Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 35 of 60

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A witty woman is a treasure; a witty beauty is a power. ~ George Meredith

Kagome stood next to Hoshi, trying not to tremble in fear as the two noble youkai stared at her dispassionately. Sesshomaru was to her right, only a few steps away. Between the two of them, she was more than safe, but Sora was behind the Northern Lord promising death with his eyes if she so much as moved. Kagome observed the Northern Lord with nervous interest, noting how much shorter and considerably heavier than Sesshomaru he appeared. She shouldn't be surprised, but then again, she had never seen any Inuyoukai beyond the sons of the great Inu no Taisho. This Inuyoukai was far different, his hair a light sandy blond with eyes that matched the mossy forest floor. Watching her carefully, he had a clear look of disdain mixed with fascination in his expression.

Kagome slid her gaze to the female Inuyoukai sitting next to the lord. Her hair was the color of the sun with skin like honeyed caramel. The demoness' green eyes glittered with malice at Kagome, hands clenched in front of her as if she were refraining from striking out. Elegant blue stripes, indicative of the Northern Inu bloodline swept gracefully across her beautiful face, two arching toward each other along her forehead. Another ran from the top of each eyelid into her hairline at the temple giving an elongated, almost feline shape to her features. The silver blue of her kimono hugged perfect curves and was made of the finest silk. Shifting uncomfortably, Kagome felt like a peasant in her simple dark blue kimono, functional and comfortable.

"So, the rumors are true," Taro spoke finally to Sesshomaru. The young lord remained silent, only returning his regard with a bored expression.

Taro motioned to Kagome with a striped hand. "You've taken up with the odd miko that carries the Shikon no Tama. I have several vassals that lost their life to her bow."

Sesshomaru nearly snorted. "No doubt they were trying to kill her for it. Do not deny that you would hesitate to kill if it meant the difference between your life and another. I know you better than that."

Taro only smiled at his derisive words. "Of course I don't deny it. I suppose humans are no different than youkai in such matters."

The woman, Emi, finally spoke. "Why do you keep her Sesshomaru-sama? She's not very pretty, even by human standards."

Kagome flushed angrily at the rude demoness. Opening her mouth, Hoshi grabbed her wrist, quelling the response that was on the tip of her tongue.

"I don't know…." Sesshomaru turned and looked at Kagome. He let his eyes travel along her body as if evaluating her, "She is not exactly abhorrent."

Kagome's mouth dropped open. She wasn't sure if she should be offended or flattered by his words. Their eyes met and held for a moment, a touch of mirth danced in the golden depths. Tearing his gaze away, he turned back to the two nobles. Kagome's eyes followed and the look on Emi's face was priceless as she stared at Sesshomaru with a look of horror.

"I see," her brittle tone punctuated every word as she eyed Kagome speculatively. "Perhaps the Shikon Jewel does render her a little less repulsive. Why you haven't just killed her and taken it is beyond me."

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes on Emi. "The Shikon Jewel has no value to me. Only a lesser demon would lust after something so trivial."

Sora stiffened at Sesshomaru's words, which told the taiyoukai quite a bit about his earlier motive. Emi laughed, dropping the anger from her face to replace with a vapid expression. "Of course. A powerful lord such as you would never lust after something so... insignificant." Her last words held contempt as they and her eyes were directed at Kagome with a benign smile firmly in place.

Sesshomaru nodded, though his jaw was clenched as he read between the lines of her carefully uttered words.

He turned and escorted Kagome out of the room and back to her own, trailed closely by Hoshi. He urged her through the door quickly.

"Why did you leave the castle?" he asked the moment the door was closed behind them.

"I needed to see InuYasha," She said, raising her chin to look him in the eye. She watched him curiously as he paced in front of her. He was usually so calm and still, it was odd to see him agitated.

He stopped, golden eyes frowning into hers. "Why?"

Crossing her arms over her chest and standing a little taller, she would not be bullied. If she was going to get stronger, it would be by facing anger and violence just as bravely as her friends. "None of your business."

He blinked at her words, shock registering only a moment before it was replaced with irritation. He turned to Hoshi, "How the hell did she get out of here?"

Hoshi shrugged and looked at Kagome. "How did you get out?"

Kagome shook her head. "None of your business either," she answered quietly, almost apologetically. Sesshomaru rounded on her then, anger plainly written into his features. Grabbing her under the arms, he hauled her off the ground to eye level. Hoping to scare her into telling him, he brought her up to his face until their noses almost touched. "Do not make me regret all the times I have shown you mercy."

She glared back, mimicking his serious tone, "You can yell growl all you want but I'm not going to be afraid anymore," she quirked a brow at him as she tilted her head to the side as if a thought just occurred to her, "that includes your grouchiness too."

Sesshomaru looked into her eyes and saw something new there. Suddenly wanting to hear the words from her lips, he asked, "So you no longer fear me?" He held his breath, not really understanding why her answer had unexpectedly become important.

She smiled with a brilliance that nearly blinded him. She grasped his shoulders with small hands, their warmth pulsing with pure energy. His breath hitched slightly as she pressed her forehead into his, locking gazes brazenly, "Nope."

Hoshi chuckled at the pair. "Good for you Kagome. It's about time someone other than me stood up to him."

He set Kagome down gently, his face blank. Raising a brow, he glanced to Hoshi, "If you're going to encourage this reckless behavior, I won't be responsible for her safety." He left the women without another word.

'Oh Yama, we both know that isn't true,' Hoshi thought with a grin.

Kagome resumed training that next morning, no longer forced to hide away in her room. She made her way to the dojo alongside Hoshi, grateful to be outside in the morning air.

"So, I'm free but Rin's still being held prisoner?" Kagome asked with a frown on her face, clearly outraged on the little girl's behalf.

Hoshi clucked her tongue, "Kagome! You should not say such things," she said loudly as she looked around to see if anyone was nearby before leaning toward Kagome and muttering, "but yes, she's still a prisoner in her room."

Kagome wrinkled her nose. "Well, that's not fair. Rin loves to be outside and before we know it, winter will be back."

Hoshi sighed and nodded as they walked slowly, enjoying the return to their routine. "Not to mention how much she loves to sneak out of her room at night," Hoshi leveled a stern look at Kagome, "much like someone else I know."

Kagome had the good sense to blush but still grinned at the other woman, not really ashamed of her behavior. Stepping onto the walkway that led to the front of the dojo, the sound of sword play met their ears. She glanced at Hoshi who looked equally confused. Opening the door, they found Sora and another guard from the north engaged in a sparring match. Both moved with swift accuracy, striking and blocking as if they were choreographed. Kagome was transfixed as Sora arced through the air and took his opponent to his knees with a carefully placed blow. They ended the match and bowed. Sora turned to see the women and curled his lip distastefully. Sauntering toward them, he paused to bow stiffly before brushing past without a word. Kagome watched him go as a slither of fear ran the length of her spine. She unconsciously stepped closer to Hoshi.

Hiraiku joined them a short time later, smiling at Kagome as he slung his ax off his shoulder and leaned it against the wall. "Well, here is someone I haven't seen in a while."

She smiled back putting her hands on her hips jauntily. "Well I can't say that I missed getting my ass kicked every morning," she quipped, feeling the warmth of happiness spread across her body. She had missed training, bruises and all.

They were about to begin when Sesshomaru unexpectedly entered. Kagome stared as he made his way to Hoshi at the end of the room. He looked different to her today, less formal. Kagome was trying to determine just what had changed when Hiraiku cleared his throat. She turned and he gave her a sly smile before adding quietly, "Why so fascinated?"

She lifted her chin, "I'm not fascinated, I assure you. I was only trying to figure out why he looks different today." Sesshomaru was dressed in his recognizable kimono, but did not carry his swords, pelt, nor any armor. He looked almost comfortable, which warred directly with his customary stiff and upright demeanor.

Hiraiku turned toward Sesshomaru, a puzzled expression on his face as his eyes swept over the taiyoukai. "I don't see a difference."

Shaking her head, she changed the subject, "Never mind, let's just get started."

Hiraiku smiled enthusiastically, "With pleasure."

Sesshomaru watched in silence as the two began their training. He had snuck away from a mountain of paperwork when he felt Emi making her way toward his study. The last thing he wanted was to deal with the calculating demoness.

The sun was coming into the dojo, slanted rays adding a glow to the room. As his captain and the woman trained, the sunlight played across Kagome with every move to dodge Hiraiku's shinai. She was dressed in a pink and grey garment that was much more revealing than he had previously observed her wearing. He narrowed his eyes on her, trying to decide if he liked her wearing something that seemed to mold itself to every curve and showed so much of her skin. While his brother obviously felt it was acceptable, considering the things that she wore when they traveled together in the past, he found it completely unsuitable for the eyes of his captain.

Hoshi glanced at him curiously, "Is something wrong?" She leaned forward to see more of his face when he didn't immediately answer.

"Hn" his tone clipped. He remained silent for a moment, the thoughts building in his mind. Finally he gave voice to what was bothering him, "Why is she not appropriately attired for training?"

Hoshi shrugged, "She said that this was more comfortable and easier to move in."

His frown deepened as she saw Hiraiku sweep his leg out and catch her behind the knee. She started to fall but the bear youkai grabbed her quickly by the waist and set her back on her feet. The bear's massive hand spanned her entire middle, reminding Sesshomaru just how tiny the miko really was. Hiraiku's hand stayed on her stomach, steadying her as she gasped for breath with a grateful half smile. He was giving her instruction, telling her how to improve but Sesshomaru didn't hear any of it, his focus on the lingering contact. Something dark and ugly rose up inside to demand action. He stood abruptly and approached the pair, eyes never leaving Hiraiku's hand but not willing to analyze exactly why his anger spiked at such a simple gesture. Hiraiku looked over his shoulder at Sesshomaru's approach and removed his hand, stepping away from Kagome. The bear had known him long enough to recognize a warning when he saw one, even without understanding the cause.

Kagome leaned against her shinai with one hand, wiping the sweat from her brow with the back of the other. She watched Sesshomaru warily, wondering what criticism he would heap on her this time. She arched a brow when he stopped directly in front of her. "Gonna tell me the million little things that I did wrong?"

His eyes glimmered with some unknown emotion, "Why should I when you so obviously know that there were indeed a million."

Color infused her cheeks and she took a deep breath before answering, determined to keep her cool. She refused to be afraid of him any longer, but that didn't change how many other emotions got stirred up by their conversations. "Of course. Humans can't help but be inferior to the likes of you," she muttered under her breath.

Sesshomaru almost smiled at her sarcasm, turning toward Hiraiku he couldn't help but nettle her further, "Well Hiraiku, it looks like you have taught her something after all. I'm not sure how the knowledge of her inferiority will protect her in battle, but it's a start."

Kagome stiffened, dropping the shinai as her hands fisted at her sides. "Why you…" She stopped herself with considerable effort.

When she didn't continue, Sesshomaru raised a brow, "Do you have something to say, little miko?"

She had no idea where it came from, but the urge to say something to make him eat his words was undeniable. "If Hiraiku is doing such a bad job, why don't you train me yourself?" Hiraiku's chuckle quieted when she tossed a withering glare at him before turning back to the silent taiyoukai, "Well? Are you afraid of the same outcome; the silly human that won't be able to learn anything or ever defend herself? I'm sure you'd be even less successful, though you consider yourself so much better."

Hiraiku stepped forward, "Miko-sama, my lord has far too many things to attend to," he then turned to address Sesshomaru, "I'll continue to train her and she will improve, I swear to it."

Sesshomaru met his captain's eyes and saw the determination. His mind followed all possible conclusions, including a grudging acknowledgement that he would find satisfaction in adding this to his morning routine. It would certainly keep Emi out of his hair for a few hours every day, not to mention how much it would draw her anger. He took a deep breath, reminding himself that the miko was only a convenient tool that he wanted to keep close in case of another attack on Rin. It had nothing to do with the sharp wit that he saw sparkling in her eyes, or the long glossy black hair that fell in soft wisps against her damp neck. He definitely didn't want to keep her near because he enjoyed her alluring scent or her endless search for the perfect comeback during their sharp banter.

The silence stretched, which his captain took as an affirmation to continue with training. Hiraiku reached for Kagome at that moment, ready to begin their lesson again. The moment his giant hand touched her wrist the words seemed to tumble out of Sesshomaru, "Hn, I will take up her training myself."

Kagome was just about to pick up her discarded shinai when his words registered. "Wait, what?"

Sesshomaru tucked his hands into his sleeves and looked down his nose at Kagome. "I suggest you get some rest. I won't be as easy on you as my considerate captain."

Kagome swung her head around to catch the odd look of triumph on Hoshi's face. She turned back to Sesshomaru and sighed dejectedly. "Awesome," she muttered under her breath as the dread of tomorrow started ticking like a clock in her mind.

On the other side of the castle, Taro paced in front of his daughter ranting loudly.

"I will not tolerate your silly behavior any longer. I brought you here to complete a marriage contract, not drive Sesshomaru away with your nonsense." Taro rounded on her then, pinning her with green eyes, "You better make this happen daughter, or you will not have a home to return to."

Taro swept out of the room, leaving his angry daughter behind to stew in silence.

"Leave me," Emi shouted at the guards and handmaidens that remained. They fled immediately, all having been victims of her uncontrollable anger in the past.

The door slid shut and Emi sat, contemplating her next move. A foot scraped nearby and she looked up, ready to murder whoever dared to disobey her orders. Sora, her father's captain and lead assassin stood with his arms crossed, a shoulder leaning against the wall next to the door. His orange eyes glowed in the dim room, adding to his already predatory look. She shivered under his cold gaze, excitement fluttering in her stomach. Along with being her father's most trusted military advisor, he was also Emi's secret consort.

He pushed off from the wall and ambled toward her, a wicked grin playing across his features in delight at the fear and excitement he provoked. "So…" he helped her up to stand before him, "are you going to 'make it happen' like the old dog says?"

She sucked in a breath and yanked her hand from his. "You're such an ass." She flounced away from him, swaying her hips provocatively. Stopping at the window, she peered out to see if anyone was nearby. Once she was assured they were alone, she turned, "You know very well that I'll do whatever it takes."

Sora placed a hand on the hilt of his sword, his stance arrogant. Emi ran her eyes up and down his body, hunger darkening the green depths. He chuckled to himself, "You better make sure that you do. In the meantime, I'll keep my eyes on that pretty little miko."

Emi stiffened, her gaze hardening. "What does that mean? Don't tell me that you find that scrawny little thing attractive?"

Sora quirked a brow at her change in tone, "What if I did?"

"You both would regret it." She raised her chin as his youki strengthened and eyes flashed amber fire.

Sora moved so fast she barely had time to blink as her back hit the wall between the windows. Sora pressed against her front, his hands biting painfully into her shoulders. Their faces were only inches apart, his breath hot, almost scalding her face as he spoke, "Don't threaten me Emi. My blade has no heart."

He pulled away from her and she immediately felt the loss of his heat, shivering at the cold air that rushed back to surround her. He paused by the door, voice low when he finally turned his head to the side and spoke, "You do your part, I'll do mine."

When she was alone, air rushed out of her lungs. She had fallen in love with Sora long ago, their relationship a tremulous balance of passion, anger and ambition. Emi's greatest desire was to be out from under her father's control. Ever since her only brother had been viciously killed years before, the feeling only amplified. Left without an heir, Taro saw his daughter as the only way to extend his family's reign. For centuries, she had been an ornament in his house, only essential when they had visitors or wealthy suitors who might benefit his standing in youkai society. When her brother died, she was his only hope of uniting lands through marriage, making her every move the focus of his critical eye.

That was when she met Sora, a young guard that had just joined the ranks. He had been wild and dangerous and everything that her father tried to shelter her from. Sora showed her that only the truly powerful had absolute control of their destiny.

Soon after Sora had joined the North, the long lost heir to the Western Lands had begun his campaign to reclaim a forgotten birthright. Once Sesshomaru had regained his standing in youkai society, Taro informed her that she would wed the taiyoukai and finally be of some use.

Emi slid open the window and looked out at the beautiful gardens that traveled the length of the immaculately designed castle. She walked the length of the room, running her hand appreciatively over the perfectly crafted trim on the wall.

Yes, one day she and Sora would be free of her father and she would have the life that she deserved. No one would stand in her way.

That night, sadistic red eyes were once again traveling the corridors. The plan was progressing and now it was only a matter of time before everything fell into place.

The girl was easily accessible, Sesshomaru was occupied with his unwelcome guests and his trusted staff had no idea that the most dangerous enemy they had ever faced was walking among them.

Stifling the laughter that threatened to surface, the crimson irises found themselves outside her room again. Her aura was so easy to locate, especially now that the suppression spell was no longer needed or used. Her powers danced through the air like flower petals in the summer wind. There was something intoxicating about the raw strength she emoted. Her purity begged to be turned, tainted and twisted into darkness that could wreak havoc on the world.

Reaching out with heightened senses, the woman was alone for the first time in weeks. The opportunity was too great, what with the housekeeper usually so vigilant at night. He closed his angry red eyes and changed shapes, disappearing to all but the most powerful who understood his kind. Like black mist, he seeped into her room, traveling along the ceiling until he hung over the bed, staring down at her sleeping form.

Kagome lay with one arm above her head, a frown pulling at her full lips. She twitched under his gaze, as if in pain. He watched her, waiting to see if she would wake but she only rolled quickly, curling her body into a shivering ball. A smoky tendril drifted down, hovering over her hesitantly, anticipating her eyes to open. She remained still so he brushed the tendril over her exposed arm, the contact allowing his powers to open her dream to his mind. In that moment he was given unlimited access to her most private thoughts and the pain she had endured only months before. He pulled back quickly, retreating into the safety of the ceiling. Pausing a moment, he stared at the miko who at this moment was in the depths of hell and felt excitement roar to life.

The silence was broken as she cried out, sitting up in bed and clutching the blanket to her chest. Looking frantically around as if trying to determine where she was, she stilled and looked up at him, her eyes clouded with the remnants of her nightmare. Her pupils dilated and he wondered if she could see him. He would not doubt it considering her holy powers.

Retreating quickly, he exited the cracks in a nearby window. As he flew low along the flowers and ponds of the House of the Moon he realized two things. One, the little miko had just revealed a weakness that he could use to advantage, and two, she traveled through a well from another time. 'Now that is a valuable piece of information.'

The next day dawned with thunder clouds overhead. The distant rumble had Kagome hurrying across the garden to the dojo. Hoshi strode sedately behind, seemingly unperturbed by the impending storm. Kagome jumped up to the walkway of the dojo and waited for Hoshi. She could feel Sesshomaru's aura through the walls so knew he was waiting for her to arrive and her hands clenched as butterflies turned her stomach inside out. Hoshi joined her a moment later, taking in her nervous energy.

"Don't fret dear. He is all bark." She smiled and brushed her hand along Kagome's cheek. "No pun intended."

"Yeah, tell that to someone he hasn't tried to kill before." Kagome sighed and followed Hoshi though the door.

"I tell that to one that he has also protected," Hoshi reminded gently.

Sesshomaru stood in the middle of the room, his arms tucked in his sleeves. He watched as Kagome dropped her water bottle and towel by the wall and lingered. He felt her nervousness and it set his inner beast on edge. When she continued to fidget under the guise of arranging her towel for the fourth time, he lost his patience.

"Did you come here to train or obsess over that cloth?"

She snapped to attention and whirled to meet his bored expression. He bit back a sigh of relief as her nervous energy instantly shifted to anger. He was becoming an expert in deliberately shifting her discomfort bothered him on such a basic level.

She didn't say a word, but walked up to him and stood with her hands on her narrow hips. Eyes meeting his steadily, she waited for him to make the first move. He was tempted to see who would win a battle of nerves, for which there was never any contest against the great Western Lord. Instead he pulled his hands from silken sleeves and quirked a brow at her newfound resolve.

"Does this mean you're finally ready?"

"So many questions…Not sure where to start?" her own brow quirked up in challenge as she alluded to her earlier taunt. She held herself ready, anticipating just about any move. Of course, anticipating a move and actually doing something to prevent or defend against Sesshomaru was another matter entirely. One minute Kagome was on her feet, the next she was face down on the floor surrounded by white clothes, white hair and Sesshomaru's rumbling voice in her ear, "I always know where to start."

He released her immediately and she scrambled to her feet. Watching her carefully, he waited to see if she would revert to fear. Instead she seemed to be trying to figure out what had happened. Her eyes were on his feet and he could almost see her brain replaying the situation.

When she seemed at an impasse, her brown eyes finally returned to his, "Do that again."

He thought she would try and stop him, but instead when he grabbed her, she remained pliant in his arms and ended in the same position with little fuss. He waited a heartbeat before pulling them from the floor. She turned and considered him, her mind working toward an unseen knowledge that was just beyond her fingertips.

"One more time." Her focus was unwavering as she watched him. He felt her reach out with her senses, her gentle aura brushing over him like a caress. His left arm tingled slightly as her aura moved the air around them. He clenched his fist at the sensation and her eyes dropped to it. Something sparked in the chocolate depths before being drawn back to his. A split second before he moved, she jumped back as if anticipating. His eyes widened as he adjusted his own movement to hers. He came up behind her, arms wrapping around her waist and chest but stopped before finishing the move that would take her to the floor. Her own arms had succeeded in freeing themselves from his hold and wrapped around the arm across her chest. They stood in silence, both surprised by the others' actions. Her aura continued to reach out and Sesshomaru's inner beast whined as his left arm started to burn.

He dropped his hands and stepped away from her quickly, gathering his composure before she saw his disturbed expression. By the time she turned, his stoic façade was back in place. "Was that a lucky coincidence or did you anticipate my movement?" he asked with a troubled expression.

Hoshi called across the dojo with a triumphant smirk, "You know very well what she is capable of if only someone would take the time and teach her."

"Isn't that what you were supposed to do?" he tossed over his shoulder before turning back to Kagome.

"Obviously you're better equipped to teach her than I."

Sesshomaru snorted at Hoshi's shouted retort before narrowing his gaze on Kagome. "Have you been able to anticipate another's movement before?"

"No," she answered honestly. Thunder shook overhead as the storm finally moved in.


Hoshi watched while Sesshomaru spent the next two hours teaching Kagome how to read his aura using her own. The housekeeper smiled as she twirled the stone at her neck. Every moment that passed was a moment that the two were more comfortable with each other. Sesshomaru would likely ask her why she had never suggested this type of training to Hiraiku, but she was sure she could turn his attention with a plausible excuse. Hoshi never did anything without clear purpose and Sesshomaru had caught on to that fact over a century ago.

Kagome walked over to her water bottle for a drink and Hoshi watched with satisfaction as Sesshomaru's eyes reluctantly followed.

It may have started months ago, but now it was truly about to begin.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 35 of 60

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