Volume 17 – In all the fighting, and teleporting, in and out of the cistern, the water reservoir has been nearly depleted. Yuko can fill the reservoir and save Fai’s life but it involves people asking for wishes and being able to fulfill payment for the wish. The end result is that Fai, despite his desire to die, will be saved by being made into a vampire with Kamui’s blood. But because it is Kurogane’s wish, he must take responsibility for Fai, as such the only blood Fai will be able to drink is Kurogane’s.
To refill the reservoir with water, someone must journey into the wastes and find an artifact that Yuko wants. With all her companions, including Original Syaoran (O-Syaoran) injured, and having spent so much time sleeping, Sakura is insistent that she be the one to go out into the acid rain, and genetically mutated monsters, to retrieve the item. Which she does, apparently she has been leveling up in badass while sleeping.
It turns out that he rival gang tower was also protected by a feather. With the feather protecting Kamui’s tower gone, absorbed back into Sakura, the rival leader proposes that the groups join together and use the remaining feather to protect everyone. But that would mean Sakura sacrificing her feather, and the memories it contains, which she agrees to do because their need is greater than hers.
There is a lot of exposition in this book. We find that characters are entangled across dimensions and linked together in ways they didn’t know. Fai has lived several lifetimes over his companions, and against his own rules has become attached to them. O-Syaoran watched all events through Copy Syaoran’s (C-Syaoran) eye, and developed a bond with the companions through sharing their challenges and successes.
Volume 18 – This volume starts with more exposition and it is finally revealed why everything has happened, and to what purpose. Fei-Wang Reed has the wish to be able to cross dimensions and manipulate both space and time. He shattered Sakura’s memories into feathers and scattered them across dimensions, which would require her to dimension hop collecting ‘memories’ of each dimension within her body. Fei-Wang abducted O-Syaoran, who was suspicious of his intentions, then created C-Syaoran with the purpose to collect the feathers and inserted the copy into the path that would lead him to Sakura. Knowing Sakura would need protection on her journey, he murdered Kurogane’s mother and set in motion his coming to Yuko. Fei-Wang also manipulated events in Fai’s life to the same result. Knowing of Fei-Wang’s wish, Yuko and the magician who taught her, Clow (which we learn was Sakura’s father’s name) created two Mokona’s to block this wish and create two possible futures.
Yuko asks the companions what is their will. Sakura wants to search for C-Syaoran, who she grew up with, and return his heart to him. Fai requests to accompany Sakura, thinking he might be able to detect the copy since it has his eye. Kurogane wants to continue too, in hopes of eventually meeting Fei-Wang and avenging his mother’s death. O-Syaoran wishes to join the group so that he can get something back and to protect Sakura. All recommitted to the cause, they teleport to the next dimension.
In flash backs, we learn that the current world, Infinity, was not their next stop. They previously visited a world that C-Syaoran and gotten to before them and he wreaked all sorts of destruction. Sakura feels great remorse and a desire to redress the wrongs. On Infinity there is a “chess” game run by the mafia. The group enters to win prize money to use to help rebuild the world C-Syaoran had attacked. The “chess” games are like cage match fights with a “chess master” overseeing the combat and lending their willpower to their players. Sakura is the chess master and her will powers the others in the matches. The mafia don’t like outsiders winning at their game so they are about to pull in a new chess master to face Sakura.
Sakura is tormented by knowing that the original and copy of Syaoran are two different people but so many things about the two of them are identical, that she can’t help wondering if the one in front of her isn’t her Syaoran after all. But where does that leave the copy? Especially as the copy is doing horrible things to retrieve her feathers. As Fai comforts her, he is contacted by Chi, his magical construct that has been watching over Fai’s sleeping king in another dimension. Chi is informing Fai that the king has awoken.
Volume 19 – This volume begins by cutting back and forth between the tournament fight and a flashback conversation between Yuko and Sakura. It ends by alternating between the fight and a vision of Fai’s memory. Besides money, Sakura has another reason for winning the chess tournament, the ability to hop dimensions one time is a prize as well. Sakura has had glimpses of the future and wants to control which world she’ll travel to, she also wants to go alone as part of her attempt to change the future. Yuko will grant her wish of controlling the next world but Sakura must give up her extraordinary luck to pay for it. In previous volumes the group has relied on Sakura’s uncanny ability to win at gambling and contests to pay for their adventures through worlds. Sakura agrees to the terms.
For the final battle, the chess master must chose a single piece. O-Syaoran immediately volunteers. Sakura has foreseen this battle and agrees, it is an intense battle that he finally wins. Fai is communing with Chi about his awakened king, his dimension’s version of Ashura-O. Chi seems to appear, and is addressed as a construct with the ability to transfer worlds. This Chi joins hands with Sakura and opens a path between dimensions. On Fai’s home world of Seresu, Fai’s Chi’s seal is breaking and Seresu becomes joined with the world Infinity, along with a third world. Both Chi’s contain a feather of Sakura, which she absorbs. These particular two feathers have been containing Sakura’s magical abilities, which now return to her.
Syaoran sees a vision of the imprisoned, miserable creature that Fai once was, a promise of freedom at a price, the appearance of Ashura-O in Fai’s life, and a curse that one day he would was destined to kill a future companion of his. Sakura is the victim of that long ago curse and Fai runs her through with a sword. Fai loses it at his actions but then Sakura’s spirit appears telling him that all is not lost, she still exists, and now they can change the future. Sakura apologies to O-Syaoran and Kurogane, begging them to take care of Fai until they meet again. The final picture in the manga was of two versions of Sakura being drawn away from each other, each heading towards a different version of Chi.
Volume 20 – And that is exactly what happened. Sakura’s body went with one Chi to Seresu, where Fai is from, and her soul went to the land of dreams. There is a feather in the land of dreaming and so Sakura wished to go there. Her soul is safe in dreaming, so it is determined that taking care of her body needs to be the next priority. Mokona can’t choose which world they go to next so Fai makes a wish to go back to Seresu. The cost of the wish is high and the companions insist on sharing the cost equally. Fei-Wang is furious by the turn of events, he intended for Fai to kill Syaoran, not Sakura, at some unspecified point in the future when Syaoran had regained more of his magical power.
The companions learn that Fai has been lying to them about his abilities from the very beginning of their journeys together, he is actually quite powerful. Upon arriving on Seresu, we get to see more of Original Syaoran’s magical abilities. Apparently Fai suffers from ultra tragic backstory syndrome. As if being cursed to kill a companion wasn’t bad enough, we learn that he is under another curse as well, one that will only activate on Seresu. At the palace they greeted by king Ashura-O and a freaky child-thing.
The reader is thrown back in time to learn that Fai was born a twin and twins were considered incredibly unlucky. The death of their father, crops failing, water becoming impure and their mother taking her own life were blamed on the twins. Doubly unforgivable was that they were extremely magically talented, especially when together. They were taken to a magical nullifying valley where time flows differently. One put in a tower and one left on the ground. After a long time, when the twins have sunk to the depths of despair, Fei-Wang appears to the twin in the tower, Fai. Fei-Wang offers a way out but only one twin can go. Fai wishes that his brother on the ground, Yui be saved. Fai is thrown from the tower and killed. Fei-Wang then appears in front of Yui and asks if he would bring Fai back to life, it it were possible to do so. Fei-Wang says it is possible to bring his brother back but Yui must do as he says and leave with a man that will shortly appear. King Ashura-O arrives to take Yui away, saying that he must live to be able to grant Ashura-O a wish. Ashura-O asks the child his name, and Yui responds with Fai, adopting his twin’s name.
In the last pages we are thrown back into the present. Ashura-O is standing over Fai, who is clutching what appears to be one of the twins from the past. Ashura-O asks if we will now see the true Fai, the promise that was made in the past, and everything he knows. Kurogane and O-Syaoran have witnessed the memory flashback. And Fei-Wang Reed’s voice over echos about Fai’s other curse as the volume ends.
Volume 21 – Holy crap, this story just does not straighten out and keeps adding layers of convolution! It keeps flipping back and forth in time, between wishes, promises, and curses. Fei-Wang Reed has been manipulating Fai a long time. He preyed upon Fai as a small child, binding him with curses and promises. Fai then came into the care of Ashura-O, who also binds Fai with a promise. Poor Fai grew up under the care of Ashura-O, and when asked to fulfill his promise to Ashura-O, it is to kill Ashura-O. Fai is unwilling and puts Ashura-O into a magical slumber, right after which is when Fai joins up with the companions traveling between dimensions.
Everything that Fai has promised has been to bring his twin brother back from the dead. Through part of his bargaining with Fei-Wang in his childhood, Fai received two of Sakura’s feathers. One of which he used to keep the dead twin’s body in a state of suspended animation. The other feather he held onto until he met with Syaoran and co. and used it as the first feather to bring Sakura back from the brink of death.
While all this exposition is going on, an intense battle is happening in the throne room with Fai, Kurogane, and Ashura-O fighting. When Fai states that he cannont kill Ashura-O, due to the years of kindness he received, Ashura-O summons Sakura’s body from where it has been resting in a state of suspended animation. The fighting intensify’s as Fai and Kurogane go all out in protecting Sakura. In the course of fighting Kurogane kills Ashura-O. Because it was not Fai who killed him, Fai’s second curse remains unbroken. The feather protecting the twin leaves his body and goes into Sakura. The second curse of Fai was that if he was unable to kill Ashura-O, by his own hand, the world of Seresu would close, trapping any magic user on Seresu and killing them.
Fai does not have enough magic left to teleport them from Seresu. Mokona has been carrying a powerful charm this whole time and by smashing it activates a portal. Fei-Wang doesn’t believe that the item is strong enough for everyone to escape. Fai attempts to sacrifice himself so everyone else can escape. For some reason that will probably be explained in the next volume, Kurogane cuts off his left arm, Fai is stunned and stops resisting, which allows Kurogane to pull him to safety as the two of them, plus Original Syaoran, Sakura, and Mokona, teleport to another dimension.
Volume 22 – Kurogane’s Princess Tomoyo, from his home dimension, is a seer. She knew Kurogane would end up in this fight on a collapsing world. Tomoyo contacted Yuko making a wish that the next world Kurogane teleport to be his home. She contacts Kurogane and tells him to cut off his arm, that had been enchanted by Fai along the way, leaving that bit of magic behind in the trap, allowing Fai to escape. Tomoyo then reached out to her double on the highly technical Piffle world and arranged for a prosthetic arm to be made for Kurogane. Fai removes all remaining magic from his eye and gives it to Yuko in payment for the arm.
The bearer of the arm is Fuma, dimension hopper, errand runner for Yuko, and younger brother of Seishiro-san, he has interacted with the companions before on the world with the vampires Kamui and Subaru. Suddenly Seishiro appears and chaos ensues as he recognizes the scent of Kamui’s blood in Fai’s body and demands information about the vampires. Assured that no one knows their current whereabouts he begins to depart when Original Syaoran demands he return the feather he stole on a previous world. An epic fight follows as O-Syaoran is determined to not let Seishiro escape with the feather a second time.
As they are pummeling each other, Tomoyo and Fai have a conversation about changing the future. How multiple people have been making small movements trying to change what has been foreseen. Sakura making the choice to separate her body and soul was one such event. O-Syaoran manages to extract the feather from Seishiro and grabs onto it. O-Syaoran uses the feather as a conduit and transfers himself to the land of dreams, where Sakura’s soul is.
O-Syaoran appears at Sakura’s side. A young man named Watanuki is there as well, he and Sakura have been communicating in dreams. Just then Copy Syaoran, who has been solely focused on retrieving feathers, at any cost, appears in the dreaming. C-Syaoran senses the feather that O-Syaoran used to get to dreaming and immediately attacks O-Syaoran to get it and return it to Sakura. Sakura screams that they aren’t important anymore but C-Syaoran is not to be deterred. O-Syaoran puts Sakura inside a protective ward and then takes on C-Syaoran.