Another's Name, But My Heart
By Lady of the Ink
Pairing: I/Ka, a little M/S
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, but you knew that. I hope. But I do own this plot and all the twists that it takes.
Chapter One I'm Not the Girl . "The outer walls are crumbling. They will soon gain entry." "More soldiers join them each day . . ." " . . .stronger than anyone expected." " . . .no hope." "It's clear that they will win. It's only a matter of time."
I'm Not the Girl
"The outer walls are crumbling. They will soon gain entry."
"More soldiers join them each day . . ."
" . . .stronger than anyone expected."
" . . .no hope."
"It's clear that they will win. It's only a matter of time."Kagome listened intently to the snatches of conversation that came to her ears as she pushed her way through the milling crowd. Each passing day brought more villagers flocking to the safety inside the castle gates, and more ill tidings about the battle being fought outside them. It had been under a fortnight since the first attack and already most people were sure of the enemy's coming victory.
As the first tinges of real worry crept up her spine, Kagome ducked her head and renewed her efforts at making her way home. She was jolted roughly from side to side and almost lost her balance once when a rather large man swatted her as he gestured wildly. By the time she reached an open space, she was feeling more than a little battered and bruised. Barely taking the time to breathe a sigh of relief, she hurried on to her family's small home.
Pushing open the door, she stepped inside, pausing on the threshold until her eyes could adjust to the dimmer light of the interior. "I'm home!" she called, smiling as she saw her mother look up from her sewing. Her grandpa snorted loudly from his chair by the fire before resuming his snoring. Souta, her younger brother, was nowhere to be seen.
Kagome sat the basket she carried down in the middle of table, and then set to removing her shawl. As she turned to hang it on its peg on the wall, her mother asked about her day, just as she did every evening.
"It was okay. Busy, though, since all the people who came in from the farms need to be fed now, too. Even though I went in early and stayed late, there were still more customers than there was bread to sell them." Raking her hair off her forehead with one hand, she rolled her head, hoping to ease the kink in her neck.
"You just sit and rest while I get supper ready," Mrs. Higurashi commanded gently, dropping her mending into the sewing basket that rested beside her as she rose from her chair. Crossing to the fireplace, she bent to stir the stew bubbling in a pot that hung there. As she turned to throw a look over her shoulder, she stared pointedly at her now empty seat.
Wearily obeying the unspoken command, Kagome dropped into the low seat. Her eyes felt heavy and her back ached from a long day pf bending to retrieve numerous bread pans from the massive ovens. Her hands were sporting a few burns gotten in her rush to remove the finished loaves and replace them with ones needing to be baked. Just the thought of a similar, if not worse, day waiting for her in the morning was enough to make her wish she could quit. But she couldn't, not when her family was in desperate need of the money she brought home, and especially not now, when the future was so uncertain.
Circumstances aside, she wouldn't have wanted to quit anyway. Her job was fairly easy and enjoyable, if a bit repetitive. But it paid well and helped keep everyone fed, which was what she considered the most important thing.
Her eyes snapped open at the sound of someone bursting through the front door. Her brother caught the look she threw him and grinned unrepentantly. Taking off his coat, he tossed it in the general direction of the pegs. He didn't appear to notice as it fell to the floor in a heap of blue material.
Plopping down on one of the benches that flanked the table, Souta propped his elbows on the tabletop as he leaned forward. He fairly vibrated with excitement and when he began to speak, it was clear why.
"You'll never guess what I heard!" Not giving anyone the chance to answer, he rushed on. "They're saying the battle's almost over. The enemy army is closing in, and they'll take the whole castle soon. The blacksmith's apprentice says that it was sure to end this way from the start, since no human army could possibly hope to win against a demon one." His hands dropped onto the table with a slapping sound. "Just think, by this time next week, we'll have a new lord. And a demon one, at that. I wonder if it's true that they eat people?"
"That's enough!" Kagome jumped along with Souta at the sharp tone their mother used. Even their grandpa frowned in his sleep, one hand rising to swat at some imagined pest buzzing by his face.
Crossing to the table, stewpot in hand, Mrs. Higurashi gave Souta a stern look. "There will be no more talks of lords, demons, or eating people. Am I understood?" Souta nodded dutifully. Bowing his head as a flush crawled up his cheeks.
Kagome rose from her chair to pull the bread she'd brought home out of its basket. As she tore the crusty loaf into four equal hunks, she watched her mother lay out the rest of the dinner items. Looking closely, she wondered if anyone else noticed that her mother's hands shook.
The sun had barely risen when Kagome stepped out onto the path that led to the center of town. Pulling the door closed quietly so as not to wake her still sleeping family, she drew in a deep breath. Her eyes swept over the road, taking in the scores of people camped out along side it.
'Regardless of the winner, it's a good thing the battle's almost over. If it had kept up much longer, there wouldn't be room enough to breath around here,' she thought to herself. She missed the quiet mornings that used to start her day, when the only people she'd see were ones she'd known all her life. Now she was tiptoeing past complete strangers, and there was little peace to be found since she had to be on her guard for trouble. There had been a lot of fights breaking out as the tension rose, and someone had even been killed several days before.
Deliberately pushing that thought from her mind, Kagome started off. The bakery wasn't far, and she wanted to get there as quickly as possible. There was more than enough work to fill the day, and she had no time to waste. When she arrived, she saw that her boss, Yamada, must have had the same thought. The ovens were already stoked and he was busy kneading a mountain of dough.
After she had removed her shawl and was getting ready to help, he stopped her with a shake of his head. "I have a delivery for you to make. Since it's going to be hectic around here in an hour or so, I can't leave. I really don't want you wandering around alone out there, but there's no other option. If you go straight there and back, you should be fine."
Dragging the shawl back around her shoulders, Kagome tilted her head to the side in question. "Where am I going that's so important that it can't wait until you have a free minute?"
She felt her jaw drop in shock. No one got to go to the castle. There was a small army of stewards that acted as go betweens when handling domestic matters, and the staff that worked there also lived there. All in all, there was little to no contact between those who lived in the castle and those who lived around it. In fact, though she had lived her whole life inside the castle gates, she had never laid eyes on the family that ruled it.
Still caught off balance, she vaguely listened as Yamada explained. "Since all these people flooded in, there have been shortages of just about everything. You know me; I don't like to be caught off guard, so I stocked up as soon as the rumors of an attack started. So now they're out and we're expected to jump at the chance to help." He smirked at her. "And we will."
"You want me to just walk up and deliver bread to the people that pretty much decide all our fates?"
"Yup. Don't worry so much, you're expected. It'll take a few minutes, then you're back here, no problems."
Groaning, Kagome looked at the two large baskets that had to contain the bread. "Why did you say that? Everyone knows that once you say 'no problem', you have nothing but problems." She grasped the handles and let them swing to the floor. Heading outside, she rolled her eyes at the laughter that floated out after her.
Grumbling to herself, she made her way through the streets as quickly as the heavy baskets would let her. A strange feeling was uncurling in her stomach as she neared the high stone walls of the castle. It wasn't fear, really, but a mix of excitement and that odd, unexplainable reaction that comes from facing the unknown.
The castle had a permanent stone bridge leading to main opening. It was clear from its design that it wasn't meant to withstand any major attacks; hence the immense walls the encircled it and the houses in the immediate area. Once the gates fell, the castle would be at just as much risk as every other building.
Kagome wondered what was going through the minds of the people inside. Were they at all worried about the fighting that was going on at that very moment? Or did they know something the rest of the village didn't?
Her thoughts were interrupted when she reached the door. Seeing no one around, she cautiously gave it a push. It opened into a deserted room of massive proportions. Long tables marched in straight lines on either side of where she stood. At the far end of the room was a sort of platform, on which sat another table, smaller than the rest.
"The Lord's table," she breathed, eyes wide as she looked around.
"You there! What are you doing?"
"Ah!" Kagome jumped at the loud voice coming from the right side of the room. Whipping towards it, she saw an old, stooped looking man peering at her from a doorway almost totally concealed by shadows. Swallowing hard, she lifted the baskets she held a bit higher. "I'm dropping off the bread. Yamada sent me."
The man's face cleared and he motioned for her to cross the room. "Yes, yes. Why didn't you say so sooner? Right this way." Following him down a hallway, she found herself in a large, airy kitchen. There were a few women there, but none looked away from their tasks as the two new arrivals entered the room. The man led her straight to a table in the back, motioning for her to place the baskets there.
Once that was accomplished, he offered a small smile. "If you'll just come with me, I'll take you to Lady Kaede to see about your payment." Stifling her nerves, Kagome meekly followed him through another doorway, up a flight of stairs, down a long hall, and into a small parlor. Motioning for her to wait, he vanished into another room.
Looking around, she marveled at the tapestries hanging on the walls. Instead of battle scenes like the ones decorating the halls, these were softer, more feminine looking pieces. Fairies lounged on rocks and beside lakes. Small children played in a field of flowers. A unicorn stood majestically beneath a waterfall.
"I will not do it! You cannot make me!" The voice was loud, shrill and forceful as it drifted through the wall. Kagome frowned, wondering what the unknown woman was so set against. Shifting from one foot to the other, she couldn't help but overhear the continued argument; or one side of it, at least.
"It's out of the question! The fact that they would even suggest it is beyond belief, but that you're considering it is just too much!"
There was a pause as the other person spoke, quickly followed by the sound of something breaking. "'Duty to my people'? Why do I owe them anything? What have they ever done for me?"
Her opponent must have reached the end of their patience, because another woman's voice filled the room. This one sounded older, but no less commanding. "You were born to a position of privilege, and now is the time for you to do something in return for that gift. Such is the price that all rulers must pay."
"Not this ruler. Find another way, because I will never agree to this. No matter what."
"You would sentence your people to die rather than do something you found unappealing?" There was disbelief in the old woman's voice now, as though she really couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Unappealing is putting it too lightly. I will not sacrifice myself for a village full of dirty, unmannered peasants. They should be willing to die for me, not the other way around."
"You will condemn dozens to death in a war that could be peacefully resolved?"
"I don't have to answer to you or anyone else. This is my land, and I'll rule it as I see fit. And if that means undertaking a war against the Lords of the Western Lands, then so be it!" This strident declaration was accompanied by the sound of a door opening.
Kagome couldn't keep herself from jumping when a woman entered the room. Her cheeks were flushed and there was a determined look on her face. It didn't take much to guess that she was one half of the arguing pair. Halfway across the floor, she appeared to notice that she wasn't alone.
Turning, she gave Kagome a cold look. "Who are you?"
"I'm Kagome. The man told me to wait here?" She hated that her statement came out more like a question, but she had never been faced with someone as imperious as this woman seemed to be.
"Well, find your way back to wherever you belong." Dismissal ringing clearly in her voice, she crossed her arms, obviously waiting to be obeyed. Not knowing what else to do, Kagome crossed the room, heading for the door she had come in through. She could wait in the kitchen for that man to return. As she passed close to the woman, however, a hand shot out to grab her arm.
Frozen in shock, she felt two fingers pinch her chin, raising her face to the light. Eyes narrowed, the woman seemed to take in each feature, turning Kagome's head for better views. Up close, she could see what the other woman had. Although there was a slight difference in age, there was a strong resemblance between them. If one didn't know better, they might be mistaken for sisters.
"Kikyo, what are you doing?"
Kagome took a few steps backward as the new voice caused her to be released. Or not so new voice, since she had heard it just moments before. Turning, she saw an older woman, gray hair pulled back into a bun. The most noticeable thing about her, though, was the black eye patch she wore. Her good eye was focused squarely on Kikyo, curiosity and a bit of wariness showing in her expression.
Kagome turned to Kikyo just in time to see a calculating smile creep across her face. "I think I may have just found the solution to our problem."