The Miko's Face
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.
Notes: If Kagome seems OOC, it'll work itself out later and you'll see why.
Kagome woke feeling groggy and fatigued. She simply didn't sleep as well as she used to. She'd heard the servants murmuring about a mysterious woman walking the castle corridors late at night and not only that, but rustlings of war were afoot.
She was simply not prepared, not interested in having the castle assailed by enemies. Her prowess as a miko had always been weak, she did not have any great powers, she was limited to medical knowledge of herbs and her mediocre talent with the bow.
Still yet, she did what she could.
She lifted her head at the call, her attendants were bright eyed and well dressed. Naraku, the Lord of the Castle had a dress code that pertained to all persons in the castle except high ranking guests and herself.
Kagura and Tsubaki were her direct servants with Kanna being her day companion. The young girl, though quiet and proper, was completely obedient and prepared tea spectacularly. Kagome liked to sit and chat with the girl, even if she was a bit on the unresponsive side. She was a bit distanced from the rest of the others and Kagome couldn't bear to see the girl all by herself at all hours.
Surprisingly, Naraku had been pleased at the development. He'd gone so far as to allow her to move the girls' bedroom closer to her own. Kanna often came over during the eve hours and curled into bed with her and often times the girl was cold.
"We were told to tell you that Naraku-sama is gone. He will not return until late. This is for you."
The woman extended the letter, bowing deeply as Kagome slipped it from her fingers.
"I have gone away for a time on business. Kagura and Tsubaki have been sent out on errands, do not expect to see them. Kanna is to remain with you. I will return late, do not wait for me to arrive."
Her engagement to the Lord of the North had not been of her own making, but rather that of her family. She had first met the dark, elusive Lord when he visited her family's home during a storm. She had been charged with preparing and guiding him to his room as the servants had been out at the time, all released from their duties for a small in-house holiday.
She hadn't found she minded as she led him down the darkened corridors of her family home alone. Now she looked back on it as shockingly inappropriate. Yet for all the inappropriateness of the situation, nothing out of the norm had happened. He waited, watching her with glinting eyes as she made up his bed quickly and lit his candles.
He said not a word as she explained the layout of the house quickly, pointing out the necessary facilities and how he might contact someone should he need anything during the night.
Quietly he listened, staring at her intently. The very brush of his gaze made her skin draw tight, bumps rising along her limbs.
She had never before encountered anyone who made her clothes feel scanty, when she wore the full dress required of her station. What seemed like layers and layers of cloth could not protect her modesty from that deep stare…
He had said and done nothing that could be deemed as improper, but the shadows in his eyes had spoken of things that would proper society to shriek. Something about her had quite fascinated him, that she knew, but she knew not the extent of it. Or even, for that matter, what it was.
He had petitioned her parents many weeks after that first encounter for her hand in marriage and they had agreed. They had all but cheered, seeming relieved and thrilled. They had thrown a huge party for the entire house, servants and guests. The entire event had boggled her, but she was now a betrothed woman.
She had come from a noble house, but nothing at all compared to the splendor that she had encountered at this place, this awesome grand house. Naraku, as Lord of the North, lived extravagantly. Anything she wanted was presented at her feet, nothing was overlooked, nothing too rare to be acquired. He indulged and spoiled her beyond reason, and she didn't know why.
She had come not to care.
He had charged her with simple duties.
Maintain the house, entertain the guests and keep and eye on Tsubaki and Kagura. The two women, one youkai and one youkai/human hybrid of the oddest assortment were not fans of hers. They both quite loathed her, but her fiancé was strict about their obedience. Kagome was aware of four separate occasions that one or the other had been whipped for refusing to obey. Once merely for being overheard saying ill things. But they were stubborn women and wore their loathing in their eyes openly. Kagome admired a strong will, but she had sour feelings for both women. They were not to be trusted.
She had been the most surprised, however, when her parents had agreed to let her come and stay at the grand castle where she now lived before her marriage. She was not certain if this was proper or not, having been so cut off from anyone else. Her parents had always been peculiar about letting her out alone.
She had never questioned it, she'd been too busy. They'd made certain of that.
"Shall we go to breakfast then?" Kagome inquired.
The answers were all small voices and all in agreement. Together, with her leading they headed to the dining room. It was Kagome's least favorite place simply because she spent so much time there.
Making idle conversation with her betrothed's allies and guests was a loathsome chore. Even now, he had no less than eight visiting and she was expected to see them all at least once per day. She made rounds about the castle, catching them in the halls or resting or staring out the balconies. Naraku-sama's balconies were almost famous. She loved them herself.
Many times those said guests were found in the dining hall. She had, after one horrible incident gotten herself manhandled by drunken guests. She had been rescued by her betrothed before her kimono had been stripped from her. She had left the room with a torn garment, a bite mark at the top crest of her breast and bruises on her arm and wrist.
She'd never seen Naraku-sama so enraged. She had been torn from the room and dragged to her chambers.
Startlingly, he'd ordered her bathed and put to bed immediately, as though she were a temperamental child to be punished. Abruptly, he left her, saying nothing. What had happened to said men, she knew not, but nor did she question it.
She'd learned much about Naraku-sama's temper. More than once she'd felt the sharp sting of his palm against her face. She was allowed more freedom than the servants, but not by much. She lived within limitations and he made it very clear.
She sat at her table solemnly, pleased the room was empty. She wouldn't be spared long, but at least she had some peace, however fleeting.
Moments later, Kanna joined her and Kagome smiled. She'd become rather pathetic to have a best friend in an almost non-speaking child, but she took what she could get these days.
"Good morning, Kanna."
"Good morning, Kagome-sama."
Always respectful, always watching, listening… Kanna was like a little bird.
Naraku stretched slightly, the pain in his back had worsened yet again. He drew the katana forth and dragged it along his skin, slicing it open.
Blood splattered in a gush, staining the floor and a fleshy mass fell away from his body. He slanted his eyes toward the still form, almost unrecognizable wrapped in gory, sinewy cords. Taking the blade, he plunged it downward, a shrill, pained shriek shook the castle walls as the creature's eyes shot open.
Naraku drew away with the heart of the creature, staring at it a moment, holding it, feeling its pulse and strength and weight in his palm.
The blood ran down to his elbow and dripped to the floor. More splatters of blood. The scent couldn't get any stronger, the room was permeated.
With a dissatisfied frown, he extended his arm away and the still beating heart was plucked from his hand and dropped into a vase.
"Is that all?"
He turned back, taking in the pallor of white skin and ruby eyes and lips.
He raised his hand and smeared a perfect line of red down her cheek.
"Have you your orders, Kagura?" His voice was a perfect, hummed melody.
"Yes," she answered. "I have them." Kagura's tone was tight, her body coiled tense. She couldn't wait to flee from him.
His mouth quirked up into a smirk.
"What of Tsubaki?"
"Miko-sama ordered Tsubaki to retrieve the fox kit that has been stealing from the kitchen retrieved and given off to Kagome-sama."
Naraku's grin widened and moments later laughter bubbled forth. He hand slid back, along her neck to her hairline, his fingers threading up into the soft strands.
He pulled, yanking her head back, causing her back to arch forward, her mouth to twist in a grimace of silent pain.
"Stop following, Kagome. Your orders are clear, you will obey them. Kanna watches Kagome, is that clear?"
He hissed along her cheek, his breath a hot fire that felt like it could melt off her skin. She trembled fearfully.
Abruptly, he released her and turned away, toward his newest creation.
The creature upon the ground was large, the hole in its chest still open. It was weak yet, but he would fix that.
Naraku grinned proudly staring down at the quivering mass.
She would have a great deal of fun with this one.
AN: This is actually an incomplete chapter, but I'm now officially ending it here. I was just reminded how much I love this story.