AN: After a long, looong absence, I am back and writing again. This little plot bunny got dusted off and here we go! Featuring a much stronger, though haunted Kagome with new powers. Please keep in mind that I have taken some artistic liberties that deviate from the manga/The Final Act. I have big plans for this story and plan to update pretty frequently, as long as the evil muse allows. As always, reviews are appreciated!

I do not own Inuyasha nor any of the characters. I do not profit in any way from this story.

Chapter 1

She took a deep breath, staring at her gruesome opponent. The youkai was massive, standing at least three times her height, with dark olive skin and multiple horns protruding from his grotesque body. The enormous ogre-like demon raised his huge rough-hewn wooden club overhead and with a roar, struck the spot where she stood with all his strength. The blow never connected with her flesh. She had leapt backwards, using her hand on the ground to flip out of the path of the fatal blow. The fierce woman landed upright with her sword drawn, balancing lightly on the balls of her feet.

The sword was a demonic blade forged by Totosai himself. Her sword was styled as a curved scimitar. The hilt of the blade an intricately detailed silver encrusted with shining lapis gems that rivaled the brilliant blue of her eyes. The blade glowed with a soft blue light when she wielded it. She had wielded her sword for over a year now, and she had perfected the use of it in that time with a little help from the master smith and her persistent training.

The raven-haired beauty smirked at the ugly excuse for a demon in front of her. Her eyes were dark and intense, as she stood ready for another attack. The deep blue of her eyes darkened with her concentration and seething revulsion. When the demon once again tried to crush her into the ground with his club, she ran up the length of his arm with far more speed and skill than the hapless demon had expected. Her blade danced in the bright light of the sun, emitting a brighter blue glow just before being coated in the thick blood of her would be killer. The youkai clawed at his gaping throat as he hit the ground, feeling his life slipping away.

The deadly female jumped to the ground as the demon's body collapsed and continued walking on her path, ignoring the sounds of death behind her. The sound was familiar to this one, having fought innumerable battles to get to this point. The soft breeze tugged gently at her hood as she walked. Her white haori was barely visible beneath the dark cloak she wore. Only her non-traditional midnight blue hakama was visible beneath it, despite the heat of summer. She looked up to the sun-filled sky, knowing she had only a few more hours of travel left before night fall.

Sighing heavily, the lone woman continued traveling west. She carefully kept her mind blank, repressing memories of past travel and staying attuned to her surroundings. The beauty continued walking until she came upon a small village. She crouched at the edge of the field, out of sight behind some high grasses, contemplating the scene in front of her.

Her watchful eyes observed the villagers for several minutes. She watched the peaceful village as chores were done and words exchanged between the inhabitants. Children playing games in the main street, ducking around the working adults. This brought a soft smile to her face. The innocence of youth both beautiful and amusing. Though she did not want to, she made the decision to attempt to find shelter for the night as her provisions were low. The woman rose slowly to her full height and walked towards a group of men only several feet from where she had crouched.

As she drew closer, one of the men noticed her and pointed her out to his comrades. The men visibly tensed upon seeing her. Though times were more peaceful than in the past, humans were ever fearful of attacks from the youkai. The eldest of the men stepped forward and spoke to her, his tone friendly enough though he eyed her garb suspiciously, "Hello, stranger. What brings you to our humble village?"

She stopped a few feet from the one who spoke to her and spoke softly, "I seek only fresh provisions and a place to sleep."

"You do not look the part of the average traveler. May I ask your business?" Came the voice of the elder once again, still looking at her in askance.

A soft sigh escaped her lips and she drew back her hood. "I am but a travelling priestess." She replied, her voice tranquil and soothing.

The men continued to look her over for a moment before the elder spoke again, his voice welcoming, "Well then, lady miko, you are welcome to provision yourself with what offerings we have. I am the village headsman, Hideyoshi. My wife and I will gladly provide you a bed for the night. May I ask your name, priestess?"

"I am Kagome." came her soft, nearly whispered response. The men needed only a moment to whisper among themselves to confirm. All of the country had heard of her deeds and her sacrifices. Many thought her blessed, though an equal number saw her as cursed. She hated that everyone knew her name, how everyone stared and whispered when they knew who she was.

"It would be our honor, Great Miko, to accommodate you for the night." Again, the elder man spoke to her, though now his voice held great respect. His wizened face was solemn, but Kagome saw mirth and an easy demeanor swimming behind his eyes. As he gestured for her to follow, she strolled sedately beside him, matching his pace.

He stepped to the side as they reached his home, allowing her to walk in front of him. Inside the small wooden hut sat an elderly lady preparing dinner. She was a diminutive woman with long white hair tied away from her face and bright, friendly eyes that matched her husbands.

"Hello," The woman nodded to Kagome and turned towards her husband, "Who did you bring home with you, dear?"

"This is Lady Kagome, the Shikon Miko."

"Oh my!" Her mouth rounded in an O, before she regained her composure, "Come in, milady, please make yourself at home." The elderly woman smiled at her as she gestured for her to sit. The woman radiated kindness and inner peace, something that Kagome greatly envied.

Hideyoshi's smile spread into a burst of laughter at his wife's reaction. His smile still curled his lips as he turned to the miko, "This is my wife, Aya."

Kagome nodded, and found that the old man's smile was contagious. For the first time in a long time, Kagome felt at ease around these people. Usually, she avoided most villages, temples and palaces to avoid the stares and whispers that accompanied her fame.

"It's truly a pleasure to meet you, milady. Dinner will be done soon; I am sure you are hungry and tired." Aya's voice was warm and motherly, reminding Kagome of the past. Normally, she did not allow herself to remember, but for just this once, she thought of her family in the future and smiled softly.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Hideyoshi and Aya. I am most grateful." Kagome's voice was warm, though her words were formal.

"Think nothing of it!" Aya responded as she stirred the pot in which dinner was being cooked, "We don't get to have guests often. It's our pleasure, really."

The couple began talking quietly about their day and other miscellany of village life, and Kagome turned inward to her own thoughts. Where do I go from here? There seems to be no purpose to my life anymore. I travel endlessly, trying to outrun my memories, yet everywhere I go, I am known. I cannot be around people without being reminded of my deeds… and my friends…

Kagome stopped her train of thought right there, not wanting to even think it. I cannot go back to the future, and yet I do not feel that I belong here… There is nothing left for me here… I cannot think like this all the time. I just want to live and find happiness… After all I have been through, is that too much to ask?

A thoughtful look crossed her face in the midst of her deep thoughts. She had proved time and again that she was strong. She had mourned loss after loss… Her old life was dead, and it was time she quit mourning it.

so I shall keep traveling until I find my purpose…

Aya's cheerful voice called Kagome out of her thoughts, "Dinner's ready!"

************** Next Day **************

"Are you sure you must leave, Milady? You only just got here last night." Hideyoshi asked as he accompanied her to the edge of the village.

"Yes, Hideyoshi. I must continue my journey. You and Aya have been kind, but there is something I am searching for, and it cannot be found in this village." Kagome said, smiling fondly at the old man. She had been treated like a favored daughter in their home, and she was truly grateful to these kind people.

"Very well, be safe young one." Hideyoshi stopped at the edge of the village and watched as she walked on. The young priestess had brought joy to so many people and yet she seemed so very sad. He had heard so many stories that he was not quite sure what was true, but he had not wanted to offend her by asking. When the miko was out of sight, the old man turned back towards his hut, still pondering the Shikon Miko.

Kagome had been walking for several hours, and it was well into the afternoon when she stopped to rest. She chose to sit not too far from the path and rest her legs and soothe her grumbling belly. She ate an apple from her new provisions as well as some pickled vegetables. She finished her small meal and leaned back in the grass. The cool breeze blowing across the plain was welcome against her hot skin, and she reveled in the simple pleasure. It was truly a beautiful day and Kagome found her mind was in a rare state of calm.

Turning her head towards the sound of a voice on the wind, the miko cursed herself for allowing her guard to be down for even a moment. Kagome saw three youkai walking her way that she should have sensed well before they got this close. The priestess hoped they would pass by and leave her alone, however no youkai usually just left her alone. All three were male Inuyoukai, dressed in armor over their kimonos and hakama. She turned her attention away, staring ahead of her.

"Woman, who are you and what is your purpose here?" One of them demanded of her, his hand on his weapon.

"I am merely passing through the area." Kagome said calmly, hoping to avoid a confrontation.

"Answer the question, who are you?" His harsh voice barked at her.

She sighed and lowered her head slightly in defeat, "Just a travelling miko."

The three youkai inspected her, wondering at the power they could feel radiating from her that she made no attempt to conceal. Kagome started to get annoyed as several seconds passed without anyone saying a word.

Kagome stood up, slinging her pack along with her bow and quiver over her shoulder. She turned and started to walk away. Knowing how the inuyoukai would react to the slight, but also having already determined a confrontation was a certainty.

"No one said that you could leave, miko."

"I answered your questions, now leave me in peace." Her voice was haughty and aloof. She was really tired of dealing with egotistical demons. Continuing to walk away, Kagome froze suddenly and whipped out her sword, spinning around. The youkai that had made a move at her stopped, though he stood at the ready with sword in hand.

"Ignorant miko, you will show respect."

"What have you done that I should respect you?" Kagome taunted in return. This might not end well, but it would be a hell of a fight. The thought made Kagome smile…

The youkai lunged at her, swinging his sword. Kagome put her blade up and deflected his attack. Though she had used both hands, she had not been able to throw him off with strength alone. His attack was also quick, making him an opponent worth battling. Kagome decided to go on the offensive and went in with a smooth side strike. The youkai brought his sword down, trying to take hers to the ground. As his blade hit her sword, Kagome used her other hand to send a ball of pink light at the demon, hitting him in the thigh.

Moving quickly, Kagome stepped back and into a defensive crouch.

Lord Sesshoumaru paused when he smelled inuyoukai blood in the air. His eyes narrowed, knowing it must be one of his generals. They were out investigating reports of rogue youkai attacks in the area. He also caught the scent of a human, her scent seeming so familiar. Sesshoumaru turned and followed the scent through the sparse woods at the edge of the clearing without saying a word to his subordinates. Quickly coming upon one of his generals fighting the onna, Sesshoumaru was stunned to see his general was the only one wounded. The other two youkai were standing back and watching the fight progress, gauging the woman's strength.

The Daiyoukai watched as the woman gracefully dodged yet another blow from his general. Her aura and scent still feeling very familiar, though he could not place them. He had yet to see her face, watching her cloak swirl around her with her movements.

"Die!" Kagome cried as she tripped the youkai and rolled on top of him. Her blade slashed into his neck, nearly severing his head completely. In the flash of an eye, Kagome felt herself become airborne, the hood of her cloak flying back. She hit the ground hard, but was up immediately, sword at the ready.

When she saw her opponent, she stilled at the angry amber eyes staring her down. Her mind seemed unable to process who stood before her in that instant. A softly spoken "Sesshoumaru…" left her lips.

Sesshoumaru's arrogant mask was in place, but internally he was utterly shocked which was a very unfamiliar feeling indeed. He had not recognized her until she said his name. The girl he had known was nothing compared to the woman in front of him. Her black tresses fell almost to her knees, a turquoise ribbon at the nape of her neck holding it back from her face save a few loose tendrils. Her features were more mature and there was a hardness to them that he didn't remember. Her eyes were the same shimmering blue, though now they were dark and guarded.

"Miko…" He said, his voice menacing. Sesshoumaru drew his blade and was at her side in moments. Kagome barely fended off his first strike, trying to put distance between them. Sesshoumaru smirked almost imperceptibly, before his command of, "Dragon Strike."

Kagome stuck the blade of the blue sword into the ground in front of her. A glowing barrier surrounded her, harmlessly purifying his attack. She pulled her sword from the ground as she stood. Sesshoumaru did not let up, moving to attack her again. Kagome barely managed to parry the strike. They stood in a deadlock for a moment before he overpowered her, bringing her to her knees. He kicked her in the chest, knocking Kagome to her back. The wind left her lungs forcibly, though he had done little more than unbalance her. The Daiyoukai held his sword to her throat. He had expected her to whimper and beg for her life. However, she made not a sound, her eyes blatantly defying him.

"Your life belongs to me now, miko."