Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 26 of 60

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"The war between being and nothingness is the underlying illness of the twentieth century. Boredom slays more of existence than war." ~Norman Mailer

Sango and Kagome were lounging in the sunroom, which had become Kagome's favorite place over the past few weeks. They chatted about nothing and everything, laughing mostly about their past adventures. It was almost as if nothing had changed. Almost.

Days clipped by as the House of the Moon settled into the monotony of winter. The occupants of the castle went about their business with little notice of the human activity that centered on the newest resident. Sango was now a daily visitor, her visits being one of the only points of light in Kagome's otherwise boring day. As those in the house got used to the presence of the demon slayer, the atmosphere shifted from a tense quiet to the normal bustle of an active household.

"When do you think they'll let you come home with us?" Sango asked as she picked absently at the cushion cradled in her lap.

Kagome shrugged, not knowing what to say. A part of her was content in the House of the Moon, feeling safe and sheltered. The other part longed to get back home and see her family. She asked Sango to beg InuYasha to return to her time and assure her family that she was alive and well. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that he had refused to leave the gates of the castle, saying that his mangy brother could not keep her safe long enough for him to make the trip. Kagome bristled at the thought. Her family was sure to think she was dead by now.

"I don't know when I'll get to leave. I haven't asked," Kagome answered.

"Well, since the Jewel is finally complete and everything is over, I don't see why you have to stay."

Kagome kept silent. She had no answers for her friend. Yes, Kagome was bored, but she wasn't unhappy.

Hoshi entered the sunroom and bowed respectfully to the two women.

"It is time."

Kagome rose and crossed to embrace Sango and say farewell. Parting after a visit was always difficult.

Kagome repressed a frown as she thought about her recent reunion with Sango.

It was the day after the infamous 'nail polish incident'. Kagome was resting in the sunroom as Shizuka quietly sat in the corner reading. She heard someone coming down the hall and felt Hoshi's aura as she steadily approached. The housekeeper entered and bowed, as she always did a moment before she spoke without preamble.

"I brought you a present from Sesshomaru-sama."

Kagome blinked, wondering why Sesshomaru would ever give her anything. She sat up and looked expectantly at the housekeeper.

"What is it Hoshi-sama?"

Hoshi bowed her head and stepped to the side, revealing a face that Kagome had up until this point only dreamed of seeing.

"Sango!" Kagome stood and ran to meet her friend halfway. The two embraced as tears slide down their faces.

Hoshi and Shizuka withdrew silently to allow the women a proper reunion.

"I'm sorry Kagome. I'm so sorry." Sango said as she choked on her tears.

"What're you talking about Sango? Has something happened? Has something happened to InuYasha!?"

Sango buried her face into Kagome's shoulder and sobbed uncontrollably, shaking her head.

Kagome pulled her young friend to the low couch and lowered both of them gently to the edge. She kept an arm around her while she held Sango's hands in one of her own.

"Please don't cry Sango."

The tears slowly wound down as she cried for what seemed like years. When she had quieted down to snuffles and hiccups, Kagome spoke again.

"Why are you crying Sango? What has you so upset…has something happened?"

"It's my fault he got you Kagome. All this happened because I couldn't protect you," Sango pulled away from Kagome and buried her face in her hands.

Kagome stiffened a moment before dropping to her knees in front of Sango and pulling her hands from her face. "None of this is your fault, do you hear me?! I never want to hear you say that again."

Sango shook her head in denial only to have Kagome grab her shoulders and shake her gently.

"I mean it Sango. If you're to blame then that means I am too."

Sango finally looked at Kagome. The empty sadness she saw nearly knocked the breath right out of her. In that moment Sango realized that she needed to stop worrying about the past. Instead, she needed to concentrate on returning the fire to Kagome's eyes that was missing when she looked beyond the surface.

Sango smiled as best she could and hugged Kagome with all her might.

"Yes, you're right Kagome. No more."

Kagome watched as her friend left the sunroom. After a few moments she sat back and looked out over the snowy treetops as the sun slowly set. The shadows of the valley stretched out, resembling dark fingers reaching toward the horizon. Hoshi re-entered the room while Kagome was still deep in thought.

The housekeeper moved about the room, setting everything back in its place.

"Hoshi? How long am I to stay in the House of the Moon?" Kagome's tentative question seemed to echo off the walls.

Hoshi stilled a moment before resuming her task and answering.

"Are you unhappy with us Kagome-sama?"

"Oh no…no. I was just wondering how long I am to be a… guest." The last word came out stiffly, as if it had sharp edges. Kagome held her breath as she waited for an answer.

"That's a question for Sesshomaru-sama. Right now he's content that you remain here where other youkai will not be tempted to take the Shikon no Tama, and with it your life."

Hoshi turned and looked at the miko, real concern showing in the lavender depths.

"It's not safe out there for you Kagome-sama. As long as you're the keeper of the Shikon Jewel, you're in immediate danger. Naraku is no longer a threat but there are hundreds of others, just as terrible, just as powerful, and they will kill you without thinking twice in order to obtain its power."

Kagome shuddered at the mention of Naraku. Fear trickled down her spine as she thought about all the demons she had met over the years, all obsessed with the notion of obtaining the Jewel's incredible power. Her hand found its way to her chest as she covered the warm glow hidden beneath her kimono. Its pulsing power had become so ingrained into her senses that she often forgot its presence concealed beneath her clothing.

Kagome let the topic drop as they made their way back to her room. She was in quiet contemplation, not noticing Hoshi watching her stoically.

Hoshi could feel the significant improvement to Kagome's aura as the weeks passed by. Her visits from the young Taiji-ya had done more to heal Kagome than any amount of sleep ever would. After every afternoon, Kagome's spiritual energy felt stronger, more solid.

They arrived at her room and Hoshi held the door open as Kagome passed through. She quickly had the miko dressed for bed and settled comfortably for the night.

Kagome had yet to say another word as Hoshi finished. The dark sorceress possessed many talents, including the knowledge of when to speak and when to be silent. This was a time for silence. Leaving the young woman to her thoughts, Hoshi withdrew to attend to the rest of her duties around the house before she could return for her nightly watch.

Tucked snugly in her bed, Kagome rolled to her side and thought about the danger surrounding her, wondering if anything would ever be the same.

It was the middle of the night and Sesshomaru felt the need to pace. Of course he would never do such a thing because that would imply that something was troubling him. If something was troubling him, then that meant he didn't have a solution. Since he was an exceptionally intelligent being, far beyond that of any other on Earth, then of course it was impossible that he not be able to devise a solution to any problem. Therefore the need to pace in order to ease the discomfort that a troubling situation presented was completely ridiculous.

Instead he sat at his desk and glared at the mountains of paperwork he had no intention of doing. His desk really was a complete mess. He should hire someone to deal with most of this. Of course he had tried in the past, but no one had ever been able to handle the job for very long, either due to ineptitude, or fear of being killed should they make a mistake.

He didn't understand the world. Was he really so hard to please?

Sesshomaru sighed as he leaned back and closed his eyes. The House of the Moon was running with its usual efficiency. Hoshi ran a tight ship and rarely had to bring matters of the household to his attention. It was something he was eternally grateful for. The unfortunate side effect was the increasing boredom he felt as the winter months dragged on. At least in the summer he could tour his lands and go hunting. That at least served as a slight distraction from the hands of time as they slowly crawled through the slow tick of immortality.

Afternoon tea with Rin was his only joy. Unfortunately even that could get monotonous. It didn't help that his little girl shared his boredom. There were only so many "treasure hunts" his staff could put on for her before they too lost their appeal and left Rin restless and anxious.

Sesshomaru's left hand began to tingle violently. His thoughts turned to the other human in his household.

He needed a distraction, but this particular one was unwelcome. The miko remained mostly out of his notice, spending her days in the sunroom at the back of the house, as far away from him as possible. In his daily activities he never had cause to walk anywhere near where she spent her time. That was just fine with him. He didn't like thinking about her or the sad loneliness that haunted her chocolate eyes. He also didn't like to think about the weak spiritual powers that were taking far too long to return, or the fact that it was because she had regenerated his arm that her powers were almost completely drained.

He didn't ask for her assistance, so it wasn't his fault. He would not be beholden to any living being.

Sesshomaru growled under his breath as frustration burned low in his chest. Every time he thought about her he ended up mad. Why was this insignificant human able to bother him so easily? Just as he posed that question to himself, the object of his thoughts stumbled into view.

Many thoughts drifted through his mind as he tried to make the image before him make even the slightest bit of sense.

It was winter. There was over a foot of snow on the ground and it was the middle of the night. Why the petite miko was stumbling through the garden in nothing but a hiyoku was beyond even his superior reasoning.

Her ebony hair was in stark contrast to the snow covered ground as it tossed about in the winter wind. Her pale skin seemed to glow in the shifting moonlight as she turned and faced toward the house again. Her spiritual powers spiked weakly a moment before they faded from his perception.

It was in that moment he saw it. A dark shape was following her. Stalking her.

In the blink of an eye he was running through the halls toward the garden. A peculiar tightness knotted his stomach as he couldn't seem to run fast enough.

Kagome woke suddenly to the empty room, having become accustomed to Hoshi's soothing presence and low humming. The housekeeper's absence seemed to leave the room strangely cold. Her throat was parched as she reached for the glass of water Hoshi always kept next to the bed. Kagome quickly drained the glass, not finding respite for the dryness clawing at her throat.

She stood and reached awkwardly for a kimono, fumbling in vain for a few minutes and finally stepping around the end of the bed.

"Ow!" Kagome howled as she stubbed her toe on the low furniture. Not finding a kimono, she decided that getting something to ease her sore throat was more important than being properly attired for the few moments it would take to fetch some water.

Kagome opened the door to her room and peered into the hallway warily. There was not a soul in sight as the house sat in an unnatural and eerie silence. Kagome took a deep breath and reached out with her senses. She couldn't feel anyone, not even Sesshomaru. Unease settled over Kagome but the scratchiness in her throat overrode all good sense.

Walking into the hallway, she shuttered as she passed through the barrier that Hoshi had erected for her protection. Kagome turned toward the direction she knew the kitchens to be. Moving as silently as possible, she passed several doors and continued to search with her senses for some sign of life. The stillness that met her senses was slightly alarming. Ever since waking up in the House of the Moon, she had been able to feel the youkai that resided and worked here. It was as much a part of the castle as the walls that kept the cold winter air out.

Kagome's heart sped up as she continued toward the kitchens, anxious to return to her room. She whirled around with a gasp as something scraped against the wall behind her.

She peered into the dim light but there was nothing but an empty hallway. "Is anyone there?" she whispered.

Another sound right behind her had her spinning around again. Her breath came loud and heavy as she began turning circles in the small hallway. She couldn't see or feel anything but knew she wasn't alone.

Kagome turned and began running toward the side of the house she knew the other youkai resided. The main residents and servants were kept on the opposite side of the castle as the guests, which was customary in any noble house. Her safest bet was to head there and find someone.

The sound scraped against the walls as she ran, following, gaining. Her feet pounded the smooth floorboards as a doorway caught her attention. Turning sharply, she grasped the edges and wrenched the door open. Her shoulder hit the edge of the door, tearing at her clothing and skin. The burning sensation in her arm brought tears to her eyes as she struggled to see where she was going.

Crossing the threshold she kept running and found herself outside. Her feet, which were clad in nothing but thin tabis, sunk into the snow up to her knees, throwing her off balance. Forward momentum slowed her escape as her feet could no longer move as quickly as her upper body. She tripped forward and threw her hands out to brace for impact. Something sharp scraped her palms as a loud whistling noise skimmed past the side of her head and thudded against the frozen earth a few feet away. A menacing crunch in the snow directly behind her announced the arrival of whatever had been giving chase.

She pushed herself up and began moving through the deep snow away from the sound that seemed to stay the same distance behind her. Kagome summoned her powers, only to realize that she was still too weak to defend herself. Even if she were to use everything she had, it wouldn't be enough to stop even the weakest youkai. Kagome staggered to a stop in the middle of the garden. Her pursuer stopped as well.

Her breath was labored as she shivered from the cold and fear, wishing that she had taken the time to find a kimono. Kagome turned slowly; ready to face whatever had pursued her through the house. What met her eyes was something she had not expected. In place of a terrifying youkai was an even more terrifying dark mist that seemed to hover about three feet away. Its shape shifted slightly as if it waited for her to make a move. Kagome stepped back and the mist shot forward a few inches, as if daring her to run. She took a step to the side and it moved with her, toying with her. She stopped and straightened her spine.

"What do you want?!" she cried as the mist narrowed its shape and broke into two separate sections. One remained an amorphous blob, while the other seemed to sharpen into a long cylindrical dagger shape. Kagome's eyes widened as she realized what she had heard whiz by her head a few moments before. This thing was trying to kill her.

Kagome closed her eyes and waited for the final blow, summoning her courage and powers as best she could. When nothing but the wind moved around her, Kagome opened her eyes to see the mist still in place. As she waited, trying to think of what to do next, it moved a long tendril up and slowly reached toward her.

'Move!' Kagome's mind cried out. She couldn't just stand there while this thing killed her. It was as if her entire body was suddenly made of stone as fear had finally frozen her into place.

Kagome stiffened as the mist brushed the skin at her chest, colder than the icy winter air. It pushed the collar of her hiyoku aside and pulled at the chain holding the Shikon no Tama. Kagome staggered back and clutched the jewel as the mist moved forward at the same time. Something cold struck her side, sucking all the air out of her lungs as the strange mist rose up and engulfed her completely.

A flash of white blurred Kagome's vision a moment before a powerful blast lit up the night sky from her right.

Soft silk and steely warmth enveloped her as she felt her body tumble end over end. When the world stopped flipping, she realized two things simultaneously.

One, she had two incredibly strong arms wrapped around her, holding her against a rock hard chest. Two, the shadowy figure was gone and Hoshi stood across the garden gripping a large black staff that was still smoking. A path of melted snow spread out before her, extending from one side of the garden to the other.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 26 of 60

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