Chapter 18

~ Battles End ~

            The slayer held a distraught look of revulsion, "what're you talking about?" She stared at him in disbelief and felt her insides constrict to an unbearable degree.

            "We can't break the barrier and the only way inside is when ever Naraku decides to let us in." Miroku crossed his arms, letting his staff rest in the folds of his masculine limbs.

            "Look he's come out," Shippo squeaked.

            "Naraku you bastard!" Inuyasha growled and raised a clenched fist. "You let them go and deal with me! Be a man and quit battling with women." The now incredibly powerful Naraku looked up from the kneeling Kikyo at the bottom of the staircase to the warriors that appeared to be very perturbed. The vile beast's eyes settled on the fuming mutt and they seemed to sparkle. His expression suggested he was enjoying their anger and frustration. Almost as if he was gloating in the pain and misery, he was causing them.

            "It looks like all the players are finally here. You're still to slow half-runt." Hakudoushi gave that evil laugh he liked to bellow often but Kagura remained the same, cold and blank. "Course the dogs can't come in until the cats are 'gone'." He began to laugh again and Kagura looked off in degust while Kanna quietly joined them.

            "So that's what Naraku wants," Miroku whispered, "he wants us to watch them die. To torment us and to take away our best chances of winning." Nobody said anything perhaps because at first the monk's words didn't even registered then maybe because they were the awful truth. Whatever the reason the gallant warriors remained quiet and watched in dismay while waiting for the next scene to play itself out.

            "This is so exasperating," cried the fox cub and the fire cat meowed in agreement.

            "That's it we're finished, there's no way we can win!" Sango's eyes filled with tears as she ranted her surrender. "We've lost," she mourned quietly and gradually lowered herself to the ground.

            "Hm, looks like your fearless demon slayer had cracked," mused Sesshomaru.

            "Stuff it," Miroku snapped in her defense.

            "Come on Sango get it together, you can't give up now what about Kagome and Kohaku?" Shippo tried to encourage her with the help of Kirara and it seemed to work for the most part, she was back on her feet and holding her choice weapon again.

            "No it's not over yet," Kikyo's voice was hoarse and only heard by the demons. She had managed to crawl away from Naraku and was now parallel with Kagome. The corpse reached back for one of the two arrows she had left and aimed for the strung up priestess.

            "Kikyo no don't - please stop!" Inuyasha walked up to the invisible wall and placed his free hand against at, "please." The plea went unnoticed and an arrow ripped through the air heading towards the futuristic girl but its target surprised everyone. A clank was heard as the mental pierced the wood grain unraveling the binds and Inuyasha watched in astonishment as they fell away from her flesh. Kagome's legs swayed freely apart and the youth slowly raised her head. Her face was pale and her once lively eyes were blank and unfocused.

            "Eh-heh.Kagome!" A voice wailed, Shippo tumbled off the giant feline and rolled across the ground. When he found his feet, he ran as fast as his limbs could carry him. The little fox eventually collided with the invisible barrier and tumbled onto his back where he decided to start sobbing. Meanwhile, Kikyo had her bow ready again and fired, freeing Kagome's wrists. The girl fell and landed with a horrible thud. She didn't move from her puddle of blood and Kikyo finally collapsed, with Hakudoushi laughing evilly from afar.

            The traumatized slayer stared blankly ahead and asked quietly, "Could things possibly get any worse?"

            "It will now!" Shippo hollered back, while picking himself up off the earth. A horse whinnied and its hoof beats were heard, "now what?" He snapped while dusting himself off.

            A brown steed appeared carrying the elder priestess. "Ye shouldn't be so hostile, it won't help matters."

            "You stupid old hag, what the hell are you doin' here?" Inuyasha shouted as she approached.

            "Somebody else was invited too?" Kaede looked over at Sesshomaru confirming his suspicions, "I thought that was clearly obvious, little brother."

            "Stuff it jackass," grumbled the half-breed.

            "Always so crass - you have the manners of a wild boar." Inuyasha was going to grumble something else when Kagome stirred, grabbing everyone's attention, "so the little filly still has some life left in her after all." The priestess leaned against the pole she has just been hanging from and pushed herself up on her feet. Naraku moved his eyes from her to the wounded and exhausted Kikyo.

            "Kagura dispose of this corpse," his smug face turned up to square off with the half demon he hated most.

            "Yes m'lord," she raised her fan but hesitated when Kikyo looked up at her. Something past between the two of them, something that only they understood and then the magical fan lowered sending its attacks out across the grounds. The deceased priestess closed her eyes and Inuyasha held his breath. Kaede watched in horror as the bright blades tore through the earth and bones. The souls of the young girls flew free and an orb of a different light hovered over the shredded flesh before becoming a bluish streak through the air and disappearing into Kagome's body. 'Free me.' The priestess opened her eyes at Kikyo's voice.

            "No," she straightened more of her aching body, "this isn't the way this was supposed to go. Kikyo," she whispered where even the dog demons probably didn't hear her. "I sacrificed myself so you could kill him, this isn't." A tear leaked out and ran down her bloodied cheek.

            "It's not healthy to talk to one's self," Naraku sneered, referring to her moving lips that had no sound. He walked down the stairs and began heading in her direction. "Come now priestess it's your turn to die." He pulled a dagger from his belt and stopped a foot in front her.

            "Bring it on, devil," she rasped and turned to face him. She smirked at seeing his surprised expression but it faded shortly after its appearance. How can I be worthy of Inuyasha if I don't put up a fight? She internally asked Kikyo for her guidance and felt the palms of her hands heat up. We'll defeat him together. Kagome laid her hands upon Naraku's arms and mimicked the first fight between Kikyo and Inuyasha after she'd been resurrected.

            "You wench," he hissed as he stumbled away, "I will kill you bit by bit for this." He tired to smooth out the wounds but his regenerative powers wouldn't respond. The jewel was ignoring his commands and violet veins began to appear stretching out from the blood stained burn marks.

            Kagome grabbed hold of the arrow Kikyo had used to free her ankles earlier and with all her might pulled the weapon free. Naraku raised the dagger as she was turning around. Blood spattered over flesh and there was a grunt, Naraku staggered backwards, "time to rot in hell you bastard." Kagome stepped forward loosing a bit more of her tattered school uniform to the knife Naraku had plunged into the pole behind her. He had meant for the blade to clip her shoulder adding yet another small wound to bleeding body. However, she had managed to avoid it and had driven Kikyo's scared arrow into his heart or at least where it should have been. She knew Naraku wasn't finished because of that blasted kid but she hadn't the strength to go find him. All of a sudden, she got a weird tingling feeling at the bottom of her stomach and asked Kikyo about it but even she couldn't explain it.

            "You think you've won?" Naraku stood up straight seeming unaffected by the fatal wound but when he reached to remove the arrow, it glowed and reflected his hand sending a sharp pain throughout the limb. I'm not going die without taking him with me. Kagome pushed away from the red stained beam and reached a hand out at Naraku. A light shot out from the lunatic's chest and dissolved the arrow, more rays shot out. The priestess blinked and moved back. Kagome felt the tingling feeling get stronger and then she sensed the Shikon Jewel's power rise to a level she had never felt before. It's so warm. She unconsciously held out a hand and Naraku screamed out in pain. Kagome felt some more of her strength leave as the light grew more intense and then she heard a voice.

            Child?

            Yes?

            My name is Midoriko.

            Midoriko?! That can't be! You're dead?!

            I have been trapped in this crystal for a very long time and you have the power to free me. Just pray a little harder.

Naraku stared at the face of Kagome but she wouldn't have known it, her eyes were closed and she was concentrating hard on helping Midoriko. His face turned up toward the sky, he was in so much agony and his body felt like it was on fire. Pure magic coursed through his veins and his body began to light up like a Christmas tree. The barrier began to crack as if it were a piece of glass and Hakudoushi doubled over in pain but Kagura and Kanna however remained immune. Naraku's form stopped letting off rays of purple light but maintained a glowing aura and the throbbing pain seemed to have vanished. He looked down at the priestess now at his feet and then over to Inuyasha. "I am a god, fear me and bow before me mongrels." He followed the egotistical claim with an over the top villain's laugh.

            "A god you are not," Kagome stated in a clear and precise voice ruining his celebration, "die." She brought her hands in front of her heart and turned them inward so the palms faced each other. They glowed the same color as him and an orb of pure white formed in between them. He expressed a look of alarm and she moved her arms pushing the sphere at him. The ball of energy entered his chest; he blinked and then a look of terror made itself at home on his face. Naraku staggered backwards a step or two, he turned slightly and with a cry of agony, he exploded. Little fragments of glitter burst out into every direction and all was still for a moment. The silence was broken however when the ground began to tremble and Naraku's barrier shattered like a broken mirror, then it was Hakudoushi's turn to die. Kagura and Kanna watched the sparkles disappear and waited for their turn but it never came. There was the sound of more explosions all over the castle grounds and the earthquake became more violent.

            "Kagome," yelled Shippo and her friends tried to make their way to her but a dome came from her tired body pushing them back. "Kagome?!" The earth settled and the priestess' body fell limp to the soiled mud beneath her.

            "She's dead," Sesshomaru stated smugly. Two orbs emerged from her bloodied body and another appeared from the air in which Naraku had just been standing. They floated over to the center of the courtyard and took the forms of three deceased priestesses. Kagome stood dazed but Kikyo and Midoriko stood ready for a battle. After everyone gasped in surprise, a red orb appeared in the same place Midoriko's had and it became the giant demon from the cave. The women came together and the demon went to attack but a barrier halted it. It roared and wiggled while small bolts of energy crackled around it. The enchanted females joined hands and the barrier grew in size slowly dissolving the mixed terror flying about above them as it spread over the area. When the blinding light had vanished and everyone could see again, they blinked in shock and dismay.

            Kagome wore the outfit from the festival, Midoriko shared in the same clothing as Kagome however their detailing was different and Kikyo's garbs were mended but they looked like they were made of silk. The eldest smiled and turned away to watch a blue portal open in front of her. Grant the heart's wish of them all. Small twinkling lights shot out striking each of the stunned warriors in the chest except for Kagome's corpse, the light entered her abdomen and she didn't understand why a dead body was getting a wish in the first place let alone why it didn't go into her heart. Inuyasha's body glowed as did Koga's and Kagome's did the same shortly there after but everyone else remained the same. It is time for us to depart. The youngest priestess turned around and wore a solemn look as the trio started heading for the gate to the after life. All of a sudden, she stopped and looked back at her body. What's wrong Kagome? The girl turned to Kikyo and her eyes held confusion. Kagome's soul began to break apart and returned to the orbed form. The two other priestesses looked at each other and then watched the large sphere soar back over to the corpse it had just left behind. Her body glowed and then there was an eerie silence after which she began to breathe again though at first it was actually couching and gasping. Her body calmed and it seemed as if she were asleep, the two remaining glanced at each other then entered the portal disappearing completely. Everyone stood still unsure of everything, the portal closed and vanished while an eerie silence settled in again.

            Kagome opened her eyes to see a brightly lit area. "Where the hell am I?! What's going on?!" She rotated her upper body around taking in the scenery. Easy mother. She turned to look in the direction that had spoken with a male voice. A figure enshrouded in mist started to approach her. "Mother?!" Her eyes widened in shock as she registered his words. You've heard of the astral plane haven't you? She nodded, "I've been there a couple of times actually."

            "Well that's were we are. I brought you here to tell you I was the one who wished for your life back."

            "You did what?! But how could you?" She could barely tell his face twitched and her curiosity forced her to scoot towards him so she could perhaps catch a glimpse of his face.

            "I didn't realize you wanted to die." He turned away from her and this situation took on a creepy déjà vu effect, like this wasn't the first time she was in a conversation like this.

            "That's not what I meant," she said gently and he seemed to understand what she was saying but she had other things on her mind. Like who this was guy?

            "I wanted us to live so I made the wish to make it so," he whispered like a small child almost afraid she wouldn't like what he had to say. This is like a conversation with Inuyasha. She shivered at the likeness and tried to shrug it off by asking another question.

            "Us? How are you tied to me?" He glanced over his shoulder then turned around completely and stepped forward making her gasp in surprise. Inuyasha?! She swallowed hard and forced to herself to breathe again. No, no it's not him but then who? He stooped down in front of her and held her eyes for a moment before glancing down at her belly.

            "I'm within you, mother." Kagome's colored drained from her face and she turned her head to the side as a deep blush started to form after her initial shock had pasted. He's.he's saying I'm pregnant! With him! "I know it's a bit of a shock but - "

            "No.well yes but I had my suspicions," the young man seemed a bit stunned so she continued, "I've had the symptoms but they are also similar to some other illness' too so I wasn't completely sure about it."

            "Symptoms? Do you mean I make you sick?" She smiled at his concern and innocence.

            She turned back to face him and showed her brightened complexion, "it's alright, it's just something that happens. You're changing my body and it's not your fault it's just the way Mother Nature works." Kagome had to say the situation and conversation was extremely spine chilling but she had to also admit it was nice. Not too many mothers get to meet their unborn children and see what they would look like all grown up before they are actually born. She studied his face, he looked so much like Inuyasha, it was uncanny but she could also see herself in him too. He had her mouth and eyes but had Inuyasha's golden irises and silver hair. She smiled at his fuzzy silver ears upon the top of his head and admired his body structure. "You are so much like him," she blurted out. Her boy smiled at her and her head jumped back, "you even have his smile." She reached out a hand to touch his face but could not touch his flesh.

            "I have no real form yet, you're just far enough along that I could- " His eyes went up to the endless sky, "I guess we're out of time. I was surprised I lasted this long," he stood up and began to walk away but stopped when he got a couple of feet in front of her. "Is father a good person?" He asked over his shoulder.

            Kagome smiled, "the best." She watched him grin and then he disappeared into some white mist. Her ears heard a voice and she looked over her shoulder but nobody was there. All of sudden the heavenly place was gone and she was surrounded in darkness.

            "Kagome?!" She felt her body shake a bit and she let out a slight grunt informing who ever it was shaking her that she wasn't amused. "Kagome?" came a gentler tone, "are you alright?" Her eyes slid open slowly and then she blinked them into focus. She was in the arms of her beloved and her friends had gathered around her. The priestess gave the father-to-be a mischievous grin and stretched a hand out to the little fox peering down at her from his shoulder. Inuyasha's brow twitched and he eyed her suspiciously, "what're -?" Before he could finish, Kagome sat up then pushed herself up off the ground, she turned to look out over him at the battlefield behind him. The mystical woman stepped around him and he turned his upper body to follow her movements, "where the hell - ?" Again, he was cut off but this time by little twinkling lights, that started to appear around Kagome. I can feel it, the power of Mother Nature and the spirit realm. I'm more connected now - like Kikyo was after she was resurrected. Kagome's calm face tensed, Kikyo, again the ill-fated woman was dead and cheated. I tried to. Everyone watched the starry show start to die as Kagome's sorrow set into place and Shippo scampered over to her.

            "Kagome.what's wrong?" He asked softly seeming to be afraid of her, when she didn't acknowledge him, he went around to her front side and looked up at her face. His little heart ached when he met her eyes and saw that she was about to start crying. The demonic pup put some strength into his legs and bounced up to her shoulder. "Kagome," he whispered into her ear and snuggled into the curve of her neck trying painfully to console her. Kagome. You needn't worry. She blinked and saw a bluish-white orb appear before them, Inuyasha started to approach them but stopped for some reason a few feet behind Kagome. Sango and Miroku remained where they were but just stood up while Kaede stayed on the ground. I am to be reincarnated in a short while and this time I will not share the body. The usually cold and depressing Kikyo was surprisingly cheerful and had even chuckled through the last part of her sentence. The jewel is gone, we are free to do as we please and I'm looking forward to being reborn. I hope that this time I will not pity myself about my gifts - or perhaps I won't even have them. Her cheery voice changed to a serious and regretful tone when she continued. Tell Inuyasha I am sorry, tell him he was right and tell him thank you for me. I've seen love in the truest form now after watching you two. Be happy mystical sister. Goodbye. Kagome blinked and almost started to wonder if this was really Kikyo but she snapped out of it so she could say goodbye. I'll tell him everything, farewell my dearest friend. The floating orb before her flickered then vanished, she took in a deep breath and turned to Shippo.

            She smiled at him and turned her attention back to the battlegrounds, "everyone who died." The child studied her face and remained quiet as he watched her think. "They deserve something." Shippo watched her eyes and became curious as to what she was planning.

            "So what are you going to do?" She smiled at him and the starry little lights came back.

            "Something special, my darling." The fox gushed at her term of endearment and observed with glee as her magic swept over the combat zone. The blood stained ground disappeared and so did most of the castle, a few bits of the granite walls remained creating cleverly placed ruins. Shippo started to become frightened when the ground started to shake and mold but then he was amazed to watch a thin mound appear a couple of feet in front of them. The dirt changed to stone and then it took the shape of a grave marker shrine. Writing appeared up its artistically curved form and he looked at her.

            "What does it say?" He asked excitedly.

            Kagome smiled, "We build this shrine to honor the lost souls in the courageous fight against a dreadful evil. To all those sacrificed in the battle and to all those who fought with all their might, we remember you. Rest in peace."