*I'll only say this once, Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takashi

Royal Proclamation

She looked down at the silk finery and gave a reluctant sigh. She didn't want to leave home, but it was the only way to bring honor to her family name. She should have felt happy like the rest of her family for being chosen. But she could not bring herself to celebrate in joy when she wouldn't see her family for years. Even if she had to live with her father's comments on being a female, she would have stayed. But it was a royal proclamation and it must be obeyed. Angering the youkai king was a foolish and dangerous thing to do. Her little brother entered her room, his face as grave as hers. He had been the only one to disagree on the demand. Unlike her parents and grandfather, he did not care of honor to the family name. He stood wordless, lips quivering and eyes ready to spill over with tears. She opened her arms and he ran into them, burying his small face into her kimono. Moments passed with the two of them holding each other tight. Then her mother came in and pulled her brother off of her.

"Souta! That kimono is very expensive, don't get it all dirty with your tears!"

"Mama, I don't want Kagome to go! We'll never see her again!"

"She will bring honor to the family name, that's what's important. Don't you want your sister to have a good future living like royalty?"

Souta continued to wail and Kagome shushed him.

"Mother, it's alright if he gets my kimono dirty. It will be a long journey to the capital and my kimono won't stay clean in the dirt roads."

"I still want you to look nice in front of all the commoners out there. Your father is only a 2nd rank warrior and that is not enough status these days."

Kagome stifled another sigh and nodded her head in respect. Her mother nodded her's back

as well in return.

"Now, hurry up, you will leave in a few minutes. All your clothing and such is ready, though

the palace will provide most of the things you need."

Kagome carefully stood, trying not to tread on her new clothes. Her brother wiped his tears and gave her one last hug. Her mother brushed off imaginary lint with glittering eyes. Her father and grandfather were out working in the fields so they could not say good bye. Her mother gave her a tight hug.

"Bring honor to our Higurashi name Kagome! Kami be with you!"

She could feel the prickling sensation of tears sprouting in her made up eyes. Her mother shooed her out the door and into the courtyard. There was a small carriage covered in red and silver with the royal insignia of the ruling youkai family. She stepped in with the assistance of a guard and he closed the door. She pulled on a tassel and opened the curtains of window. Taking one last look at her family she let the silver curtain drop down. No robber would dare attack this carriage because the Inuyoukai family's royal colors were on it. The carriage lurched as the horses began to go at a steady trot. It would take a week to get to the capital and the road were long and windy. She opened her traveling bag and took out a book to read. Her parents had declined in getting her a tutor so Kagome had to learn everything by herself. Asking other boys what they were learning in their schools allowed her to learn those subjects and to push herself further. She was now two years advanced than most males her age. But still, she voraciously read, trying to absorb herself in those wonderful worlds of adventure and romance. As daylight lessened Kagome nodded off and fell asleep despite the steady trots of the horse shoes on the dirt road.

*Four Days Later*

She stared glumly at the carriage wheel. Of all the places to break a wheel, it had to happen far away from any village. A rider had already left for a village to get help yesterday, but who knew how long it would take? The last time they passed a village was two days ago and all she could see were grass fields bordering a dense forest. With no one but a few guards Kagome was lonely for talk. She had tried several times to strike a conversation with the royal guards but they looked uncomfortable talking. Giving up she went back to her book on philosophy. As soon as she had left the view of her home she had changed immediately into a more plainer and comfortable Yukata. If she was going to travel, she would travel as she deemed fit. The sunlight that reflected the pages of the book dimmed and Kagome looked up to see what was blocking the sun. She gasped, it was one of the legendary dragons from her books! It was made of every hue of silvers and blues. Long whiskers whipped in the wind and large silver eyes graced a wise face. There was someone riding on the dragon, a man with black hair tied back into a ponytail. The mystical animal landed gracefully near the fallen carriage. The young man jumped off and walked toward the guards. The guards had not acted alarmed at all and met the man casually. One of the guards pointed at her and the man gave a confused face. He walked toward her and gave a low bow. She stood up and bowed back as well.

"You are the Lady Kagome?"

"Yes."

"I have come from the capital to help you."

"Help me with what?"

"The carriage."

"Oh, a rider already left yesterday to get a wheel. I don't think we need much help, the guards do very well on their own."

Several of the guards, overhearing this, puffed up their chests slightly.

"Forgive me of my impolite manners. I am Kouga, one of the head leaders in the guards."

Kagome gave a bow him and looked up to a surprised face.

"There is no need for you to bow to me lady, I am of lower rank than you."

"So? There is nothing wrong with being friendly and polite."

Kouga gave a thoughtful look to her. "You are unlike the others."

"Others?"

"The other women chosen."

"Oh, ah, may I pet your dragon?"

"Certainly, but it is not my dragon. Just one of the royal pets."

The dragon gave a snort.

"Eh, I mean, one of the royal advisors. He agreed to give me a ride."

Kagome shyly walked to the dragon and held out her hand for the dragon to sniff. It gave no regard to her hand and looked carefully in her eyes. She felt like her soul was somehow being reviewed before the dragon. It was over in a thrice and the dragon gave an approving nod.

"Does that mean you like me?"

The dragon gave another nod.

"May I pet you?"

He nodded again, and she gently stroked the space between his eyes. He closed his eyes and gave a sound close to purring.

"Amazing."

Kagome looked at Kouga while still stroking the dragon's rose soft skin.

"Why is it amazing?"

"Akira rarely takes to many women. The only females he can stand is the queen and a few of the servants."

"He is so beautiful! Will he be staying with us?"

"No, he has to go back for other errands. I'll be staying with you till you get to the capital."

The dragon opened its eyes and Kagome put her hand away. With a whoosh of the wind it took off to the air as quick as lightning. Kagome stared at his retreating figure till it disappeared into the fading horizon. She turned her attention to Kouga.

"Isn't the carriage safe enough?"

"There has been a band of rebels going around lately."

"Oh."

"Now, if you'll wait here I'll go and get the wheel."

"Wait, a rider already left to get one."

"I'll be back faster."

"Faster?"

Kouga gave a grin and took off in a cloud of dust. When it cleared he was gone. A guard, seeing Kagome's surprised response, gave an explanation.

"Kouga is one of the fastest youkai in the country, maybe even the fastest. Unless you count the dragons."

"Youkai?"

Kagome thought for a moment. *He certainly didn't look youkai* But an image of him giving a grin gave evidence. He had fangs and his eyes had a preternatural look in them. She sat down on the grass again and went back to her book. She was just finishing a page when a cloud of dust surrounded the carriage. Kouga appeared, holding a carriage wheel.

"I told you I was fast."

"You....but..." she stammered.

"This way was faster, instead of waiting for the rider. He'll meet us later."

The broken carriage wheel was replaced and soon they were off. Kouga ran at an easy pace by the carriage.

"Kouga?"

"Yes Lady?"

"Do you want to ride in the carriage? You'll get exhausted running all day."

"We youkai don't get tired easily."

"If you do, don't hesitate to ask."

"You are different from the others."

She gave one last confused look and settled herself for a nap. Kouga rode with her every now and then and the two became fast friends. His comments on her being different from the others were fewer, but still brought up every now and then.

"So why is a nice girl like you going to the capital? You don't seem like the person that wants to be a princess."

"Royal proclamation. I had to go, and my mother wanted me to bring honor to the family name. But I don't think I'll be able to capture his highness's attention. Much less his majesties."

"You never know. There is something to you, though I can't quite think of it."

"There you go again Kouga."

He raised his shoulders in a shrug.

"Deny it all you want, but I've met all the women coming to the palace. You are different from them all. Hey, look up, we are coming to the capital."

Kagome pushed aside the curtain and peered outside. She could see gigantic walls surrounding the biggest village she had ever seen.

"You've never been to the capital before?"

"Never." she said without taking her eyes off the new spectacle.

"Not everybody there is nice. You have to be careful." Kouga said in a serious voice.

She peeled her eyes off the crimson walls and looked at Kouga.

"What do you mean?"

"There will be a lot of competition in the palace between the women. Most of them are self centered and greedy and will do anything to get to the top. And there are a lot of bad men in the city. Don't ever go out in the public without asking me first. I'll have someone take you out."

"Alright, but I hardly call myself competition. I've heard of rumors of the women in the palace. Almost as beautiful as the sky goddesses. I'm just going for the sake of my family."

Kouga didn't reply back and just looked at the looming gates.