Note: wow, an author's note up front from me – amazing, but necessary in this case. First I would like to say that this fic is canon in the sense that everyone is who they are in the show. Inuyasha is after the same thing, the entire universe and premise is the same, all relationships are the same. However, I don't know what happened with Inuyasha's parents, or even if it is ever explained in the series, so I took some artistic license. If you know what happened and wish to tell me, I'd like that, but please don't criticize. Let's practice 'suspending our disbelief' shall we? Also, every one knows I'm not much for tragedy. But we all know that both of Inu's parents are dead by the time the series starts. So expect a little tragedy/angst. Just giving you fair warning... I hate flames...
Oh! And I'm posting this first chapter on Valentine's Day because it's a romance... yeah...
And now! On to the story!
An Inutaisho and Izayoi romantic tragedy
"My lady?" the call was tentative, almost apologetic, and the look in the servant's eyes as she entered her mistress' chambers was even more of the same.
Her mistress sighed heavily, something she only indulged in when in the privacy of her own chambers. She had yet to rise from her bed, but no one would complain – prerogative of being the only daughter of the Lord of the province. Her long black hair was spread out on the bed around her, and her delicate features were somewhat marred by the look in her eyes. She seemed to be worried, but that was only the servant's opinion. The servant thought it was rather brave of the young mistress – she herself would have been terrified.
"My lady, they've come for you..."
The young hime stood, holding out her arms so that her servant could dress her properly for the day – not that it probably mattered. Nothing much would matter after today. Life as she knew it was over. It couldn't be helped, of course; it was her duty as the Lord's daughter.
The servant, who was no older than 16 herself - which was actually nearly a year older than her mistress - helped her lady slip into a new yukata and kimono. It was exquisite in its simplistic elegance; a deep violet that accentuated the hime's flawless white skin and her dark eyes. It had a simple cherry branch pattern and was completed by an obi of the lightest pink. The servant thought it would be wasted, considering where the young hime was heading, but it wasn't her place. Still, she doubted he would even notice. The lady's clothes were not what he was likely to be interested in.
She finished tying the obi and bowed to her mistress, who waved a hand in dismissal. She would have no need of her father's servants anymore. Walking through the halls of the castle she was careful to keep her head high and her steps graceful. No one would know how hard this was for her. However, she could not bring herself to accept any offers of a morning meal, as she was certain she would promptly betray herself by failing to keep it down.
"Izayoi," her father's voice stopped her just before she stepped out of the castle and toward the caravan that would take her away. She had half hoped, half feared, that he would not come see her off. Now that he had she felt tears threatening in her eyes; she blinked them back quickly. She was going to miss him.
"Izayoi," her father embraced her, not caring who saw as he might never see her again, and she once again had to bite back the tears. Pulling back he brought a hand up to gentle lay against her cheek. "I shall miss you so much."
"And I you, father." She responded, longing to do nothing more than sink into his arms again – they made her feel like a little girl again, safe and cherished.
He seemed to understand her apprehension all too well. He smiled at her, "The leader of the dog demons is ruthless in battle, and frightening in his wrath," he told her, his voice gentle, "but he is a just judge and a merciful ruler. He has never allowed harm to come upon those who dwell in his lands. Respect him, but you need not fear him."
Izayoi nodded, grateful for her father's assurances, for she had been more afraid than she was letting on. She had heard all sorts of rumors about the powerful Taiyoukai – most of them unpleasant – and, though she had lived in his lands all her life, she was not at all certain what to expect from him.
Her father pulled her to him once more, "I love you, daughter."
"And I love you, father," she assured him as she pulled away and was guided to the caravan. As she turned she did not fail to notice the guilt and pain in his eyes. He blamed himself for this. And, though he did not fear physical harm to his daughter, he knew this was not the life she wanted.
And she knew that this was in no way his fault...
It was the fault of the demons.
For as long as Izayoi could remember her family had ruled this province – rather they had governed the humans of the province. In reality the land, along with all the other provinces of the west, was ruled by a great and powerful inuyoukai. He was Inutaisho, Taiyoukai of the western lands. And the people of his land had always lived in peace, protected by his powerful youkai armies. But recently their province had been attacked by low class demons. At first it was only a small band and the people had not been worried. But then it was two bands, and then three... soon the countryside was ravished by demon attacks and the villagers lived in constant fear. The Lord, her father, had done all in his power to protect his people, but what good were human weapons against demons?
He sent word to the Taiyoukai for help, but it appeared that no reply was coming, and the people took that as reply enough. Despite their Lord's reassurances that the demon Lord would send a defense, the people determined that he would not. Rumors spread that Inutaisho was angry with them, and that he was allowing the lesser demons to attack them because of his displeasure with them.
And that was why Izayoi was headed toward the Taiyoukai's castle. What better way to appease an angry demon than to offer him a beautiful young princess as a sacrifice? He was an animal after all – albeit a powerful one who held their very lives in his hands. She was tempted to be angry with them for so willingly giving her up – after all, they probably expected him to eat her, which meant they were willingly sending her to her death. She knew better though. Her father had met the Lord once and had found him to be an understanding ruler, just and noble. Demon or not, he would bring no harm to her. But her life was still over. In the castle of a demon Lord she could hope for little more than a life of servitude. But she would gladly accept her fate if it would relieve her father of his burden.
Even now Inutaisho's demon army was driving the invading bands from the province.
Not that they were doing so because of the offering now being transported to their Lord's castle. In fact, Inutaisho did not even know of the villagers' plans. He had found his forces stretched rather thin over the last months as several of his enemies had banded together in an attempt to claim his territory. He simply could not defend all of his land at once and had been unable to respond to his governor's pleas until recently, but this was the last band of invaders and, once word spread of how thoroughly he had thwarted invasion, it was unlikely he would fall under attack in the near future. Indeed, the demon bands in Izayoi's province had been virtually wiped out several days before, only a few lingered, hiding from the Taiyoukai. But the people were convinced that the Taiyoukai had only acted because of their intent to offer the hime as a sacrifice, and nothing anyone said to the contrary could reach them.
Knowing his daughter would be better off with the demon Lord than with the angry villagers the Lord had been forced to let her go – praying that the Taiyoukai would somehow understand and that things would work out for the best. Secreted away in her kimono, Izayoi held a letter to the Taiyoukai begging him to accept the girl into his household until such a time as it was safe for her to return – if that time ever came.
Izayoi couldn't bring herself to resent the common people of the province for the sentence they had so selfishly given her. They were afraid, and in their fear they believed the assurances of their Lord to have been political lies. They were a superstitious and easily frightened people. But who wouldn't be when faced with marauding bands of demons? Who was she, kept safe in her palace chambers, to look down on their fears?
That didn't mean she was any less nervous about this. What if the Taiyoukai was angered by their actions, and chose to punish them for their cruelty? Her father had said he was just. Surely he would not be pleased with them for their folly – or for what it implied. Would he punish them? They would only blame her father... Or would he scoff at their foolishness and send her back? The consequences of that could be devastating for her family. Would they think she had not been good enough?
She wished she were alone so that she could sigh. Sometimes she felt that it wasn't fair that people had to hide what they truly felt. A princess could not sigh in public, nor could a servant, for fear that they would offend or reveal weakness of character. But it would make her feel so much better. So many questions and so few answers. To know the rumors were false was a far cry from knowing what the truth actually was.
Inutaisho was just. He was merciful. But what would he think of the young hime appearing, un-summoned and unannounced, at his home? Would he hold her in contempt as a weak human? Or pity her as the casual sacrifice of a thoughtless people?
Eventually the strain of constant fretting and pondering overcame her and she fell into a fitful sleep. It wasn't surprising – she hadn't slept much the last several nights. Her only comfort was that she did not sleep deeply enough to dream, or, if she did, she could not remember any, for she was certain they would have been filled with angry villagers and vengeful demons.
Izayoi was uncertain how long she had slept, but it must have been some time, for when she awoke they had arrived at the castle of the Taiyoukai. She felt a rush of nervousness as she hurriedly ran her hands over her hair and garments to straighten them – a difficult task as her hands were shaking almost uncontrollably. It felt as though a school of tadpoles had taken residence in her belly. She was suddenly very grateful she had not eaten breakfast – she was certain she would have disgraced herself by reliving the meal.
She grimaced briefly before fixing a practiced smile on her lips. It was a look she had perfected over fifteen years of dealing with hypocritical, self-absorbed courtesans. A servant – a demon of some sort – assisted her down from her litter and onto the well-kept walkway. She took very little note of her surroundings as she followed him into the castle - a pity really, as they were breathtakingly beautiful. The simplistic elegance bespoke a nobility of character that was impossible to imitate. That was the mistake of most warlords – the oppressive opulence that so clearly revealed their feelings of inferiority and practically screamed that their dignity was mere pretense.
The significance of this was lost on the young hime. Her world was centered a mere few feet in front of her, on the feet of the servant she followed. She was suddenly very afraid that her father had been wrong, and the Lord would kill her for the stupidity of her people. She was so caught up in her thoughts that she failed to notice that they had stopped in a large chamber, and that the servant had left.
What brought her out of her stupor was the appearance of the Lord himself.
The sight of him made her breath catch.
She was not certain what she had expected the Taiyoukai to look like, but whatever it was it fell short. She had heard stories, but those also could not hold a candle to the sight that met her eyes.
She knew he was centuries old, but his appearance was that of a man in his thirties. And he was healthier and more fit than any thirty year old human man she had ever seen. She supposed it was the maturity and wisdom she saw in his features that led her to place him in his thirties, for there was not a wrinkly or a scar to betray age. He was exquisite, elegant, regal. Long white hair was swept into a high ponytail and then hung gracefully down his back to his waist. Golden orbs gazed at her serenely from a gentle countenance. He wore white hakama and a white hoari with a touch of blue, and he had a blue and red sash at his waist. The pant-like lower garment only accentuated his impressive height – at least a foot and a half taller than she, if not a full two feet. His hands – strong, yet soft, with long, tapered fingers ending in razor sharp claws – rested easily at his side. She could imagine him holding a sword or a pen with equal ease.
She couldn't help but think that he was the most attractive man she had ever seen. And it wasn't just his physical beauty. He seemed to have a presence about him, an aura of nobility and gentility that one could sense even when only viewing him from a distance. And yet he was so strong –clearly not a man to be manipulated or toyed with. She quickly ducked her head, averting her eyes so that he would not notice her staring, or her gentle blush.
She needn't have bothered.
Inutaisho had noticed her reaction to his presence – or, more accurately, to his appearance – immediately upon his arrival. And, even now he could smell her discomfort, and knew its cause. His eyes warmed with faint amusement and a soft smile graced his lips, but he did not see the need to draw attention to her obvious embarrassment.
"Welcome." He had been informed of her impending arrival mere hours before she had come. He knew why she was here, and, truthfully, he was angry. That humans would treat their own in such a deplorable manner... that they believed he would approve of such behavior – it was enough to make him ill. And, seeing the girl's state did little to help calm him. He wanted nothing more than to storm into her province and force the ignorant fools to see the truth, but he knew it would do little good. For the sake of the girl he would accept this ludicrous 'offering', and he would accept it graciously.
He continued to watch her bowed head while motioning several servants into the room. A male servant stooped to take her small bag – he frowned at this, evidently her people had not expected her to need much in the way of possessions, he would have to see about purchasing her necessities – and a female servant came to stand unobtrusively behind the human hime. "Mitasho will show you to your chambers." He indicated the servant, trying to infuse his voice with casual congeniality, hoping it would calm her obviously frayed nerves. She was unresponsive. "She and Kiyomi will see to your needs during your stay. If you should require additional assistance Hitoku," he referred to the male who had just left, "is at your disposal as well."
He watched her carefully as he spoke, hoping to see her relax if nothing else, "Feel free to take your meals at any time, but if you would be so kind as to inform the kitchen staff of your preferences..." he tilted his head slightly, "you may make use of any of the castle's facilities. There are several indoor gardens, and, of course, a myriad of outdoor courtyards. Make yourself at home."
Her brow furrowed briefly and her gaze came to his in confusion, but she said nothing.
He arched a brow, "Something troubles you?"
She flushed once more and averted her gaze, "It is only that..." she spoke hesitantly, "I... expected to be a servant, my Lord."
He chuckled lightly, approaching her so that he stood less than an arm's length from her. "I believe you would find yourself poorly suited to the task." He must have seen her hurt, for he lifted her chin gently, gazing steadily into her eyes, "You are too noble to bow to anyone." And as he said it she saw in his gaze the last thing she had imagined in any of her musings – compassion.
Notes: Inutaisho is technically not Inuyasha's father's name – it's his title. It means leader of the dogs or something like that. But I don't know his actual name... and Inutaisho is what I've always read him called, and it sounds cool. So there you go... If you know his name I'd be thrilled if you'd tell me, but I probably won't change it in here or anything... just don't complain please.
Also, I know nothing of Inutaisho's relationship with either of his wives – I've heard that he didn't really love his first wife, but they were both in heat; I've also heard that he loved her greatly and she was murdered. I don't know – and I don't know if Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha ever met when their father was alive. I took some creative license... deal with it . But it's technically still canon universe because... everything else is the same as the anime... yeah...
Hime – princess
Taiyoukai – demon Lord
Youkai – demon
Inu – dog
Hanyou – half demon
Shoji – in Japanese architecture: the portion of the wall that slides back to serve as a door.