, and Hitomi helped make lodging arrangements. "I still can't quite get used to the idea that my family is coming over. I mean, we haven't been very close for a while now, and they hardly ever call."
Lisa stared at Hitomi, the girl was babbling again. Why was she so nervous? It was just her immediate family.
"I never write, I can't afford to call more than once a month or so. The apartment isn't exactly big, and I haven't won any awards or have any big competitions coming up, because it's winter, you know… And furthermore—"
"Will you get a hold of yourself?" Lisa said, "Stop babbling and help me take this stuff downstairs."
Van Slanzar de Fanel sat in the formal throne room, wearing much grander clothes than he personally cared for. The reigning king of Basram had decided his three younger daughters could profit from traveling abroad. Van didn't for a second doubt what the man's real hopes were, but he just couldn't find himself making any of them his queen. They all seemed so…so…dim. The eldest of the three had no common sense, the middle one laughed at all the wrong times much too loudly, and the youngest fainted every time she had to talk to him. He pitied the poor men their father would eventually sucker into marrying them.
"So, Your Majesty, we shall be on our way," the kneeling guard said before him. He was the one in charge of the princesses' safety as they traveled.
Van nodded his head and said, "I wish you all a safe journey and good luck."
The guard bowed and left. The princesses curtsied low, murmured their thanks for his hospitality, and followed. Van sighed and slumped down in his throne the moment they were gone. Then the main doors opened and Merle ran in. "Lord Van! They've left! Pleeeaaase tell me they've gone for good?" She rushed over to him and he stood.
"Yeah, they've just left."
"Yay!" the cat-girl said. She leapt onto the vacated throne and raised a hand to her mouth. Finding it covered with bandaging, she hissed and sulked. "Why do I have to wear these stupid things? They're such a pain."
Van laughed. "Merle, if I ever hold court you'll have to be able to control yourself and act like—dare I say it—a…"
"Don't!" she screeched and she covered her large, pointy ears with her hands.
"…lady!" Van finished. Merle winced and shifted position so she sat in the throne correctly. "Much better. You know, Merle, I could find someone else to be hostess, you could go back to being you." The offer was meant to hit Merle at a weak spot, her pride.
It worked. Merle sat straight up, stiff as a board, and held her nose in the air as she said, "I couldn't stand that! No more women in this castle! I'm the lady of the house!" Nothing like a subtle jab to reinforce one's resolve, Van thought. One of many lessons he'd learned from Balgus, his sword master and teacher. The thought of the long dead soldier brought back the memories following Balgus' death.
First, the beam of blue light that had taken him and Hitomi away from Fanalia…Hitomi. How he missed her. Van removed the pendent from underneath his shirt and looked at it. There was a gentle tug in his chest, the soft ache that he always felt when he saw the pendent. He looked up at the sky, at the Mystic Moon hanging like a misty globe in the sky, and sighed. Oh, Hitomi, are you ever going to come back?
"Hitomi!" a voice called. Hitomi scanned the crowd to her left and saw her father's waving hand. She rushed over and gave her family all hugs, even her little brother, who wasn't so little anymore.
"Awe, Hitomi, quit it!" he mumbled. She let Yoii go and looked him straight in the eye. "It's not fair, I should be taller!" he whined. Hitomi chuckled and smiled at them. Her family; her mother, father and brother, were here in Boston!
"Let's go claim your bags," she said, gesturing for them to follow her. "Then I'll take you to the hotel." They followed her silently, and Hitomi found herself so excited that she missed the depressed atmosphere around the three people following her. It took only a few minutes to find the right bags, then they caught a cab and went to the Marriott Hotel.
Her father checked them in, his English so perfect that Hitomi was envious. Then she reminded herself that he'd been alive longer and had more practice using it than she. Her parents and brother shared a room with two, full sized beds. "How long are you staying? You could stay for a year with all this," Hitomi gestured to the bags and suitcases piled on the beds.
Mrs. Kanzaki smiled. "Well, you know how I like to be prepared."
Hitomi shook her head in mock disbelief. "How stupid of me! I forgot that you brought two pack horses with you!" Yoii chucked a pillow at her with a laugh and she jumped out of the way.
Her father just smiled at the joke and asked, "How's track coming along? I know that it's winter, but you've got to stay in shape to keep that scholarship!" Or I'll be going home, Hitomi finished for him. After all this time, they really thought she'd be so lax as to fall out of shape and lose the scholarship? Well, in her parents' eyes, she had been acting kind of lazy after her trip to Gaea. Daydreaming, or staring at nothing, just doing a lot of resting except for school and track.
Once they were settled in, Hitomi left to let them get some rest. It had been a long trip from Japan, and it was well past nine at night in Boston. She went home and smiled with contentment as she went to sleep. Lisa paused in passing Hitomi's room on her way to the bathroom to see her fellow track star sleeping with a smile on her face. Lisa grinned and whispered to herself, "I guess family does help you get over Gaea—if you have any."
The next morning was a Saturday, and after her habitual run and shower, Hitomi packed a cooler and backpack with picnic supplies. She stopped by at a deli on her way to the Marriott for sandwiches. Her mother opened the door at her knock and helped her rearrange the cooler so everything fit. Then the older woman added a few things to Hitomi's backpack. "What did I miss?" Hitomi asked.
Mrs. Kanzaki named each item as she placed it in the bag. "Insect repellant, extra room key, paper towels, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, bug bite treatment…"
"We aren't going camping! Why do we need all that stuff? It's just a picnic!" Hitomi said. Mrs. Kanzaki ignored her daughter and continued to stuff non-essentials into the bag. With an exaggerated sigh, Hitomi picked up the backpack and said, "Let's go."
They chose a nice spot in a park Hitomi had frequented since her arrival in Boston. Instead of immediately serving the food, they all sat on the blanket, catching up. Hitomi was reaching for her soda when she was suddenly confronted by a vision. The last one had been of Van, rebuilding Fanalia and directing workers and soldiers. It had been a very heartening vision. This one wasn't. She saw an older Van, taller, wider in the shoulders. He was talking with someone wearing work clothes when a black arrow crossed her field of vision to skewer Van in the center of his chest.
"Then move this fence further over to the side here, and we can build the wall along it here, and the end will reach the ledge," Van said to Master Yuri. The disgruntled architect mulled over Van's proposition and nodded.
"Yes, that makes sense, but can I keep it a meter high at that length with my materials?" Master Yuri asked.
Van frowned at the paper. "I think so…" Then there was a sharp twang and Van instinctively shoved the architect to the ground. An arrow whizzed past to imbed itself in a nearby fence post. A moment later, another followed. It hit him in the arm and he pulled it out. Van clenched his teeth and rolled off Master Yuri since the assassin was no doubt aiming for him. As he rolled, an arrow hit him in the thigh. He had too much momentum to stop, so it got ripped out instead of breaking off. He gasped in pain, and yet another black arrow hit him. It stopped deep in his back.
The King of Fanalia stopped rolling, and lay on the ground, still. A black booted foot tapped him. He didn't stir. A feminine hand reached down and yanked out the arrow from his back roughly. Van didn't even moan.
There was a sharp intake of breath, the assassin turned to face Master Yuri. "What have you done?!" the man cried. His voice broke off and a gurgling sound took over. He sank to the ground, a black arrow through his throat.
It was only ten minutes later that Mrs. Yuri found them. She screamed and ran back to the house, where the Lady Merle was having tea. Merle dropped the delicate cup and ran on hands and feet, tearing her dress, and looking more like a circus tiger than a young woman who'd just been having biscuits.
She stopped next to Van, and knelt beside him. "Lord Van?" she said. He didn't answer. "Lord Van!" she screeched. His eyelids fluttered. "Lord Van?!" she whisper-screamed.
"Hitomi…" Van rasped. Merle's tears welled up.
"She's not here, Lord Van, she went back home, remember? Oh, Lord Van, don't speak, I'm gonna get you help." Merle spun around. "Mrs. Yuri! Go fetch a healer!" The plump woman ran off towards the town, but Merle knew that quite a bit of time had already passed, precious minutes. "Oh God, oh God, oh God!" she kept repeating. The sorrow in Van's eyes was enough to make Merle yearn for the one person she knew Van wanted to see the most. "HITOMI!"
"Hitomi? Hitomi, are you all right?" Her mother's voice brought her out of the vision.
"Oh, oh no, Van!" Hitomi cried. She covered her face with her hands, hoping to dash the unpleasant vision from existence.
"Hitomi! What's wrong?" Yoii asked, his hands trying to pull hers from her face.
"It's Van! Someone's going to kill Van! NOOOOOOO!" she cried. Then the pillar of light came down through the trees and enveloped Hitomi's family. They stared in wonder and astonishment as they slowly rose from their picnic blanket and shot up into the sky.
As Merle's scream died away a beam of pure blue light came down from the sky. She stared in awe as several people came down to land on the ground a few feet away. Then another glow caught her eye and she turned back to Van. Hitomi's pendent, which he'd worn for the past five years, was glowing. Then she heard a sob and she looked up. "Hitomi!" she said, and she jumped up.
Hitomi fell to her knees by Van's side and tears ran down her cheeks to form dark spots on his red shirt. "Van?" she said in a whisper. Her hand hovered over him, as if she dared not to touch him. "Van?" she said again. This time she actually touched him. Then her hands started to hurriedly check his wounds. She quickly located the tare in his leg, and the arm wound, but very little blood came from the back wound where the bleeding should have been the worst.
She frowned and looked around the area, her eyes resting on Merle. "Merle, quick, tear some strips from your skirt so I can bind Van's leg and arm." The cat-girl reduced the rest of her skirt to tatters and helped Hitomi wrap up Van's arm and leg. Then Hitomi carefully examined Van's back, and bit her lip. "Merle, do you think, well, that his wings could've gotten in the way?"
Merle looked at the wound, and gulped. "I guess, but, what's wrong with him? If he didn't lose enough blood to pass out, why's he unconscious?" Then she sat up and looked around. "And where's that healer?!"
Hitomi did her best to patch up his back, she couldn't tell how deep it had been, and wiped the hair out of his eyes. My he's grown handsome, Hitomi thought. Van's hair was as long as before, falling into his eyes. He'd grown, but he looked much paler than he had in her vision. Then movement in the corner of her eye caused Hitomi to turn.
She gasped and gently lay down Van's head before rushing over to check on her family. "Mom, Dad, Yoii, are you alright?" Her family was lying on the ground among the remains of their picnic. Mrs. Kanzaki sat up slowly and rubbed her temples. Her husband straightened himself out and lay on his back, but Yoii jumped up and nearly fell over. "Easy there," Hitomi said as she steadied him.
Yoii looked around and frowned. "Where are we?" he asked. Hitomi ignored the question and told him to start picking up their stuff, which was scattered all over the ground. Grudgingly he agreed and Hitomi went back to check on Van.
He was sweating, and his breathing was bad. She touched his forehead and gasped. The arrows had been poisoned! "Oh, hurry up," she whispered to no one in particular. Her father stood up and helped her mom rise to her feet. They then bent over to help Yoii in a sort of daze. "What am I going to do about them?" Hitomi wondered aloud. Then she heard shouting and turned to see Merle badgering a rather round woman carrying a basket under one arm.
The woman knelt by Van's side, out of breath, and examined the arrow Hitomi held out to her. The healer sniffed them and started rummaging through the items in her basket. Merle, curious as ever, sniffed the arrow too and sneezed. "Here, put this against his wounds while I mix an antidote," the woman said. Hitomi took the offered leaves and carefully placed them against Van's skin under the bandages. A very excruciating two minutes later, the healer had finished mixing the simple antidote and was coaxing it down Van's throat.
"Come on, Van, drink it," Hitomi said. She held his hand in hers, more for her own comfort than his since she was sure he wasn't conscious. He swallowed and Hitomi and Merle and the healing woman sighed in relief.
"Who is that?" asked a voice behind Hitomi. She jumped and turned to see Yoii leaning over her, peering at Van.
Merle hissed at him and said, "And just who are you? Did you see who did this to Lord Van?"
Yoii looked at Merle and blinked in surprise. Hitomi stood and said, "Yoii, this is Merle. Merle, my younger brother Yoii." She didn't want to introduce Van to him as 'the guy lying on the ground' and held back on the formal introduction.
Merle stood up and said, "We need to get Lord Van back to the castle." Hitomi nodded and went to her parents who stood nearby, watching. It took both Yoii and her father to carry Van back on the primitive stretcher they made. The guards at the gate opened the doors and rushed around calling for assistance. Hitomi looked around herself in amazement. Fanalia had almost been completely rebuilt. People were carrying on business in the city, milling around the castle on various chores, but the castle's staff seemed to leap into panicked action when they saw their sovereign lying prone with arrow wounds.
The castle's own healers looked Van over and complimented the healing woman's quick remedy. They rebound his wounds, lay him on his bed, closed the doors, and said no one but a healer should interrupt Van's rest for the next few days while he fought off the poison. Hitomi could remember occasions during the war when every one of Van's allies would stand by his side to cheer on his recovery.
At a loss for what to do, Hitomi asked Merle where she and her family should go until Van got better. Merle's eyes flashed and she said, "Well, you always could go into town and stay at an inn, but they don't accept money from the Mystic Moon. I guess I'll just have to find somewhere in the castle for you to stay. Come on, this way."
For a moment Hitomi thought Merle was going to be as much of a pain as she'd been when Hitomi was on Gaea last. Then the cat-girl's (really almost cat-woman's) quick lapse into courtesy brought about a much more favorable result. Merle showed Hitomi and the family to three rooms near her own, and not too far from Van's room. Merle then got a good look at her guests and said, "I'll send someone over to fit you for some normal clothes soon. Bye-bye!" Then she closed the door and rushed to her own room to change out of the tattered remains of her dress.
Hitomi sat down with a sigh and looked up to see her family calmly waiting for an explanation. "Okay, I'll explain, just sit own, this could take a while." Then she described the whole chain of events that had occurred all those years ago. The blue light on the racetrack, the visions, the tarot card readings and why she didn't do them anymore. Her family listened with rapt attention, her parents frowning once in a while as if they disagreed with their daughter having been exposed to such atrocities. Yoii was fascinated.
She gave them a slightly edited version, of course. For one thing, she left out most of her feelings for Alan and Van, and didn't mention Alan's proposal of marriage. It was dark when she finished. They had taken a break when the seamstress's came in with Merle to take their measurements and pin and poke at them. Merle enjoyed teasing Hitomi about how much weight she'd put on while away, when it was obvious there wasn't a spare ounce on her body. If anything, Hitomi's increased training had made her physically stronger, toning her body and bringing out her curves. When they'd left, Merle had stayed behind to interrupt when she thought Hitomi had missed something.
Dinner was brought to them, and they talked through the meal. When they finished, ending with Hitomi revealing to her family how she hadn't actually lost her grandmother's pendant, but gave it to Van, Merle was snoozing in a chair. Yoii yawned and stretched. "That makes a nice campfire story, Hitomi, but right now, I think we'd better go to sleep. That Dornkirk guy was really Sir Isaac Newton? Ouch." Hitomi poked Merle awake and they went to their rooms for sleep.
The next day the Kanzaki family's new clothes arrived. Hitomi almost laughed at her brother's expression when he saw her wearing a traditional dress. Then he looked almost sad and said, "All this time, you've kept this place a secret. Now, I see you dressed like that and I realize I don't really know who you are anymore."
The admission was deep, and Hitomi gave him a reassuring hug and said, "Don't worry, I'm still me, except now I don't have many secrets left for you to discover." She sighed dramatically. "I guess you'll have to find another hobby." Yoii let out a bark of laughter and pinched her arm.
"Yeah right, there's still plenty you didn't tell us, but I'm patient." His eyes sparkled with anticipation. Hitomi inwardly groaned, but kept the smile on her face. Then Merle came bounding down the hall.
She came to a stop in front of Hitomi. "He's awake!" she said, smiling and excited. Hitomi followed her down the hall to Van's room. The doors were open, and a healer was just coming out. She saw them and barely had time to get out of the way before Merle rushed through the door. Hitomi followed at a brisk walk instead of a dead run and smiled timidly at the startled nurse.
Then she saw Merle kneeling by the side of a big four-poster bed. "We were so worried, Lord Van," she was saying. Van was sitting up, with a mound of pillows behind his back. Hitomi started toward him slowly.
Van was watching Merle and he said, "Who's 'we'?" Then Merle saw Hitomi approaching and narrowed her eyes. Van looked up and saw Hitomi, who stopped dead. The silence stretched on and on until Hitomi spoke.
"Hi, Van. How are you feeling?" Hitomi knew she was blushing, and didn't try to hide it. Instead she started walking toward him again until she'd reached Merle's side. Merle reluctantly made room for Hitomi, who stood there like a statue, looking at Van.
Who was staring right back. "Hitomi…" he said. When it was clear the conversation wasn't going anywhere, Merle piped up.
"Her whole family is here too, Lord Van. I took good care of them, just like a good hostess. They got rooms, new clothes, and I even helped." Her cheery tone broke the trance the two long-separated 'friends' had been in, and Van looked at Merle. Once she had his attention, she said, "What happened? I found you and the architect shot with poisoned arrows, then Hitomi showed up." Then she added, almost an afterthought, "It was her father and brother who carried you back. The architect was already dead when I found you."
Van looked stony-faced, and Hitomi worried about how important the architect had been. Then he turned pale and sat back against the pillows. She felt alarm course through her. "Oh no, what were we thinking, you still need to rest," she said putting her hand on her head. "Come on, Merle, we'd better go." Merle stood and left, leaving Hitomi behind. Van's eyes closed, and Hitomi watched the steady rise and fall of his chest.
Thinking he was asleep, she leaned in and gave him a kiss and whispered, "Get better, Van." Then she turned and rushed from the room, Van's eyes following her as she closed the door, and he smiled.
::Please do R+R!::