Title: Desert Rose Part VII: Isoge! (Hurry!)

Author: Sorceress Fantasia

Pairing: 1+2, 3+4, 5+M, 5+?, 13x6

Warnings: Slight angst, evil Relena and Hirde, unsympathetic Trieze, OC, slight crossover (just borrowing one chara from Chrono Cross)

Archive: http://www.gwaddiction.com/levlair/index3.htm

Disclaimers: I may own a lot of things, but the GW guys aren't included. So yeah, the characters do not belong to me. I'm just borrowing them for a little fun. Harle is a character taken from Squaresoft's Chrono Cross. She does not belong to me either.

Note: From this chapter on, there will be heavy usage of spells and other weapons. Most, if not all, are taken from RPGs I have played, so none of them belongs to me.

With a huff of anger, Wing slammed his hooves down onto the metal grill of his prison. The metal rattled loudly, but still stood strong. He neighed in exasperation, and pushed off the bars, landing on his hooves. He frowned deeper than before, and started to pace around in small circles, like a cat chasing after its tail. His hooves continued to clatter.

"Sit still, Wing! You're not doing us any good if you carry on walking around!" Shini hollered, clanking one hoof on the stone ground.

He snorted, but obliged, settling down beside her. "It's not as if we can escape by sitting here…" He grumbled under his breath. The white stallion looked away indignantly when the black mare glared at him.

"Knock it off, you two." Heavyarms reprimanded them softly. He wheezed, cringing from the dusty air in his cell, which was opposite of Wing and Shini's. "Are things not bad enough?"

Wing scowled resentfully, "Then enlighten me. What are we supposed to do, oh Mr. High-and-Mighty?"

"Think. With Relena and Hirde here, the odds are definitely against us if we try to escape by means of magic. They are sorceresses, and we are but amateurs. The only way, is to outwit them." Heavyarms answered coolly, cleverly choosing to ignore Wing's crude remark.

Sandrock and Nataku nodded thoughtfully as they considered the idea. "I suppose you are right. But our magic abilities are weak, and mostly offensive. Although Shini can teleport, she cannot teleport over long distances. Thus, she cannot break us all out of here in time to prevent recapture. As for the rest of us, our powers are not powerful enough to even destroy these metal grills keeping us here, let alone overpower Relena and Hirde." The red horse said, analyzing the situation.

Wing shook his head. "Enough of the information, Nataku. It's making me more depressed."

"Ooh-la-la! Who haz offended my dearezt Wing?"

"Harle!" The horses exclaimed, simultaneously getting onto their feet.

The enigma placed a delicate finger over her lip, which were curled at the ends ever so slightly.

*****

Wufei sulked in a dark corner of his cell, bare threads of moonlight playing over his face.

Quatre was surprised his friend hadn't sprung into a rant for justice yet, but it was just as well. He needed the silence to think. Calmly, he scanned the small chamber. The stone-lined walls were packed solid, and no cracks or crevices would be enough to let them pass through. Even with their magic abilities, it wouldn't be sufficient to break though them. The blonde sighed, and looked elsewhere. The metal grill provided yet another hurdle. Trowa's daggers could hardly make a dent in them, let alone slice through. The huge, steel lock was even more intimidating. Moreover, there were the bulky guards stationed outside, a little away from them. Sighing, he curled up by Trowa.

Instinctively, the emerald-eyed boy wrapped a comforting arm around his shoulders.

Just as Quatre was giving up hope, he heard a voice ringing inside his mind. "Sis!" He cried, but Trowa quickly slapped a hand over his mouth. Giving his companion a nod, Quatre closed his eyes and tried to focus his thoughts, as Trowa removed his hand.

'Sis! Where are you?'

'Getting you out of zere.'

Quatre frowned. 'How?'

He could almost feel her smile. 'Like zis.'

A section of the walls rearranged themselves, revealing an opening. Light filled the tunnel, yet strangely enough, none of it seeped into the prison cell. And in that passageway, gilt in golden light, stood Harle. Just as Quatre expected, a shallow smile hung on her lips, and she beckoned.

"Come in." She stepped aside.

The three, although astonished, wasted no time. They scrambled to their feet and entered. Seeing them disappear into another section of the tunnel, she stepped back inside, and the bricks went back to their original positions.

The guards heard nothing. However, even if they did, they were too far into slumber to wake up.

*****

They stepped into the tunnel in awe. Jewels hung on the ceiling, bright enough to rival the light in daytime, illuminating the passageway. The walls were smooth to the touch, with precious stones of every shape and colour embedded deeply into the surface. Numerous diamonds at the sides lighted up the ground, each shimmering a cold glow.

Soon, they reached a huge chamber, leading to another eight rooms. Each room was represented by one jewel encrusted at the top of the wooden door. Just as they were confused as to where to go, they heard some noises. In fact, it was someone neighing.

Trowa raised an eyebrow, and stepped towards the sapphire room. Cautiously, he pushed the wooden door.

"Wing? Shini? Wait… all of you are here? How?" Quatre exclaimed, jaws slack.

Sandrock galloped up to his master, and nudged him gently. The blonde patted the horse just as gently. "Sandrock… I thought I'd never see you again…"

"What's going on here?" With a careless swipe, Wufei brushed the strands of his dark locks which had fallen from his ponytail backwards.

"Allow moi." Harle appeared, still smirking. The rest congregated around her, puzzlement clearly on their faces.

She crossed her hands, and leaned against a wall. Her head was cocked to one side, as though telling them that it was a stupid question. "I'm surprized none of you expected zis. After all, I am ze one who designed zis castle. I juz added some… special featurez for moi convenience."

Realization dawned on them. "Sis, but why all these tunnels? Had you expected something like this?" Quatre frowned. He felt a strange chilliness from the harlequin. It wasn't evil or malicious, yet it was an oddly calm chill. Near him, Wing shivered. Apparently, he had sensed it too.

"It iz a long story. But honestly, I hadn't expected somet'ing *like* zis. I *expected* zis. From Heero'z arrival to this, hiz capture and soon-to-come execution. All of zem were in my expectationz. In fact, zere are part of moi planz." At their bewildered looks, she added, "Trieze haz become overprotective of Duo. I didn't want him to be stuck here all hiz life. So, I installed certain featurez into ze castle. Zis tunnels are the resultz. All ze areas wit'in zis castle iz connected via zis tunnels. I entered bot' of your cellz t'rough zis, did I not? W'en we are all safe, I will tell you more."

"What's going to happen then? When Trieze discovers that we're missing, he's going to make Relena and Hirde find us. And what about Duo and Heero?" Nataku inquired, his eyes betraying his worry.

"I want all of you to go back to your roomz, pack a few thingz, and come back 'ere. I will bring Duo to Heero. Zen, we'll meet 'ere and break out."

"What about those two sorry excuses for human? Relena and Hirde are standing guard at Heero's cell."

Harle shook her head in mock disappointment. "I am upset you never t'ought of zis." With that said, she reached into a little brown pouch fastened near her waist, and fished out a bottle of purple fluid. "How else did you t'ink why haz zere no commotion? I've put most of ze guards here to sleep wit' zis sleeping potion. King Trieze too. Zey won't wake up until tomorrow afternoon, at ze very least."

"That will give us time to escape…" Wufei put his two cents in, eyes far off. No doubt, his mind was already formulating their escape plans.

"And Duo's death spell?" Shini queried, face marred by a deep frown.

"I have moi planz."

*****

Duo slammed a pillow into the stubborn chuck of wood blocking his path. It refused to budge. He picked up another pillow and flung it even harder against the door. A few other things soon followed, crashing loudly into the wooden door. But no one acknowledged his actions. Tiredly, he slumped to the ground.

"Let me out…" He rasped, voice weak from shouting earlier. Forlornly, he slumped to the ground, eyes still wet and puffy. He slowly hugged his legs tightly and buried his face into his knees. "God, please… let me out…"

"God can't save you now, monsieur Duo. But I might be able to help." A voice quipped.

The braided prince snapped his head at the intruder, eyes widening. "Sis!"

Harle hushed him softly, with a whisper. "Shh. Be quiet, Duo."

"Sis… how? Why didn't I know of this tunnel leading to my room? From the dungeon, more so!"

"For safety reasonz. Now, go pack your bag. Take only ze necessitiez, and not'ing more. But make sure you bring along ze Tome of Magic, ze Moon Mirror and ze pendent I gave you for your birt'day. We'll need zem later."

"Sis, what about Heero? We're not gonna leave him here!"

She sighed, "Of courze not. Get your bag, and we'll go find him."

Duo nodded, and quickly went about looking for his things. Taking a random bag, he stuffed Wufei and Trowa's presents in first. Without a second thought, he packed the pocket watch Trieze had given him in as well. Hastily, he took a few pieces of clothing and other essentials. Duo finished packing under a minute, anxious for his love.

"I'm done."

Harle did an once-over, and asked, "Where iz ze pendent?"

"I'm wearing it."

She nodded approvingly. "Excellent. Let'z go now." And she stepped back into the tunnel in the wall, signaling Duo to follow her.

*****

Swiftly, they navigated towards the area where Heero was supposed to be. Duo's mind was in a muddle, torn between saving Heero then escaping, and his father. He knew his lover was the priority in his life, and that he would do anything to be with him, but his father… he was all his father had left after his mother died. He was a king of a large and prosperous kingdom, yet Duo was sure he mattered more to Trieze. However…

He shook off that line of thought as they neared a dead end. Harle continued towards the blind alley, sprinting even faster. The prince was already having problems catching up. Finally, they stopped at the end. As he stood there panting, trying hard to catch his breath, the harlequin peeked through a tiny peek hole at the side of the wall, as though she had no part in running that long distance from the West Tower to the East Tower.

*****

Heero growled low in his throat, all the while glaring daggers at the two women. He was being locked up in a small cage fit only for an animal, barely enough to let him stand straight. In addition, the cage was spelled with bolts of energy running through the bars, which made it impossible for him to even touch them.

How dare they subject him to such unjust treatment! To Duo! Couldn't they see that he and Duo were truly in love, and nothing would stop them from getting together?

Disregarding his glares and scowls, the two sorceresses stood vigilantly near him. Hirde snubbed him every chance she had, while Relena just mocked him silently with her smug looks, occasionally vocalizing a few of her snide remarks. Heero wanted to tear their guts out and feed them to the dragons, although he suspected the animals would die of food poisoning.

"Stop dreaming, commoner! Duo does not love you! How could he? He's the handsome prince, heir to the Kingdom of OZ. He is meant for greater things in his life, things you will never even think of." The dark haired witch chided spitefully, circling Heero's cage like a predator on the loose. "He was… in love with love, because… he's lonely. So he took the only person available, which, so unfortunately, was you. But that will stop from tomorrow onwards, because I'll be there for him. After tonight, he will remember naught of you! I'll make sure of that!" She ended, laughing maliciously.

The other sorceress merely looked on, shaking her head. "Really, I would have thought Duo to have better taste. Choosing a commoner to warm his bed? A woodcutter, no less! But, like Hirde said, poor Duo didn't have much of a choice." She frowned, voice dripping with pity.

They continued their gloating, rubbing salt to Heero's wounds. But amidst their crude remarks, the Asian boy noticed something peeking out from a wall, and was completely intrigued. Before he knew what was happening, the wall opened up and an obscure figure hurled two glass bottles towards the two sorceresses. The bottle smashed onto their bodies, and they collapsed suddenly with a fallen cry.

Heero gasped, and looked up at his rescuer. Somehow, he wasn't all that surprised to find Harle coming towards him. But the other figure following her shocked him. "Duo!?"

The said boy dashed towards him, his face revealing a myriad of emotions. Happiness… comfort… contentment… and love… Yes, love was the most palpable expression, shining in his eyes. "Heero!" He called, relieved that his love was unhurt. But he felt a tug on his arm that pulled him back forcefully. He turned towards his sister, confused mixed with a hint of anger.

"Wait." She answered, and walked forwards alone. Stopping a good meter from Heero, she cautiously reached out with a hand. Suddenly, sparks of light exploded out of midair and she hastily retracted her injured hand. Licking her burnt marks, she sighed, "Just az I expected. Zey," pointing to the two fallen magic casters, "had cast a magic shield around Heero'z cage. I can't get t'rough."

"What?" Duo exclaimed, brows knitted. "Sis! Think of something!"

The jester shrugged. "I'm not a sorceress or anyt'ing cloze to zat. What am I suppozed to do?" Her voice carried a tinge of impatience. However, all that edginess disappeared in a flash when Duo looked ready to cry. "Fine. I'll try moi best."

Duo nodded, biting his lips. Turning, his eyes locked with Heero's. "Don't worry, Heero. We'll get you out…"

"Aa."

Harle took a step back, and retrieved a couple of silver pellets from her side pocket. Throwing with all her might, she shot them all at once. The pellets flew through the air like a flash of light, penetrating the shield with a loud sizzling sound. With utmost accuracy, they embedded themselves into the bars that held Heero. Suddenly, the bars fell to the front with a thud, and Heero quickly scampered out. He ran towards the shield, and shouted for his love.

"Heero!" Duo cried, and fell to his feet near his lover. "Sis! The shield! Can't you break it?"

"I shall try. But you two have to get away from it first." They nodded, and moved away.

Harle, seeing that her weapon could only enter the shield and nothing more, decided to try another method. She stretched out her arms, and retracted them in a circle. Energy gathered at her fists, and she struck. "Lunar beams!"

Crescents of energy burst forth all around her, and spun towards the barrier like boomerangs. They hit it with a deafening crash, and disappeared. "Zis shield… seemz to be able to absorb all formz of energy." She noted critically, then turned towards her charge. "Duo, try a weak spell on it."

He nodded, and started to chant. Moments later, a lighting bolt zapped into view and promptly absorbed by the obstinate barrier. He grimaced. "What now?"

"Heero, Duo, I want bot' of you to cast a lig'ting spell. Make sure zey target ze same spot."

They both nodded, and went to work. Word after word flowed out of their mouths, forming a force field. Lighting sparks crawled along their outstretched arms, and at the same moment, assaulted the shield. Double bolts struck hard, but the shield refused to disappear.

"It's not working!"

The harlequin sighed deeply. "I have no other optionz, Mon Duo…"

Hearing this, Duo broke into a dead run for his love. But when his body came into contact with the magic, he stilled for a moment, and energy pulsated into him. It was like fire, blazing into his veins. He felt a sudden numbness seep into his body, and he whimpered. Suddenly, he was thrown back harshly, crashing into the nearby wall, forcing the air from his lungs.

"Duo!" Both Heero and Harle shouted, and the latter ran towards the injured boy while the former could only look on in agony. Supporting his shoulder, she frowned at the bruises already appearing on his pale skin. "Duo, don't do zat. It doez not work."

"What else can I do? I'm not going to leave Heero here!" He lashed out, and shoved her aside forcefully. She fell back onto the ground with a little exclamation of pain. Duo ignored her, and ran back to Heero, falling to his knees in front of his love. His rosebud pendent fell out from underneath his shirt, and hung there like a pendulum. Heero, likewise, did the same.

Looking at each other yet unable to touch, Duo felt more tears spring to his eyes. "Heero…"

The said boy looked back, frown marring his features. "Duo… just… leave me here. You have to go."

"No! I'm not gonna leave you!" Duo simpered, shaking his head in disbelief.

Heero sighed, "You have to. I don't want you to remain trapped here forever. Go, and find your happiness outside."

"No! I want to find happiness *with* you, because that's what you are to me!"

"You don't understand, Duo. Relena and Hirde were right about one thing. You love me because… there wasn't anyone else. If you would… just leave here, I'm sure you'll find someone else. Someone better than me." Heero lamented. It was the truth, and he knew it well. Even if it hurt to say that, he would give his love up to give him a better life.

Duo gritted his teeth. "*You* are the one who doesn't understand! I didn't love you because I hadn't a choice! I didn't love because I didn't know better! Don't undermine my love, Heero! Just because I've never fallen in love before you does not mean I don't know what love is!" Sobs racked his frame, and he glared through the tears. He was heaving heavily. "I did not choose to fall in love with you. I just fell… Love has no reasons, no boundaries! Love just happens!"

Heero stared at him, albeit taken aback, but believed him. "I… I'm sorry. I just…"

The prince hushed him. "It's okay…" Tears continued to cascade down his cheeks. One teardrop in particular, landed on his pendent.

"Duo… I love you, but…" He shook his head in desperation.

"No buts, Heero. I will get you out, no matter what. If I can't do that, then I will stay here. With you, and nowhere else. I love you."

Bittersweet, Heero smiled and nodded. Duo smiled back, amidst his tears.

Suddenly, a bright glow was emitted from below Duo. The glow was warm, cozy and… heavenly. Duo looked for the source, and was completely taken by surprise to see it coming from his pendent. Heero gaped closely, eyes widening. Before their very eyes, the rosebud shimmered, and started to squirm. The petals moved, and opened outwards slowly, but surely. Every moment was like magic. Finally, the rosebud blossomed into a fine golden rose pendent. The intense radiance disappeared, replaced by a faint twinkle.

Duo, still very much in amazement, carefully cupped the 'new' pendent. "What… happened? I felt… safe in that light… just like mum's embrace…"

Heero, in his shock, reached out for him. Gently, he gathered Duo's hands in his own, scrutinizing the rose. That touch snapped Duo out of his trance. "Heero?! How did you get out?"

In response, the cobalt-eyed boy took a sharp breath. "How…how did I…?"

A clear, dreamy voice caught their attention. "Ooh-la-la! Ze Desert Rose haz bloomed…!"

Duo and Heero's perplexed expressions prompted her to continue. "Your pendent."

"I know. But… how? I mean, how can a rosebud pendent bloom? And the shield?"

She smiled slyly. "Zis pendent… iz a treasure of your mot'er, Zechs'. It iz a charm zat can negate all spells, including death spells."

"My mother's!?"

"Yes. Zechs pazzed it to me before he…" Harle faltered for a moment, unsure of how to phrase it. "…died."

"But why did it just… bloomed now and not before?" Heero asked.

"Ze Desert Rose containz multitudes of unimaginable powers. It iz usually worn for protection. The only thing zat will trigger it iz intenze fear… or passionate, genuine love." She smirked, looking at the couple before her. "When you t'ought zat Heero could not escape wit' us, your passion touched it." She looked at Duo, then added, "So did you, Heero, when you were willing to let Duo escape and find happiness."

Duo and Heero gazed at each other, and smiled. Without another word, Heero pulled Duo close to him, hands running up and down, as though to convince himself his lover was unhurt.

"I know you two are happy, but now iz not ze time to rejoice. We have to meet up wit' ze others and get out of zis castle." Harle interrupted, and the two had the decency to blush. They quickly stood up, waiting for further instructions.

The harlequin signaled to them to follow her back into the tunnel from which she and Duo had come from.

*****

Quatre looked around his room one last time, hands grabbing his meager possessions to him tightly.

'I suppose I'll never see this place again.' He lamented. Even though this place had him imprisoned for years, there had been good times as well. He would miss the castle.

With a sigh, he stepped back into the tunnel and the wall closed up.

*****

Running into his room, Trowa immediately headed for his closet. He grabbed a small bag, and hastily stuffed a few articles of clothing inside. He didn't forget to take a few weapons and healing potions either.

Feeling pretty sure that he had enough, he turned to leave. Standing in front of the bright tunnel, he suddenly remembered. He quickly went to his desk and pulled out the drawer. An emerald, dagger-shaped pendent lay there quietly. Trowa looked at it for a moment, mind reminiscing. It was a Christmas present from his parents, back when they had been alive. Specially made, there were only two of the pendent. One for him, and one for his sister. However, the peaceful days were shattered when bandits stormed into the village, pillaging and killing everyone. His parents and friends were not spared. As luck would have for him, Queen Zechs of the OZ kingdom had been in the area, and he led his bodyguards and chased the outlaws away. However, they had arrived too late, and most of the villagers were already dead or half-dead. The guilty-laden queen adopted him then, and taken back to the palace as a companion for the prince. His sister, on the other hand, was never found.

Biting his lips, Trowa snatched the pendent, and fastened it around his neck. Without another thought, he ran back into the tunnel.

*****

Wufei had a lot of things in his room, yet he could do without many of them. With his bag in hand, he chose only his most prized belongings. A few clothing, some herbs, money and some dry food also found their way into his bag. Fastening his sword on his waist, he was ready.

Hurriedly, he dashed into the tunnel.

*****

Within minutes, all three returned to the meeting point. The horses had nothing to pack, so they had stayed put.

"Where is sis? Is she back yet?" Wufei asked.

"No." The horses shook their heads.

"Aa." A moment of silence reigned.

"What's going to happen after we escape?" Wing asked, voice so soft it was nearly inaudible if not for the complete silence.

Quatre frowned. That had been on his mind for some time now, but he had banished it, because it was unimaginable. He had been in the castle for far too long to know what went on in the outside world. Would they be able to assimilate into the lives of normal people?

"We need to get supplies, so I think we have to go to the nearest town or village first." Wufei said, analyzing the situation. "Then, we'll have to find a place to settle down, preferably in obscurity."

Trowa nodded. "We may have to leave OZ forever. Trieze should have second thoughts about bringing troops and looking for us in the other kingdoms. It could stir up unrest if the other rulers think that he is planning an attack on them."

"Anyhow, we'll be far away from this castle."

Their discussion continued until the missing trio arrived.

"Iz everyone ready?" Harle asked, watching all of her charge intently. Nods. "Very well. Come wit' moi." She motioned, and ran into the sapphire door. The rest followed wordlessly. Soon, they entered a seemingly empty room. The only thing present was a pedestal with a sphere resting on it.

"Duo, come here." She instructed, and Duo did was he was told. "Zis iz ze mechanism zat enablez ze castle to teleport itself wit'in ze desert. We need to change ze position of ze castle nearer to civilization now. Zen, by ze next morning, it would teleport again to somewhere else. Zat way, we'll have an advantage over Mon Trieze."

The prince nodded. "So how do we go about it?"

"Mon Trieze never expected you to find zis place, so he made it in such a way zat only you can activate it. I found it by chance, and constructed a tunnel here." She explained. "Place your hand on it, Duo. And convey your message to ze orb. Tell it zat we need to be closer to a village or town."

This Duo did, and within moments, they were at the edge of the desert. Satisfied, they moved swiftly through the tunnels, finally reaching the main gate of the castle. Pushing hard, the gates opened, and they broke free.

Finally, after five years in incarceration, they were finally free.

*****

Morning came and went by. It was late afternoon when the people in the castle begin to wake. To their horror, their prince and captives had all escaped without a trace. It was especially terrifying for the guards who notified the king, who did not disappoint anyone by putting most of the guards to death.

"This is atrocious!!" He shouted, slamming one hand onto a table. It rattled loudly in protest. "How could this happen? Relena, Hirde, explain yourselves!"

The two sorceresses sneaked a glance at the other nervously. They had never seen the king so consumed with rage before. Clearing her throat fretfully, Relena spoke first, "They had used sleeping potions on all of us, so…"

"So!? You two are sorceresses!"

Hirde squirmed. "Indeed we are. But we are not immune to spells of that fashion."

"And what about the death spell on Duo? They must have removed it to escape! How!? You two had assured me it was unbreakable!"

"We suspect Harle did it. She seems to be a magic user as well…" Relena trailed off. "…But we aren't sure yet. We'll try our best to check it out."

"Get out now!" Trieze shouted, and the two were more than happy to comply. Once alone, he fell into a cushioned chair like a deflated balloon. Grimly, he thought to himself, 'My dear son… Father will bring you back here. I will kill those who led you astray! Harle, even if Zechs doted on you when he was alive, I'll make sure you regret the day you made Duo turn against me!'

Sorceress Fantasia @ 3rd August 2002

Author's notes: Sorry this chapter took so long to come out! I wanted to write earlier, but a lot of things happened to me and my computer. Not to mention the devil's spawns a.k.a. teachers who are giving me hell in school. Hopefully, I'll be able to get the next chapter up in a month or two.