I do not own Inuyasha. All characters and pre-established plots from the series belong to creator Rumiko Takahashi. The original characters within the story are my creations and I request that they not be copied or used elsewhere.

Bloodlines: ties of family

By HyperFerret

Chapter 1

The night was still and quiet as the wolf snouted dragon Ukuri cut effortlessly through the air. Even with the added weight of his demon rider and her effects the creature's serpentine body moved in harmony with the wind, drifting like a feather with each gentle tug. The sun was still fading in the background, casting an eerie orange glow over the dark land. As he and his companion neared their intended destination, the rank stench of sulfurous fumes and volcanic ash tinged the air, causing the dragon's rose pink scales to grow pale with disgust.

"Shura, are you sure this is right?" the dragon cooed in his native tongue to the demoness sitting atop his shoulders. He had reason to be doubtful, after all they were flying strait towards a desolate mountain filled with a valley of active volcanoes; not exactly the place to find many living creatures period, let alone renowned sword-smiths. Shura reached out a clawed hand and patted the beast gently on the neck.

"Rouyakan would not give false directions," she reassured him. Ukuri let out a skeptical sigh but continued on course. Shura's trust in her father's allies may not have sit well with him, but then again he wasn't the one who needed a sword repaired.

By the time the red glow of the charred valley came into full view, the atmosphere had become so thick with soot and burning cinders that clouds of it blocked out what little remained of the sun. The stench in the air had also intensified. Even from the sky, one mere sniff was enough to turn the stomach of any respectable demon and Shura's dragon friend was no exception. Armed with a wolf's unbearably acute sense of smell Ukuri was having great difficulties. Despite his efforts to descend to the ground, in the end, his sinuses just couldn't bear it.

"Its alright my friend," Shura informed him, herself shielding her nose and mouth with her kimono sleeve, "I'll continue on from here. You go get yourself some fresh air and rest. I'll meet you at the edge of the valley where the atmosphere is clear." The dragon didn't protest, only watched as his demon rider gathered her belongings, a satchel and the remains of her dragonfang sword, then slid from his back and hovered gracefully to the valley below.

As Shura landed her padded dog feet came to rest on a large demon skull, half buried in a dried lava bed. The object was warm, almost steaming thanks to the patches of glowing embers that dappled the landscape. One step on those, Shura quickly took note, and even her well-traveled paws could be burned beyond healing. Flexing her muscles, the demoness took an effortless leap to another island of bones close to her, all the while scanning the area for any trace of the fabled swordsmith rumored to dwell there. Amidst the rank volcano fumes, now at there worst, Shura's sharp nose managed to pick up another scent carried by the smoky valley winds. It was faint but unmistakable nonetheless. The scent belonged to Totosai, the famous crafter of demon fangs and the very one she had come there to see.

As she darted swiftly across the scattered patches of rock and bone Shura kept her finely tuned nose to the air. In the few weeks she had been away from home and traveling in the wild, tracking demons had become second nature to her; like a innate instinct reawakened by the savage wilderness. With a few gentle sniffs and a brief moment, to block the pain from inhaling volcanic air, she was able to hone in on the swardsmith's location. After that, all remained was getting there.

The demoness's golden eyes fell on a tall cliff formation in the distance. The structure was harsh looking, filled with sheer ledges and jagged peeks created by the fusion of rock and demon bone fragments. The formation's top most peek was perhaps one of the tallest in the valley, exactly the scouting post Shura needed. Rushing forward with a new burst of enthusiasm the demoness reached the cliff base with surprising speed. Then, without even breaking stride Shura pushed off hard from the rocky ground with her legs and soared upward along the side of the formation until she reached the top. Up there the wind was savage. Sharp gusts blew Shura's silver hair and kimono sleeves in all directions as she visually skimmed over the surroundings. Not far across the valley to the west was a gapeing demon skull, half buried in the base of rocky hill. It was an unusual sight, but even more unusual were the smells it exuded; the scent of fire, metal, and demon bones.

"So there you are," Shura thought as she shielded her face from another fierce blast of hot, ashy wind. "The sword smith Totosai. I hope you're as talented as the rumors say."

Within a few minutes Shura reached the forge. As she stepped closer to the doorway her senses informed her of the elusive crafter's presence. He was resting just inside.

"I beg your pardon master Totosai," Shura called as she stepped though the doorway. "I have a favor to ask of y…" her sentence was cut off. Just as she had she come within the swordsmith's view, Totosai let out a frightened wail.

"AKKK NOT YOU!" the old man howled as he tried with difficulty to scramble away. Only after taking a second glance at his addresser did Totosai realize that the demon who spoke was not his enemy Sesshomaru. "Oh…I'm sorry," he apologized in embarrassment "I thought you were somebody else." Shura gave a little laugh and one of her polite smiles, as the swordsmith looked her over. "Now then," the old man began after he decided Shura posed no threat, "Why have you come here?" The demoness pulled the cracked sword from its original position, resting across her back, and held it out with both hands.

"I am in need of your skill." The old man fixed his bulging eyes first on the damaged blade, then back to the demoness's face. In the long pause that followed, Shura was certain Totosai was pondering her request. Unfortunately, as was often the case with him, the old man was actually doing nothing of the sort.

"Are you sure I haven't met you before?" he asked. Shura nearly fell over. Luckily for Totosai, she was the most patient out of all her blood kin.

"I assure you, we haven't met," she replied with a bit of insistence, before trying to refocus the conversation "now about my sword…"

"Can't help you." Totosai responded before she could even finish and simultaneously gestured to the door with one hand. "I'm closed today."

"oh…" Shura tapped her foot lightly in annoyance. It was times like this she almost wished to be her father; he never got refused. But then again, it was for that very reason he had so few allies to begin with. No, she would not stoop to violence. "Very well then," Shura replied in a professional tone "If I come back tomorrow…will you consider my request?" The sword smith rubbed a hand over his lower back, which in turn led to a very unpleasant, cracking sound that made Shura flinch.

"Sorry, no can do," he answered casually "blew out my back last week and haven't been able to work since." Now the demoness really wanted to slap herself. A healer of over ten years, and still she had overlooked the fang crafter's obvious distress! Had her wonderings really made her so undisciplined?

"I'm sorry to hear that," Shura replied as she instinctively switched from determined customer to compassionate healer mode. Totosai continued to massage his aching back as it made more cracking noises.

"Why don't you come back in a few months," the old man managed to mutter between winces, "I should be healed by then." The demoness offered a lighthearted smile.

"I have a better idea. How about I insure you a faster recovery by fixing your back right now." Totosai stared as if Shura had suddenly grown another head.

"You can do that?" the question barely had time to leave his mouth before Totosai found himself suspended off the ground, his neck gripped firmly in one of Shura's clawed hands. "Hey! What do you think you're….!" Snap! The movement was so quick Totosai didn't even see it, but boy did he feel it. "Yeowwwwww!" the old man howled, casting an echo across the volcanic land before wrenching wildly around in Shura's grip, upon which she immediately released him. "Why you no good rotton…." Totosai began as he regained his balance and took a few angry steps forward "how dare you sneak up on me like…." Totosai paused when he realized his range of motion had drastically improved. "Hey! My back! It feels great!" the demoness watched with satisfaction as the old man started to dance playfully around the forge.

"I'm glad you're feeling better master Totosai" Shura commented as she bounced lightly on her toes. "But if I may be so bold to ask, would it be to much trouble for you to repair my sword now?" Totosai stopped his gig and stared at her. He had the look of a merchant, always anxious to haggle for the best deal.

"Well…I suppose I could take a look…." He at last mumbled with great reluctance. Shura once again extended her sword. Carefully, Totosai took the damaged weapon into his hands and inspected it closely.

"hmm…" he muttered "a sword of dragon fangs…don't see many of these," the swordsmith paused when his sight fell upon the base of the weapons handle. There was a large, ragged space where the power source should have been, a discouraging sight. "Oh dear…" he finally muttered, catching the attention of his client.

"What?"

"Well I can repair the blade just fine, but without a power source the sword is useless," he admitted sadly. "I'm sorry miss…but that's the trouble with dragon fang weapons." Shura watched as the old man frowned in disappointment. So her sword needed a power source, of dragon origin no doubt. Granted she had many dragon allies, but interrupting them with so little notice and such a great demand was almost asking too much. At the same time however, she couldn't expect to travel any further into the wilds in search of jewel fragments without some form of weapon. With her lack of training doing so was practically suicidal. Shura tapped her foot impatiently as she weighed the options in her mind. There was one other alternative; the crystal pendent Matyeo had given her would make the ideal power source. But sentiment was holding her back. What would the great dragon lord think of her if she fused his gift into her weapon?

Shura rocked gently on her feet and for a moment she found herself smiling. She knew exactly how her friend Matyeo would react, especially if he saw her hesitating like this. The dragon lord had crafted both artifacts, her sword and the pendent, to help guard her from danger, so what difference would it make if they were bound together? Setting her sight back on the old fang crafter Shura pulled the pendent from around her neck and held it out for him to see.

"Will this do?" she asked politely. Totosai extended a hand and took the crystal carefully. The radiance of the tiny object made his eyes boggle.

"ohhhh….there's a great deal of energy coming from this stone. It would make your sword very powerful…" Shura smiled.

"Excellent. I leave it up to you then." As she started to leave the forge, Shura paused suddenly in the doorway. All the debate about fixing her own sword made her forget the second reason she had come there. "Oh, master Totosai, I almost forgot…" the demoness turned back around and her eyes fell upon a pair of pliers resting neatly amongst the sword crafter's tool collection. Reaching over Shura picked up the pliers and simultaneously gave a little grin exposing her shimmering fangs. "I was wondering…if you would do me another favor…"