I took one last look over the items spread across my bed before I started to place them in the several duffle bags around me. Several of my favorite shirts, every pair of pants I had, a single spare set of shoes, and other miscellaneous articles of clothing. It was a little hard to believe that all my personal possessions could fit in just a few bags. Then again, the items around me in my room had no real attachment to me other than design. Once the task of packing was completed, although I was sure I was forgetting several important things, I looked at the small orb necklace on my bed. Picking it up, I felt the magical energy flow through me. I put the jewelry around my neck and tuck it securely under my shirt. A servant took the bags for me after I nodded and began hauling them to the private jet that would take me to Japan. Mentally I ran a checklist of the important items I would need to have with me. My childhood cell phone that barely worked, the artifact to summon my sword, major magical items that would no doubt come in handy, and most importantly: my PSP.
Whispers in the Dark
Sakura frowned as she skated down the sidewalk. The feeling was back again, this time stronger than before. Once again she was being followed and she didn't appreciate it one bit. Each time she would skate around town until the feeling left her, lest she lead the person to her home. Today, however, it would end. Slowly she increased her speed to double check the seriousness of the pursuer. When the feeling behind her also sped up she nodded lightly to herself and took a sharp turn before skating full force. A faint trace of annoyance was detected behind her as she skated, signaling that the stalker had become aggravated at being discovered. Sakura led the person along the streets until she found a suitable place in the park to come to a stop. As she looked around, she called out to the person following her. "Come out, I know you've been trailing me."
Slowly a figure emerged from behind a tree and walked over to her. Stopping a respectable distance away, he glared at the eighteen year old girl. One large hand reached up to adjust the collar on his Chinese style shirt, probably a move to buy him some time before speaking. "Kinomoto Sakura," he addressed her as he took in her appearance. "It's impressive that you noticed me."
Sakura chewed on her tounge lightly. The person seemed to be honestly impressed with her, despite the fact that to the girl it was obvious as day that she was being stalked. "What do you want?" She answered instead. "If it's money, you chose the wrong person."
"Oh no, money isn't an issue. You have something far more valuable to me." He allowed the girl to ponder the statement a moment before he pointed at her. "I desire the Clow Cards in your possession."
"How do you know about the Clow Cards!?" Sakura exclaimed; shocked at what she had just heard. Up until now she had never received and trouble over owning said cards, not counting the first bit of trouble that she encountered with Eriol all those years back. "And why do you want them?"
"We require them in China," the man replied, confirming Sakura's guess at him being Chinese. "To take control in office we require magical artifacts. The cards are among the highest available, so possessing them would give us great influence."
"So sorry," Sakura turned lightly and prepared to skate away. "But the Clow cards are no more. They were destroyed shortly after I collected them all. The beast of the seal is also gone, as well as the moon judge." It wasn't really a lie, not entirely. The cards were now named after her instead of Clow, and Kerberos was simply Kero now. Yue the moon judge was residing in Yukito peacefully as well. "You'll have to go home empty handed." She slid to the side to go leave.
"I'm afraid I can't accept that answer," The man darted forward to cut off the path of escape. "The board never lies." Pulling out a strange device, he grinned at the shocked look on Sakura's face. "The Lasin board of the Li clan can detect cards and point to them." Just as he said, a blue beam of light shot from the tip to Sakura's side. "Hand over the purse and you won't be hurt."
"How do you have Syaoran's board!?" Sakura skated backwards and gripped the key necklace under her shirt. "So help me if you've hurt him-!"
"His fate was taken care of by someone other than me," He replied, stepping forward. "Now, hand them over!"
Sakura frowned. 'Looks like I'm going to have to defend myself.' She plucked the necklace as she thought, holding it in her fist. To her call a wand was formed, no more than a foot and a half long. "I don't know how you came across that board, but I want it and I want it now." She reached out with her free hand and growled. "Hand it over and you won't be hurt." Normally she wouldn't be so mean, but if Syaoran had been hurt in any way…
The man darted forward quickly, lashing out his foot in an attack. Sakura slid neatly to the side and blocked a punch thrown at her. The roller blades on her feet aided in her small dance of parries and dodges. After a few more attacks the man reached behind his back and pulled out a sword from a sheath that was covered by his shirt. Lashing it out, he took on a surprised look when he heard the sound of metal on metal. The staff that Sakura had been holding was now a short sword. The girl jumped back and slid on her wheels, holding her new weapon out in front of her. "The sword card," He mused as he inspected it. "But the card alone wouldn't allow a girl such as yourself to parry an attack like that…" He looked at her a little more before taking in a realizing breath. "Ah, you've also employed the Fight card as well. Very clever girl you are, very clever indeed."
"I don't need praise from you," Sakura retorted. "Give me back Syaoran's board."
"I will need it a while longer, I'm afraid." The man took a relax position before reaching into his pocket. "I've confirmed that you possess the cards, so for now my mission is complete. Until we meet again!" A quick motion sent a small round object to the girl before exploding into smoke.
Gasping, Sakura skated away from the dust and looked around frantically. Feeling no presence other than her own, she quickly broke down and fell to her knees. 'What's going on?' She asked herself, scared. 'What happened to Syaoran?' With a shaking hand she reached into her purse and pressed the auto dial on her cell phone.
"We're sorry, the number you are dialing is either disconnected or out of the service area…"
Sakura swallowed and dialed again, getting the same message. A third dial proceeded, this time manually pressing the buttons. As soon as she heard the operator speak again she chocked back a scared sound. Her fingers dialed another number, this time getting a ring tone. After the third ring, a voice came on the other line. "Hello?"
"Eriol!" Sakura almost screamed.
"Sakura-san, what's wrong?" His casual voice turned serious.
"I was just attacked by someone who wants to steal my cards, and he said something about Syaoran's fate, when was the last time you've spoken to him?" The long run on sentence was spoken quickly.
"I haven't heard from him in a month or so," Eriol told her, voice going calm again. "Calm down Sakura-san, who attacked you? Are you okay?"
"I'm scared!" she retorted. "I'm scared about Syaoran, I'm fine."
"Did the man give you any clues?"
"He said something about needing the cards for influence in office."
"I see…" Eriol thought a moment. "I'll look into this, have you tried calling Mei-Ling yet?"
Sakura took in a breath, now encouraged again with some hope. "I'll call her now!" Without waiting for an answer she hung up and searched her address book for the girl's cell phone number. Unlike with Eriol the girl answered it before the first ring was even over.
"It's Sakura," The girl replied, uneasy. "…He's missing isn't he?"
"…Yes." Mei-Ling seemed to be crying. "He was flying to Japan when his plane exploded. Someone planted a bomb on board." Her voice broke as she gave the news. "We've found the plane but there were no bodies. He's out there somewhere, I know!"
"Yeah. I know too. He won't die like that. Not Syaoran." Sakura closed her eyes. "I'll let you go incase he calls. When he does let me know immediately okay?"
"Same to you, Sakura… And be careful okay? Something is going on here and I think you're a target too."
"… Okay. Bye bye." She pushed the button to hang up and opened her eyes again slowly. "Syaoran…" Shakily the girl made it to her feet and idly skated towards her best friend's house. In times like this she could really go for someone to give her a hug.
The minutes passed by as she skated, lost in her own thoughts. So distracted was she that she completely missed the turn needed to get to her destination and she had to backtrack a while to get to it. When she reached the gates she entered in the number for them to open and skated up the long drive way. The doors were opened for her and the butler bowed and informed her that he would retrieve Tomoyo as she took off her skating gear.
"Sakura? Isn't tonight your Karate class?" Tomoyo asked as she walked down the stairs to meet her friend. Looking at her, Tomoyo ran the last few steps and stood in front of her. "What's wrong?"
"Is it that obvious?" Sakura replied, sniffing.
"Bring some tea to my room please." Tomoyo told one of the butlers by them. "Come on Sakura, let's go talk." She took her friend's hand and led her to her bedroom.
The wheels turned lazily on Sakura's rollerblades as she glided down the sidewalk. It had been three days since she heard the news of Syaoran and nothing new has come up since. The girl closed her eyes and sighed out, deciding to skip school for the day. Although she wouldn't normally do such a thing, the burden on her was starting to take its toll after not sleeping much the past little while. Turning, she skated off the path leading to the high school and instead chose to go to the park.
The area was empty at this time of day, suiting her just fine. Sitting down at a bench she took out an apple from her backpack and took a small bite of it. The girl ate slowly, sharing her breakfast with a few birds that came to visit her. Sakura kept them company, feeling a smile come to her lips again as one perched on her finger. For some reason birds had always liked her. The animal hopped along her hand for a while before suddenly looking off to the side and flying off.
Blinking, Sakura turned her head and looked at what startled her friends. What she saw made her stand up and drift to the side from the momentum. A man stood not too far from her in what looked like a Chinese fighting outfit. He had short spiky blond hair and dark red eyes. "Who are you?" Sakura asked, frowning.
"Xiando Kauta, but you can simply call me Xian if you wish." He smirked at the girl. "Not that it really matters, Sakura, because we won't meet again after today."
"Why are you people doing this…?"
"That is of no concern to you. I have taken care of the only other one that can get in our way, and now I will take care of you."
"Syaoran!? Are you talking about Syaoran!?" Sakura gripped her necklace.
"The boy died in a spectacular blast, I must say. Truly one of the best bombs I had ever made."
Sakura grit her teeth and glared at the ground. Her right hand shook in anger, making it hurt from the pressure of the key within it. "I've never…" She swallowed. "I've never felt like this before…" Her eyes moved up and met his. "I don't like this feeling… I don't like it at all!"
"Oh?" He seemed amused. "The card mistress has never felt the desire for revenge before? Such a weak master of the cards."
"I've never… wanted to hurt… anyone… before now…" She glared harder. 'I don't like this feeling!' She tried to calm herself down mentally. 'I don't like it!'
Xian withdrew a sword from a sheath at his side. "His last scream was your name."
"Sword!" Sakura slung a sword out of the air. "Fight!" Her stance shifted instantly into a combat focus. "Dash!" Her body phased out and re-appeared in front of Xian, making him gasp and slash his weapon at her. "Power!" Her blade clashed against his, sending it reverbing away from her. "Windy!" A blast of wind shot Xian backwards after already being off balanced. "Firey!" Flames shot along the wind, making Xian scream out in pain. "Arrow!" Her sword changed into a bow, which she pulled back and aimed. The arrow shot forward quickly, catching Xian in the shoulder. "Through!" The arrow glowed a second before continuing it's path, ripping through the man as if he wasn't there. Xian fell to the ground harshly and gripped his shoulder in pain. Not done, Sakura called out another card, pointing. "Sand!"
Xian felt himself be sucked halfway into the ground and gasped out. "I seem to have underestimated you…" He glared at the girl, who seemed to wobble just a little. "Is what you probably expect me to say?" Jumping up, he freed himself and landed in a fighting stance. "You haven't slept in almost three days now. No matter how strong your magic is, with a weak body you won't be able to fully use it."
Sakura's vision got a little fuzzy, making it hard to block the attack that came at her. The two danced around each other quickly, slashing their weapons as fast as each could while not leaving themselves open. Finally Sakura felt herself be pushed back as the Power card started to fade. Seeing the chance, Xian lashed out his foot and connected into her stomach, sending the petite girl flying and losing the power she had called. Pushing up slowly, Sakura tried hard to remember how to stand properly. 'Too many cards…' Her mind told her as the ban lunged, sword posed to strike. 'No energy…' Her eyes watered as she closed them tightly. 'Syaoran!' The sound of metal on metal came to her ears and she looked up, seeing a man standing in front of her with his arm held out to the side. He was holding a thick sword with one hand that was blocking Xian's double handed attack. Seemingly without any effort the new man slung the blade forward and sent Xian flying back. As he let his arm fall, Sakura started to focus again. He wore a dark green cloak that was tattered in several places, but still managed to cover his body. A hood was attached and was currently covering his head. "Who…?"
"So they sent another to protect the mistress?" Xian asked, taking in the new challenger with his eyes. "What's your name, mercenary?"
"Giving my name to someone like you…" The man began smoothly, "Would only get it dirty." Sakura could almost feel the smirk on his lips.
"Why you!" Xian lunged, throwing his sword out with both hands, only to be deflected again by the man's one handed sword.
"I don't appreciate you hitting Princess," The man spoke calmly, although now with a tint of anger in his voice. "I'll have to pay that back." With a quick flex, the man spun kicked, sending Xian to the side. Pressing his advance, he darted forward and easily danced around the attacks before slashing his own sword and cutting Xian deeply.
"You move like Wolf…" Xian growled, attacking once more but being knocked back in just a few seconds. "Who are you!? One of the people he trained with!? Only royalty fights like that!"
The man didn't say anything, but instead held up his sword and leaned back. The blade went over his head and his other hand outstretched in front of him, guiding the tip of the blade with his finger. The move caused the hood to fall back, revealing brown hair that went into the cloak and goggles around the man's head.
Xian attacked first and Sakura held her breath as the two battled. Standing finally she mentally ran a check over her body. Her magic power was still strong but her body was getting too weak to channel it. She frowned as she looked at the battle. 'I don't know who you are but… The enemy of my enemy…' She held out her staff. "Power, Dash, Fight!" Her three battle cards appeared before her, only to her eyes. Slashing her wand out the power activated and she lunged into the mix, throwing Xian off enough to be blasted away by a lightning spell from the new man.
While they were apart from their foe, Sakura looked up at the man. His hair was freed from the cloak and blew out behind him in a waist length ponytail. The goggles were over his eyes, but seemed to be a clear green color. She saw a yellow circle trail across the lens and from what she could tell from the man's face, it was planted on her face. Something flashed across the lens in red and she saw small arrows point to the side. The man grabbed her and flashed the cloak around them. Several small clink sounds came and when she was let go she saw several small throwing knives on the ground.
"It's Wolf!" Xian screamed out in disbelief. "Impossible! How could Wolf be here!?" He seemed to be talking into a communication device. "Wolf is in Japan!"
Wolf frowned and pointed, sending a bolt of lightning into the device, shattering it. "I came to protect Princess. If you appear before us again, I'll fry you instead of that device. Now leave. Inform your people that I am here and to back off their plans."
Xian growled angrily, but started to back away. "This isn't over, Wolf. I don't know how you're here but you won't last much longer." With a leap backwards, he slung out a small round object.
Wolf once again shielded Sakura with his cloak. The girl blinked as she was encased in darkness against the man's body. She saw a bright light flare through the tattered holes near the bottom of the cloak a moment before she was released. "A flash bomb," Wolf informed her. "If you look at it you'll be blind for a few minutes."
"Ah, thank you." Sakura looked up at him, seeing the yellow circle follow her as she moved backwards to distance herself from him. "Um… Wolf-san? What's going on?"
"I was sent from China to protect you, Princess." Wolf smiled down at her, as if he was amused by something.
Sakura tried to wrack her memory. She didn't know anyone named 'wolf', nor did she meet anyone by that name the only time she had been to China all those years back. "So, you're from the good section of China?"
"You could say that." Wolf's lips turned up slightly into a smirk. He seemed to be enjoying the conversation.
"Do you… Have any word about Syaoran?" She asked after a moment, fear in her eyes. 'If they send Wolf to protect me…'
"Yes," he said the word simply.
Reaching up, Wolf removed the goggles from his face and flashed back his cloak so it looked like a cape. Deep brown eyes looked down at her as he reached into his shirt and pulled out a small gold heart locket. "My voice must sound different over the phone, huh Princess?"
"Syao…ran…" Sakura felt her throat go dry. "Syaoran…? Syaoran!" Lunging at him, she enveloped the boy in a hug. "You idiot!" she screamed into his chest, crying. "Why didn't you call me!? Why didn't you let me know you was here!?"
"My cell phone was blown up," He admitted, hugging her softly. "And I don't know your number since you got your new phone and I use auto dial."
"Idiot!" She hit his chest while still hugging him. "I was so worried! So worried…!" She gripped him again and allowed him to stroke her hair before pulling back and looking up at him. "… Welcome back, Syaoran."
"I'm back, Princess." Syaoran smiled down at her. "Sorry I'm a little late."
Sakura felt herself half laugh, half cry. "A few years isn't a little late!"