Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 27 of 60

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"You must be willing to protect yourself and what you cherish, no matter what the cost." ~ Christopher Paolini

The smoke and flying debris settled, revealing the garden's complete destruction. Kagome blinked away the snow that had settled into her eyelashes, afraid to move.

Sesshomaru's tense aura surrounded her as tightly as his arms. His breath was measured, but shallow as they both sat motionless at the end of the garden. Kagome was cradled in Sesshomaru's lap with one arm wrapped around her waist and the other across the front of her chest, his palm resting against the side of her head holding it firmly to his shoulder.

Kagome kept her eyes on Hoshi who stood with a long black staff about twenty feet away. A melted and jagged path spread out from her feet across the length of the open space. Roughened piles of earth and broken trees were all that was left of the once exquisite garden.

Hoshi's hair tossed wildly in the wind of her own volatile spirit energy as her aura continued to pulsate a vivid purple. Her once snow-white kimono had changed to reflect the same bright purple. Glowing white crescents shifted and winked in and out of sight along the fabric as if it were a living part of the woman who wore it.

She was a fearsome sight to behold as she turned her attention from the garden to Kagome. Lavender eyes flashed against the white snow as she assessed the miko from a distance. Seemingly satisfied, her attention turned back to the garden as her eyes scanned the area with intensity.

Wind whipped down from the mountain and Kagome shivered violently from a combination of cold and fear. Sesshomaru's arms tightened a fraction more, pulling her even deeper into his warmth. Her now bare feet were stinging from the intense cold even as parts of her body pressed against Sesshomaru burned. She reveled in his warmth and allowed it to sink into her frozen skin as she tried to ignore the butterflies dancing in her stomach. The past few minutes replayed in her head and she shut her eyes against the memory. In the split second before Sesshomaru arrived, the mist had surrounded her and she felt as though every ounce of warmth had been stolen from her body. She doubted she would ever be able to forget the feeling the ominous mist had evoked, as though her very life was being sucked away along with her warmth.

Hoshi began walking toward the pair, her eyes on a continuous scan of the garden. Kagome had yet to take her eyes from the woman until a movement to her left showed the arrival of the giant bear youkai that seemed to head Sesshomaru's army. He quickly made his way through the debris toward the pair, his axe held in both mighty fists.

"Are you injured?"

Sesshomaru's deep voice rumbled against her body, startling her back into the present. He hadn't moved an inch since landing; his legs folded underneath and ready to move in an instant. Kagome had no idea how he could remain in such a position without moving so much as an inch. 'I'd have lost my balance and ended up with a face full of ice,' shethought dejectedly. She realized that he was waiting patiently for an answer.

"I don't think so," she answered shakily.

"Humph" was his only answer as he loosened his hold. He rose and gently placed her on her feet as Hoshi and Hiraiku came to stand beside them. Something silent passed between the three, which Kagome didn't seem to understand and caused her no small amount of frustration.

"Later," Sesshomaru said quietly and gestured toward the castle.

"Yes my lord," Hoshi and Hiraiku bowed their heads and began walking toward the castle. Hiraiku broke to the left and continued around the perimeter, calling for more soldiers as he went.

Kagome stepped forward to follow only to have a sharp pain lance up her right side, stealing her breath. Cold pain seemed to freeze the skin at her side. She staggered slightly and felt Sesshomaru's hands catch her elbows. Once again she was surprised by how warm his hands seemed to be, especially when considering his frosty demeanor.

"Not injured…" he mumbled under his breath as he scooped her up, careful not to touch her injured side. He strode purposely through the snow after Hoshi.

Kagome peeked up at him as they made their way through the debris and snow to the same doorway she had exited only a short time ago. His face showed no emotion, nor did he bother to look down at her. As he gracefully leapt over a tree stump she gripped his haori in her fists, clinging to his chest. He sighed but didn't say anything as he climbed the stairs to the open door. Hoshi was waiting for them patiently. Kagome noticed that the mysterious staff was gone and that the housekeeper was staring at the miko's feet in shock. Sesshomaru looked down at her feet as well and sighed again. Her tiny feet were an angry red from the icy snow and freezing wind.

"Next time be sure to properly attire yourself against the winter elements," his voice was disapproving as they entered the house and wound through the hallways to her room. Sesshomaru moved quickly but with a fluid grace that made Kagome feel as if she were floating.

His matter of fact criticism cracked sharply against her shock, all but dissolving it. As if a floodgate had opened, her body began to burn with a strong desire to strangle him. She looked up but his eyes remained fixed ahead.

"Well I'm sorry I didn't think to tell whatever the hell that thing was to hold on a minute so I could put some shoes on!"

Sesshomaru stopped at the foot of her bed and looked down for the first time. His golden eyes sparkled in the dim light of her room.

"Perhaps you should have."

Kagome's mouth dropped open, not having a ready response. Before she knew it, she was dropped onto her bed with little grace and he was gone. Shizuka and Hoshi looked after him curiously but remained silent.

Sesshomaru went directly to his study and waited. It was only a matter of moments before Hiraiku joined him. His captain of the guard kneeled with his head bowed, one fist planted on the floor next to his knee.

"After searching the castle and the entire grounds, we have found no sign of the miko's attacker."

Sesshomaru closed his eyes for a moment, frustration burning low in his chest.

"Continue searching and post extra guards at the entrance and around Rin's quarters."

Hiraiku nodded, "And the miko?"

"Hoshi will remain with her at all times."

A heavy pause followed. Sesshomaru lifted a brow at his young Captain, daring him to give voice to his thoughts. In the end, Hiraiku only lowered his head.

"Yes my lord." Hiraiku rose and left to carry out his lord's wishes.

Sesshomaru leaned back and closed his eyes again, replaying what he witnessed as he entered the garden, hoping to remember anything that might give way to this new enemy's identity.

He had his hand on Tokijin, ready to draw the mighty sword as he crossed the threshold of the doorway leading to the garden. His feet flew as he felt the swell of Hoshi's powers flare to life. He knew she was right behind him and that she would not fail to have his back in battle. She must have felt his aura spike from wherever she had been in the house.

He saw the mist reach out toward the miko. Anger tore through him as he pushed himself to run faster. She clutched at her chest and staggered back a moment before the mist rushed forward to surround her. He was almost there, hand pulling on Tokijin when he heard Hoshi cry out a familiar incantation from directly behind him. 'It must be serious if Hoshi is drawing on that particular power,' he thought angrily.

There was no time. Hoshi was counting on him to get her out of there before the spell she just released killed the woman. He let go of his sword and dove through the mist. His hands found her easily, pulling her instinctively to his chest as he cradled her head against the approaching impact. He tucked his body around her as they landed and rolled through the snow with his body taking the brunt of the unforgiving frozen earth.

Sesshomaru was crouched on his heels and ready to spring forward again in the off chance Hoshi's strike had missed. Of course she hadn't. The dark sorceress had fought in more battles than even he had. One didn't survive that many centuries by missing an enemy. He watched her intently as he stretched out his senses, searching for any nearby threat. Hoshi's focus on the garden and the fact that she did not lower her staff told him immediately that this was not at an end. Sesshomaru waited, concentrating on his surroundings and trying to ignore the soft weight cradled in his lap.

The miko, to his relief, remained still and quiet. Even though he could hear her heart beating wildly as her ragged breath made her fear palpable.

As Hoshi finally began to move toward them, he noticed how cold the human must be a moment before a violent shiver racked her small frame. His instincts had him pulling her closer even before he knew why. As he did so, her soft hair brushed against his chin while his hand brushed ever so slightly against her cheek. She smelled like Lotus blossoms on a breezy summer day. In that moment electricity shot up his left arm, startling his thoughts into clarity even as they tried to tempt him.

He blurted out a question without much thought, trying to change the course of his thoughts to something more productive. Her quick response reassured him of her health, which brought an instant calm that took over the tenseness that had been dominating his being from the moment he spied her through his window in the garden. That calm vanished immediately when he noticed her injury and again when he saw her bare and half frozen feet. He wanted to throttle her for her careless behavior.

The fiery and flustered response he drew from her at his command of better attire made him stop and take note of the small woman in his arms. As their eyes met before leaving her room he realized yet another thing about the miko. When provoked, her eyes sparkled with an intelligence and courage few could boast, especially a mere human. The thought did little to ease his discomfort.

Sesshomaru opened his eyes and found himself in his study once again, shutting away his thoughts ruthlessly. The dark of midnight filled its corners with ominous shadows and sharpened edges. How many more times would a human bring chaos into his home?

Sesshomaru sighed inwardly and stared at the once beautiful garden. Two things were painfully clear.

She was safe for the moment, and she had an enemy in his home.

Hoshi entered Sesshomaru's study to find the young Taiyoukai sitting with his back against the wall looking out the window. It seemed to be his favorite place lately.

She sat across from him and placed her hands in her lap. Her kimono had returned to its normal state as the pale purple crescent moons playfully danced across the white silk.

"The miko has a burn on her right side. It appears to be the work of an Elemental."

Sesshomaru turned to Hoshi, his eyes narrowed menacingly.

"I do not employ Elementals in this house, nor support their presence in the West."

"Precisely my lord." Hoshi met his gaze without wavering. "The question then is, how did this Elemental make it into the House of the Moon?"

"Someone let it in," Sesshomaru answered grimly. "That means there is a traitor in my home. It's well known among the staff, and even throughout the Western Lands that I find them unpleasant."

Sesshomaru stood and rounded the corner of his low desk.

"The miko is to have someone with her at all times until we have answers. No exceptions."

Hoshi bowed her head, a smile hidden behind her heavy black hair.

"Yes my lord."

The morning dawned and Kagome hadn't slept a wink. Hoshi returned after a short visit to inform Sesshomaru of her condition and had yet to leave again. The burn on her side ached slightly but she was not otherwise physically affected from the incident the previous night. Truth be told, she could not stop thinking about what she would say to Sesshomaru once she saw him again. Of course she had to thank him for saving her, but she was also mad at herself for failing to have a good comeback to his parting comment the night before. She had been thinking all morning of something suitable to say if the situation presented itself again. Kagome would not allow him to fluster her like that again.

Kagome rose from bed and Hoshi helped her dress for the day. They had gone over the events of the previous night several times with Hoshi asking a million questions. Kagome had her own questions, like the whereabouts of the black staff Hoshi had in the garden and what was that immense power she used to kill this 'Elemental' as Hoshi had called it? Every time Kagome asked a question, Hoshi turned the subject with the skill of a master. It was infuriating to the young woman.

"Come on Hoshi-sama, tell me about that staff you had in the garden. What was it?" her pleading voice carried throughout the room. Hoshi only shook her head.

Just as they were finishing, a form stopped outside her door and requested entrance. Hoshi stepped to the door and pulled the screen back to reveal a small youkai holding a tray.

"Where is Shizuka?" Hoshi asked crisply, obviously confused as to the sudden change of routine. It was a routine that Hoshi had obviously crafted with care and determination.

"Shizuka-san is attending to Rin-Sama this morning and asked if I would bring the miko's breakfast." The youkai bowed low even while holding the tray upright.

"I see. Place it on the table and you may return to your other duties." Hoshi's matter of fact voice held a trace of contempt that Kagome couldn't quite understand.

"Yes my lady," the youkai entered the room quietly and placed the tray on the table. He withdrew immediately, never once raising his eyes but instead kept them trained on the floor even as he backed from the room.

Kagome curiously watched the small youkai as he moved about the room, this being the first youkai other than Sesshomaru, Shizuka, Hiraiku and Jaken that she had encountered beyond passing since coming here. Just before the door slide shut, the youkai looked up and Kagome met the gaze of one of his curious dark orange eyes for the briefest of moments.

The little youkai was forgotten almost immediately as the smell of breakfast wafted to her nose and she enthusiastically attacked her meal.

She made short work of breakfast and was soon ushered to the sunroom as was her usual custom. Hoshi seemed preoccupied, leaving the room often to stand down the hall where Kagome could hear her converse with other members of the household briefly before returning, only to do so again a few minutes later.

Kagome was beginning to wonder what was going on when a familiar voice drifted down the hall, distracting her thoroughly.

Sango rounded the corner and beamed fondly at her friend. Kagome stood to embrace her as she always did but couldn't hide a slight wince from the highly observant Taiji-ya.

"What's the matter Kagome?" Sango's worried voice cracked sharply.

Hoshi appeared quickly behind Sango, her eyes looking over Kagome like an anxious mother hen.

Not wanting to worry either of them, Kagome responded a little too quickly. "Oh it's nothing Sango. Just a little burn, nothing serious."

"A burn? From what?" Sango sat next to Kagome and grasped her hand.

"Um. Well…" Kagome stuttered, not wanting to lie to her best friend, but also not knowing how to explain without upsetting everyone in the process. She knew if InuYasha found out, his reaction would not be a benefit to anyone.

Hoshi handled the situation for her.

"Kagome-sama was attacked by an unknown Elemental last night."

"An Elemental! How? Why?!" Sango stood and faced Hoshi in an aggressive stance.

"We don't know, but you may be assured that it will not happen again," Hoshi answered with a finality that would reassure even the faintest heart.

Sango turned back to her friend and sat carefully on the edge of the couch.

"Tell me everything."

Red eyes traveled the hallway of the House of the Moon recalling the events of the previous evening. A toothy grin split a scaly face as the garden in the back of the house came into view.

'The miko is perfect for our little game Sesshomaru. Being a hunter yourself, I'm sure you agree that there is nothing more entertaining than watching a cat stalk and kill a defenseless mouse. But I wonder….. how will you do in the role of protector? Can the cat ignore his natural instinct and protect the mouse?'

Beady red eyes turned back and headed to the servants quarters. No use in attracting undue suspicion. Besides, duty called.

InuYasha waited in a nearby tree for Sango's return. Every day he would wait impatiently to learn how Kagome was doing since he was still not allowed in the House of the Moon to see her. His restlessness grew as the winter days dragged by. A movement under the tree caught his notice.

Miroku paced back and forth, sighing and muttering to himself. He was impatient for Sango's return for a completely different reason. It was difficult for him to watch her enter a house full of youkai weaponless, and more importantly, monk-less.

Kirara paced a small path next to him as the little cat awaited her return just as Shippo sat at the foot of the path everyday determined to be the first to see Kagome when she finally returned to them.

The thought of Kagome coming back warmed InuYasha's frazzled nerves. Her absence had left a significant hole in his life that was getting harder to ignore. It was only after her abduction that he realized just how fundamentally important she had become. She was the first to really believe in him and that had given him the strength to live honorably. She brought back the humanity that was being overtaken by the demon and helped teach him how to balance the two facets of his being. Her presence in his life had given him happiness that he had only experienced one other time, fifty years earlier.

A noise in the woods announced Sango's arrival.

She entered the clearing as Shippo bounded circles enthusiastically around her, asking a million questions but being too excited to wait for an answer.

InuYasha leaped from the tree and landed a few feet away as Miroku rushed up and looked her over.

"Are you okay? Anything happen while you were there?" Miroku grabbed her hands and held them fast.

"I'm fine Miroku, as I am every time I visit Kagome." Sango's cheeks were pink at Miroku's show of affection and concern.

"How is Kagome today?" InuYasha's gruff voice interrupted the noise and drew everyone back to the reason they were there.

"She is getting stronger every day. I feel her improving every time I visit." Sango looked away from her friends and shuffled toward the fire burning low in their camp.

Sango didn't want to tell her friends what had happened to their beloved friend, knowing InuYasha was sure to overreact. She had decided on her way home that she would not share the information unless the threat became more pressing.

"Good. That means she'll be back to normal when my lousy brother finally lets her go." InuYasha crossed his arms and stared broodingly toward the House of the Moon. "Hey, did ya happen to find out what that huge blast was all about last night?" InuYasha asked Sango over his shoulder.

"Um," Sango crouched by the fire and warmed her hands, "not really," she said evasively.

Miroku stood behind her, a thoughtful expression on his face.

A scent caught on the breeze and InuYasha braced for the arrival of yet another one of his half-brother's servants. Food was sent out to them every few days from the castle stores. The only reason InuYasha accepted was because he knew Miroku and Sango needed good meals to stay strong during the harsh winter months. It helped that Kagome had a tent in her backpack that she sent back to the group so they could have some shelter from the elements. It also helped that Sango went into the House of the Moon for several hours a day, which got her out of the cold. In fact, that was the argument Sango made when first invited into the House of the Moon. It had tipped the scales in her favor when Miroku put the brakes on so heavily.

Sango walked over to her belongings and pulled a small container from her pack and placed it in the pocket of her kimono. Miroku was watching her like a hawk and rushed forward to grab her hand.

"I knew it. Something happened! Who hurt you Sango?"

"No one hurt me Miroku. I'm perfectly healthy." Sango pulled back but he kept hold of her wrist.

"That container you just put in your pocket. It's used to treat wounds inflicted by youkai. I've seen you use it before!"

Sango sighed and closed her eyes.

"I need to give it to Kagome."

Silence reigned a moment before a flood of questions filled the clearing.

In an instant InuYasha was standing directly in front of her, his nose almost touching her own.

"Why does she need medicine Sango?" His angry voice rose in volume.

"She had a little run-in with an Elemental last night. But she's fine I swear!"

InuYasha was already gone.

Sesshomaru was working his way through a stack of paperwork when he heard a loud crash at the main gate. He rose swiftly and made his way to the courtyard just inside the main entrance.

Hiraiku was already issuing orders as his forces moved to attack position. The vibrations from his father's fang pulsed fiercely on the other side of the castle walls. He could hear InuYasha yelling furiously.

"What is his problem now?" Sesshomaru asked as he came to stand next to Hiraiku.

"He knows about the miko's injury and is demanding to see her."

"Humph. Slight injury." Sesshomaru grumbled as he moved to the gate. "Open it, Hiraiku." Sesshomaru drew Tokijin and stood squarely as the gate opened slowly.

InuYasha rushed forward and the two swords met.

"Hand her over Sesshomaru," InuYasha said through gritted teeth.

"I think not," Sesshomaru answered as he sent his brother flying. InuYasha picked himself up and rushed forward again, sending the Wind Scar at the same time.

Sesshomaru intercepted the blast and sent it out of the castle into the surrounding forest.

"Have you no brain?!" Sesshomaru's fury was suddenly very real, his expression and tone thunderous. "I will not allow my father's bastard half-breed son destroy this house with his own sword!"

Sesshomaru charged forward and hit InuYasha with such force that Tessaiga flew out of his hands and landed several feet away.

With a foot on InuYasha's chest and Tokijin pointed against his throat, Sesshomaru began glowing as his eyes turned blood red.

"I'm done dealing with you InuYasha," Sesshomaru's voice was deadly as he raised Tokijin high in the air.

"Nooo!" Kagome screamed as she raced across the courtyard.

Sesshomaru stilled for a fraction of a second as he felt her aura blaze behind him.

That hesitation gave Kagome enough time to leap in between the two, Tokijin's deadly point resting against her chest as she placed a bare hand against the blade.

Sesshomaru stopped instantly. Neither moved for several seconds as snow blew around them.

"Please Sesshomaru. Please don't hurt him."

The pleading tone in Kagome's voice caught at something inside him. His thoughts went back to the day in the sunroom where he glimpsed the part of herself she tried to deny now existed. That same look was in her eyes now and his stomach tightened.

Sesshomaru stepped back and lowered his sword to his side. He wasn't sure what the miko's intentions were, but something inside couldn't bring himself to distress her.

Kagome whipped around as InuYasha scrambled to his feet.

"What do you think you're doing releasing the Wind Scar here!?"

"I came to get you," InuYasha yelled back, not yet realizing just how angry she was.

"I was in there," she yelled and pointed toward the house, "and if the Wind Scar had hit the castle I could have been killed!" Kagome shot back and shoved him roughly in the shoulder.

Sesshomaru watched in shock as this mere slip of a girl boldly put his brother in his place with no fear. You would never guess that she had just moments before stood with one of the deadliest swords on earth pointed at her chest.

"But you weren't. Like I would ever hit you with the Wind Scar, tch," he crossed his arms and turned his nose up as if she were a complete idiot for thinking such a thing.

Kagome balled her fists and growled fiercely. He continued on, oblivious to her rising color.

"I don't see why you're so upset Kagome. You really tend to overreact ya know."

"Uh Oh," three voices sounded from the gate entrance, announcing the arrival of Sango, Miroku and Shippo.

Kagome's voice echoed throughout the courtyard with stunning clarity.


The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 27 of 60

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