Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 23 of 60

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The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
~Marcel Proust

Kagome awoke to the sound of a soft, melodic voice humming. The wistful tune floated through Kagome's fuzzy mind, causing her to question whether it was real, or just a figment of her imagination. As her brain pulled itself from a foggy slumber she noticed the quiet. The sound of night filled the spaces, weaving in and out of the softly hummed tune. Kagome had become so accustomed to the cacophony of sounds that had filled her ears for the past month that she had forgotten what a quiet evening could sound like, when nature rose up to sing a simple exquisite symphony. The absence of chaos led Kagome to seek what had become familiar. Her powers reached out, like wispy tendrils, seeking the spirits of the mikos she had come to recognize. The further she reached the quieter it became, as if crawling into a deep tunnel. Cold wrapped around her heart as the first inkling of truth seeped into her mind.

The swirling powers and crushing feeling were gone leaving nothing but the echoing darkness of her own thoughts.

'Kikyo? Are you there?'


'Kikyo?' Kagome called out a little more forcefully in her head.

Again silence.

She reached out further, searching for the power signature of the woman she once looked upon as an adversary. She felt nothing but her own powers pulse weakly.

The soft humming stopped and a hushed rustle was heard across the room. Kagome opened her eyes and saw Hoshi sitting next to the window, a blue glow from the moonlight spilled in and pooled around her. Hoshi looked at her a moment before turning her attention back to the sky outside the window. Kagome followed her gaze to the large full moon that seemed to be larger than the sky itself. The stars twinkled through the cherry blossom tree located just outside the window, giving the illusion of sparkling gems instead of leaves. Hoshi's gentle voice broke the silence, drawing Kagome's attention back to the woman in front of her.

"How are you feeling?"

"Like I got hit by a bus."

Hoshi looked sharply at the young woman a moment before turning back to the window. "I don't know what a bus is, but I think I may safely assume that it is not a pleasant experience to be struck by one."

Kagome smiled. She often took for granted people in the feudal era didn't understand what she referred to when speaking of the future.

"No, it's not very pleasant."

Kagome's attention was drawn to the housekeeper's right hand as she steadily rolled the end of a delicate chain between her fingers. Kagome had never noticed Hoshi wear any jewelry, let alone a chain that held a small blue stone that winked in and out of sight between Hoshi's long fingers. The stone had an ethereal glow that seemed to light up the space around it, adding to the blue of the moonlight that draped itself across Hoshi's delicate features. She seemed lost in thought as she twirled the stone and delicate silver chain around her fingers.

Kagome lifted herself to a sitting position and brought her hands up to her head. Cold metal met her fingertips and her heart sank. She focused her energy again, searching for Kikyo's presence.

"You won't find her."

Kagome's hands dropped quickly as her eyes snapped to the woman. "What do you mean? Who won't I find?" Kagome's voice was defensive.

"Come now Kagome-san. You remember the events that transpired a few days ago. Do you really believe I was not aware of the other miko?"

Kagome dropped her gaze to her lap. Dread was pooling like a lead ball in her stomach, dragging her down with every breath. Memories from that night replayed in her head like a movie on fast-forward. Hoshi continued despite the heavy silence.

"I know that the priestess known as Kikyo was absorbed by the Crown and that she was helping to keep your extraordinary powers under control."

Kagome's large eyes reflected the brilliant moonlight. Hoshi turned and faced her, a sad comfort radiated from her entire being as she lamented the overwhelming sadness she was about to impart.

"The miko known as Kikyo has been sealed inside the Crown along with all of the other mikos who have fallen victim to it. I'm sure you noticed that you can no longer feel their presence."

Kagome nodded. "I don't understand Hoshi-san. Why are they gone?"

"If I had done nothing, had I allowed the powers of the Crown to go unchecked, you would have died." Hoshi's grave voice sounded cold and empty.

"I thought Kikyo's soul was bound to me, not the Crown?"

"When you faced each other in the woods so many weeks ago, Kikyo was drawn, like the poison, through your body and into the Crown. Even though her spirit was strong enough to communicate with you, it was still bound to the Crown, which in turn is bound to you." Hoshi stood and walked over to where Kagome was sitting on the bed. She sat on the edge and took Kagome's frail hand in her own.

Watery eyes stared into hollow violet pools of light. "Does that mean that she is gone forever?"

Hoshi fingered the blue stone at her neck a moment before answering. "She will remain in the Crown for as long as it exists."

Kagome reached up and ran a fingertip along the cool gold bands that skimmed along her temples. Sadness drifted to clutch at her heart. She was never close to Kikyo, but the last few weeks had forged an unspoken bond between the two that was born of a mutual desire to protect InuYasha and see Naraku pay for all the heartache he had caused.

Neither had owed the other anything. Both had lived separate lives, during separate eras. Yes, Kagome was the reincarnation of Kikyo, but she was her own person. Her personality was different, as was her soul. Fate pulled their lives together, but in the end they both wanted the same thing. They both cared for the same man. They both would do anything to keep him safe. They both would do anything to see the end of Naraku. So similar, yet worlds apart.

In the end, they needed each other. Where shadow filled Kikyo, light had filled Kagome. Where Kagome was weak, Kikyo was strong. Where Kikyo was tainted, Kagome was pure. One without the other and both would have failed to complete their destiny.

"Are we going to remove the Crown?" Kagome asked, not sure if it was something she really wanted anymore. She felt it would be disrespectful in the face of Kikyo's sacrifice to just toss her away like a bad memory. A heavy silence settled over the room as weariness asserted itself on Kagome's weak form. She blinked rapidly to try and fight back the encroaching darkness building behind her eyes. Hoshi's lips curved into a small smile as she took in the Miko's fading expression.

"After you rest some more," Hoshi released Kagome's hand and helped guide her back against the pillows, "then we can have that discussion."

"How are InuYasha and the others? Can I see them soon?" she asked thickly as sleep crept up to claim her, despite her obvious attempt to stave it off.

"I will send for them once you can remain awake long enough for a decent visit."

Kagome was already asleep.

Hoshi stood and strode back to the window looking at the moon as it reigned over the Western Lands.

Her soft voice asked no one in particular, "How the hell am I going to talk him into that one?"

"Absolutely not."

Sesshomaru's softly worded answer was surprisingly forceful. Hiraiku and Hoshi were sitting across from the taiyoukai in his office, each arguing their case while Sesshomaru barely contained his annoyance.

He had been listening to Hoshi argue the merits of allowing InuYasha and the other humans into the House of the Moon to visit the Miko. Hiraiku, who had been keeping a close eye on the group, as well as the surrounding woods, had offered several reasons why that was a rather unappealing scenario.

"My lord, I quite agree. Allowing the hanyou into the castle invites all manner of speculation from the staff as well as the enemies that monitor the happenings of this great house. Why invite unnecessary hostilities from those seeking the downfall of the Western Lands?"

Hoshi huffed rather loudly. Her arms were tucked into her kimono sleeves, eyes closed. The crescent pattern of her kimono swirled violently, a subtle indication of her heightened aggravation.

"Having a human miko in this house already invites that type of attention. Those foolish enough to attack this house need no additional reason than that. If you feel that you are unable to defend us from fools, then perhaps you are no longer competent enough to lead Sesshomaru-sama's army," Hoshi said sharply.

Hiraiku quickly stood; his fierce growl shook the very walls of the study. Massive paws flexed into giants fists as he stared down at the deceptively calm female still sitting placidly at his feet.

Hoshi's low voice was barely heard over the rumble of Hiraiku's fury, "Is it the sting to your pride or the loyalty to Sesshomaru-sama that raises your ire so much?"

"Enough." Sesshomaru's sharp voice cracked against the tense atmosphere like thunder.

Both stopped and looked at their lord. Hiraiku lowered himself back to the floor though his body was still rigid.

"I will not have the two of you at each other's throat over this. I've made my decision. The answer is no. My half-brother will not enter this house," he raised a hand as Hoshi opened her mouth to protest, "I said no. End of discussion." With that he stood and left his study, leaving a smugly satisfied bear youkai and a seething dark sorceress in his wake.

Hoshi stood and walked to the door, her soft warning fluttered over her shoulder like petals in the wind as a deep blue light radiated from her body. The air in the room seemed to shrink around Hiraiku, forcing the air from his lungs. "I suggest you think long and hard the next time you want to take a threatening stance against me. I'll not allow it a second time."

She left without another word, her kimono blazing as the pattern danced to a rhythm no music could recreate.

Hiraiku watched her go as a chill slithered down his spine. He had grown up listening to rumors of the dark sorceress that was ally to the Western Lands, but hadn't believed them. Until now.

Sesshomaru walked the halls, not really having a destination in mind. He was tired of his household making demands upon him. Everyone wanted something. If it wasn't increased pay, then it was more land or a neighboring youkai eliminated. It was a never-ending cycle of paperwork and decisions that wrapped around him like a chain. He missed the days of roaming the countryside, the only obligation that of a little girl who sought nothing but his company. When he chose to give more was always of his own accord.

Those days, however, were gone. While he still had the little girl who demanded nothing but his attention, securing his home for her safety had brought with it all the aggravation and responsibility that leadership entailed. Youkai sought him out every day with requests and demands; some delivered with a very calculating air while others were direct demands upon their lord. Sesshomaru was not weak and those that failed to show him the proper respect were dealt with accordingly. His reputation for fairness combined with his ability to remain unbiased had gained the respect of all who dwelt in the Western Lands. Sesshomaru's motivation was simple, he based his decisions on what lent to the stability of his Kingdom and favored those who were strong enough to carry out that decision. Those that were deemed powerful and loyal to Sesshomaru, moved up in the Western Lands. Those that were weak only remained if they caused no trouble. That was how his father had ruled, how he was raised. To gain respect, one must show the same respect for the power they wield.

It was his father that was his driving force. Though he wanted to defeat the great Inu no Taisho, it was only a result of his immense respect and drive to emulate the legendary lord. Sesshomaru did not want to be known as simply the great Inu no Taisho's son. He wanted to forge his own way and be known as Sesshomaru, the Great Taiyoukai Lord of the Western Lands. That he was the son of the great dog demon was only to be a footnote in history, not the chapter heading.

Sesshomaru continued his meandering without really seeing. The house was so familiar that even without his advanced senses he could find his way from room to room without difficulty.

The tingling in his fingertips stopped him in his tracks. He found himself outside the Miko's room. He stared at the light screen of the door as he replayed those final memories in the healing room four days ago. He was not a fool. He knew Hoshi had manipulated the girl's powers somehow to return his arm, though it was the raw power of the girl that had allowed for it to happen in the first place. He raised his hand and touched the door gently. Soothing warmth spread through his arm and swept along his body. It was a feeling of contentment that he had not felt in ages.

Sesshomaru jerked his hand back and let it fall limply to his side. He didn't understand the feelings that seemed to be manifesting now that the odd human had entered his home. It disturbed him greatly to know that the small human had any effect over him whatsoever. He pivoted on his heel and headed back the way he came, frustration crashing all around him as he lamented this strange turn of events.

Kagome felt Sesshomaru's youki recede as he walked away from her door. She had awoken to the overwhelming sensation of his demonic aura filling the room. She sat up in her bed, pulling the blanket up to her chest with her.

'Is he coming in here to kill me?' she thought nervously as the aura hung ominously in the air with steady pressure that pushed the air from her lungs. She quickly surveyed the room and found only her yellow backpack sitting against the wall. No bow and quiver available to defend herself. She scooted to the center of the bed and knelt facing the door. Apprehension rose to choke her a moment before she heard a soft brush against the screen. Warmth spread across Kagome's skin and pooled in her chest as a sense of comfort and happiness stole her breath, reminding her of all of the things that made her happy. Sesshomaru's aura had suddenly receded into the background, though still very much present, leaving behind a powerful sense of safety and well-being. Kagome relished the feeling, basking in the glow of emotions she had been forced to abandon in the face of Naraku's captivity. The moment stretched on leaving Kagome dizzy with the heady feeling of ultimate happiness.

A rustle outside the room broke the spell and she came crashing back to reality as the cold realization that nothing had really improved for her. The faces may have changed but the fact that she was still a prisoner had not. Sesshomaru's aura rose up around her again, though this time it was infused with as much sadness as frustration.

Kagome clutched the blankets tightly to her chest as her breaths came easier once his aura began receding steadily. Whatever had brought Sesshomaru to her room, she was certainly glad that he hadn't felt it necessary to come in. Whatever had just happened between their auras just now was something that would be emblazoned into her memory for a long time to come.

The only sound left was that of the wind battering the outside of the House of the Moon.

Red eyes watched greedily as the powerful Taiyoukai reached a striped wrist out to touch the door. The Miko had until a few moments ago been peacefully slumbering inside, ignorant of the plots being formulated around her. White fangs flashed to illuminate the shadows before being quickly pulled back behind thin, misshapen lips. The Lord of the Western Lands was equally unaware of the intrigue being woven throughout his domain. Once he did gain awareness, it would be far too late.

Expertly devious hands were weaving the net and soon the territory of the west would be cast in heavy shadows.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 23 of 60

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