: Eu il consider 16+, dar ca sa fim in siguranta, puteti sa-l considerati 18+ (chapter 5)
: Adventure, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
: Inuyasha, Yuyu Hakusho
: Sesshoumaru/Kagome/Youko, Sango/Miroku, Naraku/Kagome (one-sided and very deranged), Kagura/Sesshoumaru (one-sided), Inuyasha/Kikyou
: Violence, non-graphic depiction of rape (chapter 5) and torture
: Initially posted in April 2006 on various forums and fan fiction archives. You can still find the original version on the Spark archive
on Dokuga if you want to compare (it's the first 15 chapters of the fic, so I won't advise it for your sanity's sake and to avoid spoilers)
: Advanced (I'm not re-writing this thing for nothing) - someone has to make sure I live up to my warnings.
The small island some miles off the eastern coast looked almost deserted a€“ aside from a handful of weatherworn trees and some scarce bracken, nothing grew on the sheer cliffs. Waves lapped at the towering mass, swollen by the wild winds and in the skies, thick clouds were amassing over the island. The setting sun was the only thing to spoil the ominous effect by bathing the scene in a sweet shade of pink rather than the crimson such a landscape deserved.
However, the place was not completely uninhabited a€“ a shallow rift offered barely enough room for a crude hut, but there it was. The entrance was guarded by the blackened trunk of a lighting-struck pine a€“ a warning to those who had made it that far a€“ turn back.
Above the hut, the cloud cover began to swirl before parting to reveal a woman riding an oversized feather. She was still young, but her eyes spoke of torment and of resignation.
Woman and feather descended in increasingly large circles, eventually setting down on the other side of the cliff. It wasnâ€™t a long walk from there, but there was a barrier in place which prevented the use of her powers. She tucked the now normal-sized feather in her hair and began walking the rocky path.
She would have preferred a grand entrance a€“ floating down in front of the shack, maybe blow the door open with a gust of wind but, even without the presence of the barrier, her efforts would have been useless. Up close, the hut looked even worse than she had expected, just a pile of firewood with a straw flap for a door. This pile of firewood, however, was surrounded by a barrier strong enough to leave her powerless and drained a€“ from the moment she stepped through it, not even the slightest breeze had caressed her cheek and before she could cross half the distance she was already feeling winded.
It had taken her months to find the island and she still wasnâ€™t sure why she was here. Once her master had learned of the existence of the old miko, a living relic of the days before the war had started, she was sent to track her down and secure her collaboration. She wasnâ€™t even sure the old woman was real a€“ only a youkai could have survived the centuries, but it wasnâ€™t a youkai they needed. They had plenty of those.
After sifting through thousands of legends and songs, the woman had reached two conclusions: that her greatest chances to find the old soul lay on one of these secluded islands and that it was good not to have to listen to another bard ever again, but that was just wishful thinking on her part.
At least the island wasnâ€™t deserted and, by the looks of it, only a centuries old priestess would live in a place like this. This gave her a glimmer of hope a€“ something she had stopped feeling long ago.
She stopped for breath before the hut. If there was any chance of making any sort of favorable impression, she needed to compose herself. It seems she had been relying too much on her powers, if a walk as short as this, albeit through rocky, uneven terrain, left her in such a state.
a€œYou tire so easily, child,a€ said an elderly voice by her side. a€œIs this what weâ€™re coming to? Unable to walk across some rocks or climb a few dozen yards without losing breath?a€ she asked in dismay. a€œYouâ€™re lost without that feather of yours.a€
The woman was wearing the red and white outfit of a miko, but the hakama was faded to a dull shade and her once white haori was gray with time. She was tall and lean, her skin as white and brittle as Chinese paper and her eyes were as gray and as cold as steel. She could pierce the younger woman with just a look.
a€œYou must be Haruko-sama,a€ the younger one said, bowing.
Haruko smiled, the skin around the corners of her mouth creasing almost audibly. a€œThat I am. And who might you be, child? Your eyes tell me youâ€™re a fire demon, but that feather of yours is a dead giveaway.a€
a€œI am Kagura of the Wind,a€ she introduced herself with a hint of haughtiness.
Haruko nodded. a€œI never really cared much for your kind a€“ the elements have little substance,a€ she said and paused for a reaction. There was none and she continued ignoring the lazy pun. a€œAnimal youkai are so much more fun. But you havenâ€™t come all this way to have your kind insulted.a€
She pulled aside the straw flap and urged Kagura into the hut. a€œItâ€™ll be dark soon. Come in and tell me why you were looking for old Haruko.a€
The young demon glanced at the darkening sky before following Harukoâ€™s instructions and going in.
The hut was, if possible, even smaller on the inside. For a second, Kagura wondered if the old woman slept upright or if she ever slept at all a€“ there was a certain air about her that gave some credibility to the thought. Still, the platform that took up most of the space could double as a bed. The rest of the room must have been used for cooking a€“ a small hearth and cooking utensils were all that she could see. Was this what she had come all the way here for?
a€œAnd what might you be?a€ she ventured to ask.
a€œOh, Iâ€™m just an old miko.a€
This didnâ€™t satisfy the wind demon. Coming all this way for nothing would have been a great failure and those could prove quite deadly to someone like herself. a€œA very old miko, if the legends are to be trusted,a€ she pushed.
a€œSo itâ€™s the legends
that brought you here,a€ Haruko chuckled. She had set out to make some tea and seemed to ostensibly offer the demon only half of her attention. a€œWhich legends are those? The ones about me knowing what is to come?a€ Her voice sounded slightly amused.
a€œThe ones that say youâ€™ve been around when the Shikon no tama was borne,a€ Kagura said.
This got the old womanâ€™s attention.
a€œMany people were,a€ she said, the amusement in her voice rising.
a€œBut theyâ€™re not miko.a€
a€œSo itâ€™s the Jewel youâ€™re after, child. Iâ€™m afraid I canâ€™t help you there. Itâ€™s been shattered years ago.a€
a€œIâ€™m not looking for the Jewel. I have the Jewel.a€ Well, most of it at least.
Haruko stopped in her stirring and looked up with a raised eyebrow and a crinkled brow. a€œOh?a€
a€œMyâ€¦ master,a€ Kagura began, the word catching painfully in her throat, a€œhas gathered most of it. He has great plans and the power to put them in action.a€ She wished she knew more about those plans, but she was only here as messenger. With one elegant move, she pulled the sealed letter from the left sleeve. a€œNaraku would greatly appreciate your help,a€ she said, wondering if the damn spider would have been as diplomatic.
The old woman took the letter, but did not open it. a€œHe has the power to control the Jewel, you say?a€ Her eyes were shining with a strange emotion. Was it excitement? a€œTell him he has my aid,a€ she assured her. a€œThis is something I need to witness for myself.a€
Kagura was puzzled, but did her best not to show it. a€œArenâ€™t you going to read it?a€
a€œThis?a€ she asked, holding up the letter. a€œChild, my eyes are not what they used to be, but I know what he wants. Have your tea,a€ she urged, handing Kagura the bowl of freshly made tea, a€œand I shall give you what he needs when youâ€™re done. Iâ€™ll need his blood to make it work, but-a€œ
The wind demon promptly rolled up her sleeves and stretched out her left arm. a€œTake as much as you need.a€
Without another word, Haruko lifted the bowl of tea to her lips and took a long sip of the hot liquid, draining it all. a€œWith so much enthusiasm on your part, Iâ€™ll have to get right to work, then.a€ Using one of her brittle fingernails she sliced the skin on the younger womanâ€™s wrist open and gathered the blood in her now empty tea bowl.
a€œIt will protect him, but he only has one chance,a€ she warned.
Kagura smirked, but nodded. That kind of information could so easily slip her mind.