A/N: New chapter!  And another update that took forever! ^-^ Sorry if I seem to be neglecting my other fics, but I have not forgotten them! I assure you! Now, enjoy!

Disclaimer: ……………………

Chapter IX

A Day in the Village


Kagome was having a wonderful dream. It was a beautiful dream about her getting married to the one person she loved most in the entire world. She couldn't see his face yet, but she knew that this dream might actually come true! Her brother was dressed in a kings' outfit, of course small enough to fit him, and Sango was there with Kirara, throwing Sakura petals around her and her husband. Even Miroku was there, waving happily beside Sango. Just as she and her fiancée exchanged their vows, none other than her fated enemy rudely awakened her once again.

Ice-cold river water…

She spluttered awake again, exactly like the morning before. She opened her eyes; an icy glare aimed straight for the person she knew was responsible.

She knew he wouldn't, in all the worlds, be the person in her dream…

Turning to look out the small window on the left side of the room, she noted dryly that it was dark, as it was the morning before.

"Raise and shine princess." The Hanyou boy said cheerfully. She slowly edged away from him, giving him the evil eye. Inuyasha was never cheerful. Truth was Inuyasha was waiting until she got at least twelve hours of sleep to wake her up. Staring at a rock ceiling was NOT fun…

"You should have been sleeping." She grumbled, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. He shrugged and grabbed Sango's sword from the other side of the room.

"You got enough sleep didn't you? Besides, now we have more time to practice." He told her, heading for the door. They both managed to keep their voices quiet enough so as to not wake their sleeping companions. No matter how harmless Sango looked while she was asleep, she did NOT tolerate a rude awakening…

Kagome grumbled but managed to fall out of bed and grab her kimono from the stack of supplies in the corner. She glared at the Hanyou waiting at the door until he got the message to make himself scarce while she changed. She quickly put it on for fear of the pervert awakening while she was in the process. Once she was fully clothed she quietly made her way over to the sleeping Shippo. She had taken a good look at the boys wound when she re-wrapped his bandage and noticed that the arrow had nearly impaled the poor kit. If he hadn't been transformed at the time it may not have been nearly as serious, but it was.

She patted his head gently before standing and walking out the door to take her sword lesson with the impatient Hanyou. He scoffed when she walked out and said nothing as he led her outside to practice. They walked through the village and into the horse fields. Kagome watched, as Inuyasha seemed to know exactly where they were going, and not just picking something random.

He must have scouted the place out earlier… The thought brought a smile to the girls face. He must have looked forward to helping me…Either that or he was bored to death…She voted for the later…

"Here." He suddenly stopped in the middle of a large horse field and turned to her, holding out the sword for her to take. "Were gonna work on you're foot work since you got the swinging down pretty well."

She took the sword and looked around. Yes it was a large enough space, but the moon didn't offer that much light. She could hardly see anything, since the moon was just a tiny slit in the sky.

"How are we going to practice if it's nearly too dark to see anything?" She asked, finding him by the slight glow the moon allowed on his silver hair, and the glow of his Youkai eyes. He scoffed.

"It's better this way. If you can't see where you're stepping and you get used to it it'll seem like second nature to you." He told her, walking over to a broken wooden fence. He pulled off one of the logs with ease, and turned to her, holding it like a sword. Kagome gulped and unsheathed Sango's sword, holding it like he taught her to. Slowly he walked over to her, then began to circle her, just as slowly. She kept the sword in front of her as she watched his movements. Suddenly he shifted quickly, causing her to step back in surprise, but it must have rained here a not long ago, and the dirt was still slightly wet. So she slipped and fell on the hard ground, dropping the sword and looking at the sky in surprise. Then she heard muffled laughter from her right…

"Inuyasha, you idiot!" She snarled, grabbing the sword and standing quickly, facing him with an angry glare. "You meant for that to happen!" She growled. He just laughed harder. She snarled again and ran towards him, sword raised. He quickly lifted the log in front of him, staving off her attack. He grinned at her from behind it, amusement dancing in his eyes, even if she couldn't see it she knew it was there. The boy was teasing her, and she didn't like that at all. She growled as she put all of her weight behind the small katana, hoping she could at least slice through the log.

Inuyasha was no pushover, that was for sure. She'd seen him hunting in the woods near the castle a few times, and thanked the gods that she wasn't a rabbit. He attacked like a predator, quick and unpredictable. She could hardly believe that he was a Hanyou, his flashy movements and speedy reflexes were nearly that of a full demon. But, sometimes she wondered how he could do it. She knew he'd been on his own for a while, after his brother kicked him out of the Western lands, so maybe he had to learn to attack like that? It was certainly a possibility.

She squeaked as he pushed back with minimum effort, nearly making her loose her balance once again. But she didn't fall for his trick this time, and stood her ground, eyes blazing. Inuyasha smirked and began attacking her with the log, but slow enough for her to block in time. He began to move around, being sure she could follow him easily, after about half an hour, he decided to let her have a break. She gratefully nodded and plopped into the grass, panting hard. He stood above her, watching in amusement.

She was a very quick learner. It had only taken her two days to get most of the movements down. When they got to the West he'd have to ask the smithy to make her a sword Sango's size. Just so she could protect herself of course. Smirking he pulled out a canteen, full of water (He'd filled the canteens out of boredom) and handed it to her. She looked up at him and broke into a huge grin at the offered water. She took it gratefully and downed it like a starving animal. He chuckled at her obvious fatigue and sat down next to her, watching as the horizon began to glow a warm dark blue.

Once the girl had quenched her thirst, she tapped him and handed the canteen over. "Thanks, I needed that." She smiled. He shrugged and took the water from her outstretched hand, putting it back into his haori and standing up once more.

"Ready?" He asked, reaching a hand down to help her up. She stared at it as if she was amazed, but took it and smiled up at him as he pulled her up, careful not to overdo it lest she go flying into his chest. They continued to practice for another half hour, and by that time the sun had risen, and the men had began to leave for the fields. There were groups of women entering the tavern to start their work, but the practicing friends paid then no notice. After the second half hour, Kagome had tripped a total of three times and managed to lock Inuyasha twice, which was an accomplishment she was very proud of.

Inuyasha dodged as Kagome thrust the blade toward his chest, then he knocked her blade away, trying to get her face, but she twisted around so that his blow missed. Before he had the chance to pull back, he felt the tip of her blade at his neck, and his mouth fell open in surprise. Glancing down he saw the girl beneath him, smirking as she saw his bewildered expression. He dropped his hands and leaned back as she straitened, staring at the tip of the blade and hoping nothing would spook her.

Suddenly there was quiet clapping from the direction of the tavern, which was right next to where they were practicing. They both snapped their gazes towards one of the bar maids, who stood happily clapping her hands.

"Wow, you're really good with a sword my lady." She said, smiling over to Kagome who blushed and dropped the sword from the Hanyou's throat. Inuyasha smirked as she jumped when the blade clattered to the grass, not really believing she had actually gotten that good in the span of an hour.

"W-well he's the one who taught me." She muttered, indicating her Hanyou friend. Then she napped her gaze up and smiled as the maid reginized her. "Hey, you're the maid that served Sango and I bred yesterday. Um, Kieri!" She smiled and walked up to her, leaving Inuyasha to pick up the fallen sword and sheath it, walking up to stand next to her. The maid grinned.

"What a coincidence!" She laughed. Bending down she picked up a tray that had been sitting at her feet, causing Inuyasha and Kagome to look on in curiosity. "I've been watching you two for a while, and I thought with all that practicing you would be hungry, so I baked you some fresh bred." She smiled and handed them the tray. "You guys really look good together."

Kagome and Inuyasha blushed at the compliment, but took the tray.

"I know you're not going to stay here for long, no one ever does. And if it's not too private may I ask where you're heading to?" She asked politely, her sky blue eyes wide in curiosity. Kagome smiled as she grabbed a piece of the fresh bred.

"We're heading towards the Western Lands to stay at the castle. Lord Sesshoumaru is Inuyasha's older brother, and we're hoping that we can stay a while." She took a bite out of the slice and savored the taste. Kieri's mouth dropped open as she stared at the Hanyou boy, who tasted the bred himself. Deciding that he liked it he took three pieces, leaving two for Kagome.

"L-lord Inuyasha? I thought you were killed!" She said, bowing quickly in respect. Inuyasha blushed at her formal administrations.

"Is that the story he's spouting? Or did he think that because he learned of the slave thing?" He asked, turning to the girl. She gulped, suddenly apprehensive around the prince.

"Lord Sesshoumaru has been looking for his Hanyou brother for some time. He's never said why, but it is known through all of the bordering villages." Kieri informed them. She sighed and looked at the ground sadly. "My husband lives at the castle. He's tried many times to allow me to enter, but because I'm human the guards refuse to allow me inside. He's captain of the guard now, or so I've heard. I haven't seen, nor heard from him in months. And I'm beginning to worry." Tears began to glisten in her eyes and she tried hard to push them back. Inuyasha began to panic. There was still one thing he would hate forever, no matter where he went: A woman crying.

"H-hey! We'll make sure this guy's alive and be sure to tell you! Just don't start crying!" He said, before mentally smacking himself. Kagome looked back at him in surprise and Kieri's head shot up.

"Y-you will?" She asked, also surprised.

"Yes! Just don't cry." He sighed at his obvious weakness. Her eyes lit up and she smiled happily.

"Thank you so much my lord! If you wouldn't mind waiting till my shift is over I can give you some maps he made me. He said they were the safest routes through the mountains and the fastest." She smiled gratefully at the Hanyou boy, who just stuffed another slice of bred in his mouth.

"Keh…" He muttered.

"Can we help with you're chores? Or anything around the tavern? We're leaving tomorrow and already have what we need." Kagome asked, following the girl into the building, Inuyasha trailing behind, still chewing his bred. Kieri looked surprised but smiled at the offer.

"Well, you could help me bake the bred. The other girls make the meat and the other food, but I'm the best with bred. Lord Inuyasha could chop wood for the many fire's we have around this place. We're running low, and the men haven't had time to come around and help. But, that's only if he wants to." She directed her gaze to the boy, who was looking around the tavern.

"I ain't got nothin' better to do…" He muttered as he used his nose to lead him to where the wood was kept. When she was sure he was gone Kieri leaned over to Kagome and whispered in her ear.

"He certainly doesn't speak like a lord…" She muttered. Kagome giggled.

"Come on, let's get to work!" She smiled as Kieri led her into the kitchen.


Meanwhile, Sango and Miroku had been preparing for their departure, with nothing better to do. They had everything where they wanted it; made sure Shippo was bandaged, and left Hitori to watch over him. Now they were sitting in the room, waiting for their two missing companions to return. Sango had noticed that her sword had disappeared, and assumed Inuyasha had taken it to teach Kagome once more.

"Maybe they visited the tavern…?" Miroku suggested after about half an hour of staring at the wall. Sango had threatened to chop one of his fingers off if he even looked at her. The girl sighed and stood up. She turned to the boy sitting next to the kit on the bed and smiled.

"We're going to look for Inuyasha and Kagome. Hitori you stay here and watch over Shippo. Come look for us if anything happens." She told him, and he nodded. Then she turned her gaze over to Miroku, who looked at her innocently. Her eyes narrowed. "Houshi, you come with me…" She growled turning towards the door and making sure Miroku got a good look at the dagger she slipped in her kimono. Miroku sighed and stood up; grabbing his staff he followed Sango out the door.

Before they started looking they stopped at the tavern for breakfast, also to see if their missing companions were dining there as well. When they entered, the first thing they noticed was that there were a lot of people. Then they searched the sea of heads for any silver hair. They didn't find any. So, giving into their hunger they walked over to an empty table and sat down. Once Sango was sure she could see Miroku's hands she began to relax and admire the craftsmanship of the wooden walls and tables.

They were of oak, a very rare tree in the Eastern lands, and had beautiful pictures carved into them. The beams on the ceiling were carved to look like horses, and there was a bright painted mural on the roof. It was one of the many legends of the Eastern Lands, about a horse lord who led his people in the freeing of the lands so long ago.

At that time, one evil king had ruled all four lands, and made everyone, man or demon, bow down to his power. He set fire to whole cities for just the joy of it. But in the Eastern Mountains, an army was growing. The Horse Lord-as people called him-was gathering men from all around to fight against the evil king. Soon, he had an army over ten-thousand large, and all of them, human and demon alike, attacked the king.

After a great battle they were able to defeat him, and his armies and gained rule over the land. The Horse Lord gave three of the best soldiers a land of their own. There was lord Kawashi, a wolf demon, who received the Southern Lands, Lord Shiyo, a great dog-demon who gained the Western Lands, and, as many had thought then, the brave man Onigumo, who was given the Northern Lands.

The Horse Lord reigned over the Eastern Lands, and was human so the lords balanced out. Onigumo was the only one to keep different Youkai in his kingdom, and as some say that was what corrupted him. For one day, Onigumo changed, no one knew how, or why but his lands fell, and soon, the kingdom was feared by all humans. The demons were the head of everything, building slave mines, and the capturing of humans to work in them. The Horse Lord tried to stop him, but never returned, and his son took up the throne. No one had tried again to get it to stop, although everyone has no appreciation of it.

Sango was torn from her thoughts when someone approached their table. She glanced at them before doing a double take gaping like a fish.

"K-Kagome?!" She said, surprised. Kagome was surprised as well, but not to the gaping extent. Miroku looked over, also surprised at first, but then breaking into a large grin.

"Ah, Lady Kagome, what are you doing here?" He asked politely. She smiled and gestured to the kitchens.

"Someone asked Inuyasha and I to help them with the morning chores. She also has maps of the safest routes to take through the mountains, and offered to give them to us if we can tell her if her husband is over there." She explained, taking out some parchment and a carved stick of charcoal. "So, is there anything I can get you guys?" She asked, cocking her head to the side with a happy smile. Sango smiled back and nodded.

"How about one of those breakfast meals I'm hearing said all over the place?" She grinned. Kagome giggled and blushed slightly.

"Actually it's a recipe I read from one of the cooking books in the library at the castle. It's the first time I've tried it out so it's not that good…" She blushed once more. Sango grinned.

"But by the way people are complimenting it, I'd say it's pretty tasty." Miroku nodded from across the table. Kagome smiled and wrote the orders down.

"Anything to drink?" She asked.

"Just some water. Thanks Kagome." Sango winked and Kagome giggled again.

"Okay, you're orders should be up soon." And with that, she skipped off to the kitchen to get the meals. Sango and Miroku exchanged amused glances, but when Sango met his gaze, she couldn't help the blush that rose to her cheeks, and looked away suddenly.

'He's a letch! A cute letch but one just the same.' She peeked over her shoulder at the monk, who was ogling at how many barbaric drunk men could actually live in a village this small, and blushed again.

So, she began to say a mantra in her head, 'He's a letch, he's a letch, he's a letch, he's a very cute letch… Argh!' She pouted. Okay, she thought he was cute, but what girl wouldn't!? Soon after, Kagome returned with their food and water, and smiled again, taking an extra cup and muttering something about 'Inuyasha' and 'hot fire's'. And so, when she left, Sango enjoyed her meal, but didn't notice that the monk was smiling at her with a knowing look.

'You can't fool me girl' He thought amused, then dug into breakfast.


"Three-hundred-forty-seven." Inuyasha muttered, chopping another log in half, throwing both pieces into the furnace before him, and wiping his brow. It was hot in this room! It was just a tiny shack made out of brick, which held the furnace and some un-chopped wood. At first he just chopped them and threw them to a pile near the furnace, but then it had gotten low, so he brought some of it inside and used the ax to chop them in there. He'd taken off his outer, and inner kimono a while ago, and they both hung still to his body due to the tight sash around his waist.

He looked over to the pile of un-chopped wood and sighed, grabbing another one and raising the ax above his head.

"Three-hundred-forty-eight." And brought it down. As he threw the pieces into the fire he heard the door open behind him, and turned curious eyes to see who it was. He was surprised to see Kagome standing there. "Kagome?" He asked, raising an eyebrow. She just smiled and walked over. When she was close enough, he noticed a crimson blush bled into her cheeks, and mentally smirked. Setting the ax buy the slab of concrete used for chopping, he walked up to her and crossed his arms over his bare chest waiting for her to elaborate.

"Um, I thought you might be thirsty, and it's kinda hot in here so I brought you some water…" She muttered, handing him the cup. He just then noticed how dry his throat had become, and snorted, taking the cup from her hand and gulping some of it down. Then he used the rest and poured it over his head. That felt good… The girl huffed and spun around, walking back to the tavern. Inuyasha glanced at her and scowled.

"Hey, what was that look for?" He asked, and she turned around and glared at him.

"Well you could have said 'thank you'! I didn't have to think about you're well being you know!" She said, hands on her hips. Inuyasha softened slightly but didn't give up.

"I didn't think thank you was so important! Its just shows that you're going down to someone else's level to give them gratitude!" He growled, and Kagome's glare turned lethal.

"What do you mean 'someone else's level'?" She asked, anger emanating from every part of her body. His eyes narrowed.

"I mean showing vulnerability. If you get caught showing it then you're dead." He said, turning back to the ax and throwing it over his shoulder. Kagome blinked, then gasped quietly as he turned his back to her. In the middle of it was a large scar, old but still there. She walked closer to get a better look. He felt her walking up behind him, and assumed she'd found it. He'd forgotten that was there, and turned his back on her. He acted as if he didn't feel her coming up behind him and raised the ax.

"What did they do to you…?" She muttered, reaching a hand out to hover over the scar. The skin was lighter around it, and it looked as if it had hurt greatly, but he was a Hanyou, it should have disappeared. The ax came down harder than expected, and the wood it split flew across the room. She saw his back tense and stepped back.

"It's what happens when you're vulnerable…" He growled, grabbing another log and smashing it forcefully once more. She looked to the ground, her heart aching at the hidden hurt in his voice. You would just think he was angry about it, but she knew him better, he was hurting, and she felt helpless.

"I-I'm sorry…" She muttered looking at the ground. He suddenly whirled, his fangs bared and his eyes angry.

"I don't need any sympathy! Not from you, not from that damn monk or Sango! Just go back inside and leave me the hell alone!" He snarled, turning back to his task, and smashing more wood. Kagome looked at him, her eyes sad, then turned to do his bidding. Yes, the Hanyou boy had changed a lot in these years… But she would change him back, no matter what.


 "Thank you so much for the maps Kieri, I don't know what we could have done without you're help." Kagome smiled brightly, and Kieri smiled back.

"It's not a problem, I'm happy to help anyone out." She said. Miroku and Sango had gone back to the inn to take care of the payment, and make sure everything was in the right place.

Inuyasha had stayed with her, and after their fight he hadn't said anything much. Right now he sat in a tree above the pasture, watching the horses graze with bored eyes. Kieri glanced up at him and smiled back at Kagome. "If you want, you guys can ride a couple of my horses for a while. Lord Inuyasha seems very bored here." She giggled slightly. Kagome grinned and nodded vigorously. She hadn't been on a horse in ages. She walked quietly over to the tree after giving Kieri a final thanks and smiled up at her friend.

"Hey, Inuyasha." He didn't acknowledge her, but she knew he was listening. "You want to ride horses with me?" She asked, and saw him slant a look down at her.

"No." He said firmly, turning his gaze back to the pasture. Kagome huffed. Then she smirked. Being the Hanyou's best friend has its quirks.

"What, are you afraid them? Big strong Inuyasha is afraid of horses!" She laughed. He hated it when she did that, but it always took a bite at his pride.

"I am not! I'll go with you already." He snapped, jumping from the tree to land next to her, a scowl on his face. She smiled in triumph.

"Good, lets go." And with that, she led the unwilling Hanyou over to the small stables behind Kieri's hut, and chose a beautiful pure black horse. Black horses were used by the south most of the time, so a wolf demon must have come across the village to sell the horse. Kieri had three horses, a pure black, from the South, a pure white, most likely from the West, and a Paint, brown and white.

Kagome smiled as she led the horse from the stall, brushing it then putting on a leather bridle, most likely sold at the tack shop in town. Inuyasha had chosen the white one, and brushed that one as well. It had also been forever since he had ridden a horse, and he wasn't quite sure of himself yet. Once Kagome had finished the bridle, she tied up the wooden saddle and finished tacking up the horse. She waited until Inuyasha was done, and when he was she attempted to climb on the horses back…and fell on her behind. She grumbled as she rubbed it and stood up, surprised to hear Inuyasha chuckling.

"Here I'll help you." He said, and lifted the shell-shocked girl into the saddle. Once he was sure she wouldn't fall off, he got on his own horse, and rode up next to Kagome, who was still quite shocked. "C'mon, I ain't gonna wait all day." He said, irritated, then kicked his horse off and galloped into the fields. Kagome came out of her stupor and kicked her horse off as well, following the half-demon into the fields, and smiling slightly.

'Well, he's still the same in some ways…' She thought, riding up to the Hanyou to challenge him to a race.