'The Covens Underneath'

By Majah

Disclaimer:

I don't own CCS, but I do own the story in this fic and things that are non-CCS related. All the name of places, historical events and other things mentioned, which you don't seem to know IRL, are products of my imagination. Any similarities with the actual thing are purely coincidental.


From Previous Chapter:

Yelan looked at her son with warm eyes, "You don't have to do this again, Xiao-Lang. You can choose not to accept."

"If I don't accept mother, we are going to lose more territory. I need to win back what was taken from Tomoyo and Yukito's battles." His arm remained extended as he coaxed his mother to give him the envelope, "Even if it means I have to be in my usual bloody rampage."

Yelan could only sigh. She had no other choice but to give the sealed document.

"Thank you," Syaoran said monotonously. He turned on his heels to proceed towards his room, but he glanced back before he stepped up the stairs, "Just make sure that whoever partner they would assign to me for the battle will have enough shield power to protect himself from me."

He needed to become his beastshifter self once more. There was no doubt about it. The coven needed to get those territories back ASAP.

It looks like I'm going out again…tonight, he thought then chuckled inwardly.

It had been quite a while now since his mother had use the adjinaya stone to clean the mess he would create in the mortal world.


---: ACT ONE :---

"THE BEGINNING OF AN END"

: Chapter Three :

"Arrival in Tetsuroh"



Sakura sat still inside the carriage with her hands clasped together on her lap. Despite the bumps the coach received every now and then from small rocks or potholes on the road, she remained tensed, quiet and unmoving. In front of her, the stout bearded man sat with an elbow propped on top of an expensive-looking cane. Thick black material covered the windows which prevented light to access within, but even though they were clad in darkness, Sakura was quite aware that the man was watching her intently. This made her more uncomfortable.

"A-no," she started to say. "Can I open the drapes a little? Just to let some sunshine in?"

"NO." Sarabusa's reply filled the small compartment. He wasn't shouting but his voice was full and strong.

"Hai!" Sakura hurriedly bowed apologetically as she shriveled more on her seat.

"The bright sun blinds my eyes," he supplemented his answer.

"Hai. Hai," she continuously bowed.

There was silence after that. Sakura grew more uneasy and wondered what she had gotten herself into this time.

It wasn't really my fault. I need to obey Mistress Sai, she said to herself. But everything seemed to be happening so fast! I can't believe I am actually sitting here…on my way to the city!

A few hours had passed since she was asked to report at the orphanage's head office. At first she thought she would finally get adopted but instead, surprising news met her. And the bearer of the news…

Sakura looked at the bearded man in front of her and shuddered.

It was not like she was afraid of the man. It was more like she felt something about him that wasn't right. A gut feeling, one might call it.

She tried to smile at Sarabusa, but the only thing she got was an intense gaze which made her shift uneasily on her seat.

Given the choice, I wouldn't have agreed to go with this man….but…, Sakura recalled earlier events after the meeting in Mistress Sai's office.

---Sakura's room at the attic; few hours earlier---

"Hurry up, Sakura-cha,." Mistress Sai's excited voice swam in the air. "We must get you packed. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for you!" the elderly said as she threw Sakura's clothes into a medium-sized traveling bag.

"But…but," Sakura stammered while she reached for her other belongings.

"No buts! How often do you see an orphan getting a chance to study in Day School for free!" the elderly remarked. "This must have been life's plan for you, that's why up until now no one had adopted you…," her voice trailed off when she realized what she had said.

"I'd rather get adopted," Sakura murmured.

"Oh…child," Mistress Sai's sympathetic eyes looked at the girl. She reached out and gave her a nice long hug. "I am sorry to have said such a thing tactlessly," she shoved Sakura's auburn hair out of her eyes and gazed down at the girl's emerald orbs. "But, I believe that destiny must have set this for you. Maybe perhaps your place should be at my side…here at orphanage?"

Sakura's eyes widened, "You mean…you want me to…"

The elderly woman shrugged, "Why not? I am getting too old and so does the rest of the staff. We cannot handle this place for that long. We need younger bones." Mistress Sai laughed heartily as she playfully hit Sakura's behind.

"Ouch!" the girl pouted.

The woman continued to chuckle, "You may pass your application to work here in the orphanage after you graduate from Day School."

"Really!" the girl's face brightened.

"Of course," Mistress Sai smiled. "Just promise me that you will be in your best behavior in Tetsuroh. It won't be good if your scholarship gets revoked due to your mischief." The woman gave her a warning look.

Sakura smiled and hugged the elderly, "I promise."

Just then, someone barged inside the room.

"Sakura! Is it true! You're going to Tetsuroh Day School!" LinLin's brunette head popped out of the attic's door.

"Hai!" Sakura confirmed.

"Really!" the young woman's eyes sparkled.

"Yes...yes...It is true," Mistress Sai gestured at her. "Now come and help us pack Sakura's things. That man from the ministry looks like an impatient one. He wants Sakura to go with him today in Tetsuroh."

"Wai! So soon!" LinLin exclaimed, but she eventually went over and helped Sakura gather the rest of her things.

-------------------------------------------------------

Yes…so soon, Sakura thought to herself. She could still see the children's waves of goodbye, together with Mistress Sai's, LinLin's and the rest of the orphanage's staff's encouraging smile as she climbed up the black coach.

She sighed as she made a memory of the whole thing inside her head.

The carriage ran over another pothole on the road. Sarabusa thumped the roof with the tip of his cane and scolded the footmen outside, "Are you people blind!" His voiced boomed like thunder. "Go easy with the horse-handling! If my beautiful carriage obtains even a single scratch with this kind of reckless riding, I swear both of you won't live to see tomorrow!"

Sakura heard gasps from the outside. She blinked as the coach did mellow down a bit and then eventually, they were back to their easy strides.

"Now that's better," Sarabusa said with content.

His subordinates sounded pretty scared. Surely he really didn't mean what he just said. Sakura contemplated for a moment and then laughed it off inwardly. It was probably a mere expression for some sort of punishment.

The plump man resumed his intent gaze on her. Sakura shifted on her seat once more. Why is he looking at me like that?

Finally, she couldn't take it any longer. She cleared her throat.

"Is there anything wrong, Sir?" she asked.

Sarabusa seemed surprised at her question. It was not every day that someone from the lower caste would dare ask someone of his stature plainly and directly. Normally, her question would have been dismissed with a warning, but this time he decided to go along with the flow. Tetsuroh was still an hour away. It was not like he had anything better to do.

Might as well test Fujitaka-sama's choice, he thought to himself.

"What makes you think that there is something wrong, little girl?" Sarabusa countered her inquiry.

She blinked and seemed unsure for a moment. "Because um…" Her eyes started to wander around the dark compartment before continuing, "…you keep staring at me all this time."

"How impudent of you think that I am staring at you. The surroundings are dark. How sure are you that I am actually looking at someone of your likes?"

The girl became alarmed; probably due to the fact that she might have offended him. But even so, she still continued to defend her side, "My apologies if I might have jumped to conclusions." She bent her head to look down at her hands, "…but I could feel your gaze on me, Sir…as if you are…," she swallowed hard. "…studying me."

Sarabusa was amused. The girl was right. He was studying her ever since they left the village of Saradik. He wanted to find out what his Lord saw in this human damsel as to prefer her than the other orphan in a richer town who seemed to be more qualified.

"Let's say I was studying you. Is there anything wrong in me doing that?" he retorted.

"Hoe!" she looked up once again at him.

This time her eyes were trying to search the dark carriage. Sarabusa knew that it was impossible for her to see him clearly, so he took this opportunity to gaze at the girl's beautiful emerald eyes. Being a vampire had given him the ability to see even in pitch dark areas. There was something about those eyes he couldn't quite explain. Something soothing...

"I guess," the girl gave up and bent her head once more. "There is nothing wrong about that, Sir."

She must have been counting on returning to the quiet atmosphere they had earlier after her last remark, but Sarabusa was not going to drop the conversation that easily.

"Tell me," he started to say.

"Hoe?"

"Do you always have emerald eyes?" he asked her.

The girl blinked in confusion as to why he was asking such a thing to her, "I am born with these eyes, Sir."

"The shade of your eyes is quite rare. In fact, I've only seen one other than you, who had the same kind of eyes."

"Really, Sir?"

"Would I lie?" he said sharply.

The girl squirmed and clasped her hand nervously. "No, Sir," she shook her head. "No, Sir."

Then, he continued his inquiries. "You've been an orphan ever since...in Saradik. Is this correct?"

"Hai," the girl nodded.

"Do you know anything about your parents?"

Once again, emerald orbs met his façade. A tinged of sadness was evident within them, "My mother died when she gave birth to me. She was a baker's daughter in Saradik."

"And your father?"

"I never knew my father, but I was told he was a fisherman in Tetsuroh and that he died at sea."

"Is that so…," Sarabusa was thinking hard.

"I believe, Sir, that I got my eyes from my mother," she supplemented.

"You seemed so sure," he remarked as he stroked his long beard.

She nodded, "I have a picture of her." She raised an old worn-out clutch bag in front of her. "I have it here. Would you like to see, Sir?" she asked while smiling at him.

Sarabusa raised a brow. The girl became talkative. She seemed to have forgotten her uneasy demeanor earlier. He smiled inwardly. "Of course, I am very curious to see."

"Hai!" the girl begun to dig inside her bag with difficulty since it was dark inside the carriage.

"We will be arriving in Tetsuroh in a few minutes, little girl. Go ahead and open the drapes," he gestured at the thick material which covered the windows.

The girl's face brightened even more as she obeyed and hurriedly pushed the black drapes aside. On an instant, afternoon sun flooded the interior of the carriage. She inhaled deeply and savored the wind that blew against her face.

It was a cross-country ride between Saradik and the city of Tetsuroh. By this time, the hilly province view was being replaced by leveled land. Houses perched up near the dirt road became more evident and frequent as they pass one block from another.

Sarabusa gathered that this must have been the first time the girl had been this far away from home, judging from the looks of her excited eyes. Even so, she seemed to have forgotten about something.

He cleared his throat. "The picture," he reminded her.

"Yes, I'm sorry! I'll get it quickly," she once again raked inside her bag then finally, she retrieved a frame. "Here you go, Sir. This is the only picture that I've got of my mother."

Sarabusa took the frame. True enough, a beautiful young woman smiled up at him from the picture. She has long wavy auburn hair and equally enchanting emerald eyes as the girl in front of him. She was cuddling a small white puppy. Sarabusa scanned the picture. His eyes glimmered as it caught something else.

A hidden enchantment? he asked himself. Enclosed within the picture?

Sarabusa peered at the girl for a brief moment. She was busy looking at the scenery outside. Well, that was an understatement. The girl was practically leaning outside the window; trying to reach the shrubs one after another. She had completely forgotten about him. Normally, this would anger him. Someone who belonged to the lower caste had no right to behave like that in front of him, but he let this one slide. He was grateful that the girl's attention was focused on something else. This will give him a little private time to scan the picture with his 'abilities'.

Right then and there, Sarabusa's eyes' changed their shape. The iris became slim and long like a cat's as he waved one hand on top of the frame. A light reddish glow suddenly became evident within the picture. He frowned. He was now sure that the picture had some kind of enchantment, but he wasn't expecting it to be this difficult to unlock. He did his 'move' again only to achieve the same result.

I can't get through it. Who would be powerful enough to do this? Then, he started to get suspicious of a certain someone. He stared at the picture once more. It was taken in a familiar bridge in Tetsuroh. He scratched his chin. The original image in the picture was tampered with, that's for sure, he thought observantly. But why?

Once again, his eyes fell on the smiling young woman in the picture. For some reason she looked familiar. He closed his eyes to scan his memory.

Then, it hit him.

It hit him so hard that he started laughing. The girl in front of him was startled at his sudden outburst.

"Haha…Move your head inside, little girl." He tapped the window frame with his cane in between chuckles, "Move it before you lose it to one of those fences."

"Hai!" the girl obliged and sat properly once again, but not before giving him a weird look.

Sarabusa returned the picture to her and watched as she placed it inside her bag.

You couldn't resist, could you…Fujitaka-sama? You innocent-looking bastard, he thought unbelievably.

His laughter had died down yet he still threw an amused glance at the delicate looking human in front of him.

"Child, what is your name again?" he asked her. The traces of laughter were still evident on his face. "I am an old man, I tend to forget things."

"Sakura," she replied.

"Sakura...eh?" he repeated; then he smiled darkly. How could he have let this passed him by earlier when the orphanage's head first introduced her to him? Maybe he was sleepy or didn't really regard her as someone important. But still...

'Sakura'...she even has a name which means something in our ancient tongue. Sarabusa suddenly felt anxious. I wonder how the older vampires will react when they hear her name. Not all vampires were fluent with that particular language, but surely it would be a head-turner...to those who actually know.

Once again, he broke into a rich laughter. Now he knew why his Lord had taken all this trouble...

...arranging 'things' for this mortal damsel.


"ALL ABOARD!" a shipmate's final call rang through the vicinity of the pier. People, who surrounded him, hurriedly walked up the last wooden plank which led to a medium-sized passenger ship.

Merchants and fishermen haggled with each other's goods. Whistles blew every now and then from other vessels anchored nearby. Everyone looked so busy and energetic that Sakura was thrilled on watching them. She seemed a part of their chaotic world even though she was just observing them from the carriage's small window.

They had finally arrived in Tetsuroh. She knew that the city was near the sea, but she wasn't expecting for them to actually take this route inside the city. There were two ways to enter the place. One was via the wide paved road which lead to the city's main square and the other was via a long bridge which connected the beach side to the port side of the city.

From Saradik, it would be much faster to take the paved road. So it was the route she had expected to see. But Sarabusa insisted that they take the longer road instead.

"Now you know where your mother stood when she had her picture taken," the plump bearded man said perkily. For some reason, he had been like that for the last hour.

"Hai!" Sakura said cheerfully. "Thank you very much, Sir." She didn't know what happened to the man, but whatever it was, she was really grateful. She grabbed this chance to enjoy her first arrival in this vast city which she had heard many great things about.

Sakura gleefully peered outside. Both of her hands clasped the window frame of the elegant carriage. The wind that met her face was cold since it was, after all, the last season of the year. But she didn't mind. Instead she took a deep breath and savored every moment of it. The city air was not as fresh as the countryside's, but it has a livelier feel from it.

A few hours back, Sakura might have been uncomfortable and unsure of what was ahead of her. But now, she had completely forgotten about it. The man in front of her doesn't seem that bad and the best was...

...the city of Tetsuroh was amazing.

She had never seen such a chaotic place. She realized that it could be perceived by others as something negative, but no...in the case of Tetsuroh, it was chaotically organized.

They had gone passed the pier and into the city's main streets. But even so, the hustles and bustles of its occupants didn't change. In fact, it had gotten busier. Everyone was moving so fast; each with their own tasks to perform. What's more was that, the streets were filled with different carriages; some fancy open-type ones, some expensive-looking, some for ordinary fare ride, and some as elegant as the coach she was in. Her eyes widened at the sight of horses which pulled them. They ranged from having a white creamy mane to black silky ones. She did notice that the ordinary-looking carriages were, most of the time, pulled by chestnut colored horses.

Those carriages are probably owned by middle-classed families, she assumed to herself.

The light clunking sound of the different horses' hooves seemed like music against the cobblestone road. Oil lamps were perched majestically with elaborately-designed curves on each side to light the city. Victorian houses with tiled red roofs can be seen everywhere together with massive buildings of the same architecture. Some older ones have Goth-like statues carved out of stone. Birds flew around the building from one pedestal to another.

And as their carriage turned towards the heart of the city, the surroundings became more crowded. Men and women could be found either dining in café or shopping in one of the expensive-looking boutiques at the main square. Sakura's eyes grew wider as she saw the dresses and gowns of women from high-classed families wore as they strutted around with their fancy parasol. She had never seen so many rich people in her entire life. She was awed at how their skin looked paler yet smoother, on how their hair looked longer yet softer, and on how elegantly poised they all seemed to be. Even their children looked like that.

Sakura suddenly felt a pang of envy. She looked down at her own clothes and absent-mindedly touched her short auburn hair. Tetsuroh Day School was an exclusive institution. These fancy people would most likely have their children attend the said prestigious school. She would really stand out with her present clothing of old barn clothes, apron and worn-out boots to match all that.

Her shoulders drooped down at the thought.

As if to read her mind, Sarabusa spoke up, "The school has a uniform."

"Hoe?"

The man continued, "A stylish-looking long straight maroon skirt, white long-sleeved ruffled blouse with a narrow ribbon...the same shade as the skirt. You are also required to wear standard black leg-high boots inside. A coat is also provided for this cold weather," he nodded as he explained.

"I see," Sakura gave a sigh of relief. She could always wear the school uniform around so she wouldn't be looked down upon that much.

"There is no need to look so relieved," the man remarked. "Because as someone included in the program, you will always be given clothing allowance. Mind you that this is different from your expenses allowance."

She couldn't believe her ears. A clothing allowance! "Really!" she clapped her hands happily.

"Bu, it is not that much. You won't be able to buy something as fancy as that," he motioned towards a woman who had stepped down from another carriage. "But it would be enough to get you some...'presentable' clothing."

"Even so, I'm so happy!" Though, it looked like she was about to cry. "I never had clothes other than barn clothes, Sir."

The bearded man grimaced, "Yes...I could tell."

Sakura just looked at him starry-eyed. Sarabusa's brow twitched and he ended up clearing his throat to pull her back to reality.

"This is Tetsuroh's historical monument," he pointed his cane towards the tall structure outside. "This had been here ever since the city was built. And as you can see, on its center, the infamous clock tower stands tall."

Sakura gaped at the sight that Sarabusa was orienting her. Unlike the Victorian and gothic architecture the rest of the city seemed to have, the monument stood out with its smooth ebony foundation. There were other types of stones built into it but she wasn't sure what they were called. All she knew was that it looked like black marble; if there was such a thing. The steps which lead to the clock tower were steep as if it wasn't meant to be ventured. The clock itself was situated forty stories high. The huge hands of the clock were of equal dark color as the rest of its body.

Sakura squinted as she looked up at the clock. "I can't seem to read the numbers etched around the clock's face. Oh wait...are those even numbers? They looked like symbols."

Sarabusa chuckled. Again, Sakura looked at him weirdly. The man seemed to have really switched into a joyous mood.

"I don't think you can read those things etched on the clock's face even if you dangled in front of it," he replied.

"Hoe, why is that?" she asked him curiously.

"Because," he suddenly looked dark and menacing. "It was written in a different tongue." Just like your name, he added to himself.

"Hmmm?" Sakura tilted her head, "...a different language, you mean?"

"More likely, but this is not the time for you to bother with such things." The stout man leaned forward and pointed a finger at her, "You must remember this. This city has a curfew."

"A curfew?" she repeated.

"Yes. And it is strictly to be followed. When that clock strikes eleven, you must never go out to the streets or out of your house for that matter," he stressed.

"Why?" Sakura asked curiously.

"Because the curse might get you," Sarabusa said in an eerie voice.

But the girl didn't look convinced. "Curse?"

"Tetsuroh is a very old city. They say that many things had happened in that past. Many deaths and blood had been shed within this city's walls which had caused many restless spirits to curse the city itself." Then, he started whispering, "They curse the living. That's why, most of the time, those who do go out beyond that hour of the night sometimes don't return. Others get involved with terrible...terrible accidents."

"Is that for real, Sir?" Sakura remarked scratching her head. "You're just scaring naïve old me. I think I am too old for ghost stories."

"This is not a ghost story!" Sarabusa's voice boomed.

This startled Sakura and caused her to slumped back on her seat. "Hoe! So it is real, Sir? You really mean it?"

"Of course, I mean it! So if you don't want something bad to happen to you little girl, be smart enough to follow the curfew." Then suddenly, a thought came across his mind, "I don't think I should be worrying about you disobeying the city curfew, because I believe the dormitory wants the students to be inside the premises as early as nine o'clock."

"Dormitory?" Sakura asked.

The plump man raised his cane and lightly tapped the girl's head. "You can be quite slow," he commented. "The dormitory where you would be staying while you are in this program," he reminded her.

"Hoe," Sakura mumbled as she rubbed the part of her head where his cane landed.

"Now enough of this. It's almost five. We still need to enroll and register you." He once again poked the ceiling of the coach, "Hey you two out there! Step on it! I don't want sunset to catch us!"

"Yes, Sir," his footmen said in unison.

And with that, Sakura heard them whip the horses to pull the carriage faster.


"Come on, Li. Just wear the scarf."

Syaoran heard his friend say to him as the other guy placed the long piece of cloth on top of his chestnut head.

"For the last time, Yamazaki...I'm not going to wear that darn little thing again," he hissed back and snatched the worn out green scarf.

Sunset was almost upon them and the human students of Tetsuroh Day School were on their way home. Classes were over. Well, the mortal's classes were over. Human students only spend morning and afternoon in school. But in reality, classes went beyond the hours of the night. So for Syaoran and his fellow 'high-classed' schoolmates, this time of the day was nothing more than a few hours break as they wait for the transition from day school to night school. The term 'day school' was greatly accepted by the mortals thinking that it was called like so because it was here wherein you learn the 'know-how' in getting a day job. But in truth, the term was nothing more than a slang he and his kind had fondly used which literally means 'school during the day'.

"There's nothing wrong on having it," Yamazaki insisted. "It may help you calm down."

Syaoran shook his head frowning. "It 'may' help me calm down," he stressed the word 'may'. "It doesn't assure anything." He leaned back against the wall at the far side of the school. He and his friend were talking in a secluded area near the library building.

"It did calm you down eleven years ago," Yamazaki pointed out.

Syaoran didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. "Eleven years ago? I can't believe you and mother still have faith in this little scarf. Why? No one even knows what really happened to me back then."

"But still, the fact still remains that you did come back on your own and that someone were able to tie the scarf successfully on your arm...or leg...since you are after all in your beast form," his friend rebutted. "Someone was able to come close to you."

"That someone may very well be dead after he had tied that puny little scarf on me," Syaoran countered.

"But you went back," Yamazaki repeated with hopeful eyes. "You went back with it and never did tear the cloth off."

"And may I ask you, how many times I wore this green thing..." he waved the scarf on his hand in front of his friend's face. "...after that?"

"Ummm," Yamazaki answered. "...four times?"

"How many times did I venture out in my beast form with it?" Syaoran crossed his arms on his chest.

Yamazaki bit his lip. "Four?"

"And how many times did I end up in my usual rampage?"

Yamazaki smiled weakly. "Four."

"I rest my case," Syaoran said as he threw the old scarf towards his friend. He started to walk back to the main campus building.

"Sheesh Li...just bring it with you as another precaution," Yamazaki followed him close behind.

Syaoran raised his hands as he strode briskly, "I am tired of 'what-if's', Yamazaki. I have my all seventeen years full of it. As far as I know there can only be facts and things that you can never change."

"But aren't you walking in another 'what-if' now, Li?" his friend pointed out.

The chestnut-haired teenager stopped walking and looked beyond the direction he was going. Not too far away, the school's largest gymnasium could be seen. On the outside, it looked deserted, but he knew that a great sum of activities was happening beneath it.

The summons he received this morning contained specific instructions for him to report to the gym after his day classes. The elders of the coven came up with a theory that might reduce his aggressive outburst of strength once he started using his beastshifter abilities again. His mother informed him that it might very well be new incantations formulated by the leader of the coven, himself...Fujitaka, to prepare him for the upcoming battle.

"You know what I find funny, Yamazaki?" he asked his friend.

"What?"

"My family...my so called clan...had already given up in taming my other side. The Li family is one of the oldest surviving clans in history. And to think that they've exhausted every single technique," he faced his friend. "I don't see how this newly formulated one by the leader will be any different."

"Well," Yamazaki stopped to think carefully. "Fujitaka-sama also belongs in an old clan. Their family had been here before your clan moved in Mercallis. They are like your family's counterpart in this part of the world. Plus, Fujitaka-sama is one of those very few vampires who have double surnames. Meaning, both of his parents came from prestigious lineages...too prestigious to drop either last name." He tapped his foot as he dug his brain for more information about the leader of the coven. "The Daidouji side of the heritage which came from his father's family is a very powerful lineage but I don't think it was the thing that made him the strongest vampire in this coven."

Syaoran frowned, "What do you mean?"

"Well I heard my grandparents say this before," Yamazaki continued. "That there is another power hidden within Fujitaka-sama's lineage."

"And that is?" he curiously asked.

"It's from his mother's side of the family; the Kinomoto bloodline. Rumor has it that the Kinomoto's had the ability to extract ancient power that was supposedly lost and forgotten. But it is not something they can do instantly. I heard that it was very difficult and random. Even so... having this 'other' background, Fujitaka-sama might have more tricks installed for us under his sleeves than he actually shows."

"You're kidding," Syaoran could not believe what he was hearing. He was quite aware that the full name of the coven's leader was Fujitaka Kinomoto-Daidouji. But no one called him like that. Most of the time only 'Fujitaka-sama' or 'Daidouji-sama' or 'Headmaster-sama'. No one referred to the Kinomoto last name. He wouldn't be surprised at all if no one really paid any attention to its roots.

"I don't kid around these kinds of stuff," Yamazaki's eyes were twinkling. "You know how much I love to research information."

"Indeed you do. You amaze me sometimes, Yamazaki."

The other lad chuckled; placing one hand behind his head. "It is only in this area where I can be ahead of you, dear friend."

"That is not true. You are a better encanter than I could ever be," Syaoran remarked with a sigh and resumed walking towards the gym.

"Well," Yamazaki hurriedly followed him. "Encanters are vampires who are more powerful using spells and incantations. Beastshifters are the ones who can morph into any animal form and by doing that...doubling their strength and even summon elemental abilities. I think you are quite aware that you cannot be both. And since it is also obvious which among the two you are more powerful."

"Yeah...yeah...I know," Syaoran sighed. "I know."

Yamazaki gave a small laugh and placed an arm around his friend's shoulders. "So don't you dare say that I am a better encanter than you could ever be, because I could also prolly say that I can never be a good beastshifter as you could ever be."

"I wish I am a good beastshifter. Sometimes I envy Yukito...on how he can control his transformation quite efficiently."

"Yukito-senpai got defeated," Yamazaki frowned. "That's why we've lost another territory." Then, his face suddenly brightened and patted his friend on the back. "But we still have you and you always win!"

"I always win alright," Syaoran shook his head. "Unfortunately, my opponents aren't the only ones who end up dead." He gazed at Yamazaki; his eyes were unreadable. "All my partners...my fellow schoolmates, who had fought with me, also end up dead. I turn to them after I've killed the other team! I also go after their flesh! My own teammates, Yamazaki! Once I start attacking in my beast form, I don't recognize anyone anymore. Everyone becomes my enemy!"

"You don't have to remind me that, Li. I'm quite sure that was quite obvious each time our classmates avoid you in the hallways...scared to death," the other nodded casually.

"I thank you, Yamazaki, for remaining to be my friend despite of the things I have done," Syaoran said in a low voice.

By this time, both young males had reached the gym and stood in front of its twelve foot steel sliding doors.

"Hey, it's not your fault, Li," Yamazaki smiled reassuringly. "I know you wouldn't dare kill anyone just like that. Unless they are human, of course, and you need to feed," he said goofily.

Syaoran smirked, "Yeah...whatever." Then, he looked at the gym's entrance. He was about to open it when he noticed something. "Say, Yamazaki..."

"Hmmm?" the other guy mumbled.

"Why are you still with me? I mean...aren't you suppose to be with Chiharu and the others by this time?" Syaoran asked.

"Oh," his friend started to shift from one foot to another. "...ummm."

Syaoran frowned. It was rare to see Yamazaki this way. It was clear that he was hiding something from him.

"Yamazaki?" he asked again.

"A-no...Li...I uh...," his friend riveted his gaze before pulling out a cream colored envelope from his school jacket.

Syaoran stared at the envelope; wide-eyed.

"I was summoned here, too," the other student said weakly.

Syaoran snatched the envelope from his friend's grasp and read it with trembling hands. After that he looked up. His face was pale as he spoke.

"Shit...Yamazaki...you're my next partner...?" he was gaping in disbelief as he stared at the other student.

"It seems like it," Yamazaki gave a forced laugh.

"No...," Syaoran's words started out as a whisper, and then it intensified as he realized what the situation implied.

"No...NO...NO!" He grabbed his friend's shoulders and shook it violently, "YOU MUST DECLINE! DO NOT AGREE TO THIS!"

Yamazaki could only look at him with sad eyes.

"DON'T JUST STARE AT ME LIKE THAT!" Syaoran was in the stage of panic as he continued to shake some sense into the other guy. "THIS IS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR YOU IF YOU ACCEPT! NOT ONE OF MY PREVIOUS PARTNERS SURVIVED...NOT ONE, YAMAZAKI! NOT ONE! WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT IT!"

"Li...This is a 'summons'. This is a direct order from the leader of the coven," Yamazaki explained.

"I KNOW WHAT THE DAMNED THING IS!" the chestnut-haired teenager snapped. "I can't believe he had to choose YOU. WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE YOU OF ALL PEOPLE?!"

"Because he is your friend and the theorized incantation may only work with a support of a friend," a deep voice behind Syaoran spoke.

Yamazaki gulped as he looked at the tall dark-haired man who stood inside the now-opened gym door, "Touya-sensei..."

Syaoran spun around and met the newcomer with angry eyes; his fangs gritted inside his mouth.

"You are creating a scene," Touya said emotionlessly. "There are still mortal students lingering around the campus."

"I DON'T CARE ABOUT THESE PUNY MORTALS! ALL I CARE ABOUT RIGHT NOW IS THE LIFE OF MY FRIEND!"

"Calm down, Li," the older man remarked with a tinged of authority in his voice.

"CALM DOWN? How can you ask me to calm down?!" Syaoran lurched at one of his professors; grabbing him by the collar. "IS THIS IT! IS THIS THE BEST YOUR FATHER CAN COME UP WITH? USING A FRIEND OF MINE AS GUINEA PIG TO AN INCANTATION WE ARE NOT EVEN SURE WILL WORK? NO WONDER WE KEEP LOSING TERRITORIES!"

That was it. That was the last straw for the senior vampire. On an instant, both Syaoran and Yamazaki were sucked inside the vast dark gym. With one swift motion of Touya's hand, all entrances and windows were sealed and locked. Yamazaki was thrown on the floor, but Syaoran remained suspended in midair, choking, as if being he was being held by an invisible hand.

"You shall not speak of the leader of this coven in such disrespectful manner!" Touya's sharp voice echoed throughout the enclosure. He had one arm stretched out towards the seventeen-year old boy to keep him up in the air. His eyes glistened with depth as he started using his superior powers. He made his fingers in a tighter gripping motion, and the area around Syaoran's neck started to get bruised.

"Gaack..." Syaoran choked even more.

Yamazaki stood up worriedly. He looked up at his friend then to the professor. Even though both were separated by a great amount of space, it was evident that the older man was skilled enough to cause injury to his friend.

He quickly ran towards the educator's side. "Touya-sensei...please stop. He didn't mean what he just said. He is only worried about me."

"Damn hell I've meant all that I've said!" Syaoran managed to spat the words out despite the invisible grip.

The senior vampire seemed to have ignored the other student's plea. He just smirked and glared at Syaoran, "You can still speak, eh? Let's see about that."

His hand closed into a fist and gripped thin air, but on Syaoran's side, the boy's hands started to grip the area around his neck as if trying to grasp free from something holding him. He fought desperately to breathe.

Touya arched his arm back and Syaoran was pulled closer to him in mid-air.

Yamazaki realized what the older man was trying to do, "No...Touya-sensei...please don't."

But it was too late. The professor released a blow by straightening his arm in one brisk action which caused Syaoran to be thrown against the solid wall of the gym with great force.

"A-agh," Blood spattered out of Syaoran's mouth. He still remained suspended on air but this time his body was being pushed against the wall, which now has craters of cracks due to the impact.

"You think you can break any rules?" Touya started to say. "I pity your mother every time she had to use the adjinaya stone even before a scheduled feeding just because you had gone your own way again." He released another blow which hammered Syaoran against the solid wall. Chips of cement started falling unto the gym's floor.

Yamazaki didn't know what to do. Professors were much powerful than them. They were only students after all. Maybe in some occasions they could defeat one, but Touya Daidouji wasn't exactly an ordinary professor. He was the coven's leader's son.

"You've also killed fellow vampires," the man continued to say. "Allies for that matter," he tightened his invisible grip and Syaoran twitched even more.

"Aaaa---rgh...gaaaaah..."

"You think you are special, boy? You think you are someone important as to get away with all of that without being punished?"

Syaoran was breathing hard but he had managed to open an eye to look at the man below. He smirked snottily then tried with all his might to answer their 'beloved' professor.

"Now that's the funniest thing...all of you are actually relying in this good for nothing vampire to do all the leg work to regain what your father had lost."

"Father didn't lose anything. It was the representatives who had was beaten," it was Touya's turn to grit his fangs. "If any one of you were just as powerful as we used to be when we were younger, then we shouldn't have lost human territory."

"The strength of the coven is the reflection of the strength if its leader. Everyone knows that," Syaoran taunted the other man despite his compromised situation.

Touya looked like he was about to throw in another blow but something halted him, "I shouldn't be stooping down to your level, boy. It would only prove to be pointless."

Yamazaki exhaled with relief when he saw that the professor returned to a calmer demeanor.

"Aww...giving up...so soon?" Syaoran remarked in between gulps of air.

Touya gave a small laugh, "You've got balls, kid...that I commend you...but all that emotions and great power inside of you will be useless if you won't learn how to control them."

Syaoran frowned. He didn't like the way the man was looking at him. He could feel something was wrong by the sudden shift of his perception.

Yamazaki blinked at their professor. He knew that he still has many things to learn in regards to feeling auras of other beings, but he was sure that Touya-sensei's aura suddenly changed. Somehow, it felt different. Like...like...

...another being?

Yamazaki finally understood what was going on. He summoned his vampiric eyes and concentrated hard. Then, there was it. He could see a trace of mind control strings coming from the second floor of the gym. He squinted and saw a man standing behind the shadows. The man noticed that Yamazaki had figured out the reason why their professor suddenly calmed down. The man smiled warmly down at him. His glasses barely glinted from the remaining light of the sealed gym.

The man was Fujitaka.

Yamazaki's mouth dropped open. He wasn't expecting for the leader to be actually be there. Most of the time, only high-ranked teachers were present in a prep-up session before battle. Even more was that he could have heard what Syaoran was shouting earlier at his son.

Li's going to be in much deeper shit than he already is, he thought.

But still, the man's face remained calm and continued smiling. Well, he doesn't look angry...so I guess that's a good thing? But if everything's alright with him, then how come he hadn't let go of Li yet? Yamazaki grew worried again as he looked from Touya to Syaoran and to Fujitaka.

The leader of the coven must have noticed the confusion in his eyes. He raised one finger to his lips as if telling him to be quiet. From afar, it was evident that his mouth was moving, but Yamazaki couldn't hear what he was saying, but instead Touya's mouth started to move.

"Sorry to have kept you waiting, Syaoran-kun. Perhaps now, we could proceed according to plan," Touya said.

"Huh?" Syaoran blinked. What's going on? What is this guy saying? And did he just call me 'Syaoran-kun'?

"And I apologize, also...if I have to use your friend." Touya continued to say, "Shall we begin?"

And with that a magic circle started forming around where Yamazaki stood.

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(Up NEXT Chapter Four: "Doggy?")


Author's Note:

Sorry, I have to move their meeting to the next chapter. There were simply unexpected plots that popped out of my mind that ended up getting added in this chapter. Once again, my apologies.

purplemonkeys: I think you got it right as to why Sarabusa was laughing. Lolz And oh…if you loved the children then I think you are going to hate me later on.

Meigumii: That was my plan…to lead on readers to think that Sakura was going to get adopted. Harhar I'm glad it was effective. I completely understand if you don't get the last part about the clans and all. I am introducing a lot of concepts and how this strange world functions. It can get more complicated. I am trying my best not to confuse the readers and it proved to be difficult.

Wingdom: hides under the table I'm just glad that this story received reviews at all. I must be grateful. But thank you for thinking that this fic should be more recognized. I know that vampires had been used in stories for centuries…this may not be original in that area…but I want to redo the stereotypes and introduce my own fictitious concept about them. P (Why am I telling this to you? You made it clear that you like the idea. Lolz It's just me…thinking out loud…gomen…gomen)

Inkirietta: Your long reviews never fail to make my day. Lolz As usual many theories and questions…and as usual I'm going to be bad and shut my mouth. Haha (Although I think you already know that.) I think you got a point about people knowing how I write by now, that's why "covens" got more reviews than the time "incorporated" got first uploaded. nod nod I hope you will stick with me up to the end of this story as well. Thank you.

Littlelonewolf: Oh my, another wonderer like Inkirietta. ) And like her, you need to wait. insert ebil laugh here

Windflight: Perhaps you mean Reed not Eriol that got greedy? They are two different people in this fic. Maybe the succeeding chapters will enlighten you more.

Speaking of Eriol, I've completed the sub-plot for his character. It's not written yet, but the logical sequence of things in regards to his existence had just been formed. (and he wouldn't be as powerful as he would first seem to be…nod nod…I just love character development)

And to the rest of you who reviewed last chapter (but weren't really asking questions), FlowerLover, amy0110, my-reflection, dkwolves, anony, MistressMizu, MisunderstO-od-child, stephie23 and SakuraCharm, thank you very much.

R & R onegai shimasu!