The Miko's Face
Summary: The Lord of the Northern Lands, Senaka Naraku, was taking a bride. It shouldn't have meant anything to the other Lords... So why was it a problem?
Notes: This story was partially inspired by Lady Haru's (author of "Haunted by You") characterization of Naraku in the aforementioned "Haunted by You". Recommended.
He'd heard many things about Naraku of the North.
As current ruler of the Western Lands, it was his responsibility to keep half-decent relations with the other Lords to prevent the outbreak of war.
He hated diplomacy, but he didn't want his beautiful lands soiled with the presence of dirty foreigners, so he would suffer it.
He was only coming now because trouble was brewing.
Strife was hatching along the borders between villages between the west and the north. Rumor had it Naraku might be encouraging the animosity, but he was never one to take rumor to heart. Each week there were two to four new rumors about any particular Lord, including himself about any range of topics.
There was also word that the Lord of the North had chosen a mate.
Words about her had been whispered in awe and her image described in hushed tones as servants traded gossip about the soon-to-be Lady of the Northern Lands.
He stepped past heavily guarded gates, his attendants following, and there he met his escort.
They moved within after she bowed and greeted him. He didn't return the courtesy, he just followed.
The halls of the place were dark, darker than warranted for the time of day. Floor torches were spread along the wooden panel corridors at equally spaced, but wide intervals. Shadows and light flickered and warred along the smooth surfaces as he walked.
His escort, the woman, was adorned with white feathers in her hair and red colored eyes that were bright and luminous. Had he been a man of weaker constitution, he might have thought her eyes resembled that of the Lady of the Plains who was rumored to walk the lands, her eyes searing red, collecting the souls of mortals. But he did not believe in such fairy tales.
She had been on the borderline of polite from the moment he arrived. A trait that had immediately earned his ire and a fact that was going to get her complained about to her master if she didn't drop the attitude.
Her kimono, though neat and modest had one layer that hung off her arm. In her white fisted hand was a fan.
As they reached the end of the corridor, it forked. Bright rays of sunlight streamed in an open balcony where yet another woman stood, her back to him.
His escort turned right and continued down the corridor never once glancing out the doorway, but she stopped when she didn't hear his footsteps following.
He peered out, staring at the woman's back and the long pools of inky black hair.
Humans servants passed by, their eyes wide in wonder as they watched him stare at the woman on the balcony. As they passed behind him he heard their whispers.
"...staring at Kagome-sama..."
"What will Naraku-sama do?"
"Does he know she's out here like this?"
"Sesshoumaru-sama?" His escort called, but he ignored her and the woman on the balcony, hearing the call, turned to face him.
Her eyes were lustrous, bright and deep, shimmering in the strangest iridescent blue.
"Sesshoumaru-sama?" The woman spoke, her tone curious. Her small, ruby colored lips quirked into a smile that transformed her entire face. She looked much like a gentle forest nymph, one who thrived amid throngs of flowers and animals.
Unusual perhaps, but not extraordinary.
Why had he even stopped here?
"Please forgive us for disturbing you, Kagome-sama." The escort spoke, her voice dripping with barely concealed resentment.
Obviously the one woman didn't like the other woman. That wasn't atypical. Petty jealousy among women, especially in castles, ran rampant.
The woman inclined her head. "It is not a problem," she agreed easily. "You are here to see Naraku?"
Who was this woman, Kagome-sama as the servants referred to, he wondered.
He decided to indulge her and nodded just slightly.
She bowed politely. "I am sorry for detaining you, Sesshoumaru-sama. I hope you enjoy your stay with us."
He eyed her for a moment longer in silence, noting the respectful way in which she seemed to be deferring to him in the way she stood and looked at him. Pleased with her apparent submission, he then continued on down the hall.
What a peculiar woman.
What was that strange feeling he had staring at her?
"Who is that woman?" he asked as his escort came to a stop before a set of painted panel doors. He saw no reason to curb his curiosity.
She glanced back, her hand on the door handle. "That is Kagome-sama; she is to be Naraku-sama's bride in the spring."
He contained his surprise at the remark and stepped within as the woman announced him to the dark haired lord.
That was her?
So she had exotic eyes...
What was all the fuss about?
Naraku stilled as the Lord of the West entered his sitting room, raising his eyes to his guest. The Western Lord looked much the same, all whites and pales with only hints of vibrant color in his clothes and on his skin.
A female favorite to be certain, he noted with wry interest.
Their names hung like titles in the air that meant nothing to either. Dry formality was an institution so far ingrained it was nearly unbreakable without causing offense that often led to war and the consequential financial loses. No paltry infraction was worth damaging an empire.
"I have come about the warring along our border," Sesshoumaru informed him, sitting himself regally at the sturdy table. Naraku sat across from him, beady red eyes watching critically.
Naraku motioned for the servant to serve his guest tea and nodded numbly at the news.
A half hour of short silences and drawn out nothings followed. Each pledged to do their part to stop the raids and pillaging, each agreeing war wasn't what was best for them and there was no reason for it. Each left the meeting with the same apathetic feelings they started with.
Naraku watched him go, stepping out into the hall and disappearing as the wood panel was slid shut. He wasn't sorry to see the man leave, to be certain.
"Where is Kagome?" he asked, wondering where his flower was and if she was along the Western Lord's path out of his castle.
The servants in the room shuffled and stilled and then one timidly answered.
"On the balcony, my Lord."
"Which?" he replied, his eyes upon the table, not looking up. Instead, his eyes remained turned downward toward the table, his eyes trained on the reflection of the ceiling in Sesshoumaru's full tea cup.
"The hall balcony."
He stood without acknowledging the answer and a servant scrambled to open the door for him as he approached it, eyes humbly toward the floor. Naraku passed by without notice.
As Naraku moved out the doorway, he spotted the Lord of West at the end of the hall, stopped where he shouldn't have been.
By Kagome's balcony.
He checked his possessive growl and reminded himself that Sesshoumaru was an unfeeling bastard who probably wouldn't know what to do with a woman if he had one.
Even as he thought it, he thought ill of it, a man like that knew plenty to do with women.
Kagome would not be swayed by such looks, she knew where she belonged.
He approached them quietly, listening for their conversation. He was not one who considered eavesdropping to be beneath him. He quite enjoyed listening to the conversations of others.
"So you are from the Western Lands? I have heard many good things about your territories. Merchants from there have told stories of how beautiful it is... They always bring such fascinating trinkets."
Her smile was blinding in its sincerity and deceptive in its message. As she stood engaging in the empty pleasantries, she noticed him standing there in the hall. She smiled again, another sort of smile adorning her lips.
Naraku felt his own lips quirk at her expression.
"Naraku-sama..." she murmured, inclining her head toward him, respectfully.
Sesshoumaru turned back to look at Naraku, but said nothing. His face was blank, revealing nothing of what he thought.
With a turn, Sesshoumaru continued on, saying nothing further to either and Kagome and Naraku watched him go.
"Such a stately man..." she murmured her voice soft as she stared down the hall where Sesshoumaru had once walked.
"Do you like him, lovely?"
She turned back to him. "I like you," she responded, her lips turning up into his favorite expression, her eyes sparkling with secrets.
His smirk matched hers and he stepped out with her onto her favorite balcony. Together, they watched the Lord of the West depart.
In the evening, a woman stood in the back garden. The servants saw and whispered as they hurried along the corridors, finishing their final tasks.
Her hair fell long down her back - her expression placid. Into the increasing darkness she blended rather than stood out. Her clothes were equally faint and non-impressive among her surroundings.
It was the final hours, the count down to bed time.
Soon all among the castle would sleep. It was her favorite time - when the servants were not lingering about, shuffling, moving, pestering...
Even Naraku retired when evening fell. The master of the castle...
The Spider Lord, as she liked to think of him, would retreat to his den and entertain himself with the prettier of his concubines.
At night she would haunt the corridors, frightening those lingering with her pasty colored face and glowing white skin. She would appear ghost like and ethereal sending children fleeing to their mothers in the servant quarters.
But it was not for the purpose of scaring others she walked the castle corridors.
It was her best time to think.
He depended on her to plan. Her failure was not permitted and something had to be done about that pesky Sesshoumaru and his allies.
In the darkness, no one spoke her name.
Maybe no one knew it.
The singular address reserved for her fell from the lips of a passing servant.
"Naraku-sama is waiting for you in the front hall."
She turned and headed in that direction, her hair in long, straight wisps fell down her back almost majestically. The servant girl quickly vanished in the other direction.
The entire castle could fall if she willed it.
Sometimes she wanted it. The destruction of this rotten place, and more importantly her beloved in it...
Her beloved Spider Lord.
It was times like these she longed for his blood, to taste it, to have him at her mercy, to see him bleed and hurt...
To hear him beg...
They were worthless fantasies.
Her Lord didn't beg.
The day he begged was the day she no longer wanted him.
She heard the irritating giggles of a young concubine long before she stepped into the room.
The sight was a familiar one. There he stood, her Lord, a woman on his arm. The concubine's kimono was loose, hanging at her elbows, her back bare.
She contained her growl at the sight. She knew of his exploits and minded it not, but she didn't want to see them.
"Miko..." Naraku murmured, not looking up from his toy. "I am leaving on business tonight - I'll return tomorrow evening. I have left your list of tasks on my desk. Do not be here when I return."
She locked her jaw to remain silent at his cocky tone. The bastard still spoke to her as if she were his servant.
One day... a disembodied voice within her whispered. One day he'd pay for it, but for now she'd wait.
She could wait forever to punish him.
Eventually she would.
She nodded without a word and he finally deigned to raise his eyes to her, red orbs sparkling in the night.
She glared at the indifferent stare he pinned on her. She hated that look on his face, hated it with a passion that burned.
He must have seen it on her face because his lips quirked into a familiar grin, one that spoke of arrogance and enjoyment at her silent fury.
He loved to offend her as much as he was capable of loving anything.
He stepped a pace back toward the door, and then broke his gaze from hers. He slid his arm from the grip of the woman and stepped out of her sight.
Just as she thought he was gone, his voice traveled back to her.
"Do not be wearing that garment when I see you again, Miko."
And then he was gone, his concubine followed after him, prancing along in little steps, vanishing into the darkness beyond the doorway she could no longer see.
The garment? This one? She peered at her attire once with interest. Did this miko garb offend him?
She smirked and left the front hall, heading toward his office to retrieve his "list". She would be certain to wear this very thing when he returned.
In the obscure light of the hall, almond colored eyes gleamed, and blood colored lips leered.
Author's Note: Didn't want anyone to think I'd died or something. This is my favorite NK piece, there's not much more written for it than this, but I hope it'll be beautiful all the same.