"The end," Tomoyo smiled winningly at her audience, taking in their disbelieving expressions as she signaled the end of the tale.
The group sat closely around the small fire that blazed quietly in the night light. The children began protesting this unlucky event.
"But, Tomoyo-hime!" A young girl shouted. "You can't stop the story there!"
A boy chimed in. "Yeah! Do they have lots of adventures?"
"Do they get the medicine for the sick queen?"
"What happens to the other group?"
"Now, now," Tomoyo said, mollifying the children. "Those stories are for another day. And let me tell you, with Sakura-chan in them they'll all be absolutely wonderful!" She clasped her hands in excitement, her eyes turning starry and a slight blush rising to her face. "Ah, Sakura-chan."
The children blinked at her in bewilderment.
"She's real, right?" A boy asked. "This Sakura-chan."
"Yeah, did that stuff really happen?" A girl asked.
"Of course not, stupid," a boy mocked. "That kind of stuff doesn't really happen. It's just a story."
A young woman nestled beside Tomoyo tilted her head questioningly. "But those things did happen."
The boy looked at her skeptically. "Chii, you don't know that."
Chii nodded her head. "I saw them!"
"You did?" A girl asked.
"Yes!" Chii paused, suddenly puzzled. "I did, didn't I?"
"See? She's just being herself again," the skeptic boy shrugged.
Chii looked up to Tomoyo. "Did I see them? I don't remember…"
Tomoyo patted her on the head. "It's okay Chii."
"But the story had you in it!" Another girl protested. "That means they have to be real, right?"
"No, of course not," another said. "The princess just wanted to be in the story."
"That's right!" A boy said.
"But what if it was real?" Another boy asked.
"Now, children," Tomoyo said. "That's what makes these stories so much more than stories." She looked around at her audience. "Could they have been real? Perhaps. Could these have been made up? Maybe. That's what makes them legends."
The children nodded with approval, knowing that the next night their princess would spin another fantastic tale about her favorite group of travelers. They got up then to get back to chores and playing before their bedtime. Tomoyo rose from her seat and went over to one of the wagons in their semi-circle.
"That was a rather good one tonight, Tomoyo-san," Eriol smiled.
Tomoyo matched his smile. "Of course it was. It had Sakura-chan in it."
The young man chuckled. "Which one are you telling next time?"
"Well, I think I'll tell the one about how Sakura-chan and Syaoran-kun got together, how they acquired Kero-chan and then how I told them to go North in order to find the medicine," Tomoyo mused.
"Which of course leads them to meeting up Kurogane-san and Fai-san, correct?" He finished.
"Naturally," Tomoyo smiled. "Then they're going to all go and fight some demons and other magical creatures, and have all sorts of adventures. And by the time I'm done with them, I'll have a new audience of children and I'll simply start over."
"You never run out of stories, Tomoyo-san," Eriol smiled.
"Not when it comes to Sakura-chan," Tomoyo sparkled. "I'll never get tired of telling her stories to people."
"You do add quite your own spin on them, though," Eriol observed.
"A little creative liberty is never terrible for a story," Tomoyo let him know.
Eriol grinned. "I'm sure she appreciates all your efforts."
Tomoyo returned the smile and looked up into the starry sky. "I hope they're taking good care of her."
"I'll bet they're fine," Eriol reassured her. "After all, she is Sakura-san."
"Of course," Tomoyo nodded. "She'll definitely be all right."
Sakura sneezed into her hands. "Excuse me," she sniffled.
"Are you cold?" Syaoran asked.
"No, I'm just fine," the young shaman replied.
"That must mean someone's talking about you," Fai concluded.
"Or it could mean she sneezed," Kurogane said.
"That takes all the fun out of things," Fai laughed.
"Speaking of fun things, can we avoid that forest?" Cerberus piped up from Sakura's shoulder. "It looks scary."
Sakura frowned at him. "But that's the way that village said we should go."
Cerberus pouted. "But there could be ghosts in there."
Sakura froze. "Ghosts?" She stuttered. She latched onto Syaoran's arm fearfully.
Fai chuckled as the boy blushed crimson. He put a hand on Sakura's head. "Don't worry, Sakura-chan. Kuro-tan, Syaoran-kun, and I will make sure the ghosts don't get you."
Kurogane scowled at the nickname, but grunted his agreement. "Nothing we can't handle."
Syaoran smiled at Sakura. "Besides, you still have your most powerful spell."
Sakura blinked at him, but then smiled brightly. "You're right. Let's go."
"I still don't want to," Cerberus sighed.
"Maybe you should stay behind then," Syaoran muttered.
"You want to say that again, kid?" Cerberus shouted.
"Now, now, you two," Fai said. "How about we just camp here for the night? Even if we could handle that forest, we shouldn't be starting our journey through it at nightfall."
Sakura nodded. "Good idea, Fai-san! We can start through the forest in the morning."
Fai sat down on the ground and looked up at the sky. "You know, I think our adventures would make great stories."
Sakura sat next to him. "Tomoyo-chan would tell them to her tribe for sure."
"I wouldn't be surprised," Fai grinned. "She has her ways of knowing what's going on with her favorite shaman."
The girl blushed. "I wonder what she says about us."
"Probably some fantastical stuff that didn't actually happen," Kurogane grumbled.
"Kuro-pipi! Tomoyo-hime would never exaggerate," Fai said, looking scandalized.
"Yeah right," Kurogane ignored the bowman. "I'll bet she's turned us into legends by now."