Disclaimers: I own Nothing

Authors Beginning Note: The last chapter, unless otherwise suggsted by reviewers

The Christmas Dolls

Chapter 13

Duplicate Jewels

Sango and Miroku both were unprepared for what came next. A young girl stepped out of the crowd and stood besides Kagome, before kneeling to the king.

"I beg your pardon for the intrusion, but this woman is not the real heir to the throne." Hojo stood up and looked at the girl.

"What is the meaning of this?"

"Father, I am Hotaru, daughter of both you and Kikyo. I am the true Empress Elect." The girl stood up to her full height. Shippo was at a loss.

"Honestly your highness, you don't really believe this girl who came out of no where. What proof does she have to her claims?" A buzz of whispers spread through out the people, doubt had been implanted into their minds and it was spreading like an uncontrollable fire during the drought seasons.

"My proof is my aunt, Keade." She proclaimed out loud, her shoulders back and head held high.

"I'm sorry little girl, but that is not viable enough. Now, take her away."

"Than maybe this it." Hotaru took out a shining orb of deep violet. The crowd was now a roarous ocean.

"Silence!" The people's voices slowly faded. When all was calm again, Hojo turned to the girl.

"How did you come by this?"

"It is a family heirloom. Kikyo and Keade both knew of a plot against me, a plot by Naraku, so they kept the time of my birth a secret. On the night I was born, Kikyo both named me and gave this to Keade to give to me when I came of age, before Keade took me into a place of safety. It is mine by rights."

"Explain this Naraku!" Hojo turned to the deceitful man, whose wicked lips frowned ever so slightly.

"A perfect replica, a fake."

"If you wouldn't mind, I would like to have them studied." The girl hesitated; doubt was against her for it. Naraku went forward confidently. Both were placed in the Emperors hands, until a small bundle of robes bustled noisily. The man was old; the only sign of hair was a ring around his head and a thinning comb over. He stood a mere 4 feet, and had a sharp hawk nose.

"Let us see, first the one from the girl." He took it out of Hojo's hand, and pulling out a strange magnifying contraption beyond its time, he examined the bead, closely, thoroughly. He smelled it, listened to it, tasted it, and scrutinized over it. No speck went unnoticed.

"And now the other." He handed the one back, but almost snatched the other out of its temporary palm. He began to hum as he turned it into the light. His bushy eyebrows seemed to frown ever so slightly.

"Very well. Here you go." He took the other orb from Hojo and gave it to Hotaru, and then twaddling, he gave the second to Naraku.

"It appears to me that both would be the same. Except…except that Naraku's Shikon jewel is cracked. So My conclusion would…" The mans eyes widened, and he fell to the ground, blood pooling on the floor.

"Hotaru! Get down!" Keade ran and pushed the girl aside as a demonic blow pierced her body. The girl twisted her ankle as she turned and fell. Keade's face was that of pain, sweat beaded on her forehead and she collapsed onto the floor. An aerial assaulted horn had been embedded into her back.

"No!" Hotaru cried in wretched pain as she moved her ankle and propelled herself to Keade's side.

"Guards!" Hojo cried, and quickly they were dispensed in the crowed. And at Naraku's side. He stepped down to kneel before his true daughter and sister-in-law.

Naraku snickered snidely.

"I will not be had so easily." He held out his hand at the royal trio.

"Hiraikotsu!"

"Huh?" He dodged it with out a scratch and looked towards his new opponents.

"Everybody out!" Miroku yelled, everyone froze, and suddenly it was a mass barrage as people streamed out in a chaotic mess. Both Sango and Miroku were seated comfortably on Kirara.

A small POP and a little ball of fur intermingled into the crowd, Kagome had disappeared.

"Kagome!" Sango yelled, but there was no answer to be had.

"I see. So I should have killed the both of you while I had the chance. A mistake easily amended." He shot out a miasmic web that they would have never escaped formed Kirara not burned it from the flames that harbored in her belly, like a dragon.

"I will have this kingdom, weather in its glory or ruins!" He cried in calm rage. Spiders crawled over all of the rafters and beams. They hissed out small webs on every piece of wood.

"Go! You must leave me. Please Hojo! Take Hotaru, she is like a daughter to me. Please! Save her!" Hojo nodded, kissing the woman's hand, before grabbing a fighting Hotaru up into a bridal style.

"No! Mother! Mama!" The wail of a child being separated from a parent. It cut the hearts of those who heard.

"You assume I'll let you free." Naraku snarled.

"Wind scar!" Naraku was engulfed in a light and fell into a mass.

"Hurry! Get out of here while you still can!" Miroku yelled at the king, who needed not an extra telling.

"Kirara, take us down." The cat obeyed and they jumped off.

"Kirara, will you take Keade outside? Take her somewhere safe." The cat answered by kneeling. Both Sango and Miroku struggled with the injured and limp body.

"I don't think she will live. That spike was filled with poison."

"We have to try." Kirara took off before a rafter fell and blocked the main exit door.

"Miroku! Sango!" Kagome ran to the open arms of her long time friend. Miroku patted her on the shoulder.

"Its good to have you back."

Kagome smiled, before fear clouded her face. A laugh rang out into the empty and darkened hall.

"Do you honestly think I could die so easily?" Spiders swarmed from every place.

"He's everywhere!" Miroku pointed out. All four quickly closed the gap between them, and stood back to back.

"I'll kill them all! Wind scar!" He swung Tetsusaiga, obliterating millions. Unfortunately two main beams also collapsed, greatly weakened by the spiders' miasmic web.

"Inuyasha! You can't use any attacks or else you'll bring the whole place down on us."

Miroku clenched his fist till it was white. When Kagome had lifted the curse Kikyo had placed upon them, she had also taken his wind tunnel from him, not that he would have been able to use it and survive. Not with all of the miasma in the spiders.

Then came the webs. It poured single threads from every direction and the first assault they were able to stave off, but it was the third and four assaults that began to weaken them. Kagome screamed as they fell and burned her skin. She wasn't the only one. Miroku and Sango to. Inuyasha would merely grimace before he healed himself, as attacks came; however, his regenerative ability began to slow down.

"There's no way we can keep this up!" Sango said, using Hiraikotsu more as a shield at this point than an offensive weapon.

Something spiked Kagome's sight.

"Sango, what's…wait a minute."

"What is it Kagome?"

I can feel it…there's two of them in the room…Sango has one…and Naraku…

"In your pocket?" She finished. Sango quickly fished and pulled out a purple shard.

My mother's necklace…it must have broke off…but that means…

Kagome smoothly took out an arrow and pointed it in one direction, but it moved constantly.

"What is it Kagome?"

"I can sense my mothers necklace." Kagome whispered, knowing Inuyasha could hear her full well.

"So? What are you waiting for, shoot!"

"I can't, he keeps moving." She lowered her bow as it angled itself behind Inuyasha, than Miroku, then Sango. It moved impossibly.

" Well, I'm not just gonna sit here and wait to be spider chow."

"And you call yourself Kikyo's reincarnation." Kagome sharply turned, arrow ready, at the new voice and there stood Kagura with a spider clenched in her palm. She was in extreme pain, but never once did her grip loosen.

"Kagura." The Shikon jewel emanated from her palm. She had the part of Naraku that could be killed.

"I can't shoot, if I do, I'll kill you!"

"Just do it! Don't make me beg!" The spiders movements stopped. Slowly they began to rush at the woman.

"Quickly!" Tears in her eyes, Kagome took aim at the woman's breast, where she held the spider. She looked so lost, but hopeful. Even though her body twitched in convulsive anguish, her eyes had tears of happiness, as the mystic arrow of amethyst light pierced her first through the hand and then the heart.

"My mothers Necklace!" Kagome tried to run for it, but Inuyasha held her back as the light grew and spread.

"We have to get out of here!" Kirara appeared through the roof, sensing her Mistress's need for her. Miroku and Sango leapt on and began to ascend.

"Come on Kagome!"

"No! Not until…" But Inuyasha picked her up, bridal style and they all left quickly. As they sped into the air. As they passed through a barrier, they saw a few priestesses of a nearby shrine encasing the castle to protect the city dwellers from what was to come. On a rooftop they stopped and looked back as the castle's court exploded. A bright ball flew into the sky and exploded into little grains of dust. Kagome looked at the shard in her hand as it turned black and then into a very fine pile of sand granules. So fine that they slipped through her fingers, never to be found.

"It's gone." Kagome sighed deeply.

Well…it could be worse…

"Kagome!" A small boy scrambled on up to the roof tops, jumped on Inuyasha's head, before landing into her open arms.

"Shippo! You're okay!"

"Hey! You little brat!" Inuyasha fumed, attempting to pluck him from Kagome. He jumped to the ground and hid behind her feet.

" Come fight like a man!" Shippo's reply was to stick out his tongue. Kagome sat, suddenly extremely exhausted. Sango followed her example.

"Without warning, they both fell asleep on each other's shoulders. Shippo took this opportunity to disappear.

"What now?"

"Well, they'll have to go home soon." Both were hesitant. Somehow in their short time of knowing the two high school girls of the future, they had both changed and grown…accustomed in the very least to their presence. Miroku lifted Sango up on Kirara while Inuyasha picked Kagome up, almost tenderly.

"Wait for me!" Shippo jumped up on Kagome, and while Inuyasha wasn't looking, slipped something into a pocket in her skirt, before being batted onto Kirara.

Between tears, Hotaru looked up at the mysterious figures that left in the sky. Sadly she realized that she didn't have her family's heirloom.

I must have dropped it…when I was trying to get to mother…no...not mother...Aunt...Aunt Keade

It saddened her, but hope filled her as well. From this day forward she was to live the life of Empress Elect. Now, not only would she have a mother- though Keade was to be called Aunt now, but a father as well. She looked up at the man who glanced, and smiled gently at her.

Father…

They traveled quickly, from village to village, all night and day. The girls never once woke up; instead they slept soundly, as if under a spell.

They accomplished the almost impossible by traveling almost a week's worth distance in a few days time. By the time they stopped, Kirara was worn out, and Miroku carried Sango to the old Bone Eaters Well.

"Well, this is it." Miroku said.

"Feh. And good riddance. They're both more trouble than they're worth." Miroku smiled.

"If I didn't know better, I would think you were fond of her Inuyasha."

"What!"

"Figures." Shippo rolled his eyes at Inuyasha's loud outcry of denial.

Gently, they laid Sango and Kagome inside, together, shoulder to shoulder.

"What about the bows and arrows?" Inuyasha shook his head. They seemed to fit Kagome's hands just perfectly, as Hiraikotsu did Sango's. A purple glow cradled them, and when Inuyasha and Miroku looked down, they were gone.

"They are where they belong, and we're where we belong." Miroku placed those words of wisdom in front of them, though not quite believing them as he turned away.

"Kagome…" Kagome opened her heavy lidded eyes as Sango sat poking her and pinching her cheeks.

"Where are we?" She blinked, before everything came into full focus.

"We're back at the small shrine house."

"Shrine house, what shrine house?" Sango helped her stand up.

"I found it by accident, right after you disappeared."

"Then it wasn't a dream?" Sango hesitated. Already all of the details had become hazy.

"I didn't think so…but now…" Kagome looked at the bows and arrows she had. An odd thought that once they had not been hers formed, but she shook it away.

"Lets go home. I need a shower." Sango agreed, as they helped each other out of the well.

Weeks passed after that. Their whole adventure had been forgotten. Even the dolls they had been given for Christmas. January rolled through. It was a cold crisp morning when Kagome woke up. The sun had just risen and a sudden idea seemed to possess her. She quickly got out of bed, dressed warmly and walked outside.

"I wish Sango were here." She looked out at the town.

Sango was staying with her parents who were home for a few weeks, to make up for the Christmas they had missed.

Kagome walked down a vaguely familiar path. The branches of trees crackled, and birds twittered. Sometimes snow would fall from their piled places to plop onto a new home on the ground.

"Hey. When did this get here?" She looked at the shrine in the clearing. She walked up its old wooden steps and slid the door open with surprising ease.

"It's a shrine…and a well." She shivered, closed the door and stepped inside.

Steps led to well-worn dirt packed floor. She circled the well and familiar faces sprung into her mind. Feelings of worry, and longing gripped her heart. She clutched her necklace that her mother had given her a long time ago. For some reason she had decided to wear it, and never let it out of her sight.

But now, as she touched it, a strange thought leapt into her mind.

An image of two boys, which came with mixed feelings. One a brotherly friend and the other...

I wish they were here…

Their faces faded into the deep reseces of her mind.

She didn't look as the jewel faintly glowed before burning out to nothing more but a dull bead, but a sense of hope and anticipation filled her, before she went home.

Their adventure was soon to stand before their eyes, and never again be forgotten.

Authors Ending Note: Okay, so Naraku's defeat wasn't all that and a bag of chips, but its hard to come up with a way to kill a guy that's nearly invincible, not to mention I'd scooped myself into quite a pickle when I picked the battle field and allowed artilerary options. Lets just say I look forward to see how Rumiko ends Naraku's life when we finally get there in the Anime (we still have barely gotten over 140 here in the US) Then there's how the Shikon No Tama is used. Hmm…I look forward to episode 167.

If you want I'll stop, If you want I'll continue…I have writers block…How to give this story an epilogue…hmm…. you have input, I'll gladly take it!

If this is to be the final fareweel, than I thank all of you who have had the patience and diligence to tread upon the road I had paved for you- a road that had lead to adventure, excitemnet, anticipation, romance and finally back to your cozy beds. Sweet dreams my weary travelers, may this be only until we see each other again.