Continuing Tales

Divine Concubine

A InuYasha Story
by CiraArana

Part 3 of 11

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Second Chances The small group of travellers walked down the broad, dusty road. On both sides stretched wide, green fields. A soft breeze whispered through the rice saplings and brought the travellers some relief from heat of the brightly shining sun.

They were walking in the same formation as they had done for weeks. Inu Yasha was at the front, behind him followed side by side Sango and Kagome, and Miroku trailed behind them. And yet, there were some slight changes.

The distance between the monk and the girls was far greater than it had been before, while the distance between them and Inu Yasha was smaller. Shippo no longer lounged on Miroku’s shoulder, but clung to Inu Yasha. Sango’s expression was no longer kind and sympathetic, but dark and thunderous. And it was not the monk who was thinking about his companions’ relationship, but Kagome.

She was walking next to Sango and kept casting furtive glances at her friend’s face. Her heart ached for poor Sango-chan and she wished there was something she could say or do to help her friend. But there was nothing. Miroku-sama had hit on another girl, right in front of Sango-chan. This was inexcusable. It practically called for a good beating with Hiraikotsu.

Yet Sango did nothing. She had not beaten him. She had not talked to him since. Kagome wondered why she did not do something to make Miroku-sama see how much he had hurt her or tried to win him back. Why would the demon slayer not fight for the man she loved? Did she not think him worth the effort? Had she already given up? This would be strange. Sango-chan was not one to give up easily. Why, one only had to look at how determinedly she was set on rescuing her brother!

But maybe that was the problem, mused Kagome. Maybe Sango-chan put so much of her soul into rescuing her brother that she had no strength left to fight for Miroku-sama. That would be incredibly sad. They were such a cute pair and she was sure they loved each other very much.

Though, that made her wonder why Miroku-sama had acted that way. How could he not have known how much he would hurt Sango-chan by flirting with another woman in front of her? And why was he not trying to make things right now? Had he already grown tired of her?

Kagome looked over her shoulder at the monk who was walking behind her. He seemed relaxed, as if he had not a care in the world. Her eyes narrowed. Why was he acting as if nothing extraordinary had happened? Did he not notice the aggression and tension radiating off Sango-chan? But surely he must be aware of Sango-chan’s changed behaviour!

Kagome sighed and shook her head. She did not understand either of them, but she wished she could grab them and shake some sense into them. Unfortunately, things were never so easy to settle. Relationships were complicated things.

Speaking of relationships … Kagome looked from Sango’s hard face to Inu Yasha’s back. Now, that was another strange relationship.

Since the day of Bara’s rescue, Inu Yasha had been behaving as if there had never been anything amiss between them; as if the night of her rescue from the dragons had never happened; and as much as she enjoyed that he was talking to her again, Kagome could not help wondering.

Had Inu Yasha accepted her decision and moved on? Or did he simply try to forget that it had been his brother who had “helped” her to solve the dragon-problem?

A faint blush crept into her cheeks as she remembered that night. She had not been able to forget; not that she had tried very much. And though she was sorry for having hurt Inu Yasha, she was not sorry at all for the decision she had made. How could she be sorry for something that had been so wonderful?

When she closed her eyes she could still see how he had looked at her, his usually so blank eyes suddenly warm. She remembered his unexpected gentleness, his caution not to hurt her that had brought him to a state of actual physical pain. She remembered the look in his eyes when she had seen him the next morning; the smouldering expression that told her silently that he did not regret either; an expression that had held the promise of more.

A shiver ran down her spine and her stomach fluttered. She would not mind in the least if he fulfilled that promise!

The heat in her cheeks intensified and she felt a little ashamed. Not regretting her decision to save her life and wanting to repeat the experience were two entirely different things! Inu Yasha might have forgiven her for the first (did he really?) because deep inside he understood what had prompted her actions. But she doubted very much that he would ever understand – or forgive – if it happened again.

Resolutely, Kagome shoved all thoughts of Sesshomaru aside. It was not right to wish for a repetition. She was not the kind of girl who would have sex with a man without being in a proper relationship. Not to mention the fact that it would hurt Inu Yasha, and she did not want to do that.

Inu Yasha … what was it now like, her much and often discussed relationship with the hanyou? Were they still friends? Was there still the never-to-be-mentioned but nevertheless palatable romance between them? Did he still trust her? Or were they only travel companions again?

And what did she want? Did she still wish for a relationship with Inu Yasha? He had hugely disappointed her by his refusal to help her, to save her life, even though she knew he had his reasons. But she was getting tired of being understanding and accepting Inu Yasha’s reasons …

‘Village ahead!’

Inu Yasha’s gruff voice roused her from her musings. She started and looked up. Inu Yasha stood at the peak of a soft hill, and in the dale behind him she could see the roofs of huts.

‘What do we do now, Inu Yasha?’ asked Shippo, peering at the village.

Inu Yasha shrugged, nearly unseating Shippo. ‘Dunno. Oi, monk! This was your idea! What do we do now?’

Miroku sped up his steps and walked past the girls to come to a stop next to the hanyou. He regarded the village for a moment.

‘Well, what do you think we should do now?’ he asked lightly. ‘Go there and make inquiries, as usual.’

‘Keh. It’s all a waste of time,’ Inu Yasha grumbled. ‘You know, monk, I’ll hold you responsible if Naraku gains one more shard while you’re playing knight in shining armour.’

Miroku raised one eyebrow. ‘Knight in shining armour? I didn’t know you knew this expression since you’re so obviously unfamiliar with the concept.’

He walked down the hill, leaving his astonished companions behind. Shippo blinked. ‘What was he talking about?’ he asked Inu Yasha.

Inu Yasha scowled and shrugged once more, and Shippo squeaked in protest. ‘Dunno. Let’s follow him.’

Kagome cast a quick glance at Sango’s face and wished to punch the monk as she saw her friend’s curiously bright eyes.

Shortly afterwards, the travellers were seated in front of another village’s eldest, and Miroku was explaining why they had come. When the monk was finished, the eldest nodded slowly.

‘Yes,’ he said in a thin, falsetto voice. ‘Yes, houshi-sama was right. Several girls disappeared without a trace. From this village two girls were taken, about … oh, two months ago! They were twins and amazingly alike. Absolutely amazing! To the last little dimple and curl in their hair – absolutely alike!’

The eldest nodded his head, watching them with sad, fish-like eyes. His head wobbled on his thin neck. Kagome fought the sudden, unfitting thought that if he nodded too hard his head would drop off.

‘And you do not know who kidnapped them? Could they not simply have … well, run away with a samurai or something?’ asked Miroku.

Sango snorted loudly.

The eldest blinked at her, then at the monk. ‘Oh, no, houshi-sama, that’s impossible. There have not been a single samurai near this village for six months!’

‘Youkai then?’ suggested Kagome, for now putting her anger at the monk aside to help solve the riddle.

The eldest shook his head. ‘No … er ...’ He blushed and eyed her short-sleeved shirt. ‘Ahem … houshi-sama said you are a miko?’

‘Yes, Kagome-sama is a miko, a very powerful one,’ interjected Miroku quickly.

The eldest nodded. ‘Ah, um, pardon, miko-sama. I … er … was confused by your … ahem … garments.’

Kagome huffed and opened her mouth, but again Miroku intervened. ‘Kagome-sama comes from very far away, and her clothes are a kind of uniform for mikos in her country. Now, please tell us, could it have been demons that kidnapped those girls?’

The old man stared at Kagome. ‘Mikos in uniform? Oh, that’s amazing, absolutely amazing! It must be very far away indeed!’

Kagome blushed and fidgeted a little. ‘Um … demons?’ she suggested politely.

The old man’s attention snapped back to the matter at hand. ‘Oh, yes, of course. Pardon. No, it could not have been demons. A travelling miko passed through our village last month, and we asked her for help. She examined the area but could find no traces of demons around. Incidentally, she said that she had never felt less youki in any place she had come through. She said that in this area was a strong feeling of something divine at work. Yes, so she said. Do you feel it too, miko-sama?’

He turned his fish-eyes on Kagome, who frowned. When she did not respond immediately, her companions looked at her as well.

‘Can you feel it, Kagome-sama?’ asked Miroku.

Kagome frowned a little harder. ‘I feel … something,’ she said finally. ‘It’s not … I mean, it doesn’t feel like the aura of that water-goddess we freed some time ago. I wouldn’t have noticed it at all as something divine …’ She shrugged and looked at her friends.

‘Freed a water-goddess,’ mumbled the old man, staring once more in rapt fascination at Kagome.

‘I don’t like that guy,’ grumbled Inu Yasha, shifting Tessaiga in his arms.

‘Hush, Inu Yasha,’ whispered Miroku. Then he cleared his throat to catch the eldest’s attention.

‘So, no demons, instead something that might be divine,’ concluded the monk. The eldest nodded. ‘And those two girls … twins you said. Were they pretty?’

Four pairs of eyes flashed at him and he raised a hand, smiling weakly. ‘Just trying to find out why they’ve been kidnapped.’

Sango snorted and crossed her arms.

The eldest blinked at them. ‘Er … pretty? Hm, yes. Yes, yes, pretty they were. Not as pretty as your female companions, pardon miko-sama, but pretty enough.’

‘Hmm.’ Miroku rubbed his chin, brows furrowed in thought.

He asked some more questions, about when and where the girls had been seen last and so on, that made Inu Yasha fidget with impatience. Then they bid the eldest good-bye and left. Once outside the village, Inu Yasha poked the monk.

‘So, did we get any clues?’

Miroku started slightly. ‘Sorry, what did you say?’

‘I said did we get any clues?’

‘Of course! Now, Kagome-sama, can you describe a little more what you feel?’

Inu Yasha growled at being thus dismissed.

Kagome frowned once more and tried to analyse what she felt. ‘No, I’m sorry, Miroku-sama,’ she said at last. ‘It’s hazy and not clear. I can’t put my finger on it and say “That’s it”, if you know what I mean. I only feel that there’s something. As I said before, if the eldest had not mentioned that this travelling miko had felt something divine, I wouldn’t have noticed it as something extraordinary at all.’

‘Hm …’

She cast him a sharp glance. ‘You think that this divine something is responsible for the kidnapping of the girls?’

Miroku smiled faintly at Inu Yasha’s snort. ‘It wouldn’t be the first time a god was kidnapping people.’

‘Last time wasn’t a god but a demon,’ chirped Shippo.

Miroku nodded slowly. ‘Yes, but this is the only explanation I can come up with. Plus, it would explain the ghosts. Some kind of shikigami, Kagome-sama said. No evil aura, but not purity either. And the person who sent them must be very powerful. A god would be able to do it. But I can’t see why these girls should have been kidnapped. They were not overly pretty, not like Bara; they were not rich or anything.’

‘They were two.’ Everybody turned to look at Sango, who had been silent until now. Sango, however, stared straight ahead, not meeting anyone’s eye. ‘They were twins and very much alike. That’s rare.’

‘That sounds horrible!’ exclaimed Kagome. ‘As if there was someone collecting girls!’

Sango shrugged. ‘It’s an explanation.’

‘Yes,’ agreed Miroku. ‘It is.’

‘Horrible,’ shuddered Kagome.

‘But do you really think a god would do that?’ asked Shippo.

‘That’s the question.’

Inu Yasha snorted. ‘Sounds like rubbish to me. Collecting girls! Bah.’

Miroku shrugged. ‘We’ve come across stranger things.’

The hanyou shrugged, too. ‘Just sounds stupid to me. More than one girl means trouble.’

The group froze at his words. Inu Yasha blushed, growled, and turned and stalked away. Miroku, Sango and Shippo exchanged looks and then turned to Kagome, who was staring at Inu Yasha with knit brows.

‘Kagome-chan …’ Sango touched her shoulder.

Kagome started and looked at her. ‘Eh? What? Sorry, I wasn’t listening, what did you say?’

They blinked.

‘Kagome-chan, did you hear what Inu Yasha said?’

‘No, was it important? Anyway, Miroku-sama, can’t you feel this divine whatever it is?’

The monk shook his head, trying to hide a grin. ‘No, I can’t, Kagome-sama.’

The girl put her right index finger on her cheek. ‘That’s strange.’ She looked up to see that Inu Yasha had put some distance between him and the group. ‘Hey, Inu Yasha! Wait! Come on, let’s hurry up.’

She ran after the hanyou. Miroku and Sango looked at each other in surprise until Sango remembered that she was furious with Miroku and turned abruptly and followed Kagome. Miroku sighed and walked after them.

The group travelled on, stopping for the night in a tiny hamlet at the edge of a forest. The inhabitants were happy to see the monk, and even more happy when Miroku introduced Kagome as a miko, and they begged them to find the girl Risu, who had disappeared without a trace only three days ago. They suspected demons and were terrified at the thought that their poor little village would be under attack from now on.

The travellers exchanged significant glances, and Miroku conducted a short cross-examination for further information. The villagers were more than ready to provide information if that could bring back Risu, and within fifteen minutes the travellers were filled in about Risu’s parents, her childhood, her wonderful cooking and her predilection for wandering into the forest to collect nuts. From one of her walks she had not returned, and the villagers mourned her loss for more than one reason.

‘She was the best cook in the world!’ explained an old, toothless man who had tears in his eyes. ‘Her food was so good! And so easy to eat! Nobody cooks as well as she did!’

‘She was able to make a feast out of everything,’ added a matronly woman. ‘Even the rich nobles from the town on the other side of the forest came here to eat what she cooked.’

‘And they paid for it!’ cried a thin young man. ‘They really paid for it! And a lot of money, too! Now it’s gone!’

Inu Yasha rolled his eyes. ‘Seems they don’t miss the girl but the money, eh?’ he said quietly below the excited chatter of the villagers

Kagome nodded sadly. ‘Yes. How horrible for the poor girl!’

Miroku had in the meantime begun to inform the villagers about the missing girls from other villages and his search for the one who had kidnapped them. The villagers gaped at him. He explained that it had not been done by demons. The villagers seemed crestfallen. Miroku promised them that he and his companions would look out for Risu. The villagers smiled and thanked him and offered him – and his companions – a bed for the night.

On the following morning, the travellers passed through the forest and entered the large town in the valley behind it. There, it was a little bit more difficult to gather information about any missing girls. The people in the streets were far too busy and important to talk to a group of dusty and odd-looking strangers. In the end, they decided to simply walk to the local lord’s mansion and let Inu Yasha knock on the door.

Since it was not the best policy to force one’s way into a lord’s house by letting an irritated hanyou destroy half of the place, it was fortunate that they met the lord’s daughter on the way. She took a fancy for Inu Yasha’s ears and was ready to take the travellers to her father if she got the chance to become better acquainted with Inu Yasha.

For a short moment, the four others were united in their mutual amusement at Inu Yasha’s mortified expression.

That evening, they dined with Lord Kurokawa and his daughter, Arina-hime. Lord Kurokawa had welcomed them, surprisingly friendly, and as the evening wore on, it became apparent why. He spoiled his daughter rotten, and whatever Arina wanted, Arina got. Kagome began to wonder what would happen if Arina-hime decided that she wanted to keep Inu Yasha.

Miroku, this time outshone by dog-ears, concentrated on the lord; and while Arina-hime tried to whine Inu Yasha into letting her touch his ears, the monk explained the reason for their quest.

Lord Kurokawa rubbed his chin and nodded slowly. ‘Yes, houshi-sama, I have heard of the mysterious disappearance of the commoner’s girl Risu. I as well have a girl missing from my town. The daughter of a very rich merchant. It is very embarrassing for me that I am not able to retrieve her.’

Miroku perked up. ‘The daughter of a rich merchant? Has there been any demand for ransom?’

The lord shook his head. ‘No, not at all, houshi-sama. It is all very mysterious. The young lady was last seen in her garden. The servants heard nothing, and there were no signs of a fight. The young lady simply disappeared, and all her belongings with her. Her father and I, we made inquiries, but we heard nothing of her. We did not get evidence who might have taken her, either. Very mysterious indeed.’

‘All her belongings? What belongings?’

‘Oh, an easel, canvas, several brushes, ink,’ Kurokawa enumerated. ‘Fudé was a very good painter. I have never such a fine brushwork! I bought several of her pictures for my daughter.’

Kagome leaned a little closer to the monk. ‘Another extraordinary girl,’ she whispered.

Miroku nodded.

Lord Kurokawa eyed the girl. Kagome blushed a little and shuffled back. The lord turned to Miroku. ‘Is there something wrong, houshi-sama?’

Miroku shook his head. ‘No, Kagome-sama merely contributed to the theory.’

‘What theory?’

‘Well, all girls that got kidnapped had something special. We had twins, an excellent cook and a very beautiful young lady. Now, we add a talented painter. It seems that the girls really are kidnapped for their skills.’

‘But who would do something like that?’

Miroku shrugged. ‘We don’t know. Our only clues are the ghost we saw when we saved Bara and the feeling of something divine.’

Lord Kurokawa’s eyes widened almost comically. ‘Something divine? A … a god?!’

‘That would be my suggestion, but so far we have found nothing to prove my theory.’ The monk scratched his head. ‘Ah, Kurokawa-sama, do you know if there is a temple somewhere around here?’

The lord weighed his head. ‘Hmm-hmm … There was once a temple, several days of journey in the west. But the resident god demised long, long ago. Rumours claimed he lost a fight over territory with a demon lord.’

Miroku cast a quick glance at Kagome, who blushed violently. ‘So, hm.’ He cleared his throat. ‘And how long ago was that?’

‘It was in the days of my father’s reign, maybe forty, fifty years ago.’

‘I see. Hm. And were exactly was that temple?’

The lord was curious. ‘Why do you ask, houshi-sama? Do you want to go there?’

‘Yes, well, probably we can find there a little more evidence about who is responsible for the girls’ abductions. Maybe the god has recovered, or some other god has taken residence in the temple … maybe they need girls to … but that wouldn’t explain why they chose only girls with special abilities … hm …’

Inu Yasha, who had heard the last sentence, scoffed, ‘You’re at this girl-collecting thing again? Keh. That’s stupid.’

Lord Kurokawa blinked and Miroku explained calmly, ‘Inu Yasha doesn’t believe that there would be someone who would want to have more than one girl because that meant trouble. Of course he must know,’ the monk added maliciously, ‘as he already has one too many.’

Later, much later, Kagome was happy that Miroku had said that. Inu Yasha’s furious and vocal outburst had cured any lingering desire Arina-hime had had. The lord and his daughter were very glad when the travellers left on the next morning.

Yet four days later, even Inu Yasha had to admit that apparently someone was collecting girls. They had travelled west, stopping in each village they passed, and had heard of five more missing girls, each of them sorely missed because of her skills. That evening at the campfire, Miroku summed up.

“So, we had those twins, Risu the cook, Fudé the painter, Odóri the dancer, Fué the singer, Kudamono the fruitful who doesn’t fit into the pattern because she was married, Igaku the healer, Shijin the author, and Bara the beauty.” He ticked them off with his fingers and seemed wholly unconcerned at the murderous glance Sango cast him.

‘Yeah,’ agreed Inu Yasha, ‘but that doesn’t help us, does it? We don’t know who got them.’

‘They were probably all kidnapped by those ghosts,’ chirped Shippo.

‘Yeah, but that doesn’t tell us where the guy is that controls the ghosts.’

‘We do!’ cried Shippo and jumped excitedly up and down. ‘Lord Kurokawa said there was a temple somewhere west, and a god or some divine being would of course live in a temple! Right, Miroku?’

Miroku nodded and looked at Kagome. ‘Kagome-sama, what about the feeling of something divine? Can you locate it?’

‘Nope, sorry, Miroku-sama. But it got a little stronger each day, so we’re probably getting closer to the source.’

‘You still can’t feel it, Miroku?’ asked Shippo.

‘No. And I wonder why.’

‘Keh, because you’re a lecherous pervert. Your mind is so busy with other things that you can’t focus enough to feel it.’

The group gaped at Inu Yasha.


‘Uh … Inu Yasha …’ Kagome smiled feebly and cast a glance at Sango. The demon huntress looked remarkably like an angry sabre-tooth tiger.

Shippo hopped onto Inu Yasha’s shoulder and peered into the hanyou’s eyes. ‘Wow, Inu Yasha, what’s up with you? You’re usually the last one to realise what’s going on! And now you just hit the nail on the hea – OW! That hurt!’

‘Get over here, you brat!’ yelled Inu Yasha and chased a shrieking Shippo. ‘Come here and let me beat you!’

They raced around the camp, Shippo squealing and Inu Yasha bellowing.

Miroku eyed them wearily, and then sighed. ‘Why am I always accused of being a pervert?’

Inu Yasha stopped dead in his tracks. ‘Are you kidding, monk? After all, we’re here only because you had to produce yourself in front of a pretty face!’

‘It wasn’t because of a pretty face,’ said Miroku indignantly. ‘She had a very fine body, too.’

‘See, that’s what I mean! You don’t think with the head that’s on your shoulders but with one that’s a little further south!’

Kagome clapped her hands over her ears and blushed. Miroku’s jaw dropped. Shippo hopped nearer, wary of Inu Yasha.

‘What head?’ he asked innocently.

Suddenly, Sango jumped up and everybody turned to look at her. A muscle was twitching in her jaw and her eyes flashed.

‘I noticed a spring nearby a little earlier,’ she pressed through grit teeth. ‘What about a bath, Kagome-chan?’

‘Um … sure, Sango-chan.’

Kagome exchanged a look with Inu Yasha, then got her towels and shampoo out of her bag and hurried after Sango. The last she heard from the three males at the fire was Inu Yasha’s gruff comment, ‘If you go on like that, Miroku, you don’t have to worry about being sucked in by the kazaana.’

Divine Concubine

A InuYasha Story
by CiraArana

Part 3 of 11

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