Welcome to the repost!
Before anyone panics (not that I think anyone will ...), I removed the chapters, not the story. In the interest of keeping this fic up on this website, all the times I answered questions posed in reviews need to be removed from the story. While I'm at it, I took the opportunity to clean house a little as well. The story is the same, but between the time I began the fic and now I have found out a lot more about the world it's set in. The repost is mainly so I can refine the narrative a bit and add in the proper terms for things where needed. Some parts are heavily rewritten, most aren't. I'll probably do it again when they decide to ban Author's Notes. Anyway, expect a chapter to be reposted/posted every two days or so.
If you ask a question in a review, I'll answer you, if I can, via the reply button. I really appreciate my reviews, so thank you everyone!
Disclaimer: Inuyasha and related belong to various people/companies that are not me. Any original characters or ideas, however, are mine.
Rating: T-13, according to the Sphere ratings for standard Inuyasha violence, blood, some language and maybe other stuff. Take the rating seriously, and if you're under 13, this story might not be for you.
"Everything you can imagine is real."
The Geas-Bound stood in the entryway, the dark leather of her cloak glistening slick with dark blood. Even the string of the longbow she held in her hands was flecked with crimson gore. Onigumo's nose wrinkled as the dank, metallic scent of spilt blood sharpened the air, and he felt his canines lengthen in reflex. Had it been fresh, the blood liberally coating her clothes would have made her alluring, but the dark trail marking the girl's path of destruction smelled old: the putrefying blood of the undead, rather than the fresh blood of the living.
The woman's grey eyes watched him for only a moment before snapping her bow up and loosing an arrow. Onigumo stepped aside, reaching out to capture the flying bit of wood and steel, and caught the second arrow he had not seen her fire in his side.
His dead eyes widened in shock as acidic pain burned through him, more tormenting and strengthening faster than purified metal and ash should. He hissed, a feral sound half animalistic snarl, and reached up, wrenching the bolt from his flesh. A bone arrow - its broken head stained in the sluggish black-red of his blood and the brighter red of hers - lay in his hand.
The soft shuff of leather soles over stone and the whispering ring of a blade being drawn sounded unnaturally loud in the pain-filled silence as the Geas-Bound huntress left the entryway and ventured closer. Onigumo's limbs were stiffening as the dark magic animating them burned away, and he fell to his knees as she approached, her presence strengthening the purifying effect of her blood.
"Vampire." Onigumo bristled at the blatant insult. He was a Nosferatu Lord, not some thin-blooded vampire! As far beyond a vampire as they were above pathetic humans. The young woman took no notice, allowing her bow and quiver to slide to the ground, freeing her movements to raise the blessed Damascus steel of a delicately curved sword. "Vampire, the hanyou you created when you drained the blood and essence of the Western Lord's human mate lives, but it will follow you into Hell by morning."
Onigumo's eyes flashed red at her accusations, even as he could feel his stolen life ebbing, draining the strength and speed that had sustained him for his many long millennia. "I killed the youkai's human bitch," he snarled, curling in tightly on himself as he could feel his skin shriveling, assuming its true age. "She died human."
"And she was Geas-Bound," the huntress told him coldly, "carrying a half-demon child."
"Nosferatu hanyou." Onigumo rasped, feeling another sort of cold dread slither through him, alien from the terror of feeling his immortality fading from his body. Had the Geas-Bound before him not found him, his own master would have, and made his ultimate passing far more painful than the agony he now felt streaming through his veins.
"The abomination preserves its mother," she said, "And she may yet survive the birth."
He laughed then, a bitter mirthless sound. "And then you, or one of your kind, will destroy both." Any further words were drowned in a wordless shriek of pain, begging for release. The blade of the huntress flashed and another dark spray of dying blood washed over her hands. She watched without emotion as the stolen life swiftly faded from Onigumo's undead eyes.
"We will first allow Lady Izayoi will destroy her own abominations."
Blunt white ears surrounded by downy fur peeked out of the tiny bundle. A newborn monster, Kikyou sneered, leaning over the baby's nest and nocking a steel-tipped arrow to her bow. The arrow was coated in thin layer of her own blood, blood that could annihilate anything from a vampire to a Nosferatu Lord. Even if the infant was only half vampire, the steel arrow would be more than adequate.
A pale hand lanced out of the shadows, snapping the bow, arrow, and string before raking the splintered wood across her chest and jerking the weapon out of her grasp. Kikyou pressed her spare hand tightly against her wounds as a wave of pain clawed through her body. After a silent curse at the blood coating her palm and fingers, she whirled to face her attacker.
The youkai stood silhouetted like some ethereal god, his white hair almost glowing in the moonlight. Intelligence, but no emotion glittered in his golden eyes. Kikyou clutched at the deep wound across her chest, the cloth and skin now slippery with blood, and saw her death reflected in them.
"This Sesshoumaru will never allow a weak creature like you to spill the blood of our clan."
Kikyou's eyes narrowed dangerously and she began carefully shifting her hand toward one of her hidden blood daggers. True, her blood wouldn't have much effect on a demon lord as it did on the undead, but even the youkai could bleed and a heart wound could kill him. "That," she looked in disgust to the tiny form in the cradle, "is an abomination. Izayoi is wrong to protect it. It must die."
"All things die," the youkai lord shrugged disinterestedly. "Some merely die more slowly than others. The vampires with their vaunted immortality may be killed. Humans die with almost disturbing regularity. My half brother will not die by the hands of a human."
The infant woke at Sesshoumaru's voice and opened sleepy blue-grey eyes. The eyes would lighten with age, probably to the same rich gold as his brother's, but now they were the blue-grey of a newborn. The tiny creature turned his attention to the huntress and watched her with a serious sort of innocence that nibbled at her resolve. Kikyou looked away from the child and back at the youkai lord.
"Then destroy it yourself."
Sesshoumaru watched indifferently and flicked a few drops of blood from his claws as the room filled with venomous green mist. Kikyou, dizzy from the rapid blood loss, gasped as the first tendril snaked its way into her lungs. "If that is his destiny."
Her eyes snapped open and, for a moment, all Kagome could manage was a shallow pant as her mind relived the images and sensations from her dream. Another night's rest interrupted, she grumbled internally as she slowly came back to herself and grimaced as she noticed the stickiness of sweat coating her skin.
Padding barefoot into the bathroom, Kagome stripped out of her night clothes, lobbed them into the hamper, then reached in to turn on the shower. After briefly testing the water temperature with one foot, she stepped into the relaxing water, let it soak her hair and skin and rinse away the worst aftermath of her recurring nightmare. Kagome sighed and leaned forward, enjoying the cool feeling of the tile against her forehead while the hot water cascaded over the rest of her.
After a moment's hesitation, Kagome allowed her eyes to drift close and relaxed her mind, waiting for the familiar comforting presence to wrap itself around her.
She'd discovered this ability and the comforting delusion that went with it over a year ago, right after the death of her father. Still in shock at the time and numb to the situation, she'd allowed herself to be led to couch safely positioned near the open bedroom door of her elderly godmother, Kaede. She hadn't wanted to sleep that night, for fear that the reality of her father's death would set in and torment her dreams. No sleep was preferable, and less exhausting than nightmares, in Kagome's opinion. But, the house was quiet and, after listening to the grandfather clock in the hall tick away the seconds for a while, she'd become bored and begun inventing things for her mind to do.
Purely as a sort of odd game, Kagome had begun pushing her senses around, trying to "feel" everyone else in the house. She had found Kaede, the closest person, almost immediately, partly by the sound of her slow breathing. She'd continued from there to touch her brother, mother and grandfather in their other rooms of the house. She had held that sensation for a moment, a bit giddy at her own silliness in fancying that she could "feel" them all as though they were each attached to her by an invisible string and she alone held the ends.
After only a moment, Kagome had continued her game, this time extending her mind to the neighbors outside of her family's shrine and then further to the rest of her city, then further; gaining confidence and skill as she went. She felt her mental sense expanding faster, racing upwards to the north and west - skipping delicately through all the people she could sense - until, abruptly, something . . . no, someone returned the touch!
Kagome had pulled up short, surprised and more than a little worried that she'd lost her mind and was lying, catatonic, in a hospital somewhere. But she had opened her eyes, seen the comforting sight of a normal ceiling above her and felt the soft scratchiness of Kaede's couch beneath her palms. Deciding that she must either be dreaming or had constructed some sort of weird fantasy for herself, Kagome went back to her odd little game.
After a brief moment of confusion, she had felt an odd thrill of recognition. She'd never known it was possible to recognize someone she had never met and could not possibly put a name to, but there as still the deep, sure sense of familiarity.
He had "spoken" with her - not using words or any spoken language, but through mind and heart. He'd worried at the sadness he'd felt inside her, and offered comfort on more levels than she'd ever realized were there. It had been the single most intimate experience of her life. Finally, the light connection was broken and he had released her mind into an untroubled sleep. Over time, the ability had strengthened and become almost routine. Though Kagome still didn't know who 'he' was or even if he was, in fact, a he, but she hoped that he was. Pathetic as it was, she had a crush on someone she didn't even know was real.
Almost instantly, Kagome felt a response from her formless friend and a wave of emotions: worry that she'd lost yet another night of sleep, comfort at the lingering nausea of the deaths, and, underlying it all, a peculiar thread of nervousness that Kagome couldn't quite understand. Before she had time to ask or analyze the out-of-place feeling, it was gone, tucked carefully away from her mental sight.
Kagome felt a calming response to her tendril of awareness and felt the lingering nausea of the deaths fully ebb.
'Another nightmare?' he asked. 'If you don't sleep, you're going to fall asleep in class.'
'She looks like me,' Kagome sighed, straightening so the water ran over her face and through her sodden hair. 'I noticed more each time.'
'She's not you.'
'It could be a premonition or something.'
'She's not you!' he insisted harshly. 'She's . . .' he cut off abruptly and a peculiar thread of nervousness that Kagome couldn't quite understand slipped through their connection. Before she had time to ask or analyze the out-of-place feeling it was gone, tucked carefully away from her sight.
'What was . . .'
'It's not important right now. You'd better get out of that water before you wrinkle.' The connection closed before she could respond, leaving Kagome reeling momentarily at the sudden abandonment. Puzzling through the unusual conversation, Kagome reached out and pulled a second rope to shut off the water and returned to her bedroom, wrapped securely in a large towel.
She still had several hours before morning; her friend was right, she needed the sleep. Not bothering to do more than slip into clean pajamas, rub her hair mostly dry, and pull it back out of her way, Kagome slid back into her bed and nestled into the coverings. The fresh tang of the rushes and herbs under the cloth beneath also her enfolded her in an embrace of familiarity.
Not surprisingly, she started nodding off the moment her mind began to settle. Just before she succumbed completely she felt a familiar presence steal back into her mind, staying alert and protective even as she drifted off, and it brought a soft smile to her lips. He didn't apologize for his abrupt departure earlier, he didn't even acknowledge it, actually, and she knew from experience - or perhaps a sixth sense where he was concerned - that he wouldn't bring it up. However, she found she didn't mind. It was enough that he was there, surrounding her with his presence; she would sleep, trusting him to guard her dreams.
'I wish you could stay with me,' Kagome thought sleepily, now more dreaming than awake.
'Would you accept that if there were a way?' he chuckled lightly. 'You don't even know what I am.'
'You're my friend,' she said simply and only managed one more thought before sleep claimed her. 'I trust you.'
A flash of dark red and silver white leapt through the window soon after Kagome fell asleep and crept soundlessly across her moonlit room. Leaning over her still form, he gathered her unresisting self closer and nuzzled gently at the back of her neck before sliding delicate, elongated fangs into her skin. Retracting his fangs to their normal length, he moved away and surveyed his handiwork. A pair of small marks colored her pale skin, small enough to be noticeable only if one knew where to look and what to look for. He smiled in the darkness and leaned down once more to softly nip at her nose.
"Friends for now. Sleep well, Kagome."