Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.

Secret of the Cursed Mask: Michiru's Journey

Chapter 1: Down the Rabbit Hole

As the bus rumbled down one of the many streets of Tokyo, the people riding it were aware of many things. They were aware of the sun slowly setting beneath the horizon, painting the sky a vivid montage of dark reds and brilliant gold. They were aware of the many towering buildings that bracketed the bus on both sides.

But most of all, they were aware of an ongoing discussion between a couple of junior high students who were standing next to the side of the bus while holding on to straps hanging from a bar for support. Two boys that were speaking about matters of the heart.

"What?!" Michiru yelped in clear surprise. He was a fairly unremarkable boy at first glance, with blue-gray eyes and brown hair whose school uniform consisted of a white shirt with blue stripes and a shield-like crest on the pocket that was situated over his heart. The shirt had blue stripes on its short sleeves that matched the tie he wore. He also wore a simple pair of brown pants and white sneakers and had a book bag slung on his back. And he also wore a look of incredulous surprise as he looked at one of his fellow students and declared, "You've gotta be kidding me, Koji! Are you sure they're going steady?!"

As several other passengers on the bus turned looks of surprise at Michiru, his companion, a boy with dark hair and brown eyes who wore the same school uniform leaned in closer to him. "C'mon!" he muttered in a lower voice. "You don't have to go and flip out over it!" Then he stood up straighter and closed his eyes, almost looking like an adult in the presence of a small child who still hadn't figured out the birds and the bees. "Boy, you sure are clued out when it comes to noticing stuff like that. One look at them and it's so obvious!"

Cocking his head slightly to the side, Michiru wondered, "Do you really think so?"

Without hesitation, Koji replied, "Yeah...like another obvious couple."

Michiru frowned somewhat at this. He really didn't like gossiping about people he knew, and to be honest, he was a bit tired after the long day he had had at school that day, and he knew that he was in for an even longer evening and quite possibly a lecture when he returned home that day. He and his family lived and tended to the Kururugi Shrine, with his parents being the current priest and priestess of that Shrine. And on this day, they were holding their annual festival, which was one of their big sources of income and visitors. Which required that every member of the family be there and be ready to pitch in and help with the many visitors.

A festival that, thanks to problems at school, Michiru was already well and truly late for.

But as he considered Koji, Michiru frowned a bit more, and the prime motivator of the spreading of gossip nudged at his mind; curiosity. And as his curiosity nudged and niggled at him, it wasn't long before he could stand it no more, and finally gave in and asked. "What couple? What are you talking about?"

"Who else?" Koji replied in a playful manner. "Think about it; they're always together at the start of class, chatting together...they even sit next to each other in the back of our homeroom..."

It took Michiru several seconds to piece together this vague description, but when he did, his eyes bulged from their sockets in shock. "Whaaat!?" he cried out, his cheeks taking on a reddish tinge. "You mean - Totokatsu and Momo-chan?!"

Once more, the people surrounding them directed curious gazes at the two boys, making noises of confusion as Koji once again leaned in closer to Michiru. "Chill out, already!" he demanded, his own cheeks flushing with humiliation. "Do you have to make such a big scene about it, you big doofus?!"

Chagrined by this admonishment, as well as the fact that the number of eyes falling upon them was making him feel quite uncomfortable, Michiru hesitantly returned, "Well, it's just... they're still only in junior high."

Rolling his eyes at this, Koji countered. "Are you serious?! Already in junior high is more like it! It's not exactly unusual, you know; there are plenty of guys at our school that already have girls!" With that, the raven-haired youth glanced off to the side and raised his free hand. "Let's see...there's Sakkai, and there's Akira," he went on, lowering a finger with each name he listed, "And Shion, and...hmm - oh, yeah, and Takuya, he -"

"Wait, Takuya?!" Michiru cried out in pure shock. "Takuya has a girlfriend?! Are you sure about that?!"

"Yeah, sure!" Koji replied with a nod. Only to frown somewhat at the stunned expression Michiru wore. "Wait, you mean you didn't know?"

Lowering his eyes to the floor, Michiru gave a slight shake of his head. "No...this is the first I've heard of it."

Several second passed as the bus continued to roll down the streets, the relative silence left in the wake of that stunning surprise weighing heavily upon Michiru as he thought about Takuya and the fact that he had found someone special to be with. Had done this...and hadn't even said anything about it. That Koji would know about something like this when Michiru didn't.

Issuing a heavy sigh at this, Michiru's face fell even more. "Wow, what a shocker this has been," he admitted in a dismal tone of voice. "Why wouldn't Takuya tell me about something like this? I thought I was his good friend..."

Making a thoughtful noise at this, Koji then placed his free hand to his chin. "Well," he began in a thoughtful manner, "it could be that he didn't want to make you feel bad."

Glancing over at Koji, Michiru wondered, "What do you mean?"

Opening his eyes, Koji returned Michiru's look. "You know," he began...right before he smiled a cat-like smile, "because you don't have a girlfriend yet!"

Wincing at this, Michiru felt his cheeks flush with color right before he made a point of staring at the floor. Giving Koji more cause to chuckle as he said, "Wow, you sure blush easily, Michiru! Ha ha!"

Really wishing that he hadn't even bothered asking about who had found girlfriends and what-not, Michiru just stood there, feeling his face burn, until at least the bus driver spoke over the loudspeaker. "Attention. The next stop is the Kururugi Shrine. Kururugi Shrine," came the polite female voice. "Please ring the bell if you want to get off."

"Well, this is our stop," Koji declared without hesitation before pressing the button.

As a pleasant dinging was heard, Michiru sighed once more. I just hope Kaname told Mom and Dad about my homeroom running overtime! he fretted inwardly. Because if she didn't...oh, man...!

"Here you go!" Kaname Kururugi cheerfully spoke as she handed another customer a paper napkin filled with nice, crisp taiyaki she had recently finished cooking. "Some taiyaki, and a lemon soda! Now be careful; they're still hot!"

"Sure, thanks!" the young man returned as he turned away, leaving Kaname to face another customer.

Sighing slightly as she took the next person's order, Kaname went to work. Without a doubt, the Doll Festival of Wishes was the busiest time of the year for the Kururugi Shrine and her family. She didn't know how this tradition had come to be; the vague legends that had inspired it had likely been lost to time over the many centuries her ancestors had celebrated this festival. But there was no doubt that it was the biggest local event, and every year, plenty of people came to celebrate or garner some business for themselves. Even as she worked, some other people had set up stands on the grounds of the Kururugi Shrine, and were marketing their own goods and wares or operating festival booths like Kaname herself was. As she worked and sold tasty treats such as taiyaki, takoyaki, and dango on sticks that she had cooked, the Kururugi girl watched as some of the other regulars to the festival went about their own work. Nearby was the owner of a small okonomiyaki restaurant, a girl whose long pigtail was held in place by a large bow in her hair, which stood in stark contrast to the large spatula she carried on her back. There was also that odd Chinese girl with purple hair and her ramen stand, and many, many others. All of whom were busy as they catered to the folks who had come to enjoy the festival.

As Kaname finished tending to her latest customer, she was able to pause and look at a young couple making their way across the ground of the Shrine that was her family's home. The girl was dressed in a purple kimono while the boy was dressed in more modern garments, but both of them were carrying the simple wooden dolls that were the centerpiece of her family's tradition.

"Sooo…" the girl coyly asked as the two of them walked along, "...whose name did you write on your doll?"

The boy laughed lightly before replying, "What about you? Whose name did you write?"

Chuckling at the teasing exchanges between the couple, Kaname couldn't help but a touch of envy as she turned her gaze towards a matronly woman in a light blue kimono who was addressing what the Kururugi girl presumed to be her daughter, who was wearing a cute pink kimono. "See? You just write the name of someone special on the doll," she explained, writing a name on the back of her own doll. "And then, you'll be able to see them."

The little girl smiled in delight at this. "Wow, Mommy! It's like magic!"

Ah, magic, Kaname smiled fondly, remembering her younger, more fanciful years. I wish I was young enough to believe in fantasies like that...

Shaking her head slowly and hoping that the little girl's innocence would last a while longer, Kaname was brought back to the moment when a familiar voice groaned, "Aww, man! I'm so late!"

Swinging her gaze in the direction the voice had come from, Kaname smiled as she watched her twin brother Michiru dashing away from the bus he had just disembarked and frantically running up the short flight of steps that led to the Kururugi Shrine. "Hey, bro!" she called out, smiling as he approached. "I see you finally managed to escape the gulag!"

Groaning somewhat as he darted over towards Kaname's stand, Michiru heaved a deep breath before replying, "Yeah, no thanks to Ms. Hanzaki! She almost made me stay even later for cleanup duties before I told her about the festival!" Then he fixed his twin sibling with a look and said, "Just please tell me you told Mom and Dad about my homeroom running late!"

Giving a slight smile, Kaname shrugged. "I told them. And Mom, she took it okay," she explained, nodding towards their mother, who was dressed in the red hakama and white haori that was typical of a Japanese miko, very much like the outfit Kaname herself currently wore. Their mother also had her hair done up in a long ponytail and wore glasses and a smile as she handed one of the many simple wooden dolls marked with a crimson pentagram to another patron of the festival. "But, Dad...he wasn't too happy about it. If I were you, bro, I'd hurry up and get to work before you wind up grounded for life!"

It was all Kaname could do to not laugh as Michiru visibly winced at this. "Okay, thanks," he grumbled, already turning to find their father. But before he started off, he paused and glanced back at his sibling. "And be sure you don't wind up eating all the taiyaki again! Unless you want to be a...hippie!"

Her cheeks flushing with embarrassment, Kaname watched as Michiru chuckled and darted away. Leaving her too startled to manage a retort until he was out of sight. "Ohh...just get lost, bro!" she grumbled in a good-natured manner.

Michiru just laughed at himself as he continued towards the stand where he knew his father had to be. He and Kaname had a good relationship, and they frequently joked and played tricks that they knew would not hurt the other's feelings. And after the long day he had already had and the chewing out he was all but certain to be on the receiving end of, he had been in dire need of a good laugh.

Sadly, Michiru's good humor was all too short-lived, for before long, he came to the stand where his father was selling the various charms and other odds and ends that were made and sold here at the Kururugi Shrine. Pausing for a brief moment, Michiru gave a slight sigh, for his father was a formidable figure with a stern expression, one that was enhanced by his well-trimmed beard. And he really wasn't looking forward to this.

But at the same time, Michiru knew that putting off the inevitable would do him no good and would in all likelihood make his situation even worse. So as he passed by such things as the pit where people were presently tossing their signed dolls for the ceremonial blaze to take place later and the various stands, such as the one where his mother was working, Michiru arrived at the stand where his father was. "I'm here, Dad!" he called out as he arrived, panting slightly. His father was presently studying the array of items available for sale when the Kururugi boy added, "Sorry I was so late. I -!"

"I know. Kaname told me what happened," Michiru's father replied in a somewhat gruff manner as he turned to face his son. "But how did this happen?! Your teachers know this is the Doll Festival of Wishes! And that you have responsibilities!"

Wincing somewhat at this, Michiru sheepishly replied, "I know, but...my teacher kept insisting that school was more important than a festival. Even when we're the ones running it!" Giving a sheepish smile, he glanced off to the side before adding, "Look, I'll - I'll go get changed! I'll be right back!"

Michiru promptly turned to leave. But before he could take a step, his father spoke in a gentler fashion. "Wait, hold on." Making a thoughtful noise in his throat, the brown-haired boy looked back his father, whose expression had softened. "I can handle things here for now, but I'm running low on a few things. Please go to the storehouse and bring me some more amulets."

Glad that things hadn't been worse and the chewing out he had gotten had been nowhere near as bad as he had dreaded, Michiru smiled easily and gave his father a thumbs-up. "Got it!" he replied, already starting into a dash. "I'll be back in no time flat!"

With that, Michiru darted past the crowds meandering about the grounds of his home and hurried off past the house that had been in his family for several generations. There he found the storehouse that was almost as old as the Kururugi Shrine itself, raised up off the ground proper by its wooden foundation. Without hesitation, he darted up the newer concrete steps that had been set in place by his grandparents and opened the twin doors of the storehouse.

As the doors opened with a distinctive creaking noise, Michiru paused to look inside, the light of the setting sun providing minimal illumination. As crow cawed somewhere in the distance, the Kururugi boy studied the inside for a little while longer before venturing the relative darkness of the storehouse interior. "Hmm...let me think..." he mused, racking his brain as he tried to dredge up the events of the previous year. In particular, the cleanup efforts from the previous Doll Festival of Wishes. "Dad put the box with the amulets...somewhere in the back, didn't he?"

Fingering his chin as he considered the many odds and ends that his family kept safe and secure in the storehouse, Michiru frowned as he considered the deeper darkness within. "I should've stopped to grab a flashlight," he murmured, only to shrug and continue forward, arms outstretched. "Oh, well...it's not like there's anything dangerous in here, so -"

But even as he used his hands to search for anything that might get in his way while his eyes slowly adjusted to the relative gloom of the storehouse, Michiru stepped on a faded red pentagram, not unlike the ones marked upon the dolls his family sold. With a pained groan of wood the only warning he had before the floorboards gave beneath his weight. Crying out in shock and surprise, Michiru flailed his arms about, trying to stay standing, but as his foot fell beneath the floor, he fell as well, and ultimately crashed down upon his posterior.

Landing in a seated position that he supported by holding himself up with his hands, Michiru winced at the dust that had arisen from his undignified predicament. His right leg was stuck up to its calf in the floor and was already stinging mightily. Right along with his butt, his hands, and his pride.

"Oh...when was the last time we did maintenance in here?!" Michiru demanded in a pained voice as he scowled irritably. "This floor's totally rotten!" Then he heaved a pained sigh before adding, "About as rotten as my luck today!" Giving a slight shake of his head, as if to wonder what he had done to deserve this, Michiru sighed before pushing himself forward onto one knee, already moving to get himself out of the hole he had worked himself into. "I'll tell Dad about it so we can get it fixed later. Right now, I - wha-?!"

The damage started by his unexpected fall spread, and before Michiru realized what was happening, more of the floor shattered and fell beneath his weight. Crying out in panic, the Kururugi boy flailed about desperately for some kind of handhold. But his hands found no purchase as he sank into the crumbling floor, brilliant blue light billowing up from below. Panicked beyond the capacity for rational thought, Michiru tumbled through the floor, and found himself immersed in a maelstrom of light. With the last thing he remembered before falling into darkness was a strange void, a space that seemed to exist between two worlds...

Far away, in a place where darkness reigned supreme, a strange sculpture shaped like a pentagram stood on a small table, with four sets of eyes studying. Four sets of eyes that looked on patiently, watching and waiting as the sculpture sudden lit up with a blue fire.

"Ah...so it worked," smiled one of the onlookers as the sculpture rapidly burned down to nothing. "He's on his way."

"Yes," agreed one of the people there.

"Are you sure this will work?" wondered another. "Didn't you tell us that your little scheme won't work unless this boy's strong enough?"

"That's right. But he will be strong. Strong enough to make this work," the second speaker declared, his voice muffled by his mask. "One way or another, he will be strong enough for this."

"Agreed," the first speaker declared, his voice laced with a cruel chuckle. "We'll see to that..."

Author's Notes: And here we have it; a novelization of "InuYasha: Secret of the Cursed Mask"! I hope you all enjoy, and that you read and review! And hopefully, check out my other stories!

Now, I'm sure some of you might be wondering what motivated me to start this project. Well, it's simple; with college and so much else going on in my life, I was having trouble getting stuff done. That's when I was going through some of my files on my computer and happened upon a partial script I had done from the game as a reference for my works! It might be incomplete, but I figured that it would be a great start point for a story. Also, lately, I've been wanting to develop on some of the events that had taken place in the game, and figured that this would be a good way to do, and get my creative juices flowing again!

Also, I have to realize that not everybody has played the Secret of the Cursed Mask, and this would be a nice thing for those who hadn't to read, and get a bead on what's going on in my Legacy of the Cursed Mask stories. I don't know how regularly I'll update; probably when my writing slows down and I need that extra boost to get back in gear. Still, I hope you all enjoy! And please, if you can, contribute to me on ! It would really help me!