Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 10 of 60

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An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lays the great distinction between great men and little men.

-Thomas Fuller

InuYasha and the gang were making their way north, searching for any sign of Naraku's castle or anything that would lead them directly to Kagome.

Miroku suspected, but did not know for certain, that the Shikon Jewel was completed. The monk also believed that Naraku might use her in order to lure InuYasha into a trap. He hoped that Kagome was still alive and that they would have the opportunity to save her before Naraku decided to kill her. Either way, he was sure the final confrontation was imminent.

Glancing over his shoulder, he caught Sango rubbing the side of her neck.

"How are you feeling?" he asked as he raised a hand to brush the back of hers with his fingertips.

Her eyes met his a moment before dropping her hand. She picked up the pace, blushing lightly. "I'm fine…really," her tone was light and happy.

He didn't buy it for a minute. It wasn't the first time she had rubbed the old wound from Katsuro. Miroku smiled, realizing that she truly had no idea how often he picked up on her little nuances.

"I'm glad to hear it," his tone was equally light as his hand reached out and stroked her bottom.

"Monk!" she whirled around and smacked him soundly in the face.

Whirling back, she marched off with righteous indignation, Kirara perched on her shoulder. Shippo and InuYasha stared after the pair.

Miroku reached up and touched the red handprint on his cheek. It was a small price to pay, especially since he got what he wanted. He had distracted her from her own morose thoughts and put her mind back where he wanted it…on him.

His smile got a little larger as he trailed after her.

Hoshi observed the pair from the doorway of Rin's room. Sesshomaru had allowed Hoshi to bring the little girl here to try and assess what type of poison was used. Hoshi's suspicions were confirmed shortly thereafter when one of the gardeners found an empty vile tossed among a flowerbed near the gate. She had encountered this particular poison once before, with tragic results. Her heart ached as she realized just what would happen if they could not act with speed.

She was hesitant to approach Sesshomaru since she could feel the rage and depression radiating from him like waves in the ocean. His youkai was barely contained, and Hoshi knew that the news she needed to give him would probably push him over the edge of his control.

Hesitating only a moment, she stepped into the room. As she made her way over to the bed she intentionally ignored the small white flower clutched in his hand. It was one of the flowers that Rin had placed in his room that very morning.

Hoshi knew Sesshomaru better than any living being. His character always appeared to be a repressed version of his father; silent, strong, and confidant. Seeing that small flower, cradled so carefully in claws that have caused countless deaths, was a potent reminder of unspoken affection for the little girl.

Hoshi sat on the opposite side of Rin and placed a hand against her brow.

'No fever, just as I thought,' she withdrew and pulled the empty vial from her kimono sleeve and held it between two fingers.

"This was found near the gate. Whoever did this has escaped."

Sesshomaru continued to look at Rin. It was unnatural to see her so still and quiet. The last few moments they spent together replayed in his mind like a broken record, jagged and fuzzy.

"What is it?"

Hoshi took a deep breath and began her explanation, knowing time was of the essence. "The poison is actually the blood of a hellhound. It has no scent and when in dry form, undetectable. When consumed, it begins to turn the victim into a hellhound."

"Rin is turning into a hellhound?"

"Yes. Her soul will be devoured first, leaving behind a hellhound in the form of the little girl before you."

"Is there any way to stop this?" Sesshomaru's eyes finally rose to meet the sorceress, desperation shining in the golden depths. Hoshi had seen this look one other time, but from a different pair of golden orbs.

Shaking away the memories of the past she answered, "It can be purified by one with enormous spiritual power."

Sesshomaru blinked and waited, knowing what Hoshi would say next.

"The mikos that are connected to your brother. They are the only powerful enough…"

"Half-brother," Sesshomaru muttered unconsciously as he placed the flower next to Rin's head.

"The miko named Kikyo is dead, killed by the other with help of the crown." Hoshi watched Sesshomaru as he gracefully stood.

Sesshomaru knew better than to ask how the dark sorceress came by this knowledge, she always seemed to know everything before it even happened. It was both useful and disconcerting at the same time.

"Is the other miko still alive?"

"Yes. Naraku has her. Since she still lives, he must be using her to get to your brother." Hoshi added, "You must retrieve her and bring her here immediately."

Sesshomaru turned and walked to the door, pausing only long enough to add "Come with me and explain everything you know about this crown and what must be done to destroy it."

Hoshi tucked a blanket around Rin and followed Sesshomaru to his office. If he wanted to save the little girl, Sesshomaru would have to prepare for a battle unlike any he had ever fought. He would have to ignore the urge to kill the one attacking him, and instead try and protect that enemy from being harmed. If the circumstances were not so grim, Hoshi would have laughed. As it was, her worry for Rin and now Sesshomaru was strong enough to stamp out any pleasure she might have otherwise felt.

Sesshomaru had a difficult task in front of him and Hoshi knew that only he was strong enough to complete it.

InuYasha bounded through the air sniffing for any sign of Naraku or Kagome. They continued north until reaching a mountain pass. Sango had been the first to spot the small swarm of Saimyosho flying from the western lands. Hoping to be led to Naraku's hideout, they followed at a distance.

They traveled through the pass for quite a while and then turned sharply at a small break between two huge mountains. Nestled deep between forest-covered hills, almost out of view was a castle.

The group halted for a moment and stared at the mysterious dwelling that seemed to be a part of the mountain itself. All at once they knew their search was finally over.

"I smell him," InuYasha growled.

"Let us hope that Kagome is inside and safe," Miroku said as he drew up beside InuYasha.

"She better be," InuYasha said as he began running toward the castle. He was quickly becoming a streak of red in the distance before his companions could even leap to action.

Sango, Shippo, and Miroku hopped onto Kirara and followed the hanyou. Miroku pulled on his staff slightly as it rested against Sango's waist. He leaned forward and spoke so only she could hear.

"Promise me you'll be careful."

She turned her head to the side before answering, her mouth curving slightly. "I promise if you promise."

Kagome had been sitting alone in her cell for what seemed like weeks. It had probably only been a few days but with nothing to do beside count stones on the wall, time seemed to drag painfully.

Katsuro hadn't linked with her mind since right after her dream with Kikyo. Naraku had come by a few times to try and get the shard with little success. He did however succeed at causing a few wounds, at the expense of a few purified tentacles. She chuckled softly at the memory.

Kagome started to practice her powers on her own to pass time. It was becoming easier to understand the feelings her powers evoked. Now she was even able to summon her powers and shoot them out of her hands at will. After a particularly powerful blast she wondered, 'If I can do this with my hands, I wonder how powerful my arrows would be?'

Arrows wouldn't scorch her, which must be why powerful mikos such as Kikyo used a bow instead of their hands.

She stood and stretched her sore muscles. The past few days of sleeping on a thin palette over stone floors, and Naraku's brutality, had left their mark. She looked down at a particularly nasty bruise on her chest where Naraku had slammed one of his tentacles hoping to knock the shard from her chest. The fact that the bruise was only now fading was a testament to how violent the attack truly was. Without the crown, she was sure that a similar blow would have killed her instantly. It felt as if he had crushed her collarbone, forcing the air from her lungs. Her only satisfaction lay in the fact she was able to send a powerful blast at him that knocked him into the far wall of the cell.

He blustered out a few threats, but beat a hasty retreat and she knew that he was rattled by her newfound strength.

She was still a little scared about what was going to happen, but the forced solitude had given her plenty of time to think. She was ready to bring an end to this now. It was time Naraku got what was coming to him, and she wasn't the same girl that was brought here a month ago. Thanks to the crown, she was starting to understand her spiritual powers and even begin to control them.

One thing she knew for certain, she was going to see her friends again. And hopefully it was while standing over Naraku's corpse.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 10 of 60

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