The Way Home
Warnings: None that I can think of. =3
Summary: A young woman asks for an escort back to her village. Naturally, Kagome and InuYasha comply.
Disclaimer: I don’t own InuYasha!
The leaves crunched under their feet as the full moon rose in the crisp fall air. “Mou, InuYasha, are we stopping tonight?” Kagome asked, only a little irritated at her husband’s insistence to keep going.
“There’s a village a few miles ahead,” was his gruff reply.
She sighed; they were on the last leg of an errand from largest town in their district, and she wanted to get back to her garden. As much as she trusted Shippou to look after her herbs, it was the twins, frequently under his care, that she worried about. That, and the unfamiliar woods were unsettling with bare limbs visible in the moonlight. “Koibito, you know I love you, but why can’t we—”
InuYasha threw up a hand to silence her. “There’s something there.” He muttered.
A twig snapped. They both whirled to face the noise, and found a disheveled, dirt-covered woman. “Who are you?” InuYasha snapped.
The woman looked as if she’d been crying. “Please…” She whispered. “Please, I’m lost… Can you take me back to my village?”
Kagome laid a reassuring hand on her husband’s shoulder. “It’s ok.” She told him softly. “Where is your village?” She asked the woman.
“I don’t know… somewhere in these woods… My people are charcoal burners, and these are the trees they look at. Please, my husband must be so worried…” The woman was trembling.
InuYasha didn’t say anything. Instead, he started walking again. Kagome smiled. “Come along, we’ll find your people.”
The woman smiled briefly, and fell in step next to Kagome. “So what’s your name?” She asked.
Either the other woman didn’t hear her or she didn’t want to answer. She stared at the ground with an almost mournful look in her eye. Kagome tried again, until InuYasha grabbed her arm and pulled her up next to him. “There’s a burial site near here. Leave it.” He muttered.
Kagome was slightly confused; if she’d made it to the graveyard, what had sidetracked her to get lost? Was it the dark? Were there others who’d left her? Mulling the matter over, she didn’t say anything else to the woman; good manners said to let the mourning remember their deceased in peace, especially after visiting the gravesite. The moon rose higher in the sky as they travelled. Their companion never said a word as they went. Her silence was slightly unnerving to the couple, who kept their own conversation to a whisper out of respect for the grieving woman. At last, InuYasha’s nose flared. “I smell smoke.” He announced.
Another mile down the road found them at a small village. The charcoal kilns were banked for the night, and the animals were quiet. Kagome guessed it was nearing midnight, way past a feudal peasant’s bedtime. “Is this your village?” She asked the woman, who nodded mutely. “Which one is yours?”
The woman pointed to the smallest hut. They made their way to the hut, and she noticed that a light was still burning inside. Before they could announce their arrival, the straw mat was moved aside, and an old man looked out, holding a small disk of oil with a lit wick. He said nothing for a moment, then sighed. “You’ve come with my wife.” He stated in a weary voice.
“Yes, she’s—” Kagome looked and stopped.
The woman was gone.
InuYasha raised an eyebrow. Kagome trembled slightly. The old man beckoned them in. “Since you’re here, stay the night.” He told them.
“Wait, ojiisan, I don’t understand—” Kagome protested, and fell silent when he looked at her with weary eyes.
“Miko-sama, I almost pity your village if you cannot recognize the spirit of a woman long deceased. My wife was kidnapped and murdered by bandits almost thirty years ago. Every year, on the anniversary of her death, her spirit reappears in our forest and asks travelers to guide her home.” The old man told them. “Until I find rest with her, I will do what I can to provide some comfort for those who do as her spirit asks. Rest here, and continue your journey in the morning.”
Kagome and InuYasha looked at each other warily, and entered the hut.
In the morning, they woke up alone. “Maybe he went out.” Kagome said, her voice wavering.
InuYasha shrugged. He helped her into her haori, and they walked out into the foggy morning. Another man, this one younger, noticed them and came over. “Miko-sama, have you put the spirits of Satori-san and Akimitsu-san to rest?”
A chill ran down Kagome’s spine. “I was not…” InuYasha put a hand on her shoulder, his eyes warning her.
The man went on. “Oh, Kami-sama… Satori-san was murdered when I was a small boy, and I still remember the pain that Akimitsu-san went through until his own death a few years ago. We thought that Satori-san’s ghost would be at rest when her lover joined her, but each year, she still brings travelers, and each year, his spirit offers them rest in his home.”
Kagome shivered. “I was unable to put their spirits to rest.” She told him; her husband squeezed her shoulder. “I do know a monk who would be more than willing to help you, however.”
“Oh, thank you miko-sama! Please, bid him come here as soon as he can!”
As they left, Kagome muttered, “Glad your super-senses let us know about the spirits.”
InuYasha snorted. “I’m not the one with spiritual powers, wench.”
Flushing, Kagome remembered Mayu-chan and all the trouble that had gotten them into. “I never said I was good at recognizing spirits…”
((Fin. I borrowed elements of a Japanese tale of a taxi driver taking a girl to her boyfriend’s apartment, and then to her house, only to find her gone from the backseat. The rest of the story is my own devices, as far as I can tell. =) I hope you liked it! Happy Halloween!))