As Sakura sat at the banquet table with her now husband and family, she span her new ring around her finger as she looked out over the crowd of guests who were talking at their tables. She was relieved that she couldn't identify any of them as agents from The Scarlet Organisation. She relaxed back in her seat and relieved a sigh. Syaoran had kept his calm composure, and he too seemed relieved of a stress he'd been under. Sources of entertainment included musicians and mimes and various other sources. Some of the guests came to speak with the newlywed couple and give them gifts. Someone placed a small box in front of Syaoran, and he looked up to see Sid.
"I'll punch you for that." He said.
Sid smiled and Syaoran laughed. "So, how have you been for the past four months?" Sid asked.
"I suppose things haven't been too bad; apart from the workload, not much has been happening." Syaoran answered.
"I heard you fell ill with pneumonia a couple of weeks ago; that can't have been fun." Sid said as he sat down with his cousin.
"Who told you?" Syaoran asked.
"Just a fellow friend." Sid shrugged.
Syaoran rolled his eyes. "Right. How has everything been for you? Cleaning up the castle after the ordeal at your engagement party must have been difficult."
Sid nodded, "Yes, everything went alright. It was tiring though. Remember to remind me never to throw a party again…"
Syaoran laughed, "That's a bit harsh."
"Perhaps." Sid laughed, and then looked to Sakura. "And you look lovely as always Princess-oh, I suppose it's Queen now, isn't it?" he smiled.
Sakura returned his smile, "Thank you Sid."
"And how have you been?" Sid asked her.
"The same as usual, I suppose." Sakura replied, "Well, minus the pranks."
Sid looked to Syaoran who pretended to ignore the conversation. Sakura laughed a little, "Pranks on my sister." She explained.
"And me." Syaoran muttered.
"Hey! I apologised for that!" Sakura said.
"Oh come on…" Sakura pleaded.
Syaoran laughed, "I'm just messing with you." He said.
Sakura rolled her eyes and then turned her head to see what was going on with the provided entertainment. She froze in shock as she saw the one woman she never wanted to see again; Queen Aryanna. Syaoran immediately noticed Sakura's unease, and followed her line of sight. He spotted the woman and the smile on her face, and he realised that this was the woman connected to Sakura's past. Sakura regained herself and buried her fear.
Rena saw the woman and rage rose inside her, and as she was about to lunge at the queen she was stopped by her fiancé holding her hand. She looked to him and he shook his head.
"Let Syaoran and Sakura handle this." He said.
Sakura kept herself as calm as possible and Syaoran stood. "Queen Aryanna?" He asked.
"I'm so pleased you know my name." She replied with a smile.
The woman standing in front of them couldn't have been much older than Syaoran was. She was a beautiful woman, and she seemed to take advantage of that with evidence of her gown and jewels.
"Do you have an invite?" He questioned.
He knew she didn't as he hadn't sent an invite out to her in the first place. How she knew of the wedding was what bugged him the most.
"I'm sad to say I don't. But since Sakura and I have such a close relationship, I thought I should come and see how she was doing." Queen Aryanna said, a devilish smile creeping across her face.
Syaoran looked to Sakura out the corner of his eyes; she stood up calmly. "You're not welcome here. Leave."
She laughed, "Oh Sakura, I didn't think you'd actually recover." She said darkly. "Rest assured I'll be back for you my dear, so until then live in fear."
By the use of magic, Syaoran flung the knife sitting by his hand at her feet without moving a muscle. Aryanna looked at the knife that was embedded in the ground and giggled. "Oh my."
"That was just a warning. If you come near Sakura or any of my family, I swear I will annihilate you." Syaoran growled.
"Well, I suppose I've caused enough trouble for today. Have a good evening Sakura. I'll see you again another time." Aryanna turned, but not without catching the eye of Rena who was glaring at her furiously. She left and Sakura relaxed back into her chair beside Syaoran. Her hand found his and everyone returned to enjoying the festivities.
"That was intense." Sid said.
"No kidding…" Syaoran muttered.
He looked to Sakura with worry and squeezed her hand. "Are you alright?" He asked softly.
She nodded, "I'm ok…just shocked, I guess." She replied.
"Who's Queen Aryanna, if you don't mind me asking?" Sid asked.
Syaoran sighed, "She's the woman who hurt Sakura." He replied.
Sakura picked up her wine glass and drank a little. She swore to herself then that she wouldn't let that woman hurt her family ever again. But even so, the fear she held inside her was never going to fade. Luckily nothing else happened, and so they carried on and enjoyed the festivities. There was dancing and more music and desserts and various foods. It was a long day and a long night, with it being late when Syaoran and Sakura were finally able to leave. They walked together back to the bedroom, where once undressed and having spent their time intimately together, both fell asleep quickly.
Rena spent the night digging at the table with her fork out of anger. While she was happy for her sister, she was angry with Queen Aryanna for showing up on the one day they didn't want disturbed. She hoped Sakura was alright as she knew exactly how much she feared Aryanna, feared the dark. She stabbed the table again and finally, Syaoron took the fork from her.
"Are you trying to destroy the table!?" he snapped.
"Possibly." She replied irritably.
"You have got to stop." He said, "If you're worried, talk to her tomorrow."
She slumped back into her chair and he rolled his eyes.
"Fighting again, I see." Yuui said as he walked over.
"Shut it, you." Rena snapped.
"What do you want?" Syaoron muttered.
"Just thought that since the two have left the party, you might want to round it up to a close." The blonde replied.
"Enjoy your argument." Yuui said before leaving.
Rena glared at him as he walked away, and then picked up an apple from the fruit bowl beside her to eat.
When morning came Sakura woke to Syaoran rubbing the tension from her shoulders. She smiled, "Morning to you too." She said. He stopped to lay back down beside her, pulling her close. "So you finally woke." He smiled.
"What's the time?" She asked.
"About ten thirty." He replied. "Yesterday was rough; are you alright?" he asked.
"I'm alright." She smiled, "You don't need to worry."
He returned her smile, "Ok then." He said as he ran his hand up her back. He could feel the scarring as he ran his fingers over her skin, the scars from being burned. But some of the burn scars differed from others.
"Are you wondering how I was burned?" Sakura asked as he traced one of the scars on her back. He looked away guiltily and she smiled sadly.
"First it was hot wax." She began.
He looked to her and she held his hand in her own. "After the wax it was acid dripped onto my back. Acid soon became fire and electricity." She explained quietly. "I'm glad it's over…"
He ran his hands through her hair as he held her, thankful that she didn't have to go through such torture again. For now they could focus on their life together, whatever it would hold.
A couple of weeks passed, and Sakura was finding it difficult with the anxiety she felt after seeing Aryanna at the wedding. She'd had a couple of emotional break downs but someone was always there to help her back onto her feet, but still their words were only like a bandage for her wounds. She walked with Syaoran, heading down to the dining hall together. As Sakura sat down she started spinning her ring around her finger; it was a platinum ring, the metal weaved together like vines and leaves. Off of the vines were small diamonds in the shape of flower buds.
"You're anxious again." Rena said, sitting down across from her. Rena had begun to realise that whenever Sakura began to spin the ring around her finger, she was feeling nervous or anxious about something. She worried for her sister, but she hadn't been coping well either.
"What? Oh." Sakura looked down at her hands and fixed her ring.
"So, what are you two doing today?" Rena yawned.
"I'm not sure…" Sakura said, looking to Syaoran.
He smiled at her, "Whatever you choose." He said.
She smiled back, "I haven't really seen the botanic gardens before…"
Rena picked up her glass and drank a little. She was still concerned for her sister, but she seemed alright. "I'm going to go chase the cat." Rena said.
"Aren't you going to eat anything?" Sakura asked.
"I'm not feeling too well-maybe a little later." Rena shrugged.
Sakura sighed, "What's up with her…?" she mumbled. Their meal was placed on the table and Sakura at quietly, picking at her food and not eating as much as usual. After eating, they headed out to the gardens just on the edge of the city; flowers were just starting to bloom with the early spring, and the warm weather brought with it the beautiful birds and the insects. Sakura wandered through the gardens, not quite paying attention to her surroundings as she was lost in her thoughts; she was thinking about Aryanna and her purpose for showing up at the wedding. Was it to insight fear in her, or was it to give her some kind of message?
She snapped out of her thoughts and turned to Syaoran who had a look of concern for her. "What's on your mind?" He asked.
"Sorry…I'm trying to figure out the reason behind Aryanna's visit." Sakura replied.
He slipped his arm around her waist and sighed. "And what are you thinking?" He asked.
"I can't help but think that it was to make me scared, or to send me some sort of message. She didn't do anything to our wedding, so I guess it just got me thinking…" Sakura replied.
"Perhaps you're right, but you can't keep thinking about it all day." He said.
"I know, I'm sorry." She said quietly.
Syaoran looked up at the sky, noticing the dark clouds closing in. There was going to be a storm soon… "We should get going shortly; a storm is coming." He said.
"Alright." Sakura replied with a small smile.
On their way back it had begun to rain. Sakura personally hated the rain and thunder; it brought back memories she wished would stay buried forever. She rested her head on his shoulder, feeling a little worn out. She fell asleep, falling into the dream world.
The dream wasn't much different to a few of the others she'd had, with a few minor differences. She was sitting beside Syaoran in the throne room, and Rena and Syaoran stood to the side along with the rest of the royal court. It was during a stormy season, the sands blowing viciously outside. She felt her hand rest over her womb, protecting the growing life inside her as she stared her enemy straight in the eyes. Aryanna was demanding for her to be handed over. She couldn't catch much else as the scene distorted, morphing into something else; assassins attacking a place she didn't recognise and people around her dying. Townspeople were taking refuge in a large hall from a danger unseen to Sakura's eye, and a child she didn't recognise dying. Torches and cells full of torture weapons and devices on the walls.
Suddenly she woke. Syaoran was calling her name, and he sounded increasingly worried by the minute. She looked to him, sweat crawling down her temple, with sudden shock. "What?" she asked, confusion setting in on her.
"We're home… Are you ok?" He asked.
She released a heavy sigh of relief. "Yes, I'm ok. I'm sorry for worrying you." She said.
"If you need anything…"
"Please-I'm alright." She whispered, trying to bury her feelings of distress.
He sighed into her neck and held her tight, "Please don't hide your feelings from me." He said, clearly able to see right through her. "I just want to help you."
"I'm sorry, it's the dream I had." She said. "It frightens me."
He squeezed her hand comfortingly and smiled, "I'm sure everything will be alright." He said softly. "Let's go; everyone will be wondering where we are."
She smiled back, glad for his comfort, and he helped her out of the carriage. They walked back up to the castle where they were greeted by Fai who was looking rather concerned, which alerted Syaoran that something was wrong. As he didn't wish to worry Sakura any further, he turned to her with a smile. "Why don't you go do some work in your studio for a while? I'll come see you when I'm done here." He said.
"Alright… Let me know if there's anything you need…" she said, unsure as to what was going on.
"Thank you," he replied, and watched as she walked up the stairs and turned down the hall. Once he was sure she was gone, he turned to Fai. "What is it?"
"It's Princess Rena," Fai said, "She's missing."
Syaoran looked sharply at him, his eyes narrowed. "And what are you doing about it?" He demanded.
"That's not all, Syaoran." Fai continued. "Your brother is missing also."
"How do you know they haven't gone out?" He asked quickly.
"Their rooms and the study are in complete and utter chaos." Fai replied as they headed for the stairs. "The guards at the gates also said that they didn't allow anyone through or out of the gates after you left."
Syaoran stopped and turned to Fai. "Did you ask if they had any blanks in their memories?"
Fai looked at him for a moment and realised where he was going. "No, we didn't."
"Just to be sure we need to ask the guards on duty if they remember anything that happened during that time. Show me their rooms and the study. I need to know if there are any files or books or even the smallest thing missing." Syaoran ordered. He didn't understand what was going on or why, and it angered him. It also angered him that someone had been able to get into the castle so easily without him realising.
"What about Sakura-won't you tell her?" Fai asked.
"No, not just yet. Leave her be for now, but have Alastair and Rene guarding her."
The blonde sent out his orders and Rene and Alastair were sent to guard Sakura. Fai then took Syaoran to his brother's room so that he could see the state of the place; furniture was broken, windows smashed and objects had been tossed everywhere. The curtains were torn and the bed was a mess. "It doesn't look like he went without a fight." Fai said.
Syaoran walked through and observed the chaotic mess, but it didn't look like anything had been taken. "Was Rena's room the same?" Syaoran asked.
"Pretty much, yes."
"Show me." He ordered.
They headed across to the ladies wing, and as Syaoran walked through Rena's usually neatly kept room that was now utter chaos, he noticed the toppled vase by her bed, the torn curtains hanging from her bedposts, but most of all the tear in the mattress and the blood soaking the sheets. Rena had been wounded while she was on her bed, but Syaoran hadn't found any evidence of his brother being wounded.
"I want a search party and a team of investigators on this immediately." Syaoran said. "Call a meeting. I'll issue orders there."
Sakura was a little confused as to why Alastair and Rene were standing just inside the door of her studio while she was working. "May I ask why you are here? I thought Syaoran had relieved you of guarding me for the time being." Sakura said as she picked up the head of her current doll.
"We're just following orders, My Queen." Rene answered.
She sighed, "Well ok…" she said as she picked up a fine tipped brush and painted the dolls lips deep red. She proceeded to paint the eyes sea green, surrounded by thick black lashes. She set the head down to dry and realised that she needed her textiles tools and turned to her two guards. "I'm terribly sorry, but could one of you open that cupboard and get my textiles kit out?" she asked politely.
Rene stepped forward to help the young queen out, opening the cupboard and pulling out what she needed. She thanked him gratefully and then continued with her work, pulling out a dolls wig from the box she kept them in and started arranging it how she wanted it to look. She then secured it to the head and began styling it, putting in flower pins to secure the hair style and curls. She then proceeded to design the clothes, one of her favourite parts of making dolls, and she decided that it would be a gift for her sister. With that in mind, she came up with a dress design she thought her sister would appreciate, and began making the pattern. She had learned how to sew and make dolls a long time ago; the head seamstress at the castle in Ainz had taught her because she had taken an interest in it, and whenever she saw one of the old woman's dolls she wanted to make one of her own. Her work was clumsy at first, and it was frustrating, but she always tried hard to improve her skills and never gave up. With time, she improved and was able to make some of the most beautiful dolls. Making dolls and practicing art always helped her calm down and feel at ease; it was just one of the ways she felt safe and secure, and found happiness in her work. Before she knew it, three hours had flown by.
Rena groaned. The floor was hard and cold and wet. The cell she was in stank of piss and blood. She shifted onto her side, finding her hands and feet to be chained. This felt all too familiar.
Rena opened her eyes. Her shoulder really hurt for some reason, but she couldn't quite figure out why. She spotted Syaoron across from her; he was sitting against the brick wall, his hands chained high above his head. His eye patch was gone, revealing his blue eye.
"Rena, can you hear me?" he called to her. He sounded like he was in pain.
"Syaoron…?" she was just barely audible.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
Rena's mind felt hazy and she felt sick and dizzy. "I think…I've lost too much blood…" she whispered. Her eyelids felt heavy, and she could keep her eyes open.
"No come on Rena, stay with me!"
"I'm still here…" she said quietly.
He battled against his chains, unable to perform magic due to the type of chains he was in. But, he could still feel Rena's aura. He concentrated hard, trying to pin the location of his brother and Sakura to figure out where the hell he was. With the strength of their magic it wasn't hard to find them; in fact, he realised they were closer than he expected.
"Where the hell are we?" he growled.
Rena opened her eyes briefly and then closed them again. "My guess is that…" she took in a deep breath, struggling for air. The pain was getting to her and sweat was breaking out on her skin. "…we're somewhere in one of…Aryanna's dungeons…"
Syaoron feared that if something wasn't done soon, Rena would die. He watched as she faded in and out of consciousness for an hour, and it killed to watch. He tore his attention away from Rena as someone opened the heavy wooden cell door. It was a young girl with long dark hair and hazel irises, dressed in a simple black dress. She couldn't have been much older than sixteen. She was carrying a tray with medical supplies, and she walked over to Rena. He watched as she inspected Rena's wound and began cleaning it.
"Who are you?" He asked angrily.
The woman didn't speak and continued with sewing up the wound and applying some sort of salve to it.
The woman turned around and he realised she couldn't answer him. Her tongue had been cut out.