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[FANFIC] [TRC] The Second (Chapter 5)
nyanja14

Fandom: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
Title: The Second
Author: nyanja14 (aka: Miss Fish, the_myrah)
Summary: At the end of a war, hitzusen strikes as the most unlikely of meetings occurs. (kurofai)
Word Count: 2049
Rating: Teen
Warnings: some dark themes



Chapter 5: Intentions

Like with the shoes, Kurogane proved to be correct again; Ni was a good shot. At the beginning, Ni's arrows littered the ground before the target, but once Doumeki realized that the blonde man had only the vaguest idea of what he was doing the soldier walked Ni through the proper form, correcting him here and there. Before the sun had fully risen in the sky, Ni was nailing the center of the rings with a stunning accuracy considering that he'd never held a bow before once in his life.

Although Ni had proved to be good, Doumeki was nothing short of a master. His arrows cut through the air and imbedded in the target with such an ease that they seemed to be an extension of the man's body. Ni watched him move through the steps he'd been shown as naturally as though Doumeki was only breathing. The combination of sharp whistles in the air and Doumeki's smooth motions made Ni feel strangely at peace, and before he knew it, Doumeki began packing his bow away. "Lunch," he explained.

Ni followed Doumeki under the big tent and into the long line. Most of the men turned to stare outright at Ni, but his companion's unfazed manner smothered any nervousness he might've felt. Ni suddenly felt grateful that Kurogane had picked Doumeki to watch over him.

As they moved through the line, Doumeki described each dish briefly to Ni, (Ni carefully avoided anything that involved the words "raw" or "uncooked"), but Doumeki didn't take any food for himself. None of the servers seemed to find this odd, but Ni couldn't help but wonder. Had he eaten a big breakfast? Was he on some sort of southern warrior's diet? Doumeki offered no explanation as they sat down at a nearly empty table and Ni couldn't ask.

Doumeki was quiet as he watched the former prisoner eat, speaking only when approached by fellow soldiers, and shortly then. Most of the men came forward to extract information about Ni, but Doumeki didn't answer any of those questions.

Just as Ni was beginning to feel full, the big tent hushed. Ni turned around to see what had quieted the soldiers and spotted the colonel moving forward, looking distinctly aggravated.

"Come on, we've got to go," the man growled once he was close enough. Ni rose without hesitation, leaving his dirty dishes behind. Kurogane grunted out a "Thanks" to Doumeki, who nodded, then propelled Ni out of the tent, completely ignoring all the men watching them.

They strode through the camp, Ni not bothering to try to determine the cause of his rescuer's foul temper. Before long, they arrived at a large tent with soft magic leaking from it that Ni couldn't identify. It was familiar somehow, but he couldn't place it.

Kurogane shot Ni a significant look that he didn't understand, then pushed the flap of the tent aside and entered.

Two men sat behind a table dominated by a map. Both were rather short in stature, wore glasses, and were slim figured even by Ni's standards. The physical resemblance ended there. The taller of the two had short, dark hair and a round face (1), while the other's hair was the lightest brown Ni had seen yet in the camp with a sharp featured face (2).

Kurogane bowed, pulling Ni to move with him. As Ni shifted closer, the two men's magic wafted over him and he stiffened as he recalled it.

Dreamseers. Suddenly, it became quite clear to Ni how such small men had ascended to such high ranks. Ni fought the urge to stare at them as his stomach churned and failed.

The darker man met his gaze and smiled warmly at Ni before looking to Kurogane. The light one didn't even glance at him, frowning at the colonel.

"This isn't like you, Kurogane."

Kurogane made a rude noise as he straightened. "And what the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"You've never shown an interest in acquiring war trophies before."

"Tch. Doesn't that make me all the more entitled to?"

The light haired officer narrowed his eyes, opening his mouth to respond. However, the black haired one raised his hand, quieting his partner. The tension in the room immediately dropped as he lowered his hand. Turning, he addressed the agitated colonel. "I believe it would be best if you told both us and Ni your intentions."

Finally. Ni looked to Kurogane expectantly, only to be unsettled by the conflicted expression on his savior's face. After a pregnant pause, the colonel glanced back at Ni, then let loose some of the tension from his shoulders. He faced his commanders, speaking more quietly than Ni had yet heard.

"You've heard of my desire to rebuild Suwa. With a mage of his caliber, it might be possible."

Ni had no idea what or where Suwa was, but it was apparent the generals understood. The kind man's face softened; the other's did just the opposite.

"You can't just break a contract to Amaterasu-sama and leave—"

Suddenly, the colonel's crackling anger boomed. "—I made my vows to Princess Tomoyo, not her. I've only hung around these last few years because there was no where else to go." His right hand clenched.

"Even still," the black haired general interjected. "There is a problem." He tilted his chin to Ni, examining him critically for a moment. "You are a magician of Ressue, yes?"

Ni nodded, already knowing where this was going. But for some reason, we didn't want the man to speak his next words.

He looked back at Kurogane. "Then for your purpose, he is useless. I cannot fault you for not knowing, as it is hardly common knowledge, but the voice is required to activate Russuen magic." He paused and let that sink in, then added, "I have no doubt that his throat was cut to ensure he could never escape."

Ni had long accepted that his magic could never be accessed again, but to hear it laid out like that… he shuddered involuntarily, staring at the ground in shame. Useless was indeed the proper word.

"That doesn't matter. I'm still keeping him." Ni looked up and stared at Kurogane, lips opening. "If either of you have any further issue with it, then fuck off. I'll get special permission from Amaterasu if I have to, she won't care. But no matter what, he's staying with me."

Explosion over, Kurogane turned heel and stormed out, grabbing onto Ni's arm and dragging him along in the process. Ni let himself be pulled, stumbling after the taller man, shocked by the declaration.

It doesn't matter? How the hell could it not matter? There was no purpose to Ni without his magic, no use except as something pretty to hold in a cage. Something in Ni began to burn. His existence was a senseless one, a waste of space, and Ni would've happily welcomed Death to his door if it had ever come. It would've been nothing more than a conclusion to a long-drawn out life.

What do you mean 'you're keeping me'?

Ni dug his feet into the ground, halting their progress through the camp. The colonel stopped, looking back, and Ni ripped his arm away, throwing his hands up into the air.

Why?

He nearly shouted it.

What do you want from me?

Ni's mouth was opening and closing futilely, gestures frantic, but Kurogane seemed to understand anyway. He shook his head.

"Not here. The tent."

Ni wanted to say no. Ni wanted to stay right where they were and shake the colonel until the answers to all his mysteries spilled out of him and into the dirt. Ni wanted to ask questions and scream until his voice cracked.

But Ni couldn't.

He clenched his fists, nails cutting into his palms. Kurogane scowled and grabbed his wrist, dragging him in the direction of the tent again and halting any attempts at pain. They reached the tent in record time and the colonel released Ni's wrist to close the flaps before pointing down at his futon. "Sit."

Ni almost disobeyed just to be difficult, but Kurogane also dropped down, knees folding more neatly than they should've for someone of his age. Hesitantly, Ni lowered himself.

The colonel raked his gloved hand through his hair, spiking it even more thoroughly. "Ask me then."

The long-time prisoner stared at him. Ask? Ni pressed his lips together. He closed his eyes briefly, wondering where to start, then lifted up his fingers to clasp his throat. He could feel the jagged skin there, running up and down the column of his neck. When he swallowed, the scar tissue obstructed the path slightly, a constant reminder that his voice was never coming back. Ni opened his eyes and found Kurogane watching him.

"Yes, I know you can't talk." He rubbed his left shoulder absent-mindedly, body tense. "I didn't know that your voice was how you worked your kind of magic, but it doesn't make a difference." The colonel must've caught the confusion on his face, because he sighed and continued. "You still have your magic, don't you? I can feel it." Ni nodded, not entirely sure where he was going with this point.

Kurogane seemed to suddenly realize that he was touching his shoulder and immediately stopped, hand falling onto his thigh. "As long as it's there, you can use it. We're just going to have to find another way to bring it out."

Ni narrowed his eyes. Another way? In Ressue, speech was the only way. The language was sacred, and the country was saturated with traditions to maintain the language's divinity. He'd never heard of magicians performing in any other way— even those he fought in the war with Clem had relied on their words.

Kurogane rose, and snagged a canister from among his things. He took a deep drink some it, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "I'm no expert, but where I'm from, most magic users don't use incantations. There's finger formations, circles, visualization… runes." The man paused and drank some more. "…You need words don't you?" Ni nodded. "Then why don't you try activating through written spells?"

Ni shook his head emphatically, waving his hands in front of his chest.

"You don't know how to write? Not even your own language?"

Ni laid his hands in his lap. It wasn't that he didn't know how to write it—there just wasn't anything to write. In Ressue, there had been no written language, as part of the laws to keep words sacred for magic. He'd picked up Clemite, a language apparently shared by those in the southern islands, from decades of it being yelled at him in the prison, but he never learned its letters. Ni didn't know how to explain this to Kurogane with only his gestures and expression.

Kurogane was rubbing his left shoulder again, but he didn't seem to notice. The colonel looked more tired than Ni had yet seen him. "I don't know any Ressuen. But I can teach you how to write in my language." He took another sip of whatever it was in his canister and added, "Speaking the spells is probably just for clarifying the intent (3), since the power is coming from the caster. In that case, written or spoken, different languages… it shouldn't matter."

Ni tumbled the theory around in his head. It seemed logical, but he wasn't sure the idea would stand true in practice; prior to his imprisonment, his daily life had been consumed with perfecting his magical prowess, and he didn't think he could just up and reject all that training for a new way of doing things.

Still, the thought that he may be able to take rein of his magic once more… it made something glow deep in Ni's chest.

"Well?" The colonel had apparently run about of patience. "Are you okay with learning or not?"

Ni beamed and nodded with exaggerated eagerness. Kurogane made a "tch!" sound but did not comment as he stood.

"I am going to grab some food. Did you get enough to eat with Doumeki?" Ni nodded. "Okay then. I don't have any of the proper materials here, so writing lessons will have to wait until we get back to the castle." Kurogane rubbed his spiky-haired head as he exited the tent and muttered so low that Ni nearly didn't hear:

"Never thought I'd have to do this again."

NOTES:
1 - The kinder, dark-haired officer is Eriol Hiirragizawa from "Cardcaptor Sakura", a partial reincarntion of Clow Reed. (The anime and manga differ on their explanations of Eriol, but I'm going with the anime's because it makes more sense.) Eriol is polite to a fault, but also a stern-handed trainer. As as you can imagine, since he's a reincarnation of Clow Reed, he is also very powerful magically.
2 - The light-haired and somewhat bitchy officer is none other than Kakei from "Legal Drug," the owner of the drug store, the main characters' boss, and a seer of the future. Despite his pretty face, he is actually rather scary and lacks mercy, especially in money matters.
3 - CLAMP has never really clarified the exact nature of magic according to their universe's laws. But since we seen a few different types of casting throughout their series, I'm going to pin it down to a cultural thing, that each kind of magic-user simply goes with the kind of casting that they were taught or feel most comfortable with. And it is possible to switch how you cast- Fai himself does so when he whistles to create the magical barrier at the library rather than using runes like he usually does.


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