Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 4 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory." - Franklin P. Adams

Kagome stared at her cup of tea and brooded. She was getting really good at brooding these days. She felt like she had been running for a long time but even though she was stumbling and her breath burned in her lungs, the past was catching up with her with alarming speed. Dating, parties, movies, books, schoolwork – suddenly it all just seemed like a distraction from everything she had left behind. In this time, she was alive, but all her friends, the bonds she had forged in the temporally distant but emotionally recent past, seemed to hover over her shoulders, casting their eyes upon her as she made her way through life.

She knew they were all dead, every last one of them… well, maybe not Shippou, but wouldn't he have tried to contact her by now? But knowing intellectually and realizing it in her heart were two different things. Even now there was still the lingering hope that if she leapt over the rim of the well she could tumble down through time, and they would be waiting on the other side.

Miroku would laugh and Sango would shout her name and Shippou would bound toward her. Kaede would still be in her hut, banking fires and protecting her village. And Inuyasha, human now, would open his arms and welcome her like a friend. And Kikyou with her new soul might smile gently and hold her hands. And Kagome would be happy for them.


Kagome bit her lip and stared into the dark brown depths of her tea where her silhouette was outlined in its surface. She was a horrible person. She should be happy that Inuyasha and Kikyou were together again – it was the way it should have been since the beginning. Even her romantic side felt a twinge of contentment thinking about it; it was as though something stunted had been completed again, as if instead of panicking Juilet had called the paramedics and they had arrived at the last moment and pumped Romeo's stomach and the destined couple had been able to continue their love story. All that hideous tragedy had been rewritten, and the happiness those two outcasts deserved was finally delivered.

Even so, it didn't stop the still-fading pain of rejection.

I should probably be over this by now, shouldn't I? Kagome asked herself as she took a sip of tea. It's not very mature to still be hung up on what amounts to a high school crush.

It didn't feel like a crush, though. It felt like she had been denied something deep and fundamental, and there was an itch in her heart that whispered to her, telling her that she might not be the only reincarnation; if she could just find him again, she could be happy. Then again, Kaede had always told her she should be happy with what she was given, not expect life to suddenly bring her happiness. It was difficult advice for a teenager to swallow, and Kagome found it was still hard to stomach.

She sighed and let her head fall forward so that her hair covered her eyes. She felt a little lost inside her own skin; it was a weird feeling, as if she were too small for the person she had become. Kagome slowly lowered her head to the cool table in front of her and breathed deeply, trying to remember. It all seemed so long ago.

Kikyou, revived, filled with a new soul given to her by the Shikon no Tama, and Inuyasha, finally human, were building their own home at the outskirts of the village. Even from inside Kaede's hut, Kagome could hear them constructing it, bickering sweetly and softly to each other, and she just wanted to shove her head into a hole and never surface again.

"Don't fret, child," Kaede finally said quietly as she filled Kagome's bowl with thick stew. "It was not your destiny."

It was impossible to speak. Kagome just shook her head, afraid that if she opened her mouth she would begin to cry. And it wasn't even as if she had anyone to blame but herself. It had been her pure wish on the jewel pried from Naraku's corpse that had set this in motion, and even though the battle had been over a week ago she was still in the Sengoku Jidai, unable to move on. She sipped her stew quietly.

The silence stretched out, long and almost tangible. Kaede finally spoke gently. "Kagome?"

It was too much. Kagome looked up, food forgotten. "Then why did I have to meet him in the first place?" she whispered. "What is my destiny, what was my purpose here, if I had to meet him and then let go of him again?"

Kaede's eyes softened, and she sighed as she settled back. "Kagome, your purpose here was to defeat an evil being. It was to save your friends. And perhaps, to a lesser extent, it was to redeem Inuyasha's wild heart."

Her nose stung with hot, unshed tears and she lowered her head. "If I redeemed his heart, why didn't he love me? Why couldn't my destiny have been to be with him?"

A wrinkled old hand grasped her own and folded it in warm, papery skin. "Look at me, child."

Slowly, Kagome lifted her head, and as she did a single tear slipped down her cheek.

Kaede gestured to herself with her free hand. "Child, I am old. I have never known love. If my onee-san had lived, I would have been able to have the family I wanted. But it didn't happen that way. Onee-san died, and I had to fill her place. It's been over fifty years since that happened, but I can't be bitter about it. I've lived my life as the miko of this village; clearly it was my destiny to be so. What we want and what is meant for us are two different things. Unless you accept your fate, you will be unhappy."

In Kaede's eyes, Kagome could see her own sadness reflected. She had never thought how the older miko must have felt, but suddenly it seemed cruel to talk to Kaede about her petty thoughts. She was still young, still freshly alive, and all her sadness couldn't disguise the fact that her life was unrolling in front of her, a slumbering country waiting for her steps. For Kaede, tomorrow was the past, but for Kagome, it was the future.

Kagome lowered her eyes and nodded.

"Good, child. Now eat up before it gets cold."


Jerking her head off the table, Kagome sat up abruptly with her heart in her throat. "God, Souta, you scared me!"

Her little brother, now not so little, snorted. "I was just wondering what's for dinner," he said petulantly. "Mom isn't home yet, so I thought you might be cooking."

Kagome scrubbed her eyes and looked at her watch. It wasn't terribly late yet, so she probably still had time to make something relatively nourishing.

"Well… how about chicken?" she asked.

"Sounds great!" Souta said. "Can we have radish with it?"

"I don't see why not. But you have to help!"

Souta shrugged. "Okay. But I'm not chopping anything. I almost cut off my finger last time."

Kagome just rolled her eyes and stood up. She began to gather ingredients from around the kitchen, but even though her brother was there distracting her, she still felt the pull of the past on her heart, and the dread of the future in her mind. She would have difficulty going to sleep tonight.

He had never really felt dread before, but when he crested the hill that led to his mountainside home and saw the smoke Sesshoumaru had known what it must have been like for his dead brother for most of his life, always knowing something horrible was out there and there might not be a way to fight it. Now he stood where his front gates had once been, and the dread had been replaced with something cold and unfeeling.

I was only gone three days, Sesshoumaru thought distantly. Only three days. How…?

Before his eyes, the House of the Moon was crumbling into burning rubble. He was only abstractly aware of the crack and tumble of seasoned timbers and the far off laughter of youkai as they destroyed his home. The roar of the flames was muted by the roaring of the blood in his ears.

How can my blood still be flowing, he thought, when my heart has stopped?

Blood. His blood was flowing, and so was the blood of everyone who had lived in the House of the Moon. The only difference was that his veins were closed, while his faithful servants were spilled out all around him. He could almost taste it on his tongue. The demon lord's stomach heaved violently at the all-pervading stench of blood and ashes that crawled through his nose; his lungs were clogged with it and he couldn't breathe, except he was breathing, because the stench intensified with each horrible inhalation. Each slip of air curled inside him, choking and insidious. It was in his hair and clothes, seeping into his skin like poison.

The air was so thick it was almost sticky. It settled on him, lifted his hair ponderously in rancid waves, and coated him in its corruption, heavy and malodorous.

He was moving forward now. Behind him, he heard the sad keening of Aun as the dragon backed away from the terrible scent flowing from the burning house. Beneath his feet the ground was hard but slippery; puddles of thick, red blood mixed with the earth, giving off the hard metallic scent of iron. It disgusted him in confusing ways – he'd never balked at the scent of blood before – but he walked on resolutely, even as the smell of iron and salt snaked around his shoes, curled around his form.

There was so much blood everywhere that it seemed almost unreal. But it was real. He watched as the roof of the house caved in just a little bit more, waiting for something to snap inside him but instead he felt numb. He should feel angry, but instead he wanted to sink to the ground and sleep. All he had fought to build and keep was falling down around him, and all because he had left on a simple journey.

His foot hit something. Sesshoumaru looked down.

It was a severed hand.

In the ghastly light of the fire, he could see that it was pale and bloodless, and on it was a scent he knew so well…

Her scent was all around this area. Off to his right he could detect the sour smell of semen, spilled on the ground, and the rankness of urine and excrement covered the small patch of earth. The smell was hers.

The knowledge crept into his brain, settling around his chest with cold coils of dread and denial, but there was no denying it. She had lain here while they raped her – too many to count, the acrid smell of sweat lay beneath the other odors – and then she had been disemboweled. No, not disemboweled…

Curving off in at least ten different directions was the almost undetectable trail of Rin, dragging blood and tears and the stink of internal organs behind her, and Sesshoumaru knew.

She had been butchered. They had sliced her into pieces, and carried her off where he could not reach her, where Tenseiga could not find her. She was gone.

Not five feet away was a gray green smudge on the ground. Jaken. He must have tried to protect her, and now he was just a smear of blood and guts against the grass.

Another burning timber fell, but Sesshoumaru ignored it. Next to the horrible wreckage of his retainer was a scrap of cloth. Moving as though he were in a dream – a horrible dream, from which he could wake up, from which he could never wake up – Sesshoumaru moved toward it and knelt, ignoring the hideous blackness of the bloody ground that would transfer to his snow-white clothes. His fingers felt hollow, like the bones of birds, as he touched the cloth and brought it to his face.

It was a deep indigo blue, with a trace of pink on one ragged edge. It smelled like Rin; soaked with her blood and her tears, the scrap of cloth tickled his nose, but felt like nothing in his nerveless palm.

She really loved that kimono, he thought nonsensically. I think it was her favorite. Not knowing why, he tucked it into his obi and straightened.

There was nothing left except the smells of suffering, and for a long time Sesshoumaru stood in the dying light of the day, in the dying light of his life, and breathed death.

"Ah, Sesshoumaru. We wondered when you'd come home," a voice behind him finally said.

Sesshoumaru refused to turn around. He wasn't going to acknowledge the voice, for it was the voice of one of his father's most loyal vassals, Naketsu. Naketsu, he thought, and on the wind, above the stench of death, were others… Jurekaru, Hatore, Suikoshin… lords he had known from birth, all of them traitors, inconstant, succumbing to the whims of their selfish desires… He should be so angry.

But instead there was just a yawning emptiness inside him, and he knew instinctively that could never be filled. All the anger in the world would just disappear into its echoing depths; all his wounded pride and cherished vengeance and denied desire would be swallowed up, never to resurface. There was adrenaline running, humming beneath his skin, but he was hollow, a shell covered in a shadow of rage. He could feel nothing.

The inferno of his ancestral home roared and belched a dying breath to the sky.

"She should have run." It was the voice of Jurekaru, a horse youkai who had taught Sesshoumaru how to fight against energy attacks and how to run swiftly and avoid obstacles.

At his side, his poisoned claws twitched reflexively of their own volition.

Behind him, someone snickered. There was red fog covering his vision, and Sesshoumaru blinked to clear it. He'd thought his heart had stopped, but that was not the case, for he could feel it thundering in his chest. From some strange, detached corner of his mind, he watched himself with mild disinterest. The red fog wasn't going away.

"At least she was a bit of fun," said the gravelly tones of Suikoshin, who had been his father's best friend when Sesshoumaru was still a pup, and the scratching tones of his voice sounded like splintering wood.

"Traitors," Sesshoumaru said, and he sounded to himself as though he were far, far away.

"Your father fell because he was protecting a human woman and these lands were chaos for many years until you finally took over. We saw you following in his footsteps. What were we to do?"

Not this, Sesshoumaru thought. The red in his vision was being replaced with darkness.

"Sesshoumaru! Catch."

Slowly, he turned around, his hand already raised with fingers outstretched, and something thick and silky tangled in his claws.

It was her hair. Thick, glossy, so well cared for that it was a wonder she found time to even dress herself, and now it was caught and twisted around his fingers, sliced from her head. It clung to his skin and his armor, grasping tendrils wrapping themselves around him, and it felt so heavy he thought he would fall to the ground beneath the weight.

He didn't even move as the chains came, seemingly from nowhere, and wrapped themselves around his limbs, twisting and turning until he was immobilized and on his knees. He kept his face blank.

Suikoshin's feet were in front of his eyes. "We won't kill you out of respect for your father. But those chains were forged by a black miko – good luck getting out of them."

Sesshoumaru said nothing as they lifted him up and carried him away. He made no noise as they traveled to the coast, was silent as Suikoshin taunted him, remained mute when Hatore expressed regret.

He didn't make a sound until they tossed him over the edge of the cliff and into the sea, and then he roared so loudly his throat tore and bled as the sea rose up to claim him.

In the darkness of the night, Kagome's eyes shot open and a cry escaped her throat as she sat up straight in her bed.

"Oh, god," she breathed as she pressed a hand to her chest, feeling the thunder of her heart against her ribcage. She had been falling off a cliff, watching as the rocks above her retreated against the sky, felt how the hungry waves had closed over her head. It was almost as if she had been in that damn story, bound with chains. She couldn't move, and then she couldn't breathe, and she just wanted to die.

Kagome passed a hand across her brow, and her fingers felt chilly sweat there.

"I don't think I can take much more of this," she whispered out loud to herself before reaching a resolution.

She would try one more time. She was positive that the story wouldn't have been revealed to her if she couldn't change it; Ayumi would probably say that it was impossible to pass back through time through an old well in a shrine, but that didn't mean it hadn't happened.

But first, a shower. Grabbing her dressing gown from the back of her door, Kagome paced quickly down the hallway and into the bathroom. Quickly and efficiently she disrobed and washed away the cold sweat of her dream. She also washed her hair just for good measure, just in case it did work and she had to hang out in the past for a while. She hated grimy hair.

Stepping out of the bathtub, Kagome quickly toweled herself off. What next? she asked herself. Obviously she would have to pack. Swiftly she retrieved the old first-aid kit from beneath the sink before grabbing a few toiletries and her toothbrush. She exited the bathroom and reentered her room. Perusing her closet, she grabbed a few comfortable changes of clothes before unearthing her yellow backpack from under her bed. Quickly she began to stow her things away as she bit her lip. She didn't want to get her hopes up, but this felt so familiar, she couldn't help but feel it was as though she were back in high school, packing up things to go back in time. She felt happy again.

"Nee-chan, what are you doing?"

Kagome looked up from her task; she hadn't even noticed her brother in her doorway.

"Souta, go back to bed. You have school tomorrow."

Souta frowned. He looked a bit ridiculous in his too-small pajamas, but he was definitely growing up. He crossed his arms. "So do you," he countered. "But instead of sleeping, your hair is wet and you look like you're going out of town. What's going on?"

Kagome bit her lip. "I'm going back, Souta."

A look of pity crawled onto her brother's face. "Kagome…" he said.

"I don't want to hear it!" she said swiftly. "I just have to try one more time. Okay?"

"Nee-chan, you've tried," he said quietly. He had uncrossed his arms, and the look he was giving her cut her to the bone. He thought she was living in the past, and Kagome didn't know what to say to explain to him why she needed to try, one last time. She could still recall the smell of blood in her dream, the feeling of falling, all those horrible things that would happen if she didn't go back and change it. She could save Rin. She could save her and someone would have a happy ending, even if it wasn't herself.

It was hard to speak around the lump in her throat. "Please, Souta. One more try."



She could see his resolve crumble as his shoulders slumped in defeat. "Fine," he said before straightening up. "But I'm coming with you to make sure you don't break your damn leg again."

Kagome didn't even have the patience to smile at him but returned to her packing. Within minutes she felt ready to go.

"Right," she said standing up. "Let's go give this another shot."

They made their way out of the house and into the sleeping night. It was nearly one in the morning when Kagome finally opened the door to the well house and walked down those familiar stairs again. At the bottom the well yawned wide, inviting her in.

Her stomach was flip-flopping like a fish out of water, but Kagome shoved that aside. Now was no time to be hesitating! Taking a deep breath, she swung a leg over the lip.


Kagome turned to look at her brother. "What, Souta?"

Souta looked pained, as though he were as nervous as she. He gulped. "Just…" he started. "Just…"

Kagome waited. "What?" she said, finally.

"Just be careful when you get there," Souta blurted.

Like a weight lifting from her heart, Kagome could suddenly breathe again. She gave her brother a soft smile. "I will, Souta. Arigatou."

Gathering her courage, Kagome turned back to the darkness beneath her. Below her feet, her future rolled out, long and inviting, promising something new.

Kagome jumped.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 4 of 42

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