With the snake's commotion finished, InuYasha sent a sharp glance toward Senchineru, the meaning behind it clear when he nodded and stepped away to put guards on the snake and her lover.
Turning to the kirin, InuYasha tapped his fist on Yozoro's shoulder. "Well done," he commended him quietly.
"You would have done the same," the big black snorted.
"He would, yes," Kagome snickered, lightly petting the cheek of the elder kirin.
"I think we will retire to the gardens, Kagome," Hana murmured, nudging her cheek. "Dining halls and throne rooms are not conducive to a Kirin's nature."
"I suppose not," Kagome agreed. Nodding to the big brown who was mated to the white, she watched them all leave in much the same fashion as they had arrived, as a group with Hana leading the way.
With their leaving, Sesshomaru turned to Enkurēbu and Inoshi. "Do you still oppose InuYasha's place as heir to the west?"
Both shook their heads, Inoshi with wide-eyed wonder, Enkurēbu begrudgingly.
"Then it is set and cannot be undone until the time this one takes a mate and produces his own heir." Tilting his head, Sesshomaru motioned to Jaken.
"My lords and ladies, people of the west, I present Lord InuYasha, the Inu no Taisho and heir to the Western Lands."
A hearty cheer went up, again mostly headed by the common people, causing InuYasha to grin smugly. It was far better than he'd expected. Did he image there wouldn't be a few hot heads and assholes to deal with in the weeks and months ahead? Absolutely, but they would be the minority for once.
Everyone began to mingle, gathering close, but it was Ayame who snuck through those milling around to squeal and bounce before Kagome. "Oh my gosh! Just look at you!" she giggled, eyes bright and excited.
"Ayame! I'm so happy you made it," Kagome smiled holding out her hands.
Taking them, Ayame squeezed them gently. "I hear my mate has been misbehaving." She threw a glance at Koga, standing with InuYasha. He rocked on his toes a little, hands behind his back, looking innocent.
"I wouldn't call it misbehaving, more… play acting," Kagome snickered when he glared at her. "We couldn't have done it without him, Ayame. Thank you for the lone."
"Oi! What am I, a rusty katana to be passed around?" Koga grumbled.
"If the sheath fits, mate," Ayame quipped, batting her lashes.
Chuckling softly, InuYasha noticed the black tailed squirrel standing off to the side and caught his eye. Stepping away from Kagome, he made his way toward Masi, nodding when the squirrel bowed. "I hear you're going to Yamana. Going to be our envoy."
"That I am, Lord InuYasha," Masi agreed with a smile. "I look forward to it, actually. A chance to teach my son of humans and their culture."
Crossing his arms, momentarily missing the ability to tuck his hands in his sleeves, InuYasha lowered his voice. "As well as teaching him other things, I'm certain." He could feel Masi's eyes on him, assessing.
"Ah… yes," the squirrel murmured. "There are many… things to be taught to one's offspring."
"Ways of the family trade and all that," InuYasha agreed, glancing his way.
"Indeed. An ambassador's trade is never easy. It comes with its own… risks."
This time, he looked to Masi full on. "Teach him well, Masi."
The squirrel bowed deeply. "Until he is better than I, my lord."
"Excellent." InuYasha turned to go.
"And the young hime will be a pleasure to know, I am certain."
A grin spread across InuYasha's face. "When she's not getting in heaps of trouble, I have no doubt." Chuckling softly, he made his way around the room, acknowledging those who spoke with him, until he came upon the gleeful face of the old Otter. "Ryusui, you appear impressed with yourself."
"Oh, I am, I am, Lord InuYasha." He grinned wide. "My pockets are full with my winnings, and twice I have been correct in my assumptions!"
"Twice?" InuYasha smirked. "In what?"
He waved his hand vaguely in the direction of Senchineru. "I always knew the dark Inu was far more than he let on. To see him now, standing as Lord Commander, garbed as one of the finest dark Inu and wearing such a fine pelt gives my heart joy."
"And the second?" InuYasha asked.
"Why you, milord. Seeing you come through the door looking as you do," his eyes watered, "it is as if Toga himself has returned. You are so much like your father and yet so much your own Inu. I humbly renew my fealty to the west." He bowed low.
"You bend over any father old man, you're not going to get straightened back up," InuYasha chuckled. Helping him rise, he patted Ryusui's shoulder. "I appreciate that. I'm sure there will be changes, shake ups, and stuff to come, but I will endeavor to continue to be worthy of your support."
"Well said, my lord."
"Lady Jettobasu." InuYasha nodded.
"You seem far more equipped for this role than many of us were prepared for," she said cautiously.
"I'm a quick learner."
"You are more than that, though, are you not? Raised in a human court until your mother's passing, then, running as an outcast for some years only to be caught beneath a curse and released by your true mate," she eyed him curiously, "who just so happens to be the Shikon Miko. Now, here you are, Lord of the West, Inu no Taisho, a half demon with a true form and Lord Sesshomaru's heir. I believe a quick learner is the least of your talents."
"There a question in there somewhere?" he asked quietly, disliking her tone.
"No, no. I simply look forward to seeing what the future holds. It has been some time since we have had things shaken up in the west."
"Indeed," said Sesshomaru, gliding up at her side. "InuYasha shall continue to make life… interesting."
Giving a small bow, Jettobasu took her leave.
"That one is ambitious," Ryusui murmured once she was out of earshot.
"Being ambitious ain't the issue. It's how she goes about her ambition that could be." InuYasha looked to Kagome surrounded by fluttering females, her cheeks flushed and happiness along with a little embarrassment at all the praise she was getting flooding the bond. "If I get so much as a hint of a wiff of a scent there's something in the works, I won't hesitate to take her out."
"Hn," Sesshomaru only hummed. "Perhaps we should replace the council we have lost before you start thinning it further?"
"I have a recommendation for that, milord, if you'd be so inclined?" Ryusui said.
"Speak it." The daiyoukai flicked his hand in permission as Jaken trundled over.
"The lady Chūjitsuna would make an excellent candidate. She is royal born, no matter what Enkurēbu says, and has the training of court and house behind her. If she were to take a seat, her voice could prove invaluable."
"With Shinrin as her true mate she has the position. A Commander's mate would be well received on the council," InuYasha agreed.
It clearly intrigued his brother who nodded slowly. "It is a start," Sesshomaru agreed.
"I also have it on good authority that the young Jamira is currently being courted by the fire youkai Supaku," Ryusui said jovially.
"You're point?" Both brothers said together, sharing a look.
"He is a well-liked and respected member of the guard. To elevate him to a position such as Captain of the House Guard would not be a far stretch, and it would settle the male's thoughts on being… less than his mate."
"Hm. This one will think on it," Sesshomaru said before turning and walking away.
Bowing, the old otter watching him go. "There will be much to do in the coming weeks."
"Then tomorrow, we'd best get started." Nodding to Ryusui, InuYasha continued around the room.
While InuYasha wandered the room, Kagome didn't bother to move. The influx of females into her personal space was intense, fluttering around like busy bees. They all complemented her on her kimono, her hair, her make-up, doing the typical suck up she was used to seeing happen to the popular girls.
Jealously ran rampant among those who were closest to Kaika. Even without the spell corrupting Kaika her groupies were still petty, insecure bullies.
When they finally cleared out after realizing she was not going to give into their simpering flattery, she was happy to see Beru and Hōshakō coming toward her.
"Well, Kagome. You exceed all expectation in this glorious creation," the fox giggled, eyes bright.
"Thank you, Hōshakō. You too look lovely," Kagome smiled, looking over the pretty greens and reds that made up her kimono. Kitsune of varying shapes and sizes tumbled and played along the back. "Umi and Miwa?"
Hōshakō laughed. "You are quite correct! How discerning of you."
"Their work is unique. Thanks to Jinenji and his herbs, their colors are always so vibrant." She wondered briefly if she should talk to Nephila about them, but figured it best to discuss it with Jinenji first. It gave Miwa and Umi and edge over their competition after all, and she wouldn't want to take business away from her friends, even if that business was of the demon variety.
"Such an interesting child that Umi. I have never claimed a human as niece before. I shall enjoy exasperating her and her mate," the kitsune chuckled. "Now," she said before anyone else could speak. "Where is that Omoshiroi? That five tail devil hasn't come to pay his respects yet," she huffed, clearly annoyed.
"Oh… ugh, he's known to you?" Kagome murmured.
"He's a distant relation of mine."
"In the dungeon, lady," Senchineru finished when Kagome could not. "He attacked the lady and was found to be guilty in the treason which took place. He is being dealt with, lady."
Hōshakō's tails flicked aggressively. "He did… what?"
"He admitted to his guilt not long ago." Senchineru wrapped his fingers around Kagome's elbow, prepared to move her swiftly if Hōshakō lost control.
"That little…" she stomped her foot. "Excuse me." She huffed away, tails fluttering behind her as she muttered to herself and headed for Sesshomaru.
"Oh dear," Kagome bit her lip so as not to giggle.
"Your brother is in for it now," Beru snickered.
"She does seem to be on the warpath," Senchineru murmured, eyeing the two Meiyo when they chuckled.
Eimin stood on the stairs leading down into the gardens and watched the kirins in fascination. They were beautiful in the low light, scales seeming to glitter like jewels or stars.
The white was her favorite. Sure, she probably shouldn't have one, or if she did, voice that opinion aloud, but the white seemed… delicate, elegant and refined. She was so pretty and Eimin's fingers ached, literally ached to touch her.
"You shouldn't stare, Eimin," Tarou murmured, coming up behind her on the stairs. Tonight, he was weaponless, as was were the rest of his men, but it didn't even cross his mind, not with her looking the way she did tonight. "You make her mate jumpy when you stare," he said softly, leaning toward her.
The brush of Tarou's breath over her skin made her jolt. "Oh! I didn't mean… she's just… so pretty."
Big blue eyes turned her way, and the white kirin smiled, her head bobbing where she lay curled near Hana in the grass. The elder kirin in all his mossy greens and browns rested between the two females, while the black and the big brown grazed in a circle around them, ever watchful.
"She seems to have heard you," he chuckled softly, flicking a feather laced braid, sending it dancing around her face.
Turning to face him, she pouted. "You're teasing me, Tarou."
"I am but only a little." His eyes traveled the length of her kimono. "You look…" he didn't have the words to describe how lovely she looked.
Her face fell. "Foolish, right? Like I am playing at being something I'm not?" She stepped back, chin dropping to her chest.
"Eimin." He stepped forward, cupped her cheek, tilted her face up to his. "I think you look lovely, elegant and yet still wild."
"Really?" she whispered, stunned and caught by his dark eyes sparkling just as bright as the kirin's scales.
"You will rival your mother one day," he said softly, his thumb caressing the curve of her cheek.
Her beauty would be legendary just as her mother's was, but it was her scent that filled his nose, settled in his soul and wrapped around his heart. She was nearly grown, and the realization he'd been hiding from became a blinding reality.
His demon rose up and growled softly mine. "Eimin." His fingers delved into her braids.
Heart beating hard, Eimin swallowed to wet her dry throat. "Tarou… I have something to say."
"Say it then."
She wasn't sure if he'd moved or if she had, but she could feel the heat from his mostly bare chest radiating from him, she could smell the intoxicating scent of his skin. He smelt so good, so very good, like heat and fire and home.
"I'm sorry for… for everything I said when I thought… Nigai…" she swallowed the rest of the words when his finger landed lightly on her lips.
"Eimin, I forgive you. He was very good at manipulation." He had to remind himself she was, still, technically a pup, an omega in her mother's pack, and he was her guard. She was not old enough, not yet. "He was right about one thing."
"What?" she asked.
"You truly are a feather, wild and free among the flowers." He leaned down, intent upon kissing her cheek, paying homage to the beauty she was becoming while keeping to the correct side of propriety. It surprised him, then, when she turned her head at the last moment and his lips landed on hers.
There was nothing he could do when his lips touched hers, not with how soft they were and how they trembled beneath his but keep his head and ignore the heady growling of his demon. He tilted her chin just enough to give her the taste of a true kiss before pulling slowly away.
She whined softly, her pleasure in the sound. Her lashes fluttered coming open to show him her bright teal eyes. "Tarou," she whispered.
He ran his thumb along her lower lip. "We should return you inside."
"Will you do that again?" she asked.
Smiling, he brushed his knuckles along her cheek. "One day."
Turning shy, she nodded, looking away. "One day…" she whispered.
A deep inhale had the scent of happiness and wonder coming to him. "Let's go, Eimin." Taking her hand, he placed it lightly in the crook of his elbow and led her back and inside.
"Lord Sesshomaru!" Hōshakō barked as she approached the daiyoukai.
"Lady?" Sesshomaru asked.
"Omoshiroi! I request the right to deal with him in Kitsune fashion," she stated.
His brow arched at the clear anger in her scent, and the way her tails snapped behind her. "He is this one's prisoner to deal with."
She waved a hand, ignoring the tightening of his jaw. "He is a kitsune! The worst you can do is leave him to rot or kill him. Give him to me, and I will see he regrets what he's done long before death comes for him."
He studied her for a moment before giving a short nod.
"Excellent! Chie, Haitatsunin, and I will take him with us when we leave." Her tails crackled again as she flounced away.
Looking up, Sesshomaru noted the panther lord's cautious approach toward Kagome and extracted himself from his current conversation to stand at her side.
"Lady Kagome," the panther tilted his head.
"Lord Unarigoe, you already look better," Kagome smiled.
"Thanks in part to you, my dear," he nodded, leaning on his cane. "And Lord Yūdaina as well."
"And Jinenji's herbs," she tilted her head.
"I thank you, Lady," Nya said, stepping forward. "My father shall live thanks to you."
Kagome looked at Nya, found herself smiling. The white panther was much happier than she had been previously, and it showed. "I am simply happy to help. Perhaps now the west and the panther tribe can put their past behind them and move forward to a more… peaceful future."
"We shall… try, Lady," Unarigoe nodded, glancing at Sesshomaru and smacking Ashi firmly in the shin when she growled defiantly.
"That's all I can ask for." Tilting her head, Kagome watched as he walked slowly away.
"You do that well, little bird," Sesshomaru said collecting her hand to his elbow. "You have a great ability in diplomacy." She flushed prettily, but before he could say more, Higuma called them for dinner.
Dinner, in all its grand pomp and circumstance, went over far better than any of them could have expected. With Koga and Ayame's arrival at the table, the space between Inoshi and Enkurēbu was increased by one, the southern lord keeping his own council and brooding silently.
No one seemed to care as the celebration continued and conversation abounded.
The food arrived and it was clear Kokki had out done himself. The glacier youkai had pulled out all the stops, creating shaved ice as he said he would, sending most of the gathered youkai into fits of groaning, demanding to know how he'd come up with such a thing. When it came to light it was Kagome who'd taught him how, the applauding increased and set her blushing.
InuYasha was, again, toasted by those gathered, until he was forced to stand and speak without the interruption of arriving dragons. "Lords, Ladies, gathered youkai. There is not much more I can say that has not already been said. I was a simple hanyou, used to living free and wild only to be tamed, and collared," he chuckled pulling on his beads and making the group snicker, "by my beloved mate. It is because of her I stand before you today, because of her goodness, her grace, and her gentle heart,"
"And sharp tongue," Sesshomaru muttered.
More snickers erupted when Kagome lightly smacked him in the arm.
"Her quick tongue and swift mind, and her ability to make those around her see reason. Without you, Kagome, Sesshomaru and I never would have sorted ourselves out." Collecting her hand, he brought her fingers to his lips. "You make all this possible."
Tears of joy sparkled on her lashes when he leaned down and kissed her gently amongst the cat call and whistling.
Chuckling, he raised a hand. "I will do my best to keep this land, and our people safe from now and into the future!"
The ruckus of hundreds of voices and stamping feet lasted a long time. When the sound finally faded, Sesshomaru nodded to Higuma.
At the far end of the hall was a newly crafted stage upon which the players performed. It was similar to Kabuki, but far more entertaining in Kagome's opinion as the players used their powers to enhance their performance and the story they were telling.
When they'd finished, the moon had long ago risen, bathing the valley in bright silver light and Sesshomaru rose from the table. "Come, brother."
Assisting Kagome to her feet, InuYasha helped her from the dais and outside into the fresh air where the rest of the court and visiting dignitaries gathered to watch. It was late, the moon high, and Kagome felt the pull of it no different than InuYasha.
It flowed into him darkening the marks on his face as he took a handful of running steps and leapt into the air to become his true form. Hovering high about the ground he lifted his head and howled, the sound beautiful and strong, washing out over the valley.
A moment later Sesshomaru leapt to join him and two enormous dog demons glowed against the sky, bathed in the light of the moon.
Staring up at them as they called to the sky, Kagome stood surrounded by her western pack. Shippo sat on Kemuri's back, Yuzuki, Shinobu and Moyashi gathered near, Luna and Akuma looked up with the rest of them. Senchineru stood to her opposite side, clearly wishing to join in as his hands opened and closed spasmodically. The dark Inu hovered near, and she could tell by Eimin's clear aura she'd made peace with Tarou. Her Meiyo at her back laughed and nudged each other, wondering quietly what other furniture InuYasha may destroy by the end of this night.
Flushing, Kagome ignored them and focused on her two Inu. Life would not be easy, it never was, but with each new face, each new ally, each new pack member the path she was due to walk, the journey they would all take was becoming clearer. Peace would reign for many years before the Shi no Keshin came for her, but they would be ready.
For now, they would focus on the west and rebuilding what others had sought to destroy. They would create new relationships and trade routes and grow their holdings. There were souls here still crying out for her help and she would do so. Chinmoko, Wakana, Kumi, and Miyako all needed her. And when they weren't here, they would focus on their village, their pack and their family. It would take work, every day, but with InuYasha at her side, and Sesshomaru at her back, they would succeed.
Their journey, after all, had only just begun.
A/N: And thus ends The Accession.
Hello my lovely readers. Thank you all for following along this epic journey. Yes, this is truly is the end of the Accession. Now for the really bad news. I've decided to take some time away from InuYasha. I have been writing this story nearly non-stop for three years, and after 1.6 million words (roughly the equivalent of 12 novels) I need a break, a big one.
I will be taking time to work on other projects and wrap my head around my future. The weekly deadlines are, quite honestly, killer when I'm trying to produce eight plus thousand words per week. It is too much, and with all that has happened recently, I need to prioritize my life differently.
I know many of you have told me how much my writing means to you, and I thank you for that. You are welcome to come find me on Tumblr where I will continue to write for other fandoms.
Thank you in advance for understanding and for all the love and support you've shown me.
As always, Peace, Love, and InuYasha.