'The Covens Underneath'
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:
Sakura squinted and followed the sound. Finally, she saw the source. There stood majestically on the roof of another building not far from the dormitory, was a huge black beast arching its head up high towards the oblivion of the night. It has a silky mane and long furry tail. The tiles of the roof turned into ice under its paws. Puffs of chilly-looking breath escaped its nostrils every now and then.
Then, it hit her as she finally remembered.
"Doggy…" Sakura whispered; wide-eyed.
As if on cue, the black dog turned its head towards her direction. Once again, she found herself staring at cold shimmering sapphire eyes.
The clear sky above was no more as clouds started to take over. No sooner than later, the stars disappeared and the air became chillier than ever. One by one, flakes fell from the sky.
It started to snow.
---: ACT ONE :---
"THE BEGINNING OF AN END"
: Chapter Five :
Fujitaka stopped dead on his tracks. He clasped a branch of a tree really tight as he caught up with Syaoran's beast form. But as to whether to proceed, he could not decide.
The black dog, as Yamazaki pointed out, moved very fast. He was able to counter its attacks towards the students that were passing by the gym. But as it turned out, the beast had short attention span and continued preying on something else. Night time finally spread throughout the city and Fujitaka had found it difficult to completely grab the dog or to even find an opening to teleport it somewhere safer. The Li heritage was really powerful. Even for someone with his stature, he was panting. It felt like he was chasing a blink. They had been going round and round the campus.
Fujitaka stood on top of a tall pine tree. He was still far from where the beast was located, but his vampiric eyes allowed him to zoom to view as if the black dog was just in front of him. He found beast Syaoran on top of a roof, arching its back towards the sky and howling in delight as the weather changed and became colder. Flakes of snow started to fall from the dark moonless sky. He knew that it would be a very good time to start chanting his teleportation spell, but something else caught his eyes.
Not far from the building where the menacing dog retained, was the girl's dormitory. And on the fifth floor, there was an opened window. Fujitaka's mouth went dry when he realized that someone was gazing out. Students who stayed in the school's dorm were all humans. Would he risk another unexplained event? He shot a glance towards the beast and back to the opened window. The distance was only a few feet away. That person was threateningly within the out-of-control dog's range.
He made more calculations and all of them told him that he wouldn't make it time if the dog saw the human.
Maybe I should just let him devour that person. Fujitaka thought. It was just a human, after all.
Yet, something inside the elder clawed with guilt.
Just a human… Sadness filled his eyes as he repeated his own words.
He shook his head as if to erase his thoughts. If something would go wrong, then he could use an adjinaya stone to cover things up.
This should have been his final decision if only he didn't see something else.
On the terrace at the side of the dormitory three stories above ground, a familiar being caught his eye. It was an old man sitting on a wheelchair looking straight at him. The old man's turquoise eyes glistened. He never blinked as he gazed at him intently with a small smile carved on his chapped lips.
Time seemed to pass as Fujitaka didn't break the eye contact he had with the old man.
Eventually, the old man was the first one to take his eyes off the other. He silently maneuvered his wheelchair and went inside the dark hallway.
Fujitaka was silent. He frowned when he realized that time literally stopped for a short while as they locked gazes.
Another howl pulled the elder back to his senses and focused his view once again towards the troublesome beast. He fought to stay his attention on the matter at hand but the old man's smile never left his mind.
Why is he smiling like that? Fujitaka pondered.
No sooner than later, he discovered why.
A gust of wind made the dormitory window's shutter flew more openly, thus; revealing the person which stood inside.
A familiar emerald-eyed girl met Fujitaka's sight. She was looking at the black dog in awe.
The elder gasped as the menacing beast turned its head and saw the human girl.
Fujitaka looked from the black dog to the girl. No one actually saw that incident from eleven years ago, so what he knew was also based from assumptions. It might have rocked the Li clan back then but he remained quiet when he saw the green scarf.
That familiar jade-green scarf...
He looked back at the girl.
Those familiar emerald-green eyes…
Fujitaka clenched his fists. If only Sarabusa wasn't such a prompt and efficient subordinate.
The leader of the coven inhaled deeply. This time it was his turn to make a decision from this unexpected crossroad.
Sakura clutched her chest. Her mouth dropped open from the shock of seeing the dog after all these years.
"Is that…really you?" she whispered in disbelief.
A few feet away, the huge black beast glared at her. It exposed long sharp fangs and growled.
For a moment, Sakura stared at the large animal; somehow gauging if things were real or not. Then finally, just like before when she first saw the creature…
Sakura's emerald eyes lit up.
"Doggy!" she exclaimed cheerfully. "Waaaaaaaaai! You've grown so beautiful!"
She went on with extended arms towards the black beast like a child waiting for her new teddy bear to land inside her arms. And again, the same surprised reaction overcame the large animal. The same stillness from the unexpected warmth from the girl which made it cease to growl.
It just stood there and looked at Sakura.
The auburn-haired girl tilted her head to one side. "Eeeeh? What's wrong?" She waved her extended arms up and down. "Come here…," she cooed sweetly; completely oblivious that to other people, this beast might be regarded as something dangerous and scary. "Don't you want to come over here?"
By this time, snow had fallen quite faster. The roofs were starting to get covered with white blankets of coldness. Flakes landed on Sakura's face every now and then. The barn clothes she wore weren't exactly thick to support the temperature, but she doesn't seem to mind this. Her attention was completely devoted to the magnificent animal she was seeing before her.
"I realized that there aren't any ledges nearby since I'm on the fifth floor," She said and examined her window. "Nor a wide panel to stand on either…and this window frame is too small for you to fit in." She laughed lightly and placed her arms back to her sides. "So I guess, I understand if you don't want to come here." There was a hint of disappointment in her voice.
Miraculously, though, the black dog faced Sakura. It began to step towards her, but as soon as it reached the edge of the tiled-roof, worry flashed against her emerald-eyes.
"Wait! Don't step further! You're going to fall!" She was referring to the large gap between the building where the beast stood and the dormitory.
But the beast carried on. Its menacing eyes seemed to have dissipated. Calm sapphire eyes met Sakura's emerald orbs instead. Its glint reminded her of a clear glass when reflected by light.
The black animal stepped beyond the edge of the roof, and in one swift stroke of its paw, the empty air turned into ice; a chunk of solid cold block enough to support one muscled leg.
Sakura's mouth dropped open. I must be dreaming…
It continued to walk. One after another, frozen blocks started to appear beneath its paws. It was like a bridge being made as its crosser proceeded to the other side.
No sooner than late, the fifteen-year old orphan found herself within arm's length of the animal. It was standing so Sakura had to look up. The large dog seemed to had noticed this so it paced one more time. Its paw landed on the window's lower frame and laid down like it did before for little Sakura to reach him. This made the grown-up girl step back.
Sakura blinked at the beast's brisk action. She slightly gasped and lost her balance when it came down on eye level. She landed on her behind right smack on the wooden floor.
The animal's shoulders started moving and a huffing sound came out of its snout.
"Hey!" she remarked when she regained her posture. "Are you laughing at me?!"
This time, even the dog's eyes wrinkled at the sides.
"WAI! You are laughing!" Sakura pouted. I didn't know that a dog is capable of laughing.
But she shrugged the thought off and stomped back towards the black animal.
"You're really rude! This is the second time you made me fall back!" She conjured a puffy-looking face and clasped the beast's cheeks with her hands. She pursed her lips and started shaking the animal's head. "If you're not so cute I wouldn't tolerate such an act," she remarked as her fingers dug down to the dog's silky fur.
"Mmmmph…you're so soft," Sakura murmurred as she adored the creature. "Hoe! Wait! It's snowing outside, your body's going to get wet." Her emerald orbs sparkled with worry but when she gazed beyond the dog's head, she saw the flakes of snow fall from the sky yet they stop an inch away from the black animal's fur, only to be turned to droplets of ice which will slid away from its torso down to the ground below.
"Hoe?" Sakura once again doubted on whether or not she was dreaming. How could such an event be possible? Ice forming underneath the dog's paws, frozen bridge forming on midair, and now trinkets of snowflakes turning to solid droplets?
She was still holding her beloved 'doggy' by the head when it stuck its tongue out and started licking her face which completely pulled her mind away from her questions.
"That tickles," Sakura giggled.
The beast even wagged its tail, much to the girl's delight.
"Kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-desu!" She couldn't contain herself anymore as she hugged the dog's large head. She closed her eyes as she snuggled close.
"You're so warm," she murmured. "…just like back then." Then, she opened her eyes once more to look at the animal's sapphire ones. "But I don't get it. Why is that…you feel so warm yet your breath is cold?" She was referring to the cloud of chilly air which came out of the beast's nostrils every now and then.
Sakura moved away and clasped her face. "Maybe I am really dreaming." She glanced back at the black animal at her window. "I think I should pinch myself or something." Which she did.
"Ouch!" She rubbed her arm, and then gazed back only to see the dog looking at her weirdly. "You're still there."
The dog barked at her which vibrated inside her room and made the lamp beside her table shake.
"Hoe!" Sakura exclaimed and jumped at the large dog to grasp its snout together. "Ssssssssssssshhhhhhh! Someone might hear you!"
The auburn-haired girl wasn't sure if pets were allowed inside the premises. Even so, her beloved doggie's look wasn't exactly something out of the ordinary. She could just imagine how people will react if they saw a black dog hanging outside her window.
Well, it isn't exactly hanging…but I don't know how to call it, she thought.
Sakura wondered why she wasn't scared nor was she freaked out, but for some reason her fondness of animals took over than reality itself.
"Aww…I wish you can come inside," she said to the black animal. "People might see you like that and you're going to get me in trouble." Worry filled her emerald-eyes. "Don't you have any home to go to?" But no answer came to her.
She sighed and moved away. "Just be quiet…okay?" She placed her finger on her lips in a hushing gesture.
"Mmmmph…if only you're not out there," Sakura remarked as she pondered on how she could fit the large dog into the small window frame.
As if reading her mind, the huge dog suddenly stood up. Its black coat of fur shimmered against the snow outside and in a blink of an eye; it disappeared into a white mist. Sakura's eyes widened as the mist went inside her room and stopped near her feet. And as fast as it disappeared, the dog appeared again. The mist evaporated and this time the dog sat on the wooden floor…
…wagging its tail.
"Hoe!" Sakura exclaimed for the nth time that evening. "How…how did you do that?"
But again, silence answered her as the dog only looked at her. Her emerald eyes locked gaze with the large beast.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw…you're really so cute!" Unable to contain herself, Sakura once again wrapped her arms around the animal's neck. "Nyuuu!" Then, she let go. "Oh..oh…are you hungry? Would you like something to eat?" She was sure she could get something from the dorm's mess hall.
But the dog ignored her question and jumped on top of her bed instead.
Sakura stood up and placed her hands on her hips. "Ah well…is that a 'yes' or 'no'?"
But the black beast just stretched its massive legs and laid down on the mattress. It rested its head on its paws and closed its eyes. As it did so, the ice which always forms under its feet disappeared. It looked nothing more like a black furry creature curled up peacefully on the sheets.
"Haaaah! Taking over me bed, eh?" She stomped towards her bed and flopped on top. "This is my first time to sleep on a soft bed! You can't just steal it away from me! You almost took every space!"
But, she didn't receive any reaction from the dog.
"Wai! Don't tell me you are already asleep!" Sakura cutely pouted.
And yes…the large dog was already in slumber.
Her mouth dropped open. "I can't believe this! How am I going to sleep now?" She nudged the animal only to get a low doggie whimper.
Sakura sighed. It was evident that the dog was not going to bulge.
"Fine! If you're not going to move over…I'm going to drop my body on your back and sleep myself. I'm…heavy, you know." She threatened but the beast ignored her.
"Okay! You asked for it." Sakura stood up on the mattress and lifted her skirt slightly as she position herself.
Finally, she jumped on top of the black dog which made the bed bounce.
"Argh!" She clutched the animal playfully, but it only opened one eye then closed it again and resumed sleeping.
"Hoeeeeeeeeeeee!" Sakura exclaimed with a cute pouting expression. "Hmph! Two can play that game!" She snuggled close to the beast's silky fur and closed her own eyes.
She was only playing around with her new found pet. She wasn't really going to sleep. But for some reason, she suddenly felt tired. The whole day of travel might have finally kicked in, so before she knew it, she was also pulled in a long sweet slumber.
Sakura awoken by what seemed like ripping sounds. She opened her eyes slowly. Once her blurry view became clear, she gasped at what she saw.
Her beloved "doggy" had its head buried inside her luggage. Around it, her clothes were scattered. Some of them were even torn apart.
"Doggy!" she exclaimed and ran towards the black animal.
In return, the large beast pulled its head out from her bag and looked at the approaching girl. A piece of cloth dangled inside it jaws.
"Hoe! That's my underwear!" Sakura remarked with a blush. She grabbed hold of the so-called undergarment and ended up in a small tag-of-war with the dog which growled and wag its tail in delight of the new play thing.
"Let go…!" She pulled exasperatedly until the dog gave up and let go. Sakura stumbled on the floor with her skirt fluttering around as she once again landed on her behind.
"Ou-ch…" She rubbed her back with one hand. "You're one bad dog! Look at what you did to my things!"
But the black animal only looked at her while it wagged its tail with one tongue dangling on the side as it breathed. Sakura couldn't help but to notice its immensely long white fangs with cold puffs of air from its nostrils also escaped its mouth as well.
"You look so hyper," Sakura observed.
As if on cue the dog barked and went round and round the room; knocking down every single thing.
"Hoe! Noooooooooooo! Don't do that! Someone might hear you!" She got up and lurched at the dog and grabbed hold of its head. "Sssssssssssh! You're going to get me in trouble." Sakura wondered if she woke up someone. She clasped the dog with her hands and looked at it straight in the eyes. "Stay still and quiet, okay?"
She tiptoed towards her door and snuck her head out the dark hallway, and frowned. The floor was quiet. Was everyone still sleeping? Then, she looked to the window. It was evident that the sun had already peered through. Sakura closed the door with a baffled look. Am I that lucky? she thought.
But just then…a loud gong erupted from the outside. They were seven eerie long sounds. Birds from the trees flew as it vibrated throughout the campus.
Sakura's eyes widened.
"IT'S SEVEN O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING!" She clasped her hands on her face. "I'M LATE!"
Class started at seven in the morning. No wonder the dorm looked deserted. They were all in school!
"No…no…no!" Sakura panicked. Fraulein Eliza stressed yesterday that she must be prompt at all cost.
"I must get dressed!" She paced around her room trying to locate her uniform and at the same time, collect the discarded clothes. "Where is it?...where is it?" Teary-eyed Sakura raked into the havoc. Finally, she spotted a familiar maroon skirt and raffled blouse.
"Hoe!" The emerald-eyed girl was relieved to see the skirt intact, but it was short-lived when she saw the right sleeves of the blouse. "It's ripped off." Indeed, the other side of the long-sleeved blouse was torn at the elbow area. "Oh no…what am I going to do?"
Sakura slumped down on the edge of her bed and buried her face in her hands. The dog seemed to have sensed that it did something wrong so it went to her and rested its huge head on top of her lap and whimpered with ears thrown back.
The orphan peered towards the animal with beautiful sapphire eyes and sighed. She stoke its silky fur and felt her worries fly away.
"You're so lucky that you're so cute," she said while she looked adoringly at the beast. Her emerald eyes sparkled. "If my mother was still alive, she would have loved you. She really liked animals…especially magnificently scary looking ones."
"I think I inherited this fascination from her."
Her hand crept from the dog's head to its snout. She traced a finger on its white fangs which escaped its mouth due to its length.
"You have such lovely teeth," she spoke as if in a trance; same expression her face display whenever she looked at the sky and predicted snow back in the orphanage.
Time seemed to pass and Sakura felt she doesn't really care whether she missed her first class or not. She would have preferred being with her 'doggy' for the rest of the day…
..if a knock didn't interrupt the silence.
"Hoe!" Sakura snapped back to her senses. "Who…who can that be?"
Another knock came from her door.
"Ju…just a minute!"
She glanced around her room. She already managed to pick up most of her clothes but still, some of her personal belongings could be found here and there. And what's more… She looked back at the black dog. How am I going to explain this?
Again, the knock repeated.
"Who is it?" Sakura asked but there was no answer from her visitor outside.
She grew nervous. Was the person outside too angry to speak? All out of options, Sakura grabbed her blanket and covered the dog with it. It protested, naturally, but the girl gave it a glare and summoned her best authoritative look.
The knock became evident again.
"Co…coming!" She scrambled on her feet and opened the door.
The door creaked opened and as Sakura was about to bow in apology, empty space greeted her.
There was no one there.
"Hoe…?" She blinked and stepped out.
The hallway was deserted; not a cricket in sight. She bit her lower lip and paced from one end of the hallway to the other.
Still, not a soul in sight.
"But…but…," she started to say. She opened her door a few seconds after the last knock. Surely, someone couldn't have left that fast?
Sakura leaned on the stairs' railings and glanced down at the steps below. She was on the top floor of the dorm. The flight of stairs could easily be seen. There was no trace of anyone.
A strange feeling overcame her. It was as if someone was watching her. She spun around but she was still alone. Goosebumps started to creep throughout her body.
"I don't like this feeling at all," she murmured to herself.
She glanced back at her room. The door was still open. On an instant, she started running towards her room. She wanted to throw herself at her beloved doggy as if to seek protection from whatever it was she felt in the hallway.
But once she was inside, she gasped.
"Doggy?" The blanket which covered the black beast was sprawled on the floor.
…but the large animal was nowhere in sight.
"Doggy?" the girl repeated but no whimper or bark nor howl answered her back.
She shut her door and looked hi and lo around her room but the dog was simply not there anymore.
"Where…where are you?" she asked in a small voice.
She paced towards the window. The breeze was cold from the snow which fell last night. Her eyes flickered from one rooftop to another to no avail.
"I…don't understand," she murmured. "What happened…?"
Then, a familiar tingling sound filled the air.
Sakura blinked. Where have I heard that before?
It came again. The sound was very near. She looked up and almost fell backwards when she saw something that wasn't there moments ago.
Dangling on top of her window was a small chime. It was simple with its narrow metal tubes creating a light music. A new moon design was carved to hold everything as the wind blew softly inside the room.
It was the same chime she had been seeing vividly in her dreams before.
"Yelan-sama! Hurry! Onegai!"
A man dressed in an oriental-looking robe came running towards the Li Clan's head's veranda.
"What is it?" Yelan replied. Worry could be noticed within her voice. But who could blame her? Her son, after all, had been missing since late yesterday afternoon.
"What of my son!" the concerned mother asked the frenzied-faced family member.
"He's…he's back…," he said , breathless.
The woman's eyes widened. "He came back?"
"Yes, Yelan-sama." The man nodded, "…just like years ago…on his own."
Yelan clutched her chest. "Really?"
"Except…," the distressed man continued.
"He is still in his beast form," he finally said.
"WHAT!" Yelan exclaimed.
She was answered by a nod.
"But…does this mean…" The strict woman gulped which made the other man uneasy. It was evident that if a vampire with this kind of stature became fearful; imagine how someone like him could have reacted.
"Is he…," Yelan stared at the man. "…killing clan members at this very moment? Is he causing devastation outside?!" She started moving in panic.
"No, Yelan-sama," he answered. "He's…he's…gaah…I'm sorry. I don't know how to explain it. I am puzzled as well. Even the elders. You should see for yourself."
The strict woman narrowed her eyes. "Show me to him."
"Hai," the man nodded and ushered the concerned mother to where her son was.
Moments later, Yelan saw the elders of their clan crouched together behind the fenced porch as if trying their best to hide themselves.
"What's going on here?" Her voice boomed which caused them to lose their balance.
"Sssssshhhhhhh, Yelan. You mustn't raise your voice. He may turn his attention to us," One of the elders whispered to her.
"Hmm?" With that she also peered cautiously on their shoulders and the sight which met her made her drop her mouth open.
Before them, just beyond the open terrace, the large black dog was huffing and puffing cold air out of its nostrils.
It would have looked normal…
…if it wasn't on its back…
wagging its tail…
…and playing with a yellow bellflower which dangled from a clay pot that adorned the terrace.
"You've got to be kidding me," Yelan's eyes twitched.
"What did Fujitaka-sama do yesterday?" another elder whispered.
The rest could only shrug.
"Are there any reports of killings since the transformation?" Yelan asked.
The man who fetched her earlier shook his head. "None, Yelan-sama."
"Really?" The woman blinked and stared at his son who seemed to be acting more like an ordinary dog despite its scary form.
"Perhaps whatever incantation Fujitaka-sama did with Yamazaki actually worked. Maybe this was his intention all along," an elder pointed out.
"But I don't think Fujitaka-sama mentioned anything about changing Xiao-Lang's beast demeanor," Yelan thoughtfully remarked. "I believe his spell was only to create a shield for Yamazaki to protect him against Xiao-Lang's attacks once in battle."
"Then perhaps, this is an unexpected side effect?"
"I do not know," the woman answered. "I must consult the leader first."
"But what are we going to do now? Are we supposed to approach the young master?"
"Well…we don't have any other choice. We can't just very well hide here forever." So with a strong face, Yelan stepped out. Everyone else held their breath.
Upon hearing nearby footsteps, the black beast ceased playing with its little flower and shot a cold gaze towards the woman.
Yelan swallowed hard. This was her son. She must not show fear.
But just then, voices became evident from the garden near the terrace.
"Are you sure you are alright, Yamazaki-sama?" She heard a man wearing a dark robe ask.
"I'm fine, Yamagata-san. It is Li I am greatly worried of. I'm…" Yamazaki was saying but Yelan cut him.
"Yamazaki! Stay where you are!" she commanded.
"Huh?" The teenager stopped on his tracks with a startled expression. "Yelan-sama?" Then, his gaze fell on the beast which lay a few feet away from the woman and gasped, "Li."
Upon seeing the growing number of visitors around him, the black dog immediately stood up in all fours and started growling. Its fangs started to show as it darted its gaze at the vampires before him.
Yelan grew worried again. She sensed that her son was becoming hostile once more.
"Darling…it is me…your mother," she said.
But the beast ignored her. It seemed to have focused its attention on Yamazaki. The student gulped. He didn't like the look the large black animal was giving him. "Easy now, Li."
Too late, though. The beast lurched towards the boy.
"Yamazaki!" Yelan exclaimed. She fluttered her fan and the student flung to the far side with such great force, but it made him dodge the dog's attack.
The elders at the back started to panic. Every one of them spoke hurriedly.
"Hush! This is no time to lose our focus!" Yelan's voice interrupted them. "Start chanting and attempt to restrain Xiao-Lang!"
The elders nodded and did as they were told. Their chants started forming luminous chains around the beast. Yelan made another set of action with her fan and these chains wrapped around the dog's body. Yamazaki, on the other hand, was being helped up by Yamagata.
"Arigatou, Yamagata-san," he said to the man yet his eyes were fixed on his friend which was desperately being chained by his own family.
But to Yelan's horror, the massive animal gave out a deafening howl which caused the chains to break like glass and threw the elders who were conjuring the incantation. Not a second sooner, the large dog was back on its stance and paced towards Yamazaki with such speed that it didn't even give the opportunity for the witnesses to blink.
Oh no…I'm done for. Yamazaki closed his eyes and waited for the impact.
But miraculously, nothing came.
The boy slowly opened his eyes again and his mouth fell open in disbelief.
The black dog was wagging its tail and was playfully tugging something in his side pocket.
"Huh?" Yamazaki blinked.
It was pulling out the jade-green scarf that was tucked inside his pocket. Li gave it back to him yesterday before they entered the gym. He had lost consciousness minutes after the leader of the coven left him to trail the beast Li. He woke up and found himself in the nurse's office this morning with his parents watching him. They tried convincing him to go home and skip school that day, but he was so worried of his friend that he immediately left the facility and went straight to the Li estate. He had almost forgotten that he had the scarf with him all this time.
The beast finally got what it wanted and strode back to its previous location. It sniffed the worn-out piece of cloth and snuggled its nose beneath it.
"Err…Yelan-sama?" Yamazaki started to say. His voice was full of inquiry.
"Don't ask," Yelan briskly said. "I am as dumbfounded as you are."
"You are going to hold those pails of water outside the classroom until lunch today!" A woman's voice echoed throughout the school's hallway.
"Hai! Hai!" Sakura bowed hurriedly.
"Heeeeh…the nerve of being so late on your first day of school," the woman with long dark-brown hair scolded.
"I'm so sorry, Akizuki-sensei. I'm so sorry." Sakura kept bowing.
"Tush! Don't call me that. It makes me sound so old. Call me Nakuru-sensei. Nakuru-sensei!" the professor said while flattering her hand before her.
It was nearly nine in the morning by the time Sakura arrived to school. Actually, it surprised her that she was able to attend at all with all that had happened to her since last night. As a matter of fact, it took her a while to gather herself up and be on her way. But in the end, she waved her confused thoughts and proceeded to her class.
Sakura peered beyond the professor's shoulders, only to be met by curious glances by the students inside the classroom. Well, not all of them were curious gazes. Some didn't regard her at all. She guessed that those might be the ones who belonged to the rich families, judging on how their skins seemed to glow with pamper compared to the others. They might be wearing the same clothes but their aura stood out.
Their aura of wealth, Sakura sighed inwardly.
"I'll be informing your other professors about your punishment and not to expect an appearance from you till after lunch," Nakuru remarked. "Hope you enjoy your heavy pails," she said before finally closing the classroom's door and leaving Sakura alone outside.
"Hai…," she murmured weakly against the closed stain-glass door.
Sakura bent her head and stood obediently with a pail filled of water at each hand.
"So much for my first day." She tilted her head at one side, a mannerism of hers, and heaved another sigh.
Silence overcame her as she roamed her eyes around the vast hallway of the school. Huge paintings of people hang on the stone walls which looked pretty old like the rest of the school. Goosebumps crept on Sakura's arm as these images seemed lifelike.
"I wonder who these people are…"
She bit her lip as she stared at the one directly in front of her classroom. It was a portrait of a bald man wearing elaborately designed coat and a sturdy cane on one hand. "Probably people who were important to this school," she said; answering her own question.
She once again gazed down the silent hallway. Classes were on-going in each room yet no sound echoed in the corridors. It was more likely that each room was sound-proofed. She had heard about such innovation from Mistress Sai before. In a normal circumstance, Sakura would have been amazed but her feelings at the moment were still wavering and it wasn't because of the stares she received this morning, but of what happened back at the girl's dormitory. The quiet hallways of her school were starting to bring back the incident.
Sakura shook her head and bit her lip.
NO! Don't think of such things! Erase…erase them!
She desperately pushed her doubts to the back of her head. You're in the opportunity of the lifetime for any orphan! You must not think of silly things! she scolded her troubled self.
So with a determined face, Sakura once more reassured herself. "Don't fool around, Sakura."
"Here are your class passes for your professors. These will keep both of you out of detention from your early morning classes." Fujitaka handed two pieces of paper to the seventeen-year old boys in front of him.
"Hai," one of the teenagers said while the other just grunted.
"Fujitaka-sama…are you sure it is alright for them to attend class today?" Yelan asked. "I mean…after their ordeal…" Her voice trailed off.
"I think there is nothing to worry about." The leader of the coven smiled cheerfully. "After hearing about Syaoran-kun's demeanor this morning, I think his beast self was calmed down a bit."
The chestnut-haired boy set his mouth in a grim line upon the mention of that morning's unexpected 'incident'. Yamazaki, who had been standing beside him, bit his lip to keep himself from laughing. Syaoran shot his friend a deadly glare which made the other teen look in another direction.
Apparently, Syaoran had resulted to more dog-life gestures after pulling the green scarf out of Yamazaki's pocket that morning. According to everyone in their manor, he was all out wagging his tail and playing around the garden with it before finally changing back to his vampire form. Syaoran could not imagine his fierce self resulting to such acts. Even though it was good that he did not continue to attack anyone, his inner pride could not accept such absurd behaviors. He was a proud Li after all; a direct descendant of an ancient bloodline.
"But you said so yourself that it wasn't your intention to make Xiao-Lang's beast form to behave like that," Yelan pointed out. "You confirmed just now that the barrier was the only thing the incantation was for and nothing more. You also stressed that there was no possibility that such a spell would cause any side effects of such nature. Don't you think it would be better to observe them for a while?"
Fujitaka pushed his glasses upwards and smiled, "I think that it is a great improvement on Syaoran-kun's side if his beast form seemed to have opted doing something else rather than ripping people's flesh apart."
Syaoran gritted his teeth. He really didn't like their coven's leader. In his opinion, Fujitaka Daidouji's ways were unorthodox and too unpredictable. Then again, as someone who resided in Tetsuroh, he had no other choice but to obey.
Yelan sighed, "Fujitaka-sama…you are making it sound as if it was nothing."
The other man chuckled. "Don't worry too much, Yelan-san. Everything is going to be alright." Then, he turned his attention back to the students. "Go ahead to your classes. We wouldn't want you guys to miss so much. I will send another summons to set a schedule for another prep-up session. This time, I would teach Yamazaki how to conjure that barrier. But for now, enjoy your classes."
And with that, the two students bowed formally and left Fujitaka's office. Once outside, Syaoran screamed frustratingly at Yamazaki.
"I can't believe he is smiling like that after all we went through!" he exclaimed.
Yamazaki smiled. "I am smiling, too, you know, because I'm glad that I'm still alive."
The chestnut-haired teen gave a thoughtful expression. "Guess, you are right. I should be thankful that whatever it was he planned, it actually worked."
"Yeah…," his friend said. "And…" He bit his lip as he realized what he was about to say.
"And what?" Syaoran asked then he saw Yamazaki's face. "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, YAMAZAKI! IT WAS NOT THAT FUNNY!"
His friend burst out laughing. "Haha, how can you say that when you can't even remember what you did?"
"WELL I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT I AM CAPABLE OF SUCH A THING!" Syaoran stubbornly said. "Puft! Playing around like a dog with a wagging tail," he said with great annoyance.
"Actually, you look more like a 'love-sick'puppy," Yamazaki remarked before laughing again.
"Okay…okay…" He placed his hands up in surrender. "I'll stop teasing you."
"Yeah, you'd better." Syaoran stomped grumpily.
"So…" Yamazaki started to say. "You mentioned something to me earlier…about a voice you heard while you were being pounded on the wall…"
"Yeah, didn't you hear any?" Syaoran asked.
His friend shook his head. "Nope. Then again, I am greatly restrained down that I might not have noticed."
"I was bleeding more than you are but the voice came solid and clear to me," Syaoran pointed out.
"Well, you're a much stronger vampire than I am, Li. Your senses might be well-tuned despite such situations."
The chestnut-haired teen shrugged, "Perhaps."
"Why didn't you tell Fujitaka-sama about it?"
"Hmph. I don't think he needs to know." Hatred and irritation reflected inside Syaoran's amber eyes.
"I understand that you don't like our coven's leader, but I think that's essential information for him to know since it did happen during his little experiment," Yamazaki pointed out.
"That's the thing. His 'little experiment'," Syaoran mimicked. "I'll tell him whenever I feel like telling," he stubbornly declared.
Yamazaki heaved another sigh. "Okay fine…whatever you are happy with." After that, he reached out and tucked something inside his friend's breast pocket.
"Huh? What the hell is this?" Syaoran asked.
"It's your little charm."
Syaoran stared at the thing his friend gave him. He realized that it was the old jade-colored scarf. He was about to complain again but he stopped when he saw Yamazaki's serious expression.
"Li…just keep it with you…always. Your beast form is obviously fond of it." His friend said.
"But why only now, Yamazaki? I mean, I did carry this before when we were younger. I never did have same reaction as you guys claimed I had this morning."
"I don't know," Yamazaki replied. "But one thing I am sure of…" He looked at Syaoran intently. "I didn't imagine things this morning and no matter how funny your beast demeanor had been around that scarf, the fact still remains that it kept your fierce uncontrollable self from killing others."
Syaoran looked down and was silent for a moment.
"Fine," he finally said. "But I am doing this because you are the one who asked me to. I'm not going to do it for anyone else."
Yamazaki smiled, "Arigatou."
Sakura's hands were getting numb from holding the pails for an hour and a half now. For some unknown reason, Nakuru-sensei seemed to have an invisible radar whenever she places the pails down for a while to rest. The professor would throw a piece of chalk towards the door's stained glass which would startle her. She would look and would see the educator's shadow beyond the close door with her hands on her hips. Scared that her professor might prolong the punishment, Sakura would immediately resume her position.
"I can't believe a young instructor can be so strict," Teary-eyed Sakura said. "She is even worse than Mistress Sai. I wonder if all professors here are like her."
The emerald-eyed girl sighed.
"I'll be going this way, Yamazaki." Sakura heard a male voice from around the corner of the hallway.
"You're going to take a shortcut again at the lower year's floor?" his companion asked.
The guy laughed. "I am supposed to give a case-study report to Terada-sensei's class today. It would pretty much ruin the round robin schedule he had on us. So I really got to hurry even though I have a pass from the headmaster."
"Who-kay. We'll just meet up at lunch."
"Right." And with that, running footsteps echoed throughout the hallway.
Sakura blinked as she saw a figure immerging from the far corner towards her direction. The guy appeared to be an upperclassman. He was tall and lean. He had chestnut-colored hair which was slightly tossed around as he made his way through the corridor. He carried the same aura as the high-classed people in her classroom.
Another rich student. She lowered her eyes. He would probably see me as a dunce for standing like this with pails in my hands.
Sakura would have been contented with not looking at the upperclassman when he made his way in front of her…
…if only her heart didn't suddenly thump fast.
The girl frowned. Huh?
No sooner than later, Sakura felt as if she was catching her breath.
What's going on? Am I tired for holding these pails?
She shook her head. A strange feeling overcame her as the upperclassman grew nearer.
She blinked. Perhaps I shouldn't be looking down.
So she pulled her eyes up just in time to see a clearer view of the approaching upperclassman. Though his features were evident to her, something else caught her attention. Her mouth dropped open when she saw the piece of cloth dangling in his breast pocket; an old looking jade-green scarf which greatly resembled the one she had years ago.
Sakura's stare went from the piece of garment to the upper classman's face, and as he ran directly in front of her, she felt the strange feeling inside her grew stronger. For a split second of him passing by, her heart seemed to jump out of her chest.
She couldn't explain what she was feeling. It was heavy by this second then lighter on the next. Her mouth went dry that she couldn't even swallow properly.
The chestnut-haired student seemed to have sensed someone looking at him that he shot a quick side glance only to meet emerald-eyes staring at him. He ran a few meters more before his feet slowed down into a walk until he completely stopped pacing.
For a moment, he just stood there with his back on a gaping Sakura. Then finally, he turned around with his amber eyes directed straight at her.
"Have we…met before?" he asked her with a deep frown etched on his forehead.
(Up NEXT Chapter Six: "Rumor Spreads")
This is really fun. Now why do I enjoy writing this fic so much? Oh yeah, it's because whenever I type…I, myself, don't know what's going to happen next. I am formulating things as I go along. And that unknown land to venture thrills me to the bones. But don't worry; the concept is there so you can't really say that things were unplanned. It's just that unlike 'inc' that everything was laid out and ready to be written, 'covens' dangled in the mercy of my current mood.
Once again, thank you for all the reviews. Do you guys think I can reach 100 reviews before chapter 10?
R & R Onegai Shimasu!