Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 42 of 60

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. Let me not look for allies in life's battlefield but to my own strength. Let me not cave in." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Sesshomaru shrugged on his kimono before daybreak the following morning. Kagome's soft scent had somehow permeated the fabric, hair and air around him. Even if he had wanted to escape her, he would have no choice with her sleeping in the next room. Forcing her from his mind, he slipped Tokijin and Tensaiga in his obi and looped his pelt over a shoulder.

Sliding the door to his room open, he looked down at Hiraiku kneeling by the door.

"My lord, we have prepared everything and await you in the courtyard."

The taiyoukai narrowed his eyes at his captain. "Has Hoshi returned yet?"

Hiraiku bowed his head, "No sir. None of the outlying patrols have sent word of seeing her either." The large bear youkai rose to his feet and met Sesshomaru's blank expression with a look of impatient worry.

During the hours before dawn, Sesshomaru had been alerted to news of an uprising in the northern borders of his lands. Hiraiku's family resided in that part of the West, making his captain's anxiety understandable. The report that he received in the early morning hours was serious enough to warrant immediate and personal action on the taiyoukai's part. He began to ready himself to leave before dawn, but couldn't shake the foreboding feeling that crept along the shadows of his mind. With a concerted effort, he pushed the ominous feeling aside to focus on the coming task.

"Have you passed along my instructions?" Sesshomaru watched his captain carefully, realizing at that moment that asking him to stay behind to watch over his ward and the miko would be fruitless.

Hiraiku nodded resolutely, "Yes milord. I have stationed eight guards at all points along this part of the castle. Shizuka and Rin will be moving into your room within the hour until Hoshi returns."

The niggling feeling gained strength as he felt the surrounding youki auras at the perimeter of the castle already taking up their positions to guard the humans in his absence. He didn't want to leave, but an unanswered challenge to his authority would open the door to even greater danger, especially to his home.

Adjusting the collar of his kimono, he closed his eyes to again push back the uneasy feeling that seemed to edge closer with every breath. "Very well. Meet me outside."

"Yes milord." Hiraiku bowed and hurried away.

Sesshomaru slid the door closed and stared at the smooth wood. His inner beast began to stir at the thought of leaving his home, his protective instinct catching fire like dry kindling. Silently, he made his way to the door that separated the two rooms his parents had occupied so many centuries ago. The adjoining room had for many years reminded him of a time that he desperately wanted to forget. His mother's sadness and shame had always been a source of pain that fed the flame of anger and borderline hatred that he had felt toward his father. Moving the miko into that room had been the only choice at first, but proved to be the wisest decision in light of recent events. Her presence helped place old memories more firmly in the past, muting the sting of his anger considerably.

Slipping into the room, he made his way through the darkness with ease. When he reached her, his breath seemed to leave his chest at the sight that met his eyes. Kagome lay on her belly with long black locks spread out on the pillow above her head like an ebony halo. In the course of the night, her tank top had worked itself up, exposing much of her back as she lay with her head cradled on the pillow that she clutched in both arms. The delicate skin on her lower back was marred with soft pink marks that crisscrossed in angry lines. They were not overt, but could be seen to the discerning eye. His eyes seeped red at the thought of anyone inflicting such disgusting injury on the gentle woman.

She stirred slightly and he quickly brought his emotions back under control so as not to wake her. Hoshi mentioned her suspicion that the miko's treatment at the hands of Naraku had been exceptionally harsh. He was curious why Hoshi had never told him about this evidence that seemed more like proof than mere suspicions. He was certain the sorceress had seen the scars and he would surely question her once she finally returned.

Leaning down, he pulled the blanket pooled around her knees up and over her shoulders. The back of one of his clawed fingers brushed the nape of her neck and a familiar shiver of electricity traveled up his arm. To his surprise, she sighed at the contact and smiled slightly. He left her behind reluctantly as the shadowy feeling of uncertainty clouded his thoughts with every step. As the distance grew, his left arm continued to tingle, his inner beast howling in displeasure at the loss of her scent and weakening aura.

Shoving the plaguing thoughts away, Sesshomaru ruthlessly put his duties as the Lord of the West above his churning internal emotions. 'Stop this foolishness at once,' he thought grumpily as he kicked a downed tree out of the path at his feet. It shot across the small space and splintered forcefully.

Hiraiku stared at his lord's back, deciding that the ominous silence on this journey was the best choice for himself and his men.

Sora slipped into the bed silently, his body sliding over the fine silk until he rested firmly against the supple body of its inhabitant. Gliding his palm up and over her bare hip to her flat stomach, he felt her shift and come awake at his touch.

Emi growled at the sensation, immediately recognizing his intense body heat, a trait of his true youkai form. Hot breath caressed her neck and she arched into the curve of his body.

His voice rumbled through her in the dawn light. "Your taiyoukai just left to deal with a situation in the north. You wouldn't have had anything to do with that now would you?"

Her lips curved into a sultry smile, eyes hooded with desire and anticipation. "What if I did?" she rubbed against him, leaving no doubt as to what she wanted, "Besides, it's time to make a move. Considering how disgustingly protective he is of that little piece of trash, the only way to get to her is if he's gone."

"What of the Jewel? The servants of this castle say that it can't be tainted while she carries it."

Emi shrugged a bare shoulder elegantly, "The Jewel would have been useful, but I don't think it necessary to accomplish what we desire. Let the little whore keep it until her last breath."

Sora almost smiled at the obvious jealousy. "Of course… but are you sure we don't want to keep her as a pet?"

Emi's eyes burned fire over her shoulder, "No. Sesshomaru spends all his time with her. I need her gone for my plan to work." She narrowed her eyes on him, "Don't tell me that you want to keep her?"

It was a loaded question and he knew it. "I only thought that if she can be controlled, the Jewel might come in handy."

His palm traveled the length of her body again and her anger dissolved instantly. "I want her gone today," words breathy as his roaming hands trailed fire over her skin.

He rolled her under his body quickly, stealing her breath completely, "Consider it done."

Kagome left her room that morning, noticing immediately how silent the castle was around her. It was almost as if it were encased in resin. The empty hallway echoed with her lonely steps, which was odd since Sesshomaru had stationed guards outside her door and in the garden at all times since Hoshi had left. Kagome hoped the housekeeper would return yesterday, but it seemed the business that took her from the House of the Moon had taken longer than anticipated.

Wrapping her arms around her body, she made her way to the back of the castle to the dojo, wishing she had grabbed a sweatshirt to ward off the cool morning air. She forged ahead only because she didn't want to keep Sesshomaru waiting. The thought of him made her stomach flip and she picked up the pace, looking forward to the next few hours. The morning training would warm her up and by the time they finished, the sun will have chased away the morning chill.

Rounding the corner that led to the back entrance, she stopped short. Sesshomaru stood next to the door, his eyes cold and jaw clenched.

Misinterpreting his expression for anger, she quickly held her hands out in a placating gesture, "I'm sorry if I'm late. Without Hoshi, I don't have anyone to wake me up in the morning." She smiled weakly but his scowl only deflated her further. Confused by his obviously furious countenance and hoping to distract him, she moved toward the door. "Should we go?"

As she approached, she was caught off guard when his hand shot out and grabbed her upper arm, yanking her violently to the side and against the wall. She bounced off the hard surface and almost fell over, but he slammed her back again, holding her by both shoulders.

"Wha?..." she cried but was silenced with a forceful blow as he backhanded her without hesitation. The ringing in her ears and metallic taste of blood that filled her mouth from the powerful impact took her breath away. His eyes seemed absent of their normal emotions. Cold and angry, a deadly light that Kagome had only witnessed in one other being replaced the familiar multifaceted gold. Bile rose to choke her as her mind seemed to register that the past seemed to be repeating itself. Tears burned as hotly as the pain in her cheek, stunned at the complete reversal in behavior from the night before. Digging deep, she kept herself in check with shaky willpower. She refused to fall apart after working so hard to make herself stronger.

She struggled against the painful hold, feeling his sharp claws draw blood intentionally from her shoulder blades as they tore at the tender flesh. Kicking out, she caught him in the thigh, but it was like kicking a brick wall. Trying again, she tucked her legs up against his chest, pushing out and finally breaking his hold on her arms. Landing on her bottom with a thud, she scrambled to her feet and started running back up the hallway to her room.

She had tied her hair high in a ponytail that morning for training, but it proved a mistake when he grabbed and yanked her back. His hands came around her again, pushing her up against the wall, this time her face and chest taking the brunt of the impact. He pressed into her body and she panicked at the dark memories that replayed themselves, mixing together and blurring her ability to distinguish past from present. Naraku had once held her similarly, speaking as if she were Kikyo, his desire and hatred of the older miko mixing together dangerously. To Kagome's relief, anger had won out over desire, but there were several moments where she was certain that it would go a different direction.

Sesshomaru pressed her against the wall until she could barely breathe. Her hair was wrapped around his hand like a rope, using it to pull her head back and expose her throat. His voice was low as he pressed his mouth against her ear. "I think you have worn out your welcome, miko." The last word was said with such derision it was like a knife slicing her heart. Kagome blinked back the tears that threatened through the physical pain.

"Why?" her simple word echoed the confusion that she felt at his unexpected change in attitude. She had gone to bed thinking that they were almost friends, and that his opinion of her had risen to more than a weak human worthy of barely concealed contempt.

"Because you're nothing but a weak human with borrowed power." His words rang in her head, robbing her of any protective instinct that could have saved her from his violence. Without hesitation he whirled and threw her into the opposite wall, her head cracked against the hard surface, stunning her senses completely. She heard more than felt her wrist snap as it took the full impact of her weight and his strength. She slumped to the floor, stars in a sea of red blurring her vision.

Something inside Kagome took over at that moment and the desire to survive overshadowed all other thought. She felt herself separate from her body, as if a bystander watching from the safety of a cloud. The Kagome below climbed to her feet when he advanced on her again. She silently drew the small dagger from her waistband with her good hand, the other swinging limply in a grotesque manner. Holding the blade down, away from his sight, she waited until he came within reach. With a quickness that belied her human lineage, the steel arched out and caught him across the chest, sliding through the flesh from his ribs to the opposite shoulder, drawing blood immediately. He hissed and drew back from her instantly as her miko powers ignited, breaking through the bangles that she wore for every training session. She raised the dagger with the barrier surrounding her, pulsing a warning with forceful urgency.

His face registered surprise and then hatred with his hand pressed against the deep wound on his chest. "You'll pay for that. I'm going to paint the Western Lands with your blood." He leaped at her again, but this time Kagome was more focused as her miko powers coursed through her powerfully.

Raising her hand, she released everything she could. A burst of pure white light erupted, illuminating the small space with intensity. He landed with a powerful crash across the room, his body still. Adrenaline pumping, she stepped toward him, but stopped herself. Had she not been wearing the bangles, she was sure she would have killed him. Taking advantage of the moment, she whirled around and began running as survival continued to govern her completely.

Kagome held her emotions in check until she made it out to the courtyard. There were very few guards, and those that were there only glanced in surprise at her disheveled appearance. She stumbled out the gate and along the path that led to her friend's camp, her head throbbing mercilessly as the bump on the side swelled and bruises started to blossom across her fair skin. No one stopped her, cementing in her pain soaked mind the fact that Sesshomaru wanted her gone.

She made it to the clearing and her heart sank. None of her friends were there, though their belongings remained. A wave of dizziness overtook her and she sank to her knees, pressing the back of her hand that still gripped the dagger against her forehead. A soft mewling called through the haze and she opened her eyes to see Kirara a few feet away. With a cry, Kagome slumped as the emotions she had kept locked away spilled over. Tears streamed down her face at Sesshomaru's words as they replayed over and over. 'You are nothing.' A sob caught in her throat, choking her with intensity. It was the one statement that could cut her down and draw blood with devastating accuracy.

Kirara changed into her larger form and came to stand next to Kagome. With some effort, she was able to climb to her feet with Kirara's help. Standing on wobbly legs, her face stayed buried in the soft fur of the demon cat. A swelling of familiar youki pulled Kagome's attention back to the clearing and the throbbing pain of her broken wrist and bleeding head. If she had not taken such a blow, she would have realized that the youki she felt was the same as the one that attacked her, but was not who she had thought it was. The nuance was almost imperceptible to one that was not paying attention, but there all the same. Fear bubbled to the surface and overshadowed the rest of her feelings.

"Kirara, please take me to the well as fast as you can."

A soft growl came from the cat as she nudged at Kagome, lying down to help make it easier on the injured woman to climb aboard. The dagger dropped from Kagome's hand as she struggled to pull herself up with only one hand. The moment Kagome was securely on Kirara's back, they rose into the air and flew with a speed that few could match.

"Thank you Kirara." Her words were tired and fragile. Kirara glanced back at Kagome and mewled again, concern showing in the fierce red eyes.

Sesshomaru stood outside Hiraiku's family home, dread filling every fiber of his being. A renegade group of demons had been causing problems, but nothing more than being a nuisance that could be dealt with swiftly. The report had been exaggerated and from what he could gather, only a short missive had been dispatched to keep him apprised of the situation, not a call for aid.

Hiraiku left his family and approached Sesshomaru, worry drawing his features into a scowl. "There have been reports of Saimyosho in the area starting around the time that the band of youkai have been causing problems."

A menacing growl escaped his throat while his clenched fists dripped acid. Hiraiku stepped back unconsciously at the visceral reaction, programmed from years of service to stay clear of his lord when he displayed certain responses.

Not wanting to continue, but knowing that if he kept the rest of the information to himself, he would end up the recipient of the anger he longed to avoid. Hiraiku steeled himself against the coming storm. "Also…" clearing his throat, swallowing the lump that had risen, "Also, a small girl in white with a strange mirror was seen with a large youkai wearing a baboon pelt not far from the latest attack."

Sesshomaru's eyes were like lasers, narrowing on Hiraiku with deadly focus. "Impossible."

Hiraiku shifted uncomfortably, "My brother has assured me that he was not mistaken." Hiraiku added hesitantly, knowing what implications the following information had, "The child made sure that they were seen."

Sesshomaru inhaled deeply, steadying his racing thoughts in an instant. If what Hiraiku told him was true, then all evidence pointed to Naraku not being dead and that he was trying to make sure Sesshomaru knew that he was still alive.

"Why reveal himself? It takes away the element of surprise," Sesshomaru spoke more to himself than Hiraiku.

Hiraiku answered regardless, wishing to be of help to his lord, "To draw you out?"

Sesshomaru turned quickly, his body stiff with tension, "No. To draw me away."

The words were said with a calm that surprised Hiraiku. He followed the taiyoukai as he left the hidden youkai village and entered the forest, pace quick. "Milord, do you have orders?"

Sesshomaru turned toward an open field and paused only to answer his captain, "Return to the House of the Moon as soon as you can."

"Aren't you coming with us?"

"I'll already be there."

With that, Sesshomaru left Hiraiku to watch in stunned silence as he transformed into his true youkai form. His howl broke across the countryside like thunder as he launched out of the clearing and into the air turning toward the south.

Hoshi entered the courtyard that afternoon, confusion clear on her face at the frenzied chaos. Servants and guards were running around, yelling to each other from all areas on the grounds.

"I was gone for six days..." she muttered in exasperation.

The horse that Hoshi was leading pulled back on the reins at the heightened youkai auras pulsing all around them. Steadying the skittish beast, she called to a guard that was carrying a bucket of water back to the castle.

The guard looked over and paled instantly. After a moment's hesitation, he approached and bowed respectfully. "Milady, thank goodness you have returned."

"Yes, and not a moment too soon I see." She handed the reins over to the guard and added solemnly, "Please take the cargo that this horse carries directly to my room and be VERY careful with it."

The guard seemed to hesitate, as if wanting to say something but decided against it and pulled the horse along to a side entrance of the castle. Hoshi strolled along and took in the scene around her, trying to figure out what had the household in such an obvious panic. Entering the main door, she was instantly hit with a bundle of pink and black. Rin clung to her waist, sobbing so hard that she was hiccuping and red faced.

"What on earth is wrong, and where is Sesshomaru?" Hoshi found Shizuka off to the side, a worried look on the normally placid fox youkai's face. "What happened?"

Shizuka pursed her lips, eyes on Rin as the words slipped from her apprehensively, "Kagome is gone."

Hoshi's brain couldn't seem to comprehend what Shizuka had said, only shaking her head in response with wide eyes. Looking expectantly toward the fox, she waited for her to correct the obvious mistake. When Shizuka remained quiet, Hoshi finally looked down at Rin who continued to sob with her face buried in the housekeeper's magical kimono. Realization dawned and Hoshi's knees wobbled slightly at the thought. 'NO!' her mind raced as all the preparations over the last six days slipped away from her on a tide of confusion and despair.

She was about to ask what happened when a familiar aura filled the air. The house seemed to go quiet, suspended in time as Sesshomaru approached. Most of the members of the House of the Moon had never seen him in his true form and were dumbstruck by the magnificent sight. Hoshi separated herself from Rin and went to the door to watch as he landed in the courtyard, wind and dust swirling wildly.

Within moments, he reverted to his human form and approached Hoshi. Stopping cold, he looked around and then back again, "Where is she?"

Hoshi blinked at the clipped tone that seemed almost fearful. Instead of answering, she said the first thing that came to mind, "What do you mean, haven't you been out searching for her?"

Sesshomaru closed his eyes and felt for the miko's aura. Desperately he pushed out further, seeking the miles that surrounded his home for a sign of her. Immediately he located InuYasha, but her warm glow was gone. The absence was like ice sliding down his back. Opening his eyes, he pinned Hoshi with a hostile glare. "You should've been here."

Turning on his heel, he walked out of the courtyard. Hoshi called out, "Where are you going?"

Without pausing, he nearly snarled, "To find my miko."

If Hoshi had not been so worried, she would have smiled at his unconscious slip.

InuYasha, Sango and Miroku returned to the campsite after several hours at the lake nearby. Sango and Miroku walked slowly, their shoulders brushing with every step as they spoke in low tones, making plans for their shared future. InuYasha ignored them, sadness gnawing at his gut even through the happiness that he felt for their long deserved bliss.

Reaching the fire pit, he sank down on his haunches to build a fire for the coming evening. A familiar scent tickled his nose, though a few hours old. Sniffing the air, he stood and followed it to the mouth of the path that led to the House of the Moon. A glint from the afternoon sun caught his eye. Approaching slowly, he found a dagger in the grass, dried blood on the blade and Kagome's scent clinging to the hilt and grass around it. His heart sped up in fear as he looked around frantically, "Kagome?!"

Sango and Miroku looked up at his fearful cry. "What is it InuYasha?" Sango called, worry drawing her brow down.

InuYasha stooped to pick up the dagger just as Sesshomaru entered the clearing ominously.

He grabbed InuYasha by the collar and hauled him up to eye level. "Where is she?"

InuYasha dropped the dagger and grabbed at his brother's hands, struggling against his steely grip. "I have no idea. I just got back from the lake. She wasn't here when we got back."

Sango stepped forward, her tone appeasing, "We've been gone all day, Sesshomaru-sama and haven't seen Kagome since you last brought her here."

Sesshomaru dropped InuYasha and stalked over to the woman. "Then were has she gone if not here to find you?"

Sango only shook her head, trying to catch up, "Are you saying she's missing?"

Sesshomaru didn't answer, only scanned the clearing with his eyes while formulating his next move and dismissing the others from his attention.

InuYasha scrambled to his feet, "She's gone? Did someone take her? Where could she have gone?" The hanyou stalked over to his brother and grabbed his kimono at the upper arm trying to yank his brother's attention back to him. The taiyoukai shrugged him off and leveled a deadly glare down at him.

"I'm not certain. I had hoped you might have more information, but it seems that you're useless yet again."

InuYasha turned red as anger and fear gripped him tightly. "You promised you'd protect her! I left her with you because I thought you could do that." InuYasha screamed the words, swinging wildly at his brother, "And you call me useless?!"

Sesshomaru grabbed InuYasha and flung him across the clearing. "I suggest you remain silent." Turning, he took a few steps and stopped as he caught sight of the dagger that InuYasha had dropped. His heart stopped as he picked it up and saw the blood on the blade.

Turning back to Sango, he held it up and asked, "Where did this come from?"

She looked at the blade and his heart sank further into his stomach, "I've never seen that before." Tears gathered in her eyes as she seemed to realize what was going on. "Is that blood?"

"I gave this to her to protect herself." He looked back at the blade and then down at the ground from where it was retrieved. Pacing along, he found a small patch of grass that was flattened and smelled of lotus. Kneeling, he ran his hands along the matted grass and found a small drop of blood that was definitely human.

Sango was leaning into Miroku when she suddenly straightened. "Where is Kirara?"

Sesshomaru stood and faced the taiji-ya but remained silent as the humans searched the campsite.

"When was the last time you saw her Sango?" the monk asked as he pulled the blankets apart from their bedding.

"Not since we left for the lake now that I think about it."

Sesshomaru held the dagger in a tight grip, his mind whirling at what his next move would be. When they didn't find the small nekomata, he started to return to the House of the Moon but the woman's softly spoken words stopped him cold.

"Do you think she went home, InuYasha?"

The hanyou shook his head and shrugged. "I don't know. It had to be something bad to keep her from finding us before leaving." He turned hate filled eyes on Sesshomaru who was still facing away from the group at the mouth of the path that led back to his home.

Silence reigned a tense moment before Sesshomaru finally turned to face them again. "Where is her home?"

InuYasha scoffed, "Like I'd tell you."

In a flash, Sesshomaru had him pinned against a tree, fracturing the large base down the middle. "Where?"

InuYasha wheezed under the hand gripping his throat. "Someplace you can never go."

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes on his brother. 'Like hell I can't.'

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 42 of 60

<< Previous     Home     Next >>