Pre-rant/Disclaimer: I haven't abandoned the story. Touya ran away and locked himself in his trailer with Yukito joining him, after reading the script... That said, I don't own CCS. I wouldn't mind Tomoyo-sama singing for me...
Sadame no Tsubasa : Wings of Destiny
Chapter 6 : Reflections of the Soul
The palace was shrouded in darkness. Not even a beam of moonlight peeked through the endless dark clouds above. None of the torches, normally bright with magical flames, were lit. It was through the darkening night that one man made his way towards the stables outside the palace. Upon reaching the door, he found it slightly ajar. Frowning, he cupped his right hand. A small orb of glowing light sparked into existence. With his left, he shoved the stable door outward and then tossed the glowing orb into the open portal. The ball suddenly multiplied into a hundred weak points of light, dimly illuminating the stable's interior.
"Show yourself!" Yukito yelled, as he materialized his staff and entered the stable. His guard immediately lowered when he finally recognized the turbulent magical aura of the black-clad figure turning to face him— revealing a grim-looking Touya. Gone were the blues and whites of his normal dress, now it was completely pitch black. Even the form-fitting breastplate, he noted, was black, blending well with his clothing in the dim light. The sword he received from Yue hung from his belt, the pink scabbard and white-leather wrapped hilt contrasting sharply with the dark attire.
"So you are leaving," Yukito stated more than asked. Silence was the older man's answer, as Touya turned back around to continue loading his horse with a pair of hastily packed bags. A corner of dark crimson cloth peeked out of one pack. Yukito sighed and strode over to the silent prince, and forcibly turned him around. "Touya, listen to me. You'll die out there. She's too strong, too heartless. With your father sick as he is and Sakura gone, if you perish..."
Touya closed his eyes for a few moments before flashing Yukito a small smile. "It won't be anything hard. I'll just have to wake her up. You know how Sakura always naps... she's just sleepwalking. A good shake'll snap her out of it." He turned and mounted his horse, slowly leading them out of the stables. Yukito followed him out to the stable doors, and with a flick of his wrist, sent the small glowing orbs to surround the departing Prince so they could light his way. Yukito remained, watching until the dim lights disappeared in the distance to the west.
"Return soon, and with good news for your father." He then turned around to gaze towards the palace, almost indiscernable from the skies. "If you pass on, my liege, this peace will surely leave with you." Composing himself, Yukito slowly made his way back to the side of his lord.
A stray raindrop suddenly struck Touya's nose, causing him to look up dubiously at the dark clouds above. He cursed inwardly as he continued urging his mount towards the end of the crystalline gorge. It was an old memory that drew him to that place, where the Satei river carved its way through the rock and crystal to form a sparkling, almost eternal, waterfall. The water cascaded down a hundred feet to the shimmering basin below, eventually flowing into the lake that surrounded the palace. It was much unlike today, where the normally bright and colorful lights refracting from the crystal formations were now dim and hazy. 'A time long has past,' he thought with a frown. He shook his head to clear his thoughts.
'I said I'd get Sakura back, but with what Yue told me, is it even possible?' Touya narrowed his eyes. 'No, nobody is invincible. But...'
"Touya-niichan!" A voice sang out from above him, startling him enough for him to slip off the saddle. An amused chuckle caused him to glare at Sakura – 'No, Nekane,' he snapped at himself -- who was fluttering just out of reach with her pitch-black wings keeping her aloftShe grinned broadly, with her dull red eyes glued upon him. "Ne, ne, Touya-niichan! Yue must've told you, right? I think I felt him hiding again sometime last night, but now you're here... ooh! And with some new clothes!" Touya wasn't sure if she was talking about the bags, or himself. Nonetheless, he stood and brushed the dirt off himself before moving to his pack.
Fumbling with the straps keeping the pack closed, Touya finally opened the pack and quickly tossed a tightly balled bundle of white cloth at his sister. "You're cold, aren't you? Here!" She scowled at both Touya and the flying bundle of cloth, before swinging an arm out and across her body. The bundle expanded and fanned apart, the heavy white cloak releasing the rest of its contents. The clothes were settling into a ring around her as Nekane eyed the first few pieces. Her white leather boots, a pair of elbow-length white gloves, another white belt. Her eyes widened at the last piece. A sleeveless, crimson dress floated before her, with slits along the sides up to upper thighs. Gold threading lined the collar, and edges of the dress, while along the bottom was a trio of embroidered cherry blossoms in full bloom.
"You're the best!" Nekane praised as she floated towards the opposite bank, the clothes following suit. As soon as she landed, she dispelled her wings. Touya was about to follow, but soon his eyes were everywhere but on her as she started pulling the sundress off herself, her back facing him. Twitching, he turned back to start removing the bags from the tired, chestnut mare. The rustling of cloth nearby kept him relatively sane, as he continued to mutter prayers to Clow for guidance and, most importantly, to get his real sister back.
"Ne, Touya-niichan..." Nekane's voice cut into his thoughts. He glanced over at her, immediately thankful she finished putting on her dress and boots, 'though her back was still turned. She slipped the gloves on. "Those worthless people around the old man, who were they?"
Touya's voice dropped a few degrees. "They were friends who keep us safe."
"Hnnn..." Nekane turned around as she threw the cloak around her shoulders and fiddled with the clasp. "What's the point if they're weak? The old man put up more of a fuss than they did."
"Stop it, Sakura!"
"I'm not Sakura, Touya-nii," Nekane coolly replied as she shook her head. "I know you're more perceptive than that. Or would you rather I be all cheerful and oh-so-lovingly call you 'Onii-chan'? What rubbish." She spat on the ground, even as tears started to well in her eyes. "Only Clow-sama treated me like I was special. Even now, you're looking at me like I'm trash. Is that how you treat your sister?"
"You are not my sister. She wouldn't willingly hurt dad or anyone else like you did."
Nekane lowered her head at the proclamation, bangs covering her eyes, as an unshed tear ran down her cheek. 'It's just like last night...' A sense of urgency wormed its way into his voice. "Sakura! I know you're in there! You're stronger than this! Fight!" Moments slipped by. Touya's hope soared as she started wiping her eyes.
"... fine then. I'll fight." Touya's face fell as she lowered her hands, revealing an icy, ruby-eyed glare. "You're no longer my brother to me, Touya-nii." Her black wings flared into existence as she grabbed onto the sheathed sword hanging from her belt. "Yue told you. Where is Clow-sama?"
He took a step back, as he also reflexively grabbed at the sword at his waist. At the unfamiliar feel of the scabbard, he glanced down briefly before looking back up at Nekane. She hadn't moved an inch. 'Damn! I forgot to test this new sword out. But if what Yue told me is true, then it should be okay.' Aloud he stated, "He didn't tell me anything."
"You lie," Nekane accused, "I'll beat it out of you if I have to." The scrape of metal sounded clearly as a flash of silver streaked into her hand. As Touya drew his own sword, she looked surprised when she noted the unfamiliar, pinkish-gold blade. Her surprised expression settled into an unreadable grin. "New sword? I didn't know you liked pink."
"I don't," Touya grated out, "Sakura's coming back with me."
"Didn't I tell you? She's here, with me. But you can't have her back." 'No more!' Nekane flinched at the foreign thought. "Now now, Sakura. We don't want to kill him yet." She narrowed her eyes as she swung her sword to the side. "Or at least… not until he tells me. So… where is Clow-sama?"
'She really means it,' he thought. A crack of thunder echoed throughout the gorge, as brother warily regarded sister. He leveled his sword at her. "I'm not leaving until Sakura's back. And neither are you," he declared.
"Oh, don't worry. I'm not leaving till I get answers, Touya-nii," Nekane assured him before looking up at the dark, rolling clouds above. The rain started falling upon them both, the water mingling with Sakura's tears. "The skies are crying for our love," she murmured.
A small pair of white wings flared into existence on Touya's back as he made a quick gesture with his free hand. Tendrils of water spun out and away from him, all converging on the distracted Nekane. However, she continued staring up at the skies even as she spun around and severed each tendril before flying upwards. Not to be dismayed, Touya clenched his fist, causing the tendrils to swirl into each other to form a lance of water. He gestured toward Nekane, and, as if guided by his hand, the lance spiraled up at her.
She raised her free hand as if to block the incoming projectile with it. When it struck, the water instead split and spiraled around her to form a loose, bubble-like prison. Never lifting her gaze from Touya, she whispered: "Kaze yo..." The bubble soon formed into an opaque white shell before exploding in a spray of icy shards, revealing a sweetly smiling Nekane. That smile fast turned into a manaical grin.
"Ne, Touya-nii. If you're trying to capture me, it's not going to work," she called down to him, as if lecturing a child. Touya soon found himself stumbling back, as she suddenly dove from the sky, landing just before him. "Tell me! Where! Is! He?!" She accentuated each word with a swipe of her sword. He struggled to regain his footing while parrying each strike. But, just as suddenly as she started, Nekane relented on her attacks and floated back up into the air, allowing Touya to regain his footing on the muddy bank. Half of her face was crunched into a scowl, her left hand clutching at her head. He glanced at her wings – they seemed lighter, but he wasn't sure.
'She not only moves faster, but her strikes are more powerful than Sakura's,' he thought. His mind flashed back to the water prison. 'Opening or not, I can't let this opportunity pass. Fight her, Sakura!'
Touya crouched briefly before leaping up at Nekane, sword extended for a stab. Her eyes suddenly focused in on him, and she swung her sword, knocking his sword away to the side. Still scowling, she then brought her free hand up, palm facing him.
He hastily formed a round shield before himself, just as a blast of gale-force winds barreled into him. The winds easily broke through the half-formed shield, sending Touya slamming into the side of the gorge. Blood spurt into the air as he coughed it out on impact. Crystal shards and mud clods fell to the river bank below while Touya pushed himself out of the earthen, Touya-shaped depression. 'I'm suddenly glad I wore this armor,' he thought as he grabbed his sword and wiped the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand. Stabbing the blade into the mud, he used it to push himself up onto his feet. The girl floating a few feet away regarded him with narrowed eyes.
"It doesn't have to be this painful, Touya-nii. Just tell me where my Clow-sama is. Sakura will be happier this way," Nekane reasoned.
Touya opted to not reply, instead he leaped at her with his sword drawn back. Nekane sighed. With a flick of her wrist, she negligently sent another blast of wind at her brother. Her eyes widened as a bluish shield formed and redirected the blast to his side. 'He deflected it?!'
"Sakura!" Touya stabbed at her side, hoping to catch the edge of her clothes, so that he could pull her down and take away her greatest advantage – her mobility. What he did not expect was for her to spin into the path of his sword as her own blade flashed low. He gasped harshly, brokenly, as it slipped just below his breastplate and into his stomach up to the hilt, the blade extruding from his back. His own sword was similarly buried into her stomach. A mix of pain and surprise crossed his face, as he looked at Nekane's smiling face.
"I'm tired of waiting. I'll just go and ask Yue again, now that I'm better dressed," Nekane whispered as she gazed deep into Touya's eyes. "You look surprised. I'll tell you something good, Touya-nii. Clow's sword follows its user's wishes. What he wants cut, it cuts. What he doesn't want cut, it doesn't cut."
She kicked Touya off her sword and towards the ground several feet below her. Pain clouded his eyes as the sword sliced out through his gut only for him to fall back towards the unyielding earth below. Even as his body impacted the ground, Nekane dove right after him, pinning him to the ground by driving her sword through him once again. Blood flowed away from his stomach, the rain creating reddish rivulets to trail away from him. He could only stare up at her, at her stomach and the the whole, uncut dress. As he defiantly lifted up his sword, it slipped from his fingers as he saw it. He gasped. What was once a beautiful sword, was now simply a hilt and crosspiece -- the blade was completely gone.
"Sa... ku... ra..." he gasped, as Touya clutched with both hands, onto her hand that still held her sword.
"Ne-ka-ne, Touya-nii," she replied, her gaze boring into his. Suddenly, she smiled brightly and reached out to pat his cheek roughly. "I'm sure this is uncomfortable, but it'll end soon. You know..."
Touya wasn't listening, instead staring up at her and clinging onto her hand even as his life was slowly washing away. 'I can't move... I can't snap her out of it like this...' Suddenly, Nekane face was all he could see, as she bent down over him. 'I can see myself in her eyes...' A grin spread across his face.
"Hnn? What's this?" She poked his cheek. "You see something you like?"
His gaze locked with hers. "Mi...ra..." At those choked out syllables, lines of light spiraled away from Touya's body, engraving the ground below them. Nekane could only gasp, as an intimately familiar magical circle formed in the mud, highlighted by that very magical light. The spatter of rain grew silent, and Nekane's shocked expression disappeared as his vision melted into darkness.
Touya ran forward, the darkness around him unabating. He squinted, hoping to see something other than just pitch darkness. 'Please, let me get to Sakura,' he desperately thought, as a rush of coldness sped through him. 'If this works, Clow be praised.'
It seemed like hours passed when finally, a pinpoint of light appeared in the distance ahead. As he approached the light, his surroundings gradually grew lighter, revealing swirling gray mists. Flashes of various images—the palace, himself, Yukito, father—accompanied a cacophony of voices that surounded him as he ran on, too many to clearly make out who spoke or what was said. All too suddenly, the voices were silenced, just as he came upon Sakura, shadowy tendrils binding her arms and legs. She was reaching out towards an image of himself lying on the ground below her, just out of her reach.
Sakura whipped around to face him, tears sliding down her cheeks. "Onii-chan! Stay away from me! I—"
He strode towards her, ignoring her pleas. "Like hell I will."
An amused chuckle stopped his advance, as the tendrils elongated and coalesced together, forming a shadowy clone of Sakura, save for ankle-length hair and glowing red eyes. "You should listen to her, Touya-nii. Struggles are useless," Nekane chided as she floated above the two.
"Arrrgh!" He drew his sword, not even noticing the pinkish-gold blade flashing back into existence, and sliced through the shadowy tendrils. Sakura screamed as he did so, her body spasming before curling up into a fetal position. The tendrils still attached to her body wrapped around herself, leaving dark markings on her skin and clothes before fading away.
"She's part of me now, or did you forget that, Touya-nii?" asked Nekane, the bottom half of her shadowy form extending to reform her legs. At his horrified expression, she went on. "Hurt me, and you hurt her. It's the same in reverse, but I doubt you want to hurt Sakura now, do you?"
Said girl whimpered softly. "Onii...chan..."
"It's okay, Sakura. It's okay now. Everything will be alright," he whispered to her. For the second time that day, lines of power spun away from Touya to form Clow's magical circle. Pointing at Nekane with his sword, a beam of silver energy shot out from the tip towards her. Smiling confidently, she calmly blocked the beam with an outstretched hand. The beam split and circled completely around her before spinning around into an opaque sphere of silver energy. With little fanfare, the sigils below him vanished, and he fell to his knees, next to Sakura's form.
"I told you, if you're trying to capture me, it's not going to work," Nekane whispered. She punched the barrier with her hand, but her hand bounced off the sphere.
"It's... not to capture... It's to seal you away, so Sakura can be herself," Touya gasped, as he leaned heavily on his sword.
"You sealing me in here is the same as sealing her," she replied, "and this won't last forever."
"Sakura won't lose to you, Nekane," Touya promised before he shuddered violently. He reached down to ruffle Sakura's hair, even as his body slowly faded away, starting from his feet on upward..
"Leave it to a kaijuu to be so troublesome..." One last, parting tease.
"I'm... not a monster..." came the strained reply.
He smiled wanly. "Good girl..." And then, there were two. Nekane looked sadly at Sakura who was still curled into a ball.
"Wait for me, Clow-sama..."
'So I'm back,' Touya thought as he slowly opened his eyes to see the dark, cloudy sky above. Rain continued to pour upon them both, though he could no longer feel it fall upon his face. Looking down and to his left, he saw Sakura's form slumped over him like a rag doll, her head resting on his shoulder. He smiled weakly as he noted Sakura's regular breathing, a sure sign that she was asleep, at least. His eyes turned back to the sky, where the rain continued to pour down on the two of them, the pitter-pat no longer heard. 'At least... she's really Sakura now. So tired... I'll just rest a moment' He closed his eyes. 'Just a moment...'
A feeling of warmth spread out from his stomach, making its way up to his limbs. At the return of some feeling, he grunted mentally. 'Is this it? Will Clow guide me to light?'
He opened his eyes to see an all-too familiar stormy sky. The falling rain and gurgling river were quiet in comparison to the slow, melodic chant he heard just above him. He looked towards the voice, to see a priestess kneeling over his body, her long raven locks plastered to the muddy white robes of her station. Her steely amethyst gaze focused wholly on his stomach while a soft golden glow emanated from her hands, which were firmly pressed against his stomach.
Touya lay his hand on top of her hands. "Tomoyo..."
The golden halo around her hands vanished as Tomoyo gasped in surprise. "Touya-ouji... hang in there!" She gently clasped his hand in both of her own. "Just wait a moment. I'll heal you up and..."
He shook his head. "I'm dead, Tomoyo." At her vehement shaking of her head, he cracked a wry grin. "How long has it been since it started raining here?"
She cocked her head. Confusion written on her face, she answered, "About three hours..."
"That's about how long I've had that wound. It's not healing, is it?" Again, she shook her head. "Then let it be. I did what I had to... Where's Sakura?"
Tomoyo gave a watery smile. "She's resting next to you." He turned around to see Sakura lying next to him, a rolled-up bundle of cloth underneath her head. He turned back around to the priestess.
"Take care of the kaijuu for me. She's not herself, and you know her. She's more trouble than... she looks..."
"Leave Sakura-chan to me," she vowed, as she squeezed his hands. "She'll be okay."
He smiled. "Thank you." He turned his head to look at Sakura. "Sakura... remember that picnic... the waterfall..." The hand Tomoyo clasped became limp in her hands.
Tomoyo squeezed his hand, and opened her mouth. She blew softly on him, and gasped as three silvery spheres emerged from his body. They orbited around his body before they suddenly shot themselves into Sakura's body, leaving no marks behind.
Staring up at the skies above, she sang a short hymm, even as her own tears fell.
'Fires, burn bright to lead him from darkness to light.
'Earth, welcome him in your warm embrace.
'Winds blow gentle winds to comfort him.
'Waters, wash his worries away.
'Clow, who watches over us all, guide his soul to his rest.'
The tears of heaven and man continued to fall.
This story's not dead! I swear! Thus begins the revival... of sorts. So ends the first arc. For those wondering where Tomoyo-sama was, here she is. Much more of her to come. Too much crying? I admit, there's a fair amount of tearworks here. But, emotions are high. There's definitely loss. Time to run away from Touya -- I think he wants more screen time, especially after this chapter. The man needs to learn to step out of the limelight. Touya fans, don't fret too much. I promise a few flashbacks...
Why so long to update? 4 words. I hate fight scenes. Considering how important this was, I ran through at least 10 different scenarios for the entirety of this fight, including the prelude to the actual fighting. Yeah. It took awhile to finally decide and write one out. I believe the rest will come out quicker than the last... several months. Again, many thanks to xDianaMoonx for all her assistance and support, and to me muse who kept on kicking me to get back to writing this thing on a bi-monthly basis.
Signing off for now. Ciao!