7: Parallel Consciousness
Eriol awoke, only to find that he was already awake. His eyes were already open. In a flood of memories, he knew why. He was no longer in control of his body.
He remembered the study, and the locked door. He remembered pain beyond all imaginings, and utter, complete control. Not his control, though.
His own creation, one he made to protect him, was doing its job. It was protecting him from everything. It was willing to do anything necessary to do so. It wanted to do anything necessary. It was still evil, but it was doing what he programmed it to do.
He was able to sense anything that Monarch could- he could see, hear, feel, and sense the aura of power on every living being, but he had no control over them, Monarch did.
As Eriol listened for a while, at what he himself was saying only not, he heard Monarch lie, and say his mind was completely erased. She knew he was still there, she was just... protecting him. Leading off Sakura and the others so they would leave her alone, so she wouldn't have to take serious measures, for that is not what he wanted.
Well, she was sort of listening to what Eriol wanted, but she would overrule them if she felt the need. She felt that his other guardians threatened him, along with Kaho Mizuki, so she dealt with them, despite Eriol's subconscious pleas to stop. Now he had conscience pleas to stop her, and they were much more powerful.
At that time, he wasn't exactly aware of what was happening, this was because his mind had to reassert itself; he wasn't in control anymore, so it had to find a place where Monarch Star was not.
He wished that he could tell Sakura and the others that everything would be all right, but he know that was wrong. He knew what she was planning. Monarch Star would kill them, no matter what...
* * *
" What are you going to do? It seems that we have no control over what happens to us, so, what's your plan?" Sakura had a plan of her own, but she had to wait until just the right moment...
'Eriol' went over to the chair, draped the blanket over his shoulders, and sat down. " Nothing, except..." There was a pause. The empty expression in his- no, her- voice sent shivers up Sakura's spine. " You will leave, now."
Sakura saw an interesting expression cross 'Eriol's' face almost as if there was some sort of internal conflict.
Almost before Sakura caught the meaning of the look, there was a flash of light, and the group found themselves outside once more, and the house seemed to have disappeared.
" With power that great, The Monarch Star must be destroyed immediately." Yue was dead serious.
" We can't!" Sakura couldn't believe he was saying this.
" Why? She is in Eriol's body! She has near unlimited magical strength!" Syaoran wanted to get this obvious point passed Sakura.
" That's why we can't! Because she is in Eriol's body. If we destroy Monarch Star, we kill Eriol, too."
" Monarch said she demolished his mind. He is already dead."
" No, he's not. Yue said himself that you can't destroy a soul. It's too strong. He is still alive, and we are not going to give up on him."
" Then what do you propose we do? Waltz in there and kindly ask Monarch to leave Eriol's body? The house isn't even there anymore. There is nothing we can do." Syaoran tried to put it as softly as he could, but the hidden message was 'Yes we are going to give up on him.'
" Maybe not now, but we will save him."
* * *
Monarch put Eriol's head in his hand. He had re-awakened and was beginning to struggle.
" You can not win against me," She said with his voice.
* Maybe not, but I can at least weaken you. I know how much power you have; I gave it to you. * Monarch could hear his immediate thoughts, but only the ones he wanted her to.
Eriol tried to push his way to the surface once more.
" Ahh! AHHHHHH!" Unfortunate for him, Monarch left Eriol in charge of the pain receptors. And struggling resulted in pain. He slumped in his chair, gasping for breath.
Monarch regained control. She made him take a deep, settling breath and began again.
" Like I said..." She pushed his slightly askew glasses up his nose. " You can not win."
* You.. sure.. are.. doing.. a heck of a job.. protecting.. me.* The initial shock of the pain was still with him, but he wouldn't give up.
At this comment, Monarch faltered. She didn't know that he knew her intentions- until now.
* They.. are no threat to me. They're.. my.. friends.*
" Or so they want you to think. No one is truly a friend. Everyone is alone in the world. Everyone except you and me."
* You aren't my friend! *
" Yet we are bound eternally..." This made him lose all hope because he knew it was true.
* * *
The first plan Sakura had didn't work. She was going to get all of the information she could by telling Monarch Star that, in the end, it wouldn't matter. But Monarch was smarter than that.
Now there was a better plan that Sakura had in mind, but they had to find the house first.
She closed her eyes and concentrated. She could feel where it was, and led the others to the door. Sakura reached out and touched it, and pushed it open.
The scene was very bizarre. There was just an opening in mid-air that went someplace completely different than what should have been there.
They entered; only to find Eriol standing in the middle of the dark room, with an evil smile that sent chills down even Yue's back.
8: Beginning of The End
Standing there, like he was there the whole time. Like he was in the hall at school that day. But with one difference...
His staff was released, and he was dressed head to toe in his unique ceremonial robes.
" Shall we take this outside?" The room around them blurred and they found themselves outside once more. This time, Eriol was with them.
" Let's begin the games. Winner takes all..." That was all the warning they had before he struck, fast and hard.
" LOOK OUT!" Everyone just barely managed to get out of the way in time.
" Key of the Star, with powers burning bright,
Surrender the wand, the force ignite!
Her key turned into the Staff of the Star, with just enough time to spare to jump out of the way of another attack by Eriol.
" I don't want to have to hurt you!" Right now, Sakura was only using defensive magic, not sure if she would move to offensive.
" Not a wise idea..." He unleashed a series of powerful attacks that hit Cerberus head on.
" AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!" Kero fell, unmoving.
" KERO! NOOOO!" Sakura screamed.
* * *
Eriol cried out in vain.
* * *
" Sakura, you have to attack him!" Under pressure of Syaoran and in a desperate attempt to prevent Kero from getting injured further, she used her most powerful cards in their most powerful combination.
" Thunder! Watery! Release and DISPELL!" The two cards came out into their element forms, combined in a lethal beam of raw power, and lanced out toward Eriol.
Caught off-guard, he had no time to retaliate. The cards hit him and blasted him into a tree and disappeared from sight, buried in the electricity-charged water beam.
The glow of power faded, and Sakura could see Eriol lying on the ground. He was face up and eagle-sprawled, eyes closed and motionless. She slowly approached him, and didn't see his chest rise and fall with breathing.
" What have I done?" Sakura whispered as she checked to see if he was still alive.
In a startling motion, Eriol leapt up, grabbed Sakura by the throat, and sneered. " Such weakness."
Sakura gasped for air as Eriol squeezed her neck harder.
" Aahhhh!" Eriol suddenly yelled in pain. She could see the emotion flood into his eyes and he let go.
Sakura fell to the ground, gladly taking in air, filling her lungs with every breath. Eriol was on his hands and knees, trembling from the recoil of coming to surface. He quickly composed himself, and stood. There was no more feeling in his eyes anymore, but he was furious. The symbol flashed briefly.
He began attacking again with a new cause: to show the real Eriol that he is helpless.
* * *
Eriol was helpless. He knew that. He was able to resist killing Sakura, but it took all of his little remaining strength. He couldn't do anything for Cerberus, for he was already dead. His magical aura was leeching into the night.
Now Monarch was going for Yue. She would succeed, too. He tried to shut himself off from his senses, to sever the link so he wouldn't see what was about to happen, but Monarch Star forced it upon him. She wouldn't let him off the hook for allowing Sakura escape, and now he would pay.
Unfortunately, so would Sakura.
* * *
He came down upon them, merciless, relentless, and literally brought the three of them, Sakura, Syaoran, and Yue, to their knees.
" The.. spirit of Eriol.. must.. truly be gone. Clow Reed's magic, and.. a good person.. are lost.. forever." They were the last words out of Yue's mouth. The spell came. The fatal blow. Yue closed his eyes and took it as it came, and was destroyed. Sakura cried out in anguish.
With that, Eriol stood down, the damage done. For now. " We will battle again..." He turned around in a way that flared the lower part of his robes, and walked off into the darkness without a backward glance. It rained.
And Sakura cried.
9: The Morning With No Dawn
True to Monarch Star's word, there was no sunrise the next day, and the world held it's breath. But it can only hold it for so long...
The night before, Sakura got home late and cried herself to sleep. Kero wasn't there to comfort her. And he never would be.
Despite all of this, she had to go to school. Julian was not with her and Touya on the way; he met the same fate as Yue, for they are one and the same.
Finally, they arrived at the school. Sakura went in the building, leaving despair in her wake. As she entered room 5-2, she felt eyes on her. She looked up and saw...
" Eriol... or should I say Monarch Star!" Fortunately, they were the only ones in the room aside from Syaoran, who, of course, already knew.
Eriol looked up, smiling. " Either/or." He went back to whatever he was doing before she entered the room. Sakura calmly walked up to his desk and stood beside it, looking down on him.
Eriol looked up at her, still smiling the smile that made Syaoran get the urge to wipe it off his face. With his fist.
" Is there something that you need?" He asked sweetly, provoking Syaoran and Sakura.
Sakura grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt, and slammed him against the wall.
"Oof!" The air burst from Eriol's lungs and he recoiled, winded, now only supported by Sakura, who had him by the neck.
" Nicely done," He gasped.
" You won't get away with this. I will have vengeance."
" But I've already gotten away with it..." His eyes darted to the door and Sakura knew someone was coming. She threw Eriol to the floor and took her seat.
He adjusted his glasses and sat at his own desk, still not completely recovered. And still smiling.
The day dragged on and it remained dark outside. The school spent lunch indoors, in the classrooms. Eriol sat in his desk, carefully contemplating his next moves.
" Who do you think should go next? The father, who is also the second reincarnation of Clow Reed, or the brother, who can still see his long dead mother?" He casually asked Syaoran, not looking up from his work.
This comment pushed Syaoran over the edge. He dragged Eriol out of his desk by his shirt, spun him around to face him, and planted a well-placed punch right between the eyes.
Down Eriol went, blood oozing from his nose. Syaoran didn't stop there. He continued to beat on Eriol.
The class, some cheering for Syaoran, and some for Eriol who obviously didn't stand a chance (Syaoran got in the first hit), was overjoyed with the excitement.
Mr. Terada, whom had left the room to run an errand, came back in. He immediately put a stop to the fight. He told Takazaki to bring Eriol to the nurses' room, and took the unscathed Syaoran; Eriol never had a chance to hit him, to the principal's office.
Takazaki only managed to get Eriol to a bed with help from two other students, who half dragged, half carried him to Nurse Bridge's room.
In two hours, the end of the school day, Eriol had completely healed. He left the room, totally uninjured, and Nurse Bridge who was trying to figure out how it was possible that he didn't have a mark on him. She saw how hurt he was when he came in! He could hardly walk! Eriol chuckled and left the premises.
* * *
After detention, Syaoran went to Sakura's house. He walked along in the dark, arranging his thoughts, trying to figure out how to tell her that everything would turn out for the best, in the end. But he knew it wouldn't.
He approached the front door and before he reached it, it opened.
Touya stood in the doorway. "Tell me exactly what's been going on. And don't tell me you don't know." With that, Syaoran explained.
" We have to deal with this very quickly. We don't know what his next move will be." Syaoran concluded.
" Not only that, but Kero and... and Yukito must be avenged. I'll get Sakura."
They were in the house, and Touya had left the television on. The news was showing. The reporter was doing a scoop on the 'night-day'.
" This is vidiographer Kip Larousse standing in for Casey Hewer reporting live with the latest on this bizarre situation. It is still dark, as you can see, and still, no one knows why. Scientists are even now trying to puzzle......" And the story continued.
Touya must have figured out what to say to convince Sakura to come, because she did.
" And now we fight this to the finish."
* * *
The three arrived in front of Eriol's house, which was visible again. Touya didnt know what he could do to help, but he had to do something.
The group entered, and Eriol was standing before them once more. He knew they were going to come. On his face was an expression of pure evil, and the glowing symbol of the Monarch Star.
" Look who's here..." He said, to no one in particular. " I was not expecting you. The other two, yes. But you? No. It does not matter. Soon you will not have to be magical to see your mother." And then to Syaoran, " I suppose the brother will go next, hmm?"
Then the battle erupted. Eriol decided to attack Syaoran first. To get him back for what he did earlier that day. Syaoran only just escaped the onslaught, dodging a fireball, singeing his robes.
" You cannot win!" Eriol cried as he attacked again. " Why do you resist?!"
Syaoran replied with, " Element! FIRE!" The blast hit Eriol, who didn't flinch.
" Magic can never harm me! I am invincible!" To prove his point, he allowed several more of their most potent attacks to hit him, not affecting him in the slightest. He then proceeded to attack Sakura and Touya. After several moments, they were both on the ground, severely wounded, and not able to continue.
Eriol stood over them, preparing the last spell they would ever see.
" You were good while you lasted. A little amateur, maybe, but good. Guess what?" He asked, as he completed the spell. " I won. And the winner takes all..." He began to release the spell...
Syaoran, whom he didn't see, came up behind him with his sword drawn. He plunged it deep into Eriol's back, and it slipped easily between his ribs and through the other side of his chest. The spell fizzled and disappeared.
" Guess what? This isn't magic," Syaoran whispered in Eriol's ear. The only reply was a gurgle of blood.
Sakura, who was still conscious, watched as Eriol's shallow, vacant eyes became deep and full of feeling. Syaoran removed his sword in one fluent motion, and posed ready; he didn't know how much he had hurt Eriol. He also didn't know that Eriol was back to being himself.
" Sakura..." Eriol whimpered, then fell. Syaoran was shocked as he saw his wound. He didn't mean to do that to him. Sakura crawled to Eriol's side, ignoring the pain in her every limb, and the blood pooling around him.
" Eriol... She lied. Monarch Star lied. You were in there the whole time, weren't you?"
Eriol's now blood soaked robes clung to him with each breath, and as he spoke, blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth. " She was.. only.. trying to.. protect.. me..." He closed his eyes, and drew his last breath...
" Eriol? Eriol! No..." She sobbed.
Eriol began to fade, and then he disappeared completely. All that remained was a shower of golden cherry blossoms, and it was over. Sakura cried.
And the sun rose.
10: Lost, But Not Forgotten
He watched through the window.
* * *
Sakura and Syaoran were sitting on the couch of her house, and she still cried.
" It's over now, Sakura. There is nothing we can do to bring any of the others back, but if we remember them, we won't have to." Touya was still recovering physically from the events that occurred two nights before (everyone was still recovering mentally). He wasn't as strong against magic as Sakura was.
Both of them had stayed home from school for two days straight. They had just eaten dinner that Syaoran had made; Fujitaka wouldn't get home until late.
Sakura couldn't stop thinking about how she could have prevented any of this from happening. She went through it over and over in her head, and every time she came up with the same thought: that she could have stopped it.
* * *
He longed to speak to her, to comfort her.
* * *
" We still have each other, and I'm never going to let that get taken away. I promise." Syaoran was desperately trying to make Sakura happy again. To ease the pain.
But that was impossible when he himself was in just as much pain, he just didn't show it. He wanted to be strong for Sakura.
Syaoran had taken a human life with his own two hands. Had gone against everything he believed in. Even if he couldn't see it, his sword would be forever stained with Eriol's blood, his spirit forever tainted by anger. Nothing would ever be the same.
" Stop berating yourself, Sakura. It wasn't your fault, it was mine."
" That's not fair. You had no choice."
" Nothing is fair. My choice was between you and him. I chose him. That's not fair." Syaoran was beginning to see that it would take more than just words to make the memories stop stinging.
* * *
He wanted to tell her that everything would be all right.
* * *
" Do you want this to be your fault, Syaoran?"
" No, I suppose not. But it wasn't yours, either. It was the Monarch Star's. She started all of this."
" But where did she come from?" Touyas question shocked all of them.
" I... don't know." This started Syaoran thinking.
* * *
It was my fault, he thought.
* * *
" Yue... Yue said that she was a guardian, a counterbalance of all the good guardians. She was following Eriol's directions: to guard him." Sakura paused.
" Didn't do a very good job. Still, it doesn't explain where she came from." Although, Touya was starting to get an idea.
" It doesn't matter. She's gone, now."
" Along with Eriol..." Sakura didn't cry anymore. She had no tears left.
" We have to move on with our lives. We can't dwell in the past. What's done is done, and we must continue on."
" One more clich, Syaoran, and Meiling is going on this phone..." Touya fingered the cordless telephone and let the threat hang.
Syaoran laughed softly. So did Sakura. Maybe things would go back to normal with a little time.
* * *
He turned away from the window, the expression of despair etched onto his face.
" Help..." Eriol whispered, and he walked slowly don the sidewalk, invisible to the mortal being, and somberly faded into the setting sun.
Last Thoughts of Yukito
My life ends at the hands of a friend, of someone I once knew as a friend. His life was thought to be taken before his death, by the absolute control of The Monarch Star. My last thoughts are of him, as he truly was, and the other friends that have graced my life. As well as the workings of the spirit.
Spirit. It cannot be broken and it cannot be stolen away. A victim in the throes of despair might feel otherwise, and certainly the victim's "master" would like to believe so. But, in truth, the spirit remains, sometimes buried but never fully removed.
That is the false assumption of Monarch Star and the danger of such control. She, as I have come to learn, claimed it as her greatest gift, that Eriol was best put out of his misery. What misery? Better to call it Monarch's greatest lie.
The physical powers of the body cannot be separated from the rationale of the mind and the emotions of the heart. They are one and the same, a compilation of a singular being. It is in the harmony of these three- body, mind, and heart- that we find spirit.
How many tyrants have tried? How many rulers have sought to reduce their subjects to simple, unthinking instruments of profit and gain? They steal the loves, the religions, of their people; they seek to steal the spirit.
Ultimately and inevitably, they fail. This I must believe. If the flame of the spirit's candle is extinguished, there is only death, and the tyrant finds no gain in a kingdom of the dead.
But it is a resilient thing, this flame of spirit, indomitable and ever striving. In some, at least, it will survive, to the tyrant's demise. Where, then, was Eriol, my friend, when he set out purposefully to destroy the others and me? Where was I in the days following his capture, when this relentless killer that I had become, blinded my heart and guided my hand often against my conscious wishes?
We both were there all along, I came to know, buried but never stolen.
Spirit. In every language on Earth, in every time and every place, the word has a ring of strength and determination. It is the hero's strength, the mother's resilience, and the poor man's armor. It cannot be broken, and it cannot be stolen away.
This I must believe.