These Chains

Summary: There's a saying around here that says 'Observe the woman who tragedy touches, for she is truly touched.' But then again – who's thankful for tragedy?

Warnings: AU… and a departure from the humor in 'Shippo's Plans" and 'On Being a Pumpkin' My chapters are notoriously short, and I'm really sorry. (SxK) Oh yeah, and after playing with Cinderella for a month, I decided to try and write my own fairy tale… it just came out wrong.

Disclaimer: They know better than to let me own Inuyasha… they know.

Prologue – The Touch of Tragedy

Once upon a time, in a place that lives stuck between the pages of an ancient book, was the kingdom of Haven. It seemed that irony played her hand heavily here, for regardless of the name of the kingdom, it was certainly no haven. Here the people lived in chains of poverty, cursed with empty bellies and the hovering threat of slavery lurking in every dark corner. It was a place of tears, sweat, and blood. Not a haven at all.

Of course, not every soul in this kingdom was poor… standing in stark contrast to the ugliness of the streets was the silk clad life of the nobility. As in many places of this ancient time, they preyed upon the powerless poor and lined their purses. Gilded carriages rolled through the slums while their pleasantly plump occupants demurely held their noses. It seemed that if you were not at one end of the financial spectrum, you stood in the other extreme, and of course, the poor outnumbered the wealthy by staggering numbers.

The only few to live in the middle were the minor lords whose territories dotted the landscape. Barely climbing the slippery slope from poverty, they did not have vast financial holdings. It is the home of one such lord that we start our tale… the Lord Higurashi. His fief was a gift to his family generations ago, rewarding their ancestor for brave duty to the King of Haven… but the tale of what that duty was has been lost to history. It was small and a mere token in the face of the power that the king held, but it was land – and that meant a lot. Though a relatively impotent family, the Higurashis were fiercely loyal to the crown for the gift… the years doing nothing to dim their fervor.

Lord Higurashi was an old man – and it was the day that heaven reclaimed his soul that our story begins. It is certain that a few tears were shed, but in the blasé fugue that settles upon the hungry, most of his servants turned their dull thoughts to a new master, whoever he may be… for land never remains unowned, and Higurashi had no heir.

Not that the man had never sired a child, but he had no heir… for his only offspring, a daughter, was ineligible to assume her father's title. Even with the blessing of marriage the inheritance would still be forfeit. It all went back to the crown. After all their loyalty and all their service, the Higurashi house had fallen.

It is on these crumbled ruins of a stage that our tale truly begins.

Alright, just a little teaser… and no romance yet either! Man, I suck. Anyway, lemme know if this is worth carrying on – or if I should just stick to the funny stuff.. Thanks.