Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 8 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"Affliction, like the iron-smith, shapes as it smites." - Christian Nestell Bovee

Kagome waited until Sesshoumaru had melted into the night before lowering herself on shaking legs to the ground. She was shocked that she had spoken so much about herself, but she was even more shocked that Sesshoumaru had responded. Her hands – the hands he had touched and gently kneaded in his own – were limp and useless as she tried to support herself from curling down to the earth. Her arms were shaking, too, her bones like fine down pillows, holding their shape but offering no support. She finally settled for crossing her legs and leaning forward, letting her elbows cut into the fold of her body.

He had remembered her. She was the reincarnation. Kagome felt cold. It was both a strange relief and quietly devastating to realize that someone else remembered Kikyou and herself, remembered the two of them in their sad, unknowing dance around each other and the endless fall toward reconciliation. He remembered her as the copy. She was the next version, showing the decay of replication, without the memories and the wisdoms of the original. He had spoken and she was falling until what he had said next had pulled her up short, like a parachute ballooning above her, saving her from the endless plunge.

"But they are not the same."

No, they are not the same. She could hear the great, hollow thoughts ringing inside his head when he had asked the question; she knew he had been thinking of finding Rin's next body, looking for her again and taking her in, but within a few breathless seconds he had realized that she wouldn't be the girl he had known.

Kagome wondered how many times Inuyasha had looked at her and felt that same regret, and then felt irrationally annoyed, as if his memory had been somehow tainted.


The voice of Amaya was unexpected, and her irritation immediately ebbed as Kagome turned quickly to see the other girl emerging from the trees. It felt like she had been gone for a lifetime. "Amaya," she said quietly. Strangely, Kagome was suddenly tired and weary, as though she had been trudging for many miles with a heavy weight on her back. She wanted to go to sleep and not wake up until she was happy again, until all the fluttering memories were stilled.

Amaya was walking toward her cautiously, holding out a hand as though she wanted to simultaneously comfort the miko and ward her away. "What did it do to you?" she said. Her tone sounded accusing.

Kagome blinked slowly, not comprehending what Amaya was asking her. "...what?"

Now that she was closer, Amaya looked angry and frightened, like all the people who had ever come into contact with Inuyasha without understanding what he was, and Kagome was again struck with exhausted longing and that curious and heartbreaking nostalgia that always crept into her mind whenever she was reminded of him.

"He grabbed your hands!" Amaya said, loudly. Her voice sounded sharp and fractured against the quiet of the night. Kagome winced slightly.

"You were watching?"

Amaya immediately shut her mouth, looking shamefaced.

"Did you hear what we said?" Kagome asked. The thought made her feel even more tired and sad. What she had said… she couldn't even remember most of it now, and it had only been a few minutes. It had all seemed so significant, but now she wondered if she had said anything at all; her memory of the conversation was bright and hazy, too full of reined emotions and thoughts unvoiced to be easily recalled.

Slowly, Amaya shook her head. "I couldn't hear anything. You were too quiet," she mumbled sullenly.

Kagome sat up a little straighter and passed a hand over her forehead, trying to be her own comforter, trying to soothe away the wave of fatigue that was threatening to put her to sleep where she sat. That would probably be a bad thing; she might topple over into the fire. "Sesshoumaru probably knew you were there, you know."

She could practically hear the blood draining from Amaya's face. "What? How could it? I doubled back twice and hid myself really well!"

"He's a dog demon. He has an excellent sense of smell. He probably knew you couldn't hear him; otherwise he might have injured you." Or worse.

Amaya was quiet for a moment. "I just wanted to make sure you would be all right," she finally confessed. Kagome let her hand drop as she looked up, and smiled in what she hoped was a reassuring manner.

"Thank you, but I was fine."

Amaya looked doubtful in the light of the fire. There was a set to her stance, a certain bending of the leg and concerned hunch of the shoulders that reminded Kagome so sharply of Sango that she hissed involuntarily.

Nighttime, the completed Shikon no Tama clutched in her fist, Kagome looked up at her friend.

"Kagome-chan, are you sure you will be all right?" Sango's voice was quiet and concerned and full of a lovely protective edge that made Kagome feel safer. Whatever happened, Sango would be there.

"I'm sure," she had answered. She had made her decision, but she was fine. Fine, nothing to worry about. If she could have drawn her heart out into the twilight, it would have twinkled with bristles of broken glass. Fine.

Sango had looked at her with knowing eyes as Kagome turned away and bedded down for the last night in which she would still be able to pretend that Inuyasha might love her.

She didn't sleep.


"Don't call him it," Kagome said tiredly. "He has a name."

To her surprise, Amaya looked chagrined. "I'm sorry, I just never know what to call youkai. I don't meet many of them, you know. Not like you."

Kagome thought of all the base youkai she had burned clean with her arrows, never knowing if they had names or even genders.

"It's okay."

Amaya took another step toward her and lowered herself to the ground, so they were on the same level.

"How do you know him?" she asked quietly.

Kagome was silent for a moment. "We… fought together. Long ago," she finally said, although her words couldn't begin to describe the times he'd threatened the lives of her compatriots or made their lives miserable or better according to his whims. It was like saying that she and Inuyasha had 'traveled together' or were 'comrades' – it was hopelessly futile trying to define the feelings between people who had faced the darkness together.

"What did he need?" Amaya asked.

Kagome looked at the ground and traced a finger around in the dirt. "Advice. He lost his land," she told her. "And a child."

Amaya sat back on her heels. "Ah," she said knowingly, and Kagome glanced up to see her give a sage nod. Kagome frowned, questioning.

"My mother lost my brother," Amaya supplied and Kagome was once again sharply reminded of Sango, who had also lost a brother but then found him again. "He was conscripted into the army when I was very little, and he was killed while fighting. My mother never recovered." Her eyes slid away from Kagome's and to the fire, her face a wistful mask. "I didn't know him, but my mother did. She loved him more than she loved herself. So when he died..." She spread her hands, as if to say there was nothing for it. "When he died she went to pieces. That's why I know how to fish and hunt and how to track. I had to take his place for her."

Amaya turned back to Kagome and shrugged. "I guess she put too much of her hope in one person," she said. "It made it harder on her. Maybe he's going through that, too."

"Too much hope," Kagome repeated, and like fine crystal sounds pure when tapped, the words rang true – not for Sesshoumaru, but for herself. In the quiet void between one breath and the next Kagome felt the weight of those words as she tumbled, over and over, into the empty space left behind by her impossible love -

And then Amaya moved and the moment was gone. Kagome smiled at her – this poor girl whom she always compared to Sango but who was really nothing like her – and said, "Perhaps."

Amaya grinned back in the firelight.

The world was gilded pale gold by the early dawn sunlight when Sesshoumaru finally awoke from his long and dangerous sleep to greet the morning. The air was fresh and clear and bright, but there was something filling him that was so dark and sullen that it took a few long moments for Sesshoumaru to recognize it as fury.

It was like hot magma poured down the inside of his spine, pooling in his belly and setting him on fire. Everything around him seemed wrong, as if he were lying askew across the parallel lines of the universe; he felt cramped and useless, like a broken and badly repaired puzzle piece jammed into a spot where it no longer fit. He was trapped in his own body, far away from where he was supposed to be, far from his fractured memories and the lands of his ancestors, in this place that meant nothing to him, and the only reason he was there was due to treachery, and deceit.

Insects were crawling beneath his skin; his head hurt in a way that had nothing to do with any physical ailments, and he could feel his toes curling in his shoes. His soul was trying to break free of his very skin. Unconsciously, he cracked his knuckles, the sound loud and sharp in the morning air.

Sesshoumaru was enraged.

When Myouga dropped by only a quarter of an hour later he found the Lord of the West methodically chopping down trees with an expression so chilled and determined that the old flea nearly turned around and traveled back the way he had come. He perched atop a small rock and watched as the taiyoukai carved up his small corner of the forest as though he were doing nothing more taxing than picking flowers.

It was a bit mesmerizing, actually. Myouga watched as Sesshoumaru whipped around, his body curved into strangely balletic arcs, and sliced through another tree trunk with his claws, leaving only a smoking and slightly melted stump – adding to his already impressive collection of other slightly melted stumps – and a lot of wasted firewood. Then he turned and aimed for another tree, slicing this one at the base before carving the rest into ribbons as it hit the ground, his movements tight and controlled and filled with a deadly energy that Myouga had not seen for decades. It was so strange to see it again that it seemed almost new, and in his bones the old flea could feel a change in the wind. He made a decision.

"Sesshoumaru-sama!" he cried as he hopped across the ground toward the son of his old master. Sesshoumaru stopped in mid-swing and seemed to forcibly calm himself. Myouga took the chance to hop up his clothing and settle on his shoulder. "You are looking much better today, Sesshoumaru-sama! Did you go and see the miko?" There could be no other explanation for this sudden change in behavior. The very way the demon held himself bespoke resolve and a quiet anger that must have lain dormant for years, and nothing before now had brought it to life. Myouga wondered what enchantments the miko had put upon his master, but decided that whatever she had done did not really matter, since it seemed a step in the right direction.

Sesshoumaru did not answer right away. Instead he walked to a tree that he had left standing and sat beneath it, not looking at Myouga. Patiently the old servant waited.

"Myouga," Sesshoumaru finally said, "do you remember Inuyasha's miko?"

Myouga had not been expecting this. "Which one?" he asked.

Turning his head slightly, Sesshoumaru gave him what could possibly be construed as a look of disgust. "The real one," he said.



"You mean... Kagome-sama?"

Sesshoumaru nodded.

"Well... yes, I remember her very well. She was a lovely girl, very delicious."

Sesshoumaru didn't seem to have anything to say to that.

Myouga waited.

After a few minutes he opened his mouth again. "Was she... human?" Sesshoumaru asked, very slowly, his eyes still gazing somewhere into the middle distance.

Myouga thought this to be an odd thing to say, but wisely refrained from mentioning this. "Yes she was, milord."

"So there is no way she could still be alive?"

"Well," Myouga, who always found this subject to be difficult, said slowly, "she could be. Some humans live a very long time, after all..." He trailed off.

Sesshoumaru turned and looked at him, and in his eyes Myouga saw something dark and simmering and furious. "What do you know?" he said. The tone was light, but beneath it was a thread of steel.


The demon waited, and the flea felt an undercurrent of anger, rippling under his calm surface.

"She… traveled through time. She was from the future," Myouga said quickly. In truth Kagome's time-traveling had always confused him whenever he gave it any thought – and so generally he avoided thinking about it at all – but something tickled his mind at the odd question.

Sesshoumaru's face did not move.

"I see," was all he said.

Myouga frowned. "Why do you ask, milord?"

Sesshoumaru said nothing, only rose and ran a hand through his long silver hair. "Come, Myouga," he commanded.

"Wait!" Myouga felt he was missing something very important. "Milord, why do you ask? Have you seen her?"

The demon paused for a moment before giving an elegant shrug. "That is inconsequential," he replied. "We are leaving."

"Milord, is she alive?"

Finally Sesshoumaru looked down at the flea. "Yes," he told him. "But that is not important."

Myouga did not agree with this assessment. "Sesshoumaru-sama, why did you not tell me this information right away?" he cried as he hopped up and down, agitatedly waving his arms as though he were trying to fly. "I must go and see her!"

A growl cut him off. "No. You have to come with me," Sesshoumaru informed him as he began to walk northeast.

"But milord, where are we going?"

"We are going to find allies," was the reply.

Myouga grew very still, wondering if he had heard properly.

"Allies, milord?"

"Yes," Sesshoumaru told him, voice colored darkly as he emerged from the forest into a clearing, and to Myouga's eyes it seemed as though he was riding a shining shadow as it passed across the sunlit ground, burning coldly in the golden light. "We are going to war."

Two days later Kagome woke up with a headache and a flea on her face. The headache was from too much terrible village sake – her reward for exterminating an extremely low-level youkai that had invaded the grain stores – so Kagome did not immediately understand how extraordinary it was for her to have Myouga attached to her nose and breaking his fast.

Going on the assumption that moving was a bad idea, Kagome ineffectually swatted at the flea several times before her brain caught on and she sat straight up on the sleeping mat the villagers had thoughtfully provided. Next to her, Amaya snored.

"Myouga-jii-chan!" she exclaimed, but quietly due to the pressure in her skull. She cupped her hands and let the old flea hop down. "I didn't know you were still alive!" she said, feeling a strange twinge in her chest.

"Kagome-sama, it is so good to see you!" Myouga exclaimed. "And you don't look much older! How is that possible?"

Kagome shrugged. "I don't really know," she said. "I jumped through the well, and I ended up... well, now. But how are you? How did you know where to find me?"

"I heard from Sesshoumaru-sama that you were still alive, and so I came to see you!"

Cocking her head to the side and ignoring how the world washed up and down, Kagome digested this information. "You saw Sesshoumaru?" she said.

"Oh yes! He is my lord's only son! I am in his service," Myouga replied, "although he does not usually require anything of me."

"How did he look?" Kagome asked. "We ran into each other a couple of days ago."

"Um… he looked energetic. But I am curious as to how you found each other. What are you doing so far north?" Myouga demanded. He thought the miko looked a little pale and drawn, but she smelled a little bit of alcohol, so that might have been causing her wearied condition. He watched as she sighed.

"I've been wandering around for a few weeks," she replied, "trying to figure out how to go back home. The well stopped working once I was through."

Myouga crossed his arms. He felt something tickle his brain again; in a very long life he had learned to trust such instincts. "Why did you try to come back?" he asked. "You are clearly older than you were when you left, and I cannot believe that you would not have tried before now."

Kagome looked away guiltily. She had not told anyone of her original purpose; it seemed silly and irrational in retrospect. "Well – to see my friends, of course," she told him. "I just had this urge, I guess."

Myouga refrained from rolling his eyes. He was an old man and had seen many things, and he prided himself in knowing when someone was avoiding a truth. He'd done it often enough to know what it looked like, anyway. He waited.

Peering down at the flea, Kagome thought he looked slightly annoyed with her, which upset her in part because having people annoyed at her still made her feel bad, and in part because squinting made her headache worse. She was too tired to be upset.

"You don't believe that, right?" she asked him.

Myouga shook his head. In his experience people usually filled up the silence with things that hinted at the truth, but like always, Kagome was different. She got right to the point. It was weirdly refreshing at his time of life.

Passing a hand across her face, Kagome smiled wanly, and as methodically as possible she told Myouga the whole story, from returning to the present to entering college to finding the fable to running into Sesshoumaru, too late to save the maiden but not too late to save the lord himself.

"And so now we're trying to find another priestess – a real one, not me – who can open the well again," she finished. She felt a little better after going over the story, as though revisiting it made it less real.

For the past several nights since Sesshoumaru came to see her she had been having dreams in which all her dead friends came back to speak to her. They were small and gentle dreams, in which she knew she was dreaming and her friends were not real, but they felt real. One by one they would sit in her circle of firelight and drink tea and stab her through the heart with longing. Shippou had asked for candy and Sango wanted to know how she was doing and Miroku sat behind her and rubbed her shoulders and wondered out loud about her love life. And Inuyasha just sat there and looked at her, a hanyou again, coarse white hair turning yellow in the light of the fire, and in her dream, her face crumpled and she cried.

But they were just dreams, and she hoped and feared that once she was back through the well they would disappear.

Myouga was shaking his head again. "Kagome-sama, you should go back to Edo," he told her.

"What?" Kagome asked, confused. "But the well won't open again!"

"Yes, it will," he said. "You've clearly fulfilled your destiny here."

Kagome blinked. "My destiny? But I didn't do what I came here to do..."

The flea sighed; Kagome could be rather dense sometimes. "That's not the point. You filled your part of the story. You can go home now."

"How do you know that?" wondered Kagome.

"Well it stands to reason, doesn't it?" said Myouga. "The well let you through to be the miko in the story, and now that you aren't in the story any longer you are probably free to go back."

A frisson of hope and a sad sort of fear went up Kagome's spine. "I guess that makes sense," she said slowly. "Will you travel with me?"

In her voice, the old flea could hear a note of desperation. He had heard it many times before, in many different voices, but somehow coming from Kagome it had the power to break his heart, as though she had taken a tiny hammer to a badly repaired fault line. He leapt from her hands to her shoulder and laid a hand against her neck; he could feel the tension in it, so tense, like Inuyasha used to be. "I cannot," he said. "I have to be on hand for Sesshoumaru-sama in case he needs me."

Kagome nodded, and was glad Myouga could not see her face. She didn't feel up to concealing her loneliness. "What would he need you for?"

"He's going to war, and he's not very good at negotiating with new allies," Myouga replied. "He's already going east to meet with some of the lords and ladies there to ask for their friendship as he reclaims his land. He will be most pleased when I tell him that he will definitely succeed."

Deftly Kagome plucked Myouga from her shoulder. "You can't do that!" she said anxiously as she held him in front of her face. "That could change everything!"

The old flea was confused. He struggled. "What? How is that? It's better than prophecy!"

"Just... don't, okay? It's too complicated to explain, but he can't know that he's going to win, all right?" Kagome gave him a pleading look, and he could see the deep circles under her eyes. She may have still been young, but she seemed to feel much, much older. "Please, Myouga-jii-chan. It's very important."

Myouga stilled. "All right, Kagome-sama. For you."

Kagome gave a sigh of relief. "Thank you, jii-chan," she said, releasing him. Myouga hopped down to the ground and adjusted his traveling pack.

"I'm sorry I can't stay longer, Kagome-sama, but I left Sesshoumaru without his leave," he informed her. "I need to return quickly."

"Wait!" Kagome almost cried. Myouga stopped in mid-turn and looked back at her.

"Yes, Kagome-sama?"

"Do you know – do you know where Miroku-sama and Sango-chan are?" she asked, and he heard something hesitant in her voice, as though she were afraid to ask.

He hated to let her down, but he had to. "No I do not, Kagome-sama. They disappeared after Inuyasha and Kikyou..."

Kagome cut him off with a sharp nod. "Thank you anyway, jii-chan. Please be careful."

Myouga turned and bowed to her. "I am sorry, Kagome-sama. It was good to see you again. I wish you fortune in your life."

Kagome smiled sadly. "I wish you well, also," she replied, and then Myouga was across the floor and out the door before he could change his mind.

Negotiations were not going well, and Sesshoumaru was still itchy in his skin, anger curdling in his blood. It wasn't helping matters. It would have been better if he was still in a void, suspended in the emptiness of not caring, but then he wouldn't have been here in the first place. He wished he could still feel nothing; it would have made things much easier.

His heart thrummed under his armor, a steady beat of fury. Sesshoumaru had never considered himself a natural diplomat since, in general, a quick slice to the neck solved most problems, and he wanted nothing more than to start killing things right now. However, he was not in a position to be slicing open necks, since allies needed to be alive in order to fight, and he wasn't entirely sure that he wanted to take on a second group of less powerful but still allied youkai in order to bend them to his will. Their demands were outrageous.

"Land, Sesshoumaru-sama, or no help from us," said Hoshiko. She was a powerful fire demon that had been a friend of his father's, although he would have never guessed it from the way she was acting. She had become the unofficial spokesperson for the small collection of Eastern lords solely based on her prior acquaintance with his family, but she was giving him a bit of a problem.

Negotiations had been going on for almost three hours now, and all he wanted to do was go outside and cut more trees down, or find something to fight, or maybe fight himself, since he was probably the only worthy opponent in the whole of the Eastern lands. It irked him that he had to find allies. He wanted to sweep across the Western lands like a shadow, and to kill his inconstant vassals, who betrayed him and threw him into the sea. He dreamed it at night, and ground his teeth during the day whenever he thought of it, which was all the time.

However, Hoshiko, aging queen of the fractured lands of the east, was compromising his goals. At the very least she was angering him to no end, and he wanted nothing more than to kill her, if it wouldn't set even more dubious friends against him. If I had Tenseiga, I could kill her, and then revive her, he thought, attempting to stave off murder with soothing thoughts. That would show her.


He refocused on her face. She looked annoyed.

"If these negotiations are a waste of your time, Sesshoumaru-sama, then by all means let us disband," she said.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes and snorted disdainfully. He thought she was being awfully uppity for a woman who had once downed too much sake at one of his father's court gatherings and had molested his father's pelt, thrown up in the garden, and put to bed in his mother's chambers, in that order. To be fair, Sesshoumaru, despite being much younger at the time, remembered quite a bit few other antics at that particular gathering. Still. It was rather annoying to be turned down by someone who had once ruined his mother's azaleas.

"How much?" he asked

From across the years, Hoshiko, younger but still older than he, bent slightly and ran a hand through his hair. "What a lovely boy!" she exclaimed in a loud voice before tipping gently forward and he had been forced to catch her before she hit the ground. Behind him his father had laughed and told him to be gentle with her.

Sesshoumaru hadn't known what he had meant and said so, which just made everyone laugh harder, and in his arms the woman had smiled and whispered in his ear. She told him that they were laughing at her, and to not worry about it. He had been the one to carry her out into the fresh air, where she had been sick, but it was his mother who had rubbed her back in gentle circles as she moaned on the bed.

Sesshoumaru looked at the woman, an old friend of the family who had drunkenly assured him that he was not to be embarrassed, that it was her fault; now she stared at him coldly, and he hated her. He hated all of them.

"Half," she replied.

He hated her even more. "Too much."

He wanted to scream. He wanted to rip apart this pristine house that reminded him of his own. The timbers mocked him, the servants snickered behind his back, and the light of the East was hot and oppressive. He wanted to slice open his own skin and crawl out.

Sesshoumaru ground his teeth and took a deep breath – and something caught his notice. He breathed in again and almost didn't hear her reply.

"Then no deal."

Sesshoumaru said nothing. Something was tugging at him, screaming at him, telling him to pay attention.

Sesshoumaru sniffed. Across from him, Hoshiko stiffened. One of the other four youkai coughed. His eyes narrowed even further.

There it was. Curling through his nostrils was the sharp, coppery tang of nerves. Someone was nervous. They were hiding something. But what could it be? They were afraid of him? Possibly. They were afraid of Hoshiko? Doubtful. What could it be?

He stared at Hoshiko. Her eyes fluttered for a brief moment, and it hit him.

"You are having problems with Hatore and the youkai in the West," he guessed, and from the sudden spike in low-grade annoyance and consternation in the room, he had guessed correctly. Sesshoumaru allowed himself a small smirk.

"Then peace," he said. "And nothing more."

"Land," Hoshiko insisted, as though she were in any position to negotiate now. They would not have sat down with him if they had not been having troubles. He ground his teeth again. She was being awfully stubborn for someone on whom the tables had just turned.

"Negotiable, but after," he told her, and now his voice was sharp and hard. His patience was at an end.

The fire youkai snorted. "Agreed," she said, and in her eyes there was a small trace of respect.

Sesshoumaru found he didn't care. That wasn't what he wanted any more.

A week later Amaya turned to Kagome and hugged her hard. Kagome returned it awkwardly. "Thank you for taking me through the forest," she told the other girl. Amaya just nodded her head against Kagome's shoulder and clung tight. Kagome gave her a few small pats and then disengaged herself only to find to her horror that Amaya had tears in her eyes.

"Thank you for letting me go with you, Kagome-sama!" she said fervently. Kagome just smiled and nodded, trying not to let her confusion show. Behind her, Sinayo chuckled just a little bit. Kagome was standing in the doorway of Sinayo's hut, preparing to change into her 21st century clothes in privacy.

Amaya looked at the ground, suddenly shy again. "I mean… It was an honor to go with you," she said.

"And it was an honor to have you take me," Kagome replied.

Amaya flashed a small smile, bowed again, and backed away. Kagome retreated into Sinayo's hut. "What was that about?" she wondered under her breath.

The older miko heard her and shrugged. "That will probably be the only time she ever leaves Edo," she said matter-of-factly. "Now, here are your clothes, Kagome-sama. I'm going to go draw some water – I need it anyway – and you can change." Sinayo smiled gently and passed Kagome's clothes to her and exited the hut.

Kagome stood in the dim light of the hut and ran a hand over the fabric in her arms. It felt strange and out of place, and suddenly Kagome wanted to go home more than anything. Slowly she reached up and pulled her hair free of its tie.

Many leagues away, Sesshoumaru felt something humming in his veins. It was different than the rage that ricocheted inside his skin, seeking release, and he remembered it from long ago. It was anticipation. He was going to war.

Myouga was on his shoulder, though Sesshoumaru did not expect him to stay there. Both of them had been guests in the house of Joben-sama, an ancient but powerful cat youkai who had once taught his father how to fish, and now Sesshoumaru was sitting in his borrowed room gazing at his armor and the borrowed sword propped in the corner.

He didn't belong in this place, in the east. This was not where he was supposed to be. But tonight he was going home. Tonight he would see his land again. Tonight he would rain down the molten fury that bubbled in his body.

"They will not want to give up the land," Myouga said, almost as though he were talking to the air.

Sesshoumaru did not reply. He felt the call of home already; it tugged at his heart, a chain looped through his chest, pulling him back. It was time. He'd been away for far too long.

"They are comfortable in the land now," said the old flea.

"That is a shame," said the demon prince. In the dimness of the room he inspected his claws. They were good claws; good for what he would have to do.

"They think the land is theirs."

Sesshoumaru gave a sharp laugh, small and knowing in the dark. "They can think that all they like," he said. "But it's not theirs."

He lowered his hand and reached for his armor.

"It's mine."

Slowly, Kagome untucked the cloth of the haori from the tight hakama that clung to her waist. She slowly slid the fabric over her shoulders and let it drip down her arms to land on the floor. Her long hair brushing against her back made her shiver.

She lowered her hands to the knot at her waist and slowly untied it, relishing the feel of the rough spun fabric rubbing against itself. She let the hakama drop to the floor as well, pooling around her ankles, and stepped out of them.

Off came the shoes. Off came the tabi.

She picked up her t-shirt where it lay in the neat pile. She shook it out before scrunching it up and pulling it over her head. Reaching down, Kagome retrieved her jeans. She stepped into them, right leg first, then the left, and pulled them up over her hips and fastened them. They felt strange and restrictive, and as if they were falling off. They came up to just below her naval, and it was strange to be simultaneously less clothed and more confined.

She sat down and pulled on her socks, and then slipped her sneakers on and laced them up.

Kagome stood, threw her backpack over her shoulder, and left the hut.

The bone armor felt good and rough beneath his hands; it caught his skin roughly, and its reassuring weight settled well on his body as he tied the leather straps that held it in place. The heaviness settled on his hips, pulling him down to the earth. It felt right.

Carefully, Sesshoumaru placed his sode on his right shoulder and tied it tightly, moving his arm to let it settle a bit around the muscle and skin and fabric beneath it. Then he strapped on the left one.

He knelt and picked up his obi, and then carefully, enjoying the feel of the slick silk sliding over itself, tied it into its elaborate knot.

Finally he picked up the sword that his father's old friend had lent to him. He pulled it out of its sheath and examined it. It had clearly seen many battles – there were nicks and scratches all along the blade – and the cloth around the handle was frayed and coming apart.

It was a good sword though, and would serve him well. He gave it a few practice swings before sheathing it again. Reverently, he slid it into place at his hip.

It was time to go. Pivoting on the ball of his foot, Sesshoumaru left the room.

Kagome stood by the well a long time, staring into it, wondering if it would allow her to return again. She wished Myouga had stayed with her. She wished she could have found Miroku and Sango. She wished that Rin hadn't died, and that she had been able to save her. She wished that Shippou had still been around. She wished to even see Kirara again, to hold the small cat against her cheek and cry her eyes out. She wished Sesshoumaru hadn't left so quickly.

She wished Inuyasha hadn't died.

As though moving through glue, she placed her hands on the splintery wood of the well before placing a knee on the lip. She swung one leg over and then the other.

Staring into the depths of the well, she closed her eyes and wished...

Kagome leapt.

Sesshoumaru crossed the border into the Moonlit Country and turned his face, implacable and hard, towards the House of the Moon. Almost not caring if his allies followed, Sesshoumaru sped across the silver grasses and through the trees, and in his veins his blood buzzed with anticipation. He was going home.

High above him, the moon hung in the sky. Less than a half a cycle ago he had met with the miko under the dark light of the new moon, and now it was waxing, shining brightly against the canopy of stars. His house was rising.

The Prince of the Western Lands, his small host spread out behind him, crested a hill, and saw below the ruins of the House of the Moon, and the newer house, where his enemy dwelled.

He wanted to scream. He wanted to rend and tear and roar. Inside his head the phantoms of his old life arose, and he wanted them back. He wanted justice and vengeance and blood on his claws.

He wanted Rin, but she wasn't there.

Gazing down at the ruins of his world, he bared his teeth and wanted...

Sesshoumaru leapt.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 8 of 42

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