Yume: Sorry for the long wait. I'm trying to finish my manga.
CF: THANKS so much for all of your reviews and support!
[Disclaimer]: I own Inuyasha as much as I own that passing grade for Math Analysis. That's right! Never gonna happen! (Sob)
By: Youkai Yume
Act 4: The Deal
"Momma," Shippo whimpered into the dark recesses of his dark prison, "Please come find me."
Her knuckles grew white as she gripped her bow tightly. Ominous clouds hung above her, and the wind howled angrily, whipping mercilessly at her shivering body. She snuggled closer into the fire cat's body, in an attempt to warm herself. Kirara purred comfortingly to her, and Kagome smiled.
"Yeah, we'll find Shippo soon enough, and then we can go home." They continued to follow the wailing mushrooms, which still popped up over the autumn colored leaves that covered the forest floor. They had been doing so for about a whole day now, and still they had not found him. 'Shippo, please be safe.'
For what seemed like an eternity, the trail finally stopped in front of a large, elaborate gate. Behind its bars stood a dark, but beautiful castle, in which a sad, melancholy air hung about it. Kagome climbed carefully off of Kirara's back, approaching the foreboding gates.
"Here?" She muttered to herself, staring dazed at the castle. 'Shippo couldn't possibly be in here, could he?' But somehow her senses just told her that he was. Although she dreaded the thought of having to search for him in a place such as this, she was silently grateful that he wasn't in some wolf's belly.
Kagome cautiously opened the gates, stepping into the castle grounds. She swallowed, approaching the looming mansion with each step. She also realized that she was alone. Looking back, she saw Kirara still waiting outside the gates.
"Coming?" The fire cat shook its massive head, transformed back into it's smaller form in a fiery blaze, and jumped into a nearby tree, meowing it's protest. "Creepy even for you, ne?" Kagome smiled at her, as she heard apologetic mewls. "It's okay, just wait for me here, okay?"
Turning back to her present obstacle, she sighed and continued forward, all the while praying for the safety of her little kitsune.
The giant doors closed behind her with a startling "thump!" She jumped a bit before looking around at her surroundings. The inside, she examined, was much like the outside. Forebodingly beautiful, with a heavy sadness seeped in its' walls.
Kagome shivered. Who could possibly live here? It obviously wasn't abandoned, seeing as everything, although seemingly untouched, was unusually clean. 'Must be someone rich,' she concluded. No matter, as long as she found Shippo safe and sound, this place could've been an old shack for all she cared.
She proceeded to walk the dark, lonely halls, in which only a couple of flickering candles illuminated her way. Seeing as everything was so quiet, perhaps this castle really was empty. Or maybe everyone's out on vacation.
"Shippo-chan?" she called out warily into the dark shadows. Her voice bounced upon the elaborate walls, the melodious sound echoing even into the deepest of the castle's interior. No one answered, nothing but her continuous echoes. She shouldn't be surprised. I mean, what if Shippo couldn't even hear her from wherever he was, if he was indeed here.
Another chill ran up her spine. Why did she get the tingling sensation of being watched? And if she was being watched, why was the person hiding? Was it the person who lived here? Could the person possibly be mad for trespassing? But just as quickly as the uneasy feeling came, disappeared.
Kagome looked over her shoulder, expecting someone to be there. Dark shadows. She shook the feeling off. 'Just find Shippo, and get out!' She reminded herself. With that, she quickened her pace, calling out the kitsune's name once more.
"Nira-san! Nira-san!" The aged cat youkai turned to the direction of the overly ecstatic child. "Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?" Rin began to dance in circles around her, skipping and spinning in joy. Getting slightly dizzy, Nira stopped the little girl with her slender tail, gripping her shoulders gently.
"Rin, what is so exciting that you cannot tell me in a calm manner?" Rin settled down a bit, but could barely contain her excitement, as she continued to bounce up and down on the balls of her feet.
"Nira-san, there's a pretty lady in the castle!" She finally answered. The cat's eyes widened for a brief moment in silent hope, before easing down again. 'It couldn't be,' she thought. Afterall, Rin was known for having an overly active imagination.
"Rin-san, it does not do well to make up such ridiculous stories," she chided gently. Rin's shoulder's drooped. That wasn't the response she was hoping for.
"But Rin's not making it up, Rin's telling the truth! Rin saw the pretty lady, honest!" Nira ruffled the girl's hair affectionately.
"That's enough, Rin, I don't want to hear any more nonsense! Besides, it's way past your bed time," With that, the cat youkai, although aged, collected Rin into her arms and started for her bedchambers. She could barely contain her chuckle when she heard a small disappointed sigh escape the child's lips.
Just then, one of the servants ran towards them, wearing the same face of excitement as Rin was earlier.
"Where are you going in such a hurry, Kotori?" Nira asked the rushing servant. She looked surprised at her for asking such a question.
"Oh! Nira-san, did you not hear?" She asked, a twinkle gleaming in her eyes. She shook her head.
"There is a girl in the castle!" Nira's eyebrows furrowed. Surely, the servants couldn't be THAT gullible as to believe the child's story.
"Let me guess, you heard it from Rin?" Kotori looked confused at this.
"Rin? No, I saw her with my own eyes! And I have to admit that she is rather beautiful for a human girl!" She spoke, still in a rather excited tone. "Don't you see, Nira-san? She is here to break the spell!" She beamed at Nira before running off and telling the other servants of the news.
Nira was left staring dumbfounded after her. There really was a human girl in the castle. It wasn't a lie. 'Perhaps our luck is finally beginning to change. . .' A slight tug on her kimono brought her attention to the little girl at her sleeve. Giving her a toothy and rather smug grin, Rin giggled happily.
"See? Rin told Nira-san!"
Kagome now stood at the bottom of a staircase. Unlike the rest of the castle, this particular part seemed less elaborate than the rest of the interior. She gazed nervously up into the dark shadows that seemed to swallow the rest of the elevating steps. If it were up to her, she hoped never to climb them, but the image of Shippo constantly surfaced into her mind, urging her on.
'Somehow, I know he's going to be at the end of these steps.' As this single thought resounded again and again in her head, she swallowed, and steadily began her journey up the flight of stairs. The candle held in her hand was the only light that she possessed, the little flame flickering eerie shadows onto the walls.
It was when she was halfway up the stairs that she heard it. The barely audible, but unmistakable sound of a crying child. 'Shippo!' Her heart raced, he was there! Kagome was now running up the steps, barely able to contain her excitement of being able to hold the little kit once more.
"SHIPPO!" She called out to him. She could hear his cries slowly dying, only to be replaced by hopeful pleas.
"Kagome! Momma! I'm here!" She ran even faster at hearing his voice. Happiness filled her. He was alright! But as soon as she had reached the top her heart fell. It was a dungeon room, cold and achingly haunting in its dark shadows.
"Momma. . ." she heard him whimper. Kagome turned her head in the direction of the voice. She nearly cried at the sight of him, her little pup.
"Oh Shippo-chan!" She threw herself against the bars, holding tightly to the cold metal as her surrogate son came into view. His clothes were dirty and torn, his face still stained from his dried tears, and his eyes glistened with new ones that threatened to spill.
"Are you all right?" She asked worriedly, he sniffled, wiping away his tears.
"Hai," he answered, and Kagome almost smiled. He tries to be so brave. Shippo approached closer to the bars, and leaned his head upon them.
"I'm so glad you came, I knew you would come for me, Kagome. . ."Kagome's tears finally gave way, and she reached out her hand to stroke through his red mane.
"Of course I would come for you, Shippo-chan. It was my fault in the first place that you're here. I should have never left you alone. . .forgive me," Shippo's eyes widened and he clasped her hands with his small ones.
"No, Momma, it's not your fault! I wandered off too far!" Kagome wiped her tears away.
"Who did this to you?" She asked, anger beginning to rise. Shippo's eyes shone with fear at the question. Before he could answer, Kagome had waved the notion aside.
"Doesn't matter. What's important right now is to get you out of here!" Shippo nodded, but suddenly caught the scent of something in the air. He became frightened, his eyes bore into Kagome's in a pleading look.
"No, Kagome, you have to get out of here, or else HE'LL get you too!" He batted her hands away, and Kagome stared, startled at his sudden outburst. "Please, leave me Momma! Hurry!" But she only clung onto him tighter, shocked that he would even ask her such a thing.
"No, I won't leave without you!" A sudden chill ran up her spine, as the presence of a demon became evident.
"Foolish miko, you should have heeded the kit's warning," a smooth velvety voice echoed off of the prison walls, causing Kagome to shudder. Slowly, she began to turn her head in the direction of the cold voice. Her eyes widened when she saw the taiyoukai of the west step out from behind the dark shadows. The few rays of moonlight from the tiny little window filtered through, illuminating his stoic face.
"S-Sesshomaru. . ." she whispered his name, fear laced her voice. This was Sesshomaru's castle, she had begun to realize. His golden eyes glinted in the dark, and even if his face remained emotionless, she could tell he was angry.
"You," he addressed her, "Are Inuyasha's wench are you not?" He inwardly smirked when he saw her tense. It was striking how closed she resembled the woman that cursed him so many nights ago. Sesshomaru scowled at the memory. 'But this one,' he glanced at her, 'is different. . .'
"My name's Kagome!" She bit out, but stopped when he gave her a cold glare.
"Does it look like I care for your name? You are trespassing on my lands, on my property, you are lucky I don't slaughter you where you stand." Sesshomaru was slightly surprised that she was not frightened by his remark, but instead did not back down. She stood up.
"Please Sesshomaru-sama," Kagome gazed with him with her sapphire orbs. He couldn't help but feel mesmerized by them. Shaking off the feeling, he continued to glare impatiently at her. "Please, let Shippo go."
He merely scoffed at her request.
"I think not, human. He is my prisoner, and shall remain so until I feel he is deserving of freedom," He answered coldly to her. "Besides, I have a use for him." Kagome narrowed her eyes and stepped closer to him.
"And what about me? I trespassed too, aren't you going to lock me up?" Her tone was unwavering, almost persistent. Still, he answered her indifferently.
"I have no use for you, I will permit you to leave. I suggest you do so before I change my mind."
"Is to stay with me." His voice became harsh and final.
"Is there nothing I can do?" She asked him, sadness evident in her voice.
"There is nothing." He bit out to her, and with that, he turned on his heels to leave, not wanting to see the pained expression on the girl's face. Why he didn't, he wasn't sure, he usually enjoyed watching other people suffer. Well, it doesn't matter. Just when he was about to leave the room, Kagome's voice rang out to him. What she said would stop him dead in his tracks.
"Sesshomaru-sama, please take me instead!" His head turned to look at her pleading eyes. This was her last resort.
"No, Momma! Forget about me! Go back home, where you'll be safe!" But his cries fell on deaf ears as Kagome's eyes shone with silent resolution.
"You," Sesshomaru scoffed at the silly notion, but his tone softened when he began to realize what lengths she would go to in order to save her friend. "You would. . .take his place?"
"Yes." She answered, her voice firm. Sesshomaru was silently amazed at how loyal she was. Again, more protests could be heard from the little kitsune, as the two continued to ignore him.
Sesshomaru's mind began to race. Perhaps she could be useful afterall. Inuyasha cared for her more than he did for the kit, and would be guaranteed to come for her. Tetsusaiga would soon be his! Not to mention, she is a miko, right? Perhaps she knows a spell that could break his curse, and if she didn't, what if she could break it the other way? 'No, impossible,' he thought. But she could prove to be useful nonetheless.
"If you agree to stay, then you must promise to remain here, forever." Kagome's eyes shone with conflict. 'Forever?' She looked down at Shippo. Her mind made up.
"I promise," Her eyes closed to prevent tears from spilling forth.
"Deal," Sesshomaru agreed almost immediately, walking briskly past her as she fell to her knees, covering her face as she began to sob quietly. He felt a sudden pang of guilt, and considered for a moment to just release both the kit and miko. But shook the absurd idea off. He would not show weakness or sympathy, especially to a human.
Upon unlocking the prison door, the kitsune ran past him and embraced Kagome in a tight hug.
"No, please Momma, take it back! You don't know what you're getting yourself into!" Kagome looked sadly down at him and stroked his hair.
"Don't worry, Shippo-chan. I'll be alright," Before she could say anything else, Sesshomaru pried him away from her warm embrace and carried him away.
"Kagome!" He struggled against the demon lord, who held his grip firm. Kagome reached out a trembling hand, as if trying to grasp the kitsune once more, but their forms were soon lost to the darkness as Sesshomaru took him away to the front gates.
Kagome curled into a ball, tears streaming down her pale cheeks as her chest tightened in pain. 'Shippo. . .'
"Let me go! Kagome! Give me back Kagome!" Shippo continued to struggle in Sesshomaru's grasp. He stared coldly down at him.
"Silence, kit!" He bit out to him. Awaiting the front doors were Ah and Un, the two headed dragon. It raised its' head expectantly at it's master. Sesshomaru tied Shippo and strapped him onto the dragon's back.
"Take this runt and drop him off in Inuyasha's forest." He commanded it. Ah and Un grunted and took off, taking a wailing Shippo into the starlit night. He stared emotionlessly after it's retreating form. Somewhere within the castle walls, he could hear the sound of a crying miko, engulfed in her own sorrow, and his golden eyes glinted, for just a brief second, with guilt.
Yume: I apologize for any grammatical errors on this chapter.
CF: THANKS FOR ALL THE REVIEWS! Do it again! Only, no flames please.