Summary: Syaoran, a deadly assassin, and Sakura, a princess. Even when she marries a shogun to protect the imperial family, they cannot suppress their love and lust for each other, becoming tangled in a dangerous web of adultery, betrayals, and deaths...
Author's Note: Hi. No excuses, but I'm finally updating. I AM going to try my best to finish this and Vampire Hunter, so please stick with me to the end :)
Music: 2NE1 – Ugly, The Calling – Wherever You Will Go, Nishino Kana – SAKURA, I Love you?
+ Thousand Year Love Story +
Chapter 5 – Lost Child
Political turbulence was escalating in the country; people had begun to show their displeasure towards the Emperor. Chaos ensued from protests and arrests, with deaths and murders becoming daily news for the citizens. The atmosphere in the imperial palace was silent and solemn, officials scurrying about, whispering to one another, maids and servants absentmindedly carrying on their tasks while gossiping in the corners. However, for this one day, troubles and worries were forgotten.
It was the day of Princess Sakura's marriage to Shogun Tsukishiro no Yue.
For the first time in a while, the palace was bright and loud once more, festive foods set on elaborate tables and music echoing across the courtyard. Citizens gathered around the gates of the palace hoping for a glimpse of the ceremony and shares of food. Tomoyo and Eriol were happily watching the festivities, although their own wedding had been postponed to use Sakura's marriage as an attempt to unify the divided people.
Syaoran was solemnly standing guard outside of the Princess's chambers, and when the doors opened, he couldn't help but smile at the sight. She was like an angel, dressed in majestic robes fit for a royal marriage ceremony, her innocent face beaming despite her nervousness. The marriage had been hurried due to the political situation, but Sakura was somewhat comforted by the prospect of this act bringing more peace and stability to the nation. She stepped onto the courtyard gracefully, Syaoran following in the shadows, unseen and unnoticed. He bitterly smiled to himself as he watched her, pure and beautiful, pulling the mask over his face to ensure he would focus on his duty.
They had continued to meet in secret after their forbidden night of intimacy, and it was only during those times that they were able to forget about the impending marriage arrangements. But now that the day had finally arrived, Syaoran felt somewhat more determined to be there for Sakura. She would be in a loveless marriage, and he alone would provide her with the affections and love to make her strong. Perhaps he was being too selfish and naïve, but he was prepared to do that for her. He knew she couldn't resist him anymore.
The ceremony was a blur for Syaoran, who kept his eyes focused among the crowd, the servants and everywhere else but the Princess herself. He glanced over at Yue from time to time, smirking darkly at the man's void expression. He also noticed Yukito, the General's brother, watching with a smile with other advisors.
"You can cry on my shoulders," a familiar voice giggled from behind. Having noticed her presence approach, Syaoran rolled his eyes, retreating further into the shadows.
"Sometimes I wonder what is the use of having so many guards," he muttered, "Have you come to watch the grand wedding?"
Meilin lifted her mask to better take in the view, revealing her ruby eyes. "That too," she smirked.
"Or are you here to guard your precious spy?" Syaoran eyed Yue, who was bowing to the Emperor and Empress.
She sighed, "Relax, Xiao Lang. No one's going to try and disrupt this wedding today. My master's actually here for the good sake and festivities."
Syaoran observed the crowd. "Am I going to meet this master of yours?"
Meilin peered over with a cheeky grin. "Not yet, I think. In due time, probably."
He frowned. "No matter," he scoffed, "It's not like this person will become my master."
"I wonder," she fingered the sheath of his sword, lowering her mask back over her face, "That Tsukishiro no Yue looks like he'll break the Princess on their first night!"
Syaoran grit his teeth. He ignored the fact that she seemed to be playing dumb about the identity of her master. "Shut it. And is it safe to assume that the palace will be free from attacks if you're here goofing around?"
"If you're so curious, why don't you make your decision to join us already?" she giggles, "Of course, that would make you a double agent."
He rolled his eyes. He had previously decided that if it meant protecting Sakura, he would prepare himself to commit even more evils than he had ever before. If he had to bring down the imperial family to ensure Sakura's safety, he would do it. Despite his resolve, it was difficult to let go of the last shred of morals he still possessed. After all, the Emperor had been nothing but kind to him since the day he was brought to the palace. As time passed by, it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to delay his final decision. People were restless and unhappy. Rebellion forces were growing at an alarming rate. He had to choose soon, or it would be too late to even save the Princess.
Syaoran's eyes fell on Sakura, who was now being officially wedded to Yue. His heart ached at the sight. She was so tragically beautiful, illuminating with innocence. He loved her too much. He felt nothing but hatred and resentment towards Yue. He wanted nothing more than to draw his sword and cut off that emotionless face, which appeared to him to be mocking his loss and pain. But that man was key in saving Sakura. Surely Yue would not slay his own wife, even if the imperial family fell.
If it were otherwise, Syaoran would be more than happy to slay him.
But for now, he was desperate. He realized that the official union had been completed. Amidst the cheering and congratulating, Syaoran stood in his place in the shadows, torn and hopeless. Then his eyes turned back to Meilin.
"Who do I need to talk to?" he asked warily, but firmly.
Syaoran stood guard until the festivities had ended, and watched as Yue and Sakura retreated into their prepared bedchambers. A part of the palace buildings had been granted to the new couple, near the Princess's existing chambers. He grit his teeth in fury as the doors slid shut, knowing yet unwilling to know what would happen. He double-checked the number of security guards patched around the premises, and with an unsettled heart and mind, slipped out of the palace.
He was soon at the Red Light District, walking straight into the brothel he had coincidentally visited last time. He spotted Meilin, who seemed completely taken aback to see him. He tossed a heavy bag of coins at the counter, and smirked as he saw the greedy eyes of the man behind it.
"I'm going to take the strawberry-eyes somewhere," he declared, "I'll return her before the sun rises. If I don't return, you can send people to my house." He handed over a map. The man was about to protest, but upon meeting Syaoran's eyes, he decided against it. "I'll bring her back." Syaoran smirked, walking over and grabbing the dumbfounded Meilin.
As they walked down the district, Meilin laughed out loud in sheer absurdity. "You even drew a fake map for me? I can't believe this," she looked over at him coyly, "Are you falling for me, Little Wolf?"
"Don't be so conceited," Syaoran scoffed, "I'm bringing you as a hostage."
"Oh, so you were doubting my information," she smirked, "It's not a problem with me. You put so much effort in bringing me out of there, after all."
He raised his eyebrows. "Your master's still unable to buy you out?"
She shrugged. "It takes a lot of money to buy back freedom. At least I'm lucky enough to be able to wander out during the day."
Syaoran frowned. It was odd, but the more time he spent with Meilin, the more he felt comfortable with her. He didn't see her as an enemy; he didn't sense that kind of feeling from her. Perhaps he even felt some sort of connection with her, as they were both forced into something they had no choice but to accept, and were searching to be free in some way. "And how much is the price of your freedom?"
Meilin stared at him. Then she burst out into laughter. They were out of the Red Light District now. She stepped in front of him, turning to face him. "You're really kind," she said with a mysterious smile, "Almost too kind." Then she turned away, taking his hand and leading the way. Moments later, they were at a quiet street, walking into a humble house. However, despite the appearances, there were many armed men on guard, some nodding towards Meilin in recognition.
Not long after they were seated in a room, a woman walked in.
Syaoran was taken aback. She was beautiful, dressed in simple red robes with embroidered butterflies, her long brown hair freely trailing behind her back. For the first time, he wondered if he had been wrong in thinking that Yue was the mysterious "master."
"Meilin-chan," she looked happy to see the other woman, reaching to pull her into a tight embrace, "I'm happy to see you at this hour!"
Meilin grinned. "Little Wolf over here bailed me out for the night."
"Thank you for that," the woman bowed with a smile, "You must be Li Syaoran. I'm Akizuki Nakuru, and I'll be briefing you on what is to be done in place of our master, who is unable to be here."
Syaoran raised his eyebrows. Perhaps Yue did not trust him enough to reveal himself so soon. And with right reason, too.
"We're delighted that you've finally decided to join us," Nakuru continued with a slight giggle, "And you're so good-looking, too!"
Meilin met Syaoran's bewildered eyes and smirked.
"Now, we know you're one of the best assassins in this country, and that you have a history with the imperial family," Nakuru sat across from him, staring directly into his eyes, "And we're aware that you have successfully killed some of our men. That being said, we need some proof that you're truly on our side."
He nodded. He'd been expecting this.
"To those affiliated with the imperial family, we may seem like a treacherous rebellion force, but we actually have the support of virtually every citizen in this nation, especially this city," she smiled, "The people have been suffering for too long. Many of our men are normal working class citizens, which is why we are regretfully low on funds. That aside, I hope that you'll be able to see the strong sense of justice with which we are acting on. We're the voice of the people, the oppressed, the hungry and the angry."
Syaoran stared back at her. "I'll be straight forward with you," he exhaled, "There will be no need for you to question my loyalties as long as the Princess lives. As long as she is spared, I will do any of your dirty work."
Nakuru watched his unrelenting eyes before bursting out into laughter. "Oh my," she hiccoughed, "I didn't know you'd be such an innocent boy! The fearsome shadow assassin, throwing away everything for the sake of a little girl?"
He didn't falter. "The Princess has married that Tsukishiro no Yue, but that's not enough insurance. I need to know that your people will leave her alone. If you go back on your word, I will personally hunt down this master of yours, whether it is Yue or not, and rip his throat open."
Nakuru suddenly whipped out a dagger from inside her robes, and the blade was pointed against Syaoran's throat the next second. He didn't flinch, instead glaring straight at her, unfaltering. She smirked, no trace of her previous playfulness evident on her expression. "Watch your mouth, little doggy. We're all fiercely loyal to our master, and after you meet that person, you will have to, too." She drew back, grinning once more, as if nothing had happened. "The Tsukishiro shogun is the most likely candidate to replace the Emperor, so as long as the Princess is cherished enough by her new husband, it will not be hard to secure her life. You should encourage her to make sure she's loved."
Meilin grimaced slightly. Nakuru could be much more cruel than she ever could be.
Syaoran smirked, masking his pain flawlessly. Of course it would kill him to see it happen, but if it had to be done… "So do I have your word?"
Nakuru nodded. "I'll let the master know. I'm sure he will be more than happy to oblige."
"Although you may be innocent in that you're blindly trying to save the girl's life…" Nakuru continued, "In another sense, you're a truly horrible, fearsome man. You're betraying the people who saved you, and you're prepared to kill them. And all for a romance that will not be fulfilled. I wonder how the Princess will look at you once she learns what you have done?"
Syaoran crossed his arms. "I'm prepared to be hated, or to be killed by her own hands. She will still be alive, after all."
Meilin smirked bitterly. He was hopeless.
Nakuru seemed to be thinking the same. Then she grinned. "Li-kun, I guess you could start working right away. There's a corrupt noble we need to rid of. He's been abusing his authority and bullying countless citizens, exploiting them and hoarding money unjustly. There are reports that the palace has been turning a blind eye to him because of all the bribery and connections he offers to the high officials."
Syaoran had an idea of who he was. He felt slightly uneasy, knowing that the noble in question had a notorious reputation, even in the court. He had been slaying those related to the rebellions, as ordered by Clow Reed, to protect the Emperor. And now, he was going to be doing the reverse, assassinating enemies of the people. He was seeing the justice on both sides, and he felt the turbulence in his heart already. But he had prepared himself for this. It was not the question of who was good and who was evil, nor of which side he was on. His only objective was to save Sakura from a brutal death. "That would be Nagakura, right?" he smirked slightly, "His wife ran away from him, unable to stand his behavior, and took their baby daughter along with a good amount of his fortunes."
"Yes," Nakuru nodded with a smile, "Although his family abandoned him, he still hasn't realized his wrongdoings, frequenting the Red Light District and spending much of his money on women and drinks. Of course, his money is the money he stole away from the poor farmers and storekeepers."
He nodded. "Even if I killed him, there would be too many suspects holding a grudge against him," he mused.
Meilin suddenly remembered. "Right. From now on, when you're given orders to kill people on our side, we need to be able to save them without having the imperials don't suspect you," she grinned, "And of course, we have to be careful to not let everyone know about you. Word spreads fast, and there are cases of spies from the palace trying to blend into our men. I handled one just the other day."
Syaoran smirked. "There's no need to worry. Those unfortunate enough to recognize me are often in their final moments."
"You have to live up to your title of the "Shadow Assassin," huh," Meilin raised her eyebrows. "But you know, those amber eyes of yours stand out a lot, and most of the stories about you emphasize them."
"We'll make sure that we meet discreetly," Nakuru laughed, "And we could replace the bodies when disguise them, sending the real men into hiding. Their faces should be mutilated, though," she added nonchalantly, earning a grimace from Meilin.
"For now," Syaoran rose, "Nagakura will be dealt with. How do I contact you?"
Nakuru grinned. "For now, let's keep Meilin-chan as your messenger. Our meeting places change up, and we'll start letting you know directly after you've earned our utmost trust. Does that sound fair to you, Little Wolf?"
Syaoran nodded curtly.
The walk back to the Red Light District was quiet. Meilin walked ahead of him, her hair ornament making a rhythmic sound as she moved. He noticed that she was walking slowly, and he adjusted his pace accordingly, knowing that she did not want to return in a hurry. He gazed at the accessory, remembering the one he had given to Sakura on her birthday. He smiled to himself.
It would certainly pain him to be hated by the Princess, but he had long known that he deserved to be punished for his actions. His feelings alone were damnable, but he had taken the Princess's virginity with his own hands. For that, he deserved any horrible punishment. But it would have to wait until Sakura was safe.
There was no turning back.
Chapter 5 –迷子– End –
Author's Note: The showdown clock has officially begun for Thousand Year Love Story! KABOOM. :) Sakura's wedding wasn't portrayed much, since the story is third-person but geared more towards Syaoran... and understandably, he would be trying to not pay attention to the ceremony much. :( Be prepared for more drama and action! :) Please drop me a review! xoxo