Author's Notes: Four quick points. One: was there ever a Li Dynasty in China? Well, if there was, it doesn't really matter. The Li Dynasty in my story is completely fictional. In fact, all of the events here are fictional. That's why it's called a fan fic! ^_^ Two: There may be a few characters that are out of character, seeing how this is an Alternate Universe fic. Three: Don't forget this is set in the past! Things were really different then, like attitudes and emotions, especially toward women. Four: I'll be using Syaoran's Chinese name, "Xiao Lang", throughout the entire fic, unless I'm referring to S + S.
The Guiding Star
Torn Away: Chapter One
Two tear-filled emerald green eyes stared out into the vast emptiness of the deserts in China.
"I hate this world," she thought bitterly. "I wish I could just end my life at this very moment…but I want to see my father again…" She buried her head in her arms and wept heartrending tears. She couldn't take it any longer.
It was a time when men were seen as the dominators of the world, while women were just…women. They were useless in all aspects except for child giving. Either that or they became mere concubines, or even servants, to people more powerful than they were. This was what happened to Kinomoto Sakura. Sakura was a Princess from the distant country of Japan. She lived happily with her father and brother for more than sixteen years. Her mother had passed away when she was very young. Still, both her father and brother shared just ideas and they were both very kind at heart. But recently, members from the Li Dynasty of China had started warring with their nation, creating death and chaos in their wake. Her brother, Touya, had been killed in action during the last battle.
"Touya…" she thought sadly, as more tears streamed down her cheeks. Then came a ceasefire. Emperor Kinomoto obviously knew that the Prince and leader of the attacks, Li Shui Ken, was after something. He was right; during the ceasefire, it was apparent that the invading Li Army would conquer in the end, so Shui Ken boldly went to the Emperor to ask for one thing: his daughter. The Emperor had to surrender his daughter for a few months to the Prince in exchange for his and his peoples' lives. If agreed, the army promised they would leave. If not, they would set Japan aflame and destroy it. Emperor Kinomoto refused immediately. He would not give up his daughter, his dear, sweet Sakura, to a brute like Shui Ken, not even for a little while.
But before Shui Ken could restart his attacks, Sakura, having heard everything, stepped in, and consented to his demands, stating for him to change his request from a few months to a few weeks. Shui Ken instantly agreed to this and Emperor Kinomoto had no other choice. Shui Ken, immensely pleased with the outcome, withdrew his army, and sent for her days after he returned home. The goodbye Sakura had with her father would always be locked away in her mind. She would never forget him or Touya.
"Why are you doing this, Sakura?" demanded Fujitaka. "Do you realize what you're getting yourself into? Shui Ken is powerful, too powerful. Your spirit is light and delicate; he'll crush you in an instant."
"Otousama," she replied calmly, though inside she was being torn apart by her own decision. "I have to go. I'm not doing this just to save you, but our entire nation as well. If this is the only thing Li Shui Ken wants, then so be it." Though her hair covered her eyes, two tears visibly made their way down Sakura's cheeks. "I don't want any more people to die!" Fujitaka pulled his daughter close to him and embraced her.
"Your heart's too kind," he said. "It's so pure. Here." He stepped back, reaching behind his neck, and unclasped something. It was a thin necklace, fitted with a small gold star pendant in a faint pinkish rose circle. He placed it around Sakura's neck and closed the clasp. "Keep this," he continued, "to remember me; and your home. It'll help you where you're going now." Sakura threw her arms around her father.
"I'll never forget you," she choked out, "you can count on that. I promise to return to you as soon as I can." Fujitaka wiped away her tears and smiled sadly.
"I wish you good luck, my dear daughter."
Emperor Kinomoto stood by the balcony, his hands holding back the curtain, watching the carriage and Chinese guards take leave to China, taking his daughter with them. He released the curtain and it fell back into place. Walking a few steps with his hands locked behind his back, he closed his eyes and tried to forget the pain in his heavy heart. "Goodbye, my sweet cherry blossom." He knew he would never see her again.
Sakura opened her eyelids and stifled a yawn. During the last stretch of her journey, Sakura had fallen into a merciful sleep, forgetting her troubles. She lifted her head and found herself face-to-face with one of the Chinese guards. He had a smirk on his face as he helped her out of her seat. She stood up straight and looked about her. The surroundings denoted calm and peace, beauty as well. Lush trees grew around the two-story building. A garden with a rainbow of colours was set beneath the tall trees. The walkway she stood on was pure white in shade. High walls surrounded the building and a semi-large courtyard in front. The luminous moon hung in the sky, set within a backdrop of twinkling stars. The night sky was just as it was back home…A tear slowly rolled down her cheek as she thought of her family.
"Far from home, aren't we, Princess?" sneered the same guard. "You're going to learn that life in China is not the same as one in Japan."
He was about to add more when a voice rang out loudly. "Prince Li Shui Ken arrives!" The guards immediately assembled themselves into two rows - facing each other. They stood by the side of the walkway and were on their knees, bowing, as Shui Ken approached.
"Long live the Prince!" they chanted as they continued to bow. For Sakura, sadness was instantly replaced with disdain. She knew the drill; when a person of nobility approached, all people below that person must be on their knees and bow to them, chanting for the same person to live thousands of years, or even forever. It was considered respectful. But she would not bow to a man that had killed - and ordered to have killed - the people of her nation. As he walked toward her, his ministers and guards flanking him, Sakura continued to glare at him, her emotions spinning from anger to hurt and back. Shui Ken smirked at her impertinence. This girl was definitely going to be interesting. He liked her spirit.
"Well, Princess," said Shui Ken, speaking in a pleasant tone, "how do you like your quarters?"
"My quarters?" repeated Sakura, confused. Shui Ken gestured to the building behind her.
"This is to be your new home," he said, smiling at her.
"Thanks, anyway," replied Sakura icily, "but I already have a home." She became angrier when the smile on Shui Ken's face broadened.
"Have you not heard, Princess?" he asked.
"The Emperor is dead." Sakura stared at him, wide-eyed. Her breath was immediately stolen away from her and she suddenly paled, dropping to her knees.
"It can't be…" she whispered. "You're lying…"
Shui Ken shook his head, an expression of mock sadness on his face. "It's true. Japan had been set aflame," he told her, "and nothing was spared from the fire. Everything's gone." Sakura looked away and closed her eyes, the pain in her chest, caused by her heart, was unbearable. "You have no choice but to stay here," he continued, a glint in his eye, "with me. There's nothing for you in Japan now." Sakura didn't answer him, her eyes fixed on the ground, trying hard not to cry. Seeing how Sakura was completely speechless, Shui Ken smiled inwardly to himself, then turned and left, his ministers and guards still following closely. The other guards had taken away the carriage and left, while two new guards were posted at the circular doorways. As soon as he left, the tears began to fall again.
With her head buried in her arms again, Sakura wept, still lying on the ground, wracking sobs that never left her throat. Everyone was gone…her family…her friends…she was left all alone…alone… The pain proved to be too much for her to handle and the Japanese Princess fainted, blacking out into a merciful darkness, one where pain didn't exist.
"He did what?!"
Li Xiao Lang groaned in pure disgust. Why was it that his brother always did the stupidest things? Xiao Lang looked back at his advisor, Wu Jin Chi. "Why did he destroy that country? They never did anything to us," he said.
"Shui Ken never lets his real intentions be seen clearly until the last moment," answered Jin Chi, "so, I'm sorry, Master Li, but I do not know why." Xiao Lang sighed inwardly, staring at the ground. Abruptly, he stood up and walked out of the room, into the night atmosphere.
"I'm gone for several months and he starts a war," thought Xiao Lang. "If only father was well. He would never have let Shui Ken use his army in such a way." Xiao Lang's thoughts changed to his father, the Emperor of China. He had fallen gravely ill and couldn't even leave his own bedside. All of the doctors had said he had no chance of recovery. Xiao Lang raked his hand through his short unruly hair. Many people disliked the fact that Xiao Lang had short hair. Long hair meant respect; but it was not Xiao Lang's fault Shui Ken had accidentally sliced it off during a duel. He always doubted it was an accident. Xiao Lang just couldn't trust him.
Shui Ken and Xiao Lang weren't exactly brothers. They were half-brothers, born from the same father, but different mothers. Xiao Lang did have other siblings that had the same father and mother; four older sisters. His mother, Yelan, had passed away a long while ago, though, and all of his sisters had married and no longer lived at the palace. Yelan had been his father's favourite wife and the Emperor missed her fire, her spirit. Xiao Lang and Shui Ken did have many other half-siblings, which was to be expected, seeing how, after all, their father was the Emperor. Shui Ken had always hungered for something: total power. He always wanted to be the Emperor. But this was impossible, seeing how he was only the ninth son. Xiao Lang, further down the line, was the fifteenth.
Xiao Lang settled for a seat on the top ledge of the wall. No doubt the guards would yell at him later and tell him to come down. But they hadn't seen him yet, so he was safe. He loved looking at the night sky, especially at the calm and cool moon. So unlike the bright fiery light of the daytime sun. Maybe he liked the moon so much because his powers came from the moon. This was something Xiao Lang had inherited from his mother but his sisters had not: magic. This was the reason he had been away for many months. Only few members of the Li Clan possessed magical powers and he had been sent to the Li Elders to train, to learn how to harness them, to use them, and to control them. He had surpassed his Master's expectations and completed his training in less than a year's time. But…his Master had died…by the hand of…
"Xiao Lang!" called one of the servants. "Come quickly! I have some bad news…" Xiao Lang, his thoughts distracted, got up and re-entered the building.
Awaking for the second time that day, Sakura blinked several times, trying to adjust her eyes to the light. "Where am I?" she spoke aloud as she sat up.
"You're at home," came a soft voice.
"Home?" repeated Sakura. She looked about her. She was sitting in a bed, the curtains half closed. There was a table in the center of the room, and a few chairs randomly placed in the room. Parallel to the bed, but on the opposite wall, sat a window and a doorway to the balcony. On the same wall as the foot of the bed was a doorway leading to the hallway. Her gaze ended back at the person who spoke. "Who are you?" she asked.
"My name is Daidouji Tomoyo," responded a girl of about her age as she bowed slightly after stepping away from the shadows. "I am to be your handmaiden, Princess."
"Handmaiden?" Sakura looked down for a moment. "Mihara Chiharu used to be my handmaiden…and my friend," she thought. She looked back at Tomoyo. "How did I get here?" she asked.
"You had fainted earlier outside this building and the guards had helped me bring you inside," replied Tomoyo. "I assumed you were crying because your cheeks were wet with tears."
"Crying?" thought Sakura. Then everything came back to her. Her brother…her father…her friends…her country…all gone…everything…gone…Tears sprang to her eyes as she remembered what happened earlier when she spoke to Shui Ken. Jumping up, she ran out of the room without saying a word to her new handmaiden. Not watching where she was going, Sakura had slipped through the entrance to the courtyard in front of her building so swiftly that the guards never noticed she left. They never reacted until Tomoyo came chasing after her. Then they picked up the chase as well. But she was long gone.
Finding herself in the gardens, though still within the confines of the enormous palace grounds, Sakura ran aimlessly, not knowing where to go. As she went, she continued to shed tears of anguish, her heart aching…
Xiao Lang stared numbly at his ministers for a few moments. They were mistaken…they had to be! His father…he can't die! He was the Emperor! Without a word, Xiao Lang got up and left the room, the ministers shaking their heads sadly as they watched him leave. Outside, Xiao Lang punched the tree, trying to rid himself of his feelings of sorrow. Punching an inanimate object did nothing to relieve his feelings. Now, with their father passed on, Shui Ken would continue to use his power recklessly, for his own selfish reasons, without a thought to anyone else.
Needing time away from other people, Xiao Lang walked and walked, until he found himself in the palace gardens. No matter what time of the day it is, the great garden was always silent…and beautiful. Xiao Lang sat down on a rock, his head in his hands. He closed his eyes and listened to the sounds he was often accustomed to hearing when he sat there. Trees rustled gently, the waterfall could be heard from a distance, someone was crying, a light breeze wafted by…someone was crying? He got up and walked toward the sound. Why would someone be crying? Especially at midnight?
As he neared the waterfall, a strange girl, her face completely covered by her hands, ran straight into him and they were both knocked over. Xiao Lang got up and dusted himself off and was about to yell at the girl for her carelessness when he took a good look at her. Since she hit the ground, the girl hadn't gotten up. Instead, she was staring miserably at the floor. She had long brown hair that covered half of her back and beautiful emerald green eyes. But those emerald green eyes were filled with sadness and grief. Her face was streaked with drying tears. She looked like she lost the will to live on…
Sakura looked up with surprise to see a hand extended towards her. No one had ever offered her a hand before…why was he being so nice? Sakura accepted the hand, though rather unwillingly, and Xiao Lang helped her stand up.
"Are you okay?" he asked her kindly. Sakura looked away, avoiding his gaze, at the same time, mumbling an apology. Then she turned to leave, but Xiao Lang immediately grasped her hand. Sakura's eyes widened and she tried to pull her hand free but Xiao Lang was much stronger than she was and he held her tight. "Wait," he said. He turned her around and held her chin with one hand. "What's wrong? You were crying; I can tell."
Sakura found herself getting lost in Xiao Lang's warm amber eyes. He was so handsome…and kind…no one ever treated her like this before, excluding her family…and the fact that this was coming from a man was more than astounding for her. Her emotions were whirling out of control. She felt as if she could…trust this stranger. She instantly fell into his arms, crying into his shoulder. "My father…my family and friends…they're all gone…" she cried. Xiao Lang caressed her hair soothingly. He knew exactly how she felt. A moment ago, he wanted to cry to his heart's content, too, but now, he just wanted to comfort this strange girl. Who was she? And what was she doing here?
Author's Note: Is the story unique so far? I'm not quite sure why I like having my fics set in China. It's just…different. So…what do you think? I'm really anxious to hear your opinions about this fic. I want it to be slightly different from most CCS fics, but I'm not sure if it's such a great plot…well, you tell me! I promise I'll have S + S moments coming up in the next chapters! It's kind of a depressing chapter, isn't it? It'll pick up soon, hopefully.
~The Animé Archives Team