Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 22 of 60

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We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. ~Shirley Abbott

Sesshomaru dodged another release of InuYasha's Kazu no Kizu. He landed on the other side of the river before releasing an attack with Tokijin. They continued in this vein for quite a long time though Sesshomaru was the one dealing out most of the punishment. InuYasha leapt away quickly and landed a few feet from the trench Tokijin left carved in the earth.

"Is that the best you got Sesshomaru?" InuYasha called out, though he was noticeably out of breath.

Sesshomaru calmly sheathed Tokijin and walked forward. "You have never required my best."

He leapt over the river and landed a foot from InuYasha in a flash of white and silver. A swift upper cut with his left fist saw the hanyou fly through the air and land at the bottom of the afore mentioned trench, unconscious.

Sango and Miroku rushed forward calling out InuYasha's name. Miroku took a stance between his friend and the taiyoukai while Sango knelt beside InuYasha's sprawled form.

Miroku held his staff toward Sesshomaru, looking more determined than he felt, "Now that InuYasha can no longer fight, I think it's best to call it a day."

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes at the monk, not liking the implication of an order. "This Sesshomaru will do as he pleases."

"Come now Sesshomaru-sama, InuYasha is unconscious. There can be little pleasure in continuing to fight."

Sesshomaru didn't respond, though his stance relaxed fractionally as his eyes flicked past Miroku to InuYasha. It wouldn't be much of a victory if the opponent weren't aware he was being so thoroughly pulverized. Besides, Sesshomaru felt better after getting some of the pent up rage out of his system. He turned to leave when the Monk's voice stopped him.

"Sesshomaru-sama, how did you get your left arm back?

Sesshomaru stopped but did not turn around. He thought about not answering but knew that is was only a matter of time before they found out anyway. "An unfortunate side effect."

With those cryptic words, he continued walking back in the direction of the House of the Moon leaving a baffled monk in his wake.

Hoshi was sitting beside Rin as the little girl awoke. She brushed a cool hand along her forehead, pushing aside the shaggy black bangs. 'It's time for another trim,' Hoshi thought with an inward smile. Rin's eyelids fluttered and opened. Hoshi let the smile reach her face affectionately as she gazed into the large brown eyes that had been hidden from view for far too long.

"Hoshi-sama?" Rin's voice croaked from lack of use and the ravaging of her small body from the poison. She was rail thin and would take several weeks of rest before she would again resemble the little girl they once recognized.

"How are you feeling?" Hoshi smiled as she reached for a glass of water.

Rin pulled herself up to sit and grabbed the glass, her words muffled by the rim as she drank greedily, "My throat hurts."

Hoshi took the glass back a short moment later and refilled it.

"I'm sure it does," she said soothingly as she handed the glass back to Rin, who once again downed it in moments.

Gulping in air after finishing, Rin finally looked around as she placed the cup in Hoshi's outstretched hand.

"Where is Sesshomaru-sama? We were supposed to have tea together?"

Hoshi smiled again. 'She obviously has no idea what happened. Something at least to be grateful for.'

"He will return shortly."

Hoshi had been feeling the brothers battling for the past hour but knew it wouldn't last much longer. Hopefully Sesshomaru had not done too much damage to his little brother. However, it was better that he took his frustration out on InuYasha rather than Kagome. She was still formulating how she was going to pull off her little maneuver. Kagome needed to stay at the House of the Moon for a while longer, even if no one else was able to see it. The feeling of unease flickered to life once again as Hoshi thought about the fragile human sleeping a few doors down. She had a strong suspicion that things were not as they seemed and that the girl was in great danger. A danger that InuYasha would not be strong enough to defeat, nor even see coming. Kagome was very important though to what degree Hoshi had yet to be able to determine. She needed answers to some very critical questions, but needed time to find them. Some answers only show themselves when shadows rise up and consume all of the earth's light. Hoshi learned long ago to seek out the shadows when pursuing the truth.

She focused back on the little girl in front of her as she tiredly lay back down. Pulling the blanket up, she tucked it around Rin as her gentle voiced soothed the slight frown pulling at the little girl's lips.

"Go to sleep for a little longer and when you wake up, I'll have your favorite dinner waiting." Rin's sleepy smile and fierce yawn was her only response. She was asleep in a matter of seconds, leaving Hoshi to pursue her former thoughts.

She sat in the quiet room for a while, deciding her next move.

Sesshomaru entered his courtyard with all the stately grace of a king. His servants and guards went about their duties, bowing in respect as he passed. It didn't take him long to notice all of the quick glances. It wasn't hard to guess what they were looking at. If they didn't know the story yet, they soon would. The penchant for gossip was one thing that did not differ between human and youkai society. Sesshomaru continued into the castle and went straight to Rin's chambers, silently entering and sliding the door shut behind him.

She was sleeping peacefully, her breaths rising and falling in rhythm to her strong heartbeat. Sesshomaru closed his eyes for a moment and let the comforting sound wash over him. Her scent had also returned to normal, reminding him of a dewy summer evening full of fireflies and moonlight. The tension that had held him captive for the past weeks finally released in a rush of blinding energy, leaving behind an unusually tired and hollow feeling. He long ago accepted her importance to him, but it didn't make it any easier to live with. For the rest of her life, though short in his eyes, he would have to be forever vigilant of those seeking to harm her. His derision for the things he could not change festered.

Gracefully he sat next to her and took in her delicate features. His mind's eye replayed her laugh, her smile, and the look of unfailing trust that never ceased to fill her large brown eyes. He would always protect her, from every enemy.

A tingling sensation in his fingertips drew his attention away from Rin. He raised his left hand and stared, flexing the long fingers into a fist. Sesshomaru was still not sure if he was thankful. It worked just as well as his old arm, though it could not draw forth the poison that flowed in tandem with his blood, and the magenta stripes were noticeably absent. He wondered if that was because a miko had repaired the arm. Her holy powers would understandably not be able to restore a youkai arm to its full strength. The fact that she was able to return his arm at all without purifying him was enough to peak his curiosity. Of course he would never let that particular knowledge be known to anyone other than himself. He still had his pride after all, even if he was brought low by a mere slip of a human woman for a few hours.

This miko that traveled with his hanyou brother had always been odd. Whether it was the clothing she wore, the way she spoke, or the manner in which she heedlessly jumped into danger. These were all oddities to the Lord of the Western Lands. The only other human who piqued his interest in a similar vein was Rin.

That she had restored his arm was not enough of a reason to allow her to stay. After all, the longer she stayed, the longer his pitiful half-brother would be around. Sesshomaru smiled at that thought. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to have InuYasha around for a while longer. He definitely hated the hanyou, but he did like having someone around that he didn't mind unleashing his full fury on. He had to exercise restraint with his guards, as he considered it to be counterproductive to kill those in his employ. Decent youkai that could provide even a minimal amount of security to his home were hard to come by, and those that he would trust in close proximity to Rin were even harder.

His smile faded as his mind turned to the real crux of the problem. The miko, who right now slept so defenselessly in his home, was in fact the protector of the Shikon no Tama. Though he himself held no desire for the jewel's power, he knew that other, less honorable youkai, would relentlessly seek it. After all, it was because of the jewel that Naraku had become his enemy. It was because of the jewel that Rin had become the target through which Naraku tried to manipulate and injure him. Sesshomaru could not guarantee that another youkai would not do the same. Being the ruler of the Western Lands made Sesshomaru a target of those seeking power, like his father before him.

If the miko could not protect herself and the jewel adequately, then the cycle of danger might never end and Rin would have just that many more possible enemies.

Sesshomaru heaved a great sigh. There was nothing else to be done.

Hoshi moved through the quiet hallways of the House of the Moon. The moonlight danced along the smooth wooden floors, gilding them a soft blue. Winter was fast approaching as the trees in the Western Woods shed their summer bounty. The days became shorter and the nights more chill. Hoshi was heavily involved with the preparation of the house for the winter months, making sure the food stores were full and the various rooms ready to brave the harsh icy winter that battered the west. On top of that she was trying to care for two humans that had seen enough trouble to last several of their short lifetimes.

She came to a halt next to Sesshomaru's study. It was time to plead her case. He had returned some time ago and spent several hours with Rin before making way to his study. Hoshi had let him be, knowing that he needed that time with Rin. She waited patiently until she heard his deep voice call for entrance.

She slid the door open and entered, closing it with a soft snap. She again waited patiently for his attention to finally turn from the document held in his graceful hand.

"How are the preparations proceeding?"

"Preparation for winter is right on schedule and will be finished with time to spare."

"And the staff?"

"They are prepared as well," Hoshi's voice was tinged with confusion. She was sure that he would jump on the topic of the Miko, but instead seemed disinclined to even mention it.

"I want Rin's chambers kept extra warm while she is recovering and for her not to overextend herself. Also, we will resume taking tea together in her room at our normal time." Sesshomaru picked up another document and began perusing it leisurely.

"Of course. Anything else Sesshomaru-sama?" Hoshi's voice was slightly anxious, wondering if he would mention the Miko at all. Did he think that she had already been returned to InuYasha?

Sesshomaru smirked behind the document, away from Hoshi's sharp eyes. He loved toying with his housekeeper and oldest friend. He knew full well that she wanted to discuss the little miko. It was only a matter of time before she lost patience and brought the matter up herself.


Hoshi stood staring, waiting for him to look at her. She knew that he remembered those last few moments in the healing room before the explosion. She saw the comprehension in his eyes at her apology in that split second before he was sent hurdling through the wall. Why was he not asking what that was about? Why was he not angry with her? She wondered at the game he was playing since it was not like him to dance around a subject so serious. Sesshomaru also knew that she did not like to be trifled with. Hoshi huffed in displeasure and crossed her arms. If he wasn't going to bring it up then she sure as hell would.

"What of the Miko?"

Sesshomaru lowered the parchment covering his face and met her steely violet eyes.

"What of her?"

"What do you want done with her?" Hoshi held his gaze, daring him to reveal his true thoughts.

Sesshomaru would not give. He stared back with the same golden intensity.

"Is she recovering?" Sesshomaru asked the question, though both could plainly feel the holy energy grow with each passing hour.

"Yes. She needs time to regain her strength, but she is recovering."

Sesshomaru lowered the paper to his desk and placed both hands on the table. He had quickly tired of his little game and decided to get down to business. They would discuss the events of the past twenty-four hours at a later date, when he didn't have so much paperwork to catch up on.

"I'm aware of your feelings on this topic and have considered them in my decision. You are my most trusted ally and consultant. Your dedication to my family has been long and great. I value your opinion and take your advice with the greatest of care."

Hoshi's eyes widened as he spoke. All of this she knew, but had never heard the young Taiyoukai speak them aloud. It was not in his character to praise those around him. Instead he allowed his trust and admiration to show in actions. He continued without waiting for a response from her.

"I realize that the Miko is a target. The keeper of the Shikon no Tama will always remain such. That is why, until she is fit to leave, she will remain here where she will not be easy prey to those that seek the jewel."

Hoshi was taken aback. She assumed that she would have to talk Sesshomaru into a concession. She looked from his face to his left hand.

"Before you get any ideas, know that I do this for Rin. I will not risk having another hanyou or youkai use her to come after me. The jewel is a vessel for such treachery and it does me no good to have a miko that cannot protect that which she was entrusted. Until she is strong enough, she remains."

Hoshi couldn't help asking the question that she herself knew the answer to. She would often play devil's advocate with Sesshomaru as a way to lend counsel and help him be confidant in his decisions. "The Miko travels alongside InuYasha. Is he not capable of protecting her?"

Sesshomaru snorted in distain. "Has he done an adequate job thus far?"

Hoshi hid a grin at his surly response.

"See to the Miko's needs Hoshi, and that she does not cause a disturbance." With that, Sesshomaru turned back to the mountain of paperwork littering his desk.

Dismissed, Hoshi left the study and shut the door behind her. In the hallway, she took a deep breath and wondered what just happened. That had gone quite different from the way she envisioned. Moving silently down the hall in the direction of the newest member of the House of the Moon, she set about to carry out her lord's wishes.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 22 of 60

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