DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Inu-Yasha - A Feudal Fairytale and all related characters are the creations of Rumiko Takahashi. The only character in this story that is mine is the one that Sesshoumaru meets.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the last chapter of this story, but there will be a sequel. It won't be appearing for a while though, since I have quite a few other stories that require my attention first. I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading this story as much as I've enjoyed writing it! ^_^
Chapter 5: Friendly Advice
Sesshoumaru woke, but remained still. He feigned continued sleep while his senses strained to catch the slightest sound or smell that would tell him what was happening.
"You might as well open your eyes, Sesshoumaru. I know you're awake."
The voice from the cave made him tense and his eyes snapped open. With all of his senses alert for the slightest sign of attack, he quickly took in his situation.
Sesshoumaru barely kept his surprise from showing.
When he'd been sent to sleep by those infernal leaves, it had been late in the day and he'd been inside a cave. Now, it was night and he was leaning up against a tree on one side of a forest clearing. In the middle of the clearing, about six feet away from him, a cheerful fire crackled merrily. On the other side of the fire, sitting just beyond the circle of firelight so he was no more than a vague shadowy shape, was his opponent.
Sesshoumaru was about to spring to his feet and attack when caution overruled his instinctive need for revenge. There was something very odd going on here. It looked as though his opponent was not planning on holding him captive, or intending to go anywhere. In fact, he seemed to have been waiting patiently for Sesshoumaru to wake up!
The youkai lord started to sit up and suddenly became aware of two slight weights leaning against him, one on either side. Looking down, he went still again.
Jaken was curled up on Sesshoumaru's left side, his back against Sesshoumaru's hip and his hands clutching the empty sleeve close to him, like a sleeping child cuddling a favourite toy. There was a happy smile on the small youkai's face and every now and then he nuzzled against the cloth and uttered a soft sigh of contentment.
Rin was nestled snugly against Sesshoumaru's right side, her head leaning against his chest and a peaceful smile on her face. It was a cold night, but she was nice and warm with Sesshoumaru's fur around her. His arm rested across her shoulders and the sight of his clawed hand curved over her small shoulder caused an oddly warm feeling within him.
Sesshoumaru allowed his tenseness to leave him and relaxed against the tree again. His eyes moved to gaze thoughtfully across the fire at the shadowy figure. He'd thought of him as an opponent ever since Rin and Jaken's kidnapping, but now… He was beginning to wonder if there was more to this than he had thought.
"Who are you?"
"My name would mean nothing to you and it is better if you do not know it, at least for now. What you do not know, you cannot reveal, either deliberately or by accident."
Sesshoumaru nodded slightly. It was more of an answer than he'd received previously and it was one that he could live with. At least, for the time being.
"Where have you brought us?" He didn't recognise the place.
"You'll be able to see that for yourself, in the morning. Don't worry, it's a safe place. A good place. Bad dreams don't dare come here now. It's true, I have brought you some distance, but I don't think you'll mind that. By doing so, Naraku will be rather greatly inconvenienced."
Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow at that. "Naraku?"
The figure chuckled softly. "Yes. He had this wonderful little scheme all set up just past the ravine where I intervened. You would have come across it tonight. He had it planned right down to the last detail. He will be absolutely furious right now that his plan failed."
"You should not have interfered. I have been wanting to encounter Naraku again." Sesshoumaru kept his voice even, but only with great effort. He was seething at this upstart's presumption. The fool seemed to think that he had done Sesshoumaru a favour or something!
The voice suddenly turned serious. "Believe me, you wouldn't have enjoyed this particular meeting. In fact… there's a very good chance that you wouldn't have survived it. I'm sure that Rin would not have."
The mention of the child made Sesshoumaru pause in his mental rant. He gave the figure a sharp look. "Rin? What does she have to do with it?"
"Naraku's plan involved her, a poisoned blade, the young boy Kohaku, Kagura and Kanna. Naraku himself would be, of course, absent from the proceedings. You wouldn't have met up with him even if you had fallen into his trap. Assuming that you survived the experience, you would have been unable to revive Rin afterwards, since the plan included Kanna's theft of her soul. By trying though, you would have revealed to Naraku something that he would be most eager to know. The fact that Tenseiga can restore life."
Sesshoumaru frowned slightly. Although he didn't appreciate the intervention, he was willing to concede that it might have been in his best interests after all. He was also starting to think that there were a few things the shadowy figure knew that he did not. It was not a pleasant realisation.
"All in all, it would have ended up being a rather large mess. Of course, if you are so eager to have the child end up dead, you are more than welcome to return to that area. I am sure that Naraku will keep the plan in place for a few days, or at least until he confirms your whereabouts. As far as he knows, you're still in the ravine. I figure you have at least three or four days before he realises that you're not. I set up a little something of my own so he will have considerable trouble when he tries to send someone to find you, by the way. The next time you see Naraku, don't be surprised if he's extremely annoyed with you."
Sesshoumaru eyed the figure thoughtfully, his anger fading into mild amusement as he began to appreciate the thought of Naraku's plans being upset. "I see. Don't expect me to thank you. I did not ask for your assistance."
"I don't and I know you did not. I didn't really do it for you, anyway. I would have hated to see your little girl come to any harm." He waited while Sesshoumaru took that in.
"You never intended to kill the girl today." He was suddenly certain of it.
"Of course not. I don't kill. Especially children and minions. I find it distasteful." The voice was suddenly cheerful.
Sesshoumaru seethed at the realisation of how he'd been played for a fool. Before he could do or say anything though, the shadowy figure spoke again.
"Before you get too angry, keep in mind that I wouldn't have had to do any of this if you weren't so arrogant, self-centred and emotionless. Someone needed to teach you to listen to your heart and I decided that I was the perfect one to do it! Perhaps you won't need it, but I have a feeling that you might find it useful at some point."
"You presume a great deal…" Sesshoumaru was still fuming.
"Yes, I know, it's a failing of mine." The voice was still cheerful. Before Sesshoumaru could reply though, the figure suddenly stood. "It's time for me to go."
Sesshoumaru tensed, about to move, but the figure held out his hand. "If you move, I'll be gone before you can get to me and you'll never hear the rest of what I have to say." Sesshoumaru glared at him, but relaxed again, curious.
"I know you have questions, but this won't be the last time that we meet. Save them until then. Right now, there is something far more important that I need to tell you."
"Very well. Speak." It was the only acknowledgment Sesshoumaru was willing to give. He was still more than a little annoyed over what had happened that day.
"Three things. Firstly, don't be so arrogant in thinking that you're the only one with the right or reason to battle Naraku. You're not. Your brother and his friends have far more reason to hate him and, frankly, they were there first. If you want a go at him, you'll need to wait your turn. Of course, it would be far easier if you were all to fight him at once, but somehow I don't think that's very likely to happen." Sesshoumaru glared at him, but even as he did so, he wondered what the figure meant. Why did his brother and those human friends of his hate Naraku? He had never bothered to find out.
"Secondly, no matter what happens, save your hatred for the one who deserves it. Naraku is your enemy, not Kagura or Kanna and certainly not the boy, Kohaku. Remember, Naraku is an expert at manipulating people. The more he knows about someone, the easier it is for him to manipulate them. He created Kagura and Kanna and he controls them. As much as he can, anyway. As for Kohaku… he's just a pawn in Naraku's game. But he's an important pawn. Perhaps more important than even Naraku realises. Only time will tell."
Sesshoumaru frowned slightly. "Naraku controls Kagura?" For some reason, that made him uneasy.
"In a way. She must obey him. She risks her life if she does not. Anyway, the final thing I must tell you is this… Do not reveal Tenseiga's power to Naraku! As long as he does not know of it, there is a chance that some of his plans will eventually fail. If he does not know that he needs to guard against you and your sword, then you may get your chance against him yet."
"What do you mean?" He had Sesshoumaru's complete attention.
"In order to complete the Shikon no Tama, Naraku must retrieve all of the shards. There is one that cannot be retrieved without taking a life. Naraku is certain to try to use that to his advantage. But with your sword, you may be able to turn his plan against him."
As the figure finished speaking, he moved forward, coming into the light for the first time. Sesshoumaru tensed then stared in disbelief at the young man as he finally saw him.
He looked to be around 18, although he was almost certainly far older. Youkai rarely looked their true ages, after all. Fairly tall, he was only a little shorter than Sesshoumaru, with long reddish-brown hair that fell freely in waves down to his waist. His long tapered ears marked him as a full-blood youkai and he had a single dark red stripe on each side of his face. He was dressed in a similar fashion to Sesshoumaru, except that he wore no armour or fur, only a loose-sleeved white shirt embroidered around the sleeves with a fire design in red and gold. His pants were dark red and his boots were black with the same red and gold fire design around the tops of them. His bright green eyes sparkled with mischief and good humour as he grinned at the surprised youkai lord.
"I know you…" Sesshoumaru spoke slowly, not quite able to place the youth standing before him. He was certain that he knew the boy from somewhere, though.
"No, you don't, but don't worry. I get that all the time. I guess I just have that kind of face. I always seem to remind people of someone else!" He laughed.
Sesshoumaru wasn't convinced. There was definitely something familiar about the boy. Before he could work out what though, the boy spoke up, catching his attention.
"Anyway, it's been a pleasure Sesshoumaru, but I need to go. I have places to go and things to do, and time will not wait for me. Remember what I have said and remember what you have learned. Oh, and one more thing before I go… although it's a good idea to keep your feelings for your child and minion from Naraku, it's not a good idea to keep them from yourself as well. Look after yourself, and look after them! We'll meet again!"
Before Sesshoumaru could do or say anything, even before he could blink, there was a flash of light so bright that it lit up the clearing. When it finally faded, the boy was gone!
Sesshoumaru frowned. He wasn't entirely sure what to make of that encounter, but it had certainly given him quite a lot to think about.
He leaned back against the tree. A part of him wanted to move away from Jaken and Rin, but he was actually quite comfortable right where he was, so he saw no point in moving. He tried to think about what had happened, but his eyes kept trying to close. Apparently the effect of the sleep-inducing leaves had not quite gone. He struggled to remain awake, but eventually, he could fight it no longer. Sesshoumaru closed his eyes and sank into a deep sleep beside Rin and Jaken. The last thing he heard was the soft sound of a flute floating on the breeze.
High up in the branches of the tree Sesshoumaru slept against, the same tree that his brother had been sealed to for fifty years, a small figure sat on a branch and swung his legs in time to the song the wind sang to him, the same song that he was skillfully playing on his wooden flute.
He was small and slight, only a little bigger than Rin, with reddish-brown hair caught up in a ponytail that reached down to below his waist, bright emerald green eyes and two small furry ears that stuck out of his hair on top of his head. His shirt was the same light brown as his pants, but with red and gold fire designs around the loose sleeves. The outfit was completed with small dark brown boots with the same fire design as on his shirt. His long fluffy tail streamed out behind him, also swinging in time to the music, as the young youkai guarded the sleep of the three figures in the clearing below him.