Kagome, Sakura, Kaede, and the village men watched as a violent battle took place right before their eyes. Yue and Kerberos, the thought lost Guardians of Clow Reed, were now fighting a desperate, losing battle against the hanyou. Both Guardians were rapidly weakening; in fact, the first to fall was Yue.
"Yue!" Kerberos yelped, when he saw the angelic warrior collapse.
"My powers……..haven't all returned yet, Kerberos. Take the girls and go…..do not let Inu-Yasha get the Jewel." Yue gasped, as he struggled to get back to his feet.
"Cut the crap, Yue!" Inu-Yasha growled, as he slashed at both Guardians with his claws.
"Hey! If you want the Jewel, then come and get it!" Kagome shouted, as she started running away from the group.
"Kagome-chan!" Sakura yelped, as the other girl made an attempt to save the lives of the Guardians.
"Wood!" Sakura called, as she tried to cage Inu-Yasha with the surrounding trees.
"Don't interfere, wench!" Inu-Yasha snapped, as he clawed his way free and continued his pursuit of the reborn miko.
"Kaede-sama!" one of the village men shouted, when it appeared as though the hanyou was closing in. Kaede sighed somewhat in exasperation.
"Somehow I knew that it would eventually come to this……..Well, you always were a fool……….." Kaede muttered, as she reached into her kimono and brought out a set of prayer beads. Just as she did that, Inu-Yasha rent the ground with his claws, leaving three huge gouges in the forest floor. The force of this attack was enough to knock Kagome down and loosen her grip on the Sacred Jewel. Without further ado, Kaede somehow suspended the beads before her, concentrated, then sent the ensorcelled beads heading directly for the hanyou. Kerberos watched closely as the beads surrounded Inu-Yasha's neck, then returned to their usual form and appearance on him.
"What th' heck are these?!" Inu-Yasha asked, as he gave the beads an unreadable look and tugged on them a little, before returning his attention to Kagome.
"Quickly, child! The word of subjugation!" Kaede shouted.
"What word??" Kagome replied, as she took back the fallen Jewel and got to her feet.
"It doesn't matter! Your word has power over him now, just as Sakura-sama's word has power over Yue and me! One word has power over his spirit!" Kerberos added, catching on to what Kaede had done just seconds before.
"Shaddup Kero! No puny human can overpower me!" Inu-Yasha retorted, as he chased Kagome down a steep embankment. The reborn miko cried out when she felt her footing slip and she fell, once again losing her grip on the Jewel. Like a glowing ball, the Sacred Jewel bounced away from Kagome, only to come to a stop in the center of a wooden bridge. And a few feet away, Inu-Yasha came to a halt.
"A 'word to hold his spirit'……….but how'll I know which one to choose?" Kagome mused, out loud, as she tensely watched Inu-Yasha get closer to the Jewel.
"Kagome-chan, 'inu' means 'dog' right? Try using a dog command on him!" Sakura suggested.
"Oh, right!" Kagome thought, then said, out loud, "Sit!" Half a second later, Inu-Yasha was face down on the bridge, brought down by Kagome's word. Yue smiled slightly as Sakura enthusiastically cheered for Kagome, while Kerberos merely chuckled and shook his head.
"Our new master is going to be a handful, isn't she, Yue?" Kerberos asked, flinching when Inu-Yasha was 'sat' again and went through the already weakened boards of the bridge, landing with a huge splash in the river.
"Yes. But no moreso that Clow-sama had been………Come. Everyone else is returning to the village. We must go where Sakura-sama goes." Yue said, quietly, as he shakily got to his feet and walked alongside the young girl.
"Is it just me, or is Yue takin' this better than I thought he would?" Kerberos wondered, as he padded alongside his brother, curious beyond words as to how well Yue seemed to be taking Clow's death.
The next morning, repairs were being made to the huts damaged by the centipede woman's attack. Touya awoke to the feeling of a weathered hand against his brow.
"Ye are stronger than ye look, boy. Ye had us all worried last night." Kaede said as Touya groaned and put a hand to his head. He found some bandages and a small, damp patch on the spot where his head had met the ground. He was sore all over, but not as badly hurt as he thought he would be.
"Where's my sister? Where's Sakura?" Touya asked.
"Outside helping with the repairs. It took a lot of convincing to get her to leave your side for awhile. But Yue and Kerberos seem to have a talent for doing that." Kagome replied, getting a bewildered look from Touya for her remark.
"Yue……..? Kerberos…….?" What happened last night after I was knocked out?" Touya asked, confusion and suspicion being the chiefest of expressions on his face.
"Long story, Touya-sempai. We'll try to explain it to you later when you're feeling better. Just try and rest up, okay?" Kagome said, trying to ease Touya's suspicions somewhat.
"I'll keep you to your word, Kagome-san. Just don't keep me waiting too long." Touya muttered, as he reluctantly relaxed back onto the makeshift futon. Within moments, he was asleep again.
"Whew. For a minute there, I thought he was gonna try and get up to go look for Sakura-chan. I didn't realize how protective he is over her." Kagome murmured, as she watched Touya sleep.
"Siblings can be like that sometimes. Especially elder siblings towards younger ones." Kaede said, looking up as Sakura re-entered the hut, with Yue and Kerberos on her heels.
"How's it goin' out there?" Kagome asked, conversationally, as the three sat down around the now extinguished fire pit.
"Repairs are well under way, Kagome-dono. As far as any injuries were concerned, surprisingly few townsfolk suffered any real wounds last night. It's what Sakura-sama called a 'close call'." Yue replied, smoothly.
"Good to hear. How are you two feeling, by the way? Yue-san seemed kinda sick last night." Kagome said, remembering how pale and weak Yue had looked just after the battle.
"A few hours of rest have done much to replenish our powers, Kagome-sama. In fact, the few serious injuries we encountered have already been taken care of. As a matter of fact, I am now strong enough to do this……….." Kerberos said, as he walked over to Touya's sleeping form, touched a paw to his forehead, and murmured, "What darkness has wrought, let light undo it." For a brief moment, Kerberos glowed; then some of his golden light sank into Touya, healing his injuries and causing the bandages around his head to loosen and fall away. Then the winged lion yawned and grinned.
"Well, time for this kitty to take a cat nap. Wake me when it's time to eat 'kay?" Kerberos asked, jokingly, before sauntering out of the hut.
"He's pretty incredible, wouldn't you agree, Kagome-chan?" Sakura asked.
"Hai, he is." Kagome agreed.
"Just don't let him hear you say that. His ego is big enough as it is." Yue muttered, dryly, getting some giggles from Kagome and a deadpan look from Sakura as a response.
"You sound just like my Nii-chan." Sakura mumbled, as a knowing look passed between Kaede and Kagome in response to that.
"Ouch." Kagome said, with a wince, as Kaede put more medicine on the wound the youkai had inflicted.
"Pain, yes, and just the beginning. Now that the sacred 'Shikon no Tama' is back among us, far worse than Mistress Centipede will come to claim it." Kaede said, knowingly.
"Worse than yesterday?" Kagome asked, with some disbelief in her voice. Kaede nodded.
"And not just youkai. Humans are also seeking the Jewel; humans whose hearts are even more corrupt. Only the Jewel has the power to make real their petty ambitions." Yue murmured, then added, "I should know, since I watched my previous master, Clow Reed, spend his last earthly years chasing evil away from Kikyo-dono."
"Whoa……………." Sakura said, softly, still having a bit of difficulty getting all of the information to sink in.
"Speaking of petty, what're you still doing here?" Kagome asked, turning her attention to Inu-Yasha, who up until that moment had been silently sulking on the floor.
"With the beads around his neck, his threat is diminished. It is perhaps the only way we can allow him so close to the Jewel." Kaede said, as she gave the hanyou something akin to a chagrined look.
"Why do you want the Jewel, Inu-Yasha-san? It seems to me as though you're strong enough as it is." Sakura murmured. The hanyou didn't answer her.
"Yeah. What power can the Jewel give you that you don't have already?" Kagome asked, as she gazed thoughtfully at the Jewel.
"Ah, but he's just half youkai." Kaede answered, not even flinching when Inu-Yasha punched a hole in the floor of the hut. Yue deadpanned, while Sakura and Touya (who had been sound asleep until that moment) jumped.
"Y'know what? I'm sick of hearin' some dried up witch I just met talk like she knows me!" Inu-Yasha growled, a little angrily. Kaede merely sighed; she knew this was coming.
"So you don't remember. I thought as much. I'm younger sister to Kikyo, she who bound ye to the tree: Kaede." Kaede said, patiently and a little sadly.
"You're Kaede??" Inu-Yasha asked, with some disbelief in his own voice. Kaede slowly nodded.
"I remember you, Kaede-dono. You're the one that asked Clow-sama if he could heal Kikyo-dono." Yue said, aware of the disbelieving and distrustful looks he was getting from Touya and choosing to ignore them. Again Kaede nodded.
"Fifty years have passed and I have grown old." Kaede said, as Inu-Yasha snorted in derision and relaxed again.
"If you're this old, then Kikyo must be pushin' a hundred. Sure glad I don't have ta worry about bein' old………least not for a while." Inu-Yasha muttered, disrespectfully. It was then that the somber look Touya had noticed the night before returned to Kaede's weathered features.
"Kikyo didn't worry either. Kikyo died." Kaede said soberly, then added, "It was on the same day she shot ye with the arrow……….And Clow Reed followed not too long after." For a brief moment, a look of shock and grief adorned Inu-Yasha's face, then the sneer returned.
"That bothered him more than he's letting on." Touya thought, having caught the look before it disappeared completely behind the mask.
"Gee, sorry to hear it. Not that I care or nothin'. It's one less thing for me to worry about." Inu-Yasha said, derisively, as he leaned back casually.
"I wouldn't let my guard down just yet, Inu-Yasha. I now know that Kagome is the reincarnation of my sister." Kaede said, in all seriousness. This got a number of confused looks from the three teens and especially Inu-Yasha. Kaede took this as her cue to continue.
"And it isn't because ye resemble her, Kagome; the Shikon no Tama was in your body. That alone is proof enough. It is up to ye now, child, to take over its protection." Kaede said, calmly.
"But Miko-sama, where does that leave us? You haven't said anything about Sakura or me. How is it that we also ended up here?" Touya asked, somewhat bothered by the omission of himself and his sister.
"Ye and your sister also have a place in this. Last night, when your arrow burst into flame, I knew ye had the ability to become a fellow guardian of the Jewel. You would be of great help to Kagome………..Yet your imoto-chan, Sakura, is stronger still. Within her lies the power of Clow Reed. She isn't his reincarnation, mind you, but she is his successor. That is why ye both need to remain near Kagome. As well as Kerberos and Yue." Kaede said, as she gazed at Yue, as he quietly observed the goings on outside with silent interest.
A few hours later, Kagome, Touya, and Sakura wandered around the town, trying to figure out what to do now.
"So we're the guardians of the Shikon no Tama now, eh? If anybody had told me that we'd be five hundred years in the past, in a time where monsters and half monsters roam free, two weeks ago, I would have laughed them right into the next city. But there's no denying it now." Touya murmured, as he shifted his bow and quiver of arrows into a more comfortable position on his shoulder.
"Same here. I still can't believe that I am who Kaede-san says I am. I mean, just a day ago I was an ordinary girl with the usual challenges in life; homework, exams, etc. I never thought that something like this would happen to me!" Kagome said, in agreement.
"In any case, we've got to find a way home soon. Our families are more than likely worried sick about us!" Sakura stated, with just as much concern in her own voice.
"That goes without saying. Even our father, as easygoing as he is, is going to be upset with us for disappearing on him like that." Touya agreed, then looked up when some shadows passed overhead.
"It looks like Yue and Kerberos are going somewhere. I'm going to go and see what they're up to. See you guys later!" Sakura said, as she took off after the pair.
"Do you think she'll be all right, Touya-sempai?" Kagome asked, as they watched her go.
"She's stronger than she looks, Kagome-san. And, even though I don't trust them very much, those two Guardians will protect her if something comes." Touya said, with more certainty in his voice than he secretly felt.
When Sakura finally caught up with the Guardians, she found they were in front of two shrines. Yue was kneeled in front of one, head bowed and hands clasped in front of his chest, with Kerberos right beside him, leonine head also bowed.
"It appears that, even in death, Clow-sama is protecting Kikyo-sama." Kerberos murmured, as he glanced at the other shrine with a somber look in his amber eyes.
"It looks that way. At least the people of this town honored him with that much……Though I still find it hard to believe that fifty years have passed since that day. It could have been yesterday that Clow-sama was alive and guarding Kikyo-dono." Yue said, his silver/lavender eyes shimmering slightly.
"Yue-san……….." Sakura thought, as she quietly approached the pair and gently hugged the moon guardian. Even though he was a little startled by her sudden appearance there, Yue relaxed into the embrace. Against his will, he felt his tears sliding down his face, landing like raindrops on Sakura's school jacket.
"You loved Clow-san very much, didn't you?" Sakura asked. Yue nodded.
"Hai. We did. He was as much a father to us as any mortal could have possibly been. He was gentle and wise, and taught us many valuable lessons in the years he walked this earth. But there was one lesson he couldn't teach us……and that was how to move on after he died." Kerberos said, his own voice choked with emotion as he remembered his and Yue's former master.
"There were times when Kerberos and I sensed that something wasn't right with him; and even though he denied it, his actions spoke louder than words. We didn't know it was his heart giving him problems until the day he used the last of his power to get to Kikyo-dono's side and seal us along with Inu-Yasha." Yue added, as he gently hugged the girl back, then released her.
"But why did Clow-san do that?" Sakura asked, curiously.
"To reinforce Kikyo-sama's seal, and to shield Inu-Yasha from youkai while he slept. I think he knew that Inu-Yasha wouldn't remain sealed forever. That his successor and Kikyo-dono's reincarnation would come and release the seal." Yue mused, looking away when a crash sounded in the distance.
"Kagome-chan must've 'sat' him again." Sakura said, with a giggle. Kerberos snickered, while Yue's expression deadpanned.
"I think it is safe to assume that much, at least." Yue muttered, then stood.
"Are you okay now, Yue-san?" Sakura asked, concerned about the angelic Guardian.
"I will be all right, Sakura-sama. You needn't worry about me." Yue said, calmly, as he wiped any remaining tears away with his tunic sleeve.
"I can't help but worry. After all, I want to be yours' and Kero-chan's friend, not your master." Sakura said, smiling kindly at the two from where she stood in front of Clow's shrine.
"You're a very kind person, Sakura-sama……..but did you have to call me 'Kero-chan'? It makes me sound like a frog!" Kerberos mumbled, giving Yue an irritated glance when he smirked at him.
"I think it suits you very well, Kerberos." Yue said, getting a patented death glare from Kerberos as a response.
"Oh boy……….what have I started this time?!" Sakura wondered, as the two Guardians started bickering like the brothers they were.