Continuing Tales

Dragon's Prey

A InuYasha Story
by CiraArana

Part 6 of 10

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Second Chances

Sango and Miroku returned to their camp the next morning, their clothes wrinkled and full of green spots. They had made love once more in the early hours of the morning and were both tired but satisfied as they joined their friends again.

They were already all awake and Kagome was busy preparing breakfast. They looked up as Sango and Miroku came nearer, hands entwined. Sango blushed and cast her eyes down, but Miroku bid everybody cheerfully a good morning. Inu Yasha grumbled something about cheerful people early in the morning. Kagome blushed, too, but managed to answer politely.

Only Shippo and Kirara acted normal. Shippo grinned and asked them what they wanted for breakfast, ramen or ramen, and Kirara jumped into her mistress' arms. The cat wrinkled her little nose, though, as she curled up in Sango's arms, and mewed.

Inu Yasha huffed. "Yeah, you two'd better go and wash."

Sango blushed violently and bent her head, but Kagome saw her friend's lips curl into a secretive smile. She sighed and looked down on what she doing, trying to not think about Sango and Miroku had done. Well, Sango was safe now... Kagome sighed and poured water over the instant noodles.

Miroku and Sango quickly gathered some things they would need for a bath and set out again to find a pond or stream. As they left camp Inu Yasha shouted after them: "Don't dawdle! We haven't got all day!"

They returned in relatively short time and Inu Yasha sniffed ostentatiously before he grumbled something along the lines of ‘that's a bit better'. Miroku eyed the hanyou over his cup of ramen.

"What's up with you, Inu Yasha? You're more grouchy than usual. Didn't you have a pleasant night?" he winked, a broad grin on his face.

Sango blushed again and hid behind her cup. Kagome sighed sadly and continued cleaning the cutlery she, Shippo and Inu Yasha had used for breakfast. Inu Yasha only growled at the monk.

When they had finished breakfast they cleared up and set out again. Around noon they left the forest and came across some fields with rice. In the distance they saw a village, and some people were mingling around the huts.

"Inu Yasha," began Miroku as the hanyou made move to avoid the hamlet. "We should go there. Maybe these people have been attacked by dragons as well. We could share our knowledge with them."

Inu Yasha glared darkly at the monk but made no objections. Thus they followed the road into the village. Soon their group was spotted by the inhabitants and they hurriedly came closer. It turned out that Miroku had been right: only yesterday the village had been assaulted by a dragon that had kidnapped a young girl of fourteen. Seeing the monk amongst the travellers, the villagers begged them to set out to kill the dragon to safe their lives.

Miroku shook his head at the eldest who had suggested he could easily be able to erase the dragon with his holy powers. "I am sorry," the monk said, "but these are peculiar dragons and neither mine nor Kagome-sama's powers will do anything against them."

The villagers wailed in despair and wrung their hands. Several exclamations like "We will all die!" and "What shall we do?" and "Who will save my daughter?" were heard.

Miroku raised a hand and the crowd fell silent. "We have some... good news, though."

He smiled into the eager faces around him and went on: "These dragons only prey on virgins, female virgins."

Silence greeted his words. The people around him exchanged confused and surprised glances. Murmur rose, but nobody said anything out loud, until a pretty young girl stepped forwards and sized the monk up.

"You are telling us, houshi-sama, that as soon we aren't virgins anymore the dragons will leave us alone?" she demanded.

"Yes, exactly," nodded Miroku.

The elder villagers cast him dark glances but the younger ones seemed to be very interested. The girl who had asked cocked her head. "And you think I believe this?"

"Keh, you don' have to," snarled Inu Yasha. "Go on, keep your holy virginity and die in the stomach of a dragon."

"Sit." Kagome's voice was calm as she spoke. She regarded the hanyou-shaped hole in the road for a while before she turned to the girl with a smile on her face. "Please excuse him. He doesn't take it well to be mistrusted."

The girl stared at Kagome with wide eyes. Then she stared at Inu Yasha, who was still fixed onto the dusty road. She gulped. "Wow, how did you do that?"

Her friends giggled as Kagome kindly explained how she was able to sit the hanyou. The girl was highly interested, and even went as far to ask the miko whether she would create a similar rosary for the girl. From the twinkle in the girl's eye she had someone particular in mind to become the bearer of this rosary.

Kagome smiled a little sadly and explained that the rosary only worked on lesser demons and half-demons.

This of course centred a good deal of the villagers' attention on the hanyou, but one of the young men inched closer to Miroku and, after eyeing him for some time, asked again whether the news the monk had brought were true.

Miroku smiled benignly and nodded. "Yes, be assured this is the truth."

"How can you be so sure?" asked another boy.

"We had several encounters with these monsters during the last week, and from our observations we concluded that it must be so. Besides, our assumptions were affirmed after we had spoken to a wise old man," Miroku omitted that this man was a flea demon, "who told us more about the beasts."

Some bystanders nodded. If a monk said this was true, the miko at his side affirmed this by nodding to his words, and even an old, wise man agreed to it than it must be true.

The elder inhabitants frowned or shook their heads in disapproval. The young men began to grin almost as one. The girls stuck their head together, whispered and giggled. The one or other girl would cast furtive glances at one or other boy and blush when she was caught.

Grinning Miroku watched as one young man gathered his courage and, after casting a fleeting glance at the village's eldest, advanced the cluster of giggling girls. Blushing slightly he bowed in front of a girl, who hid her face in her hands while her companions giggled and pushed her towards the guy.

"Yuri-chan," he said gravely, "would you allow me to... help you out of this... situation?"

The girl peeped through her fingers at the young man, then at an elderly woman who appeared to be her mother, and then nodded. The young man took her hand and they wandered off.

As this elicited no vigorous protests from mothers, fathers and the village's eldest, the other boys followed the example set by the first young man, and asked the girls if they were allowed to... help.

Inu Yasha watched these events with a heavy frown. "You're a real good monk, Miroku. You're encouraging everybody to become just as corrupted as you are!"

Miroku looked over his shoulder at the grouchy hanyou. "Desperate times demand desperate measures, Inu Yasha."

Inu Yasha was about to retort when the monk was addressed by a young woman who clutched a girl about five or six years to her side.

"Houshi-sama," the woman said with a worried voice, "please, what can I do about Ume-chan's safety? She's only five! Surely you won't tell me to..." she trailed off. Other women nodded their interest in the answer to that question.

Miroku blinked at the woman, and then at the girl by her side. "Um..."

"Don't worry, okasan!" cut Kagome in and the heads turned to her. She smiled gently at the young mother. "Your daughter is too young to be of interest for the dragons."

The mother seemed relieved, as well as the other women around her, but also curious. "Are you sure, miko-sama?"

Kagome nodded. "Oh, yes."

"But which is the decisive age?" demanded another woman. "When will our daughters be in danger? How can you tell?"

A third stepped forwards. "Yes, houshi-sama, please explain this to us!"

Miroku shook his head. "I am sorry; I can't tell you more on this matter. But I'm sure Kagome-sama will gladly explain."

He cast Kagome a confused look that clearly said he had not the faintest idea what to answer to the women's queries. Sango, Inu Yasha and Shippo wore equally confused expressions.

Kagome smiled at them before she addressed the worried women. These had begun to eye Miroku with mistrust.

"No, of course Miroku-sama can't explain," she said lightly. "He is not a woman."

With these words Kagome had quite cleverly managed to not only exclude every male around from the matters, but also invoked the feeling of sisterhood among the women. They scuttled closer to the young miko as she began to explain.

"You see, these dragons are only interested in girls who are... mature," Kagome blushed a bit. "Therefore there is no general age to go by, but only the... maturity of the girl in question. If she has had her...," she blushed even harder and stopped but she needn't go on. The women all nodded with understanding smiles.

"So this has something to do with fertility?" asked the first woman.

"Yes, I think so."

"But how do you know?"

Kagome laid one finger on her chin. "The most victims were girls or young women who hadn't married. There was one exception, though, but the woman was a miko and therefore unmarried. However, she had still been at an age where... she would have been able to have children."

The women nodded and thanked Kagome with many bows for easing their worry.

The village's eldest regarded the women grumpily. "What was this all about?" he asked in annoyance. "How come that the women have taken over?"

Miroku smiled at the old man. "That's the way of all females. Whenever a matter only applies to them they shut men out. And there is no use for us to inquire, for they surely won't tell us." He nodded his head wisely.

After many more thanks and bows from the villagers the travellers set out again. When they left eye-sight of the village Miroku cast Kagome a questioning glance.

"How did you know that, Kagome-sama?"

Kagome smiled sweetly. "I am a woman and I have eyes to see."

The monk shook his head in confusion. Sango, who was walking by his side, grinned at him. "Caught by your own wisdom, Miroku."

They hadn't come very far before they spotted, high above them, the shape of a dragon flying into the direction of the village. Kagome squirmed a bit, but the beast didn't seem to be interested in her when he had the choice at the village. Only, there wasn't a choice at the village any more...

Shortly afterwards they heard the rustling of wings behind them. Kagome inched closer to Inu Yasha. Her companions walked on, and only when the dragon screeched did they turn around.

"Virgin!" it shrieked. "I want that virgin! Give her to me!!"

Miroku blinked and exchanged a confused glance with Sango, before they turned as one to the girl and the hanyou behind them.

"Inu Yasha," began Miroku sternly, disregarding the approaching dragon. "You didn't help Kagome-sama out of this?"

The dragon came closer and closer, but the monk did not turn to the danger. He eyed Inu Yasha like a father who was disappointed with his son's manners. Kagome quivered at the threat of the dragon, and began tugging at Inu Yasha's sleeve to divert his attention from his sulk and make him aware of the attacking monster. But suddenly a whoosh sounded, then another screech, and the headless dragon fell with a thundering crash onto the ground while Hiraikotsu returned in a graceful arch to its owner.

Kagome breathed in relief. "Thanks, Sango-chan."

The huntress nodded at her friend. "You're welcome, Kagome-chan." Then she joined the monk in glaring reproachfully at the hanyou.

Inu Yasha shuffled his feet nervously. He felt guilty for putting his best friend in the danger of being eaten by a dragon, but he was also highly annoyed at the whole situation and at the two pairs of reproving eyes. He was angry and worried and torn, and this made him very irritable.

He raised his head and glared at monk and huntress. "What?"

"Inu Yasha! You do realise the danger Kagome-sama is in, do you? And you know how easily you can end this danger? And you realise how selfish you are that you don't? And..."

"Oh, shut up!" snapped Inu Yasha.

"No, I won't shut up!" Miroku crossed his arm over his chest. "This is serious, Inu Yasha! Why haven't you done it? I thought you promised Kagome-sama to protect her? And since you can't use the wind-scar on these dragons I thought you'd be glad to find another way out? Such an easy and agreeable way no less! Why did you not help Kagome-sama, Inu Yasha?"

Inu Yasha growled. "Not your business."

"Oh, yes, it is!" shouted Sango. "Kagome-chan is our friend and her life and safety are at stake! It is our business, more so since it seems to be our business to keep the dragons away from her!"

Inu Yasha turned and made move to stomp away. Miroku hit him over the head with his staff.

"Not so quick, Inu Yasha, we aren't ready yet!"

"Yes, we are! What I do and what I don't do and why is not your business!"

"Ah, so it's Kikyo, right? You can't help Kagome-sama because of Kikyo? You do know she is dead and Kagome-sama is alive?"

"Leave Kikyo out of it!"

Sango snorted, and as Miroku was about to answer she put a hand on his arm. "It's no use, Miroku. He doesn't understand. We two can keep Kagome safe until Koga shows up. I think he'll be very glad to help Kagome-chan."

Inu Yasha growled. "If that damn wolf does so much as even lay a finger on her..."

Sango whirled around and glared at him with flashing eyes. Inu Yasha shrank back. "Then stop making a real big fuss about it and help Kagome-chan!"

Kagome sighed and sat down on a mossy spot next to the road. Wearily, she watched her quarrelling friends with a furious blush on her cheeks. Apart from it being horribly mortifying to have her virginity discussed in the public, it was also very humiliating that Inu Yasha obviously needed to be persuaded to touch her. Was she that ugly?

Of course, Sango and Miroku meant only the best, but even if they bullied Inu Yasha into helping her... Kagome felt the prickling of tears behind her eyes and blinked hurriedly. She wouldn't cry over this! No, she wouldn't!

She looked up as a small paw touched her knee and met large, green eyes.

"I would help you at once, Kagome," said Shippo seriously.

Kagome felt a tear slip her tight reign and smiled a bit shakily. "I know you would, Shippo-chan."

And she hugged the little fox to her chest while some steps away her friends were yelling and shouting at each other.

Dragon's Prey

A InuYasha Story
by CiraArana

Part 6 of 10

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