'Secret of the Letter Maker'
I don't own Card Captor Sakura 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.
110 REVIEWS WITH JUST 3 CHAPTERS!!!
I almost had a heart attack.
Thank you very much. I was doing the poll thing at the start of the year but gave up since I couldn't catch up with weekly updates and if I keep doing that, 'lettermaker' would always be beaten by my other on-going fics. ('Incorporated' to be more precise) So, the voting was discontinued.
I edited and corrected many things in Chapters 1-3…may it be grammar, spelling, dialogue flow…I hope things are better now. LetterMaker is really special to me. Since it just started, I want it to be really good. I know that 'Incorporated' can really be addicting with its unexpected turns (it is one hell of a spider web), but I don't want 'LetterMaker' to be like it in the sense that there are too many errors in the grammar or the likes. I am trying my best to proofread 'Inc' but since it has so many chapters already, it takes time to go back to previous chapters and edit. (I would like to thank the people from ka0ri-chan's forum who had given their constructive criticisms and encouragements. Especially to grammar Nazi, Leaves.)
From Previous Chapter:
Slowly, the man walked towards their location. Shuffling of solid chains could be heard as he advanced from one step to another which made his walk somewhat uneven due to the hindrance of cuffed hands and feet. He finally reached the two small animals and his eyes fell on the letter on top of the steel plate. His face was hidden from the shadow of his own built as he stared at the cream envelope.
The small yellow beast flew on his shoulders and perched near his ear. "It is for you." Keroberos said in a voice which came out in almost a whisper.
For a moment, the man didn't move but eventually, one cuffed hand slowly reached out. The chains under it rustled as it touched the wooden surface of the table with its crisp golden glow illuminating at the edge of the envelope.
Suppi flew up as well and peered as the man grasped the smooth back of the letter. Curiosity kept everyone silent and with a few more movements…
…he began to open the letter.
Chapter Four: "Unexpected Reply Part II"
"Sakura, Sakura." Mei-ling's voice brought the fair lady of Yorke back to her senses.
"Hoe? Mei-ling?" Sakura blinked up towards her steadfast friend who sighed upon seeing her lost expression.
"You have been like this for days." The black-haired lady remarked. "Always looking beyond the vast yonder. " She gestured exasperatedly with one hand.
Sakura smiled apologetically. "Please don't mind me. I promise I would be more attentive from now on. What is it you want from me, Mei-ling?"
The other lady shook her head. "Never mind. I think I'll just do it myself." And with that, she trotted off towards the cabinet at the far end of the room.
Two weeks had passed since the day Sakura met the two Dukes in their town library. No matter how extraordinary the circumstances were, the days flowed by with nothing more but a shard of unforgettable memory for both her and Tomoyo. She hadn't heard anything from any of the alleged Dukes, specifically, the gentle Duke of Summers; that, if not for the existence of the pen given to her, she could have easily regarded their encounter as a mere dream conjured due to frustrating circumstances.
It would have been easier if everything was just a dream. Sakura thought to herself and sighed. Then, I wouldn't be so confused.
Indeed, the days seemed quiet and normal. Like now, she was spending the afternoon with her two lady friends as they attempted embroidery. Mei-ling was shaking her head as she browsed inside the drawer's contents for a red-colored thread while Tomoyo was beside her with worried eyes. She reached out and touched Sakura's hand.
"Are you alright? You are not falling ill, are you?" The Lady of Bellport asked softly.
Sakura shook her head. "I'm fine." She tried to conjure a smile. "I am just giving this my full attention. It is not as easy as I thought it would be…haha." She remarked nervously as she pertained to the half-finished embroidered flower in her hand.
Her raven-haired friend looked like there were still things she would like to say but nevertheless decided not to pursue, much to Sakura's relief, and continued her own piece of needlework.
As Sakura pretended to resume her task, she couldn't help but to feel grateful to have such a dependable friend. There were times wherein the Lady of Bellport could go overboard on things, but still Tomoyo was Tomoyo. Her friend would never bring her harm or discomfort. To a certain degree, that is. She said inwardly. Up to that moment, Tomoyo had kept her promise and never told a soul about what happened at the library, but…
There was a huge 'but'.
But…there were things Tomoyo didn't know.
True, neither the Duke of Summers nor the Duke of Windome had called upon her after the incident, but the token she received from that fortunate moment had given her much mystery and unexplainable events every time it was used.
At first she thought that her eyes were playing tricks on her. That maybe perhaps she was too tired and started to hallucinate. She tried staying awake and focused on the things happening before her, but no matter what she did, the answer was far from her reach.
It all started when she followed the gentle Duke's suggestion and wrote down her thoughts. Her intention was to make a small journal but felt discontented that in the end she poured her grievances on a sheet of paper. The journal entry turned out to be written as a short letter addressed to a machine in the postal service. It was utterly ridiculous no matter which angle one would look upon it, but nevertheless, she felt happy and decided to continue doing it and to eventually compile the loose sheets. She even remembered tucking her 'letter' inside a book before going to bed.
But the next morning, there was no trace of her 'letter'. Puzzled, she looked high and low, asked every maid in the manor and searched the grounds below her window in case it was blown outside but found nothing.
Had she dreamt of everything?
Did she truly write to the LetterMaker?
These were the questions floating inside her mind. She had thought about it so many times. Even entertaining the notion that a maid might have found the letter and decided that the act done by their young lady was too embarrassing and burned the parchment. Sakura was willing to let go of the whole thing and completely forget about it if not for an unknown urge she felt every time she touched her new pen.
The beautiful yet mysterious pen.
That night, she tried writing again. Not sure at first on what she should say, but eventually shrugged and wrote down her questions.
I am somewhat confused. I was sure that I wrote a letter to you last night, but this morning when I woke up, it disappeared. I've searched everywhere and found nothing. I've finally concluded that one of our helpers might have found it and burned it. But that would be understandable. I mean, it would be utterly embarrassing for their young lady to write to a machine. Haha.
Yet, I am doing it again right now. I am really hopeless. But I couldn't help it. Every time I see the Duke's pen, it seems to have this unknown force encouraging me to write. Have I told you about that pen? It was given to me by the Duke of Summers. I am not sure why. Perhaps, he pitied me for even attempting to search the out of limits section in the main library just to get information about you and your inventor.
You and your inventor…such a great mystery. I wonder why people never asked about it. It seems they had accepted you as you are and never questioned the possibilities. I have a friend who had pointed out many loopholes about your existence, yet no one in our kingdom seems to care to even notice it.
Why is that? Why I am the only one asking these questions?
I'm sorry. I had babbled on and on again. Here I am, about to go insane about finding my previous letter, yet I ended up writing a long one addressed to you again.
Well, I guess…I should store this one safely. Perhaps, inside my locked drawer. Yes, that would be the best.
And indeed, she placed her new letter insider her drawer and locked it. Thus, with a more secured heart, she crawled unto her bed and went to sleep with the drawer's key safely stored under her pillows.
But the following morning, it happened again. Her letter was nowhere to be found.
And what was more puzzling about it was that her drawer was still locked with its contents seemed untouched when she visited it. With added puzzlement, she once again asked one maid to another but none had entered her room that morning; same with her mother and the rest of their attendants.
She recalled being frustrated and decided to let it slide for a day or two, but nevertheless, she found herself writing another letter after the days had passed. With it, it happened again. Her letter disappeared. She kept writing every night even to the extent of the most trivial things like what she ate that day and so on and so forth, but the same thing happened the morning after.
The letters she wrote disappears.
all over again.
Until, she couldn't take it any longer and decided to wait one evening. And what beckoned her took her words away.
As soon as everything was settled after she locked her drawer and pretended to sleep with one eye silently observing her desk, the pen started glowing and levitated in mid air. Sakura gasped as she saw this and clutched her covers tight. With wide eyes she watched as her locked drawer shone brightly and a light slipped out from the hard wood and flew below the glowing pen. Her mouth hung open when it materialized as the letter she wrote earlier. The pen seemed to read the first lines of her letter and then finally, the paper folded itself and slid inside an envelope which the pen's light pulled out from another stack on her desk. Her knuckles were almost white as the pen started writing 'To the LetterMaker' on its own at the back of the envelope; even sealing it with wax afterwards. It was as if an invisible hand was moving everything.
Is this magic? She thought.
Was she dreaming? She tried pinching herself and confirmed that she was wide awake. She sat up with her eyes still locked on the glowing pen and letter. She moved, yet the pen doesn't seem to mind this and continued to seal the envelope. Sakura padded towards her desk and reached out towards the mystery unfolding before her eyes, but as soon as she did so, the envelope turned into a small ball of light and quickly flew outside her room. She remembered scurrying after it as it passed through the solid wall. She didn't care if the hallway was pitch dark, all she knew was that she had to follow the glowing light that was starting to leave her behind as it flew from one adjacent room to another.
Then finally, it stopped at the room where the lettermaker receiver was kept. Sakura was out of breath as she grasped the door frame with her eyes set on the glowing object hovering above the receiver's steel plate. She gasped as the light became an envelope once again and dropped itself on the plate. And on an instant, the machine reacted and rolled the envelope inside a canister. Its bulbs turned on and off as it sent her letter on its merry way.
Just like that.
Her letter was gone.
The disappearances answered.
Yet, it only left her with more questions.
"Ouch!" Mei-ling's voice brought Sakura back to her senses. The other lady was pricked by a needle.
"Hoe! Are you alright, Mei-ling? I'll call the maid to attend to you." Sakura remarked and was about to ring the bell when Mei-ling stopped her.
"It's alright." The practical lady slightly sucked her finger. "I'm done for today anyway. I'm not that good in doing this."
Both Sakura and Tomoyo smiled nervously. "You should have picked a more simple design, Mei-Ling." The young lady of Yorke pointed out, but Mei-Ling raise her head proudly.
"There is no challenge in doing the simple things. It is far too easy for someone like me." She fanned her hand on her chest. "One will never advance if one never tries doing beyond the norm…etcetera, etcetera and etcetera!" Her two friends meekly nodded, not wanting to cross Mei-Ling in her current mood. "Well, that's about it. I'm leaving." She halted Sakura when the other lady was about to get up. "There is no need for the two of you to get up. I know my way in your manor. I'll see myself out with no assistance."
"Are you sure?" Sakura said with worry.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Sakura. It was just a tiny pricked. " Mei-Ling tilted her head airily. "It will take more than that to immobilize me."
"The strong and powerful Mei-Ling," Tomoyo playfully remarked.
"Of course!" The dark-haired lady replied with much gusto. "Well then, carry on with your work. I'll see the two of you this weekend."
"Yes, this weekend." Sakura nodded cheerfully. "We are going to talk about your upcoming launch. Only a week from now! Isn't that great, Tomoyo? It is Mei-Ling's turn."
Tomoyo sighed lovingly. "Yes. A week from now. Then, five month's more it is going to be Sakura's turn." She drifted off to dreamland. "Finally, our little Sakura's turn."
The emerald-eyed girl knew very well what the other lady was thinking about. In every launch, all nobles would receive an invitation regardless if they decide to come or not. There was no exception in rank; therefore, both the Duke of Summers and the Duke of Windome would receive their invitation. And considering Sakura's recent rendezvous with both high Lords, Tomoyo was probably anticipating the chance that both would come to Sakura's launch.
The lady of Yorke would not dare interfere with her bestfriend's thoughts for fear that she might blurt something out in front of Mei-Ling. So instead, she quickly bid the other lady goodbye and was relieved when her friend finally left, leaving her and Tomoyo alone in the craft room.
Sakura sat and glanced towards her friend, who was still very much in her own little world. Should she say something about her experience with the pen? A part of her wanted to remain quiet, considering that this might add more 'enthusiasm' from the other lady. Sakura couldn't explain the logic behind the mysterious pen. If it was a mere invention then it would be impossible to behave that way. No strings, no levers, no bolts.
And it can pass through walls. Sakura recalled to herself. There was only one thing she could think of that could make everything possible; only one solid reason.
It could have been magic.
Magic at this age of time. Magic that was supposed to be long forgotten and could no longer be wield. That moment, her mother's word came back to her.
"…but people say that there were a few, who like the King, had the ability to use magic…"
Could Lord Yukito, the Duke of Summers, one of these people who secretly has the ability to use magic? Was this one of the reasons why he was selected as one of the candidates for kingship? It would be logical since despite his young age, he was also one of the King's advisers. Though, her mother pointed out that one's skill has nothing to do with age…but still…
Sakura contemplated to herself. This is all too much for me to bear. I need someone who can understand with an open mind.
So with no further a due, she reached out for her bestfriend's arm. "There is something I want to tell you, Tomoyo." She said.
The steady sound of machinery echoed throughout the room in a continuous hum. For anyone who would step inside, they would probably cringed if they stayed too long, but for a certain person who had grown up in this place and probably had spent almost his entire life tending from one bolt to another, it was probably the nearest thing he could regard as a home. For him and his guardian, this was the only place they could ever roam.
That was the sentence; a part of it.
Estranged from society's knowledge…
Erased from any record in the Kingdom…
Hidden from everyone's eyes…
Forgotten in the depths of people's memory…
He had accepted it all, willingly, with no complaints and tried to live peacefully. He had lost count of how many times the trees had shed their leaves. Watched steadily as the changing season flowed by hand in hand with people's lives; silently…solemnly…inside the walls of the Manchester mansion. He was confined and forbidden to step out. One could say that he could be a bit naïve and knew nothing of the outside world, but this was not the case.
As he stood in front of the large machine at the center of the room, his chained hand reached out towards one of the glowing orbs hovering around it. It changed color the moment his finger made contact; its faint light reflected back towards his eyes and on an instant his consciousness was pulled towards a grieving person who pressed the 'assistance' button in one of his receivers in a faraway town. On that moment, he was able to see this person's character; his worries, his sadness…his heart. This person's emotions were greater than any other; hence, the magical orbs, although they were made to handle things on their own, had called specifically for his assistance. Occurrences like this had enabled him to see beyond the walls of the Manchester estate. Such a thing was considered to be mediocre and permitted by the chains which bounded him. He might have been in isolation, but his spirit had grown in par with everyone's life.
The people's lives…
…the people Duke Fujitaka had cherished the most till his last breath.
Duke Fujitaka…the King's younger brother.
"For this person I think this should fit." He murmured and waved his hand in front of the glowing orb which changed its color once more the moment it received his instructions. Contented, he watched as the orb went on its merry way to carry on his command.
That day would have been the usual with the bickering of the two little guardians inside the room, but unfortunately, both magical beings sat silently on top of the table and eyed his every movement. They would look at him then towards the clutter around his feet.
He could only sigh.
For almost two weeks now, a letter canister would drop at the rarely used receiver in the post office's main control room. A cloud of dust would fill the air as a signal that another letter has arrived. All from the same person; a certain girl named Sakura. He had read her first letter and thought that perhaps she had mistaken and sent the letter to the wrong person. It was either that or one of the pipes might have been broken which caused an error in the whole system. But everything was running fine. Days had passed and she continued to write in the same manner. All addressed to him, to the LetterMaker, which greatly implies that she was indeed writing directly to him.
He stepped sideward only to be met by the familiar clang of the letter canisters against the chains bounding his feet which made him close his eyes. He ignored them and tried stepping away from the controller unto the door. He purposely avoided the two pair of eyes dying from curiosity and anticipation. Tension had filled the atmosphere for the past week whenever he would visit the post office's control room. More likely than so, he was used in seeing the two little guardians playing and arguing; not silently watching him his every action.
Nevertheless, he turned a blind eye. He would ignore the letters again today and continue do so for the upcoming days if the mysterious girl would continue to write. But as he was about to leave, his fury yellow guardian finally spoke.
"Suppi…" Keroberos started to say casually to the other winged being.
"Yes?" Suppi replied in the same manner.
"The envelopes which contained the girl Sakura's letters, they don't have a return address nor a delivery address, right?" Keroberos remarked.
"Yes." Suppi answered reservedly.
He closed his eyes upon hearing this. He knew very well what the two were up to. The way the letters were sent straight to this place wasn't normal. It wasn't a simple delivery done purely by a machine.
"Just the receiver of the letter?" Keroberos continued in an innocent tone.
"Yes." Suppi said with a nod.
"The machine is only capable of sending letters with the name and place of the recipient. By standard protocol, it should have ended up in the lost letters department two buildings away from where we are." Keroberos remarked with a matter-of-factly voice.
Once again, Suppi agreed. "That is correct."
"But it was sent directly here. Hmmm…" The yellow little beast furrowed his brow and rubbed his small chin while the other eyed him as it waited for Keroberos to state the obvious.
"Then," Keroberos' eyes glinted as a smile started to curve on his lips. "It was sent using magic." With overwhelming enthusiasm the yellow creature jumped on his feet and pointed towards his master. "Ha! There is another who can use magic aside from you, your cousin, your cousin's friend and the King!"
Beside him, Suppi remained calm though also on his feet. "Pity she didn't know about his true existence. Judging from her words, she thinks of the LetterMaker as a mere invention."
"You're wrong, Suppi." Keroberos placed his paws on his hips and faced the other being squarely. "She doesn't think that the LetterMaker as a 'mere' invention. True, she views the LetterMaker as a machine. I mean, who wouldn't? That is, after all, what everyone should know. BUT…she thinks highly of the LetterMaker so the words 'mere invention' is not the right term to use." It happily pointed out to the other.
"O-kay…" Suppi glanced towards the letter canisters scattered on the floor. "So who is this mysterious girl? Does she really know how to use magic?"
"I don't know. I am not aware of another family who still has this ability." Keroberos remarked.
All throughout, the two creatures acted like they were alone in the room, but from the way their voice were spoken out loud, it was obvious that they were darting their statements at him.
"Isn't it possible…" Suppi threw a fast side glance towards him. "…to see the person at the other end of the receiver by touching the magic orbs?"
Keroberos nodded. "It is possible provided that the person had pressed the 'assistance' button on the receiver, but in this case, she wrote the letter on her own and away from the receiver. We can't perform a clear trace."
"A clear trace? What's that supposed to mean?" Suppi asked.
He could only wonder why his cousin's guardian doesn't know about this. Then again, both beings were in their connivance mode.
Keroberos raised on finger in lecture-style. "It means that we can trace where the letter came from but we won't know who sent it. We're lucky she placed her name, but if not, we would be utterly clueless. And even if we knew her name, like what I said, she wrote the letter without using the receiver's technology; hence, we won't be able to see what she looks like."
"Ooooh." Suppi acted like it was briefly enlightened. "So that would mean that we could still find out the place the letter came from and discover which family still has the ability to use magic."
"Yes…but I only have the capability to handle the little things." Keroberos folded its arms across its fury chest. It shot an imposing glance towards his master. "Only one person can do that."
With this, both Suppi and Keroberos stared at him unblinkingly.
At the Yorke manor, Sakura carefully shut the door behind her with much caution and made sure that no one was near the room where the lettermaker receiver was installed. She had told everything to her raven-haired friend and what's left to do now was a little demonstration of the pen.
"Sakura…" Tomoyo wasn't sure how to react.
"I'll show it to you, Tomoyo. What I said was true." Sakura insisted and sat beside the other lady. She leaned over to write on a piece of stationary on the center table using the pen given to her by the Duke.
It was just simple letter telling how her day went so far, enough for Tomoyo to see the unexplainable thing that shall happen afterwards.
Sakura signed her name, placed the pen down and waited. And as expected, moments later the pen started to glow and did the same thing. Tomoyo grasped Sakura's hand wide-eyed as she watched her bestfriend's letter turned into a ball of light and flew towards the lettermaker receiver. The machine's bulbs switched on and off until finally the letter was completely sent.
Tomoyo slowly turned her head towards Sakura who in turn stare up to her with equally anxious eyes.
"Oh my God!" The lady of Bellport finally exclaimed.
"See! See!" Sakura squeezed Tomoyo's hands tight. "I told you so! I told you so!"
The raven-haired girl inhaled deeply and tried to gather her thoughts before speaking once again. "Does this mean…" She started. "…that the Duke of Summers, like the King, has the ability to use magic?"
"I…I don't know." Sakura replied innocently.
"And to think that you've received a magical item from him directly!" Tomoyo was on the verge of squealing out loud.
Sakura placed her hands on her face and closed her eyes. "I…I…"
Tomoyo threw herself towards Sakura and gave her friend a huge hug. "I'm so happy for you!!!"
That was it. Sakura was afraid of this. Tomoyo's reaction was too overwhelming. She was too delighted and was probably conjuring possible scenarios of Sakura and the Duke's future that she quickly grasped her friend's shoulders and tried to pull the lady back to reality.
"Tomoyo…" Sakura seriously faced her friend. "…my letters. Where are they sent to?"
"Your letters?" Amethyst eyes blinked up at her.
"Yes." She nodded. "My letters. There is no address and person to receive it. The envelope only contained the words, 'To the LetterMaker'."
Tomoyo calmed down a bit and thought for a second. "I guess, technically, it was addressed to a machine."
"Precisely." Sakura sat on the sofa with a frown etched on her forehead. "I've been doing this for two weeks now, but it was only the other night that I finally discovered what really happened to all my lost letters."
"You're kind of slow, aren't you?" Tomoyo sighed as she sat down again. "You should have stayed up earlier instead of just doing it the other night."
"Anyway…" Tomoyo shrugged. "…there is no use worrying about it. What done is done."
"I'm not worried about it, Tomoyo." Sakura said. "It is more of…curiosity eating me all this time. My questions are piling up one after another. I mean…do my letters land in the post office and gets stowed away as a prank letter? That would be embarrassing. If a person actually read my letters..." Sakura's face started to turn red. "Hooooeeee…"
"Sakura…you're so cute like that." Tomoyo cooed lovingly.
"Tomoyo!" Sakura pouted. "I'm serious here."
The other lady gave a small laugh. "Yes, Sakura dear. I'll try to focus on the topic." She folded her arms and crossed her leg. "It would also be possible that your letters were sent directly to the LetterMaker."
"Huh?" Sakura blinked; puzzled.
"To the LetterMaker." Tomoyo repeated. "To the invention itself."
"To a machine?" Sakura supplemented.
"You surprise me, Sakura. You, amongst all people, had defended the LetterMaker as something beyond a normal invention. Maybe perhaps, it has a consciousness on its own." Tomoyo wishfully suggested.
"I don't think that would be possible. A consciousness on its own…what kind of algorithm would have been applied to it?" Sakura pointed out.
"I don't know." Tomoyo shrugged again. "Ask Manchester that."
At the mention of the name 'Manchester', Sakura's face started to blush once more which Tomoyo took advantage.
"What if…" Tomoyo mischievously leaned closer to the other lady. "…it created a commotion in the post office and Manchester, himself, decides to take the letters and read it. It is his invention, after all." She clapped her hands before her. "Maybe Lord Yukito was trying to help you to contact Lord Eriol by giving you the magic pen?"
Sakura gasped at the thought of it. "Hooooooooooooooeeeee!" By this time, her face was beet red which made Tomoyo laugh.
"That's not funny, Tomoyo! Don't tease me like that." Teary-eyed Sakura exclaimed.
"Well, it's a notion." Her bestfriend pointed out.
"Mmm…Mmmmm… I'd rather not think about it." Sakura gestured exasperatingly.
"Eh?" Tomoyo tilted her head. "Then, what would you rather think about? I thought you said you want answers to your questions."
Sakura was silent for a moment. "I merely want solid answers to my questions. Not what-ifs."
"But what-ifs are more likely to arise considering how unexplainable the situation is." Tomoyo said. "Maybe we should tell your mother about it."
"NO." Sakura quickly grasped her friend. "Please don't tell mother. She might make a big fuss."
"But Sakura, you are a young lady in court who is not even launched in society yet. And for you to be involved with these men with huge names and high ranks, don't you think your mother has the right to know? There is a great possibility that you might get hurt. She would only be the one who can protect you. "Tomoyo explained. "I'm not saying that I'm not going to protect you when that time comes, but considering that like you, I am merely another young lady, the Viscountess would be able to wield more power than me."
"Tomoyo…" Sakura regretted it, but her lady friend has a point. "…I understand, but could you keep it a secret for now? " Emerald-eyes pleaded the other. "Maybe we are making mountains out of molehills. Perhaps, Lord Yukito only wants me to feel comfortable and there is nothing much behind it. Maybe my letters were sent to the oblivion with no recipient at all. It just well…disappears into thin air."
"Do you honestly believe that?"
Sakura sighed and looked away. "I don't know."
This time, it was the lady of Bellport's turn to heave a sigh. "Very well, I shall not tell anyone about it."
"Thank you." Sakura wrapped her arms around her friend. "Thank you for always being there when I needed you."
Tomoyo nodded and smiled. "Well, then…how about we think like adults."
"Why not try to do the most logical thing?" Tomoyo winked. "Confront the source of the mystery."
"You mean…" Sakura gazed towards the pen. "Write to the Duke of Summers?"
"Yes." Tomoyo nodded delightfully. "It is, after all, his pen. Let's see if your letter will be delivered directly to him. In a way, it would be like a small experiment."
"Hoe! You're right." Sakura pulled another stationary from her stack and picked up the pen. "There is no harm in inquiring, right? And if he doesn't answer, then I shall refrain from using the pen altogether. I wouldn't be bothered by it if I don't use the pen, correct?"
"Correct." The other lady agreed.
Sakura nodded in full determination and started to write.
At the post office's main control room, the tension in the air was starting to rise. The two little guardians were staring at the chestnut-haired man unblinkingly. It was like an invisible battle of will on who shall dominate the other. All were silent until in the midst of everything the letter machine hummed once again which caught the attention of all the occupants of the room. The bulbs switched on and off as it indicated another disturbance in the system.
A slightly familiar disturbance.
As bolts and levers activated all at once, the magic orbs stayed as they were. They danced calmly and like before, it seemed to be pulling something towards them. Moments later, a cloud of dust filled the bottom of the machine and a letter canister became evident.
"Whoaaaa! Another letter!" Keroberos excitedly flew towards the canister followed by Suppi.
Keroberos hurriedly sniffed the lid and danced dreamily. "It is the same flowery scent." It inhaled deeply. "Surely, another letter from Miss Sakura." Suppi merely nodded and landed beside the canister. They both looked at each other afterwards then shot a glance towards the man standing near the door.
He cringed and looked away.
"Hmph." Keroberos pouted while Suppi stared with his cat-like eyes. When they didn't get any more reaction, they decided to try their previous approach.
"Ah Suppi," The yellow creature started out loud; very loud.
"This kind of method of sending letters is familiar." It continued while the other nodded.
"Where have I seen it…?" Keroberos became in deep thought. "Oh!" It snapped its fingers. "Doesn't Summers use the same method?"
"Mmmm...mmm…" Suppi briskly nodded.
Then suddenly, an idea popped inside Keroberos' head. "Maybe Miss Sakura is a maid in the Summers manor!"
Again, Suppi nodded in agreement.
"Oh no!" Keroberos' expression changed to being horrified. "Does this mean she stole the Duke's pen just to write to the LetterMaker?"
"That would be troublesome." Suppi closed its eyes and nodded for the nth time that day.
Keroberos exaggeratedly flew round and round. "The poor girl must have been really fascinated with the LetterMaker and thought it wasn't worthy to use an ordinary pen that's why she…" It made a dramatic pause before continuing. "…was forced to use the Duke's pen. Ooooooooh…" Keroberos fainted limply towards Suppi. "…the risk she endures just to be able to write."
Expressionless Suppi merely caught the other creature and nodded.
Keroberos suddenly stood up and grabbed the other by the shoulder with a very worried face. "What shall we do, Suppi?"
"I don't know." Suppi answered in a flat yet very distinct tone. "We are absolutely powerless to do anything."
"Noooooooooooo…" Keroberos placed one paw on its head and swayed. "The poor little girl…sending her heart out with no answer."
"There. There." Suppi calmly patted Keroberos' back.
Then, the yellow guardian gasped. "Suppi!"
"What if she was caught and sent to the authorities for stealing?" Keroberos remarked.
"She could be in prison, then." Suppi replied matter-of-factly.
Keroberos glanced from afar with teary eyes. "Scared in confinement with the letter as her only way to contact anyone."
"It won't be a problem with the Summers' pen since it will transport any letter automatically." Suppi supplemented.
Both continued to conjure absurd and wild ideas about little Miss Sakura's fate, that the chestnut-haired man couldn't take it any longer.
He stomped towards the two guardians, uncaring if his chains banged noisily against every object he passed, and snatched the newly received letter canister which halted the two little beasts' interchange.
"Enough already." He said. "Both of you are giving me a headache."
"Okay." Keroberos and Suppi both said in unison and stared up with pleading eyes.
He sighed and rubbed his face.
"Fine." He muttered under his breath which made the two happily triumphant especially Keroberos who did a mid-air summersault out of glee.
He twisted the lid of the canister and let the rolled envelope slide out unto his hand. "And just the two of you know, they don't provide this kind of stationary in prison."
"Haha. We know. We know." Keroberos sheepishly grinned as it perched itself on the man's shoulder.
He looked down at the envelope and saw the same specification as the other letters sent by the girl named Sakura. He took a deep breath and placed one hand on top of the envelope with his golden cuffs illuminating a faint light, while the other touched the machine before him. With eyes closed, he started to concentrate; his bodice slowly glowed as he tried to use a little magic in order to trace the place the letter originated.
Soon after, his consciousness traveled within the intricate web of pipes until he was finally able to view his destination.
"Yorke." He said out loud. "This letter was sent from Yorke manor."
With the mention of the word, 'Yorke', Suppi's ears perked up. It looked surprised for a second, but nevertheless went back to its expressionless face.
"Eh, Yorke?" Keroberos rubbed its chin thoughtfully. "But that family had long lost its ability to use magic. It had been like that for centuries."
"Apparently, not." He remarked and paced towards a desk. He shifted his chains with difficulty as he tried to sit on the chair. He pulled a sheet of paper from the drawer and reached for a pen.
"You're going to reply!" Keroberos happily remarked but its spirit went down the moment it saw the type of letter his master was about to write. "You're using the postal service's official business paper."
"Yes." He replied reservedly and with a serious face, he started to write his reply.
"But…but…" Keroberos contested.
"No 'buts'." He said firmly. "This is the right thing to do."
"Sending her an official notice is the right thing to do?" Keroberos asked. "The girl had been tediously writing to you and this is the reply she will get? You didn't even read her succeeding letters."
All this time, Suppi remained quiet and observed the scene. It would seemed to be thinking about something but the other occupants of the room were too busy conversing with each other to notice the change in Suppi's demeanor.
"What's the point of reading it?" He stubbornly insisted. "As far as she was concerned, she is writing to a machine."
"So?" Keroberos folded its arms as it tried to match its master's stubbornness.
"So both of you should stop thinking nonsense and I should formally send her a notice as someone from the postal service, advising her to stop sending letters without a recipient since it is starting to create a clutter in the undelivered section of the post office." He pointed out and continued writing. "Not that, it wasn't true anyway." He shrugged towards the letter canisters scattered on the floor.
"The 'letters without a recipient' part isn't exactly accurate." Keroberos murmured.
"Ke-ro." He shot his guardian a silencing look.
"Fine." Keroberos held up its hands in submission. "But I still don't see anything wrong in giving a more personal reply." It added which earned a glare from its master.
"Yes. Yes. Anything you say." Keroberos gloomily flew over a shelf where it perched itself.
The chestnut-haired man finished his impersonal letter as a representative of the post office and was about to write 'Miss Sakura' at the back of the envelope when Suppi spoke all of a sudden.
"Lady Sakura." The black animal said.
"?" Both master and guardian gazed towards Suppi questioningly.
"There is only one person named Sakura in the Yorke estate and that will be Nadeshiko, Viscountess of Yorke's only daughter, Lady Sakura." Suppi remarked.
This immediately riveted Keroberos' attention back to Suppi. "And how did you know about that? There are many manors and countesses in our Kingdom, it would be hard to keep track of them all yet you sound so sure about this one."
"Did my cousin conduct business with the nobles of Yorke?" The bounded man added to the inquiry. If his cousin was involved, then it would explain why the letter was sent via magic.
Suppi was silent for a moment as it stared with its cat-like eyes, and then eventually turned its head away snobbishly. "I don't know."
"Eeeeh?" Keroberos flew down and landed in front of the other guardian.
But Suppi casually shrugged. "The information just stuck to me. Not all my knowledge relied on my master's whereabouts. It could plainly be something I read from somewhere." Suppi smirked. "I have good memory, after all, unlike someone…"
Keroberos became irritated with the other's demeanor. "Why you! What are you trying to imply? That I don't have good memory?"
Suppi looked away with a hidden smile on its face. "You are free to interpret that in any way you want."
This made Keroberos angry and another squabble started between the two small guardians. And in the midst of this bickering, the chained man gazed back towards the letter canisters on the floor. "So my cousin isn't involved." He said to himself. "The mystery continues." He took Suppi's word for it and wrote 'Lady Sakura, Yorke Manor' at the back of the envelope. He stood up and walked slowly towards the machine. This caught the two guardians' attention which made them stop their fight.
"You are really going to send her that?" Keroberos asked with a sad and disappointed face. "Just when I thought it would be nice to talk to someone outside the Manchester estate." Beside him, Suppi was silent.
He looked away and closed his eyes. "It is not right, Kero…to reply as a person. Have you forgotten about my sentence?" His voice became coarse.
"Then, reply as a machine." Suppi suddenly spoke.
"Suppi…" Keroberos was surprised that the other guardian bothered giving a suggestion this time.
"Reply as a superior invention capable of decision-making." Suppi continued. "The lettermaker as a machine has a purpose that is close to this function since it is capable to choosing things for the user. Since this girl is someone who thinks that the lettermaker is a great invention, it wouldn't be hard for her to accept that it is also capable to construct a reply considering that it has been writing letters for people ever since it was created."
"Wow…Suppi. That's long and encouraging." Keroberos' eyes started to get filled with tears. "So unlike you."
As his yellow guardian started hugging the black one, he digested what his cousin's guardian had said.
Reply as a machine? Was it possible? Would he be able to pull it off? And how exactly should a machine reply?
He stared at the letter notice in his hand. Time seemed to past as he contemplated. The two winged beasts stood silently as they waited anxiously. He paced from one place to another until finally he took a deep breath and went back towards the desk. He put down the notice he wrote earlier and reached out for the canister containing the second letter sent by the Lady Sakura. He twisted the lid and opened the envelope.
From thereon, he started to read one letter after another.
That evening, Sakura was scolded by the young lady of Bellport.
"Sakura, Lady of Yorke." Tomoyo tapped her foot. "It had been hours now, when are you going to finish your letter to the Duke?"
"Hoe…" Sakura bent her head apologetically. "I'm not so sure if I should do this. Is it really alright for someone like me to write to someone like him?"
"I thought this was settled earlier?"
"I know but…" Sakura squeezed the Duke's pen. "…I'm a little shy."
The other lady sighed. "It is just a simple inquiry. No harm in that."
"But…" Sakura's lower lip quivered cutely.
"Would you rather die of curiosity, then?" Tomoyo pointed out.
"No." The emerald-eyed lady answered meekly.
"Then, get it over and be done with." Tomoyo encouragingly said.
Sakura took a deep breath. "Alright." She closed her eyes after signing her name and placed the pen down.
Moments later the pen did its work and sent the letter away towards the lettermaker receiver; and thus, Sakura's inquiry to the Duke went on its way.
"There." Tomoyo smiled. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"
"Hoe…I hope he doesn't think of me low for even attempting to write to him." Sakura said.
"Don't worry. This is the gentle Duke of Summers we are talking about." Tomoyo replied as she tried to ease her friend's feelings. "You saw how nice he was. He wouldn't think of such a thing. He isn't like Windome."
"Eh? Is Windome not kind?" Sakura asked. "He does seem strict."
"Well," Tomoyo placed a finger under her chin. "Lord Touya is quite popular to the ladies but they say that he always ignores them whenever they flock around him. Lord Yukito would smile at the ladies but Lord Touya would only glare."
"Is that so?" Sakura shivered as she remembered how the Duke of Windome gave her a cold impersonal look back at the library. "And here I was thinking that he looked at me that way because I've stepped on his foot."
Tomoyo giggled. "I would give anything in the world to see that."
Sakura laughed as well. "It must have looked ridiculous."
The uncertainty hovering a while ago disappeared as the two ladies started making up absurd instances that Sakura might have been with Lord Touya. It was a nice shift of the atmosphere and went on for a few more minutes until a servant came and announced dinner. Both ladies stood up, but as they were about to leave the room, the lettermaker receiver's bulbs started switching on and off. This immediately caught the two ladies' attention which made them scamper towards the machine.
"A letter?" Sakura blinked. "A letter is on its way over here." She slowly turned her head towards her bestfriend who quickly grabbed her arm and looked as if she was in the verge of squealing.
"Could it be???" Tomoyo waited anxiously.
Then a few seconds more, a letter canister dropped on the steel plate and the machine was silent once again. Sakura was immobile for a moment until she was nudged by Tomoyo.
"What are you waiting for? It could be Lord Yukito's reply." The lady of Bellport remarked.
Sakura nodded and twisted the canister's lid open. She pulled the envelope rolled inside and her hand shook when she read the back of the envelope.
'To Lady Sakura
Tomoyo squeezed her arm tighter. "It's for you! He replied already!"
Sakura blinked; a little shocked. "That was fast. I only sent the letter a few minutes ago."
"Maybe he is a fast reader and writer." Tomoyo pointed out. "He should be skillful considering that he is one of the King's advisors."
Sakura nodded and with trembling hands she opened the envelope. A scent of toffee beckoned her nostrils as she unfolded the letter and read the first lines.
It was an honor to have received many letters from you this past two weeks…'
Sakura paused for a moment and frowned. "I sent him many letters?" She blinked and reread the beginning of the paragraph. "What is the Duke talking about?"
"Oh my goodness!" Tomoyo exclaimed beside her.
"Hoe?" Sakura glanced at her innocently. "What's the matter, Tomoyo?"
Tomoyo's mouth dropped open and gaped towards her bestfriend. She seemed lost for words that Sakura ended up frowning deeper. "Tomoyo?"
"Sakura!" The lady of Bellport finally found her voice. "That letter is NOT from Lord Yukito!"
"Huh?" Sakura continued blinking as she looked back at the letter. Tomoyo, on the other hand, quickly pointed at the end of the letter. Sakura eyes followed the other lady's finger and felt her world stop when she saw whom the reply was from.
At the signature area, it read:
(Up NEXT Chapter Five: "The Guest")
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R and R Onegai Shimasu!