Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 11 of 60

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Nothing splendid was ever created in cold blood. Heat is required to forge anything. Every great accomplishment is the story of a flaming heart.
-Arnold H. Glasgow

InuYasha's feet pounded against the rocky surface as he sped toward Naraku's castle. His heart beat in time with the thundering footfalls. Thoughts of two very alike in appearance, yet so very different in nature swirled through his head like smoke in the wind. Memories rose from the depths of his mind. Flashes of Kikyo, falling into his arms on a sunset dock, her soft voice calling out to him from the ground as he perched in a tree pretending not to notice her. Her face was still so easy to recall, her voice haunted his waking dreams.

For the briefest of moments he closed his eyes and tried to shut out the memories. The moment his eyes closed, he saw Kagome looking up at him, full of concern and affection. His heart constricted at the thought. Kagome was the most gentle, caring creature he had ever met. She had blown into his life like a stormy wind, bringing with her all the happiness, excitement, and extreme peril he could handle. She had an uncanny ability to place herself right in the line of danger and it always fell to him to get her out of it. The honest fact of the matter was that it always made him feel important and useful.

The truth was that InuYasha always struggled with feelings of alienation in both the human and demon world. A hanyou had no place in either, and InuYasha was no exception. Humans feared him and demons spurned him. His mother had done her best to shelter him from the contempt of the world, but to her everlasting despair she could not protect him enough. As a pup, he was mercilessly tormented by the children living in the village. Their laughing taunts burned like an old wound that refused to heal. When they weren't attacking InuYasha, they would exclude him from their games or ignore his existence. This gouged even deeper scars in his young soul, and was one of the driving forces to become a full-fledged demon.

His mother's face clouded his vision before he was finally able to push away the cold memories. It had taken a long time, but he had come to grips with his painful childhood and found purpose again. All because of Kagome. She had brought out a part of him that had value. A part that was the result of the love his mother had given him. A part that he suspected was also a direct result of his father. A father he had never met but owed his life. A father who had made the ultimate sacrifice to protect his family.

The wind howled as he continued at a relentless pace. Thoughts drifted back to Kagome and what she had been through at the hands of Naraku. He hadn't seen her since that fateful day in the woods, memories of which brought soul numbing emptiness that threatened to swallow him whole. Kikyo's death ravaged what little was left of InuYasha's torn and battered heart.

His eyes focused on the castle growing larger by the second and forced away all thoughts other than that of the coming battle. Keeping Kagome safe had always been the most important thing he had ever taken on. It was his duty and a matter of honor. That he had done a poor job recently was only another motivating factor. Naraku had taken one woman from him, and he'd be damned before he let it happen again.

Kagome always believed in him, and that unfailing confidence had become even more precious than his beloved Tessaiga. With her he had a place. With her, he finally belonged.

Sesshomaru spent two days searching for Naraku with no luck. His patience was running extremely low when suddenly he caught the scent of someone who would end his aimless searching. It was faint, but the taiyoukai's sensitive nose soon led him directly to her.

Kagura had been sent to keep tabs on InuYasha soon after Kagome and Kikyo's battle for the last shard. Naraku's obsession with killing InuYasha had become his top priority upon completing the Jewel.

She followed the small group, even though she hadn't heard from Naraku in several days. It was no secret that she despised Naraku and would jump at the chance to end his miserable life as soon as an opportunity presented itself. The only thing holding her back was the fact that he quite literally held her life in the palm of his hand.

She had been hiding in the trees watching her quarry from across a clearing when Naraku's Saimyosho finally appeared to depart her latest set of orders. After delivering their message, they flew off across the clearing toward Naraku's castle. Her crimson eyes tracked the insect's movement toward the north, soon after followed by InuYasha and his companions. As they disappeared from sight, she sensed an approaching youkai. It was one that she knew very well and had she had a heart in her chest, she was sure it would be pounding. Kagura waited in the stillness of the shadows until he materialized out of the gloom of the murky forest. He was like a beacon of light, shimmering silver and white in the thick overgrowth of trees. His movements were smooth and graceful as his even stride brought him closer.

She hadn't seen the powerful lord in several years, knowing that he had regained his father's kingdom in the West. 'I wonder what he is doing here,' she thought as he silently came to rest a few feet away. He didn't a say a word, simply stared at her with cold eyes. Kagura suddenly felt the need to squirm under his intense stare but managed to remain still. Instead she stared back, waiting for a clue as to what could possibly have pulled him away from his lands.

The moments ticked by as they continued to look at each other. The tension became too much and Kagura was the first to break the silence. When she finally spoke, her voice was unusually high pitched.

"And what brings you here, Sesshomaru-sama?"

The powerful lord only continued to stare, his expression stony. The slight breeze softly tossing the end of his hair was the only movement in the otherwise still forest. Her nervous anxiety increased when without warning he came to rest only about a foot away. She took an unconscious step backward and thought she glimpsed the slightest twitch of his lips. In the fading light of the sun she wondered if she had even seen anything at all. Her eyes stayed on his face as she slowly drew her fan up between them. Kagura was no fool, she was well aware that should Sesshomaru so desire, she would be dead without warning. The weight of her fan clutched tightly in her hand gave her an idea.

Sesshomaru was thoroughly enjoying the discomfort of the woman in front of him. He found great pleasure inspiring fear in his enemies, and was even more amused when others would try to conceal their feelings in his presence. The moment she sensed his youkai, he could feel her anxiety spike. Sesshomaru continued to watch as the fear wound itself throughout her body and across her skin like a snake. He was sure that she was unaware that her free hand clutched the front of her kimono. Sesshomaru was contemplating numerous methods of extracting information when he noticed that she was slowly raising her fan in an effort to escape him.

'Useless,' he thought solemnly before finally speaking. "Where is the Miko?"

Her reaction was at first amusing. Kagura stilled the movement of her hand and blinked at the powerful taiyoukai. When she remained silent with an obviously confused expression, his momentary amusement quickly turned to annoyance.

"Perhaps you did not understand the question. Tell me where he hides the miko that travels with InuYasha," his voice was no longer inquiring, but demanding.

Kagura shook herself out of the astonishment she felt over his question and blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "What do you want with her?" Kagura winced at her irritated tone.

"That is none of your concern."

Kagura was surprised Sesshomaru was interested in the human.

"What is so damned special about that girl?" Kagura said more to herself than to the taiyoukai.

Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow and continued to stare at the youkai in front of him. His impatience was beginning to wear thin as a vision of Rin flashed across his mind. Time was running out and this pointless conversation only drove Rin further from his reach.

Kagura was about to speak again when Sesshomaru's sharply clawed hand wrapped around her neck, squeezing unforgivably. The look on his beautifully cold face sent shivers down her spine.

"Speak," was all he said, his voice low and lethal.

Kagura tried to swallow but was able to do nothing more than blink while making a gurgling noise in her throat.

Sesshomaru watched the color drain from her face and only released her a moment before she lost consciousness. She crumpled to the ground just as Sesshomaru stepped back and drew Tokijin. He placed the tip directly on her fan and pressed slightly. The pressure of the sword began cracking the fan and causing red sparks to erupt.

Kagura's vision was just returning when the red sparks and the tip of Sesshomaru's sword came into focus. A strangled cry came from her as she desperately grabbed at her beloved fan before it was destroyed.

His voice sounded above her again, this time deeper and darker. "Where are they?"

Kagura swallowed again as she stared at her hand, small and pale next to the steel of Tokijin. She knew that if she didn't tell Sesshomaru, she would pay in a violent and painful way. The Wind Sorceress had no intention of protecting Naraku. She was very much aware that the more often Sesshomaru and Naraku met in battle, the better the chance Sesshomaru would finally succeed in killing the hanyou. If Naraku died, she could finally be free. Kagura drew in another raspy breath and stared at the sword that could bring her freedom. She drew the moment out as long as she dared, knowing that she was already tempting Sesshomaru's patience. The Wind Sorceress knew enough of the taiyoukai to know that he detested being used by others to accomplish their goals. After all, wasn't that the whole reason Naraku and Sesshomaru became enemies? Kagura shook away her silent musings and answered just as Tokijin began grinding her precious fan into the ground.

"I'll show you to his castle. He keeps the Miko in a cell underground."

Kagome stood against the opposite wall of her cell, chewing relentlessly on her bottom lip as she stared at the door in deep concentration. She still wasn't sure what she was supposed to be doing, but Kikyo's voice kept droning on and on demanding that she focus. Her constant prodding, pushing, and provoking was steadily driving Kagome into insanity. She just wanted the other miko to shut up for five minutes.

'Now, focus on the demonic energy surrounding the door. Can you feel it?' Kikyo's voice sounded from deep inside Kagome's head.

"Of course I can feel it. It's strong enough for anyone to feel," Kagome replied aloud, her voice tinged with frustration.

'No! I mean can you FEEL it?' Kikyo shot back impatiently.

"What do you mean can I FEEL it? I just said I could feel it. What other feeling is there beside the one I'm feeling?!" Kagome's voice was shrill as she grabbed the hair at the base of the crown and pulled.

Exasperated, she moaned, "Kikyo, I don't understand what you want me to feel. I feel the demonic energy at the door. What else am I supposed to feel?"

Even through her frustration, Kagome was still grateful that this was what her days were filled with. She would rather be driven insane by training than by the loneliness and quiet of her cell. Since gaining possession of the last shard and subsequent new "cellmate," she realized it was nice to have someone to talk to other than herself. Kagome wondered how well she would be doing if she didn't have the other woman's company. Soon after the last shard was found, Naraku ordered her to be put in the cell until he decided his next move. Since then, she hadn't seen the light of day nor another living being other than Katsuro, who only appeared when he brought her food.

Of course the first few days were a little awkward, but both women seemed to realize that reconciling themselves to their new living arrangement was in their best interest. Regardless of the past, they both needed to be united if they were to defeat Naraku.

Silence reigned in both the cell and her mind for a few moments before the older priestess finally answered.

'Kagome, your powers are strong enough that you should be able to feel what most priestesses cannot. You need to tap into those senses and be able to feel what your enemy wants to hide from you. If you learn how to feel the subtle changes in the demonic aura of your enemy, you will have the advantage.' Kikyo's voice was patient once again, as if explaining to a small child that paste is not a good snack food.

With a loud sigh Kagome tried again, feeling like she was a child for the thousandth time. She stared at the door and concentrated on the aura surrounding it, wondering again why a door would possess a demonic aura. Kagome voiced this thought aloud before she realized and was even more surprised when Kikyo's voice came back with an answer. Kikyo would usually ignore her questions, often just telling her that she needed to figure things out for herself.

'This door was made from of a demonic tree. It still contains the energy from when it was alive. Allow yourself to feel it Kagome. Feel what the tree was like… feel what it feels.'

Kagome closed her eyes and felt as her senses were forced out, almost as if Kikyo was pushing them outside of her body. Suddenly she felt cold creep along her limbs and up into her mind. She could feel the anger and violence of the tree as it was when it was alive. She also could feel the aura of Naraku mixed in with the tree as if it was added re-enforcement. Kagome's eyes opened and she stared at the door, seeing for the first time a slight swirling halo of energy circling the door. Her mouth made a silent 'oh' as she realized what she was seeing. It was what InuYasha saw when he used the Kaze no Kizu. 'So that's what it looks like,' Kagome thought with sudden happiness.

'Very good Kagome,' Kikyo's quiet voice startled Kagome out from her shock.

With a celebratory smile, she walked back over to her lumpy palette and sat down with a sigh. She was proud of herself, since it wasn't often that she was able to get something right. That it took her three days to finally understand what Kikyo wanted was going to be conveniently forgotten since all that mattered was that she finally did get it right, and she could now use this new skill to her advantage.

'Now…since you know what to look for, I'm going to tell you how to use this to our advantage. Lesson one; since demons are unaccustomed to humans being able to read their aura, they will not disguise it like they normally do with each other. In fact, only powerful youkai will even be able to regulate their aura.' Kikyo did not add that she thought Kagome powerful enough to be able to see even the most disciplined youkai. But that was yet to be seen.

Kikyo continued, 'When facing a demon, read their youkai for any sudden shifts in the flow. When it changes, then that is the time to be on your highest guard. Their aura will change with their emotions. If you can, use this against them, especially since they will not see it coming. Do you think you can do this Kagome? Do you think you could be able to read Naraku's aura when you next see him?'

"I'll do whatever I can to make that jackass pay for what he's done to all of us," Kagome's mighty scowl would have made lesser beings run for cover, had anyone been there to witness it.

She looked at the door once again and could feel the aura change. It got progressively stronger, glowing red for a moment before subsiding into its usual flow. The door suddenly swung open to reveal Naraku.

Kagome's fear spiked for a moment until she saw the swirling energy flicker in and out of her sight.

'Focus Kagome, I didn't just spend three days instructing you for nothing!' Kikyo's voice rang sharply inside her head.

She stretched her senses out a little and was able to see it all clearly. Her fear retreated as quickly as it came to be replaced by a quiet confidence that she had always lacked when facing Naraku. She finally had a weapon against him. A secret weapon that no one but she and Kikyo knew existed. Kagome smiled to herself and for the first time felt a similar feeling radiating from the miko hiding inside her.

As she met Katsuro's eyes over Naraku's shoulder, Kagome quickly hid her reactions and thoughts from his prying mind. She was surprised at how much easier it was since Kikyo had joined her. The Miko was able to block some of his prying and hide some of the most important information. The hold that the Crown of Chikara had on her was certainly not weakening, but Kagome was starting to realize that she was not completely powerless.

Kagome stared defiantly at her captors, waiting for one of them to speak. Naraku finally broke the silence, his eyes gleaming with malice.

"The time has come wench. Your friends have finally arrived. Though I'm sure that the only reason they are here is for the Jewel."

Kagome's anger soared as he spoke; she knew her friends were trying to find her. InuYasha wouldn't rest until he saved her. The Jewel was not nearly as important to them as she was.

Naraku continued unknowingly, "In fact, I find it interesting that InuYasha leaves you with us until all of the shards were collected and we are preparing to make it complete. Since that incident with Kikyo he hasn't made an appearance. In fact, I sent a puppet to him just the other day to inform him to come and fetch you, and he couldn't be bothered. I think he no longer cares for you, Kagome. I think he's here only to take the Shikon Jewel and become a full-blooded demon. It's not surprising really, considering you're of no more use to him. You're not much use to any of us."

Kagome stood tall, stoic amidst a storm of pain and confusion. She knew that Naraku was trying to poison her heart. She knew that he wanted the shard and that he would say and do anything to get it. Even though she knew this to be true, the slightest doubt was able to creep in.

'Come now Kagome, you know better than to believe that. You know InuYasha better than anyone.' Kikyo's voice softly floated from the depths of her mind.

Kagome closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

'Do I? Do I really?'

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 11 of 60

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