Charon: Hey blackout, you alright?

Blackout2010: I was savagely beaten off screen by a demon king…so no.

Charon: We'll it could have been worse at least he said you didn't own Sakura wars or Dynasty warriors rights, so you won't have to worry about any legal actions against you.

Blackout2010 (sweat drop): I know, but I have a feeling it will only get worse soon…

Charon: Well you'll survive…hopefully

Blackout2010 (pouting): Life's not fair.

Ch. 2 Crane of fate

(Next morning)

After last nights' scuffle the team had an emergency meeting called first thing in the morning. All the stars members except Roseita were up earlier than normal and they waited around the ashes of where the campfire used to be in silence occasionally glancing between Shinjiro whom they hoped was alright and Roseita who was still unconscious, the experience of last night taxing her body significantly. Diana gave a quick medical diagnosis about Shinjiro saying he only suffered some light bruising but otherwise was fine, after nodding his head he turned to address everyone.

"Ok everyone. As you all just heard from Diana, I should be fine so we can now concentrate on more important matters." The boy called the impromptu meeting to order

"Shiny are you sure your alright?"

The young samurai nodded to his fellow samurai performing a quick stretch, showing his physical competency. Charon decided to speak up "So what's should be the first order of business then?"

"It would be in our best interests to leave the immediate vicinity; considering the ambush from yesterday, and the fact that the individual was in a place like this either suggests: that he is a bandit, in which case there may be more hiding around, or the native inhabitants in this particular area are extremely hostile to outsiders which is still an equally unfavorable prospect." said Subaru informing the group of her evaluation of the situation thus far

"That's a reasonable plan Subaru." said Shinjiro while he scratched the back of his head trying to remember anything important from the events that transpired last night that could assist them "Now that I think about it I do recall the man saying yellow turbans and something Han"

"Yellow turbans? Does that mean that guy I carried was one of them than?" Charon asked, remembering the strange cloth wrapped around his head

"You're probably right Charon" The resident red head answered remembering the attire the bandit had on as well

Charon frowned "So does that mean these guys are in some kind of turf war then? I can't find any other reason to just suddenly attack people in the middle of the night."

"Well can't we just say that we don't have any part of the feud? Will that make them leave us alone?" The worried Diana asked not at all eager with getting involved with some kind of gang war that they knew nothing about.

The African American shook her head "Afraid not. If the feud has already turned bloody, then most people in the gang are given a kill on sight order when it comes to dealing with anyone not affiliated with them. Trust me, I'd know considering, me and the centaurs got into more than a few gang wars back when I was in Harlem."

Everyone's mood suddenly darkened after that little tidbit of knowledge that they'd have to get out of this hostile environment before they could actually continue with their mission, scratch that actually start the mission since they hadn't even arrived at the starting gate known as Wu yet. Gemini decided to try and lift the mood a little "Well, if it's a big gang of people, then wouldn't it take a bit to notice that someone missin'? So shouldn't we be safe for the moment?"

"You do have a point Gemini" Shinjiro acknowledged as he crossed his arms running the idea over in his mind "if it's a big gang it will take a while before they notice someone's missing in the head count." A confident smile erupted on his face "Perhaps if we're lucky on our way out we won't run into the other gang. Alright! Now that's decided we'll worry about the mission after we get out of this forest agreed?"

Everyone nodded their head and proceed to gather what little things they had on them and woke up Roseita telling her it was time to go. Once everyone was ready they headed in the opposite direction that the bandit came from. They proceeded cautiously at first to make sure that there weren't any traps or patrols before they decided they could relax their guards and travel at slightly quicker pace. They stopped occasionally for rest since Diana, Roseita and Subaru weren't that accustomed to hard travel unlike the two samurais and lawyer/gang leader. Even though they did stop not one of them let their weapons leave their side for fear of another possible surprise attack. It was during this rest that Subaru brought up a very important point to everyone.

"Everyone, we should be careful of what we do in this land. We have no idea the repercussion of any actions or decisions we might make or do and we don't need to compromise our mission anymore than needed."

Gemini tilted her head slightly processing what her friend said "hmm, that's true Su. But ain't changing the wars winner gonna go against what yer sayin'?"

Subaru nodded but spoke her counter argument while she sat on a nearby log "There is truth to your words, Gemini; however we already know what the results will be with changing the winner. I am merely suggesting that we don't take too many unnecessary or drastic measures unless it helps us out. I would also suggest we remain wary around people with strong pnuema energy levels."

"Why people with strong pnuema Subaru? Couldn't they give us a hand if we asked nicely?" Roseita questioned from Shinjiro's lap, which caused a few others to give confused looks to the Genius who went silent to think of a good explanation that was easily understandable for all

"Well you see people with pnuema are capable of doing feats that others would call 'impossible' so to speak. For instance a person with slightly above average pnuema than regular humans could take significantly more pain in comparison to others. Diana, for example has the ability to heal small creature simply by touching them as you may recall the incident with Yume-dono." She explained pausing to take a breath before explaining further

"Me, for instance, during combat when we were in our stars I could perform the Lunatic Bloom. I can in fact perform this attack outside of my STAR; however, I would not be able to have the same results you would expect. The reason for this is because our STARS amplified our pnuema output and abilities to a much greater degree. That is part of the reason for the STAR to have been created, because normally the only way to increase pnuema output is by fighting in battle and wars to increase both the amount and control over it. However, in the day and age we we're in, not many battle occurred aside from demon attacks, and demons have a much greater pnuema output level, so without the stars we would never be able to contend with them, and the world would be overrun."

"I think I understand what you're saying Subaru but how does that affect us?" Diana questioned, understanding the true purpose of the stars now, but not the entire warning that Subaru was mentioning about others

"Throughout history people with high pnuema signatures have been recorded. The reason I bring this up is because we may have to contend against these individuals during our stay here, most if not all who had high signatures turned out to be skilled warriors such as Nobunaga, also add into the fact that Japan and China seem to turn out more individuals than other areas of the world, brings grim news for us." Subaru concluded

Everyone allowed the information to sink in, since the recent revelation brought new dangers to the table. Diana looked worried over the thought of having to face more people like Nobunaga, Gemini and Charon started to discuss any safety precautions that they might have to employ. Roseita was looking down at her feet trying to figure it out, but when she couldn't she asked Subaru to explain a bit easier which caused Subaru to sigh at having to repeat herself, not that she blamed the small girl since it was a rather strange concept to embrace. Shinjiro however was thinking things over and tried to figure out what might be the best way to proceed.

'Hmm...after last night, I'm not too certain me or any of the stars, could take on a person that could rival Nobunaga in terms of power without the STARS.'

'True Shinjiro-dono, though the fact remains that they are still human beings, and as such some of them can be talked to though they maybe few and far between' Nobunaga interjected, giving his opinion on the matter to the brooding captain

'Let's hope' Shinjiro responded as he ended the conversation, his eyes then found its way over to Subaru and Roseita as the small Mexican girl continued questioning for clarification anything she didn't get.

"Hey Subaru, why does this place have more 'strong' people?"

"It is unknown why exactly." Subaru answered, she then put a small smile on her face "Perhaps there is some truth in the Far East being considered a mystical land"

Roseita's eyes light up after hearing that "Reeeaaally! There are magic people here! That's sooo awesome Subaru! When can I meet them?"

"Ha-ha! It's good to see even in this day and age the children of the world still have their imaginations captured by the mystical arts of other." An old voice spoke from behind the group

The stars immediately got on guard and turned around to face, what they saw was an old man with hair that defied not only gravity but physics too. The man wore some baggy black pants and had a white jerkin with a strange symbol in the center of his shirt. His hair was white probably from his old age but it was spiked into a strange crown like form. The old man was also sporting a very strange marking on his face that was painted in a purple ink and ran from his eyes brow around his eyes and left off at his cheek, in his hands he had a strange deck of cards that from what Shinjiro noted had the kanji for 'ward' on it.

The young star division captain didn't want to make a bad first impression with the old man so he tried to be friendly "Hello there sir, sorry about pointing our weapons at you. We've already had a bad experience and didn't want to repeat it."

The strange old man let out a hearty chuckle before speaking in an amused yet gentle tone "Oh, a young man with manners truly a rare thing nowadays. Ah! But where are my manners allow me to introduce myself, I am Master Zuo Ci." As the old man bowed in respect

The stars decided to follow suit, since the old man was being cordial and hadn't tried to attack them…yet

"I'm Shinjiro Taiga, leader of the star division." The captain bowed in return

"You may refer to me as Subaru Kujo." The other Japanese person spoke as she too bowed

Diana placed her hand over her heart and smiled "I'm Diana Caprice, but please call me Diana."

Charon put grin on her face and jutted her thumb at herself "Charon Archer, attorney at law!

Roseita ran up and grabbed Zuo Ci hand and gazed at him in wonder "Roseeeita Aries, Mr. Magic!"

Gemini bowed her head and announced "Gemini Sunrise, vassal of my late master Mifune."

Zuo Ci put a kind smile on his face "It is a pleasure to meet you all. Although, I already did know who you were, but still it warms my heart to see such lively children."

This shocked everyone and Gemini asked "You knew who we were?" curiosity lacing her voice

The old man nodded "Indeed, Miss Sunrise. You see, I can see the future and that is the reason that I have appeared before you today."

"What! You can see the future! No way! That can't even be possible! R-right?" the startled Charon hollered accidently at the old master

"It's not entirely impossible Charon." Subaru answered drawing everyone's attention "Since the dawn of time people have been believed to have the 'gift' of foresight and from what I've told you about people with strong pnuema, while highly unlikely it is still a feasible possibility."

The old man nodded in the direction of the girl "Yes, you are quite right Miss Kujo, although seeing is believing or so to speak."

"Excuse me, Master Zuo Ci" Diana interrupted "But if you can see the future than why are you here? Shouldn't you be using your power to stop the wars from going on?" not understanding why someone with a godsend gift was allowing all this trouble to happen

"You are a kind soul Miss Caprice. Always looking to find peaceful solutions as opposed to violence, but that is avoiding the question. Truth be told, I am or rather will use my talents later on in the wars to come."

A frown marred Subaru's face "For Wei." This caused everyone to stop smiling and process what she said, which made them all frown, logically if someone could see the future they could have the side they wanted to win come out victorious. Historically according to Nobunaga it was Wei that won which meant this man was an enemy

The old man merely chuckled and shook his head "No, No Miss Kujo. Wei and I are on opposite ends of the chess board. The one I shall serve is: Lord Liu Bei, the ruler of the kingdom of Shu."

'Wait something isn't adding up then' Charon questioned before addressing Zuo Ci "If you could see the future than why is it that Liu Bei lost in the end?"

"The reason Miss Archer is because during a few crucial moments in time my advice was ignored which led to disaster, and I did not nor do I wish to allow a kingdom to be crafted out of cheated leisure. No, a kingdom must be able to honor the sacrifices of all the people who fought, lived and died for their beliefs and nation."

This took Charon slightly aback 'The idealism behind what he saying reminds me of both the America and the Centaurs underlying views. Maybe he really can see the future, but just how far exactly?'

"But allow us to get back on track. I have appeared before you all to assist you in your mission this one time. You must hurry and reach end of this forest immediately so that you do not miss your chance to meet up with someone very important. Accept his demands and you will have moved forward in completing your journey. Do you understand?"

Everyone nodded "Thank-you master Zuo Ci for everything." They said in unisons

"Nonsense, it is the elders' job to educate the young people of the world. I certainly hope we might meet again." The old man smiled

Shinjiro and the others bowed before they headed along their way to help unify the land once they were completely out of sight, the old master looked into the sky.

"And thus the cogs of fate have once again begun to turn. I am most interested in seeing where this story will end for them."

Zuo Ci gave one last glance in the direction of the young group before he walked behind a tree and moments later a white crane emerged from the same location as it took flight towards the western sky.

To be continued…

Zuo Ci: It truly saddens my heart to see the dark road ahead the young travelers must continue down. But alas, it is not my place to interfere with their destiny.

Zuo Ci: Then again it is always darkest before the dawn.

Zuo Ci: Next episode of Sakura Wars to meet a tiger

Zuo Ci: Stay safe young ones

Zuo Ci: Bang to the roof tops

Authors note for Subaru's explanation I completely B.S. it. If it is in fact true well I'll be damned never would have thought of it. The reason I did that was so I can implement some elements from dynasty warriors into this story. What elements you might be wondering well. Eventually I want some characters to be able to do the stuff in this link watch and enjoy!