Chapter 29

When all was quiet once again, the demoness fixed her golden stare across the table. She received only two back and they came from those members who were not unnerved by Sesshomaru's presence, her mother and Inuyasha. Mia's courage Shura could understand; her mother had already earned a reputation of fearlessness, even before she was adopted. However in the case of her uncle, she was not so certain. For some unknown reason, she had sensed a distinct hostility between the two brothers, and now with Sesshomaru gone, it was up to her uncle to clarify the situation.

"Inuyasha?" Shura asked, hoping to herself that the topic wouldn't start a riot.

"hmm?" her uncle mumbled from across the table.

"If you don't mind me asking…why does my father detest you so much?" Inuyasha didn't answer, only turned up his nose bitterly and let out an exasperated snort. With her uncle so unwilling, Shura was ready to drop the topic altogether. Before she could dismiss it however, Shippo blurted out the answer Inuyasha refused to give.

"Because he's a half…." The fox child was forced to stop mid sentence for no sooner had the word slipped out then Inuyasha bonked him hard over the head. Shura lowered her gaze slightly. Despite her uncle's attempt to stop it, she already knew what Shippo had started to say. The reason Sesshomaru disliked him so.

"I see." Shura commented softly. "It's a shame he still has that mindset." The demoness paused and glanced over the group once more. It was fortunate that Inuyasha didn't think like her father; otherwise he never would have come across such good friends. Together this band of individuals could conquer any challenge. Still, as Shura looked over each member, a sickening feeling started to grow inside her. Powerful they were as a team, but was that enough strength to fight their greatest nemesis? Shura knew from painful experience that Naraku presently carried a large portion of the sacred jewel, and there was no doubt in her mind that he would have gathered more shards, and become more powerful, by the time Inuyasha and his company faced him.

Shura's sight settled momentarily on Kagome. She could still see the jewel shards glowing faintly beneath Kagome's uniform. Perhaps there was a way…for her to improve the odds. The demoness tapped her fingers lightly on the table as a new thought poked restlessly at the back of her mind. What if she were to start gathering fragments like Inuyasha and Kagome? It would keep them out of Naraku's grip, and simultaneously help her uncle and his friends. With her new dragon senses, the idea certainly was plausible.

Shura leaned back, relaxing her muscles. She would mull over the situation for a while. There was no sense in making rash decisions. In any case, she still needed her mother's consent on the matter, and that would probably take a few day's worth of convincing. For the time being she would resume work as a healer, and leave the jewel hunting and demon slaying to Inuyasha. Shura offered a smile as the half demon continued to watch her. She could tell he was curious to know what she was thinking.

"Well Inuyasha," Shura finally broke the silence with a lightened tone, and a cute smile "Despite my father's distaste of you, I myself bear no such grudge. From this moment on please consider me your ally," Shura reached a friendly hand in across the table, before playfully adding "uncle."

Inuyasha glanced up and gave a little smirk as he returned the gesture. Though he was still adjusting to the fact that he actually had a relative that appreciated him, as the pair of them shook hands Inuyasha was not ungrateful. He knew instinctively that, one way or another, Shura would help him and his friends give the demon Naraku what he disserved.

It was later afternoon when the travelers left. Despite Mia's urgings to stay a final night, Inuyasha's restlessness to continue after Naraku proved to be the deciding factor. Shura watched from the porch as the six figures gradually faded out of sight. In the moments of stillness that followed, the demoness found herself trapped between feelings of sadness and inspiration. Seeing them depart, there future unknown, torn between the desire for revenge and the ties of friendship…it made the debate in Shura's own mind rage. Should she really start a quest of her own to stop Naraku? Was she strong enough? Her heart, anxious and unsure, wished to remain there, surrounded by the safety of her home. But her soul…it craved adventure, and the satisfaction that followed accomplishment. It had been years since her demon instincts had come on so strongly. Should she really try and suppress them?

"Shura?" The demoness perked her ears when Mia's voice sounded softly behind her. It was that tender voice that made her so reluctant to leave.

"Yes." Shura heard herself answer, though she barely recognized her own voice. The demoness felt a gentle hand grip her shoulder.

"Why don't you escort our guests until they reach the territories border," Shura turned and looked at her mother in surprise. Mia's expression was serious but there was a distinct sadness in her eyes. Shura suspected her mother was implying more then such a simple request. "You could insure them a safe journey while they're in this area…" Mia continued "and afterwords… the travel would be good for you." Shura stared calmly into her mother's eyes. Her suspicions had been confirmed. In her own subtle way, Mia was giving her the nudge of encouragement she needed…she was permitting her to leave. Shura turned her head away. She may have gotten permission, but didn't necessarily make leaving the right choice.

"But…what about my patients?" the demoness inquired, saving the greatest of her concerns for last. Mia's answer was truthful and exactly what she expected.

"Soma has become a skilled healer." Shura turned back to face her.

"And what of you?" it was the most important question. The demoness could handle a quest, but not if it sacrificed the happiness of her mother. Mia reached over and pulled Shura tenderly into her arms.

"I'll be fine," the woman crooned into one of Shura's canid ears. "You've made me become strong." There was a pause and Shura found herself glancing up when a warm droplet struck her forehead. "Besides, I think they need your help more." The demoness snuggled tightly into Mia's arms. There was no hiding how hard this was for her, but at the same instant Shura could sense her mother's deep longing for her happiness, no matter what the cost.

"As you wish mother," Shura crooned, "I will go and scour the land for the remains of the shikon jewel and the retched beast Naraku. Then once that treacherous fiend is slain, be it by my hand or someone else's, I will return home strait away."

The sun was nearly setting as Inuyasha and his companions continued onward. With everyone well rested and refreshed, their pace was good and they had come surprisingly far during the few hours of travel. Around them, the farmland was gradually turning to forest, and the trees cast midnight shadows against the rainbow setting sky.

The group members braced themselves when an enormous, serpentine, shadow passed suddenly overhead bringing with it a powerful gust of wind. Slowly all eyes lifted upward to see what creature had caused the commotion. Though shadowed by the sun, everyone recognized the wolf snouted dragon Ukuri and the demon he carried atop his shoulders. Even in the fading light, Shura's golden stare was unmistakable. The demoness was sitting tall and proud, her sword and satchel strapped securely over her shoulders. As the pair of demons started to shrink from view, Shura's silvery voice echoed softly in all their ears.

"Farewell my friends. May luck and strength be with you always." Then a quieter message one deemed only for Inuyasha. "For you dear Uncle there will never be a true goodbye, for we share the same bloodlines, then, now and forevermore."

The End

Authors note: That's the end of part one of my Bloodlines trilogy. More to come very soon. Sorry to all the die hard Inuyasha manga fans I pissed off. Thank you Kagome234, CometsChaos, Jim Hawking Jr., Shinna and everyone else for reviewing my story! Hope you'll continue reading the saga.