Disclaimer: All Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle characters are (c) CLAMP.
Rating: T (Will go up as chapters progress)
Pairing: Kurogane x Fye, Ashura x Fye (Mild Syaoran x Sakura)
Warnings: Language, blood and violence.
Status: In Progress
Word Count: 8,265
Summary: The group arrive to a world where desert predominates. With no water and Mokona unable to use his magic, what are they to do? Things get complicated when someone from Fye's haunted past appears and tells the Ceres' magician that he possesses power that can unlock secrets beneath the sand. What happens when this individual has more interest in Fye? Will Kurogane care enough to step up?
Chapter 6: Rebirth
Wide, swollen eyes stared down at him framed by a face washed by sheer fear. The ninja tightened his deadly grip on the unfortunate, pathetic soul that had dared to try to harm his child. Kurogane's assailant found himself captured in the strong hold of his assassin. Closing his eyes, he squirmed and tried in futile attempts to escape the inevitable. Spit trailed down the corners of his open mouth in desperate efforts to try and feed his, now starved, lungs some precious oxygen. His breath only came in choked-off noises.
Kill you… I'll kill you for trying to harm him!
Kurogane's sword hand slid to grip Souhi's hilt, clasping it unwaveringly in anticipation of shedding the venom of the wretch's blood.
"Kurogane-san!" Syaoran called out in distress, trying to stop the bloodshed before it was too late.
But it was to no avail.
Blood splashed on Kurogane's black clothes, staining cloth and skin with sticky, warmth. Souhi had pierced true and clean through the body in one mortal blow. There was nothing but red, the powerful, intoxicating smell, and the animal-like cry of agony that filled him in a sickly, satisfying way. He let go of his assailant's throat, watching as the body fell in the sand with a wet thud in front of the boy. Blood pooled beneath the man's corpse, and soaked through the sand at an alarming speed.
Syaoran stared wide-eyed, mouth slightly agape in shock. He had seen the ninja fight and was more than aware that Kurogane was strong and capable of, as well as experienced with, killing with no remorse. He'd never doubted it once but seeing it in front of him, how the man's eyes lost their sanity, sent a shrill shiver up his spine. Those red eyes he saw now were those of a murderer. The boy watched the body twitch from where he had fallen, looking slowly up to the ninja's feet, to his blood-red eyes. How he wished he hadn't.
A malicious smirk decorated Kurogane's bloodstained features. His eyes were slits of molten red, and his hands trembled with excitement. Syaoran feared that the ninja, in the midst of mourning, had lost himself in blind rage and insanity. Had Fye been alive…he was sure it would've been different.
Syaoran had seen how those red eyes were clouded with emotions he'd never seen in Kurogane before. Back then, he'd seen the ninja prop Fye's limp body in his arms to carry him to the doctor for inspection. He had seen that the man was completely broken, probably more than even Sakura or Mokona was. Those emotions were there, in the way Kurogane had made sure that Fye's head didn't loll back lifelessly, in the way he carried the blond so incredibly gently.
At that time, Syaoran hadn't been able to help the tears trailing down his cheeks. He knew that Fye and Kurogane had been close in some way, judging from the nicknames, chases and mockery that always went on between the two; however, he hadn't realized it had become, somewhere, sometime in their two years of travel, more than superficial. His eyes had widened in realization, as within him welled pain and sympathy for the man. Back then, he had looked at Sakura as she wept and felt a pang of pain just at the thought of losing her. He hadn't been able to do anything but watch Kurogane's back as the doctor led him away. Syaoran had closed his eyes and embraced his princess.
A battle cry snapped him out of his shocked state; Kurogane's roar was fierce as he attacked another incoming man who had probably underestimated the ninja and thought he could take him down. Syaoran's trained eye could not see the blur of movements from the ninja as he took down man after man. Blood sprayed everywhere and the scent was thick and strong to Syaoran, so much that he wanted to gag.
He took his sword from where it lay abandoned on the sand and stood shakily. From where he stood, he could clearly hear Kurogane's deranged laughter and the taunts he spat at the group of rebels as they attacked him all at once. The ninja took them down with little to no effort. Everything exploded around him, blowing past him in a wave of sand and what Syaoran hoped with all his being were not the limbs of mutilated men. "Kurogane-san!" he called out again, running towards the maddened adult. His attempts, however, seemed to be in vain. The boy was intercepted once more, and had no other choice but to fight back to stay alive.
Damn it! Where do they keep coming from!? I have to- Kurogane-san!
He fought off his attacker with difficulty, silently ruing the fact that the man was not proving to be an easy adversary to take down. Something in the special way the man moved and the different attire he wore caught Syaoran's attention. Usually a soldier dressed in same colored garments to prevent confusion in the battlefield; however, this man's clothing was eye-catching and had strange emblems.
Kurogane's voice broke the silence of the battlefield. "Come on! Is that all you've got!?" Syaoran resisted the urge to turn his attention to Kurogane, knowing he had to focus if he didn't want his head chopped clean off his shoulders.
"Weaklings, the whole lot of you!" Kurogane laughed at the men surrounding him. Swords drawn and ready to attack, the enemy had formed a circle around the big man in hope of finally taking him down. Kurogane only laughed. Obviously he was amused by their weakness and futile attempts to defeat him; he looked into the eyes of the nearest and smirked. "You stink of fear!" he accused, positioning Souhi in front of his body, one hand on the hilt and the other near the tip. He crouched low, the smirk never leaving his lips. "You won't come to me? I can fix that."
Souhi shone mad and bright with power, and the men stepped back as one in fear. Before any could escape, they were consumed by her power. Everything surrounding the ninja exploded, another wave of sand flying out, knocking over even Syaoran and his adversary. Syaoran gasped, trying to recover the air he'd lost, and regretted it immediately. Sand got into his nostrils and mouth and down his windpipe; he coughed, trying not to suffocate. He brought his cloak up to his face, trying to protect himself from any more sand and breathe at the same time.
It seemed like forever, but eventually the commotion died off. He opened his eyes and rose slowly from where he had fallen. It seemed as though everything was silent; his ears were still ringing from Souhi's roar. He felt the weight of the sand that had covered him head to toe fall gently away as he stood. He looked around and discovered the body of his former adversary lying dead still, face down in the sand. Half of his body was covered in sand, and Syaoran couldn't help but feel pity for him.
The silence broke when a chuckle he had not heard before escalated into that laughter he had grown to loathe in such a short time. He didn't need to look to know it was coming from Kurogane. The ninja stood proud and powerful amidst the dead bodies that surrounded him; these men had not been as lucky as Syaoran's opponent. Their bodies were charred; deformed and… he stopped looking at them. His eyes focused on the ninja, whose chin was pointed up, head bent back to laugh into the skies. Syaoran had the sinking feeling of certainty that the man was indeed mad now; however, the fight he thought Kurogane had definitively ended was far from over.
He heard a sharp whistle and felt the burn and sting of something on his cheek, before realizing that arrows, engulfed in fire, were raining down on them.
Kurogane had no difficulty deterring or chopping them to keep from harm's way, but Syaoran wasn't experienced enough and already had a big disadvantage in staying out of the way with just one eye. He had no choice but to try to find shelter before he received an injury that could take him out for good. It wasn't until he saw the way most of the arrows fell towards the camp instead of the battlefield that Syaoran realized their target was not one enemy in particular, but the tents and encampment itself. The camp was being consumed by flames at alarming speed; it felt as though his heart had stopped when it dawned on him.
Black smoke rose, thick enough to block out the sun. Syaoran was already on his feet and running as fast as he could towards the tent Sakura and Mokona had been taking cover in. He did not care if arrows were still falling from the sky, or if the heat coming from neighbor tents was unbearable. All that mattered was that he reached them in time.
"Sakura! Sakura!" he yelled as he reached the entrance to the encampment, stepping in with no further thought. He had to shield his eyes and cover his mouth from the heat and smoke that was already killing the meager remains of oxygen left inside. Squinting, he tried to spot any signs of his princess or Mokona. He heard coughing and Mokona's voice calling frantically at him. Syaoran called back to them, ducking under flaming drapes and collapsing wood, trying to figure out where they were. It was impossible to see with all the smoke and the unbearable heat on his face. The lack of air was starting to take its toll on him. His stinging eyes were watering and he knew that if he didn't find his friends soon, it'd be the death of them all.
It was only his passionate drive to protect Sakura and stubbornness that kept him from turning away and backing out of the flaming tent. A flash of hope illuminated his way when he heard Mokona cry out amidst the roar of the fire. He ran up to a wall of flames, jumped it and fell gracefully to one knee. "Syaoran, help!"
The boy's eyes widened when he saw a man towering over him, holding Sakura securely under his arm and Mokona by the ears with his other hand. The princess appeared to be unconscious, but he could not tell if she was unharmed, and Syaoran rose swiftly to attack. Much to his dismay and horror, the sudden burst of energy and movement only weakened his already weary and oxygen-starved body. Sidestepping and kicking out, the man landed a harsh blow on the back of Syaoran's neck, sending the boy limply into the ground. He landed on his shoulder with a hard thud and was only vaguely aware of a loud popping sound; the only thing that was clear to him was the pain it sent out all over his side. He didn't have energy enough to continue fighting, nor was he conscious enough to register what had happened to his shoulder. All he could see were double, blurry images; all he could feel was heat surrounding him, becoming unbearable; all he could hear were Mokona's desperate cries for help as they were taken away.
"Sa-kura…" then, everything went black.
Kurogane finished his next victim before the poor bastard even had time to register the blow. The ninja was enjoying every single moment of this: massacre. A part of him was fiercely proud that he still had it in him, this power, this feeling that overwhelmed him. And yet, that thought set off alarms in his mind. He had forgotten something of importance. He wasn't supposed to do something. But what? He had forgotten something that he knew there should be consequences for; but right now it seemed impossible to recall exactly what those were.
Fire was raging around him. When had it started? He realized belatedly that the boy was nowhere in sight, and felt begin to descend upon him. He looked about frantically and caught sight of the tent where Fye's body lay, burning out of control. Kurogane froze. He took a step towards it. Another. Without realizing what he was doing, he broke into a sprint. He knew Fye was dead, but that did not change his desperate drive to save the body from further damage. He owed the man that much after his mistake.
Either that, or he was still in denial.
He didn't make it halfway before he heard a distinctive cry in the distance.
He spun around just in time to see the boy charge into a tent as it was being engulfed by flames. Kurogane's heart skipped. His gaze snapped to his former goal and with an aching heart, he ran in the opposite direction.
This is what you would have wanted me to do, Fye. They are what you protected with your life. I will NOT fail them!
By the time he arrived, almost the entire tent had burned down. It was beyond saving. "BOY!" he called, coughing under his breath as he tried to step inside without being caught in the debris or flames. He cursed loudly when he found Syaoran lying unconscious on the floor. There was a groan above, as of wood beginning to give way. The ninja did not need further persuasion; deciding to trust on his speed and luck, he dashed to the boy and scooped him up to protect him from any falling debris. With the boy secure in his arms, he threw himself and the boy out of the tent, landing painfully on his side. All sound and even feeling seemed muted by the sound of the tent collapsing behind them. With a loud groan, he propped himself up on his hands and knees. He did not need to feel at his side to know he had bruised at least two ribs. He glared at Souhi and Hien; their hilts had been his cushions, no wonder at the damage he had sustained.
He turned to Syaoran and made sure that the boy was, at least, still breathing. His jaw loosened slightly when he had assured himself that the boy was merely unconscious. There was something wrong with his shoulder, though. A dislocation, he assumed, by the way the bone was positioned. As much as he wanted to aide the boy, his attention could not be deterred from the matter at hand for long. They were still in the middle of a battlefield, as far as he knew.
The enemy was already retreating, swiftly, without even one glance back. He could hear some cries of victory from the soldiers; however, this was far from being a victory. The damage done to the camp had been severe.
With a small groan, Kurogane gathered the boy in his arms, trusting that he hadn't sustained any grievous injury, but not assured that it would be all right to carry the boy over his shoulder. It wasn't long before he located that crazy soldier who had saved them from the desert; the man seemed to be perpetually nearby when he was needed. It was Kurogane's own fault that he had not yet asked for the soldier's name- not that he would admit it. The soldier spotted them and made his way towards them, but his expression told Kurogane that something was terribly wrong.
"Traveler!" The man was at Kurogane's side in no time. His face was bloodied on one side and there was evidence on his body of similar damage, but he did not appear mortally wounded. As Kurogane might have guessed, the man had clearly had his own share of fighting in life. "Your friend!" he gasped, pausing to catch his breath before he went on. "The white one and your princess were taken by the rebels!"
It took every fiber of Kurogane's being to keep himself from snapping right there and then. "When?!" he demanded.
"Not long ago—" With a snarl of frustration, Kurogane handed him Syaoran's limp body and cut him short. Not waiting for further news, the ninja turned sharply to leave and follow the enemy. "It is too late, they are mounted! They took almost all of the cavalry and what they did not take died in the flames. You cannot catch them!" Kurogane stopped dead in his tracks, but gave no further acknowledgment to the man—never mind that he had saved their lives before, or that Kurogane had yet to thank him. Right now, all that concerned him was the boy's safety and finding a way to rescue the princess and Mokona. "Please, come tend to your wounds. I know that it is hard for you, but the best course of action is to recover, then fight."
Kurogane's shoulders slumped somewhat in defeat. For once, he had to give the idiot credit: he was in no condition right now for this mission. He did not know his way around the desert and would do no one any good if he got lost. Reluctantly, the ninja gave in, and followed the other man back into what was left of the encampment to treat Syaoran's and his own wounds.
After tending to Syaoran's shoulder, which had to be snapped back in place, Kurogane let himself relax, assured that the boy was safe. The healer examined Kurogane, gently felt the bruised skin of his side, applied a strange ointment and then bandaged him up. Three bruised ribs, the healer told him. Kurogane wasn't pleased with his injuries; after all, he did not want to be slowed down by anything in his rescue of the princess and the white thing. He stayed by Syaoran's side for a while just to be sure the boy was out of danger. It wasn't until the strange soldier returned and told him to stretch his legs that he left the boy in someone else's watch. He assumed that he could trust the man, even if he didn't quite enjoy the man's company in particular. He had given the ninja proof enough of his reliability, even if it was only for a short time.
Kurogane made his way slowly to where the remains of the tent he had tried to save lay. Amidst the ashes, charred objects, smoke, and small embers, he knew Fye's body was buried. It would be futile to try to dig out the body, after all. The fire had consumed everything, to the point that he wouldn't have been able to tell a piece of burnt wood apart from a limb. He stood unmoving before the ashes, hands limp to either side of his bloodstained body; and slowly, he began to slump beneath the weight of extreme failure. Failure to protect what had been Fye. To protect the boy from injury. Failure to arrive in time for the pork-bun and the princess. He could have prevented so many things. Everything he had been and had sworn to be he had been powerless to truly deliver. He had as much grasp on the situation now as he would have if he had cupped sand in his hands. It leaked everywhere, no matter how much he tried to keep the grains from falling; everything, everyone still found a way to slip between his fingers, beyond his reach.
Kurogane looked impassively down at the smoking rubble, and the carcass he knew must be trapped in it, red eyes narrowing. His fists tightened and his jaw clenched. He turned away sharply and began to walk away; his breath came hard and he felt, suddenly, how close he was to breaking again. He stopped just as sharply as he had started, turning back to the remains. The wind howled, the small fire that remained crackling and snapping, and everything seemed suddenly, unbearably loud. He bared his teeth in an angry snarl and kicked at the embers of one of the support-beams of a fire-ravaged tent. A sharp scream, and another, angrier kick. It all had to go. He needed this helpless rage to be out of his system.
"WHY!?" He demanded of the wind. "You bastard! Why did you push me?!" Small blessing, he thought distractedly, that there was no one around to see him like this. Lost. Confused. …Heartbroken. His voice grew very intense with hurt, and very quiet. "I hate you. How dare you make me this weak?" he threw out a fisted hand, punching the splintered and blackened wood of one tent's still-standing mast. It crumbled easily, and he felt a fleeting sense of satisfaction at that small reminder of his physical strength; his ability to wipe out the things that hurt him. "I hate you. People like you disgust me. Who cares if you're dead?" his voice broke, and he collapsed to his knees, moaning forlornly into the dusk, into the cold night sky. He curled forward, forehead almost touching the warm sand, and slowly began to become aware of his body again; of sweat he had not noticed before, trickling down his forehead and gathering on the tip of his nose.
He panted, trying to calm himself now that he had let his frustration speak freely. It was imperative that he remained collected and calm if he was to rescue his captive companions. Fisting his hands in the sand until the latent heat of earth baked in the desert sun began to sting his palms and he had to relent and let it go, he sighed. Kurogane stood shakily, breathing slowly. He wanted to believe that the burning sensation in his eyes was the fault of sweat running into them.
No, he told himself. I will not weep.
The scent of blood was still fresh, as was the smoke and destruction. Looking at this familiar scenario reminded him painfully of Suwa. Those memories were still vivid in his mind, even if they were linked to a place that he had not lived in since a long time ago. Reflexively, he looked down at the back of his left hand. Amidst the blood and filth that covered it, he could still see the scar Tomoyo had given him.
This is a curse.
Every time you take a life, your strength will also be taken.
His eyes widened as it finally dawned on him. "The… curse." He whispered raspily, allowing himself a dour smile and half-hearted chuckle. Looking down at his hands, he saw no sign of weakness, nothing unusual at all. Somehow, the curse had not taken effect. At least, he felt just as strong, if a bit shaky from the adrenaline rush, but…why? He knew Tomoyo was not one to bluff, at least in serious matters, about something like a curse. He had felt that power engulf him that day, just moments before destiny carried him away to his chosen path. There was no mistaking it; he knew it had been her magic back then. Could this… maybe, possibly be connected to whatever had prevented Mokona from contacting the dimensional witch? It was possible that his curse had been blocked in the same fashion as Mokona's magic. It was a wonder that they could still understand each other.Understand each other…
He could still understand what that crazed soldier said…but then again, Mokona might have still been close enough for its magic to work at the time. Who knew if he would still understand the people here now? He supposed he would have to hope that the pork-bun's captors hadn't taken it beyond whatever radius the magic covered.
Whatever the cause, he wasn't about to complain that the curse hadn't taken effect as it was meant to. Its silent threat had tied him down, limited his fighting skills for a very long time; even if it had made him stronger in a different way. Fighting without killing or injuring grievously was much harder and demanded more skill than hacking away and killing things.
He let his curiosity slide for now; the source of this strange gift was of trivial importance compared to his current goal to save the princess and the white thing. Sighing, he gave the pile of ashes a last look of regret, bowing his head slightly in prayer. Just as he was about to step away and head back to check up on the boy before resting, something caught his attention. Something shone right in his eye, brightly enough that he cursed at the offending object. Looking deeper into the ashes, he found that there was something small and metallic amidst the rubble. He reached for it, cursing again at how hot the metal was still. It seemed to cool much more quickly after that, and upon closer inspection, Kurogane realized it was some sort of emblem in the shape of a bird. Golden yellow topaz, azure, emerald and ruby-colored stones decorated the ornament. It was made of a silver metal, but he suspected it was stronger than true silver. It had held fairly well in the fire and was largely undamaged.
He frowned. Whoever the owner of the item in question was had been inside the tent with Fye before… or-
His thoughts were interrupted, his attention caught suddenly by a man. Kurogane had seen him before with the other soldiers but knew that this man's rank was much higher than the others'. The man was as tall as Kurogane and just as well-muscled. His dark eyes were serious; his features spoke of enduring many years of battle and strife. General Yafeu, Kurogane remembered, the other soldier had said. Yafeu finally spotted him, and began walking in his general direction. Kurogane frowned, for he did not feel like any sort of company, nor conversation. Perhaps the general would walk pass him.
No such luck, but he was hardly surprised.
"You are outstanding with the blade, warrior." Yafeu stopped before him and examined him critically, eyes- correction, eye- narrowing intently. A long scar trailed from his forehead almost to his chin. He had a small, silvering beard that betrayed his age. "Very impressive. Your style and strength is unlike anything I've seen before. You must be from a faraway country, yes?" Kurogane watched the general, unable to summon interest in what the older man had to say.
The silence was interrupted, once more, by the general, who only smiled obliquely at Kurogane's lack of response. "It has been a long time since I saw a man take on ten rebels or more at a time with so little effort. I had thought such sights a thing of the past; ever since the tragedy in Egypt, that is." There was something in the way the man smiled that Kurogane did not like. His gut instinct was to keep his distance and not trust this man. "I would like to speak with you later. I have an offer I think you will appreciate. For now, rest. We will move soon to counterattack."
The ninja kept a watchful eye on the man's back as he turned and left, returning to the remains of the camp proper. He definitely did not like the general.
Kurogane realized he had fisted his hand around the amulet while the general was near, and opened his fingers for one last, curious look at the amulet before putting it in his pocket. He had a hunch that the boy would love to see it.
Ah, yes; the boy. With that thought, Kurogane started to walk back to the healer's makeshift tent.
Syaoran woke with a start, bolting up as soon as his tired mind registered that Sakura and Mokona had been taken by the enemy. When his body attempted to respond to his command to move, pain shot through his left shoulder. He groaned, wincing. Whatever had happened to his shoulder, it had left it useless for the moment. "Lie down," a familiar, deep voice commanded.
"Kurogane-san, the princess and Mokona-!"
"I know." The man cut him off, voice aching, suddenly worn and tired. "Rest. We'll move out soon."
Syaoran found himself worried, not understanding fully what the older man meant. Was he not concerned for their companions' wellbeing? "I won't take an injured man on a rescue mission."
The ninja looked the boy in the eye. He knew Syaoran wanted to come with him, but he could not afford to take the boy to a battlefield where he would almost certainly be killed. It was unwise, to begin with, and more privately some part of him couldn't stomach the thought of dealing with that loss, that failure, as well. "You need to rest. You won't be helping anyone with that arm sore…" there was a brief pause. "I'll go myself and find your princess and that damned pork bun."
Syaoran's fear suddenly dissipated, and he let out a small sigh of relief. The look about Kurogane and the sound of the ninja's voice told Syaoran that he was himself again… somewhat. He did not hide the horror he had felt when he saw the older man snap. He wanted to never witness such an atrocity again.
Unsure if he would be able to rest, knowing that his friends were being held captive, he gently laid back down on the mat he had been sleeping on, careful not to inflict any further motion that would stir that unbearable pain in his shoulder again. He wanted badly to go to save Sakura and Mokona; he felt it had been his responsibility to care for them, and his fault that they were taken; but Kurogane was right. He would do no one any good if he went with an injury that disabled him from fighting. Tiredly, he watched Kurogane polish and clean Souhi for the next battle. His weary eyes began to shut under the weight of heavy eyelids. It was not that he had been relaxed enough to fall into a deep sleep, but that exhaustion had overtaken him.
Kurogane looked up from tending to Souhi. With a dull hiss, he sheathed her and, convincing himself that the boy was fast asleep, stood and left the tent. There were no more of the huge tents left after the fire, only a couple of pathetic lean-to's like the healer's, so the majority of the camp was forced to stay out that night, a central fire their only source of warmth against the desert night. Kurogane made his way to where some soldiers sat around in a big circle by the fire, surrounding it. Drinks and laughs were shared by the rest, and Kurogane felt for the first time that these men were unlike any he had seen before. They had mourned their dead, which--compared to the numbers lost by the enemy-- had not been a very large loss. But it had not even been a full day since they were ambushed, and they were ready to rise again to counterattack. He smiled inwardly. Maybe this place wasn't so bad.
The sky was dark now, and stained with stars; and the men were eager for revenge. Kurogane noted idly that these men were not afraid of death. It was a chillingly familiar sensation. His starving guts overpowered his other thoughts, and welcomed the smell of food; anything would suffice for now as long as it sated his hunger. Before he even had time to look around and find the source of the smell, a small bowl was pressed into his hands. He stared into the bowl, unmindful of the fact that the contents were a thick gruel with something that vaguely reminded him of chopped potatoes. Food, at this point, was food. He looked up at the smiling face of the same strange soldier that had been all but haunting him since their first meeting in the desert, and immediately frowned.
"I was about to look for you, traveler."
"Kurogane," he corrected distractedly, curling his fingers more tightly about the bowl and accepting it as he sat down, not giving it a second glance before beginning to eat.
"Kuro…gane" the man tried, succeeding more than the ninja had suspected he would at pronouncing it. "My name is Tsekani, but you may also call me Tseka." Kurogane was quietly, grudgingly relieved. Now he didn't need to ask the other man's name; good, at least he knew for future reference. Even though he disliked the idea, something told him he would need this man's help and guidance.
Whatever the gruel he was ingesting was made of, it wasn't half as bad as it looked. He guessed it had been made out of some ground grains and perhaps, if there was livestock around he wasn't aware of, milk (or something that tasted enough like it, anyway). There was really not much taste to it, but it was enough to make him believe it was better than nothing.
He had gotten used to the meals Fye would prepare them. Sure, the magician had come up with overly sweet and often chocolate-filled obscenities for breakfast, but when it was dinner or lunchtime, Kurogane had had to give the man credit for his skills. Each dish had had a different taste. It had been a treat to his taste buds.
He could almost hear the humming of the other man as he chopped fresh strawberries for the princess' cake. She had asked him if it was all right if he baked her one, and the man had been more than willing to do so. "All for Sakura-chan!" he had said, smiling. Kurogane had eaten a very small piece, and pretended not to like it. He had kept secret the fact that at night, he had later sneaked down to serve himself another piece.
He frowned at those memories. Why couldn't the man just disappear completely from his life? He was dead. He was gone for good. Why was Kurogane still thinking so much about him? Worst of all, why was he feeling…sad? He grunted in spite of himself and finished off the strange meal.
Tseka had been eating quietly by the ninja's side, probably sensing that he still needed his time; after all, he had lost three companions in less than a day. One could only hope, for Kurogane and the boy's benefit, that they would reach the other two in time. Tseka risked a glance at the foreigner, and saw a faraway look in his eyes. He had stopped eating, almost as if he had been lost in thought. A small smile appeared on his lips, but then was replaced by a frown as he resumed eating. Tseka decided to break the silence. "I spoke to Yafeu." His tone was very matter-of-fact, and earned Kurogane's attention. "I told him about your situation, and as you requested, I asked him to allow you to follow us to the enemy grounds. That way, you can rescue your friends."
Kurogane stared at Tseka. He had not, to his memory, asked the man for help, nor for the man to speak on his behalf. He was more than capable of doing so himself, and even if he had been denied permission, he would have done as he intended anyway. It was not even a question: he was loyal to no one except Tomoyo. But…maybe that was in the past, now. Tseka smiled somewhat.
"I knew you would not ask for help, so I took the liberty of aiding you of my own volition." Kurogane grunted at that, almost petulantly displeased. "Kurogane, General Yafeu is very particular when it comes to those men who serve with him. He does not like newcomers. Besides, this is also our fight. We want vengeance." Tseka smiled grimly.
"I don't follow anyone's orders, and my problems are my own damn business," Kurogane muttered irritably. A pause stretched in the conversation, telling Tseka that the man was taking what he'd said into consideration. "I won't interfere with your troops, but I'll go."
Kurogane stood and left Tsekani's side and made his way to where the gruel was still simmering in a large pot, and helped himself to another portion. It was not for himself, but for the still sleeping boy. With the bowl full, he made his way back to the healer's flimsy, make-shift tent and Syaoran's side.
Tseka smiled wryly, whispering, "You're welcome, I suppose."
Once Kurogane woke him and offered him food, he dared not reject it for fear of the man. Syaoran ate quickly and sat in silence, drinking from a small cup he firmly held in his hands. "She was still crying when we went back to our tent… I asked if she wanted to take a walk, to breathe fresh air. I thought it might help her feel better." He paused, taking a shaky breath. "We saw some men approaching fast, mounted on beasts. I tried to warn someone, then to take her and Mokona to a safe place." Kurogane watched the boy in silence, eyes fixed on him. "They caught up. I fought some of them off, and told Princess Sakura to make a run for our tent, to stay there."
His hands tightened on the cup, and he bit down hard on his lower lip. "I should've kept them close to me. Maybe that way I could've protected them better and none of this would've happened. It was all my fa--"
"Don't say that." Kurogane's deep voice broke in over his own. Syaoran looked up into Kurogane's red eyes. "Had you kept them by your side, all of you would be dead now. You did what you thought best at the time. Don't regret something you did the best you could with. Regret doesn't help them or you." Syaoran's eyes widened at Kurogane's words. Sure, they weren't sweet and caring, like Fye's. But they were filled with concealed concern. He opened his mouth and then, having no words, closed it. "What happened in the past stays in the past. There's no point living there, as long as you still have the power to change the future." The boy watched as Kurogane looked away, almost as if not wanting to meet his eyes. The ninja was right. He could still change the future; there was still time to save Mokona and Sakura. He dropped his gaze to the cup he still held firmly in his hands. He still had another opportunity.
He nodded solemnly at the ninja, and replied, "I'll do my best."
There was still something, however, that was bothering Syaoran. The way Kurogane had killed every soldier who got in his way—he was curious to know what had happened to the curse the ninja had spoken of, when they first met. It was meant to limit him, to be sure he did not kill, and Kurogane had been strict with himself, lest his strength be taken. That was what he knew from what he overheard from Fye and Kurogane's conversation, one sunny evening on the porch of a house where they had been staying. Seeing the ninja now, just as strong as he had been before, brought Syaoran's curiosity to an almost unbearable desire to know; his fear only seemed to worsen it. Kurogane did not seem to have faltered or weakened with the deadly blows he had delivered.
So, what had happened? With an effort, he let his curiosity go, feeling that this wasn't the appropriate time to discuss such matters.
He caught sight of a figure moving towards them, wearing armor unlike anything either of them had ever seen before. The other man held the mask of a black dog held under one arm, and a staff and shield with the other. "Kurogane." He addressed the ninja in a serious tone. "We will start moving soon. Gather your weapons." Kurogane nodded in acknowledgement, and the soldier left. Syaoran began to sit up, but Kurogane stopped him before he had fully risen. "Stay. It'll be better."
"Kurogane-san…. please, I—"
Kurogane flashed him a small, lopsided smirk, his hand falling gently on Syaoran's head. "I'll bring your princess back. Concentrate on recuperating, so that next time, it'll be you who stands beside her."
Syaoran felt the respect he had for the man swell, overpowering his fear of what he had seen earlier as he watched Kurogane rise, prepare for battle, and leave with the troops. The only people left behind were the injured and the healers. Eyes narrowing with determination, good hand tightening to form a fist, Syaoran willed himself to heal as fast as he could. "Princess…"
When she opened her eyes, all she could see was pitch black. Her head hurt. She attempted to sit upright and belatedly noticed the ropes around her ankles, the gag on her mouth and the uncomfortable angle at which her wrists had been bound behind her back. She panicked and started squirming, frightened and distressed. She heard whimpering, and something soft and warm shift beside her. She gasped, slightly surprised and alarmed. "Sakura?" Mokona's voice queried in a soft tone. It seemed to be filled with concern for her. Sakura made a small whimpering sound that affirmed the creature's question, but it sounded more like she was about to break into tears. Well, and honestly she did feel like it.
"Sakura! I'm so glad you're ok! You wouldn't wake up!" Mokona cried, hugging at her chest and burying its tiny face in her clothes, muffling whatever it said next. Sakura felt sympathy for the small creature, but with the gag on her mouth and her limbs rather literally tied, there was not much she could say or do. She bent over slightly to attempt an embrace, letting Mokona know she was there and that she was all right. Sore, bound and gagged, but well enough. She looked around the place they hade been thrown in, eyes adjusting slowly to the darkness until she could see bars in front of her. Dimly, she could see Mokona's body, too, and… that was pretty much, it. "The fire spread through the tent. Before we could get out, a man stepped inside and then… you just collapsed. Maybe the smoke go to you…Mokona was afraid!"
It clung to Sakura's clothing, its tears making their way swiftly down its small face. "S-Sakura..." Mokona's voice broke even more, body trembling. "Syaoran…. Syaoran, he..." it gulped, shaking its little head. "Syaoran tried to help- he did. He got hurt… he— " it sobbed into Sakura's clothes. The princess' eyes were wide with confusion and fear at this alarming news. Had Syaoran been hurt… or, she hated to even think it possible, killed? Her eyes closed tightly, tears beginning to make their way down her cheeks as well.
Fye-san… it is enough pain to have lost him… please, let Syaoran be all right.
She hoped that at least someone would hear her prayers. Her heart was strong, but it could only hold for so long. She tried not to weep; she had to be strong, now. Syaoran would come, he would be all right and they would move on, move out of this place. The grief and fear she felt in her heart was searing, sharp aches in her chest, and penetrated deeper into the already open wound Fye's death had left behind. She hiccupped, trying to hold in her tears.
Everything will be all right. We have to trust that everything will be all right.
She did not have to wait for long to see change, though whether it was good or bad remained to be seen. There was a sudden commotion outside and she heard the cries of battle and the hiss and clangs of sword against sword. She curled around Mokona, the creature clinging fearfully onto the princess, whimpering nonsense into her bosom. An explosion shook everything around them, sending a wave of smoke and dust into their cell. Mokona yelped in fear and Sakura tried to keep her courage, watching a sudden light as it bloomed beyond their cell's door. A silhouette stepped within view of the entrance. She curled further down on Mokona and awaited bleakly whatever might come.
Let's trust that everything will be all right…
The figure ran towards them and stopped abruptly before the cell, sword drawn. "Oy, white thing, princess!" it shouted, in a shockingly familiar voice. Sakura sat up straight, suddenly sure that her prayers had not gone unnoticed.
"Kurogane!" Mokona's voice called out, utter joy spilling from its tone. Kurogane sliced through the bars with no difficulty whatsoever, and a very relieved Mokona embraced him. Sakura could've sworn the man smiled faintly, but perhaps it was the light tricking her eyes. Her heart felt relieved by Kurogane's presence, but troubled when she did not see Syaoran. She did not want to be proven wrong, and hoped fervently that the boy was outside, and safe…
Syaoran sat quietly; inspecting the piece of jewelry Kurogane had given him just before leaving. "Found it in between the ashes of the mage's tent." He had said, and Syaoran had felt terrible when the realization that Fye's body had been lost in the flames came to him. It seemed that even in death, the man could not meet with peace at all.
His eyes scanned the yellow, onyx and sapphire gems that decorated it. It was in shape of a beautiful bird with its wings spread, threads of gold attached to the end of each wing. A necklace of some sort, that was his best guess. It was beautifully made, true craftsmanship placed in every detail. His father would've loved to see it, but now was not the time. Where had this object come from?
His eyes narrowed in thought. Kurogane must've had the same thought as himself. There was someone else infiltrating besides the rebels. He remembered, fleetingly, the other soldier he'd fought, the one with completely different clothing than their allies and assailants, and wondered if that was solid proof of his conjecture. If he was right, it was probable that the battle itself had been planned as some sort of decoy.
Meaning that they had been looking for something; but what?
He looked at the sky as the sun began to rise again, signaling morning. The troops had been gone for a while now. His worries increased with every passing hour, and his impetuous fear told him to try to find Kurogane, Mokona and Sakura, himself. He stood up, his good hand fisting around the mysterious necklace Kurogane had given him. He was irrationally worried, even though he knew Kurogane was the best candidate for the mission. He tried to tell himself he would've interfered and become a bother if he had gone with the man.
He frowned and looked down at his feet, summoning the courage to turn away from the remains of the camp and try to follow his missing companions.
Startled, he turned towards the sound of that voice. The sun had risen high enough to see by, now, and in the horizon he could see Sakura's figure running towards him. Kurogane and Mokona, who was perched on his shoulder, were walking just behind her, and the troops were behind them.
"Syaoran!" His heart skipped. She was alive. She was well. She was back.
And finally he ran to her, and they fell into a fierce embrace as they met, the sun finally rising, dominating the sky once more.
Golden eyes watched as the lake took on an ethereal blue. The first rays of light cascaded down on the earth and became part of the magic that was taking place. There was a soft hum that soon escalated into a roar. The earth vibrated with energy, splitting some of the soil. Priests backed away in fear, but the Pharaoh held his ground. He watched the lake with interest, hope shining in his eyes.
He was playing with god's power, yes, but he had decided to defy fate a long time ago. He would not cower now.
A bell-like sound chimed softly, captivating every mortal ear with its heavenly song. The earth calmed down and everything came, abruptly, to a halt. The lake pulsated once, sending ring-like ripples of light out all the way to the shore, where they disappeared in shimmering crests of foam. The sound rang again, and there was another pulse of light and magic, then another… and another; like a beating heart.
Ashura's eyes widened. The priests gasped.
Something, no- someone began to float out of the water; the body was limp, floating almost as if it were being carried by something unseen. The figure's skin glowed with ethereal light, golden hair the color of the sunrays seeming to catch the light all over his body, even the tiny, short little hairs lining his thin arms and legs. The water continued pulsing like a heart, sending those blinding ripples out with unperturbed, regular frequency.
Ashura ran into the water, not caring if his royal clothing got wet. He made his way to where the figure had settled and reached out to touch it--him. Upon first contact with his hand, the figure collapsed into the Pharaoh's waiting arms. The glow faded, revealing pale, creamy skin. Ashura held his breath until the man in his arms began breathing—at first labored, but then calm—and released it in a wondering sigh. Eyes fluttered open, revealing a pure and ocean blue beneath those deceptively colorless lids.
Ashura smiled, and embraced his prize.
"My Fye…. My Fye."
Yay, chapter 6 is finally done with! I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I did writing it. I made it extra special and extra long because I have over 100 reviews! Thank you, guys! You're the best huggles
Make sure to thank DevChieftain for her amazing job betaing this chapter! She was great help and helped me improve my English for future reference. Thanks Dev, you're amazing!
I know there wasn't much KxF, but you will get all the KxF you want in future chapters, that is a fact! (including… smut.. cough blushes IF you guys want! But of course, you'll have to leave me a review ¬ )
Collide is officially planned out as a whole. The future chapters will be much more exciting, and I hope that you will love them as much as I do already.
Collide's rough summary is: six pages long (front and back!) and that's starting from chapter six and on!
I can tell you with certainty that we have at LEAST 5 more chapters to go!
Man, I feel inspired to draw that final scene! I really tried my best to describe it… but if you want to see something similar, go to http:// www. deviantart. com/ deviation/ 42290254/ just make sure you take the spaces off. Yes, it's my picture, I draw too.
Also, I would like to announce now, that Collide has it's own thread at the forums! Feel welcome to post theories, comments, concerns, whatever that has anything to do with Collide. Also, I posted the fanfic's fanart there, if you want to check it out.
Go now: http // www. fanfiction. net /ft/ 575624/29468 /1/ (make sure you get rid of all the spaces in between)
I hope to see you guys soon. Thank you so much for sticking with me so far! Please keep the reviews coming, tell me what you think, what you like and what you don't and just where I am being confusing ;
Until next time! (Hopefully, next month ;3 )