Servant By: OtakuSailorV

Chapter 23: The Past

She woke with the graying dawn, the tingle of her returning youkai powers being what had wakened her. Stirring, she looked about at the dismal landscape around her. A light, cold mist clung to her head and shoulders, the rest of her being wrapped in the pure white baboon pelt that he had left her.

His scent still lingered about her she realized as she sniffed the air with her demon nose. Naraku couldn't have left long ago…

She shivered, drawing the pelt closer about her as she recalled how he had held her the previous night. Fear and hurt pained her heart and she willed herself to sink into the wall in shame. How could she have allowed him to touch her? She had betrayed her friends; and now she knew she was no better than he was for allowing herself to lose control in that village. Spitefully she turned her head aside, clenching her fangs together against a small, choked sob that had risen in her throat unbidden.

"Just shut up," she growled to herself under her breath. She brought the pelt up under her nose and drank in the scent of the one that she no longer was she how she felt about. She hated herself for being weak, but did she hate him too…? She had plenty of reason to, she knew, but after how she had lost control, could she hate anyone for crimes that she too had committed? She once had revered him for how he had saved her life that time that seemed so long ago. Could it really have been less than a year ago that that had happened?

Yuhi sighed, not willing to move and yet knowing that she couldn't stay there the entire day. What would she do though? She didn't have the heart to continue on as a servant any longer.

"What are you going to do now?" she questioned herself aloud. A cynical smile was on her lips as she leaned her head back against the wall. "You're completely useless. What business do you even have still being alive?"

'She hates you! Haha, you say that we are nothing alike and yet your weakness hates you! We share the same fate, you and I, do not try and deny it!'

Naraku ignored Onigumo's insane laughter and constant attempts to anger him. He was lounging in his usual place in his apartments, staring into the darkness and contemplating his next move. Inuyasha and his goons were coming closer, he would have to move the castle again soon, but where to?

Stretching his mind out over miles and miles he searched for suitable new abodes. He had already constructed a golem to do just this and he was trailing it closely. He would have to strengthen his barriers as well so as not to be found. Maybe he'd set up a few faulty leads for Inuyasha as well. An idea struck him and he smirked. Yes…that would work quite well…

Onigumo sniggered as the edges of the plan infringed on his consciousness. 'So you'll tease that brat Inuyasha and cut off any last ties she might have to the outside world? Haha…'

There was a long pause and then…

'She'll hate you for eternity, Naraku,' a harsh laugh that soon turned vicious. 'We are indeed tied by the same fate! I shall enjoy watching you suffer!'

She stared at Kohaku silently, not recognizing him immediately. She had nearly forgotten that anyone lived in the castle aside from herself, Kagura and Naraku. She shivered at the thought of dark Lord that seemed to have some odd fascination with her and she rubbed her arms.

"Hello," she greeted in a faint tone.

He jumped and turned sharply, obviously not having been aware of her presence beforehand. His large, kind eyes lost their fear when he spotted her. "Hello," he replied in the same soft tone of voice.

Yuhi nodded, staring off into the distance where he had been looking before. How very young this boy was, and already he had been through so much. She wondered how he managed to deal with everything that had happened to him at this time in his life when she could not even handle a few hardships throughout her entire life. For only 'hardships' she did consider them when compared to everything that Kohaku had been through in the course of less than a year. At least she had had years to soothe her wounds and move on with her life, but this boy hadn't even been graced with a few months. He'd had to pick up and go on command if he wished to survive and live for the future. And she was still alive! This poor boy was animated only with thanks to the Shikon fragment in his neck. Her constant yearnings to die now haunted her and taunted her loudly from the back of her mind, making her cheeks become pink with shame. She sighed wearily, wishing there was something she could do for the lad. Alas, what use was she?

"She's made it through the barrier," Kohaku mumbled to himself and turned to go.

Yuhi stared after him, confused as to what he had meant. The rough breeze that rose over the barren landscape brought to her the scent of grave dirt. As she caught this scent she also spotted a white and red clad figure on the horizon, slowly making its way toward the castle. A miko by the looks of her clothing and with long midnight hair streaming behind her as she crossed the barren stretch of land.

She started at the sight, her initial thought being to run and warn someone of the approaching danger. After all, what was a greater threat to demons than a monk or priestess with purifying powers? She jerked, her feet anchoring her to the ground stubbornly as the rest of her slanted forward in preparation to run. Who did she plan on warning? And why? Kohaku was probably warning Naraku now and Kagura had probably noticed the miko's presence long ago. Besides, to whom did she owe allegiance to in this castle? No one, of course! Yet still…She was curious…Who was this mysterious priestess that approached?

Naraku smirked, sitting on the main stairs of the castle entrance, watching Kikyou's approach. She took her time, walking slowly but deliberately towards him, her eyes never leaving his for a moment. Her usual entourage of Shinidamachuu was not there, unable to enter into Naraku's kingdom with her.

She came to a halt some twenty feet from him, her face void of any betraying expression. For a long time they simply stared at each other in silence. Kagura watched with bored interest from inside the castle.

"Naraku, you are a fool if you thought one of your incarnations could kill me," Kikyou stated at last. She spoke softly but there was hard steel to her tone.

"Hakudoushi has failed me then? How unfortunate," Naraku cooed. He chuckled, for he had known all along that Hakudoushi had failed and Kikyou knew that he knew as well.

"Is Onigumo so ready to get rid of me?" Kikyou paused and smirked lightly at the dark hanyou. "Or are you seeking to rid yourself of your weakness?"

Naraku chuckled again, a derisive smirk painted across his lips this time. His crimson eyes danced with delight and hatred at the same time. "Do not be a fool, Kikyou, you know nothing of my weakness, if indeed such a thing does exist for me," he laughed again at the mild look of puzzlement that fleetingly strained her beautiful features.

Kikyou notched an arrow and pointed it at Naraku, her eyes narrowed. Naraku's smirk widened, amused by her attempt to threaten him. Before either side had a chance to say a word, Kikyou released the arrow with fluid grace.

The spiritually charged arrow cut through the air like a knife, head straight for the source of the demonic aura that surrounded it on all sides.

A blur of motion and the arrow exploded in a blast of pure spiritual energy not five feet from Naraku. All were surprised and stared as Yuhi stumbled back, grasping at her bloodied right arm. Her fur stood on end, her teeth ground together in pain as fangs and claws grew and retracted at a rapid pace that cut her gums and the flesh around her nails. She was hunched over and ridged, growling under her breath as she clasped her left hand over her right arm to try to null the pain there. Her right arm was covered in burns and the ragged flesh around the wounds hissed and steamed as the pure energy flowed through her and attacked her demonic side.

Her demonic blood and body couldn't handle the contact with Kikyou's powerful spiritual aura and it was going crazy in the turmoil, shifting between her human and demon forms at random. Her pupils dilated and she stumbled back again, unable to keep her foot for long as the urge to get away from the spiritual power overcame her. She was unable to control the changes that ran throughout her body either and seemed to be borderline mad as she shook her head. A red haze of pain, confusion and utter exhaustion began to descend, but she fought it back, unwilling to let herself be lost to her demonic powers again.

The roots of her hair turned black and began to extend through the rest of her hair when it would revert back to its natural tan coloring and start over again. Her ears and tail tingled painfully and her hair refused to lay flat again as it reached skyward in fear of the pure aura. She hissed for breath between her fangs as she attempted with everything she had to resist the waves of spiritual power that were entering her. It felt like it was trying to tear her apart!

Naraku caught her in his arms as she fell back and held her there against her struggling as she panted for breath. The broken arrow lay smoldering on the steps before them; Naraku smirked at Kikyou who, despite herself, looked quite astounded.

At last she returned the smirk, lowering her bow as she finally understood. "If it exists," she repeated, her eyes laughing.

Naraku had carried the panting and protesting Yuhi back into the castle, dismissing Kikyou as if her presence didn't bother him. The miko had already begun to leave, her business of checking up on Naraku through. She'd be back though; she always seemed to be able to find him. She was waiting for Kohaku's shard, he was sure, but for now he wasn't worried about it. He had much for pressing matters to see to. Namely this unruly hanyou girl in his arms.

Yuhi fought against his hold weakly, but he was stronger than she was by far. She cradled her wounded arm, cursing herself inwardly for her stupidity and rash behavior. What had possessed her to do something so stupid? Especially for him! She owed him nothing now…She ground her fangs against each other in pain and frustration. He could have handled it anyway, he hadn't needed her foolish help.

And where was he taking her now anyway? She felt her stomach sink.

"It's fine," she mumbled grudgingly and in truth her wound was already beginning to heal, if painfully slowly. All other side effects of her contacts with the arrow were gone or lingering faintly.

"I didn't ask," Naraku replied coldly, his bright red eyes meeting hers briefly as he spoke.

Yuhi looked away, chastised. She was no longer a servant perhaps, but he still outranked her. Her lips parted mechanically, an apology on the tip of her tongue, but she stopped herself and instead remained silent.

He set her down outside a room whose door was already ajar, as if in preparation for her. She stared at it with a hint of nostalgia, for she recognized it as the room she had occupied so happily long ago as his servant. Why had she ever thought that he had a heart? She had been such a fool…

"You will stay here," he ordered more than informed her. When she turned, he was gone with no sign as to where.

Yuhi fingered the golden earring that had once belonged to her friend, the kitsune called Kai. It hung from her left ear now as a constant reminder to her of what she had lost because of her naivety. Despair overwhelmed her as she thought of the twins. How she wished they were here now so that she could have someone to talk to!

She wandered to the door and slid it aside, stepping out daringly without even peeking around first to see if she was being watched. She wandered slowly down the hall, picking her way through the castle on memory alone. Would the passage still be there? She hadn't thought of it before, but now it struck her as something very obvious and logical to wonder at. Then again, why would Naraku close-off the dungeons?

She stopped as she came upon the doorway, stone stairs leading down into the darkness. A shiver ran up her spine and she began to think apprehensively of plunging into such darkness, especially now that she knew that nothing was down there that was friendly.

The small candle that burned in the saucer in her hand flickered as a cold, musty draft wafted out from beneath the ground. Light strands of tan hair fluttered about her face in distress at the breeze.

Swallowing, she started down, being careful not to slip on the worn stairs overgrown as they were with moss. She held her breath, listening carefully for any sound above or below, ready to flee at any given moment. Her heart pounded and the far-off echoing drip of water made her only that much more nervous.

She just wanted to see the cell where they had been kept, that was all. Just a little look and then she'd leave.

The iron bars seemed to come right out of the surrounding stone to form the cage. The usual wooden cells would not have held the twin kitsune's, despite the fact that they had been restricted to near-human powers alone.

She stared, holding her small light aloft. It seemed like so long ago when she knew in truth that it had only been 2 or 3 months. The earring caught the light of the flame and cast a ring of metallic light that wavered and danced over the barren walls. Yuhi sighed and lowered the saucer that contained her candle.

Some things were best left in the past, she supposed…

'Servant' fanart is now available at my deviantArt account! The link to my account can be found in my BIO, but just in case, my screenname everywhere is 'OtakuSailorV,' so it won't be too hard trying to find me.

Thank you everyone for being patient as I updated and special thanks to Hasso-san, who has been conversing with me via PM for some time now. Your comments and support are greatly appreciated!

Other than that, I can't think of much else to say here. If I've forgotten anything, I'll comment on it next chapter or somewhere else I suppose.

Ah yes, that's it! If you have fanart for Servant somewhere, I'd be greatly interested in seeing it! Feel free to post a link to it for me! I'd be thrilled if there's any out there anywhere.

Best be off now, Ja'ne!

Review Please.