Broken Dreams and Demon Nightmares
Chapter 2: I Am Lost, So I Am Cruel
"Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."
-An inscription at the entrance to hell as described by Dante in `The Divine Comedy'
InuYasha looked up just as his targets took the skies running away from him like cowards. Ruby orbs followed their path until they disappeared between the clouds. His stare was cold, vacant, and void of any emotion. He almost looked like a statue and it seemed as if his entire being was filled with nothing but a black hole of emptiness that had swallowed him whole, slowly and silently from the inside out.
However, if you stared long enough... if looked real carefully, past the vacant, cold expression that those blood-red eyes desperately tried to convey, you could almost see the smallest flicker of pain there. It was settled deep within a soul that was slowly dying...withering away to nothing every second of every day. If you really looked, you'd see a lost soul hell bent on the destruction of everything around him; that, and a desperate need to end the pain that was felt every damned waking day and god-damned sleeping hour.
Closing his eyes and lifting his nose, he began to sniff. The air smelled crisp and clean with the tiniest bit of the God Tree's cherry blossoms mixed with it. He basked in the scent for a moment, content to simply stand there, until another scent reached his nose. This one was weeks old, and it was also laced with death. Even so, he found the fragrance alluring, soft, even soothing...
Summer's rain, jasmine, honey, and vanilla... Kagome...
The winds picked up and shifted directions, carrying the soothing sent away just as quickly as it had appeared. He growled low, his mind filling up once more with an uncontained rage that made him blind to anything but his own twisted thoughts of hate and murder once again. As abruptly as the growling had stated, it stopped and InuYasha smirked. His eyes snapped open as the smell of the human village filled his senses.
Time to get back to the hunt.
A thick fog spread through the forest and a ghostly flash of red and silver could be seen through the trees as a phantom laughter echoed ominously... It sounded cynical, sinister, and purely evil.
Somewhere to the west, another figure watched vigilantly as a child appeared to be sleeping peacefully on a majestic bed of satin and lace. Deep amber colored eyes watched impassively as it committed to memory every soft line, every faint scar, and every minuscule blemish that made the young girl who she was.
His face was a visage of calculated calm and indifference, but the mask he wore betrayed the tumult of emotions he felt deep inside. Centuries of wearing such an apathetic façade would not allow him to display anything but that flawless stoic mask he had so masterfully perfected.
His eyes, however, told a different story.
Those golden pools showed an undisguised affection and concern for the young girl, who was on the cusp of becoming a woman now. Those eyes hid nothing from the little girl that had followed him to the ends of the earth- to hell and back again without a second thought. Those golden eyes showed an emotion that could not be named, an emotion that ran so deep that not even the great dog demon lord could begin to comprehend.
Or even wanted to.
Emotions were a weakness, or so he kept telling himself, but he could not help the small and steady flow that had seeped through the cracks of his indomitable will. She had created those cracks...with her soft smile and cheerfulness. With every laugh and her unwavering faith in everything that was him. Never doubting and always believing in him.
She knew him well. Perhaps better than he knew himself, if he dared to admit it.
It had been a week since the defeat of Naraku, a week since this child had been caught in the heat and cross fire of the final battle and almost lost her life for the third time.
'You humans are such fragile creatures,' he mused, remembering that ill-fated day.
(One week earlier)
"Lord Sesshomaru! Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin cried as she was dragged deeper and deeper into Naraku's body. "Help me, Lord Sesshomaru!"
The demon lord soared through the air faster than the wind itself as he tried to reach Naraku's body and retrieve his ward. Sesshomaru's eyes flashed dangerously red for a fraction of a second, filling his line of vision with a blinding rage of crimson, but he managed to keep his beast at bay and focus on the task at hand: retrieving Rin from the clutches of Naraku.
He was livid and tired of playing games with the half-breed. He was going to destroy Naraku once and for all for everything he had done.
Naraku's laughter and Rin's scream echoed through the forest; within seconds, the demon lord caught up with the evil half-demon and his young ward.
"You have become weak. The great lord Sesshomaru reduced to a pathetic demon... it does not become you Sesshomaru, following a little girl such as this little filthy thing like a lost dog to its master. This human has made you weak." Naraku sneered. "But I can remedy that... watch as I destroy that weakness for you..." he said with a smirk as his tentacles squeezed the life out of Rin, while massive amounts of miasma dispersed around her, filling up her lungs with its deathly poison.
In less than seconds, Sesshomaru had cut through Naraku's tentacles with his Bakusaiga and caught Rin as she fell from Naraku's clutches.
Even as part of his body disintegrated, Naraku laughed. The damage had already been done as Rin's small body lay almost lifeless in the arms of Sesshomaru.
He breathed in deep and exhaled slowly, as he tried to rid himself of the images of Rin's pale face on that day as he cradled her limp body. He inwardly sighed and moved closer to the pale girl on the large plush bed. She looked as if though she was sleeping peacefully, but in truth, she had been fully unconscious for a little more than a week now.
Many of the injuries she had sustained were already healing, albeit, slow, but healing nonetheless. However, the poisonous miasma gasses she had inhaled had almost killed her. For days after her encounter with Naraku, she lay in a state of pure agony, every breath causing her some of the most excruciating of pains. Even while unconscious, her lovely face showed nothing but pain. Sometimes she cried, sometimes her breathing was so shallow that even the demon lord had to concentrate just to be able to hear it.
He had called for the best healers in the Western Lands and beyond, demon and human alike (to the surprise of many in his court), hoping that they would be able to aid his young charge...and even though they were able to heal most of her physical injuries, they had been most unsuccessful in fully healing her internal injuries.
And now...now, she lay there, in eternal sleep and no one seemed to know how to help her, or how to bring her out of that infernal rest.
He had almost lost her once... He would not allow her to die again. The thought alone made the demon lord want to eviscerate everyone out of frustration.
Deciding that perhaps the strange priestess in the village his brother protected could help more than the incompetent healers in his lands, he sent Jaken out to find his brother's 'pack' and request their presence in the Western Lands immediately.
Several days had already passed without word and the demon lord was beginning to get restless. Perhaps he should have made the trip himself, but his possessive need to protect Rin and not leave her side had won out, so he had sent his loyal servant instead.
Using the pads of his fingers, and being mindful of his deadly claws, he lightly touched the girl's cheek. His intense gaze seemed to be almost commanding the girl to wake from her deep slumber as he moved a stray hair that had fallen on her face and placed it behind her ear before he could stop himself. 'Why won't you wake, Rin?'
His eyes unfocused for a few seconds, and then he had to blink a few times just to clear his vision. For the first time in his long, long existence, Sesshomaru found himself with an emotion that he had never, ever felt before. He felt an overwhelming wave of fear...fear laced with something else that he couldn't quite name, at the thought of losing something that, up to this point, he had furiously denied its true importance. He had never bothered with feelings before.
He was a demon after all. He was Sesshomaru, lord of the Western Lands, son of one of the greatest Dog Demons in all of history. Feelings were for the weak and Sesshomaru was anything but weak.
Other demons were weak.
Humans were weak...
They were all beneath him. They were a nuisance, insects meant to be stepped on...but, if he was honest with himself, these were merely half truths, weren't they?
Then, there was... Rin...
Was she not human as well? A small girl whose own weak disposition had landed her in her current state?
No... If he was being honest with himself, he had never seen her as such. She was just... Rin.
He inwardly sighed once again.
The feeling, this unadulterated thing that squeezed his heart and made his chest tighten like a fist...this clear knowledge of something so catastrophically unmistakable, didn't make him angry. No. This singular emotion was so overwhelmingly suffocating that it shadowed everything else he could have ever felt.
The steel walls around his heart and soul cracked just a bit more than before and they opened a small, but clear path straight to into the deepest part of his ice-like heart.
It was all because of her...and he didn't mind.
'Hn. Just like father...'
A light knock on the door interrupted his next set of thoughts.
He didn't move from his place nor did he acknowledge the sudden intruder when he tentatively opened the door. He had smelled him and had felt his presence well before he had turned the corner down the hall.
"Uh- Lord Sessho-" the imp began.
"Jaken," was all the regal demon said in acknowledgement before the small demon could even finish his sentence.
"My Lord," the intruder called softly. "I...I'm sorry to intrude, my Lord. I bring news f-from InuYasha's forest."
His brother. Half-brother. His father's greatest mistake in life. Or was it? He had believed that once, but now...
Maybe he had misjudged.
During the battle against Naraku, he could not deny his surprise when his half-brother had transformed, for InuYasha had not been the same mindless beast he had seen before. No, he had turned into something else entirely. The transformation had been a sight to behold, and for a moment, he had almost confused InuYasha with his own father. Their resemblance was uncanny...from his scent, to the stripes on his face, right down to his mokomoko-sama.
Since then, there had been an unspoken understanding between servant and master in regards to InuYasha. Soon after the fall of Naraku, while on their way to the Western Lands with their precious cargo, Sesshomaru had somewhat acknowledged InuYasha as more than just a half-breed nuisance, a symbol of his father's greatest mistake. InuYasha was his brother and the fact that the thought didn't make him as angry and repulsed as before made the demon lord frown.
Jaken had made a comment in regards to the half-demon's transformation and Sesshomaru had simply replied that InuYasha had been 'A formidable adversary' and could become 'A strong ally, fighter,' and, much to Jaken's dismay, 'An honorable being worthy of his father's fang, Tetsusaiga.' He could no longer see him as the bastard half-breed that had tainted his father's name.
The whole trip home, the demon lord had struggled to understand his own words and that was another troubling thought. 'Just how much have you changed me...Rin?'
Sesshomaru briefly turned his head to the side to spare a glance at his long time servant, his features schooled to appear uninterested in what the little toad had to say.
"It seems that the half-demon- your brother... he has gone mad, my Lord. I saw it with my own eyes. He was attacking his own pack, his eyes were red and he bore markings on his face. But it wasn't like before, my lord!" Jaken said nervously.
"And the girl? The young priestess that traveled with him?"
The small demon fidgeted in place, wondering how his lord would take the news... Not that his lord would openly show that he cared one way or another, but his master had hoped that the young priestess could come and help Rin.
"Dead, my Lord. It seems she died shortly after the battle."
Sesshomaru's eyebrows raised just a fraction at the news. "Hn."
Jaken was quiet for a moment as he wondered what his lord was thinking. As much the little imp hated to admit, Rin had become more important to him and his lord over the years, more important than anyone else in their lives. He missed her smile...and her laugh; he missed her silly human games and silly made up songs. He, too, longed to hear her cheerful voice and he wondered if she would ever wake up from her sleep.
He was startled and almost fell backwards when Sesshomaru rose from his place, sparing one last glance for the girl.
Sesshomaru was deep in thought. He knew that his brother's odd pack could help Rin somehow...he had watched them over the years and saw how they had been able to heal even the worst of injuries. Even if that odd human woman was dead, there was still the old priestess.
He also wanted to know what had happened to InuYasha. What had made him lose his mind and made him revert to a mindless beast instead of the full demon he had seen in battle. He had an idea that the reason for his brother's state had to do with the death of the young priestess his brother traveled with, but he had to find out what had exactly happened for himself.
It would be a shame to lose such a strong ally, or so the demon Lord tried to tell himself. In truth, deep down he knew that those were just excuses he tried to make himself believe. The reality was that times were different now; he was a different demon than he had been all those years ago, and months before, even. After all, InuYasha was his younger brother, and he would not forsake him any longer. The same blood ran through their veins, their father's blood.
For too long he had ignored the guilt that had somehow seeped into the deepest darkest corner of his heart. Another thing that Rin was to blame for as well. She had made him soft. He almost scoffed at the thought. But, it was useless to lie to himself. It was time for him to- perhaps right the wrongs he had bestowed upon his younger brother.
In addition, it would help him find away to help Rin in the process, for he knew that his brother and his pack would be able to help her in some way.
"Yes, my lord?" the small demon replied.
"I will investigate the matter of InuYasha personally. Guard Rin with your life." The underlying threat of 'Or else', behind the statement was not lost to the small demon, for he knew if anything were to happen to Rin while his lord was gone would mean his own life.
Without a backwards glance, Sesshomaru left the room, leaving Jaken in charge of his ward.