Chapter 1: Captured
Dawn broke out over the sad remains of the late King Fujitaka's kingdom. The once beautiful palace now was gloomy and forbidding. Death had visited the kingdom once ruled by the Kinomotos, death, war, destruction…
Wrapped up in their own grief, none noticed a young girl roaming the streets, her royal robe was torn and filthy, blood pouring from wounds inflicted upon her from the assault on the palace. Her tiara had fallen off and was probably lying on the ground near her once beloved home.
She roamed her kingdom, sadly watching the fates of her once faithful subjects.
The members of the court were thrown into the dungeons, or tortured to death.
What became of her father, she never knew…yet the odds were against his surviving the initial attack.
Her brother…it was confirmed that he had been thrown into the dungeons, never again to see the light of day.
It had been hardest on the children. Children whose parents had been ravaged before their very eyes, children whose lives had been destroyed, children who no longer had a place in society…
One child was on the run from the kingdom's officials…
The daughter of King Fujitaka and Queen Nadeshiko had escaped.
And the kingdom that had conquered and added the Kinomoto kingdom to their own, would never tolerate the last, surviving Kinomoto to live…
Sakura Kinomoto was on the run!
And the Li King was after her!
A similar dawn broke over the Li kingdom, which had been known as, ten years before, the Kinomoto kingdom.
In ten years, the appearance of the kingdom had changed…
The war-torn palace had been rebuilt, this time with the symbol of the Li family adorning everything.
The market was busy; civilians from the Li kingdom were busy buying food…
And then…beyond the outskirts of the kingdom, were the poor.
Those who had once been living in the Kinomoto kingdom, were never allowed to set foot inside the Li's kingdom. They were cruelly banished, to live their lives away from society…
They were the dregs of the kingdom, pulled out of their homes to do the most menial of tasks for little pay, the lives of those which had been turned into a living hell…those who had been harbouring a hate for the King of the Li kingdom deep within their hearts…
And through the efforts of one girl alone, the spark of hatred for the Lis had been fanned into a flame of deepest revulsion…
The long-lost princess of the former Kinomoto kingdom…had been found.
All sorts of people were involved in the Resistance. Everyone from the nobility to everyday civilians were involved in this intricate plan laid down by Her Highness Princess Sakura herself.
Sakura's family had created a shelter, a place armed with weapons and stocked with food, with secret passages leading to everywhere in the kingdom and stocked with the wealthiest, most coveted possessions in the Kinomoto kingdom. Such a place, was where the princess had decided to hold her Resistance headquarters.
She cut an elegant figure. Ten years in hiding had changed her. The short, chubby, blue-eyed, blonde princess with the cheery smile was gone. In her stead, stood a proud, emerald-eyed, auburn-haired slim girl of considerable height and a stern face. Normally clad in a simple tunic that brought out her eyes, she always carried her father's sword, buckled on a belt tied in sash fashion across her back. Though none had seen her fabled swordplay, it was assumed that there were none to cross blades with the last of the Kinomoto line.
This evening was different.
This evening marked the tenth year of Li rule. The tenth year for the eighteen-year-old to stare at her former kingdom hidden in the trees.
It marked the end of a full two years since the Resistance was started. And the members of the Resistance were celebrating a successful mission completed. Sakura had been forced to dress for the occasion. Her "executives" of the Resistance, Tomoyo, Chiharu and Rika had forced her into an elegant kimono which had once belonged to her mother. It was made of heavy red satin, embroidered with gold thread. Her long, auburn hair had been swept back into a simple ponytail. A tiara had been placed on her head. Yet, her father's sword, with the red and gold hilt and scabbard still was buckled to her back.
Sakura noticed something very odd. The Mona Lisa hung on the wall opposite her. The eyes seemed to be watching her.
She shrugged it off. The Mona Lisa had been famous for that feeling of the eyes always watching...yet…
Sakura stared at the eyes. In the place of the Mona Lisa's black eyes, these eyes were amber!
It was as if everything had happened in slow motion.
"…and so," Tomoyo was saying, "the guard asked me who I was and then – "
"Tomoyo, duck your head!" Sakura cried, as Tomoyo ducked and an arrow sped straight at Sakura's face, who whipped her sword out and deflected it. At the same time, about two dozen Li soldiers clad in green filed into the room.
"Run for it!" Sakura commanded. There were quite a few with swords, who immediately parried the soldiers' strokes. Sakura disarmed one, injured two and killed three as she ran to her comrades-in-arms as they were putting up a good fight.
"The moment I give the word," she muttered, "you all run, and I'll hold the rest off."
"But – " Tomoyo protested, but Sakura was firm about her word.
"Stand by now," Sakura muttered, as she parried with three soldiers. "NOW!"
The ten Resistance members disappeared, leaving Sakura alone with her back against the wall, fighting six soldiers who were closing in on her.
"Cowards," Sakura said, disarming one, whose sword hung limply in his hand. She grabbed the blade and with her palm dripping with blood, ran him through.
"All right, who's next?" she challenged, brandishing the two swords.
Three soldiers ran at her. Sakura lashed at them with lightning speed. Two lay dead, one was stunned.
"Any more cowards willing to fight?" Sakura demanded. The two remaining soldiers shrugged.
"You won't fight?" Sakura asked mockingly. They backed away from her.
The two swords left Sakura's hands. She had flung them both at the soldiers, where they had found their mark. One had stabbed the soldier through the head, the other had buried itself in the other's chest.
Sakura shook her head slightly, and gazed around at the limp bodies scattering the floor of the Resistance headquarters. She stared at her sword which had pierced the man through his chest. She walked over to the man and knelt by him and slowly extricated the sword from his chest and wiped the blood off the sword using the man's emerald green cloak.
All of a sudden, she felt something cold graze the back of her neck.
"So," a cold male voice said, "this is where the last remaining Kinomoto had hidden for ten years."
Sakura could see everything reflected in her sword. There was a tall figure standing behind her, dressed in green robes, and his swordtip was grazing Sakura's neck.
Suddenly, in a lightning fast motion, Sakura's hand closed around the swordhilt and she swung the sword against the one grazing her neck. The sword grazing her neck left her neck for a split-second, which was all she needed. She swung up and faced the man.
He was obviously the cruel king Syaoran Li himself. He could be no other. Who else would be wearing a crown studded with emeralds? His amber eyes were laughing maliciously at her, and his skill at swordplay could be matched only by hers.
He parried her blade.
"Temper," he sneered. "I happened to witness your victory back there."
"I don't wonder," Sakura spat. "It only stands to reason that the king of cowards would direct his battles from behind."
"It's a strategy," he said. "It explains why I am still going to be alive after this."
"Oh no you won't!"
Sakura swung her sword out of the king's parry.
"I've heard a lot about you, Syaoran," she said scathingly. "I remember the day well when your army deceived ours and snuck the rule of the kingdom by deceit. My father…"
"…was killed in battle. I killed him myself," the king said.
"Really?" Sakura said. "I'm surprised a coward like you dared to even set a foot in battle. I've heard from better warriors than yourself who witnessed his death. He was surrounded by twelve soldiers, and his back was unprotected. Then, someone dared bring him down with arrows!"
She looked at him contemptuously.
"You are the scum of the Earth, Syaoran. You couldn't outdo him in swordplay, so you brought him down with arrows!"
And she swung her sword at him, but he parried.
"And then, there was Touya," she said, her eyes like chips of green ice, "who you left to rot in your dungeons!"
"True," Syaoran agreed. "I've killed off your family…except your mother, who was so weak, she died before I could kill her!"
Sakura's voice quivered with rage.
"At least she could make herself a place in heaven, but where will you go, Syaoran? You've made yourself so hated, that even the devils will throw you out of hell!"
She had struck a nerve, for it was Syaoran who swung the sword, only to have Sakura block it with her own.
She grabbed the hilt with both hands and swung the blade out of the locked parry. She thrust forward, aiming for his heart, but Syaoran parried, and then, he aimed for her neck, but with a flick of her wrist, she had nearly disarmed him – nearly.
"You're good with a blade," Syaoran said. "But I've got news for you."
"I know you're right-handed!" Sakura snapped, and aimed at his arm.
"Most unfortunately, your right hand is wounded," Syaoran said. "Pity. It would have made you a better swordsman."
Sakura paused, her face contorted into rage. "You haven't bested me yet – "
That pause had been all Syaoran had needed. With a flick of his sword, he sent Sakura's sword spinning on the cold floor, and forced her on the ground on all fours.
"You're too insolent to live," Syaoran said menacingly, sword pointing above her neck.
"Then kill me!" Sakura spat. "I should have known that only you would attempt such a low move. But then, the only way you can kill me is if you're carrying a weapon, and I'm not. Coward."
Sakura suddenly felt two pairs of arms grab her arms. Before she knew it, two soldiers had a hold of an arm each, and Sakura found herself struggling against their iron grips.
"Yes," came Syaoran's voice from somewhere above her, "I am a coward. Yet, you are too fine a creature to kill outright. I will teach you obedience – "
"You can't teach me anything, you spineless, weak, arrogant, conceited – " Sakura started, but one arm clamped around her mouth.
"I can't, can't I?" Syaoran asked, a hint of amusement coming into his voice. "We shall see, dear Sakura – "
Sakura violently bit the hand that muffled her. There was a shout and the man withdrew his hand, which was bleeding.
"Violent, aren't you? Come, let us go. Hiragiwaza, you know what to do with this place," Syaoran said. The two men dragged Sakura off, with her struggling like a wildcat.
"Your Majesty!" one of them called. "It's impossible! This one's got spunk, she has!"
Syaoran's lip curled. Drawing a vial from his robes, he tossed it to the guard.
"Open wide," he sneered as he pinched Sakura's nose. She held out for a long time…two minutes…
Sakura's eyes glazed over. The world swam in front of her eyes…the stars were dancing in front of her eyes…
…she felt so dizzy…
The last thing she remembered were the cruel amber eyes laughing at her before everything went dark.
Disclaimer: I own nothing
A/N: I think that was of an appropriate length. This isn't gonna be easy, since I'm working on three stories at once, and school's coming round next Tuesday, and I might not update fer a while…
Review, review, review!