Dedication: This story is dedicated to all the people who have read and reviewed my stories, Especially Zelda Chic04 who put me in one of her stories.
Quick Japanese to English Dictionary stuff:
Disclaimer: I don't own InuYasha or Rumplestiltskin. They belong to their respective owners. The original idea for an alternative Rumplestiltskin story belongs to Vivian Vande Veld and her book Tales from the Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird. I'm just responsible for placing Kagura, Sesshy and Naraku in the story.
Once upon a time in feudal Japan before the days of fire insurance and labor unions there lived a miller and his lovely daughter Kagura.They were a were a small but happy family and the mill made enough money to keep the bills paid and even allow them a few luxuries like red eyeliner and such. Unfortunately, this all ended when the mill burned down.
It was all tragically sudden one minute they had a home- the next they had nothing but the clothes on their backs. No money, nor any way of making money. Not even the possibility of ever getting money again unless one of them came up with a plan.
Now the miller had been a very prosperous miller. He was probably a very good father as well, but his planning skills left much to be desired.
His plan consisted of he and his daughter sitting by the side of the road and waiting until someone who looked wealthy passed by. When this happened the miller would then announce: "My daughter can spin straw into gold. Is that not amazing?" After catching the person's interest. "And who could help but be interested?" The miller had argued- he would say-"Give her but three gold pieces and she'll spin a barn full of straw into gold for you."
If the rich person was still interested the miller would then explain that his daughter's magic only worked by moonlight. "You must leave her alone and no disturbances what-so-ever-all night long. And by dawn all the straw shall be spun into gold."
"I'm afraid I don't understand father." Kagura replied respectfully. "This plan of yours is a bit flawed. I can't even spin wool let alone straw into gold. The last spinning wheel I touched broke. I have no idea-"
"No, no, no." The miller interrupted shaking his head. "You don't get it."
"Ano, papa, that's what I just said."
"Listen then, musume." The miller explained carefully. "The plan is that after we receive our fee, we'll run away in the middle of the night to another province."
"That's stealing-which is wrong." Kagura pointed out frowning. "What kind of role model are you teaching your child to be dishonest like that? You should be ashamed of yourself."
"Yes, you're right about that musume, what I'm making you do is wrong." Her father admitted. "But, we shall use that gold to build a new mill. Then once that mill is up and running successfully, we'll save the extra money until we can repay the person we stole it from. So technically we aren't really stealing from anyone, just borrowing."
Kagura still didn't like the idea, but since she also had no other job experience beyond milling and it was her duty to be an obedient daughter, she agreed.
So, Kagura and her father sat on the side of the rode and waited for a rich person to pass by. As bad luck would have it the first rich person to pass by was the richest person in the province. He was the ruler of the province-Emperor Naraku. (AN: Sorry for the interruption, but I'm practicing artistic licensing)
"Oh fudge," Kagura muttered to herself, recognizing the imperial seal on the carriage. "Father, maybe we should wait for the next one."
But if the miller was bad at making plans, he was even worse at changing his course of action once it had started. Standing in the middle of the road waving his arms he called out, "My daughter can spin straw into gold! If you give us three gold pieces, she shall spin a whole barn full of straw into gold for you!"
The emperor gave the signal for his driver to stop the horses. "You," he called, leaning out of the window. "Both of you people come closer." The emperor wore an outer kimono of rich plum silk embroidered with jewels and gold thread. He had more gold rings on fingers than he had fingers and his wig-which was heavily perfumed-was made up of thick black ringlets veiling his pale face. Naraku drew a handkerchief from the sleeve of his inner kimonos and placed it under his nose, for Kagura and her father still smelled of smoke from their ruined mill. "What did you say?" He ordered.
The miller wasn't sure if the emperor's question meant that he should now explain about how his daughter's magic only worked by the light of the moon or if the emperor was hearing impaired and needed everything repeated to him. The miller chose to repeat his story incase the emperor really was hard of hearing. Clearing his throat, he began in a loud voice, enunciating each word slowly. "My daughter can spin straw into gold. If you give us but three gold pieces, she shall…."
The emperor abruptly cut him off. "Yes, yes. I heard all that. But if your daughter can spin straw into gold, why are you two dressed in rags?"
The miller hadn't anticipated this question. He was already to explain about how the moonlight was the only way that the magic could work. He hadn't thought about the possibility of someone questioning their appearance. Perhaps, thought the miller, I could explain that because of a new moon, there has been no moonlight to work with?
"That's a very good question." Replied the miller. "A very good question which I have a very good answer for. Why are we in rags?"
Naraku dabbed at his nose then dropped the handkerchief into the muddy street. Since he never used a handkerchief more than once. After the old one fell into the mud he pulled a new one out of his sleeve then turned his attention back to the miller and his daughter. "Well," Asked the Emperor impatiently, "I'm waiting for an answer."
"My spinning wheel broke." Kagura explained quickly.
"Yes, " The miller agreed. "And then before we could replace it, our mill burned down with all the straw."
"Hmm," The emperor replied. "Very well then. You may follow me to the castle. Upon arrival you shall be provided with seven gold pieces and a spinning wheel along with plenty of straw." He then dropped his second handkerchief into the muddy road without even using it and motioned for the driver to get his horses moving again.
The miller nudged his daughter as they started following after the carriage. "See, musume?" He said. "I told you this plan would work. The emperor is even paying us double the asking price."
"Yes," Kagura replied dully. "So you did and he's paying more than what you asked." But she was still worried about the final outcome of this plan.
And Kagura was right to worry, for when they arrived at the castle the plan began to come apart at the seams.
Naraku insisted that Kagura do her spinning inside the castle itself instead of the barn.
"But," The miller protested, "she must do her magic at night, by the light of the moon."
'Never fear," Said the emperor. "The rooms on the third floor have windows to let in plenty of moonlight.
The miller gasped for breath since it would be next to impossible to get Kagura away from the castle if she was too high up. He tried again. "But if Kagura is interrupted at any time the magic will reverse itself and the gold will turn back into straw."
"Not to worry, my servant shall lock her in her room and my guards shall be posted outside her door to make sure she is not disturbed in any way.
Kagura elbowed her father hard warning him not to say anything else that may worsen their predicament.
'And of course." The emperor added meaningfully. "If she fails at her task, she loses her head in the morning." To his guards he said, "Take this man away and lock him up. Make sure he doesn't try any funny stuff-like escaping." As two of the largest guards took hold of the miller's arms and led him away, the emperor called out. 'Come back tomorrow and I'll give you your seven gold pieces or your daughter's head."
"But…but…"The miller stuttered, but before he could think of anything else to say, he was dragged out of sight.
Leaving Kagura alone, for the first time in her life.
The emperor had her led up to a room that was as large as the entire mill had been. Servants brought in a sturdy looking spinning wheel and then load after load of straw until the whole room was covered in straw save for the small area around the spinning wheel.
How in the world am I going to get out of this mess? Kagura asked herself. She had hoped to sneak out the door while the servants were busy making their deliveries of that hateful straw, but someone was always watching her. Then, after the palace guards had locked her in, she tried to pop open the lock with a hair pin like all the heroines in the stories do, but Kagura's end result was nothing but a bent hairpin. She couldn't even climb out the window, which was way too narrow to pass through and very high up. And even if she did manage to escape-what about her father?
She kicked at the spinning wheel knocking it over. This made her feel a little better, but not much.
The servants hadn't bothered to feed her and now as the room grew steadily darker and darker and the only light that filled the room was the moonlight streaming through the window of her prison, Kagura hungrily added dinner to the list of meals she had missed today.
Sitting on the stone floor, the last thing in the world she wanted to start doing was crying, but that's exactly what she did.
After a while-after quiet a long while-Kagura used the sleeve of her kimono to rub her eyes and nose since she didn't possess a handkerchief, silk or otherwise. From behind her came the sound of someone clearing his throat discreetly. Out of the corner of her eye, Kagura saw that whoever was behind her was holding out a handkerchief to her.
Without turning around, Kagura tried to work out her explanation. "Well, you see." She began slowly. "Crying, well, it's necessary for the magic…. The tears are a lubricant for the spinning wheel…but as I'm sure you've been informed this only works when I'm completely alone and since you're watching, I'm definitely not alone. Also, since you were watching, I won't be able to do the spell again until-" At this point she did turn around, and she stopped talking midexpalnation.
She'd been expecting to see the Emperor or one of his servants at the least. Instead, crouched behind her was a young man who was obviously not even human. Infact, he was a demon, but a good demon. Tall and slender, with pointy ears and markings on his face, he'd been listening very attentively if somewhat disbelieving.
"Well, that certainly doesn't make much sense." He told her, but then he smiled and Kagura thought that he was handsome in a strange otherworldly way. He was quick to add, "But I do admire your quick thinking."
"Who are you?" Kagura gasped in surprise. "What do you want? How in the world did you get here?"
The young demon paused a moment to consider the questions, then answered in the order they had been asked: "Sesshystiltzkin. I heard you crying in my world and came to see what was the matter. And sideways, in between the particles."
"What did you say?" Kagura asked disbelieving.
The demon raised his voice slightly and spoke clearer. "SesshyStiltzkin. I heard you crying and-"
"No, no, no. I meant the part about…sideways?"
Sesshystiltzkin nodded. "The world of humans and the world of magic exist side by side." He demonstrated by holding his hands out his long slender fingers spread, then he put his hands together, intertwining his fingers. "So that we're taking up the space that's not being used by humans."-he was watching her skeptically as if suspecting that she didn't understand his meaning, which she didn't.-"and vice versa."
"Oh," Kagura said. "And you heard me crying in your world?"
"Well," the young demon explained gently, "you were crying rather loud."
Kagura finally took the handkerchief he was offering and wiped her nose. She knew that blowing it would have been more effective, but too noisy and undignified. "I don't usually cry. I know it's rather stupid and it doesn't help anything and it's rather unattractive as well and-"
"But I heard it." Sesshystiltzkin said. "And I came to see what was the matter. So, you see, sometimes crying does help." He stood up straight and looked around the room. "Castle." He said as though he hadn't noticed before where he was. "Despite the straw, this is definitely a castle." He looked closer at Kagura. 'However, you don't look much like a castle person."
"That's because I'm not a castle person," she admitted. "I'm a mill person. Except that the mill burned down. Then my father told the emperor that I could spin straw into gold so that we could get a few gold pieces from the emperor to rebuild our mill. We would have paid the gold back except that the emperor locked my father in the dungeon and me in here and I have to spin all of this straw into gold by dawn or he'll chop off both our heads."
Sesshystiltzkin was obviously impressed. "You can spin straw into gold?"
"No." Kagura replied dully.
"Then," Sesshystiltzkin said, "I think your plan is a bit flawed."
"That's why I was crying." Kagura rested her face in her hands.
Sesshystiltzkin started to place his hands over his ears. "You 're not going to start crying again, are you?" He asked sounding worried.
"Nuh-uh, "Kagura replied. "You can go back where you came from. I won't bother you again."
But the young demon just stood where he was.
After a while he said, "You weren't bothering me. I just wish I knew how to help you."
The sad thing was that even without raising her head and looking at him, Kagura could tell he was truly sincere. Beyond helpless, but truly sincere about wanting to help her out of this predicament.
" I think it's really admirable," he continued, "that you were planning on paying back the money, even before the emperor gave it to you. But I've honestly never heard of someone spinning straw into gold. I would have no idea where to start."
"That's alright," Kagura said, trying to sound convincing. "I suppose that getting one's head chopped off is probably more pleasant than starving to death. It's definitely quicker."
After a few more minutes Sesshystiltzkin spoke up, "I have an idea."
Kagura finally looked up.
"We could throw the straw out the window, then I could replace it with go from my world. As long as it doesn't have to be spun out."
"I doubt the emperor would complain no matter what form the gold was in, but would you really be willing to do that?"
Sesshystiltzkin nodded. "In exchange."
"Nani? In exchange for what?" Kagura asked
"What do you have?"
Kagura thought for a minute. The mill had burned down with all her possessions and all she had was her second best kimono and her favorite fan. The fan with a delicate ivory spine and 24 karat gold embroidery had been her mother's. "I have this fan with gold embroidery which belonged to my mother" Kagura said pulling the fan from the folds of her kimono and holding it out.
Sesshystiltzkin looked from her to the fan and back to her again. "You want me to substitute this straw into a room full of gold and you're offering me this fan with gold embroidery in exchange?"
Kagura felt her face grow red with embarrassment. "Gomen nesai." she said. "I wasn't thinking-"
"No, no," Sesshystiltzkin said. "I didn't mean that…." She could tell that the young demon was genuinely distressed that he had upset her. "The fan will be fine."
She handed it over, for even if he meant to take it and run away and never come back with the gold to replace the straw she certainly wouldn't be any worse off than she was at that moment.
But he didn't run off. The demon kept disappearing (sideways, he insisted, between the particles), but he always returned with gold cups and gold chop sticks and gold jewelry assuring her each time that everything would be fine everything would be fine and that the emperor would allow her to keep her head firmly attached to the rest of her body. Kagura kept throwing straw out the window until the next thing she knew she heard the emperor's voice on the other side of the door saying, "It's dawn. Unlock the door and meet your fate!" She threw the last armload of straw out the window and when she turned back, Sesshystiltzkin was gone and the emperor was standing in the doorway blinking his eyes in amazement.
"Well done," the emperor said taking a bit of snuff. "I must say: very well done."
"Thank you, your eminence," Kagura replied curtsying. "Now, if your eminence wouldn't mind…."
Before she could finish, the emperor gestured to one of his attendants who reached into a bag hanging from his sash. The emperor picked out seven gold coins and dropped them, one by one, into Kagura's hand.
"Thank you, your eminence." Kagura replied curtsying again. "I-"
"In fact," the emperor said stroking his chin, "this is so well done I think we shall hire you for another night."
"Ara," Kagura gasped, "demo-"
The emperor gestured to another attendant. "Clean her up," he ordered. "Feed her. Keep her amused until tonight. He looked around the room appreciatively again. "Most impressive." He sighed happily gazing at the room again.
Which didn't improve Kagura's apprehensive mood one little bit.
I'm going to end the first part here. I was originally hoping for a one shot, but the story is just too long for that to be kind. So anyway, read and review and I'll get to the next part soon.