Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha. If I did, my name would be Rumiko Takahashi, and I would be worshipped by fans worldwide. Instead, I survive on pocky and the dream of one day owning Inuyasha (or the super-awesome manga drawing skills powerful enough to create a wonderful series like it).
Well, now that that's out of the way, on to the story!^^
~An Inuyasha fanfiction story presented by Jurei.~
Chapter 1: Into the Labyrinth…
The dark-haired girl awoke slowly, dimly aware of the smoky scent of torches in her nostrils and the cold feeling of stone beneath her body. She lay, motionless, as her mind cleared at an agonizingly slow pace. No matter how dazed she was…there was something completely wrong with the picture.
Where was she?
Slowly she sat up, wincing in pain as the wounds covering her body re-opened. Where there were no open cuts, angry bruises stood out darkly against the usual pale cream colour of her skin. Even her hands, she could see in the dimly flickering light of the torches, were cut and bleeding. What had happened to her?
She couldn't remember a single thing.
Unheeding of her injuries, she dragged herself against one of the walls to the place where the shadows were deepest: exactly between two torches, where the pool of light of each faded away into darkness. Immediately after reaching the natural safety of the shadows, she hugged her knees tightly, fear evident on her face.
Something was wrong, and she couldn't even remember what had happened, let alone where she was. She was cut, bleeding, and bruised, for reasons she could not recall.
Worst of all, she was alone…
For the first time since regaining consciousness, she realized just how quiet it was. Other than the occasional splutter of a torch and her own ragged breathing, there wasn't a single sound to be heard. She strained her ears, hoping to catch the sound of voices, footsteps, or even the scratching of an animal.
She sighed, hiccupping as she struggled to keep from sobbing out loud. There wasn't a single living thing to be seen, or heard, or felt…she was on her own.
Yet above all this, one thought stood out in her mind above the others, except for the sharp stabbing pain.
The name meant everything…though why it was so deathly important, she could not recall. Was there some reason for those two words to be emblazoned so strongly in her mind? All she knew was that it wasn't her own name…
What was her name? Who was she?
She shook her head gently, trying to push the thought back. There were other things to worry about at the moment. Whatever the words meant, it could wait. Right now, all that mattered was discovering where she was, and why.
Carefully, she looked around to try and learn more about her surroundings. Through the smoky light, it became apparent that she was in a fairly wide corridor of some kind, illuminated at certain intervals by torches. The wrought iron sconces that held them looked old and stained by the black residue left by the flames, though it was difficult to tell from her present position. However, as her vision became more adjusted to the dim illumination, she caught sight of something that made her gasp.
Further down the corridor, light was visible, though it was somehow different from that of the torches. If she forces her vision enough, it could even look like a way out…
She scrambled to her feet before doubling over, clutching her stomach. Already she could see scarlet staining the material between her fingers. She would have to be more careful.
Using the wall as support, she cautiously made her way towards the light. Now that she was actually travelling towards it, she could tell that it was a lot further away than it had appeared at first. It was also becoming painfully apparent that she had lost too much blood already. She had only covered one quarter of the distance, and her vision was already beginning to blur…
She collapsed, breathing hard while desperately trying to keep herself upright against the wall. No…she had to make it to the light!
Gathering what little of her strength remained, she struggled to her feet once again and continued to inch her way towards the end of the corridor. Inch by agonizing inch…her eyes were locked on the light. It was the only chance she had…someone could explain what was going on. Someone could help her…
Most of all, someone would be there.
She wouldn't be alone anymore.
The brighter light of the area outside was a harsh change from the flickering illumination of the torches, and the girl squeezed her eyes shut to shield them from the glare. It took her mind a while to register that what she gripped in her now cramped and dusty hands was iron instead of stone. However, as soon as she realized that she had reached the end of the seemingly eternal corridor, she was off again, tugging futilely at the metal grating with her bloodied fingers. The pain was ten times more excruciating than it had been before, but this and all other thoughts were lost in the frantic struggle to escape this confined and dreaded place.
Her attempts did nothing but further injure her hands. Desperately, she continued to alternately tug and pound against the wrought iron with her fists, sharp sobs of desperation wracking her slight frame. Through it all, she was surprised to hear a voice cutting through the otherwise silent corridor, sounding alien and harsh to her ears, until she realized that it was her own, rasping and dry with disuse.
"Please! Someone! Please!"
The plea was repeated over and over, almost like a mantra. However, there was no answering call from beyond the grate. Finally, she collapsed, beating her by now almost crimson fists against the ground as sobs wracked her body. Her shout became a moan.
A sudden more cutting pain caused her to hiss sharply and rise to her knees, crying out as it came again. This time, it was accompanied by a voice…a harsh, cruel voice that almost made her wish for the endless silence again.
"Shut up! You filthy little wench!"
Again the sharp pain came, and she drew back from the grating as she realized that those on the other side were not going to help her. The long spear handle withdrew, still baring traces of her blood where it had brushed against her wounds. Her cloudy blue-gray eyes looked up at the two men leering down at her, meeting their cruel gaze with confusion and apprehension.
"You will shut up, or Naraku-sama will hear of this…" one threatened, his voice making her realize (disoriented state of mind) that it was not a light promise he made.
The other brandished the spear while flashing a dark grin. "Don't worry…your suffering won't last long in there, you know. Either you'll fall prey to some of the other Runners, or to something else…or the Beast himself!"
With this, he laughed cruelly, and his companion joined in. Their dark mirth echoed through the grate and into the passage, doubling back and hitting the girl full-force. She flinched, resisting the urge to cover her ears with her hands and using the remaining energy instead to throw herself at the grating. Her arm snaked through one of the gaps in the grating, clutching wildly at the tunic of the one holding the spear. "Please!" she cried desperately, the tears running down her cheeks mixing with the blood and turning red.
He managed to beat her hand back from him, but her voice continued in a high-pitched a feverish tone as she continued to clutch at the two through the metalwork. He cursed, while his companion looked more than a little apprehensive. Already the thump of footsteps could be heard above them, even if only faintly. The two's eyes met in silent agreement: they would have to risk it.
The dark-haired girl almost cried in relief when the grating swung open, running out into the brighter light outside. They were going to let her free! They were-
Her eyes widened in surprise and shock as she felt the powerful blow to the back of her head, her pupils dilating with pain and agony. She stopped, swaying slightly while the world swum crazily in her vision. She staggered before collapsing to the ground in a heap.
The one carrying the spear made a disgusted sound, wiping the shaft on her ragged dress to clean it of the bloodstains it now carried. She was powerless to stop him, fighting with all her might to keep the black mist that cloaked the corners of her vision from engulfing her mind completely. His companion let out a bitter chuckle.
"This must be that Kagome wench that they tossed in earlier... Bloody stubborn, I'd say…and stupid."
His companion sighed. "Not to mention dangerous," he said, straightening up, "Naraku-sama definitely wants her dead…"
The last thing Kagome knew before the blackness took her completely was that both men bent over her, grabbing one end of her body, while the soldier (by now, she assumed that he must be one) finished his thought with words that echoed through her mind.
"…Because no one gets tossed in the Labyrinth and lives."
When Kagome came to herself again, she was in a completely different area altogether. The roof, for one thing, was lost in the shadows, well out of reach of the meagre light offered by the few torches. These looked like they had been burning for ages, and their light was by far dimmer than that of the torches in the corridor. There was much more space, it seemed, but the walls also looked roughly hewn and primitively cast. She struggled to sit up, throwing out a hand to support herself. Pain lanced through the wounds she had forgotten, so much so that she almost didn't notice the little bag of sack-cloth that her fingers had found lying next to her.
As quickly as her body would allow, she tugged her find closer to her and attempted to untie the string that bound it closed. Her hands were in pure agony by the time the twine came free and the contents of the sack spilled onto the floor.
Tears came to her eyes at the sight. On the stone below lay one small flagon (no doubt holding water), a dry husk of bread, and two apples.
She was both thirst and famished, but the meagre contents of the sack were both a taunt and a grim symbol. To remind her what food tasted like, so that what she was missing would be clearly etched in her mind while she starved to death.
That or fell prey to other Runners, or the creatures that inhabited the darker corners of the Labyrinth.
Or, worst of all, the Beast of the Labyrinth.
She drew her knees up to her chest, wincing in pain as she remembered the wound on her stomach. The loneliness now was worse than before, and the silence deafening.
She was a Runner now, just like the countless others that had gone "mysteriously" disappearing over the years since Naraku had started to gain power. No one let out that they knew the fates of those deemed "traitors", though it was no secret where they went.
This was the Labyrinth. There was no escape.
Well, that's the end of chapter 1! ^^ More of a prologue, I guess, but I really didn't want to get into greater depth right away. If this didn't really make any sense to you, well…you're just weird! Jkjkjk…^^;;; It isn't really supposed to.
Kagome (just so that I don't have people asking in the reviews) still can't remember anything other than that her name is Kagome (last name is still blank in her mind), and about the Labyrinth…which she'd most probably like to forget. Knowing where she is enough to shake her up pretty badly! ^^ (heck, me too…*shudders* if you know what's in there…) This was written while listening to Metallica's stuff, mostly the albums "Load", "Re-Load", and "S&M". So…yeah, I blame the music! ^^ (actually, for the whole end part, I had "No Leaf Clover" on repeat and blaring through my low-battery Discman…man, I'm broke…^^;;;)
Ja ne minna, and PLEASE review! It means a lot to me…then I know whether or not to continue this or to just focus on my other fics instead (maybe I just better stick to CCS? ^^;;;). If you haven't already guessed, this is my first Inuyasha ficcy!^^ Well, that's all! ^^ Ja!