She heard screams. The clash of metal. The rumbling of the earth. The crackling of fire.
There was a man in the middle of it all. Clad in armour, splattered with blood. Everything around him withered and died. The very earth underneath his feet turned bleak and barren whenever he took a step.
She could see herself, as if her spirit had left her body and was hovering over her form. She was standing there, surrounded by the carnage, watching their futile attempts to stop him.
When there were no more opponents, he turned to her.
As he raised his head, his fair fell out of his face, revealing crimson eyes staring right at her.
Sakura opened her eyes and lazily let her gaze follow the sparrow that had just awoken her by flapping its wings right next to her ear. It inspected her curiously, cocked its head to the right, and took off again.
Sakura let out a sigh observing the little bird, wishing that she too, could let herself be carried away by the soft caress of the wind. Alas, she was bound to her own little bird cage. A splendid and luxurious one, granted, but a cage nonetheless. Her mother Tsunade had made it undoubtedly clear over the years that Sakura was the most precious thing in the universe to her and that she would watch over like a hawk watching over its unhatched eggs. To Sakura's chagrin, she did just that.
The young woman was aware that she was weaker than most and that her mother's constant attention wasn't entirely unwarranted. But Tsunade was so adamant in her care that she did not even once let Sakura leave her palace and explore what was on the other side of its ivory gates.
Maybe it has something to do with that dream I always have, Sakura thought to herself. She confronted her mother many times about the man with the crimson eyes she kept seeing in the dark hours of the night, yet she never received an answer. Whenever she brought up her dream, Sakura would witness her mother's form stiffen a little, as if she were anticipating an ambush any second. Her caramel brown eyes that usually shone with unshakable pride and courage would show just a slight hint of fear. Tsunade would always regain her composure, though, pat her daughter on the head, and say that her mind was far too bright to occupy it with just one tiny little dream.
The pinkette sighed, got up from the balcony she fell asleep on, and headed towards her mother's chambers. Sauntering through the high halls of her mother's palace, she thought to herself that maybe today was the day she finally got some answers. For some reason, Sakura had the feeling that this day was special. Like something immensely important had happened on this day in the past. Or something immensely important was yet to happen on this day today.
Smoothing out the wrinkles of her silk dress, she came to a halt in front of the wooden doors leading into her mother's spacious office. As always, Tsunade, being renowned for her impeccable perception, had sensed beforehand she was coming and told her daughter to enter just as Sakura was about to knock.
Pushing the heavy doors open was always straining for Sakura, given her generally weak condition. Yet her mother insisted on having her do straining tasks like these on a regular basis, in the hopes of building up her strength. Sakura had obediently been doing that for as long as she can remember, but nothing helped to counter the constant frailty she seemed to be carrying around with her like iron shackles weighing her down.
Sitting down on a cushion in front of her mother, she placed the book she had just read on the low desk separating the two of them, and whispered, "I finished it." The older blonde was busy writing, not once looking up from the brush she guided across the piece of parchment. "And, did you like it?"
"It was exciting. But not as exciting as that dream I had again."
A crack could be heard as the brush suddenly snapped in two. Her mother cursed under her breath, sighed, and placed the broken brush next to the parchment, careful not to let any ink drop on the document. Caramel brown eyes looked up and scrutinised the pink-haired girl in annoyance. "How many times do I have to tell you this, child? That dream of yours is just that: a dream. We all have much more important issues to think about than dreams, and that includes you."
"Easy for you to say, you've been the goddess of healing for ages. Kakashi has been the god of lightning since forever. Naruto has been the god of friendship for as long as I can think. What am I the goddess of? What is my purpose? What should I occupy my oh-so-bright mind with?"
"For some gods their purpose is obvious from the beginning. For others, it takes time to be revealed. You are still young, the youngest of all the dawn gods, in fact. You haven't even begun to crawl and yet you already want to run." Sakura snorted and turned her head in annoyance. As if she hadn't heard that a million times already.
It was true, with her 500 years she was a child among the gods. But out of all the other deities she knew, there was not a single one who had to wait this long for their true purpose to reveal itself.
A look of helplessness settled on Sakura's fair features; a look Tsunade was only too familiar with. She had to see it time and time again whenever she was forced to rebuff her daughter's attempts at finding out more than she should.
But today was Sakura's birthday, the blonde goddess remembered, so she decided to turn a blind eye on her usual reticence.
Clearing her throat to get her daughter's attention, she spoke, "I know you will not rest until I satisfy at least a tiny part of that endless curiosity of yours. So I will tell you a story that you do not know yet, as a gift for your birthday."
Sakura's face still showed the same sulkiness, but Tsunade saw her ears perk up in attentiveness.
"On this day, exactly 500 years ago, I heard a human couple pray to me. They said they found a baby in the woods that morning, but it was weak. Its skin was pale, and it was shivering and coughing. Being the good-natured people they are, they took the baby in, clothed it, fed it, sat it by the fire. All day, they took care of the baby, trying to build up its strength, hoping it would last the night. When they realised it wouldn't, they prayed to the goddess of healing to help the baby. I gazed upon the child and realised there was much more to it than meets the eye. What I sensed then was not human weakness, but the essence of divinity. So instead of healing the baby, I decided to take it with me instead and to raise it as my own. And 500 years later that baby has grown into the most beautiful, albeit stubborn young lady to ever grace the face of the heavens."
The pout had left Sakura's face by now and was replaced by eager interest.
Although she knew that she was not Tsunade's actual daughter, her mother had never told her how exactly she came under her care. This was the very first time her mother had divulged anything about how she found her or the day she came into existence.
Replaying the story in her mind, Sakura could feel the gears in her head spinning. She looked up at her mother curiously and asked, "You told me once that divine entities emerge as a result of something. Suffering spawns the goddess of healing. Inequity spawns the god of justice. There is always a catalyst for the existence of every god and goddess directly related to their purpose. What was the catalyst for my existence? What happened 500 years ago that spawned me?"
There it was again, Sakura realised. That sudden stiffness, that flash of fear in her mother's eyes that she would only see when she asked about her recurring dream. Tsunade sighed, grabbed another brush from the holder, and dipped it in ink before continuing to write her unfinished document. "Enough story telling now. I believe there are still some unread books scrolls at the library for you to sift through."
Sakura wasn't going to get any more answers today, she realised; the river of her mother's talkativeness had ebbed away. Sighing in defeat, she rose from her position and headed towards her chambers. Sakura had a feeling, however, that she was not going to sleep tonight.
That nagging premonition about this day being a special one just would not go away. Whatever important event she was expecting to happen had to occur tonight. And so, she would wait for it.
His time had finally come, he couldfeel it.
After centuries of unjust imprisonment, he was going to return at last, and with him an insatiable hunger for vengeance.
What fools they had all been to think they could have sealed him away for all eternity. A foolishness they were going to regret bitterly as soon as he broke free from his banishment.
Just a little longer, he thought, and the seal would be weak enough for him to dispel.
Tonight, he decided, he would wreak havoc upon the heavens.
Note: New idea, new setting, new pairing. I hope you like it. Depending on the feedback I get on this, I might wrap it up in a few chapters or actually make it a more in-depth and extensive fanfic. So reviews are always welcome. :)