Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 3 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"An optimist is one who thinks the future is uncertain." - Anonymous

Sesshoumaru, the Prince of the Western Lands, King of the Moonlit Country, and Lord of the House of the Moon, quietly reflected that he should have never told Rin what sort of youkai he was. He should have told her something – anything – other than a dog. Anything. A rat, or a spider, even. Females didn't like those, did they? Anything so that he wouldn't have to endure this torture whenever she wanted to wake him up. Although, knowing Rin, he would have found cheese shoved under his door or dead flies at the bottom of the tea pot. His mouth twisted ruefully. Perhaps it was not so bad after all.

Oh, but he was tired. All he wanted was five more minutes. Just five more minutes with his head on his pillow and the heavy blanket draped over him, keeping out the creeping chill of the fading winter. Sesshoumaru wondered, idly, just what he would do for a respite. In the strange spaces between waking and dreaming, the demon frowned in thought.

The Tetsusaiga, he thought. I'd trade that away. I'd betray my family to the youkai taiji-ya. I'd betray myself to the taiji-ya, but just give me a pillow on the chopping block. Five more minutes was all he needed, but the universe – or rather, Rin – had other ideas.

He hadn't slept very much in recent weeks – months even – and the first chance he had to finally catch a bit of rest, the one person he would feel guilty about killing had been sent to wake him up by inflicting upon him one of his least favorite tortures.

Sesshoumaru, reigning Taiyoukai of the West, was getting his ears scratched.

Drifting up from the deep well of sleep, Sesshoumaru tried to quantify just how much he hated the feel of small, dull human fingernails scratching down the ridge of his skull just behind his ears, but found that it was impossible to put into words. He hated it more than invaders, more than cloak-and-dagger politics, more than upstart rebels. He hated it even more than getting his stomach rubbed, which was another of Rin's bright ideas that had dawned upon her after she had learned just what sort of demon he was when she was much smaller. In fact, she should have grown out of it by now. Surely it was indecent.

She was still scratching his ears. He hated that.

Letting a deep rumble of displeasure bubble up from his chest, he turned on his bed, away from the maddeningly tickling fingers and the bright, girlish laugh that flowed forth, full of pleasure, no doubt at his discomfort. Damn. Insufferable child.

Who had let her in here anyway? There was supposed to be a servant posted outside all night, although he was not so unconscious as to be unable to deduce that her presence indicated that security was getting lax. Or the servant had let her inside. Insufferable, damnable servants. Well. Servants were fairly expendable – he wouldn't feel too bad about killing one of them, just to set an example. On the other hand, it was so hard to find servants who adhered to his standards that he would feel guilty wasting good training.

There was nothing for it, it seemed. He would have to wake up.

Slowly, the most powerful youkai in all the land opened his cold golden eyes, fixed his ward with a stare of ice and summoned his most authoritative and threatening voice.

"Go. Away."

Wide brown eyes stared back, before a grin like a half moon split Rin's face and she propelled herself across the low bed to latch onto his neck, arms squeezing his throat with admirable force. Sesshoumaru wondered why he ever thought that would work. It never worked, at least not with her. How very, very vexing. He flexed his poisoned claws, trying to think very deliberately and seriously about teaching her a painful and possibly terminal lesson, but his heart just didn't seem to be in it anymore.

He was getting soft in his... youth.


"What is it, Rin?" he asked wearily, his very tone endeavoring to suggest that he suffered more frustration and torment than even Sisyphus, and that it was all her fault. As usual, she didn't take the hint.

"Sesshoumaru-sama," she keened, "today you have to make your journey! Remember?"

Sesshoumaru tried to think, and bought himself some time by carefully but forcefully disentangling Rin's arms from around his neck. He kept his face passive as his thoughts ran around in panicked circles.

Journey? he thought frantically. What journey? A dim, half-realized specter rose in the back of his mind; cold, uncomfortable, and only slightly unexpected, like stepping in a pile of horse manure in the middle of the night. He was going to... the North, was it? Yes, probably. Was that today? he wondered. Oh, well, someone would be sure to tell him once he was up and dressed.

"Rin," he said.

She blinked up at him impishly. Her hair was drawn back in a strange weave today and there were flowers in it – moonflowers, if he remembered correctly, which he probably didn't – and she was sitting on his sleeping mat as if she had every right to be there. "Hai, Sesshoumaru-sama?" she said brightly.


Just a few short years ago she would have smiled and complied, but now she just pulled her lower lip into a pout. "But Sesshoumaru-sama – " she began.

"Out. Now. I must get dressed," he told her in a voice that he hoped brooked no argument.

She lowered her eyes, but the pout remained. "Hai," she said sullenly before rising and exiting the room. As she slid the door closed Sesshoumaru sighed and looked down at his mussed kimono. Why hadn't he done something about her yet? Somehow it always seemed to slip his mind.

He slowly disrobed before retrieving his heavy silk kimono and hakama and slipping into them. Perhaps there was just no time to do something with her, he mused as he tied himself into his clothes and shrugged into his armor. In any case, despite the fact that he had just awakened it was too late to send her away today; he had to leave. Or something. Sesshoumaru vainly struggled to remember what his specific mission was supposed to be, but the particulars eluded him. By the time he had strapped on his armor and slid his swords into place, he was almost positive he was traveling to the North to deal with the various lords there, but the whys and wherefores still escaped his grasp.

Peace treaty? Unlikely. Social call? No, probably not. Rebellion? There were so many of those annoying things it seemed as though he had to go out once a week to lay waste to some upstart youkai or another that sought to overthrow him. It was pathetic, really. A worthy opponent would be nice, but was usually a mixed blessing; in a way Sesshoumaru was happy that all the rebellions he had dealt with during his tenure were so tedious. What else… a border dispute? Yes, that might be it. Yes, that was probably what it was.

Sesshoumaru slid the shoji screen open and walked into the hall, pleased with himself that he had figured out at least one of the complex problems that surrounded him in Gordian knots, not that it really mattered in the end. A sword could solve all knotty questions and still leave time for a cup of tea; whatever problem faced him, he would cut right through it and be home in a few days. Plan securely in his mind, Sesshoumaru entered the sparse room where he held his household briefings to find his top advisor, Riui, already waiting for him.

"Ayumi-chan, I really think you broke my brain," Kagome complained as she rubbed her temples in small circles. Kagome knew that she was by no means an idiot, but she had never been the best at math and geometry. Now that Ayumi was majoring in physics Kagome felt even dumber than when she was just a teenager trying to understand a crippling number of axioms and theorems by the light of the fire in the Sengoku Jidai.

"But you were the one who asked about time-travel and paradoxes," Ayumi said reasonably. "Besides, this is a fairy tale, Kagome-chan. It isn't real, you know."

Kagome wanted to bang her head against a wall; for being so smart, Ayumi could be rather unimaginative. "I was just using this story as an example."

Ayumi, sitting in her chair while Kagome curled up on the bed and picked at loose threads in Ayumi's bedspread, placed a delicate, lady-like finger on her lips and tilted her head to the side as she studied Kagome's notes. After a moment she smiled gently. "I can see why you would want to save the girl in the story – it's very sad, after all – but it would probably be impossible to do so."

"But why?" Kagome asked. God, this thread is being difficult, she thought grumpily as she loosened another stitch. "Wouldn't the story change as soon as I made the decision to go back in time and save her or something?"

Ayumi shook her head. "You can't do that sort of thing with time travel. One of two things would happen. You'd go back and fail, because what's in the past has already happened, or you'd create a quantum split, where you save the girl and create a parallel universe to which you probably wouldn't return when you travel forward again."

Kagome blinked as she was momentarily distracted from her delicate thread-unraveling operation.

"But... she would still be alive in another universe, right?" she said, trying to hide the hope in her voice. Even if she knew that Kagome had actually met, touched, and spoken to the characters in this long-forgotten fairytale, Ayumi would never understand why the face of Sesshoumaru's little girl had floated behind Kagome's eyes all night, looking bright and happy and filled with a love for life that was so rare in any time. Kagome's one conversation with the little girl had revealed that Rin had known misery and grief and even death. And yet, she was still so happy. It was a sharp contrast to those around her who simply endured life in the midst of the twin plagues of war and poverty.

Kagome knew she could never explain to her friend who had never seen battle or death why the injustice, the abject cruelty of it all had settled its claws into her stomach and was slowly shredding her to tiny pieces.

Ayumi didn't seem to notice anything strange about Kagome's concern. "Well, if the whole parallel universe theory is true, she probably wouldn't have died in another timeline if she were a real person. But the story in our timeline is that she died. So you can't really change it," she replied as she leafed through Kagome's notebook.

Kagome hooked a fingernail beneath the next stitch of the loose thread and frowned. That couldn't be right, could it? She changed the past by going back, didn't she? Or... perhaps she didn't. Perhaps the past had always been that way, and not going back in time would have changed it, and...

Kagome groaned and buried her head in a pillow. Her brain hurt.

"Kagome-chan, don't get so worked up over this!" Ayumi said lightly. "It's just a story your professor told you, right? It didn't really happen, so there's no need to think about it, right?"

Kagome just nodded into the pillow, not trusting herself to speak as a shining little girl ran through her mind.

Maybe she was using this as an excuse to try again. It hadn't been very long since she had been in the Sengoku Jidai; Miroku and Sango probably had babies, and Shippou was growing up, and Rin would still be alive and she could see them all and Rin wouldn't have to die...

Yet if she somehow managed to return she would have to see Inuyasha too. He was probably still alive as well, and just recalling his face to mind caused a bolt of ice to lance through her heart as easily as a blade through a boil.

Inuyasha... and Kikyou...

Ayumi was shaking her shoulder and Kagome forcibly wrested her thoughts away from the phantom pain of lost opportunity as she lifted her head.

"Come on, Kagome!" Ayumi said brightly. "This is all just theoretical anyway. We can't go back in time, and the story is a fantasy. Let's go get some breakfast before classes start."

Kagome only nodded in response.

Riui looked up at his lord and master, who stared down at the documents in front of him with fierce concentration. Golden eyes bore down into the paper as if Sesshoumaru thought he could divine the future from the words written there.

How noble and dedicated! Riui thought to himself as he stole quick glances at the intense face of his lord as Sesshoumaru studied the maps and various treaties Riui had unearthed from the library. He must be thinking of his negotiating strategy.

'I will drink and drink this sake. If I drink... If I drink...' If I drink... wait, what was that next line? Sesshoumaru thought to himself as he let his unfocused eyes rest on the paleness of the papers in front of him; as long as he allowed his eyes to blur, all the messy writing before him faded into soothing smudges and eased his headache. He was a bit peeved that the melody he only half-remembered from his days traveling in the small territory to the south was also escaping him. He couldn't quite recall the nuances at the end of the first line.

Riui didn't dare move. If he disturbed his lord while he was thinking, he might lose his thread of thought and be angry. Perhaps he was thinking of the perfect plan at this very moment! The very moment Riui felt the horrible need to scratch his nose! Riui hoped it would go away if he concentrated very, very hard. Risking another glance, the old advisor wondered if Sesshoumaru's hearing was so great that he could detect the movement of eyeballs in their sockets, but when his master did not stir from his position Riui relaxed. Maybe if he moved very, very slowly, he could get at that damnable itch and not disturb Sesshoumaru. With more patience than he thought he possessed, Riui very carefully lifted a hand above the table and started the torturously slow journey to his face.

'If I drink, I will get the... I will get the... the finest spear in the land of the rising sun...' That's the line! Sesshoumaru thought triumphantly and allowed himself a small mental celebration. It lasted for a few moments before a small but niggling suspicion caught his attention. Inwardly, Sesshoumaru frowned and went back over the little melody.

'I will get the finest spear in the land of the rising sun'? he repeated very slowly to himself. He'd never thought of it before, but that line sounded awfully suggestive. 'If I drink, I will get the finest spear in the land of the rising sun.' Oh, bugger. Why did folk songs have to be so damn tricky? Out of the corner of his unfocused eye, Sesshoumaru caught a bit of movement. Instinctively he tensed –

It was just Riui, reaching for his face, albeit in a manner more suited to someone moving through thick mud.

"What are you doing?"

Riui started guiltily and immediately pushed himself back from the short table to press his face into the ground. "Forgive me for interrupting your thoughts, Sesshoumaru-sama!" he cried. "I did not want to disturb you by moving too quickly, but it seems that I have done so anyway! Please forgive me, my lord! I won't do it again, I'll cut off my nose, forgive me!"

Vaguely, Sesshoumaru wondered if all his servants received groveling lessons from Jaken; it would certainly explain the constant bobbing in the dirt and long strings of apologies and excuses when a simple "gomen nasai" would suffice. Well, it didn't really matter, he supposed. As long as they were suitably deferential they were safe.

Casting a quick glance over the documents in front of him, Sesshoumaru decided his headache was too great to bother trying to understand the treaties made before his tenure. He would just wing it like he always did. Who needed plans when you could think on your feet? Plans were for dealing with long-term enemies, not people with whom you had never met before. Comfortable in his decision, Sesshoumaru rose to his feet, turned his back on the still pleading advisor, and exited the room.

Riui glanced up to see his lord leave the room. Oh no, is he angry with me? Am I going to be punished? he thought, his stomach twisting in horrible knots. He listened with dread as Sesshoumaru's footsteps retreated from his range of hearing.

What was that next line? Sesshoumaru mused as he walked down the hallway toward the front door of the manor. Maybe Myoga would know. Sesshoumaru made a mental note to ask the old flea the next time he passed through, which he did with increasing frequency now that Inuyasha was dead. Besides, Sesshoumaru had more important things to do; the sooner he was gone, the sooner he could return.

Jaken was already at the head of the path down the mountainside, Aun's reigns in his tiny green hands. Sesshoumaru took them from him and began to walk.

"Stay here," he said to his retainer as he moved down the pathway. "Make sure things run smoothly."

"Hai, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Jaken exclaimed enthusiastically behind him. Sesshoumaru didn't bother to acknowledge the response. Beside him, Aun grunted.

'I will drink and drink this sake. If I drink I will get the finest spear in the land of the rising sun...' he sang inside his head as they descended the mountain until the melody was interrupted by a high, feminine voice piping up from the crest of the road.


As though he were a dog on a leash, Sesshoumaru stopped in his tracks and turned to glance behind him, looking up the length of path he had already traversed. At the top stood Rin in a light pink kimono, hair billowing around her in the sweetly icy wind of early springtime.

"Come home soon!" she called down to him, and he could hear a girlish giggle floating on the breeze.

Sesshoumaru said nothing, and continued down the mountain. He would be home soon enough, and they could see each other again. Rin would wait for him.

He could still hear her laughter even when she was gone from his sight.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 3 of 42

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