1. Prologue by JazaraRose
2. Chapter 1 by JazaraRose
3. Chapter 2 by JazaraRose
4. Chapter 3 by JazaraRose
5. Chapter 4 by JazaraRose
6. Chapter 5 by JazaraRose
7. Chapter 6 by JazaraRose
8. Chapter 7 by JazaraRose
9. Chapter 8 by JazaraRose
10. Chapter 9 by JazaraRose
"Katsumi-chan why are you still awake? It's late.
"I can't sleep Okaa-san." The young girl sat up in her bed and reached out for her mother. The young woman entered her daughter's room and sat on the bed while nestling the child into her lap.
"Would like for me to tell you a story?" The child shook her head enthusiastically.
"Will you tell me my favorite?" Smiling kindly the mother gently settled her daughter back into bed. Making sure she was comfortable, the mother patted her child's head, and cleared her throat to prepare her voice for her daughter's favorite fairytale.
"You know Katsumi-chan the world was not always how it is today. Long, long ago there was much chaos and destruction. There was no food, no water, and many wars and lots of death. Thousands of people suffered."
"But there was a strong lady right Okaa-san? The beautiful princess who saved the world?"
"That's right. Not only was she a princess, but she was a warrior too. A warrior born from the rage of war and the blood of her people. Her duty was to bring order to this land, and sacrifice herself in the name of peace. It was her destiny. There are many variations of her name, but we know her as The Deadly Siren."
"Don't forget she fell in love Mommy!" The child squealed.
"Let's not jump ahead ourselves dear, but you are right. She did fall in love. And in the end it destroyed her. For her fate was never to find love, but to die in order to bring the world in a new era."
Screams echoed across the night. Troops stormed the ground, setting the town ablaze, and painting the night sky blood red. Innocent villagers tried to flea with their families, but were slaughtered in their attempts to escape.
This was the way of the land. When your land became useless for crops you took someone else's. When your clan was starving you pillaged others for their resources. And when your army was dwindling due to famine you attacked a lowly village to prove a point. This was the game of survival in a world that knew no friend or foe.
"My lord! We don't have the power to fend them off. Soon the whole village will be annihilated."
The noble lord looked out his window to witness the total destruction of his kingdom. His heart clenched as his people scattered in search of cover from the enemy. They had been caught off guard. He would not give himself false hope. It was over. His beautiful castle would fall.
A shrill scream caught his attention as he darted from his room and down the hall. Worry etched on his brow as he crashed into a small room full of maids.
"My lord the lady is in labor. It is not proper for men to be in here." One maid said respectfully as she bowed to her king.
"I apologize. I heard her scream and thought the worst. The castle is under siege and I have little hope for our victory."
"M-my lord? Is that you?" Walking over to his wife the young king kneeled before her. Wiping sweat from her brow he pushed her long midnight locks behind her ear. Her skin was flushed and her eyes were dull. She looked exhausted.
"It is I. How are you my love?" He said gently.
"I am great pain, and I am very tired. Though it will be worth it when I finally hold our daughter." Even in the mist of chaos the lord could not help but laugh.
"Still hoping for a little a girl I see?"
"Not hoping my king. Waiting." A powerful contraction surged through her abdomen and she cried out. Squeezing her husband's hand the lovely maiden took a breath, willing the pain to subside.
"Naomi..." The beautiful woman turned to her husband. Never in the company of others had he ever addressed her so informally.
"The castle is under attack...and I don't think we're going to make it. We have the will, but there is just no way. They've easily outnumbered us and our fire power is just not strong enough. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I couldn't protect you Naomi, that I couldn't protect our home, and that I won't be able to protect our daughter."
"You are a fine protector Takahiro. I am grateful to have met you in this life, and our daughter will grow up to know what a wonderful man her father was." Tears filled her bright indigo eyes, and once more she was overcome will an unspeakable amount of pain.
"My lady it is time. The baby is coming." The woman latched onto her lord husband for strength and took a deep breath.
"Push!" Pushing down with all her might the lady exhaled and felt her muscles contract once more.
"Again my lady!" Pushing again the maiden used all of her possible strength. This was the end. She loved her daughter more than anything, but if her lord was to die here than so was she. Though she knew her soul could never rest if she never got the chance to hold her daughter before her final moments came.
All at once Lady Naomi felt her lower muscles relax, and soon after she heard the high pitched cry of her daughter.
"Do not go to clean her. I want to hold her while I still have the time." Doing as commanded the maid swaddled the newborn in a blanket before handing her over to her parents.
"She's beautiful. Just like you." Lord Takahiro kissed his wife's forehead as he stared down at his first born child. She was not male, but she was his. It was enough to bring tears to his eyes.
The door to the birthing room opened and in walked a very old priestess. Her back was a tad hunched and she shuffled as she walked. Finally reaching the young couple she slowly kneeled before lady Naomi to examine the baby with her one good eye.
"May I?" Holding out her arms the queen placed her child in the woman's experienced hands. Waving her wrinkled hand she checked the baby's aura for any sign of sickness or something unusual.
"You have a fine babe on your hands. She is strong and her aura is exceptionally powerful. This child is different...special. She may be the ray of hope that the world has been looking for."
Nodding their thanks the new parents took their baby back into their arms.
"What shall we name her?" The lady whispered. Wiping the last of the blood and fluid from her baby's face, the child's soft pale skin was finally exposed. Her hair was matted but a deep black just like her mothers.
"Kagome." At the sound of her name the child's eyes opened to reveal a deep Indigo color. The perfect blend between her mother and father.
Before Lady Naomi and her husband could rejoice an explosion sounded and the castle was engulfed in a flash of light.
When debris cleared and the smoke subsided all that was left was a wailing newborn baby covered in the soil of her destroyed land and the blood of her slaughtered people.
Hope everyone enjoyed this chapter and comes back for more :) don't forget to review and let me know what you think!
"Try and catch me if you can!"
"Get back here Akane-chan!"
It was a bright summer day as the children in the village ran around and played. Their parents already hard at work keeping the crops ripe and plentiful. New mothers strolled around with their newborns, talking to other village women.
Though one little girl looked on with envious eyes. She watched the mothers talk, the children play, and silently wondered,
"Why can't I be like that?"
All her life it had been blatantly obvious that she was not normal. The village always kept her locked away like an animal. She didn't have friends and as far as she knew she didn't have a family either.
"Kagome-chan why aren't you meditating? You're supposed to be training." The young child turned to the voice of teacher. Midoriko-sama. She was a renowned warrior priestess, the strongest the world had ever seen, and was hired by the headmaster to protect the village.
"I'm sorry Midoriko-sama, but it's so nice today. I want to go play." Kagome gave her teacher the best pout she could muster, and failed miserably.
"Kagome how many times do I have to tell you that your training is more important than playing." Sighing the older woman crouched next to her student wiping away her tears of disappointment.
"I really wish I could let you leave here Kagome. So you could be free to do as you like, but I can't. You're different, special, and you need to be careful. Remember how I told you one day you'll be very strong? Maybe even stronger than me?" Wiping the last of her tears and nodding her head Kagome continued to listen.
"You are key to the survival of this world. You're the only one with power to bring about change, but there are people who will stand in your way. There are people who want you dead. They have no sympathy and don't care if you're only a child. Until I have taught you all I can it's my duty to protect you. Do you understand me?"
"Yes Midoriko-sama." The seven year old said.
"Good girl. Now finish meditating and we'll start our next lesson."
The sun faded and bright blue sky dulled to black. Villagers blew out their lamps and put their families to bed. A quiet hush fell over the town as its residents closed their eyes for the night.
Convinced that no one else was awake Kagome sat up in her bed. She looked around, slipping off her sleeping yukata to reveal clothes underneath. Grabbing the pack she had hidden Kagome made a break for the door.
She was sick of being held prisoner. She had no freedom, no life, no family, and no friends. No one would miss her when they found her empty bed in the morning.
'You are key to the survival of this world.' She didn't even know what that meant. It didn't matter anyway. She would runaway from this place, find a new home, and start over.
A new place sounded like fun. A place where she could play as much as she liked.
"Maybe I'll even find my mommy and daddy." She whispered. Though Midoriko-sama tried to shield her from the vicious rumors they seemed to always float past her ears.
Apparently she had been found as a baby alone covered in dirt and grime. Abandoned by her family and left for dead until a kind villager brought her to the headmaster. She'd been here ever since.
Making her way silently through the halls she concentrated to conceal her aura as Lady Midoriko had taught her weeks ago.
Thinking of the woman a pang rang through Kagome's heart. She felt like she betraying her teacher by leaving. Lady Midoriko seemed to be the only person in the world who truly cared about her.
'Until I have taught you all I can it's my duty to protect you.' Sneaking past the sleeping guards Kagome ran towards the edge of the village. Stopping before she entered the woods she turned around to look back at the head master's castle.
"I'll miss you Midoriko-sama. You taught me a lot and I promise to keep myself safe." With those words she took off into the night.
Midoriko floated in a world between dreams and reality. Her conscious mind could since something amiss in the castle, but in her dreamlike state it was hard to tell what it was.
Behind her eye lids she saw someone running. She could hear them panting trying to catch their breath, but in too big of hurry to stop. She heard the sound of twigs snapping under their weight and the whips of branches as the prey ran from its predator.
"Someone help me!" A child. There was child running for their life, and by the pitch it was a little girl. The girl tripped falling flat on her face. The roar of a demon brought Midoriko back into the world of reality. With a gasp she sprang from her bedding.
She ran down the hall into Kagome's room to find it empty.
Quickly making her way back to her room Midoriko dressed in her priestess garb and armor. Grabbing her sword she made her way to the front of the castle not so gently waking up the sleeping guards.
"Wake up this instant! Kagome is missing and if she is not returned healthy and whole it will be on your heads!"
Snapping to the guards followed the lady, hoping the little girl wasn't in as much trouble as she was causing.
After wandering around the woods for twenty minutes Kagome was starting to regret her decision to leave the castle. It too dark for her to see, and it was getting colder.
Stoping suddenly Kagome listened to her surroundings. The sounds of night filling her ears. She felt wrong. She felt it in the pit of her stomach that something was really really wrong.
"All priestesses are gifted with exceptional intuition Kagome. As a priestess you must always trust your instincts. Never doubt yourself, for doubt often leads to death."
"What if my instincts are wrong?" The child asked innocently.
"You must learn to trust yourself wholeheartedly Kagome."
The scene replayed over and over in her mind. Just when she took a step and twig snapped under her foot.
All hell broke loose.
An ugly demon flew from the shadows and straight at her. Running as fast as her small legs could carry her Kagome ran through the woods looking for anything or anyone to save her. She panted harder the longer she ran. She couldn't tell if the demon was still chasing her, but she was too afraid to stop. Looking back she tripped over a tree root she never saw coming.
Her eyes fell on the demon still trying to pursue her.
"Someone help me!"
She threw her hands up in a measly attempt to protect herself. She waited for the demon's claws to tear into her flesh, but the pain never came. She heard the demon screech in pain.
"Nasty demon. Pick on someone your own size next time."
Hearing the voice gave Kagome the courage to open her eyes. Her deep indigo eyes widened as they fell on her savior.
Even in the dark his sliver hair glistened in the moonlight. Turning his head her eyes locked with his Topaz orbs. He was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. Dressed in a red kimono the bright silver and dark red contrasted perfectly. Moving past his eyes her vision landed on his puppy ears and she broke out into a wide smile.
"Wow." She said in wonder.
"Stop starin' would ya?" he said irritably. Crossing his arms over his chest. She continued to stare at him, when she heard voices off in the distance.
"Kagome! Kagome where are you?" The young boy's ears swiveled in the direction of the noise. As the noise began to increase his ears twitched all the more. He set himself in the opposite direction prepared to leave as quickly as he had came when her voice stopped him.
"Wait!" He turned to face her and saw the rosy blush staining her chubby cheeks.
"Um thanks for saving me." She said sheepishly.
"Keh." Was his gruff reply. He turned back to his original position and sprang into the trees.
"Kagome! There you are!"
"Midoriko-sama!" Running to her teacher Kagome broke out into sobs. She apologized through her tears. Her promises of training hard and never running away again lost in her hiccups.
"Hush child. Explain everything to me in the morning okay?" Grabbing the woman's hand Kagome made her way back to the village. Turning to face the woods she couldn't help but wonder if she'd ever she that boy again.
"Maybe next time we can play together."
A dark haired woman stood in the middle of a vacant field. She looked on calm and poised as the scent of death wafted to her nose. She stared into the thundering sky letting the rain hit her face. Cleansing her, purifying her, washing away the blood of her slain enemies.
This was her life. Her duty.
The countless bodies of demons littered the ground. Ugly disgusting things. But one body was not demon. It stood out among the disturbing site. The woman couldn't help it. She walked over to the body of an innocent. Someone whose life shouldn't have ended this way. Never this way.
The young warrior fell to her knees. Her tears mixing with the rain and her mouth opened in a silent scream. She wiped furiously at her face. She was a warrior and warriors don't cry. They didn't have emotions. But as she kneeled there beside that body the only question on her mind was why?
Why must everything she held dear be taken away? Why couldn't she have a normal life?
Because her life was no longer her own. Everything she did was for the good of the world. The day she was born she became a means to an end.
She couldn't hold it in any longer and she choked on a sob.
"Why? Why can't I be like everyone else?" she questioned out loud.
Too caught up in her pain she never noticed the set of calculating eyes that watched her from the shadows.
"Kagome-chan you're late."
"I'm sorry Midoriko-sama. I lost track of time."
"Kagome.." her mentor sighed.
" I know. I know. It won't happen again. I promise." Kagome said. The last thing she wanted was to be lectured on her tardiness and how it could affect her training.
"Well since you just came back home I figured we'd do something easy today. I set up the targets behind the castle so you can work on your archery."
"Kagome?" Turning Midoriko saw the bags under her young eyes. She saw how pale her skin looked and how lifeless and dull her hair was becoming. Kagome seemed to look older and older everyday. As if her youth was being drained from her. It broke Midoriko's heart, but there was nothing she could do, which in turn shattered her heart into many more pieces.
"Nevermind." She said with a smile watching Kagome leave.
'I understand Kagome. I know you're tired and I know you wish to be something you are not. I don't know how to make things better for you. I don't know how to help you. For that I am sorry.'
Kagome shot arrow after arrow. Hitting the center every time. She was getting pretty good if she did say so herself.
Her face was contorted in concentration when a small scream broke her focus. Turning her eyes away from the target the arrow she launched when flying into a near by tree. Another scream was heard as the intruder came close to being impaled right between the eyes.
"Oh my god! Hojo I'm so sorry! I almost killed you!" Rushing over to him Kagome continued to fuss over the boy. Checking him from head to toe making sure he was free of injury.
"Don't worry I'm fine." He said with a smile.
"Are you sure? I'm really sorry."
"Truly. Really I'm okay. Thank you for your concern Kagome-san."
"Hojo-kun we're the same age. You don't have to address me so formally."
"I know but there's no way I could disrespect you by calling you anything less than Kagome-san."
"If you insist Hojo. Was there something you needed? You know before I almost shot your head off." The two laughed as Kagome helped the young delivery boy to his feet.
"Actually there is. A letter came in from the east for Lady Midoriko." Reaching into his bag Hojo pulled out the delicately folded letter and handed it to Kagome.
"Thank you Hojo-kun I'll make sure she gets it." Smiling Kagome headed off to find her teacher when Hojo's voice stopped her.
"K-Kagome-san? Can I uh ask you s-s-something?"
"I know it's kind of improper but would you be willing to go on a walk with me tomorrow afternoon? I-I-I mean that's if you want! Of course you don't have to, but it would really make me happy if you said yes. I mean you know I uh, er..."
Smiling Kagome couldn't help but laugh at his antics. The blush on his cheeks had to be the cutest thing she'd ever seen.
"I'd love to Hojo-kun. I'll see you tomorrow." Walking back to find her mentor Kagome couldn't hold in her giggle at the exclamation of joy she heard Hojo let out.
'Finally! A chance to be normal!'
"Midoriko-sama. Hojo-kun brought in a letter for you."
"Oh really? From whom?" The powerful priestess sat in her study. She sat on the floor with her feet tucked underneath her as she studied an old scroll.
"I'm not sure. All he said was that it came from the East."
"Hmm? Well that's very strange." Taking the letter from Kagome's hands Midoriko unraveled it beginning to look at its contents. Turning around she noticed her pupil standing in the corner and staring at her.
"Is there something else you needed dear?"
"Oh! Um well I was just wondering...if uh...we could start my training session tomorrow a little early?"
"And why would we do that?"
"No reason in particular." Midoriko could smell her lie from a mile away.
"Okay how about you tell me the real reason for wanting to start your training earlier tomorrow?"
"I hear that it's going to be a nice day tomorrow and I'd like to take advantage of it. Maybe go for a walk or something?"
Midoriko eyed her suspiciously. Kagome only hoped that she bought it.
"Fine. We'll start at dawn." Kagome hung her head. She really hated getting up so early.
"Hi Hojo-kun!" Kagome said running up to meet Hojo. Dressed in a simple yukata, her hair was pulled away from her face and held in place by a white ribbon.
"Hello Kagome-san. You look really nice."
"Thank you. Are you ready?"
"Of course." The two young people walked comfortably side by side. The conversation was light and pleasant. Kagome couldn't remember the last time she'd been able to be around someone her own age like this. It was refreshing. Hojo was sweet and polite. He was easy to talk to. Kagome valued his friendship as well as the time they spent together. Soon their walks became a regular occurrence.
Kagome knew that Midoriko-sama had been becoming increasingly more suspicious of her. Though she couldn't find the energy to care. They continued to have early morning training so that her afternoons were open for Hojo.
Walking into her room that evening she stripped out of her day clothes and put on her sleeping yukata. That night she couldn't get her mind let her sleep. Her thoughts were full of Hojo and the beautiful garden they has ventured to this afternoon.
Picking up the red rose Kagome gave it a gentle sniff. It smelled delightful. Lying the flower next to her pillow Kagome drifted off to sleep with a small smile on her face, and one last thought on her mind.
'I'm not sure what this feeling is. Intense like? Love? Whatever it is I can only hope Hojo feels it too."
Caught up in the wings of normalcy Kagome never noticed the haunting eyes that watched their every move.
"Damn! I'm late!" Running as fast as her legs could carry her Kagome rushed towards the normal meeting for her and Hojo.
"Hojo-kun! Sorry I'm late. Midoriko-sama wanted me to..." trailing off the young girl realized her companion was missing. "That's weird." she said to herself.
Sitting on a large boulder Kagome decided to wait. Maybe he was running late too. She waited and waited and no one came. At sunset when the young man still failed to show her heart sank. Having no choice Kagome walked back to the castle. Negative thoughts tugged at her. Why didn't he show up?
'Was it something I did? Something I said?" Shaking her head the thought didn't even seem plausible.
'What if he found someone else? Someone better than me? A normal girl. Someone who I could never compete with?"
She willed the tears away. She was a warrior priestess and warriors don't cry, but the pain in her heart seemed to say otherwise. Finally reaching the castle she hoped she could avoid Midoriko. Running straight to her room Kagome lit a few candles and incense. Hoping the soft glow and scents would lull her to sleep but Kagome continued to lay in bed. Her thoughts were constantly running around in circles in her mind.
Only when she heard a light tapping on her window did they stop. Walking over cautiously Kagome slowly opened her window and peered out.
"I'm sorry to wake you Kagome-san, but I was busy this afternoon and missed our walk. I-I wanted to see you."
Even in the dark Kagome could see his blush and it made her smile.
"I thought you forgot about me." She said sadly.
"No! Never! I could never forget about you Kagome-san." She smiled. "Would like to go on our walk now? I know it's late but there's something I'd like to show you."
Her smile wavered slightly. It was late and if they got caught Midoriko-sama would kill her.
"I promise you won't get caught. Those guards are sleeping and we'll be really quiet."
Knowing she was going against her better judgement Kagome relectantly said, "okay." Turning and getting dressed Kagome told him she'd be right down.
"Just come out the window." He said.
"Are you sure?" Kagome said giving him a strange look. She sure wasn't how far down it was but falling would definitely hurt. No broken bones but a lot of pain.
"Yes. I promise to catch you. Just jump." Slowly climbing out the window Kagome looked down at Hojo. Gulping loudly she closed her eyes and let go of the wall. She expected to hit the ground. For pain to wrack through her, but when nothing came she open one eye only to see she was safely in Hojo's arms.
"See. I told you Kagome-san." He smiled at her and the uneasiness in her belly grew. Hojo was not by any means weak or out of shape. From what she had witnessed Hojo had the average strength of any man his age, but there was no way possible he should have been able to catch her with such ease.
Soon they started walking, the conversation light and pleasant like usual. After what seemed like 10 minutes the pair continued to walk, and it seemed there was really no true destination.
"Hojo-kun where are we going?"
"Don't worry Kagome we'll be there soon." She stopped dead in her tracks. He called her Kagome. Hojo never called her Kagome.
"Hojo-kun we're the same age. You don't have to address me so formally."
"I know but there's no way I could disrespect you by calling you anything less than Kagome-san."
"Who are you and what did you do to Hojo?" Her voice was harsh. The thing impersonating Hojo sneered at her and she almost lost her patience.
"I was wondering when you were going to notice? Don't worry Kagome your Hojo is still in here. Though if you want him back alive you're going to have to come with me."
"Don't do it Kagome-san! Run away!" Hojo's body struggled. He grabbed his head and fell to his knees.
"Damn kid! Just doesn't know when to give up does he?" Looking up Hojo's eyes had turned red. Almost as red as the rose he'd picked for her the previous day.
"Release him!" Kagome screamed.
"Come with me and I will."
"Then you and him both shall die." The demon in Hojo's body charged at her. Rolling out of the way she evaded his claws, but he came at her again. Realizing that she was weapon-less Kagome was backed into a corner. How could she fight with no arrows? How could she fight without hurting Hojo?
"You can't evade my attacks forever. I can see the indecisiveness etched on your face. Are you really willing to be killed to save this one boy? Humans are foolish creatures. Your emotions cloud your judgement. Your love for this boy will be the end of you."
"Shut up!" Holding out her hands Kagome let out a wave purified energy. The demon moved but not fast enough. His arm was singed.
"Bitch!" He cried. Coming at her again she took him on full force. Flipping over him she elbowed him in the neck and kicked his feet out from under him. With his quick reflexes the demon caught himself and brandished a sword Kagome didn't know he had.
Charging him Kagome grabbed his wrists sending her spiritual power throughout his body. He howled in pain and in turn dropped the sword. Quickly putting up a barrier Kagome focused her energy on the blade, trying to dissipate the demonic aura.
Dropping the barrier Kagome lifted the sword waiting for her enemy to charge her. Anticipating his attack the demon did just that. Lifting the sword above her head Kagome prepared to defend herself when he stopped his attack. Shocked Kagome still held her ground, but when his head lifted and she saw Hojo's brown eyes she crumpled.
"Hojo-kun?" She whispered.
"Kagome-san I'm so sorry. Please you have to kill me."
"No! Hojo-kun I can save you! I know I can!"
"I know you can too but I want you to do this. You're tired. Please just end it."
"I won't!" Looking at him Kagome could see his eyes shifting between his natural brown the demon's red. How could she do it? How could she kill him? After everything.
"Kagome-san please. I can't fight him much longer."
Walking over to him Kagome stood before him. Raising her sword Hojo gave her a sad smile.
"I'm sorry we couldn't spend more time together."
"I'm sorry too. So so sorry." The tears welled up in her eyes and she fought to hold them back.
"I love you Kagome." His voice was so clear and so soft. The sincerity in his words broke the dam and the tears fell hard and fast. He'd dropped the san and just called her Kagome.
"I love you too Hojo." Stepping even closer Kagome placed her lips on his. The kiss was sweet full of innocent adolescent love.
Taking the sword she placed it right in his heart releasing him from the demon's hold. His lips went slack and his body fell to the ground. Following him unto the ground Kagome touched his face now going cold with death. She closed his eyes and prayed for his soul.
The heavens opened up and the rain started to fall. It seemed that even the Kami wept for her. The spike of demonic energy would surely bring in the lesser demons. The would try to feed on Hojo's body and she would be damned before she let that happen.
Sensing the demons coming Kagome prepared herself. Wiping away her tears she let the rain wash over her.
This was her life. Her duty.
Sorry if the battle scene seems a little rushed and crappy, action isn't really my forte.
Please Don't forget to REVIEW : )
It was dawn when Kagome finally emerged from the woods. She was covered in dirt and blood, her clothes were torn, and she looked exhausted.
Slowly walking toward the castle Kagome saw that Midoriko-Sama was waiting for her. Straightening her shoulders and steeling her eyes Kagome let her resolve take over. She had just went through hell and back, and as much as she loved and respected Midoriko, there was no way she'd sit there and take a lecture.
"Midoriko-Sama before you say anything-"
"Get cleaned up." The shock was obvious on the young girl's face.
"That's it? That's all you have to say?"
"You look tired and I'm sure you're hungry. Get cleaned up and I'll have something brought to you."
"No training today?" Kagome asked incredulously.
Midoriko just gave her a sad knowing look, "No. Not today." Kagome gave her a small smile in appreciation. She stopped walking halfway into the building to turn around and look at her mentor.
"Midoriko-Sama I need you to ask the guards to do me a favor."
After taking a quick bath and changing her clothes Kagome set off to find Hojo's house. She remembered him saying that he was an only child. His father had died when he was a young boy, making him the man of the house much too soon. Even though Hojo's dream was to go to the continent and study medicine, he'd put his life on hold to take care of his mother.
Walking up to the modest home Kagome felt sick. Her palms were sweaty, her throat was dry, and she felt like she was going to pass out. How could she face this woman knowing she was the reason her son was dead? Taking a deep breath Kagome walked up to the hut and knocked. As she waited for someone to appear the only thing on her mind was, if Hojo had never met her he'd still be alive. She waited there holding her breath until an aging woman answered the door.
Her salt and pepper hair was hidden under a cloth scarf. She had on a simple yukata that any typical village woman would wear. Her apron was worn and stained from years of use. Her eyes looked tired and sunken in. It seemed as if she hadn't slept in days.
"Akitoki-san." Kagome started nervously.
"I know who you are. You are the woman who killed my son." Her tone was neither sad nor angry. It was easy to see that this woman had been through much in her life. She had given so much in this world, that she had nothing left. Her one reason for living was gone, and it made Kagome hate herself all the more.
"I wanted to personally apologize. I know there is nothing I could do or say to make you feel better. I take full responsibility for Hojo-kun's death, and if you hate me I completely understand. I'm so so sorry Akitoki-san."
"I do not hate you child and I do not blame you for his death. My boy spoke very highly of you. I hadn't seen him this happy since before his father passed. He loved you very much." For the first time the older woman smiled, and it broke Kagome's heart.
"Please know that I loved him too." Bowing deeply a tear slipped from her eye and landed in the dirt. Wiping the tear away Kagome stood and apologized once more. Turning to walk away she stopped when Hojo's mother called her name.
"Thank you. For staying with him and protecting him. Now I can bury him next to his father."
Kagome smiled sadly, "it was the least I could do."
Kagome sat in her room staring at the red rose Hojo had given her. Gently she fingered the soft petals thinking about all the things she had shared with Hojo. It scared her how deep her feelings for him ran in such a short time. It scared her to think of how delicate and short lived a human life could be.
She heard a soft knock on the door and allowed the maid, who was carrying a tray of food, entrance into her room.
"Thank you, but I'm not hungry." The maid set down the tray anyway and closed the door behind her. Kagome continued to sit and stare at her flower. A drop of water landed on the petal, lifting her hand to her cheek Kagome realized she was crying. She had been doing so much of that lately, it was pathetic.
Another knock sounded on the door, but before Kagome could shoo them away Midoriko walked in. Kagome quickly wiped her face and nose.
"Is there something you wanted?" Kagome asked.
"The maid told me you refused to eat. I wanted to check on you."
"I wasn't hungry."
"Kagome I know you're upset over Hojo, but-"
"How would you know how I feel?!" Kagome screamed. Her eyes burned at her efforts to keep her tears at bay. "You don't know anything!"
"I know a lot more than you think." Midoriko said coldly. "Don't presume to know me child. I was protecting this world long before you were even a thought. In our line of work you lose people everyday. Sometimes even people you know and you love." Softening her tone Mirdoriko took a seat next to Kagome on her futon.
"You did what you had to do Kagome. There was no other way."
"Wasn't there?" Kagome said quietly. She looked out the window as she let a river of salt and sadness flow down her cheeks. "I could've done something else. Anything else, but he told me to do it. I had been fighting that demon off for hours, and I was tired, so tired, but I wasn't going to let Hojo die. People in this world are depending on me to save them. What kind of savior am I if I have to kill the people I'm supposed to be protecting?"
"I went to see his mother today. I needed to apologize to her. I let Hojo down, but I wanted her to know I didn't give up on him. I tried Midoriko-sama I really did!" Throwing her arms around her teacher Kagome released all her pent up emotions. Everything she had was laid out before her teacher leaving her raw and exposed. It was in this moment Midoriko had to remember how young Kagome truly was, and it crushed her to know, that Kagome's pain would never stop, because things like this never got any easier.
From then on the young warrior locked away her heart. Her duty was her life, and her life was to her duty. She vowed that never again would she be battered down by death and guilt. She killed ruthlessly without so much as a second thought. All in the name of protecting the world.
As Kagome matured into a young woman, she was hailed for her beauty and her strength. Any demon or wicked human who challenged her was a fool, and met their end quickly.
"Kagome you should come inside it's getting late." Midoriko and her had been training all day. But she wasn't ready to go inside yet, she had too much steam to blow off.
"I'll be in in a minute." Midoriko tried not to let it show but she worried about Kagome. It had been almost two years since Hojo's death, and Midoriko noticed the steady change in her student. Everyday Kagome became less human, more emotionless, and more callous. Her striking looks and cold demeanor had earned her the name 'The Deadly Siren.'
But Midoriko knew there was still some hope left. No matter how deep she tried to bury it, a piece of the innocent little girl Kagome used to be still remained.
"You have lost your way Kagome, but he will bring you back. Only he can break the wall you have built around your heart. He will teach you more than I ever could, but you must be willing to learn. When the times comes you must chose. Either to stay in the darkness or walk into the light."
"It seems we're heading for a shortage this season. There hasn't been rain in months. The soil is too dry for the crops to grow." Said the young villager. He looked over to his companion, who continued to slave over a hopeless cause.
"It must be a sign from the Kami Dai. It seems many people have experienced a down turn in their luck, and we are no exception. I heard the village a few miles to the west of here was annihilated yesterday by a pack of wild demons."
"Ya think they'll make it down this way Hiroshi?"
"I hope not. My wife will be ready to give birth any day now. I'd like to live to see it."
"Hiroshi, what if this misfortune is not a sign? I've been hearing rumors lately, rumors that the jewel has resurfaced." Dai said looking worriedly at his friend.
"Don't speak such blasphemy! Talking of such evil shall only bring true misfortune upon us! Come now, we need to get back to work. All this gossip is making me feel like a woman."
Kagome sat in her room, her eyes closed, and her mind blank. She took deep, cleansing breaths trying to relax herself. She'd been so on edge lately and she couldn't figure out why. Something in her gut told her something bad was going to happen, and it was going to happen soon. Opening her eyes Kagome realized how late it had gotten. 'I've must have been meditating for hours.' Standing, she moved over to a small desk in the corner of her room. Kagome watched herself in the mirror as she brushed out her tangled hair. Setting the brush aside she continued to watch herself in the glass. Kagome's eighteenth birthday was tomorrow and she wanted to believe that she'd changed. Gliding her hands across her face she wanted to see what everyone else saw when they looked at her.
She wanted to see the beautiful woman everyone claimed she'd matured into. She wanted to witness the strength and grace the villagers claimed she possessed. Because when she looked in the mirror she saw nothing. She saw a scared, immature child. She saw a failure. Turning her head Kagome caught a glimpse of the wilted rose in the corner of her room. The petals had long since turned brown, and most of them had begun to crumble away.
'Sometimes...I wish I could forget you Hojo.'
Hojo had been dead for four years now, and she still couldn't let him go. Her mind told her it was time move on, the past was over, and as much as she wanted to, it couldn't be changed. Yet her heart just wouldn't let go. Kagome shook her head trying to will the depressing thoughts to go away. She couldn't afford to go down this road right now. Climbing into her bed Kagome knew had to get some sleep. Midoriko was sending her to a village recently attacked by a pack of demons in the west. Although Kagome really didn't see the point. Her job was to prevent death, but apparently the whole town had already been wiped out.
'Oh well. It's not like I can get out of going.' Shutting her eyes, Kagome finally let herself succumb to the darkness sleep would bring.
"Master, you called for me?" A beautiful demon walked into a grand room. Her ruby eyes shined suspiciously as she watched the man before her. Her wavy locks were pinned in a bun by a feather at the side of her head, and she brushed her bangs out of her face with her fan.
"I have a job for you Kagura."
"You mean I'll finally be able to get out of this stuffy place? Thank God." He smiled deviously at her as he pulled something from his kimono sleeves. The foreign object pulsed and moved in his hand, and before Kagura could ask him what it was, he gave it a hard squeeze. Grasping at her chest, the female demon dropped to her knees, gasping for breath.
"Did anyone ever tell you, you talk too much? You should learn to hold your tongue my dear, and keep your irrelevant comments to yourself."
"B-bastard." She wheezed from her spot on the floor.
"Your job is to find an old friend of mine. She has something I want, you must retrieve it before she can hand it off to that little whelp she's been raising."
Kagura looked at her master with disdain. She wanted nothing more than to cut that ugly smirk off his face, but she'd do what she had to do to survive...for now.
'Every caged bird is set free one day. I just have to wait for my opportunity to escape.'
"Do you feel it? The change in the wind?" The young demon looked to the sky, his nose high in the air, sniffing about. Strange things had been happening in these lands, stranger things than usual. The demons had become restless. They were looking for something, and they were devouring anything and everything to find it.
"The jewel has come back, hasn't it Inuyasha?" Smirking, the silver haired dog demon looked to his friend.
"That it has and this time, we're not gonna lose it." Jumping down from his perch on the roof Inuyasha came to stand next to Miroku. He'd been waiting many years for this day. He'd been patiently hoping the Shikon would show up once again.
"I hear that old priestess Midoriko has it. We just might stand a chance against her, but if she gives it to that girl we're done for." Miroku said.
"What's so special about that girl? I say we just kill the both of them and take it."
"She'll purify your ass before you can even touch it. "
"Not if my Tetsusaiga cuts her down first."
"You're such a brute Inuyasha."
"And you're a pussy! Why do I associate myself with you again?" He said turning away from his friend.
"Because if not for my calm nature to balance out your hot headedness, you'd have died a long time ago."
"Keh! Whatever. Damn void demons, you're all so smug."
"Come on Inuyasha. We'd better get a move on if we're gonna make it to the village before nightfall."
The closer Kagome came to the village in the west the more apprehensive she became. When she left the castle Midoriko had a strange look on her face, like she was hiding something.
"I'll just take a quick look around. The faster this is over, the quicker I can get home." Kagome quickly scanned the area. The earth was overturned and all of the huts were nearly destroyed. The town was completely empty, devoid of all people and animals.
"The demons must've completely devoured everyone. This wasn't just a random attack." Even the most ruthless of demons left something behind. An arm, a leg, a foot, even a finger should have been found. Whatever they were looking for here, they didn't want anyone else to find it.
A shiver passed through Kagome and she stopped dead in her tracks. A sick feeling tore through her belly and she had to control her instinct to vomit.
"What the?" Looking up, she saw that the once blue sky had turned black. Hordes of demons flew over head, their evil energy spreading across the land. It looked like they were heading east, in the same direction Kagome had just come from.
"Oh no." They were heading towards the castle.
"Dammit!" Midoriko cursed as she killed another set of demons. She dove with her blade, purifying their souls as she sliced away their bodies. Many of the guards had already been killed, and those who were left were too injured to fight. She watched as men, women, and children tried to flee, only to be mowed down in their vain efforts.
"I wasn't expecting this many of them. If I had known..."
"If you had known, you wouldn't have sent away Kagome. Is that what you were gonna say?" Midoriko watched as the female demon stepped forward. There was something off about this woman.
"You're the one controlling these demons? What is it that you want? If you've come to kill Kagome, she's not here." Her aura was so familiar.
"Oh I'm not here for the girl. I'm here for the jewel." Midoriko's eyes widened in surprise at mention of the jewel. The seal she placed on it should have lasted longer than this! There's way anyone should be able to sense it.
"I understand now. You're a spawn of the demon Naraku, aren't you? I'll never forget the feel of his aura for as long I live, and yours is just the same. It was him. He killed Kikyou didn't he?" Kagura chuckled at the woman. Smirking, she opened and lifted her fan above her head.
"You're a smart one I'll give you that. It was Naraku's plan to kill Kikyou, but I'm the one who did the actual killing. Why don't you say hi to her for me, after I tear you apart!" With a flick of her wrist demonic blades of wind shot from Kagura's fan. Bringing her sword down in a powerful arc Midoriko instantly stopped the attack.
"I won't be brought down so easily. If you're going to kill me you better be able to do better than that!"
"Oh, I will."
"Damn, they've already started attacking!" Inuyasha and Miroku arrived to the castle only to see it being pillaged by a horde of demons. They heard the screams of the villagers, and the air was soaked in the scent of their blood.
"Good. Less people to go through." Inuyasha said bounding into the village.
"Inuyasha wait!" Miroku shouted quickly following after him. He watched as Inuyasha brandished his sword, easily cutting through the lower level youkai. Removing the sealing beads from his right hand, Miroku unleashed his wind tunnel upon the unsuspecting demons.
"I can feel it. I can feel the power of the jewel. Miroku, this way!"
"Dammit, Dammit, Dammit!" Reaching through the village Kagome saw the castle blazing away against the black sky. She saw the villager,s people she'd grown up with being cut down and devoured. Alone these youkai would be nothing, but there were so many of them.
"Everyone it's Kagome! She's come to save us!" She saw the looks of relief as their gazes fell on her.
'Don't get too excited yet.' Pulling out her bow, Kagome released a barrage of arrows onto the demons. Backing up she stood in front of the gathered villagers. She had to protect them. Turning around she yelled for them to get as far away from the village as possible. Nodding they wasted no time in retreating.
Now she had to find Midoriko. Sprinting towards the castle Kagome brandished her sword taking out any demon who got close enough.
"Midoriko-sama! Midoriko-sama where are you?!" That's when she saw it. A giant, grotesque demon emerged from behind the castle. It had to be the ugliest thing she'd ever seen.
And Midoriko was trapped in its jaws.
"Midoriko-sama!" As Kagome ran closer, she saw the demon was composed of many other demons. Every time she tried to get close one would branch off from the main body and come after her. At this rate she'd never get close enough to do any real damage.
She'd never get close enough to save Midoriko.
"Kagome..." Midoriko watched her student take on the giant beast before her. All in the name of trying to save her, but it was too late. She'd been so close to killing that Kagura woman. Her blade had only grazed her, the purifying energy from Midoriko's blade not enough to kill her. She felt a wave of spiritual energy and suddenly she was falling. The demon had opened its mouth to let out a roar of pain, inadvertently letting the priestess slip from its grasp.
Midoriko hit the ground with a sickening thud. Kagome took a moment to watch her, making sure that she was alright. Her heart was hurting, the older woman definitely wasn't looking good. In her moment of weakness the demon took it's opportunity to strike out at Kagome. Shooting out a tentacle, the offending appendage wrapped itself around her neck. Gripping it tight she shot her purifying energy out, turning the tentacle to ash.
Falling to the ground Kagome quickly sent her arrows flying, one hitting it in the heart and purifying it instantly. Finally it was over. Crawling over to her teacher, Kagome placed Midoriko's head in her lap. Stroking the woman's hair, she let her tears fall and wash away the blood staining her face.
"I'm so sorry Midoriko-sama. I knew something was wrong when I left this morning. I should have stayed here."
"Kagome...don't blame yourself. None of this would have happened, if I had told you about the jewel."
"I'm not long for this world Kagome. T-the Shikon is a powerful orb that will bring disaster upon the world if it falls into the wrong hands. Your destiny...has...always been to protect the jewel. Only you can keep it purified now. The p-priestess I had entrusted it to was murdered, by an evil being named...Naraku. You must go into the castle and retrieve it."
"Please don't leave me Midoriko-sama! I don't want to be alone." Midoriko gave her a weak smile, and for the first the time in her life, the older woman cried.
"Y-you're like a daughter to me Kagome. Heed my words, Naraku will stop at nothing to get the jewel. You must always be on guard and keep yourself protected at all times." Reaching up Midoriko wiped away her pupils tears.
"I believe in you, Kagome." Her eyes closed and Kagome knew she was gone. She felt like such a failure, because the most important person in her life was dead, and it was all her fault.
"So the jewel is being entrusted to you, huh?" Quickly grabbing her bow and arrows, Kagome notched one and pointed it at the demons before her.
Or should she say...half demons.
"Stay away. I'm in a merciful mood and if you turn away now, I'll allow you to live."
"Keh! I've wait a long time to get my hands on the Shikon and I'm not leaving this place without it!" Pulling his sword from the scabbard, the silver haired half demon ran forward, with every intention of killing the young priestess.
"Inuyasha stop!" His companion ran forward as well, but it was too late to stop him. Placing Midoriko on the ground, Kagome charged her opponent. Notching her arrow she let it fly at the demonic blade, reversing its transformation.
"She stopped the Tetsusaiga, with one arrow." Miroku said, amazed at the power of this young girl. Swinging her bow Kagome caught the half demon off guard, knocking the blade from his hands, and throwing him off balance.
Landing with a painful thud on his back, Inuyasha was more than surprised when the priestess jumped on top of him. Grabbing his collar, her hands glowed with purified energy, ready to end his life.
"Stay back demon!" Kagome yelled, throwing up a small barrier in order to keep him out. The moment he tried to touch it, he'd be turned to dust.
"Fucking bitch!" Inuyasha seethed beneath her. How had this stupid wench gotten the better of him?
"You're foolishness will be the end of you. I gave you a chance to leave and you ignored my warning. Now you'll die." Inuyasha chuckled. The vibrations from his laughter reverberated through her body and Kagome fought her urge to blush.
"Oh yeah? Your reputation doesn't precede you Ka-go-me. I hear you kill demons mercilessly without a second thought, yet here I am alive and kicking. What's wrong little priestess, have you lost your nerve?" He smirked at the angry look in her eye. If he could get her to drop the barrier, he'd have a chance, but all that flew out the window the moment she smiled at him.
'What the fuck?'
Grabbing the front of his kimono in both her hands, Kagome sent her powers through his body. The barrier fell and Inuyasha screamed out in pain.
'Fuck! She's gonna purify him!' Miroku watched on in horror as the priestess continued her assault on Inuyasha, and he was helpless to stop her. Even from where he was standing her spiritual power was enough to bring him to his knees. If he stepped any closer he'd be purified as well.
Inuyasha knew he was gonna die. The power coursing through his body felt like fire was running through his veins. He could feel the demon in him howling, even the ill intentions in his human heart were feeling the effects of her power.
Then it suddenly stopped. The pain was gone and Inuyasha took a deep breath, trying to get much needed air. He felt a weight lift from him and saw that the priestess was retreating back into the castle.
"Where the fuck do you think you're going wench?" Sitting up was painful and he instantly became pissed off when a piece of midnight hair fell over his shoulders. He was human
"Count your blessing hanyou. I have spared you this time and only this time." She looked to the dark haired half demon he came with and pinned him with a glare. "I suggest you take your friend somewhere safe, and stay away from me." Leaning down Kagome picked up Midoriko from the spot she'd left her in and carried her into the castle.
Inuyasha growled at her as she continued to walk away from him. "Smug bitch."
"Come on Inuyasha let's go. I need to get you out of here." Pulling an angry Inuyasha onto his back Miroku took off into the night, leaving the decimated village and the powerful priestess behind.
Yes I made Miroku a half demon, but his wind tunnel is still a curse. I hope you don't mind, but if you do oh well. I'm not gonna change it.
I also apologize again for the crappy fight scenes and any other crappy fight scenes that will pop up in this story lol
"Damn that wench!" Inuyasha grumbled aloud as he sat under a shady tree with Miroku. It had been two days. Two fucking days and he was still human! He felt vulnerable in his human form. This body was so weak compared to his hanyou one. He couldn't hear anything, he couldn't smell anything, and he couldn't hunt. The young hanyou felt useless as he took a bite out of the fish Miroku had caught for them. The bitch had reduced him to nothing more than a pup and that was something he'd never forgive.
"If you had listened to me in the first place, you wouldn't be in this mess." Miroku said matter of factly.
"Shove it asshole! Maybe if you hadn't been so cowardly and helped me we would have the jewel already!"
"You call it being cowardly; I call it being smart."
"Call it what you like, but as soon as my powers return we're going back to that village, and I'm gonna slice that little priestess from head to toe!"
"Yeah because that worked out so well for you last time." Miroku said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Well then what do you suppose we do?"
"We need to keep a close eye on her. Learn her strengths and her weaknesses. We attack when she's least expecting it."
"I guess." Inuyasha said taking another bite of fish. He still wanted to kill her though.
"Plus It seems we have other things we should be worried about. You remember the wind demon who lead the attack that killed Lady Midoriko? I hear her master, Naraku, is also looking for the jewel."
Inuyasha dropped his fish as he tightly clenched his hands into fists. He felt the blood run down his knuckles and it did nothing to simmer his rage. So that bastard was back again and looking for the jewel? Well this time Inuyasha was ready. There was no way he'd let Naraku get the best of him again.
'I'll die before I let that bastard take what's mine.'
Kagome wondered through the countryside slowly making her way back to the village. She was busier than she'd ever been, slaying demons and traveling. Coming to a stop in an open field the young woman sat in the grass, lying back and watching the clouds go by. How long had it been since she'd done something like this? How long had been since she'd had time to herself?
'Too long.' She thought. The gentle breeze teased her hair and the only thing she wanted was stay like this forever. But there was no such thing as forever. Everything faded eventually. She'd learned that the hard way.
As the birds chirped happily without a care in the world, her hand slowly made its way to the pocket inside her robes. She could feel the weight of the jewel against her breast and a scowl crawled its way to her face. How could such a tiny marble cause so much pain? How could this insignificant piece of crystal control so many lives, including her own? She closed her eyes and a blur of crimson and gold skirted past her senses. She cursed herself mentally for thinking of the foolish demon who thought he was strong enough to take her life.
'He's not truly a demon though is he? He's only a half.'
He desired more power, that much was obvious, but at what cost? The jewel was tainted by the blood of so many; who could ever think their heart's desire could be granted by such a vile object? Though her spiritual powers kept the evil inside dormant, her powers were not strong enough to completely suppress it. He was a poor soul that Kagome secretly wished she could save. His human heart yearned to feel love and acceptance yet, his demon nature had him seeking it out in all the wrong ways. Unfortunately dealing with Inuyasha was on the bottom of her priority list.
'I need find more information about this Naraku Lady Midoriko warned me about. There haven't been any rumors of his whereabouts, and Kagura hasn't shown herself since the castle was attacked. How am I to protect the jewel from an enemy I've never seen?'
Though she didn't have time to ponder. A loud crash sounded from the forest next to her, and when she picked a trace amount of demonic energy she was already on her feet, running deep into the woods.
"Master, the girl is coming." A little girl dressed in white sat in the corner of a dark room. The small mirror she clutched in her hands gave off an erie glow as it showed a young priestess running through the forest.
"Good. I've been waiting many years for the jewel to resurface. With Midoriko and Kikyou both dead, this little girl is nothing more than a thorn in my side, though she is a delicate looking thing. Maybe we should go easy on her? What do you think Kagura?"
The wind demoness snorted in her master's direction. She found this entire situation irritating and unnecessary. If the girl was so weak then why not just kill her and take the jewel? Why toy with her?
'Because Naraku is a sadistic bastard that's why.'
"Do what you like. Whether that girl lives or dies is of no concern to me."
Naraku sent an icy glare over to the being he had created. His second successful incarnation. She was untrustworthy, unloyal, and reckless. As much as he'd love to squish her pathetic heart in his hands, she would be useful in the end. And he couldn't afford to get rid of her...yet.
"Inuyasha do you sense that?" Miroku whispered coming to a stop in the forest.
"Yeah...but it's faint." He sniffed and scrunched his nose in disgust, covering the offended appendage with his thick kimono sleeve. "Whatever it is smells hella nasty."
"If you can smell it that must mean that you're powers are starting to return. I was almost beginning to worry."
"Keh! As if that wench could keep me down for long! Do you think it's worth checking out?"
"Definitely. I can feel the power of the jewel close by."
'I sense the demonic aura, so where's the demon?' Kagome pondered. There was no mistaking that this demonic aura she'd been sensing originated from this spot. She canvased the small patch of woods, her bow drawn, and still there was nothing.
'Maybe I'm going crazy.' Placing her arrows back in their quiver she began to walk in the direction she believed her village to be in, when the earth began to tremble.
"What's going on?" She felt a pulse of power and removed the sacred jewel from inside her robes. The cool marble felt heavy in her hand as the clear crystal became clouded.
Before she had time to react thick, root like tentacles shot out from the ground crumbling the earth and uprooting the trees. The force of the explosion knocked her off her feet and she landed a few feet away in a heap.
"So this is the almighty priestess so many people have themselves worked up about? The Deadly Siren as you're so formidably known?"
Gaining her bearings Kagome found herself face to face with a man in a white baboon coat. The mask he wore covered his face, but his ebony locks spilled over his shoulders in a tangled mess.
"Who are you?" She said evenly. The demonic aura she sensed earlier was radiating strongly from this demon, though something was off. Why hadn't he attacked her while she was down? Hadn't he hid all that time in the ground to surprise her and throw her off? What was he questioning her for?
"Your dear old mentor Midoriko didn't mention me to you? I'm hurt, I thought we were closer than that." Slowly he reached up and pulled the baboon mask from his face. The rest of his wavy hair came tumbling down and his crimson eyes slowly dragged themselves over her form.
There was something dark and sinister about him. It made her blood run cold.
"You may call me Naraku." At the sound of his name her muscles went rigid and she forgot how to breathe. This was the demon Lady Midoriko had warned her about. The demon that killed Kikyou and weakened the seal on the Shikon No Tama.
"What do you want me from me?" Kagome said harshly. She drew her bow and notched an arrow. When he didn't respond she let it fly and took of an arm. "I won't ask you again." She said readying another arrow. She pulled the bow string taut, but before she could release it a thick tentacle flew towards her, knocking her off balance. Dropping her weapon she was lifted off her feet by the offending appendage and slammed against a nearby tree. Blood trickled into her eyes and black dots spotted her vision as she fought to stay conscious.
"No! Stop!" She felt his tentacle tighten around her neck as another slid into her robes removing the Sacred Jewel from her possession.
"Hey why don't you pick on someone you're own size?" Kagome blinked rapidly as she watched the Silver haired hanyou, she'd nearly killed, and his dark haired friend step from the foliage.
"Inuyasha, how generous of you to grace us with your presence." Naraku smirked.
"Bastard! I didn't come here for you! I came for the jewel, so drop the girl and hand it over!" He screamed. He watched as Naraku sized him up and it made his blood boil.
"You truly are a pathetic being if you think you have the power to take the jewel away from me. You couldn't even protect Kikyou." Naraku smirked as he watched Inuyasha's jaw clench and his eyes narrow. If he could get him worked up enough he could kill two birds with one stone, by destroying him and the little priestess.
"Shut up! Wind Scar!" A wave of demonic energy clawed its way across the earth and toward Naraku. Kagome felt the tentacle around her neck slacken. As the dust settled she looked up from the ground only to see that Naraku was gone.
"Fuck, he got away! Miroku let's go he can't be too far."
"Wait!" She yelled as she watched them turn around and give her curious and irritated looks. "If you're going after Naraku then I'm coming with you."
"I can sense the jewel. Naraku hasn't gotten every far." Kagome yelled over the wind. She repositioned herself awkwardly on Inuyasha's back as he speed through the trees. She blushed when her sudden movement made him grip her thighs and the look she received from Miroku only made her cheeks heat up all the more.
"Stop moving will ya? You're throwing me off balance!" Inuyasha said irritably. How in the hell did he get roped into carrying the girl? He'd hadn't even wanted to bring her along. "She can sense the jewel. She has purifying powers. We need her." Inuyasha said doing a poor impression of Miroku.
"Hey I only came to help! If I'm such a bother feel free to put me down!"
"Fine by me."
"Inuyasha don't be so rash." Miroku said calmly.
"Then you carry her!"
"Don't mind if I do." Kagome's eye twitched at his lecherous tone and she fisted her hands into Inuyasha's red haori.
"Knock it off. We don't have time to deal with your perverted tendencies right now."
"Look! Over there!" Looking up Inuyasha spotted the dark cloud of miasma that shielded Naraku from their view. He doubled his pace, intent on bringing the bastard down, when Kagome's voice stopped him.
"Inuyasha wait! If you get close enough to inhale the miasma it'll kill you."
"Well how am I supposed to kill him if I can't close?"
"Here I can purify the gas with my arrow." Kagome pulled the bow string taut and released her arrow. The small object whizzed through the sky almost barely covering the distance to its target. The cloud dissipated as it came in contact with Kagome's purifying energy.
"Lady Kagome, can you see it? Can you see the jewel?" Miroku asked. Straining her eyes she searched for the glow that she had become so accustomed to seeing.
"It's in his chest. Close to his heart. Inuyasha I need you to get closer." As they inched forward a tentacle shot out from beneath Naraku's baboon robes, not allowing them to proceed any further. Inuyasha quickly cut it down, and another came in its place, so he cut it down again, and again, and again.
"This is getting us nowhere!" Inuyasha yelled in frustration, "Kagome you're going to have to shoot him down from here. I can't get any closer and I can't draw Tetsusaiga with you on my back."
Kagome chewed her lip with worry as she watched her nemesis make off with the jewel. Her only duty was protect the jewel and keep it purified. It was Midoriko's dying wish and she was going to let her teacher down.
"I can't! Not from this distance. My arrow will never make it." She reached back and cursed when she felt she realized she only had one arrow left. Tears collected in her eyes and she hated herself for being so weak.
"Yes you can." Kagome looked down in surprise at Inuyasha. Had he just encouraged her? "If Naraku gets the jewel we'll all be doomed, and I'll be damned if my last moments are going to be spent with you. So wipe your fucking tears, shut the hell up, and shoot the damn arrow!"
A smile graced Kagome's face as she notched her arrow, aiming it at the light from where the jewel glowed in Naraku's chest. Closing her eyes Kagome focused all her energy into her arrow, praying to the Gods that it would strike true.
"I believe in you, Kagome."
Kagome released her arrow and let it fly. The world began to move in slow motion as she watched her arrow sore through the sky and embed itself into Naraku's heart.
"Yes!" Kagome screamed with pride.
"She did it." Miroku looked on as streaks of light flooded the sky. This girl...was no ordinary priestess.
"Well I'll be damned. I didn't think you had it in ya." Inuyasha said as he landed on the ground and let Kagome slide from his back.
Soon the light began to fade and the forest became still once again. Kagome walked away from the boys when she saw something sparkle on the ground a few feet away. A wooden doll laid forgotten on the forest floor and next to it, was what seemed to be, a shard of glass.
"What is that?" Inuyasha said coming up behind her.
"Demon puppetry. Naraku fooled us. Whatever it was that Kagome just destroyed was not Naraku." Miroku said pensively.
"Dammit! You mean to tell me we did all that work for nothing? Does that mean that Naraku actually got away with the jewel?!"
"Not exactly..." Holding up the small shard in her hand Kagome gave the two hanyous in her presence a worried look.
"Please tell me that's not what I think it is?" Inuyasha said quickly beginning to panic.
"I...I broke it. I shattered the Sacred Jewel."
"You stupid girl! How in the hell did you manage to break the jewel!" Inuyasha was furious. For years he'd waited patiently for the jewel's return and now it was gone, completely out of his reach.
"It was an accident!" Kagome said, trying to defend herself. Looking at the small shard in her hand the young girl was at a lost for what to do. There could be an infinite amount of shards in an infinite amount of places. How could she possibly hope to find them all before they got into the wrong hands?
"Inuyasha can I talk to you for a moment?" Miroku gently led his hostile companion over to a tree where they could talk without the young priestess hearing them. "I think we should stick with the girl."
"Are you out of your mind? Do I need to remind you that she tried to kill me a few days ago? No way I'm teaming up with that bitch!"
"Okay let's say, hypothetically, that we go along with your plan and go our separate ways. How do you expect us to find the shards on our own? We can't even sense the fragments. Our best bet is to stay with her, let her collect most of the shards, and then when we've found most of them, we take them from her."
Inuyasha racked his brain for any half-ass excuse he could throw at Miroku for why traveling with Kagome was a bad idea, but of course the bastard was always right. It'd be next to impossible for them to hunt the shards alone, but the thought of traveling with that girl made his stomach turn.
"No one says you have to like her, or even talk to her! She's just a means to an end for now." Miroku said.
"Fine, but good luck on trying to convince her to travel with us."
Kagome watched the two hanyous intensely as they whispered back and forth. She clutched the shard tighter in her hand, and for the thousandth time contemplated what she should do about the jewel?
'Will I be able to find all the shards on my own before Naraku does? Something tells me that just because the jewel is broken, doesn't mean that he will cease his pursuit of it.'
She thought about reaching out to other priestesses and asking for their help, but most of the ones she knew weren't trained in the art of battle as she was. She looked again towards the two boys and thought that maybe she could put her pride aside and travel with them. She could hunt down the shards and they could do the actual fighting. Plus it was obvious that Inuyasha and Naraku had history, and that info could prove useful to her.
'And what of his ties to Lady Kikyou?' Kagome thought to herself. 'Something about him not being able to protect her, what priestess, especially one of Kikyou's caliber, needs protection from a demon?'
"Look we're heading out, are you coming or not?" Inuyasha's gruff voice brought Kagome out of her thoughts, as she stared at him confused by his question.
"What tact you have Inuyasha." Miroku said, rolling his eyes.
"Well?" Inuyasha said impatiently as the stupid girl still continued to stare at him.
"Um, yeah sure, I'm coming!"
"Inuyasha I need to take a break!" Kagome yelled to the snowy haired demon in front of her. They'd already been traveling for four days, following rumors of shard locations and so far all they'd found were dead ends. They traveled all day and well into the evening before setting up a fire somewhere. Kagome, not used to sleeping under the stars, would toss and turn on the cold hard ground for hours before Inuyasha woke her at dawn to start the cycle over again. Her feet were aching and she was tired dammit!
"A break? We've barely gone anywhere!" Inuyasha said impatiently. He knew traveling with the girl would be a bad idea. Not only had every shard rumor they followed been a bust, but the lazy bitch was slowing them down! She always wanted to rest, or eat, or sleep! Didn't she know they had to get to the shards before Naraku did? They didn't have any time to waste.
"She's only a human Inuyasha, stopping for an hour or so won't hurt anything." Miroku said calmly. While he too was slightly frustrated by their slow pace, he also understood that Kagome, being a human woman, didn't have the stamina their blood demon blood provided them, thus resulting in Inuyasha glaring at him for defending the girl.
"Fine we'll stop, but when Naraku completes the jewel and slaughters us all, just remember that it was Kagome who wanted to stop for an hour cause her feet hurt!"
Kagome sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose in annoyance. Sometimes she wondered if putting up with Inuyasha's attitude day in and day out was worth it. Clearly she was capable of finding the jewel shards on her own, but something inside of her told her that sticking with her two hanyou companions would be better in the long run.
"Whatever Inuyasha, I remember seeing a spring around here somewhere so I'm going to bathe. I highly suggest you do the same." Kagome said giving him a disgusted look before turning and walking away.
"Did she just tell me I stink?!"
"I feel inclined to agree with her on this one Inuyasha."
Kagura was quickly becoming bored with her task. She'd been watching the odd group of three for the last few days and she was becoming positively stir crazy, lurking in the shadows as they went about their monotonous adventure.
Did Naraku take her for a fool? Clearly he was up to something and just wanted her out of the way. 'Doesn't want the disloyal rat sticking her nose where it doesn't belong I suppose.' Kagura continued to soar through the sky on her giant feather as she noticed the young priestess separate herself from the group.
She observed the girl as she walked towards a small spring and began to bathe. Dropping from her feather Kagura landed gracefully on a branch in a nearby tree and almost fell from her perch when the power from a sacred arrow scorched her cheek and almost took off her head.
"I know you've been following us around. What do you want? I suggest to you answer me truthfully because my next arrow won't miss."
"Ah you noticed me? I must be losing my touch."
Pulling her bow string taut Kagome glared at the demoness in front her. "Are you after the shards? Is that why you've been following us?"
"I have no need for any of those pathetic jewel shards. I'm simply following orders."
"Orders from whom?"
"Wouldn't you like to know." Kagura said with a sly smirk. Inwardly the wind sorceress grimaced as the slight sounds of buzzing off in the distance told her that her master was watching. If it hadn't been for those slimey bugs she would've cursed his name to the seventh layer of hell and told this young priestess everything she knew about the bastard.
"Listen little girl and listen good because I'll only tell you this once. Watch your back around those two hanyou. They have their own agenda when it comes to the jewel and getting close to them will only bring about your own destruction, I guarantee you that."
Kagome's eyes widened with surprise at the warning and before she could question Kagura further she was gone, soaring through the sky on what appeared to be a giant feather.
Inuyasha was unnerved to say the least. Since Kagome had returned from the spring yesterday she'd barely said two words to anyone. Not that he was complaining or anything, he'd been wishing for the few days that they'd been traveling together that she'd learn to shut her trap, but this was...different. Clearly there was something wrong and it was creeping him the hell out.
And if her silence hadn't been enough, her scent was bothering him too. It'd been at least ten years since he'd caught a whiff of the scent that even haunted him in his dreams. He'd been a runt when he first smelled it, underneath the smell of dirt, sweat, and fear Inuyasha could detect something much sweeter, fresh, and dewy. Kind of like a rose after it'd just rained. Unable to help himself he'd followed the scent and that's when he'd found her. A little girl running for her life from a low life demon that wasn't worth the time it'd taken him to cut it down with his claws.
The scent had matured over the last few years and was now heavily coated with the scent of demon blood and sadness, but even under all of that the smell of roses still filtered its way to his nostrils and brought him back to a time where the prettiest girl he'd ever seen thanked him for saving her.
'I wonder if she'd remember me if I told her?' Inuyasha quickly shook his head of that thought. It was nearing dusk and soon the sun would be setting, he yelled to Miroku that it was his turn to hunt and that he'd go grab some firewood. Inuyasha watched as Kagome quietly began to set up camp for herself and Inuyasha tried to smash down the overwhelming urge to ask her what was wrong, but in the end the sad gleam in her eyes compelled him to question her.
"What's your problem wench?" Startled Kagome looked up as Inuyasha towered over her from her position on the ground. Looking away from his golden gaze Kagome wasn't entirely sure how to answer that question. Did she tell him truth about Kagura and her warning? Did she question him about his past and his relationship with Lady Kikyou? Though there wasn't much trust between the girl and the hanyou she couldn't help but feel a little hurt at the insinuation that he was planning on using her to get to the jewel.
"Inuyasha, do I know you?" The widening of his eyes eluded to the fact that he was clearly caught off guard by her random question.
"Does it matter?"
'No. If you intend to betray me then I guess it doesn't.' She thought solemnly. Somehow she wanted to believe Inuyasha was still that same little boy who'd save her in the woods when she'd tried to run away from her duties. When he'd first come to the castle demanding the jewel she'd recognized the same silver hair that haunted her dreams for years. Then when he'd rescued her from Naraku and told him to 'pick on someone his own size' he'd unconsciously confirmed her suspicions.
"What do you want with the jewel? If we complete it...will you try to take it from me?" The sadness in her tone struck something deep inside him. An angry Kagome he could handle, the Kagome who passed their time by talking and making jokes with Miroku, was annoying, but also something he could handle. This vulnerable girl sitting in front of him was enigma and he wasn't sure what the right course of action would be. She must have felt him watching her because slowly she lifted her head and made eye contact with him. He could see it in her chocolate eyes that her pain ran deep and for some reason the thought of using her to find the shards made his stomach turn.
"To be a full demon. That's what I want."
He stood up and jumped high into a tree next to the camp. He could smell Miroku and the fish that would soon be roasted on the fire he'd started. Inuyasha pondered for awhile longer why he had decided to answer her questions. He didn't owe this girl anything, he didn't want or need to be her friend. She had one job.
'She's our own personal jewel detector that's it!' If that was the case, then why did the memory of the sadness in her eyes keep him awake that night?
"Got it!" Covered in dirt and grime Kagome kneeled on the ground to remove another shard of the sacred jewel from the over grown bird her and her companions had managed to kill.
"How many is that now?" Miroku inquired coming up behind her. Opening her small hands Kagome revealed the jewel that was at least half-way complete.
"We're so close, I can't believe how many shards we've found in such a short time. As long as we keep going at this rate there's no way Naraku can finish the jewel before us!" Smiling brightly Kagome dusted herself off and placed the jewel back around her neck. Though it was dangerous to get her hopes up Kagome had a good feeling, and there wasn't much to be happy about these days.
"Not too bad." Inuyasha said nonchalantly, as he walked up to them sheathing his Tetsusaiga. As the small group continued on the their journey to complete the jewel, they failed to notice the ominous presence that lingered just behind them.
"Miroku can I ask you a question?" Looking up from his fish Miroku spared Kagome a small nod, giving her permission to ask him what she wished.
"Sure Kagome-sama, anything you like."
"I was just curious about the hole in your hand? It was a part of my training to learn extensive knowledge about demons, but I don't think I've ever heard of one having the power that you do."
"Ah I see." Clutching his wrapped hand Miroku stared melancholily at the appendage and Kagome feared she had offended him by asking. "My power is both a blessing and a curse. Void demons in and of themselves are not very powerful. We don't have a demonic presence, therefore, our stealthily abilities are what give us an advantage in battle. My grandfather was tricked by Naraku long ago and in turn was given the curse of the wind tunnel."
"Is that why you search for Naraku? To get rid of your curse?" Kagome asked her long forgotten fish lying in her lap.
"Yes, overtime my wind tunnel will grow bigger and bigger until it eventually consumes me. Every time I open my hand I speed up the process a little more. It was the curse of the wind tunnel that claimed both my father and grandfather's lives."
Kagome's cocoa eyes turned sympathetic as she rested her hand atop his. "Don't worry Miroku, we'll kill Naraku before that happens."
"Thank you Kagome-sama, though, if that should never come to past there's something I must ask you."
"Will you bear my child?" Blushing fiercely Kagome yanked her hands from his grip, as Inuyasha's fist came to land on top of Miroku's head.
"She ain't gonna bear your child idiot!"
"That is entirely up to Kagome-sama's discretion is it not? Besides, if I die I need a strong male heir to carry on the hunt for Naraku. I believe Kagome and I will produce fine babes." He said with a smirk.
"Keh! Never gonna happen lech, find someone else!"
"Oh I'm sorry Inuyasha, I wasn't aware you had some type of claim on Kagome-sama. My apologies." The twinkle in Miroku's eye alerted Kagome to the fact that he was simply teasing, but even that knowledge didn't stop the raging blush from flooding her cheeks.
"You talk too damn much!" Inuyasha yelled landing another blow to Miroku's head, this time knocking him out cold.
A small child clad in white sat upon a high tree branch, overlooking the campsite of an odd group of travelers. The human woman among them was fast asleep huddled next their fire. The dark haired demon dosed off against the trunk of the tree, while the silver haired demon twitched his dog ears in every direction. Though his eyes were closed he seemed to be on high alert for any danger.
"You know what you must do." The child whispered to her companion.
"Do I get to kill them? The two hanyous?" The young man inquired.
"If master does not wish it, it shall not be done. Our target is the girl and her share of the shards."
"I don't care what your master says, I won't hurt her." He said, his tone giving way to irritation.
Dropping from the tree, a fine powder was carried from the child's hand and over the campsite by the wind. As the dust rained down she watched as the silver haired hanyou tried to fight off the effects of the sleeping dust but eventually he dropped to the ground, eyes closed, and completely under the control of her companion's spell.
"It is time."
Inuyasha found himself standing on a large hill overlooking a very familiar scene. He kept himself hidden and out of site while below him, people screamed and ran for their lives as a raging fire engulfed their small town.
'What's happening? Where am I?' Inuyasha wondered. He looked down as he noticed he was clutching something in the palm of his hand.
The shikon jewel! He stared at the small object bewildered as to how it came into his position whole and tainted once more.
"Inuyasha!" Turning just in time he was caught in the shoulder and pinned to a tree by an arrow. Stunned by the pain the jewel fell from his grasp and landed just in front of him.
"Kikyou?" He whispered. The woman before him looked exactly as he remembered her. Pale porcelain skin, long dark hair always kept out of her face by a ribbon, and her traditional white and red miko garb.
"How could you Inuyasha? How could you betray me like this!" She yelled her dark eyes filling with tears, she tried to blink them away as she aimed another arrow at his chest, but they caught on her lashes and trickled down her cheeks.
"No Kikyou you've got it wrong! I would never betray you, you have to believe me." She fixed her lips to say something but suddenly her voice caught in her throat. She gurgled as blood spilled over her lips and stained the front of her kimono.
"W-why? We were...I thought-" Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she dropped to the ground.
"KIKYOU!" Another figure slowly emerged from the shadows behind her. A low, dark chuckle sounded from the figure. Billowy, red kimono sleeves were the first to poke out of the shadows with bloody claws appearing next, and soon his face was illuminated by the flames of the burning village below.
'It's me! But that's not...he's not real! I didn't do this. Kikyou you have to believe me!'
"What's happening to me?!"
Kagome awoke to the sounds of the people of her village. Slowly she rose out of her bed only to realize that she was back in the castle. Jumping out of bed she dressed in a simple yukata and headed into town. People greeted her with pleasant smiles as she walked past them. The town smelled of fresh bread, and sound of children laughing filled her ears.
'I didn't realize how much I missed home, until I didn't have one anymore.' She thought sadly. Walking up to a flower stand Kagome took her time savoring the scent of each of the lovely flowers. What would she give to stay like this forever.
"Would you like one Kagome-san?" The voice that reached her ears stopped her in her tracks. It'd been so long since she'd heard that voice, been called by that name. Only one person in her life referred to her in that manner and slowly she was met with the smiling eyes of a charming young man, who'd stolen her heart before she'd even known how to give it away. His sandy brown hair fell slightly into his eyes as it always had, and his smile was shy and gentle, just as it'd always been.
"H-Hojo-kun? Is it really you?" He nodded slowly as she launched herself into his arms. Her tears came fast and unchecked as she buried her face into his chest. "I can't believe you're really here...I thought I'd never see you again. I'm so sorry Hojo-kun, for everything."
He rubbed soothing circles on her back and his other hand came up to run his fingers through her hair. "There's no need to apologize Kagome-san. I loved you then and I love you now. Even in death nothing has changed for me."
Gripping each other tighter Kagome felt a slight pressure on her chest, as if something was trying to push itself inside her.
"Hojo...I-I can't breathe." With her face still buried in his chest she didn't see the evil way he smirked or the flash in his light eyes. His hands continued to bury themselves in her chest, determined to reach her heart.
"Don't worry Kagome-san, nothing will happen to you as long as I'm here. As long as we're together."
Miroku awoke with a start from his nightmare. Sweat dripped down face and he could barely breathe. He placed a hand on his chest where it came away sticky with his blood. He looked up and the sight before him disturbed him. Kagome stood across from the fire, her bow upright and an arrow pulled taught ready to be fired.
"Kagome-sama!" As he ran toward his two companions, Miroku noticed the lean figure standing behind Kagome. His left hand was wrapped possessively around her waist and his right was buried deep in her chest over her heart. A shadowy hand extended from the man and stretched across the fire, planting itself in Inuyasha's chest.
"Don't come any closer or they're both dead." The demon said haltingly. His piercing crimson eyes met Miroku's head on and he felt a chill run up his spine. The demon's shaggy brown hair hung low almost covering his eyes. His skin looked pale in the moonlight, and his dark haori and hakama only served to further wash the color from his skin.
"What do you want from us? Are you after the jewel?" Miroku asked through clenched teeth.
"I'm not after the jewel, but the man I'm working for is. I could care less about the jewel, especially when it causes my Kagome-san so much pain." He said lowly, his voice taking on a sad tone. He gently brushed Kagome's hair from her face. The act was so tender it reminded Miroku of...'a lover's caress?'
While the demon was distracted with Kagome, Miroku knew this was his time to act. Launching himself forward Miroku quickly slashed his claws towards his enemy. Close enough to scare him, yet far enough to leave Kagome-sama unharmed.
Jumping back to avoid being slashed in the face, the demon released his hold on Kagome as well as his hold on Inuyasha.
Inuyasha took a deep breath as the weight on his chest gradually lifted and he was thrust back into reality. 'What the hell was that?' He thought frantically. As his senses slowly came back to him Inuyasha realized there was an arrow embedded in his left shoulder as well as another arrow embedded in the trunk of the tree a little too close to his face for comfort.
Calmly Kagome picked herself up off of the ground, her mind trying to put together the pieces of her fractured memory. Why was she lying in a heap in the dirt? Why did Miroku look as if he was ready to kill something? And who the hell had pinned Inuyasha to the tree trunk?
"Kagome-san?" Her eyes widened in surprise at the sound of that voice. One she hadn't heard in years, one she thought she'd never hear again. After pulling herself into a kneeling position on the ground Kagome languidly turned to face the source of her recurring dreams and nightmares.
"It's been a long time, has it not Kagome-san?" Tears filled her eyes and against her will fell down her cheeks. Hojo quickly made his way to her and lightly brushed the moisture from her face.
"How? How is this possible?" She said her voice full of surprise and shock.
"I was brought back from the dead. Are you not happy to see me Kagome-san?" Reaching up to caress his cheek Kagome almost couldn't believe that he was here. Tangible and within her reach. "I've missed your touch." He said leaning fully into her hand.
"Who did this to you Hojo-kun? Who made you this way?"
"It matters not. As long as I do as they say I can stay here, among the living. I can be with you Kagome-san in the way we never got the chance. Isn't that all that matters?" His eyes were cold and red like the color of blood. This was not her Hojo, this was not the boy she had fallen in love with all those years ago, but as he leaned into kiss her she couldn't bring herself to pull away.
"Stay away from her!" Inuyasha yelled flying forward with his claws brandished and ready to do damage. Quickly leaping away from his attacker Hojo landed a few feet away in a low crotch ready to spring if he needed to. "Who the hell are you? You reek of Naraku." Inuyasha said flexing his claws as he spoke.
"You may call me Akumu, and you must be Inuyasha? The half-breed I was warned about. No matter I have what I came for, well, at least one thing I came for." Holding up the large piece of the shikon he'd managed to steal, his gaze landed on a still dazed Kagome. "Until next time Kagome-san. When the time comes you and I will leave this world together and live the rest our lives in eternity as we were meant to." A cloud of miasma began to cover his form and soon he was lifted into the sky.
"No! Hojo-kun please don't go! Hojo!" She pleaded into the sky, but it was too late. Hojo was already gone and the little piece of her heart she'd manage to salvage after his death flew away with him.
"Why did you do that?! You scared him off!" Kagome yelled spinning around to face Inuyasha. She knew her anger was irrational and misguided, but she couldn't help it. She was hurting and she needed someone to take it out on.
"Excuse the fuck outta me for trying to protect you! The next time a demon attacks us in the middle of the night, I'll just let him kill you!" He yelled back. Of all the times he deserved her anger and criticism, this wasn't one of them. They'd been attacked and had all of their hard earned jewel shards stolen in a matter of minutes. If anyone deserved to be angry it was him.
"Hojo wasn't going to kill me, he's not like that! He could never even hurt a fly."
"Oh yeah? Keep tellin' yourself that while you patch up the hole he put in your chest!" Kagome's hands immediately flew to her person, and she gasped when they came away sticky with blood. The tears pooled in her eyes, and her throat stung with the effort to keep them at bay, but it was no use. The salty trails of her sadness flowed down her cheeks without her permission and no matter how many times she wiped at them, more would only flow in their place.
It was times like this where she wished she could be more like her silver haired companion. He never allowed himself to be emotionally vulnerable. He masked his emotions, only allowing the world to see what he wanted. Her emotions had always controlled her, making her weak.
Her emotions had been what ended Hojo's life.
"Kagome-Sama. It seemed that this demon, Akumu, knows you personally. May I ask how?"
"You may not." Her cold tone shocked Miroku into silence. He hadn't heard heard her speak in that manner since the day Inuyasha and him had traveled to her village seeking the jewel. He had gotten used to her cheery demeanor over the course of their travels, and to see her revert back to the person she was before...unnerved him.
"Oh no you don't! You don't get to pull that bullshit with us. Tell us what you know about him!" Inuyasha said, his ire steadily rising. Who did she think she was to keep secrets from them?
"It's none of your business!" Kagome seethed. She wasn't ready to open up old wounds, the fresh ones on her heart were still bleeding. She was sad, and angry, and guilty, and ashamed, and she wasn't in the mood to bear her soul to anyone right now.
"None of my business? That fucker, who smelled too much like Naraku to be a coincidence, just made off with all our shards! Shards that we've risked our lives to get! Unless that's what you wanted? To use us to collect the shards, so you could hand them over to Naraku at your convenience. It all makes sense now, how you two looked at each other as if you were lovers."
He spit out the last word as if it were acid burning his tongue. Inuyasha knew he'd taken it too far, but he didn't have it in him to feel guilty about it. He watched the emotions filter through her cocoa orbs, from sadness, to shock, and finally to rage.
"How dare you? How dare you, of all people, accuse me of betraying you! If anyone is getting used around here it's me, and still I've never questioned where you're loyalties lie!" She screamed at him, all the while moving closer. By the time she finished her tirade she was breathing heavy and they were nose to nose.
"Then you're an even bigger fool than I thought." He inwardly cringed as she took a step back from him. A single tear slid down her left cheek and before he could regret his words, Kagome did a quick about-face and sprinted from camp.
Inuyasha sat quietly, his back resting against a nearby tree. He rubbed his temples to relieve the headache his fight with Kagome had caused. He'd said some awful things to her in the heat of the moment and he knew he'd over stepped his bounds in accusing her of working with Naraku, but how else was he supposed to feel?
He was angry dammit and he had every right to be! Though that didn't stop a small part of him from wanting to run into the forest to find her, but the larger part, the part that still felt betrayed, kept him planted to the ground.
"Are you really gonna let her wonder around in the forest alone?" Miroku, said stepping closer to his friend. The fight had escalated quickly and harsh words had been said, but he was sure that a sincere apology would be enough to bring Kagome back. One from Inuyasha and himself. The thought of Kagome knowing about their inevitable betrayal left a sour taste in his mouth. Somewhere along the way the miko had stopped being a means to an end for them. She'd risked her life on several occasions during their hunt to save him, and in return he'd done the same. He and Inuyasha both had begun to see her as a friend, which is why he shared and could understand Inuyasha's anger.
"Keh! I don't give a fuck what she does." Inuyasha said defiantly, placing his hands behind his head in a gesture of nonchalance.
"Bullshit. If she gets hurt, we both know you'll feel ten times more guilty than you already do."
Inuyasha stood to his feet at that, his anger reigniting. "I don't feel guilty about shit! I'm not the one who betrayed us, or did you forget? I'm not the one fucking our greatest enemy!"
"We don't know her relationship with Akumu. Kagome has secrets she's not ready to tell, and I don't think we should condemn her for that. I don't see her interrogating you about Kikyou." Miroku then found himself pinned to the tree behind them, Inuyasha's hands resting dangerously around his throat.
"Watch your step Miroku, 'cause I'm not in the mood." Inuyasha's eyes flashed in the darkness and Miroku knew he had his friend right where he wanted him.
"Inuyasha you know as well as I that in these last few months, the three of us have formed some strange sense of attachment to one another. What you said hurt her tonight because Kagome-sama considers you a friend. So pull your head out of your ass and go fucking get her!"
Miroku watched with baited breath as a plethora of emotion skirted across Inuyasha's face. Soon the grip on his neck was released and his ass made hard contact with ground. He saw his companion dart into the forest from the corner of his eye, and rubbed the soreness from his throat.
'Those two are gonna be the death of me.'
Kagome wasn't sure how long she'd been wondering in the woods, or how far she was away from camp. All she could think about were Inuyasha's harsh words and how she'd stupidly let her pride escalate the situation.
"They both probably hate me." Kagome said looking to the stars. Tears pooled in her eyes but she didn't let them fall. The shock of seeing Hojo, alive, had clouded her judgement. She'd allowed him to take the shards right from under her nose and instead of fighting him she'd let him run off. But what was she really expected to do? She sat down in the cold grass, lost in her own thoughts.
She hugged her legs and let her head fall to her knees, her body shaking with the force of her cries. 'They'd be better off without me.' She thought sadly. It wasn't the first time she'd thought about running off and leaving Inuyasha and Miroku to hunt the shards on their own, but in the end the thought of losing their companionship scared her. Being alone, was the one thing she feared most.
She'd come to rely on them so much over these past couple months, though she knew she could survive on her own if need be. Most villages would provide food and lodging for a wondering priestess, something she rarely got to enjoy now with her hanyou escorts. Most people's fear of them outweighed their trust of her. But it never really made a difference to her. She'd become accustomed to sleeping under the stars, knowing her friends were watching over her.
If she left she'd miss being woken up by Inuyasha and Miroku's bickering about whose turn it was to hunt for food. She would miss soaking in the hot springs she would force Inuyasha to find. She'd miss going into battle knowing that there were people who had her back. She would miss everything about them.
A rustling of the trees brought her back to reality and she stood ready to run. In her haste she'd hadn't grabbed her bow and arrows, and was practically defenseless. But before she could take off a familiar face stepped from behind the trees and walked meekly into the clearing, having followed her scent all the way here. The only emotion he could read from Kagome was the look of surprise, that clearly stemmed from his sudden appearance. She didn't make any outward signs that she was glad or relieved to see him and it was making him increasingly insecure about his rash decision to come find her.
"These are yours." He held out her bow and quiver and he watched as the surprise in her gaze slowly shifted to sorrow. She stepped closer to him slowly taking her belongings from him.
"Is this your way of telling me we're going our separate ways?" She softly, adjusting the quiver on her back. She'd been prepared for this to happen, yet it didn't make it hurt any less.
"No! Why? Do you...wanna go separate ways?" Inuyasha was nervous for her answer. She looked up at him and the conflict in her eyes scared him. He wasn't sure what he wanted her to do or say, but leaving definitely wasn't one of them.
"No," Inuyasha let a small smile tug at the corner of his lips, so she wanted to stay with him after all. "But I can't come back. Not until I know what you want from me. Are we friends? Are we less? Will you kill me and steal the jewel once it's complete?" Or maybe not.
"It was apart of the plan at first. To...use you to finish the jewel, but everything changed." He said honestly. "I could never harm you, Kagome. I want the jewel, but if hurting you is the only way to get it...I'd find another way."
Kagome smiled at him, her eyes misting over from his sincerity. She grabbed his hand and led him over to a nice spot for them to sit. He had been honest with her and she would be the same way. How else were they supposed to learn to trust each other?
"First I want to apologize, for defending Hojo. I was wrong to let him steal our shards without a fight, but seeing him...I didn't know how to react." Kagome said thoughtfully. "Tonight you accused Akumu and I of being lovers, and at one point we were. But that was before all of this."
"Kagome you don't have to tell me about him." Inuyasha said more out of guilt than anything. The path of conversation they were headed down reminded him of the mean things he'd said to her, things he still needed to apologize for.
"Yes I do, you deserve to know." He nodded, a sign she interpreted as 'if you're ready to talk I'm ready to listen'. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, and began the long tale of her relationship with Hojo.
"Akumu wasn't always this way. When we first met he was a human delivery boy who lived in my village. I'd seen him around but we never spoke. The first time we had a conversation he'd snuck up on me during archery practice, and I almost shot his head off." Kagome said chuckling at the memory. "One moment I was apologizing and the next I was arguing about him calling me 'Kagome-san'. I told him not to be so formal with me, but he wouldn't relent. He told me he didn't want to be disrespectful."
Kagome smiled and Inuyasha could see her love for this boy shining brightly in her eyes. There was an indiscernible churning in his belly, but he ignored it in favor of listening to her story.
"That day he asked me to walk with him and we spent everyday together after that. It was the first time a boy, or anyone my age for that matter, had wanted to talk to me. Most people were too frightened of me, of my powers. They didn't understand that I was still just like them. I loved Hojo simply because he saw the real me, but sometimes I wish he would've been smart like the others and avoided me." She said sadly, her head hanging low.
"Then one day he didn't show for our walk. I waited for him and when he didn't come I'd figured he realized that, I could never be what he wanted me to be. I could never give him what he wanted. I was sad all day, but he came to my window that night and asked to see me. I didn't even think twice about it and I snuck off into the night to be with him. Yet I could tell there was something off about him that night, and when he attacked me I knew the boy who lured me away from the castle wasn't Hojo."
Her voice became weary and Inuyasha felt himself becoming nervous. Something horrible had happened to the both of them, and he felt bad for making her relive the tale.
"He'd been possessed by a demon. I fought...so hard, but in the end there wasn't much I could do. I killed him." The tears that had gathered in her eyes fell down her cheeks unhindered, she made no move to wipe them away because she knew more would just come in their place.
"It killed me that I couldn't save Hojo. It's been four years since his death and I've carried that guilt around with me for just as long. My whole life I've been told that the fate of the world depended on me and the strength of my powers. I have the weight of everyone's fate resting on my shoulders, but how am I supposed to save the world if I couldn't even save one boy?"
She was sobbing and this point, and the pain rolled off her in waves. It was evident to Inuyasha that though Kagome was strong, in the end she was just a girl who'd been given too much responsibility too early. She'd had to deal with things that were incomprehensible to the average person, to take the life of the one you loved most? No one should ever how that feels.
He grabbed her hands and slowly helped her to her feet. She went to take one of her hands back, probably to wipe her face, but he held steady. "I don't want you to feel guilty anymore." He started. "What happened to Hojo was not you're fault and you know that."
Inuyasha simply shook his head to cut her off. "You don't need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders any longer, give some of that burden to me. Let me help you Kagome."
She looked at him and not even Kagome could comprehend what she was feeling. So she simply wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face in his shoulder. His arms came around her shoulders and in that moment all she could feel was grateful, gladly taking the comfort Inuyasha's embrace provided.
"Thank you, Inuyasha."
"So I'm assuming this means you two settled your differences?" Miroku said smugly as he watched Kagome prepare the fish Inuyasha had caught that morning. She turned around sending her companions a quick smile before continuing on her breakfast.
"Did you have any doubts?"
"Inuyasha when it comes to you and social situations, I always have doubts." Unfortunately Miroku was a little too slow in avoiding the punch Inuyasha threw his way.
"Can't you two go thirty seconds without fighting?" Kagome said as she made her way over to the boys.
"Miroku wouldn't get hit so often if he wasn't such an idiot."
"As much as I beg to differ we have more important things to discuss, like what's our next move against Naraku?" Kagome fidgeted under Inuyasha and Miroku's intense stares. The underlying question, what are we going to do about your undead lover?, was the more accurate one to ask, but she was sure Miroku was simply trying to spare her feelings. Though to be honest she had gotten pretty good at dodging thoughts that centered around Hojo, but she couldn't avoid it forever.
Hojo had drawn his line in the sand and as much as it broke her heart, they were not on the same side. So where did that leave her? Her heart told her maybe the boy she had once loved was still in there deep down, and if she could bring it out she could save him. Yet her head was telling her to let go of her childish optimism, and to do what she needed to do...kill him.
"Well I say we just do what we've been doing. We keep moving and collecting the shards, and eventually Naraku will come to us." Inuyasha said nonchalantly, but everyone could see it for what it truly was. Which is why the grateful smile Kagome sent his way had him quickly bowing his head to hide his blush."Keh! Put out the fire and let's go, we don't have all day!"
Kagome and Miroku could only laugh at their friend's poor attempt to save face, so they decided to let him win this time.
Rage burned inside Akumu as he watched his beloved embrace that filthy hanyou. Who did that mutt think he was? To think that he was worthy or deserving enough to touch the most beautiful thing to ever come into his life.
"Turn it off." He seethed. The albino child slowly removed her mirror from his view and finally he felt his blood begin to cool. "Find Kagura, now." It'd been a week since he'd sold his soul to the devil and agreed to work with the wind sorceress, and he had shit to show for it.
"You called?" Oh how he hated that bored sounding, know it all tone of hers.
"We need to formulate a plan and make a move. I'm tired of waiting. We've been sitting here twiddling our thumbs like idiots for almost a week now."
"And just what do you suggest we do?" Silence ensued and Kagura smirked behind her fan. "Exactly, you have nothing. Don't let your jealousy get the better of you little boy, because it'll cost you more than you're willing to pay," Kagura removed her fan from in front of her face and closed it with an elegant flick of her wrist. "but since you're so impatient, I have something for you to do."
"Well it's not what we're used to but it's a start." Kagome said holding up their newly acquired jewel shard.
"We should start looking for somewhere to camp, it'll be getting dark soon." Miroku said from over her shoulder.
Soon the odd threesome had filled their bellies and settled down for the night, but Kagome's mind was restless. While Inuyasha had given her a reprieve on answering any questions about Hojo to Miroku or himsef, she knew she needed to find the answers for herself. Rolling over to her left she saw that Miroku was sleeping soundly under the same tree Inuyasha was perched in. Though his eyes were closed his ears twitched at the slightest sound alerting her to the fact that any move she made would be on his radar.
Though she had never been one for underhanded tricks it was of the utmost importance that neither Inuyasha nor Miroku stopped her. The barrier she put up around the tree was miniscule compared to what she was capable of. Any small amount of Inuyasha or Miroku's youki would send it crashing down but the point was not to keep them in, just to keep her movements silent.
When their chase for the shard had lead them to this place, it was immediately recognized by Kagome. It'd been a long time since she'd been back here, in her old village, and instead of feeling happiness or joy looking at the remains of her small town only made her sad.
"I'm sorry I don't have any flowers for you Midoriko-sama. This was a bit of a surprise visit." She said gently. The small rock in front of the castle was the only thing left of her teacher, marking her final resting place. Though she wasn't sure if she could be heard, Kagome poured her heart out to her fallen mentor. "I miss you so much Midoriko-sama, but there's one more person here I need to see."
On the other side of the village was a tomb that Kagome was all too familiar with. In the past she had visited this place often, until the torture of looking at his name on the small headstone had became too much. Falling in front of the decimated grave Kagome wept until she couldn't breathe. It was her fault. Everything that had happened to Hojo was her fault, and the guilt was consuming her.
"I've always hated your tears. It pained me anytime I saw you cry." Turning her head to look over her shoulder Kagome wasn't as surprised as she should've been that Hojo was standing behind her. Everything about him seemed the same. Genuine concern for her showed through his blood red eyes, and Kagome wished time could freeze if only for a moment, just for them.
"How did you find me?" Kagome said, coming to a stand and wiping her face.
"I've been watching you. I just wanted to make sure you're okay." Hojo said stepping closer to her. She wanted to move away, take a step back, but she felt...stuck. He reached up to run his fingers through her hair and she smacked his hand away.
"Was that before or after you tried to kill me and my friends?" The anger in her voice was palpable.
"I'd never do anything to hurt you Kagome-san you have to know that. Do you truly have such little faith in me?"
Tears pooled in her eyes, and as much as she wanted to stay strong and will them away she couldn't. "How much faith am I supposed to have in you Hojo, when you're working together with my greatest enemy?!" She yelled. "You're not the same person I once knew."
"Do you trust that half-breed more than you do me?" He reached for her again again and this time she didn't have the energy to push him away. She let him embrace her and for just a second she let herself relish in the moment, and she embraced him back. "I only have to do what Naraku says until he has the complete jewel. Then he'll release me and you and I can be together again. Isn't that what you've wanted all this time Kagome-san?"
"Naraku can't complete the jewel Hojo. If he does the world as we know it will end and my duty is to make sure that doesn't happen."
"Then we'll leave this world! We can go right now, damn Naraku and damn the jewel!" His eyes lit up as he excitingly grabbed her hands.
"Hojo-kun I can't!"
"Why not? Because of that silver haired half-breed you fancy?" Surprise and pain flickered in her eyes. "Who is he to you Kagome? Do you love him? More than you love me?" He dropped her hands and took a step away from her. The small amount of space between them felt a mile wide to Kagome, and all she wanted to do was be in his arms again.
"Hojo-kun please, don't be angry." She took a tentative step towards him as the anger in his eyes slowing began to dissipate. "I just...I don't know what to do." She whispered. He leaned down intent on kissing her, and Kagome soon found herself rising to her toes to meet him. Their lips met chastely at first, but soon her hands were clutching his haori and his fingers were tangled in her hair.
Kagome was the first to come up for air, and when her eyes locked with his she could swear the world stopped spinning.
"Remember everything that I said tonight Kagome-san, because I meant it all. When the time comes I know you'll make the right choice. I can tell you trust that half demon, Inuyasha, but I implore you to take caution with him. He's got some secrets of his own."
"What are you talking about?" Kagome asked, confusion written all over her face.
"Ask him about Kikyou-sama." Akumu stepped away from her and when the cloud of miasma disappeared, he was gone.
"How long have you been standing out there?" Kagome watched as Miroku gradually stepped out from the shadows. She couldn't read the look on his face, which only added to her anxiety. Inuyasha was supposed to be the brooding one, the one she couldn't read, not Miroku.
"Long enough to question whether or not convincing Inuyasha to bring you back with us was the right idea." The dark haired demon walked further into the clearing until he was standing a few feet in front of Kagome.
"I didn't know Hojo was here, I swear." She pleaded.
"Then what was the barrier for?" Kagome blushed under his intense gaze.
"I didn't want to wake you or Inuyasha. I didn't want either of you to follow me, but not because I was meeting Hojo. I just wanted to be alone, figure things out." He looked skeptical and she had half a mind to be irritated at the fact that he'd been spying on her in the first place, but instead she counted to ten and finished explaining herself.
"Earlier you said we needed to plan our next move against Naraku, but I know what you were really asking was what's our next move against Hojo. And the truth is I don't know. I know what I have to do, what I should do, and when I realized that we were close to my village I was hoping that coming here would give me some clarity. If anything I'm more confused than I've ever been." She turned to face Hojo's grave as if the answers she'd been searching for were suddenly going to pop out at her.
Miroku sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. Walking up to Kagome he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, as he too looked into the grave of the boy she had loved. "It's hard to be mad at you when you look so sad." He said half jokingly. "Look, I have no idea what you're going through right now. You have no reason to take my advice, but I really think you should be careful around Akumu, er, Hojo. You can't trust him."
Kagome placed her hand over her friend's in hopes of finding some of the comfort he was offering. "I know. I'd like a few more moments alone out here if you don't mind." She said somberly. Miroku gave her a small smile and turned to head back towards camp, when her voice stopped him. "I'm sorry about the barrier."
Miroku shook his head in a negative fashion. "No harm, no foul. I've seen what you can do Kagome. I know if you didn't want either of us to get out I wouldn't be standing here right now." He said with a laugh.
"Miroku wait!" He stopped again waiting for her to finish her thought. He raised a brow at the blush that was quickly spreading its way across her cheeks. "I understand that I shouldn't trust Hojo or take what he says at face value, but is what he said about Kikyou-sama and Inuyasha true? Did they have some sort of relationship?"
"It's really not my place to say. Though I will say this, Inuyasha's no liar. If you ask him something he'll tell you the truth." With that Miroku continued on his way out of the clearing. Though he had confirmed that there was some truth behind Hojo's words, it was up to her to put on her big girl pants and ask Inuyasha himself.
She sighed and laid flat on her back to watch the stars. "Why me?" She whispered into the night. Her life had always been complicated, but this was just getting ridiculous.
Hope everyone is still reading and enjoying this story. I know the updates are sporadic, but I just write when the inspiration comes.
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