Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 29 of 60

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Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
~ Ambrose Redmoon

Morning dawned brilliantly as winter finally began to lose its battle with the advancing spring. Kagome pulled the pillow over her head, blocking out the glaring light. The door to her room slid open. Through the muted sound of her pillow, shuffling footsteps and the rattle of plates announced the arrival of breakfast. With a groan she pulled the pillow tighter.

"Time to wake up Kagome-sama, we begin training today," Hoshi's voice called cheerfully.

A muffled denial was the only reply as Kagome sunk deeper under the covers.

"Now, now, none of that. You're the one who wants to get stronger. That does not happen by lying in bed all morning. Up!" Hoshi tugged the pillow and blankets away from Kagome.

"Coooold!" Kagome cried as her arms clutched the pillow long enough to pull her to a sitting position. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and pushed her mussed hair from her face.

"I think I've changed my mind," she mumbled under her breath.

An hour later, Kagome found herself staring up at a large building located off the main garden at the back of the house. The morning air was crisp but the sun warmed her skin as it rose high above the surrounding trees. The rays glinted off the wide porch that ran the length of the building. Kagome stepped onto the porch and ran her hands along the polished wood as she followed the other woman. Screens covered the exterior walls and filtered light but could also be opened in the summer to let air in. The wood trimmed walls were painted a vibrant but elegant red, adding to the stately beauty of Sesshomaru's dojo.

Hoshi slid the door open and went inside. Kagome followed slowly, taking in the stark beauty with admiration.

High ceilings gave the structure an open and airy feel with exposed beams that crisscrossed intricately. Silk cushions lined the floor on the southern end of the room where training could be observed and rest taken between sessions. Perfectly polished bamboo floors gave the dojo a clean and natural feel. The opposite wall was covered with various training weapons of all disciplines ready for the choosing.

Kagome walked to the middle of the large space and turned in a slow circle. Years of youkai strength had been absorbed by the walls and were now burning against her pure aura. She could feel the many different types woven into the surface, almost like a quilt, but the predominant aura was that of Sesshomaru. His unmistakable tenor hung about her like an invisible cloak, feeling both protective and uncomfortable at the same time.

Hoshi lit the small heater at the southern end of the room and joined Kagome in the center.

"Now then, we will start with the basics. Since you're the protector of the Shikon no Tama, I think it's important to focus on the art of defense in order to stop those who wish to take it. We'll begin with your most important asset, your Miko powers."

Kagome listened as Hoshi explained how to focus her powers into the space around her to create a barrier that would repel youkai. As Kagome practiced, she could feel her aura strengthen and center itself. The wild feeling she had grown so accustomed to over the recent months faded as her powers fell more in tune with the natural rhythms of her body. Unfortunately, as her aura strengthened, her body faded. Sweat beaded along her forehead and trickled down her back as she concentrated all of her energy inward.

"Relax your shoulders. Allow the power to run through you freely, like the blood that courses through your veins. It's not as much about thinking as it is about feeling. This energy needs to be a part of you, like breath. It flows in and out and around you at all times, even when you're sleeping." Hoshi stepped back and summoned her own energy, making what was usually hidden visible to the other woman. The purple waves swirled around and through the housekeeper, a living entity that seemed to fuse with the woman. "Do you see?"

"Let me try again." Kagome closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She reached for her powers and felt as they swirled within her. Thinking about her blood and how it moved with every heartbeat, she sensed herself pull and channel those powers to follow the pulsing rivers of energy, feeling it sink into her bones and permeate her muscle. Every heartbeat brought her spiritual powers more into her body, filling her limbs with gentle and comforting warmth.

"That's it Kagome-sama. If you can understand the feeling once, it will be easier to recreate a second time."

The door slid open and Kagome lost her concentration, causing her powers to swirl wildly again. Hiraiku lumbered heavily through the doorway.

The large bear-youkai paused and stared at the two women, a giant ax resting against his shoulder.

"I need to train," Hiraiku stepped further into the room and took a wide stance, narrowing his gaze at the women.

"As you can see, the dojo is currently occupied." With that Hoshi turned, dismissing him with a casual wave of the hand.

"Perhaps I did not make myself clear. This dojo is not here for your entertainment. It is here to train soldiers so that we can protect you while you brush your hair and fluff your kimonos."

Hoshi's steely voice dripped with contempt. "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear little cub-ling. We are not finished and you will do well not to insult the ladies of this house by insinuating that we should be grateful for your mere presence." Hoshi slowly turned and plastered the bear-youkai with derision. "Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing you in the garden the other night when the miko was attacked? Perhaps you and your so-called elite guards should use this dojo more often. Of course, just not while we are using it."

Hiraiku took a step forward, anger radiated from his body as his youki spiked to an almost unbearable level, silently challenging the housekeeper. Kagome's already weakened strength drained further as she fought against the burning aura that surrounded her. Her weary legs wobbled but she was able to remain upright, barely.

Hoshi threw her arm out in front of Kagome and said in a chilling voice, "Stand against the wall while I teach this whelp some proper respect."

"I will be the one doing the teaching today," Hiraiku pulled the ax from his shoulder and held it in meaty fists.

Hoshi's mocking laughter was the only response as she pulled her other hand from her sleeve and moved to the north side of the building. She leisurely contemplated the weapons before finally making a selection. Pulling a long spear from the wall, its sharp blade glinted dangerously in the sunlight that poured through the screens of the dojo. She turned and faced her opponent with an expectant smile.

Kagome backed to the eastern wall across from the door and watched with horror as two members of Sesshomaru's house faced each other ominously. Was it a youkai thing that even allies felt obliged to challenge each other? She began to wonder how safe she really was when even the occupants of the same home decided to settle their differences with fighting.

"Hoshi-sama, let's just leave. We can come back later," Kagome's soft voice quivered with hopeful fear.

"Nonsense child. This will only take a moment," Hoshi said as she gracefully swung the spear, warming up and getting a feel for the weapon.

Kagome pushed her back against the wall, eyes wide with fright. The two opponents rushed at each other, crossing blades. Kagome was sure that Hoshi would last only a few blows because of Hiraiku's massive size. To her surprise, Hiraiku was the one to fall back taking the first strike, his arm dripping blood. Hoshi had not a hair out of place as she wielded the spear with the skill of a master.

"Still want more?" Hoshi asked a sparkle in her eye.

"Pure luck woman. I was taking it easy on you because of your sex."

"I advise against that." Hoshi twirled the spear as if it were second nature.

Kagome couldn't believe her eyes as the two rushed each other again. The loud clash of steel was deafening as the metallic sound forced her eyes shut. Another deafening crash quickly brought them back open and her heart stopped.

Hiraiku was on the ground, his large ax spinning several feet away. Hoshi held the spear at his throat, a triumphant expression on her face. She raised the spear as the tip began to glow a fierce purple.

One minute Kagome was standing with the cool wall pressed against her back, the next she was sprinting across the dojo.

Sesshomaru was walking toward his study when he felt the miko's powers surge. After a quick assessment, he realized that she must have begun her so-called training with Hoshi. Sesshomaru didn't know what good it would do, considering the woman was only human. Even when he considered her performance against Naraku, she would never be able to hold up against a truly powerful youkai such as he. It was all the more reason for her to stay in the House of the Moon where she could be kept safe.

Irritation clawed at him as he entered his study and snapped the door shut. The truth was, she wasn't safe. Something had still found a way to her even with all the precautions he had taken to secure his home. He had every inch of the castle searched, his entire staff questioned and guards posted at every entrance. He even sent squads out to patrol the surrounding woods daily. That nothing suspicious had been found didn't fool Sesshomaru. This new enemy remained nearby, waiting patiently for another opportunity.

He sat behind his desk and grabbed a pile of papers. A list of complaints stared back as he browsed the first page. With a sigh, he pulled the paper from the stack and began reading. A familiar tingle shot up his arm as he felt the miko's powers turn from focused energy to fear. He narrowed his eyes and concentrated harder on the words on the page, re-reading the same line three times before finally giving up with an irritated sigh. Hoshi's familiar powers surged, followed quickly by Hiraiku's. Sesshomaru threw the paper down and went to the window, peering out at the dojo barely visible at the edge of the window. 'Why is Hiraiku helping with the miko's training?'

A soft announcement at the door drew Sesshomaru's attention away and to the servant bowing low in the doorway.

"Yes Juro?"

A small scaly youkai with orange eyes bowed low as he spoke. His voice was curiously deeper than expected considering he was no larger than Jaken.

"My lord, the northern garden has been cleared of debris. The rest of the repairs will have to wait until the spring thaw."

"Humph," Sesshomaru's grunted response and flick of the wrist had the little youkai scrambling to leave the room.

The powers surged and clashed, puzzling Sesshomaru at their ferocity. This did not feel like training exercises. Uneasiness settled into his stomach as he continued reading the auras, Hoshi and Hiraiku's choking rage and the miko's rapidly escalating fear. He turned and made his way to the dojo with quick strides, sending additional guards to Rin as he went.

Time moved in slow motion as Kagome ran toward the pair in the center of the dojo. 'When did this room get so big?' her mind cried as it seemed to take forever to get to Hoshi.

Kagome thought she heard the door to the dojo open, but she couldn't be sure of anything at this point. Reaching the pair, her hands grasped the handle of the spear pointed at Hiraiku, pushing the blade to the side with her forearm as she slid her body between the prone bear-youkai and the enraged housekeeper's blade. Hoshi's eyes were a silvery purple as they sparked with power and energy. It was as though she didn't even see Kagome standing before her. Pushing harder, Kagome forced the blade aside as she summoned what was left of her almost exhausted energy. "Hoshi stop!" she cried, straining against the housekeeper's unshakable strength. Hoshi seemed to give a moment before her aura spiked even higher, demanding subservience. Yanking the blade out of Kagome's hold, she swung the spear in an arc catching Kagome in the shoulder and knocking her to the floor. A booming voice came from the doorway, stopping all movement and sound.

"Hoshi, drop your weapon!" Sesshomaru's deadly voice thundered through the dojo.

Kagome looked up from the floor and saw Sesshomaru standing in the doorway a few feet in front of her. His silver hair tossed in the winter wind, blending with the snow-covered garden behind him. His eyes were glowing red as he barely suppressed his raging youki. Tokijin was gripped tightly pointed at Hoshi, his other hand glowing green as he held it out from his side.

Hoshi seemed to snap out of her battle trance. She stepped back quickly, the spear clattering to the floor as if it burned her. Hiraiku's eyes never left Kagome as she lay on the floor next to him.

"What is the meaning of this?" Sesshomaru's voice had lost its volume but not its deadly anger.

"Sesshomaru-sama…" her voice wavered slightly as she looked around the room. Her eyes found Kagome and grew wide, the weight of her actions and what had almost occurred finally hitting home.

"Kagome-sama!" she cried, rushing forward.

"Stop!" Sesshomaru's roared.

She froze instantly and turned her head toward the visibly furious Taiyoukai.

Sesshomaru never took his eyes off Hoshi as he walked around and stood in front of Kagome.

"Forgive me my lord, you know I would never harm her," Hoshi's voice was back to normal as she clasped her hands together and bowed her head in respect. Her calm demeanor was back in place as if nothing had ever happened.

Sesshomaru grunted as he re-sheathed Tokijin and turned toward Kagome.

"Are you injured?"

Kagome looked up at him and had a moment of deja vue. She pushed herself from the floor and met his intense gaze. "No, I'm fine." Kagome wasn't going to mention the bruises she would likely have on her side and arm from the blow and subsequent skid across the floor.

"Come with me." His order echoed off the walls in the stillness of the room. He addressed the other two as he turned to leave, not even bothering to look their way. "I'll see you two in my study." The word immediately didn't need to be said.

Kagome had to run to keep up, glancing at Hoshi as she went. Hoshi's troubled expression was all she could make out before she was blinded by the bright winter light reflecting off the remaining snow. She turned back, trying desperately to find her way. The blinding white light made shapes barely distinguishable, forcing her to raise her hands and slow down until her eyes slowly started to adjust. A soft material brushed against her palms as the first warning. Unfortunately it wasn't enough.

One minute she was walking, the next she was sprawled out in the snow. "Oof".

A hand reached out and gently grabbed her upper arm, pulling her back to her feet.

"Perhaps you should add walking to your training schedule. You seem to end up in the snow quite often, even for a human." Sesshomaru's drool remark sparked Kagome's ire.

"Well if people stopped attacking each other around here maybe I wouldn't find myself in the snow all the time," she shot back irritably.

"I doubt it would make much of a difference."

"Hey!" Kagome replied hotly.

"What, the truth offends you? How unfortunate…" Sesshomaru looked down at her strangely for a moment before turning toward the castle again, this time at a much slower pace.

Kagome followed, thinking furiously for a decent comeback. She promised that she wouldn't let him have the last word again. 'Think Kagome!'

Sesshomaru kept pace with the miko, constantly adjusting his steps to hers. She was extremely tired as she struggled under the weight of her own limbs. His anger with Hoshi escalated. Having nothing to draw on made her even more vulnerable to enemies.

Just as she was crossing the threshold of the doorway, she stumbled. His hand shot out to steady her but she regained her balance before he had to touch her. He breathed a sigh of relief. Every time he came in contact with her his left arm tingled uncomfortably. He watched for a moment more and could see she was thinking, still miffed about his last comment.

After several hallways they paused outside a door. Sesshomaru slid it open and motioned for Kagome to enter. She stepped inside and saw Rin and Shizuka sitting in the middle of the floor. Shizuka was pointing at a piece of parchment with elegantly drawn characters from which Rin was trying to copy.

"Lord Sesshomaru!" Rin called happily as she jumped up and ran over to the pair.

He placed a hand on Rin's head gently. "The miko will be joining you for a little while." Sesshomaru turned and looked at Kagome. They held each other's gaze for a moment before he turned and left without another word.

Kagome stared at the empty space, not quite sure what to think. A small hand gently grasped her fingers. Kagome looked down and allowed Rin's excited chatter to pull her from the confusion in her mind.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 29 of 60

<< Previous     Home     Next >>