Sakura uses the Clow Cards to determine what's happening to Tomoyo
It was a very timid Tomoyo who returned to the Daidouji house that evening, alone and very tired. She wanted to flop down on her bed and take a long nap, but between the door and her bedroom, she was sure to bump into her mother, who would demand to know what had happened to the security staff. For all she knew, they were still fast asleep in the park, although they had probably been robbed naked already. Guilt stabbed at Tomoyo as she thought of Kazuya and the other women left alone and helpless in the park, even though she kept telling herself that there was nothing she could have done. But that wasn't true, was it? She could have called someone, perhaps using the radios that her bodyguards always carried. She could have stayed with them until they woke up. There were plenty of things she could have done, if she'd thought about it, which made the guilt that much worse.
But it was the upcoming encounter with her mother that had Tomoyo quaking in her shoes. Her mother was not a scary woman - unless she was venting her frustrations at Sakura's father over the death of her cousin Nadeshico, although that was an entirely separate matter. What had Tomoyo worried was her mother's protective nature; she wouldn't ever risk anything happening to her beloved daughter. After the fire, and now the incident in the park, her mother was likely to fire the entire security staff and take charge of Tomoyo's safety herself. That would mean no spending time with friends outside of school hours unless they were willing to come to the Daidouji mansion... which meant that if Sakura had any more adventures, Tomoyo wouldn't be able to capture them on video.
Well, she'd never get anywhere if she stayed outside all night. Taking a deep breath, she pushed the door open as quietly as she could and slipped inside, shutting it softly behind her. So far, so good. She tiptoed through the front hallway toward the stairs. If she could get up to her room, she was home free....
"Tomoyo dear, there you are!" came her mother's excited shout. Tomoyo froze, facing her mother, who was practically running down the hallway toward her. "I've been so worried! What happened?" Without giving Tomoyo a chance to answer, Mrs. Daidouji fell to her knees and gave Tomoyo a big hug. "Your bodyguards stopped answering their radios, and when I sent the staff out to check on you, they found Kazuya and the others asleep, and you were nowhere to be found! We thought you'd been kidnapped!"
"I was scared and ran away," said Tomoyo, feeling a bit choked up at having to hide the truth from her mother. "I don't know what happened to the bodyguards. Are they all right?"
"We can't wake them up," her mother replied. She let go of Tomoyo and leaned back to look at her. "What about you, Tomoyo dear? Were you hurt?"
Tomoyo shook her head. "No, I'm fine. After I ran away, nothing else happened."
"Then why are you so late coming home?"
"I got a bit lost in the park because I was scared," said Tomoyo. "Then I didn't know how to get home."
"Why didn't you call?"
Suddenly, much to even her own surprise, Tomoyo burst into tears. Mrs. Daidouji gaped in shock. "Tomoyo honey, what's wrong?"
Tomoyo threw her weight forward, landing in her mother's arms, and threw her arms around her mother. "I was so scared! I didn't know what to do! I did everything wrong, and I couldn't think of what I should do! I'm so sorry! I should have called you right away!"
Her mother patted her lightly on the back. "There, there, Tomoyo. It's okay. I'm not mad at you. I'm just glad that you're safe. But from now on, I think you'll be safer staying at home where I can keep an eye on you personally."
There it was. The end of Tomoyo's young life. "Yes, mother," she said, too weary even to protest her dreadful fate. No more adventures with Sakura.... "Mother... may I call Sakura?"
That made her mother pause. "Oh, that's right. She called here over an hour ago asking for you. She wouldn't say what she was calling about, though...."
Tomoyo wiped her eyes dry and smiled. "She has a surprise for me. I should call her immediately."
"Yes, you should," her mother agreed. "But remember, you're not to leave this house under any circumstances."
"Is it all right if Sakura comes here?"
"It's very late," said her mother. "Why don't you wait until tomorrow?"
"I'm too worried to sleep," whined Tomoyo. "I'd like to invite Sakura over, just for a little while. If we can have fun together, I'll be able to sleep tonight."
Her mother thought about that for an agonizingly long while. "All right," she agreed at last. "I think we can trust little Sakura. But make sure her father drives her over here. There have been too many mishaps in the area to take any chances."
"Thank you!" cried Tomoyo, giving her mother yet another tight hug before running to the phone. She misdialed and had to start over twice before finally getting the phone number right.
The other end was picked up almost immediately. "Kinomoto residence," said a man's voice.
"Good evening, Dr. Kinomoto," said Tomoyo. "Is Sakura there?"
"I'd say she is," Dr. Kinomoto laughed. "She's practically grabbing the phone out of my hand. I think she has something important to tell you."
"I wonder what it could be," said Tomoyo.
She heard the phone being passed from hand to hand, and then Sakura was on the line. "Hi, Tomoyo! How was the dentist?"
Tomoyo smiled. Ordinary conversation could be so refreshing after a hard day. "There were no problems there," she replied.
"Well, I got a big surprise in the park today," Sakura continued. "Yamazaki's finished building his new model plane, and he invited all his friends to watch him fly it tomorrow morning!"
"That sounds like fun," said Tomoyo.
"More fun than the dentist," added Sakura.
Tomoyo laughed, then dropped her voice to a whisper. "Is Kero around?" she asked.
"Not here," replied Sakura. "I'm using the downstairs phone, and he's still up in my room, whining because Touya didn't leave him any pudding."
"Could you bring him to my house right away?" asked Tomoyo. "Some very strange things have been happening, and I think magic is involved. I was hoping that he might be able to help."
"Sure! I'll be right over. Just let me get my cards, and I'll be over in a few...."
"No, it would be best if your father drives you," instructed Tomoyo, worried that Sakura would try to arrive sooner by using the FLY card. "My mother doesn't want you to come here alone, because of the things that have happened."
"All right," said Sakura. "But I'll bring the book and my key anyway. Just in case."
She was referring, of course, to the Clow Book which housed the Clow Cards, and the Clow Key which became the wand that she used to control them. "Please do," said Tomoyo. "And please hurry."
It seemed like ages before Sakura finally rang the doorbell. Tomoyo threw the door open and gave Sakura a friendly hug, half-carrying her into the house. Sakura's father followed them in, bowing politely to Mrs. Daidouji as she entered from the kitchen. "I was just making tea," she announced. "Would anyone like a cup?"
"Sakura and I will be in my room," said Tomoyo. "I'll carry a tray up for us."
"Nonsense, dear," her mother protested. "Let one of the maids bring it up to you."
"We won't want to be disturbed," said Tomoyo. "Please let me carry the tray myself."
She made a break for the kitchen before her mother could argue again. As she was setting up the tray, she heard her mother say, "I honestly don't know what's gotten into her. She's been acting strangely all afternoon. I'm really beginning to worry about her."
"Well, sometimes a visit to the dentist can make a child feel a bit peculiar afterwards," said Dr. Kinomoto. "I'm sure there's nothing to worry about."
"I do hope you're right," said Mrs. Daidouji. "The strangest things have been -"
She quickly shut up as Tomoyo entered the room, carrying the tray. "Sakura, shall we go upstairs?"
Tomoyo's mother looked at the tray. "You've got three cups, dear."
"We're going to have a tea party with Sakura's stuffed animal, Kero," Tomoyo explained.
"It's going to be fun!" agreed Sakura as she followed Tomoyo up the stairs.
Mrs. Daidouji stared anxiously after the two girls. "Well, at least she's not turning into a tomboy...."
When Tomoyo had finished telling the story of her strange day, Kero stared down at his untouched cup of tea for the first time since she had begun. "Man, that sounds like a lot of trouble for a little girl."
"Are you okay, Tomoyo?" asked Sakura, deeply concerned.
"I'm fine," Tomoyo assured her. "With you here, I feel perfectly safe."
"I can feel some kind of energy coming from you," Kero announced. "And as much as I hate to agree with that Li kid, he was right. It's really powerful, but I can't tell what kind of power it has." He turned to Sakura. "Can you feel anything?"
Sakura closed her eyes to focus. "It's very faint..." she said. "But I can feel something. It feels almost like a Clow Card, but different."
Kero scratched his chin. "We've got to find out more about this thing before we can try to figure out what to do about it...."
"Can we use the Clow Cards to do a reading, like we did when I needed to identify the MIRROR card?" Sakura suggested.
"Sure, that'd work," agreed Kero. "But Tomoyo would have to do it, since she's obviously the focus of the energy."
"I don't know how to do that," said Tomoyo.
"Relax, it's easy," said Kero. "I'll talk ya through it." He waited for Sakura to remove the Clow Cards from the book and hand them to Tomoyo. "We'll use your bed as a tableau," he said. "Lay the cards down and shuffle them, using only your left hand."
Tomoyo sat on the bed and began to shuffle the cards. "How long should I shuffle them?"
"Until you feel that it's right," replied Kero. "The magic that's surrounding you will seep into the cards and manifest itself in the reading. Just let your feelings guide you."
Tomoyo didn't really feel anything magical, but she shuffled them until she guessed that they'd been mixed enough. "Okay, I'm done."
"Now, still using your left hand, gather up the cards and split them into three piles." It was a clumsy job, but Tomoyo collected the deck into three stacks. They were hardly even, but she supposed that didn't matter. "Now collect them into a single deck again," Kero instructed.
Tomoyo stacked the piles on top of each other. "Okay."
"Now, deal them out as I tell you, still with your left hand." He pointed to the positions on the bed as he called out instructions. "One card goes in front of you, with a bit of space beneath it for the other cards. Then, one to the left - a bit closer than that... yeah, that's right. Now, one right in front of you...."
Following Kero's commands, Tomoyo laid nine of the cards out in a formation like ninepins, or nine-ball billiards.
"Now, repeat this chant," said Kero. "It's a different one than the one Sakura would use, because you're not the rightful owner of the Clow Cards."
"All right," said Tomoyo. "I'm ready."
"'Ancient forces of Clow, mystic spirits of West and East," Kero chanted, waiting for Tomoyo to repeat the words before he continued, "show me that which I cannot see. Impart the knowledge of the truth which only you can divine."
"... which only you can divine." Tomoyo finished.
"Now, turn over the top card," said Kero. "It represents the overall nature of the situation. It's the most important thing for you to know right now."
"Do I need to use my left hand?" asked Tomoyo.
"Either hand," replied Kero. "At this point, all the magic's in the cards. All you're doing is reading them."
"Okay." Tomoyo reached out with her left hand and turned over the uppermost card in the tableau.
"'FLOWER'," read Kero. "That's a good sign. It means that whatever's causing the weird stuff you've been seeing is good-natured."
"It set a fire right next to her!" Sakura protested.
"But the fire didn't hurt her," Kero pointed out. "I have a feeling that it's trying to help her in some way. That's why most of what it's done has been protecting her. The fire and the sleep spell were probably just flukes or something. Maybe it was confused at first, and thought it was helping even though it was really doing bad things. Then, when it saw Tomoyo's reaction, it figured out what it was doing wrong and shaped up."
"That doesn't make a lot of sense," said Sakura. "Who would possibly think that setting a fire could help someone?"
Kero shrugged. "Who can say? When you don't know what you're dealing with, anything's possible. That's why we're doing this reading." He pointed to the middle row of cards. "Now, turn these over, from left to right. These three cards describe the overall nature of the source of the magic. Once we see these, we'll hopefully have an idea of what we're facing."
Tomoyo turned the three cards over, reading each one as she did so. "'LOCK'... 'MIRROR'... 'CREATE'."
Kero scowled and scratched his chin. "LOCK... that's a weird one. I've never seen that card come up in this position before."
"Do you know what it means?" asked Sakura.
"I can take a guess," said Kero. "But let's start with the easy ones. MIRROR means that it's a reflection of someone's inner nature. I'd guess Tomoyo's, since she's the center of the effect. Whatever these effects are, they're based on Tomoyo's inner self."
"Like when I was admiring that brooch, and it appeared in front of me," Tomoyo observed. "The magic was giving me what I wanted."
"Maybe it's wish-granting magic?" Sakura guessed.
"I didn't wish for fire," countered Tomoyo.
"Maybe it doesn't have to be a conscious wish," Kero pointed out. "It could be an inner desire, even one you're not aware of."
"Why would Tomoyo wish for a fire?" asked Sakura.
"It was just a thought," said Kero. "Like I said, this is a weird bunch of middle-row cards. I'm practically as clueless as you guys are." He pointed to the card at the right end of the row. "Anyway, CREATE is the symbol of imagination come to life. This is the stuff of dreams in the living world. It's either something that someone imagined which was brought to life, or more likely, it has the power to make dreams real."
"That would be how it grants wishes," said Sakura.
"So it makes sense, that way," agreed Kero. "But LOCK... must mean that it's a prisoner of something. It's bound to some kind of inescapable circumstance, which could be a place, or a person, or an event. You might see LOCK and CREATE used to describe a genie bound to a lamp, like in the fairy tales... but there's no such thing as a genie in real life."
"Are you sure about that?" asked Sakura. "Maybe it is a genie that's granting Tomoyo's wishes, and it's just a little mixed up, like you said before."
Kero shook his head. "No such thing. And if there was, it would only be able to grant wishes if Tomoyo clearly expressed them herself."
"But could it be something like a genie?" asked Tomoyo. "Perhaps it's something you've never encountered before."
"I really doubt it, but the cards don't lie," Kero admitted. "It must be something like a genie, but not the kind you've read about. The bottom card might give us something more to go on."
"The bottom card?" asked Sakura. "We didn't use that one when I was reading the cards!"
"That's because you didn't have the full deck yet," Kero informed her. "With a partial deck, only some of the cards have meaning. If you'd had any fewer cards, you would've only been able to read the top card of the layout and the top card of the deck. With all 52 cards, the entire tableau has meaning." He looked down at the faceup cards again. "And I have a feeling we're going to need all of it."
Tomoyo reached for the bottommost card in the layout. "What does this card represent, Kero?"
"That card is opposite the card that summarizes the situation in the tableau," replied Kero. "It represents the antithesis, or opposite, of what you're dealing with. It could be a weakness of the subject, or something that's missing from the situation. Usually, it doesn't tell you much, but sometimes it's the key to the entire reading."
Tomoyo flipped the card over. "'SHIELD.'"
Kero sighed. "I was afraid of that. SHIELD doesn't mean much here. All it tells us is that there's a way to defend against any harmful effects of the magic, but we'll have to figure out what it is for ourselves."
"I'm sure we'll figure it out," Tomoyo assured him with a smile. "You and Sakura are very smart and know a lot about magic."
"Hey, don't sell yourself short, kid," said Kero. "You're the one doing the reading."
Tomoyo turned back to the cards. The four that lay in the compass directions and the one in the center were face-up, leaving the diagonals facedown. "There are four left."
"Those four represent the prime aspects of being," said Kero. "Physical, mental, spiritual, and magical. First, turn over the upper-left card, to see the physical nature of the subject."
"It's SWEET," Tomoyo announced as she flipped the card over. "Does that mean that it's made of candy?"
Kero chuckled. "No, SWEET isn't usually interpreted literally. It represents good intentions, like FLOWER, but more focused. In this case, it means that the magic means you no physical harm. Whatever is causing the strange effects is doing its best not to hurt you."
"Well, that's good news," said Tomoyo.
Kero nodded. "The question is, what DOES it want? Hopefully the next card will answer that question. The upper right card tells us its mental nature."
Tomoyo turned the card. "It's FIREY."
Kero's face paled. "FIREY...? This is bad."
"What does FIREY mean?" asked Sakura.
Kero took a deep breath and swallowed. "First, remember that FIREY is an elemental card, one of the four most powerful cards in the Clow deck. Anytime one of the elemental cards shows up in a reading, it's a sign that you're dealing with something really powerful."
"There were two element cards in the reading for the MIRROR card," said Sakura. "And I only had the two at the time!"
"But the FIREY card is the symbol of chaos," Kero continued. "And in this position, that means that the source of the magic has a chaotic mind. It doesn't think in ways that make any logical sense, and it doesn't fully understand the consequences of its actions."
"Then it's trying to help Tomoyo in some way, but it doesn't know how, so it does the wrong thing?" asked Sakura.
"That could be," said Kero. "Which means that the physical effects may not turn out to be so SWEET after all."
The room fell into silence for a while. Finally, Tomoyo let her eyes return to the cards. "Maybe the last two cards will give us good news."
"I sure hope so," said Kero. "I don't think we can take any more bad news."
Tomoyo felt Sakura's arm wrap around her shoulders as she reached for the card in the lower left. "This one represents the spirit, right?"
Kero nodded. "If we're lucky, it'll be something like LITTLE or LIGHT."
Tomoyo flipped the card over and gasped. "It's EARTHY."
"Another element card," said Sakura. "Please say it's a good sign, Kero."
There was no answer from Kero. Tomoyo glanced at the stuffed animal, who was floating above the bed with his mouth wide open in shock. "Kero?"
Kero wheezed a few times as his breath returned. "Sorry. I just never expected to see...."
"What does it mean?" Sakura asked as Kero trailed off.
Kero wiped his brow symbolically, even though he couldn't really sweat. "EARTHY is the symbol of solidity as well as being the most powerful element card. But as a symbol of spirit... it shouldn't be possible!"
"A solid spirit...." Tomoyo pondered Kero's words. "Do you mean like a Clow Card?"
"EXACTLY like a Clow Card," said Kero. "At least, something with as much power as a Clow Card. It has to have incredible power for its spirit to have a physical form. I'd say we're dealing with something at least as powerful as any Clow Card."
"But it can't be a Clow Card," said Sakura. "I've got them all right here."
"What else could be as powerful as a Clow Card?" Tomoyo wondered aloud.
"Not much," Kero said darkly. "My master put almost all of his power into those cards, and he was one of the most powerful magicians in the age when the most powerful magicians in all of history were at their peak. To match that kind of power...." He scratched his head. "How can I describe it?" He pounded a fist into his paw triumphantly. "Got it! You see all these cars around today, right? Well, pretend those are normal people, and people with stronger spiritual energy are cars that go faster."
Sakura and Tomoyo just smiled and nodded.
"Well, my master would have been able to drive about as fast as a bullet train," Kero bragged.
"Wow!" cried Sakura. "That's pretty fast!"
"As the master of the Clow Cards, you're not much slower, Sakura," said Kero. "And the power we're dealing with... it's up there too. It has to be."
"Something as powerful as the Clow Cards...." Sakura hummed thoughtfully. "What could it be?"
"And why is it granting wishes for someone with no magical power?" Kero wondered aloud.
"There's one card left," Tomoyo pointed out. "It's the card that describes its magical nature."
Kero nodded. "Go ahead and flip it. This is probably the most important card of all, since this power seems to manifest itself only through magic."
"And please let it be good news this time," Sakura pleaded.
Tomoyo took a deep breath and turned the final card over. "This time, it's the TWIN card."
What little color had remained in Kero's face vanished. "No... no way! That's impossible!"
"What does it mean?" asked Sakura.
"The TWIN card... there are only two things it could mean. It usually means that the magic of the subject is the same as the magic of the person doing the reading, but Tomoyo doesn't have any magic. So that only leaves... the magic of the Clow itself."
"Then it is a Clow Card!" exclaimed Sakura.
Kero nodded. "That's the only possible explanation. EARTHY symbolizes that kind of strength of spirit, and FIREY would definitely sum up the mind of a wild Clow Card."
"But if Sakura has all of the Clow Cards, then how could one of them be acting on its own?" asked Tomoyo.
"What bugs me is how many different things it's done," said Kero. "A Clow Card usually has a specific power. Even something like CREATE has limits and requires some kind of outside input to use its power. An autonomous card with more than one ability...."
"It doesn't make any sense to me," Sakura admitted.
"No, but it does remind me of something..." said Kero. "My memory gets a bit fuzzy after Clow Reed made the Clow Cards, since most of my energy was devoted to protecting the cards, but there was this one time when Clow decided the Clow Cards weren't enough of an accomplishment."
"But those cards represented all of his magical power," said Tomoyo. "What more could he hope to achieve?"
Kero floated a bit higher as he went into lecture mode. "I've already told you that anybody with magical power can use magic once it's been created, but to create a new form of magic takes a lot of skill. Only a few people could do it, and my master was one of them. But someone with no magic power, like Tomoyo or that brat who was always hanging out with Li, can't use even the simplest magic. Clow wasn't satisfied with that. He wanted to create a form of magic that could be used by anyone, even if they had no power at all. That meant magic powerful enough to cast itself at the behest of the caster."
"Did he ever manage to do it?" asked Sakura.
"Yes and no," said Kero. "In the end, Clow managed to seal the power of the entire Clow deck into a single card, which he called JOKER after a card from the gaming deck on which the Clow deck was based. In the original deck, the Joker card was usually used as a wild card, which could take the value of any card in the deck. Likewise, the JOKER in the Clow Deck could use the power of any one of the Clow Cards at any time. And having that much power gave JOKER the ability to cast its own magic. But in order to do that, the card had to have a will of its own. Clow tried to control JOKER, but JOKER was too powerful for him and escaped. We never did find it, but I was in tune with the cards enough to figure out what it was looking for: a strong, unselfish will to guide it in using its power."
"So you think that after all this time, JOKER is using Tomoyo's will as a guide?" asked Sakura.
"It's the only thing I can think of," replied Kero. "Like I said before, my memory is a little fuzzy."
"It's causing me a great deal of trouble," said Tomoyo. "Is there any way that Sakura could capture it?"
Kero scratched his chin. "There has to be a way, since it's a Clow Card, but I don't know what it is."
"What about the top card of the deck?" asked Sakura. "Isn't that the card that tells what the best course of action is?"
Kero smacked himself in the face. "Of course! I forgot all about the reading!"
"Let's take a look at the card," said Tomoyo. She turned over the top remaining card in the deck.
"The SONG card," Kero read.
"What does that mean?" asked Tomoyo.
Kero shrugged. "It's your reading. You're the one who's got to interpret this card."
"Well, that's not very nice, Kero!" Sakura admonished him.
"Hey, it's not my fault!" Kero protested. "The last card in the reading isn't concrete in meaning like most of the others are. It's more like a hidden clue that has significance only to the person who's doing the reading. It's supposed to make you think a different way, and then suddenly everything clicks together in your mind and you figure out what to do next!"
Tomoyo's face fell. "I don't know what it could possibly mean. I'm not very good at this."
"Don't think about it too hard," advised Kero. "If it doesn't mean anything now, then just keep that card in mind and go on like you normally would. When the time comes, you'll figure out what to do."
"I hope so," said Tomoyo. "I don't know as much about magic as you and Sakura do."
Sakura smiled. "You'll be fine, Tomoyo! I'm sure you'll be able to do it!"
Kero nodded. "The cards may only have a limited vocabulary, but they're very good at expressing important messages. They wouldn't have given you this sign unless they knew you could understand it."
"Okay," Tomoyo said confidently. "I trust you, Kero."
Sakura gave Kero another smile. "Thanks for helping us do the reading, Kero."
"Hey, no problem," said Kero. "Anything I can do to help out the true Card Captor."
Tomoyo chuckled. "Kero loves showing off how much he knows about magic."
Kero's forehead furrowed. "It's not showing off if you ask me to do it!" he grumbled.
"She's just teasing you, Kero," Sakura assured him, patting him on the head.
"Sure, sure. See if I ever help you again."
Tomoyo lowered her smiling face right in front of Kero. "I really appreciate you helping with my problem, Kero."
Kero's heart softened. "Awww... who can stay mad at you?"
"Well, what do we do now?" asked Sakura. "Should we try to capture JOKER now?"
"I don't think we can do it just yet," replied Kero. "Like any Clow Card, JOKER won't want to go back to being a card. If we threaten it, it might fight back and hurt us, or even Tomoyo. And it's probably got at least as much power as you have, Sakura. Until we can figure out how to subdue it, we'd better leave it be." He waved his arm reassuringly. "Don't worry, though! I'm sure we'll think of something! If nothing else, Tomoyo's got the clue of the SONG card to think about."
"I would rather not think about it right now," said Tomoyo. "The tea is already cold. I'll bring us up some more."
"I'll go with you," offered Sakura. The two girls stood up and crossed the room to the door. "We'll be right back, Kero!" Sakura called as they slipped out.
"That's a good idea," Kero said to himself as he looked down at the still-intact tableau. "Enjoy yourself as much as you can, Tomoyo. I've got a feeling that something really bad is about to happen, and as much as it pains me to say it... the sign of FLOWER may well burn up in the wake of its FIREY mind."