Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 25 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon


Five more minutes, Kagome thought.

She was happy right where she was, but apparently someone didn't want her to be happy. The fact that she should have already arrived at this conclusion long ago made no difference; she was sleepy and there was nothing nicer than a soft, papery pillow beneath her cheek.

Wait. Hm.

She cracked an eye only to see a dusty page beneath her head. Suddenly sleep didn't seem like such a good idea. Bolting upright Kagome anxiously inspected the rare text that she had been perusing not ten minutes ago, and, finding it unmolested despite her shoddy treatment, was pathetically grateful that she had not drooled on it.


Blinking, trying to regain her mental balance, Kagome found herself sitting in the library, and Ayumi was standing next to her, pinning her with a pensive look. Wearily, Kagome passed a hand across her face, as though to sweep away the fatigue that threatened to send her crashing back down to rest on one of the only extant copies of Regional Tales of Japan. It was no wonder the book was rare; she had no idea that it was possible to make fairytales boring, and yet the proof was sitting in front of her. It looked so innocent, too. Kagome prodded her brain and found that her last memory was of slumping over in her chair and propping her eyelids open with her fingers. It had obviously not worked.

"What is it, Ayumi?" Kagome asked tiredly, looking at her old friend. Now that she was doing post-graduate work Ayumi was the only friend from high school she still talked to, and that was probably only because they were sharing an apartment together; Eri and Yuka were both married and actually starting families now, but Ayumi, like Kagome, had chosen to go on in her education. It made sense for her - she was devastatingly bright, if a little naive - but for Kagome it was something of an anomaly.

I'd be married by now if it weren't for Inuyasha, she thought. The notion, while not as steeped in melancholia as it had once been, still made her a little sad. After all, it had not been his fault...

"I was just wondering if you were almost finished," Ayumi said, her gentle voice cutting into Kagome's floating reverie. "The library is going to close in half an hour."

Kagome glanced at the pile of notes in front of her, and the stacks of books surrounding that. "Um," she said. "Yeah. Sure."

"Okay," Ayumi smiled. "Don't forget your coat like you did last time - it's getting cold outside."

"No problem," Kagome mumbled as her friend wandered away before looking back at the jumble of academia in which she had tried to bury herself. She wondered why she had ever thought studying would soothe her frazzled nerves and sore heart, because it only allowed her to dwell even more on the things she should be forgetting.

She kept looking for herself in stories.

It was a foolish occupation, but she couldn't help it. There was no true incentive to return to the past this time, no real unfinished business to take care of, and still she found that yet another piece of her life had gone missing when she had returned home at the end of the summer.

Kagome missed him. A lot.

She hadn't allowed herself to think his name in a month for fear of what it might summon, but the fact remained that there was a big, fat, irritating inu-youkai-shaped hole in her life, and absolutely no one was big enough to fill it except the youkai himself. Kagome kept catching herself almost turning to him sometimes to offer a snide remark about this or that human folly that he would have appreciated, only to find that he was not there; occasionally she would do something stupid, and she could almost hear him snicker at her ineptitude, but when she sought to scold him he could not be found, except as a figment of her imagination. Sometimes she could even think of a teasing insult that he might utilize against her; it really was astonishing how thoroughly he managed to distract her even when not physically present.

Not to mention there was that weird... thing... they had maybe-probably promised each other in the well-house, except there had never really been an explicit pact and Kagome found herself wondering if what he had said had just been his weird way of making her feel better for leaving everything behind for good, or even if he had ever said those things at all.

When you come back...

I'll see you.


It had been a complete surprise. But then again, she hadn't expected him to return her embrace either.

That had been... she didn't know what it had been, but whenever she remembered his claws tangled in her hair or the feel of his breath washing over throat, her cheeks would flare up in an incandescent schoolgirl blush which was, while not an entirely unexpected reaction, nevertheless an unwelcome one. A month after returning, Kagome had sat in class and counted how many times her thoughts strayed to him, and when she found herself thinking about his arms around her for the fourteenth time in the space of three hours she had given up trying to pretend that he was not, in fact, somewhat attractive. Nascent pretty-hair fetish notwithstanding, her reaction to his extreme proximity - and the fact that he hadn't pushed her away like she had expected - was perfectly natural, except for the fact that it made her incredibly guilty whenever she remembered that she was, essentially, thinking these vaguely titillating thoughts about Inuyasha's brother. She loved Inuyasha and the two brothers had hated each other for the majority of their lives, and it was just wrong. End of story.

Not to mention that there also seemed something incredibly fickle about going from loving one brother straight into... Well, something. Kagome wasn't even certain her feelings for the two were even comparable, which seemed to be both reassuring and rather worrying, and strangely made her guilt more acute. Still, it didn't really matter, as clearly she was just being weird and hormonal and it had been too long since she had cared about someone enough to even consider any sort of real attachment...

...well, that was better left alone.

Kagome sighed; she was getting off track, and mentally reasserted her train of thought.

So. Vague - and most assuredly ridiculous - fixations on entirely unavailable demons aside, it was possibly probable that there had been an inexplicit promise between herself and said demon, and she never broke her promises. That was why she kept looking for tales of mikos with a genesis near the very end of the Sengoku Jidai. She was trying to keep her promise to him. Kagome just hoped said demon would remember said unspoken understanding if she ever found her way back.

On the upside, he was him, and he didn't seem to change or grow old, so there was really no reason to avoid the chance to see him again. The strange thing - that wasn't strange at all, and was therefore strange - was that she truly did miss him. She missed the easy way they bantered back and forth, the easy way they slid into silence, the easy way they leapt over hurdles together, the easy way they could speak of their mysteries in the dark. Perhaps she should be nervous about feeling such a strong connection to such a morally ambiguous individual, but she just couldn't muster the strength needed to care.

It was - no, she might as well admit it - he was comforting, among other things. Before, he had simply been 'Inuyasha's Jerk Brother'; he had just been a two dimensional portrait in the entrance hall of her head. Now, however, he had stepped down from that painting with all the haughty arrogance of the prince that he was and casually strolled into her most private rooms, no doubt dryly commenting on the rather pedantic decor as he went.

Somehow, that notion did not seem as ludicrous - or as awkward - as it should have been.

And, of course, it went without saying that she was dying for a stress-relieving argument, which was a strange aspect of her personality that had hitherto gone unexplored until he had happened along, and since he had "happened along" some four hundred years in the past there was no hope in finding that perfect person to snark at. Their temporal distance did nothing to help her achieve her goals. Kagome found it all very unfair, and she was going to lodge a formal complaint as soon as she figured out to whom it should be addressed.

"Gnuh," she said as she turned back to the stultifying text in front of her. She had maybe fifteen minutes to try and find the fairytale she was looking for. If, that is, it was actually in the book, which was still up in the air as the author had not thought to supply either an index or a table of contents to his hapless audience.

She was searching for the earlier versions of several well-known fairytales but so far she had been unsuccessful as the most efficient way to search the book was to go page by page, scanning for this or that word that pertained to the later versions. It was frustrating her to no end.

Kagome chewed her bottom lip as she skimmed the pages.

No... no... hime... no... no, no, no, no... heaven, no, god, no... sea, king, no, no, no... sorceress, no... miko, no -

Her brain skipped a beat.

Kagome stopped in her perusal, almost afraid to turn back the page she had just flipped over for fear that she had read the word incorrectly, and the sudden pounding of her heart, the thunder of blood in her ears, would be for nothing.

This is not me, she thought, steeling herself.

Slowly she lifted the page and let it flutter back.

...the story of the miko and the madoushi originated near the beginning of the Tokugawa period in the Tokyo prefecture, though a remarkably similar tale is told in the region of Kyoto, indicating migration or, though unlikely, a basis in fact...

Kagome felt the breath leave her body. Tokyo and Kyoto. Edo and the western lands.

Forcibly she shook her head, as though to dislodge the fluttering hope that had become trapped inside. It probably meant nothing. It couldn't mean anything.

Her eyes snapped closed and she took an enormous breath, trying to calm the sudden jittering in her body, the feel of nerves on high alert. Swallowing, she looked back down at the page.

...the two tales are very similar and differ only in one minor respect. They start out the same: a young miko makes an appearance in Edo. Though incredibly powerful, she is almost entirely untrained, and her skills in combat are nearly absent despite her innate talent. Around the same time a madoushi of evil intent also arrives in Edo. Unlike the miko, the madoushi lacks her own innate power, but she has compensated for this defect by selling her soul to a dark god. Accounts differ as to the god's nature, but it takes pleasure in the suffering of others In order to infiltrate the growing city of Edo, she disguises herself as a miko, as that will give her the closest proximity to suffering so that her god may feast upon it. It is interesting to note that during the time this story originated a particularly virulent strain of what was probably influenza was sweeping through the city, which might have lent credence to an evil influence. Regardless, the miko, encountering the madoushi, is challenged.

Kagome blinked. Challenged? Argh. I don't know if I want this to be me or not! She frowned and bent her head to the page to keep reading.

Both the miko and the madoushi are injured in their battle, but due to the madoushi's dark pact, as long as the god is free she will heal rapidly, and cannot be killed. The miko flees.

Here the two stories momentarily diverge. Accounts differ as to whether she travels to the south, as maintained by the Tokyo tale, or to the west, as claimed by the Kyoto tale. Regardless of her direction she seeks counsel and training in the art of being a priestess, and in the art of battle, though the training is by necessity incomplete. Through her training, the miko is intensely aware that the evil of the madoushi has already ruined many lives and will eventually decimate the city unless the miko defeats her. She decides that it would be better for her to die than to leave the madoushi to feast on the suffering of others any longer than necessary. After undergoing a period of intense training, the miko is declared adequately prepared to defeat the madoushi in combat, and she returns to Edo to confront the madoushi. In the ensuing battle, the madoushi is fatally injured, but again because of the dark god the madoushi is able to heal and is invincible despite her many wounds. Near the end of the fight they are both exhausted and the miko is wounded, but the miko is finally able to seal the god and banish the madoushi.

The story ends there, and we are not told of the fate of the miko, only that the dark god is contained and sealed in a nearby shrine to bind his terrible power and cruel intent.

Even further back than this tale...

Kagome sat back, feeling ill.

That can't be me. Can it? It couldn't be.

But what if it is?

If the story was hers, then she would have to do battle. Really do battle, not just shoot arrows. She would have to learn how to seal a god. She would be injured, and there was no telling if she would live. Of course, if the story was hers and she did not go out of fear, there was the whole problem of quantum thingies that Ayumi had explained to her a little over six months ago, before she went on her first journey. She could disturb the fabric of space-time, or create other universes or something. If the story wasn't hers and she tried to go back, the well simply would not accept her.

But if it was her story, she would have to go all the way.

This was not what she had been hoping to find. She wasn't quite certain what she had been expecting, but severe injury was not part of the plan. Sure, scarred fingers were one thing - Kagome rubbed her hands absentmindedly - but getting seriously wounded was another thing entirely.

This requires rather more consideration than I had anticipated, she thought ruefully. This was not good. There was an ominous feel to the story entirely separate from its poor delivery, and Kagome did not know whether such a feeling was a premonition or just her overactive imagination.

If only I didn't like that jerk so much, I would have never been looking for this stupid story, she thought grouchily.

Shoving her thoughts of him away, Kagome ground her teeth. If the miko was she, her sense of duty would not allow her to ignore it; she would not be able to live with herself. For some reason, Kagome could not help but feel that she was being manipulated by fate, just as she had been all those years ago when she was the one touched by destiny to erase the Shikon no Tama from the earth. She couldn't refuse to do it, so she did it regardless of the personal cost. She wouldn't be herself if she did not take whatever responsibility had been set before her.

Still chewing her lip, Kagome quickly jotted down what seemed to be the important parts of the story. As she did so she began to think more about it.

The thing that struck her about this particular tale was the ambiguous nature of the training and the journeying, not to mention the uncertain fate of the miko. If she survived, she could seek him out. Or perhaps the journey to the west was to plead for his help. Though she couldn't help notice that there was a definite lack of inu-youkai in the story, that did not necessarily mean he wasn't in it; many of the people she had encountered - and many of the events she had endured - had not been mentioned in the stories at all, and some of the events mentioned had never happened anyway.

Kagome entertained the small hope that, if the miko were indeed she, the whole bit about the battle was exaggeration. Maybe the miko and the madoushi played a friendly game of spades, settling the conflict like civilized people instead of poking at each other with pointy things. Somehow, though, that did not seem to be terribly likely, especially since that would mean she would get a break.

Can't have that! she thought with less than her usual good humor as she closed the book and began to shove her papers and her books into the giant satchel she carried around. She still missed her faithful yellow backpack, but this one was not so bad. It was dark green, and far less tattered, and it had the added advantage of not having been melted on a mountainside in the feudal era. Really, it was a good trade-off.

She was shoveling the last of her affects into the main pocket when Ayumi returned from wherever she had been.

"Ready?" she asked brightly. "I have curry back at the apartment. It'll be nice after the cold, don't you think?"

Kagome smiled at her friend wearily. "That sounds great. Let's get out of here."

She followed Ayumi out into the chilly late October evening and burrowed further inside her coat, though she knew the chill she felt was not caused by the weather. Kagome rubbed her arms, wishing she could rid herself the anxiety that curdled inside her.

On the train ride home, Kagome let her head fall against the window as she fretted, and, staring out into the darkness, she chewed her lip and tried not to think of him. It was no use, of course; no matter how she struggled, she could not shake the naive, childish feeling that if she could see him again everything would be all right. It was the same urge that forced her to visit Sango - the desperate hope that there was something intangible and eternal that would make every bad thing, every bad thought go away. It was the same immature impulse that made her jump down the well so many times - the conviction that, even though he was now living his life with Kikyou, just seeing Inuyasha again would clear away the sadness and dry the tears. She knew in that way lay only disappointment, and yet she couldn't help herself.

But then again, what was the harm in wishing?

Quietly, softly, Kagome closed her eyes and wished he could be with her.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 25 of 42

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