A God's Game
Disclaimer: The characters of Inuyasha were used without permission and belong to their respective owners. The story was written purely for enjoyment, and no money was made off from this story. Translations of names and such were taken from Chris Rijk's Inuyasha: Sengoku o-Togi Zoushi at .
Author's Note: This is a mix of everything I know about the supernatural, gods, myths, etc. Just telling you that it's not based solely on Japanese culture.
The legend of Kaguya-Hime (Taketori Monogatari) may be found at .
In this story, Kikyo is still alive. If you've been keeping up with the manga, then you know that she's dead. (Although I don't think she's dead. Then again, you're talking to a person who thought that Dumbledore was evil in the Sorcerer's Stone.) This story takes place after Ryuukotsusei, but before the events of Mount Hiei.
I think this is going to be one of my long stories. I hope you don't mind.
Chapter I: A Mother's Sorrow, A Child's Fairy Tale
In the autumn of a child's fifth year, the winds were especially cold and harsh, whipping what leaves remaining on the trees down. The once acclaimed beauty of the earth had all but decayed, leaving a barren, unforgiving land of desolation behind. The coming winter would be a hard one, leaving many dead, and one child who wished he were dead, but could never die…
A woman hid herself and her child far from the view of their pursuers. She relied on the cloak of the forest to shelter them, to hide them from those that she had once known.
The son she held in her arms started to shiver, and the woman held him closer, hoping to protect him from the harsh elements. She felt his silky soft hair beneath her fingers and wondered if it was going to be the last time she would ever touch her son's hair like this. She knew that the soldiers were coming to find her, and she knew that her capture was inevitable. She just wished that she could delay the absolute a bit longer. Just until her son grew up…
"Hime-sama!" she heard someone shout. The voice was close, and she knew that she had to move again. She gently shook her son awake, and the child, with an uncanny gift of understanding comprehended their situation and followed his mother silently.
She did not know whether to be thankful or resentful about her son. She loved him—that much she knew, and that itself was a momentous gain from where she came from. But in a situation like this one, she wished that she did not love him so. If she did not love him, then perhaps their parting would have been easier on her.
She wished she could resent the presence of her son, but as always, she was selfish, and instead of convincing herself that she hated her son and leaving him to the care of her parents, she had brought him with her. He would have to suffer with her, and she loathed herself for it, but part of her was glad that she could be with her son in these last moments of her time in the mortal realm.
Her son was leading her through the woods. He had inherited much from her: his sense of direction in a forest, his kindness (though she had to admit that his father had been kind to her) and his raven dark hair and lavender eyes, though the latter was not noticed most of the time.
She picked her son up and started carrying him. He may have been a good guide in a forest, but she was even better. After all, she had been "born" in these very woods.
She could feel her son's small fingers holding on to her as she started to run, trying to keep the noise she made at a minimum. She wished that she had been better prepared and had changed her clothes from the elaborate kimono she was now wearing to a simpler garb.
She did not know whether to thank the heavens for coming to retrieve her on the night of a new moon, or to curse them for coming when both she and her son were most vulnerable. The new moon shed only its light of darkness upon the two, and within its cushion of safety did she move swiftly, hoping against hope that she would be able to escape the fate that was to befall her and her freedom.
She plunged into a clearing of the forest, and suddenly, fires from the celestial flames lit the clearing up, revealing the grove to be filled with two hundred soldiers or so. The flames of the heavens chilled her heart, and she knew that there was no escape. She placed her son on the ground and stood up straight and tall. She would not allow her son to see her weak. She would not plant the seeds of weakness in him.
"Haha-ue…" he whispered, wondering what all the people were doing there.
"Kaguya-hime," a solder said, stepping forward. "By the Royal Decree of His Majesty, you are hereby sentenced to return to the heavens."
"Tell His Majesty that I have yet to complete my term in this realm," she said, her voice unwavering, sounding infinitely calm.
"Your term in this world has been waived. Please return with us at once, Hime-sama," the soldier said, starting to shift nervously.
"Don't cause the man any trouble," a deeper, older voice said. He stepped out from beneath the shadows of the trees and bowed mockingly at her.
"General," she acknowledged him. She pulled her son closer to her, afraid of the man's intentions.
"Please, Hime-sama, I do not mean to harm your…'son,'" he said malevolently. "Just come with us peacefully, and I'll make sure no harm comes to him."
She held her child closer to her, her expression becoming stony. She knew she was trapped. Whatever she chose to do, she would be taken.
"Ichiro," she said to the soldier who had spoken to her before. "Take my son back to my parents' home."
"Of course, Hime-sama," he said, bowing respectfully. He approached the child, who backed away from him fearfully.
"Go with Ichiro, my son," she said, bending down and giving her son one last kiss on his forehead. "Be a good boy and obey your mother."
"Where are you going?" he asked, his small voice shaking.
"I'm not going anywhere, dear," she said, mustering up the last of her strength and courage to smile at him. "Haha-ue will always watch over you."
"You promise?" he asked, "You promise not to go anywhere?"
"Yes…" she said, her eyes filling up with tears at her lie. "Now go with Ichiro." She watched in silence as the soldier took her son away from her. She knew that he would never again see her face, but she hoped that she could watch over him from the heavens.
"You're coming with us," the general said, shoving her roughly into a carriage. She wanted to fight him, to hurt him, but she had no power. In the end, she obeyed him like she had obeyed so many others before, as she was taught to obey. But it didn't feel right.
The carriage took off into the darkness of the night sky, and she heard a tiny voice calling her. She turned around and looked out of the carriage window, only to see her son running towards her, stumbling, tripping, but never ending in his determination.
"Haha-ue! Haha-ue!" he cried, running after the mother who had promised to stay.
She bit her lip. She should not answer. To answer would only bring more pain on to the both of them. She turned around and refused to look at her son, her tears flowing down from her face. It was better to make a clean cut, than linger painfully in her son's mind.
And because she believed so, because she turned around as she did, she did not see the lost, abandoned face of the son she loved with all her heart.
Years later, she would remember this night and wonder… Had she made the right decision?
The group trailed behind stubborn Inuyasha, who refused to let them rest even though they had walked for the majority of the day. Kagome felt as if she was dragging a bucket of water using only her legs, and she was starting to get tired. But she refused to admit defeat to Inuyasha.
Stupid, stupid Inuyasha, she thought, Going on about how humans are weak… I'll show you weak! I won't stop walking before you do! She knew she was being unreasonable, but she was more stubborn than the hanyou before her, and she would drop dead before proving herself to be weak.
"Inuyasha, I think it would do us some good if we were to take a short break," Miroku said, slightly out of breath. Kagome could feel the sweat trickling down her face under the beating of the hot summer sun. She looked over at Sango, who looked like she was starting to have some difficulty carrying the oversized boomerang.
"Feh! Weak humans," Inuyasha grumbled, not even winded, but he stopped nonetheless. "Only a short break. We have to be out of these woods before nightfall."
Miroku, Sango, Shippou, and Kirara collapsed in a heap on the ground, each tired from the day's trek. Kagome refused to rest, even though her limbs did feel like they would fall off at any minute. Inuyasha was still standing, and she was going to prove to him that not all humans were weak.
"Oi. Why aren't you resting?" asked Inuyasha, looking at her out of the corner of his eye.
"Why should I rest if I'm not tired?" Kagome asked stubbornly, forcing what little air in her lungs out. I will not look tired. I will not look tired, she told herself.
"Are you still going on about that?" Inuyasha asked, "Just because humans are physically weak compared to youkai doesn't mean anything at all."
"It's not about that!" Kagome shouted, making her lose the precious air in her lungs. "It's just your attitude! Why do you insist on thinking poorly of humans? We have our strong points too, you know."
"I didn't say that humans were inferior!" Inuyasha shouted back at her. "Stop putting words in my mouth!"
"You said we were weak! That's not insulting humans?" asked Kagome, the summer heat causing her temper to be shorter than usual.
"I said compared to youkai!" Inuyasha said, not even trying to control his temper. "A rock will always be inferior to a mountain!"
"So you did say that humans are inferior," Kagome said.
"Huh?" asked Inuyasha, confused.
"Why didn't you fall for it?" asked Kagome, slightly disappointed that Inuyasha hadn't fallen for the age-old trick.
"I'm going to scout around," Inuyasha said, turning away from her. "Don't be running off anywhere." With that, he disappeared into the thick foliage, his crimson clothes hidden in the dark green of the forest. When she was sure that Inuyasha was gone, she sat down on the forest floor, sighing partly in relief and partly in exasperation.
"Kagome-sama, you should not irritate Inuyasha so," Miroku said wisely from his position, which Sango had made sure was far from her.
"I can't help it," Kagome said irritably. "Every time it gets to the new moon, he acts this way. He gets all sulky and annoyed, AND starts noticing ALL the flaws in a human." Kagome was starting to shake in anger. "Why can't he just see the good sides of being human?"
"Like what?" Shippou asked from his perch on top of Kirara. "Every time Inuyasha turns human, he always ends up in some mortal danger."
"Kagome-chan, it would probably be safer for everyone if Inuyasha never turned human," Sango said reasonably. "In our type of mission, turning weak on any one day may cost us our lives."
"Hey, you're human too," Kagome said, frowning stubbornly.
"And if Inuyasha ever seriously fought me, I would probably be dead," Sango said, not without a slight hint of a grudge. Kagome knew that she hated admitting that she was weak "compared to a youkai," as Inuyasha so artfully put it.
She started picking at the grass beneath her, refusing to argue with her friends about Inuyasha any longer. Humans could be useful in a battle. She just had to prove how. Just because they weren't as strong, or as fast, or as agile didn't mean a thing. What mattered was the heart.
Yeah, right, Kagome thought to herself. Even I don't believe that.
A few moments later, a rustling was heard and Inuyasha reappeared again. He passed a critical eye over them, and decided that they had rested enough for the moment.
"Let's get going," he said gruffly, his ears twitching nervously as a soft breeze blew across them. "I think a youkai hunts in the territory a little ways from here. We need to be out of here soon."
Miroku heaved himself up, then walked over and offered a hand to help Sango. Sango took his hand cautiously, wondering what the sly monk was up to, but when he didn't try anything, she let down her guard. Almost immediately after, a slapping sound was heard, and Miroku had a neat handprint printed on his face.
"Miroku-sama, you should really stop doing that," said Kagome, not even bothering to look over at the monk's direction.
"But the way she moved… I thought she wanted me to," Miroku said, smiling innocently. He only succeeded in Kagome shaking her head in exasperation, and getting Sango angrier.
"When will you ever learn?" asked Shippou, starting to follow Kirara, who had gone after Inuyasha. Kagome pushed herself off the ground and started to drag herself behind Inuyasha, grumbling all the way about a certain hanyou who was insensitive to a human's needs.
But I really can't blame him. The only reason he's rushing us is because he's afraid he won't be able to fully protect us after he changes, Kagome thought to herself. She had to admit, despite all his faults, she still found that the goodness of his heart was far greater than he wished to reveal. Sometimes she wondered how she could ever fall for someone like him. But usually, she didn't have to wonder too long.
Night fell quickly, and as usual, Miroku had managed to secure them a room in one of the finest mansions in the area, leaving the girls happy, but slightly disturbed about his lie, and Inuyasha shaking his head. As usual, Inuyasha sat the farthest away from the group during these nights, making Kagome irritated with the distance that he insisted on putting between himself and the rest of the group.
"I'm bored," Shippou said, tired of the silence in the room. "Miroku, how did you manage to get this room, anyway? You're not running around catching youkai or ghosts, so how did you get this room?"
"Ah…" Miroku smiled mysteriously. "It seems that the princess of this castle is quite fond of me." He flinched visibly when Sango glared at him. "I was just kidding," he said, laughing nervously. "I just sealed this phantom that has been haunting the castle for some time."
"Phantom?" asked Shippou, looking around him nervously and wondering when a ghost was going to come out and abduct his soul.
"Don't worry, there's no phantom here," Miroku said. "It's all in the people's imagination. I didn't find any trace of such supernatural things when I was touring this castle."
"Hmm…" Shippou said, still unconvinced. Kagome noticed the child looking around him nervously and decided to tell him a bedtime story to help him sleep.
"Shippou-chan, I'll tell you a story, okay?" she asked. "It's a story for the autumn Moon Festival, but that's just a few weeks away, so I'll tell it to you right now."
"Okay!" Shippou said eagerly. Kagome saw that Miroku and Sango were waiting for her to start her story, and the only person who didn't seem interested was Inuyasha. She decided to forgive him this time, and started the story.
"It's starts with an old man and an old woman," Kagome said.
"Why isn't it a young man and a young woman?" Shippou asked. "Or how about a kitsune?"
"Just listen to the story, Shippou-chan," Kagome said patiently. "Anyway, the old man and woman were very poor and did not have any child of their own, though they really wanted one. But they accepted Heaven's Fate, and did not complain, always working hard and feeling content with themselves.
"One day, the old man went to a nearby bamboo forest to cut some bamboo when all of a sudden, he discovered a child in one of the bamboo stalks that he had just cut. He picked the small girl up curiously, wondering where the beautiful child had come from. He decided that the heavens had finally smiled upon him and his wife, and decided to give them a child of their own."
"What do you mean?" Shippou asked, "Is the girl a youkai in disguise?"
"No!" Kagome said. "At least, I don't think so…"
"Maybe she is," Shippou said.
"Just let her continue on with her story," Miroku said. Suddenly, the door slid open, and an elegant lady walked in.
"Miroku-sama," she said, bowing respectfully. "I am glad that we can meet again."
Sango started shooting death glares at Miroku, who could only smile nervously in return.
"Excuse me, but have you met Miroku-sama before?" asked Kagome, trying to remember her etiquette.
"Yes. I met him some years ago, when he came to the castle I was currently staying in to rid the castle of the vengeful spirits that resided there," she said slowly and articulately.
"Oh? Then why are you in this castle now?" asked Kagome.
"I am a hostage here," the girl said as if though it were obvious.
"What? A Hostage?" asked Kagome indignantly, jumping up from her seat. "How can anyone hold a hostage? That's inhumane!" The lady only laughed politely.
"You are most entertaining," she said, smiling. "Miroku-sama, I had not known that you travel with a group now. Perhaps I can request more rooms for you and your companions?" she asked, looking at Miroku with something akin to adoration in her eyes. Kagome didn't understand why the girls fell for Miroku. Yeah, he was charming, and he wasn't that bad looking, but still! They should have more sense, although she knew she shouldn't talk.
"You do not have to, Hime-sama," Miroku said. "We are fine as we are."
"I thought you said you didn't know a princess here," Kagome said, sitting back down again.
"I thought you said you were only here to seal a phantom," Sango said, giving him a cold look.
"A phantom? There is a phantom here?" asked the princess.
"Eh heh heh…" Miroku laughed nervously. "Don't scare away our hostess!" The others took the clue, and decided to say no more, lest they get kicked out of their room for being frauds.
"Why don't you continue with your story, Kagome-sama?" asked Miroku politely. The princess turned towards Kagome, waiting for her to start. Kagome started to feel nervous.
"Err… Where was I?" she asked.
"The old fart found a baby youkai in the bamboo," Shippou said.
"Oh yeah. Wait, no! The old man found a baby girl in the bamboo stalk. He didn't find a youkai," Kagome said.
"A youkai is better," Shippou pouted.
"It's a baby girl, though," Kagome said.
"Please continue with this story, Kagome-sama," the princess said politely, smiling patiently at them.
"Well, the old man took the child home to his wife. They were both very happy to have finally received a child, but they didn't have enough money to feed and clothe the child, so they instead starved themselves so that the baby could get enough to eat," Kagome said.
"That's not fair!" Shippou exclaimed.
"Just be patient," Kagome said, continuing. "One day, when the old man went to the forest to chop for bamboo again, he found a pile of money hidden in one of the bamboo stalks. He was surprised, and delighted that the heavens would help him so, and quickly took the money home to feed and support his family.
"With the money that he received from the heavens, he soon built himself a magnificent house to live in, and raised the baby girl to be a wonderful, refined lady. There were many who wanted to court her, but she refused to marry. Finally, with the bidding of her mother, she decided to put those who sought her hand in marriage to a test." Kagome paused, unable to remember the names of the people who had been put to the test. "Well, anyway, she sent them on some quests. One of them was the quest to seek the jewel from the Dragon God, another was to find the pelt of a fire rat, another was to find some rare flower or something and…"
She grinned nervously at her audience. "I'm sorry. I just can't seem to remember—"
"Prince Ishizukuri was to bring the Buddha's begging bowl from India. Prince Kuramochi was to bring a jeweled branch back. And Councilor Isonokami was to bring a swallow's cowry shell," Inuyasha said. The rest of the group were shocked into silence.
"You have a very good memory, sir," the princess said, impressed.
"I've just heard this story too many times," he said, turning away from them again, his now raven black hair falling across his shoulders. Kagome hoped that the princess wouldn't be offended by Inuyasha's rudeness. She was slightly glad that Inuyasha had been listening to her story, not to mention surprised and impressed that he remembered more of it than her.
Inuyasha's Okaa-san did at least tell him some stories before she left, Kagome thought to herself.
"Please continue, Kagome-sama," Miroku said.
"Oh! Of course," Kagome said. She looked over at Inuyasha who was still turned around. "Of course, Kaguya-hime—"
"Who's that?" asked Shippou.
"Oh, that's just the little girl's name," Kagome said, embarrassed that she had forgotten to mention the name of the main character. She wondered if she should just let Inuyasha tell the story, but he didn't seem to be in the mood.
"Anyway, the requests that she made were impossible to complete, so of course—" Kagome started, but was cut off again.
"Not impossible," Inuyasha said, his back still turned towards them. "Difficult, but not impossible."
"Right…" Kagome said, not quite sure what the significance of that comment was. "The point is, the suitors failed, so Kaguya-hime did not end up marrying any of them.
"But the emperor had heard grand rumors about her, so went to visit her one day, and fell in love with her beauty, as well as her intelligence. He tried to marry her, but with her wits and intellect, Kaguya-hime managed to convince him that she didn't want to marry him." Kagome saw that Inuyasha had finally turned around, but now he was frowning.
"The emperor finally agreed not to marry her, but they still remained the best of friends. They would write letters to each other, and visit each other, but Kaguya-hime never married him.
"One day, Kaguya-hime started to be depressed and it seemed like nothing in the world would cheer her up. Her parents asked what was wrong, but she refused to tell them, until one day, she finally told them the truth about her past.
"She had been a Goddess living on the moon, and was sent down to earth as a punishment. She had been given to the old couple as a reward for leading such honest and good lives, but now her time was up, and she had to return to the heavens." Kagome saw that Inuyasha was still frowning, and she wondered why.
"So what happened?" asked Shippou.
"Her friend, the emperor, heard about this, so sent his army to guard and protect her from Heaven's envoys. But they could not fight the will of the Gods, so in the end, she had to leave. But before she left, she gave her father a gift of a pill of eternal life, and she also gave the emperor one last letter."
"What did the letter say?" asked the princess, then apologized embarrassedly for interrupting.
"Only the emperor knows its contents. The old man did not want to live forever, so gave the pill to the emperor, who had not wanted to live forever without Kaguya-hime, so he sent someone to burn the pill, as well as a letter he had written to Kaguya-hime in the depths of Fuji-san. And so, Kaguya-hime left the world," Kagome said. "The end."
"That story doesn't sound right," Inuyasha said, turning away again.
"Yeah. Why did she have to leave if she was happy here?" Shippou demanded.
"Sometimes you are forced to leave for places that you do not desire," the princess said to Shippou. She didn't seem to have noticed that she was talking to a youkai yet.
"That's still not fair," Shippou said, pouting.
"Just shut up and go to sleep, brat," Inuyasha growled. Kagome had to resist pounding him on his head for being so rude in front of the princess.
"It was a pleasure to listen to your story, Kagome-sama," the princess said, getting up. She suddenly walked over to Inuyasha and handed him something that she had taken out from her sleeve. "Though this may seem a strange request, please give this charm to my parents when you see them. They will have the same emblem on their clothes somewhere as the emblem on the charm."
"Why would you ask me?" asked Inuyasha suspiciously.
"I know it is forward of me to assume that you will do this favor for me, but you are the only person I have met that will pass my parents' scrutiny. Miroku-sama would not pass because he is a monk, and my family do not think highly of them," the princess said, bowing with embarrassment. "And I cannot ask a girl to do it, because they do not think highly of them either."
"You're parents are rather picky," Inuyasha said. The princess laughed.
"Yes, I suppose they are," she said. "But truly, sir, you are the only one who will pass their test. With your sword and your build, they will think you a warrior, and will allow you on their premises. It is then that you can give the charm to them."
"Just do what the princess asks, Inuyasha," Miroku said.
"Whatever," Inuyasha said, looking away.
"Arigato gozaimasu," she said, bowing deeply, before leaving the charm near Inuyasha and retreating out of the room. "Good night," she said, and closed the door softly.
Kagome turned around and was about to ask Inuyasha if he really was going to help the princess with a favor, but found that the charm was gone. No doubt he had already accepted her request.
"Let's go to sleep, too," Shippou said, yawning loudly. Kagome laid herself on the bed, noticing that Inuyasha was still sitting there, looking outside to the sky as if he were looking at a moon that wasn't there.
She was going to say "good night," but she was tired, and soon fell asleep.
Author's Note: Let's see how long I can go without cliffhangers…
Is it all right for me to assume that you know the Japanese terms, or do I need to provide poor translations of them?
And also, if you would like to be contacted whenever this story is updated, please leave your email in your review and indicate that you want to be contacted, otherwise I won't know. Or you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All right, on to the next chapter!