Title: Peace Children prologue
Author: Zillie
Pairings: eventual 1+2 and 3+4, possibly others
Category: AU Fantasy
Archive: who, me? too lazy to do it meself.
Rating: probably pg-13. Fairly innocuous.
Warnings: um. yaoi. fantasy. Fairly Relena sympathetic in places. There WILL BE an Original Character who DIES. There may be lemony fresh moments!
Spoilers: None, baby! It's AU!
Dedication: to Mel -- feel better, sweetie!

Peace Children + Prologue

The king's lips tightened. Other than that he showed no reaction to the news that might destroy his kingdom and his way of life. All he said was, "are you sure?"

The spymaster stared at the floor. "Yes, sire."

"How long has it been gone?"

The spymaster knew his life could end with a single glance at the warrior beside him. "We are not sure, sire. We simply know that the one we possess -- is not the true one."

"Who knows this?" the king asked.

"I, sire. The General. One of my most trusted men. Yourself, and the Princess." He wondered if that was a good idea -- the child was no more than fifteen, after all.

"No more will learn," the King decreed, "because we will regain the original."

Startled, the spy glanced up, then quickly down again. "Yes, sire."

"Your majesty," the general said, "but what if we do not?"

"Failure is not an option," the king decreed.

"Sire, the item could be anywhere. We have no idea what it may look like -- how it may be hidden. If any of the clans learned -- if Oz learned -- "

The king looked down his regal nose at his advisor. "Oz will not learn. Their new king, this Treize, he may be a worthy successor to his father-in-law but he is still young. As far as he knows, we are as powerful as ever."

"But the Clans, my lord. If any hint -- you know how they fight amongst themselves."

The king nodded. "I do indeed, which is why we will now implement a plan that we have been considering for some time. The heir of each clan will journey to Our court, to keep Our sweet daughter company. These peace children will meet here in a time no less than three weeks from today. Send messengers immediately -- each child may bring no more than two companions, and each child will bring a gift for the Princess. If we cannot command peace from their parents, we will instill it in these children."

"An excellent plan, my lord, but these children you speak of are already old enough to have the old hatreds instilled in them," the General pointed out. "They all already have their own loyalties and hatreds."

"We have spoken; Our will be done," the king commanded, and, recognizing that for the dismissal it was, the spymaster and the General bowed and left.

When they had gone the princess turned to her father. He was staring out the window. He noticed her attention and sighed. "Well, Relena, I am putting a burden on your shoulders, I fear."

Impulsively she put a hand on his shoulder. "We will find it, Father. We will find the weapon."

+

"To the palace?" She laughed. "You must be kidding. Me?"

"My lady Catherine," the messenger said nervously, eyeing the lions the Lady moved confidently among, "The king has spoken. You are to remove yourself to the palace immediately."

"For how long?" Catherine, heiress of the Wanderer Clan, asked bluntly.

"The king did not speak on that matter, sweet Lady," the messenger said, wondering what precisely that smell was. "You are allowed two companions, and urged to make haste."

Catherine turned back to her lions. "I see."

+

"As you know, your highness, there are nine clans in the Sanc Kingdom," her father's advisor told Relena. She put on her "attentive face."

"The first is the Odin Clan. They send their heir Heero for my lady's companion. The Odin Clan is a warrior clan, one of your father's strongest defenses."

Who would have stolen it? She smiled sweetly at the man -- G, he was called -- and tried to think of who wished the kingdom disorder and chaos. There was Oz, of course -- the neighboring country was larger, and had in the past been expansion-oriented. They had been treacherous in their dealings with Sanc before.

"My lord Heero will have been taught to control himself to an extreme, yet will be open to his emotions. The Odin place great value on emotion, believing truth to be something felt rather than proven."

Yet the spymaster had seemed to think that the Weapon had been missing for some time.

"The second-formed Clan is the Marquise Clan."

Relena stopped her thoughts, wondering if G would actually tell her what everybody knew but no one dared mention.

"The heir of the clan is known as Zechs, and he inherits from his mother," G said, and moved on.

Relena hid her disappointment. She, like much of the court, had her suspicions. . . but they would wait.

"The third formed clan is the Wanderer Clan. They formed when a wandering group -- Gypsies, if you will -- were honored with name and clan status after saving the kingdom from catastrophe. They are still known for their, um, free-thinking."

Relena smiled politely. Everyone knew that the Wanderers were uncivilized brutes.

"The Lady Catherine will undoubtedly prove an interesting addition to court life."

Relena found herself hoping that the Lady Catherine would wear bear skins and swing from chandeliers. That would prove interesting.

"The fourth-formed clan is the great Winner Clan. There is also a Winner Clan in Oz, and one in Mercia, and one in. . . ."

And surely, Relena thought, resuming her earlier train of thought, if Oz had the Weapon they would surely march on Sanc? She knew little about the new king, Treize, only that he had married the princess and taken over after her father's death two years before, displacing the king's young son. As she remembered, one reason he had been able to do this was that the prince had not been the son of the king's wife, but of a Sanc concubine. So instead of a prince they had given the throne to a Clan son. She shrugged to herself. Oz was a strange, strange country.

"From all reports Honored Quatre is a nice person."

That stopped her for a minute. A nice person? What kind of description was that? Hadn't he just finished telling her about the known power and wealth of the Winner Clan -- possibly exceeding the power and wealth of her own father? The limits of the Winner family's reach was not known. And the heir, the Honored Son (typical of these desert people to pass over dozens of perfectly good girls for the one boy) was a Nice Person? She resolved to keep her eye on this Quatre.

"The fifth clan will have ties to the Winners -- Honored Quatre's mother was a Reberba. They are a small, reserved clan. Not much is known. They send to you their daughter Faiza."

Reserved -- Relena thought of the common expression, tricky as a Reberba. And to be Quatre Winner's half sister -- or was it his first cousin? In either case, she could not rule out either of them. Which brought her to her conclusion. One of the Clans had stolen the Weapon.

"The sixth clan is also a warrior clan, known as the Dragon. They are a clan of the far north, of the mountain ranges. Their son Wufei is said to be a fair warrior. They believe passionately in justice, my lady -- I hope you can count on justice from them." And if they thought her father unjust, would they steal his greatest power? Would the Winners seek to extend their power -- the Wanderers take revenge for the slights they must receive constantly? The Odin -- would these perfect soldiers seek the perfect weapon? Or the Marquise -- from all stories her father had slighted them, years ago. They might feel that it was only right that they -- that their son Zechs -- receive the king's inheritance.

"The seventh clan split from the Dragons three centuries ago, over some small matter that they will not discuss. They are neighbors, but they will have nothing to do with each other. They send their daughter Meiran for your highness's pleasure."

Relena smiled, even more sweetly. There were always reports of the Nataku and the Dragons fighting over some small matter. Would one or the other have tried to win once and for all with the Weapon?

"The eighth clan is called the Maxwell. They were founded by a holy man who took in orphaned children after the War of the Flowers. They are known for their good works, and for their merchants. They send their daughter Hilde to you."

Relena imagined Hilde -- weren't all Maxwells greedy and grasping? They were only known for their charity work because the books said so. She could count on a nice gift from this Hilde, at least. The thought made her smile sparkle just a bit more.

"The ninth clan is called that -- Noin. They are the final clan by the king's decree. They send their daughter, Lucrezia, to court."

The man bowed. Relena rose. "We thank you, kind sir," she said. "We are sure that your information will help us welcome these Peace Children to court." And, having heard the same bloody information for the millionth time and thanked him for it again, she swept out of the room. After all, she was a princess. She would be queen one day -- she would, gods willing, wield the weapon.

Which brought her back to the biggest question of all -- why had it not been used?

What were they waiting for?

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