AN: Hey guys! Lady Orchid here with a brand new story for you! I just came up with it one night, out of the blue. I was like. . . wow. This could work. And here I am. So read on and enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha. If I did, I would be rich and have maids. Therefore I wouldn't have to do the dishes. But I am not rich, I don't own him, and I have to do the dishes anyway. :(

Chapter One: A Visitor

"Sesshomaru! Inuyasha! There are some horses outside that need your attention! Boys? Don't make me tell you twice!" called their aunt from the kitchen.

"We're going!" shouted Inuyasha, then grumbled under his breath. His half brother had already made his way to the door. With a sigh, he got up from his comfortable seat and joined him.

Within minutes they were in the stables, unbridling the travelers' horses and rubbing them down. They worked in silence. Most of the time, there was nothing to say. The two young men focused on the tasks at hand. Grooming horses was nothing. They were used to harder work, having lived at the inn all their lives. It was their father's establishment. He had built it himself nearly forty years earlier, eighteen years before Sesshomaru was born, and twenty-one prior to the birth of Inuyasha. They were half brothers, born from different mothers. It made little difference, for both had their father's silver hair and amber eyes. Not to be mistaken, they did not look very much alike. Sesshomaru had cold, aristocratic features while Inuyasha's tended to be more rugged, but both had primarily taken after their father. After his death years earlier, their aunt, Kaede, had become the innkeeper until Sesshomaru became of age to take care of it himself. He was of age, but they had become quite content with their way of life.

Inuyasha heard an annoyed sigh and looked up. His older brother was gazing with discontent at the horse's leg. Curiously, the younger sibling approached. He also sighed. There was a cut, about three inches long, on the horse's right front leg. From the look of it, the injury had occurred many days before, but went unnoticed. "When will these people learn how to take care of their horses?" The younger brother reached up and got a box off of the shelf above their heads and tossed it to his sibling.

Sesshomaru caught it, shaking his head, then knelt next to the horses injury. He took a clean rag from the box and wet it in a nearby water bucket, cleaning the dried blood and dirt from the wound. He then applied a salve to the leg and bandaged it before rinsing his hands. He hoped the cut wouldn't get infected. Infection could mean amputation, then the horse would be put down. 'Waste of a good mare,' he thought, shaking his head once again as he put the box back onto the shelf. They finished up quickly, then started back to the inn at dusk. Bypassing the front entrance, they opted for kitchen door instead.

Suddenly Inuyasha stopped. Sesshomaru looked back at his younger brother and saw what had caught his attention. He was eyeing the swords. The area behind the inn was large and rather flat, perfect for sword practice, something the two partook in regularly if not daily. Not far from the inn was a forest, giving them all the privacy they needed. Inuyasha looked from the weapons to his brother, a slight smile tugging at his lips. Sesshomaru studied the setting sun. The girls usually had dinner ready shortly after dark. There was more than enough time for a quick match. He raised a brow, an unspoken challenge. Inuyasha grinned and tossed his brother a sword, getting one for himself as well.

"After all these years I thought you would tired of losing," said Sesshomaru, walking towards the center of their practice area.

"Quit your yapping," replied Inuyasha, following. Once they were a few meters away from each other, they entered fighting stance. Moments later, without warning, Inuyasha sprung forward and started to attack his brother. Sesshomaru dodged his assaults, countering them with some of his own. Their footwork was graceful, quick, and practiced. Apart from the clash of metal against metal, only their breathing was heard over the usual sounds of an ending day.

After a minutes of fighting, the older sibling smirked. "You are becoming slow, little brother."

"Shut up, arrogant asshole." Inuyasha struck once again to be blocked by his brother, who just laughed.

"Perhaps you should train for two hours a day instead of just one?"

"Whatever. I'm holding my own, aren't I?"

"But since when has merely 'holding your own' been enough?"

Inuyasha growled, eyes narrowing, and muttered under his breath. What happened next caught him by surprise: Sesshomaru lowered his sword. His younger brother looked at him, puzzled.

"Did you hear that?" the older asked quietly.

Inuyasha opened his mouth to ask 'what' but then he heard it too, a rustling noise coming from the forest. Sesshomaru headed to their left, towards the noise, approaching quietly. Inuyasha too started forward, ready to attack if need be. Upon listening closer, the two brothers knew that whatever they heard was no animal.

"Show yourself," commanded the older sibling. There was no response, but instead the rustling came closer. The two readied themselves. A few moments later, they detected movement and advanced warily. Whatever it was would be entering the clearing within seconds.

A hooded figure stumbled into the clearing. The brothers immediately noticed something wrong with the cloak it was wearing. It didn't move like normal cloth should, but instead hung, looking limp and heavy. They watched it suspiciously. 'There is something wrong with this,' the oldest thought, observing the person stagger forward and collapse. Sesshomaru, being closest, caught them just before they reached the ground. The hood fell back, exposing a young woman's beautiful, yet familiar face.

"K-Kikyo?" Inuyasha sputtered, not believing his eyes. 'But that's impossible. Kikyo's inside. I saw her in the window as we passed by. Who is this?' he thought, mind racing.

Sesshomaru immediately found out why the cloak moved so oddly. It was nearly soaked through. With blood. 'Where is she wounded?' he mused. 'So much blood. Where is it coming from?'

He immediately picked up the girl and ran to the inn, Inuyasha going up ahead to get the door to the kitchen.

"What on earth?" their aunt cried, seeing the wounded girl in his arms.

"I'll need some bandages," he stated quickly, using the back stairway.

"Where are you taking her?"

"Third floor." He was already halfway up the first flight of stairs.

Their aunt turned hurried into the commons area of the inn, where the girls she had hired were serving the guests.

"Sango. Kikyo. I need you in here. Now."

The urgency in her voice made them quickly follow her back into the kitchen.

"What's going on?"

The innkeeper was quickly gathering an arm-full of salves, balms, and herbs. "I need you to get as many bandages as you can and meet Sesshomaru in the empty room on the third floor. I'll get these. You." She turned to Inuyasha. "Grab that kettle and come on." They followed her orders, racing up the stairs to the third floor.

:-:

Sesshomaru made it up the stairs and to the empty room in no time at all. He set the girl on the bed and grabbed the nearest lantern from the hallway. He bent over her, putting two fingers to her jugular and listened silently. Her pulse was weak, her breathing shallow. 'I'll have to work fast.' He looked down at her. Now that he had decent lighting, he could see that things were worse than he thought. There was so much blood. 'Where is it all coming from?' he thought, frustrated. His question was soon answered as he opened the cloak. Her forearms and calves were cut viciously, three equally spaced cuts on each appendage. But there was more blood coming from somewhere. It wasn't her stomach. He turned her onto her side. Her back was also cut, five slashes that were a half-foot long each ran from her shoulder blades down, also equally spaced apart. As far as he saw, every part of her that was not cut was bruised instead. 'Except for her face,'he noticed. Sesshomaru pushed the blood soaked cloak out of his way, trying to think of a way to get the bleeding to stop.

Right on time, the door opened and in bustled the girls with the bandages and clothes, his aunt with the medicine, and Inuyasha with hot water. A few moments later, another boy entered, carrying more water.

"Oh my. . ." started Sango, staring at the bruised and bloodied girl on the bed. "Was she attacked by an animal?"

"No animal did this." 'At least, not the type of animal you think.' "It was a person. These marks are precise. It must have taken a long time to do." As he spoke, Sesshomaru took the bandages, pressing them to her legs. "Help me." They immediately did as he said, pressing cloths to her arms and legs. "Wait." He turned her over so that he could get access to the injuries on her back. Upon seeing them, a collective gasp sounded in the room. He ignored them, but set to the task of pressing bandages to her cuts. Miroku, the other boy carrying the hot water, assisted him. A few minutes later, the bleeding hadn't stopped, but it had slowed significantly, enough for him to take a bit more time to access the situation. The girl was wearing only a nightdress beneath the cloak, he realized. 'The cuts on her back had been made through the nightdress,' he recalled. The more he thought about what could have happened, the more disgusted he became. He was frowning, deep in thought.

His aunt interrupted his musings. "We will clean her. Wait outside, then you can come back and bandage her up when we're done."

He nodded and, with the other young men, left the room.

The women set to work, getting the girl out of her blood-soaked nightgown and cleaning her off.

"The poor thing. What could have happened to her?" asked a young woman with dark eyes and hair.

"I'm not sure Sango." The two boys' aunt was just about done with the girl's back. When they gently turned her over, the woman gasped softly. She hadn't noticed before, but the injured girl looked almost exactly like Kikyo, the other girl she hired. There were a few differences in the features, but the bone structure was nearly identical, and the overall effect was quite perplexing.

"Do you know her?" asked Sango, also confused.

Kikyo shook her head. "No." Long dark hair was tied away from a pale face, her charcoal grey eyes narrowed in puzzlement.

"Almost done," murmured the boys' aunt, Kaede, wiping a smear of blood from the girl's cheek. Ten minutes later, they were finished and the bleeding had nearly stopped. They turned her onto her stomach once again and put her into another nightgown, leaving the back open. "Sesshomaru? You can come in now."

A moment later the young man entered. He looked at the girl and sighed, shaking his head. Without another word, he set to applying the salve to her back, using a paste of herbs on the deeper cuts. He left the women to bandage her back as he set to work on her arms. Once he got to her legs, he noticed that one of the cuts on her left was particularly deep. 'I will have to watch that one so it doesn't get infected.' He recalled thinking something along those same lines in the stables earlier and gave a cynical laugh. Sesshomaru shook his head again, using the herbal paste and wrapping the bandages securely from her knee down to her ankle. With the help of the women, it didn't take long to finish. He checked her vitals once again. Things seemed pretty much the same. Her pulse was still weak and her breathing was still shallow. He was about to move away when he felt her hand move next to his arm. He watched the girl closely as her eyelids fluttered and opened marginally.

"Please," she whispered, her voice barely audible before succumbing to unconsciousness once again.

AN: Yep. That's all for now, kiddies! I know it was short, but I wanted the first chapter to stop after the whole 'please' thing. It's just the way I have it imagined and mapped out in me head, that's all. Well, you all know what time it is. Hey! Don't you groan at me! That's right. I want you to review. Yep. That pretty little purple button thingie down there? Yep. I want you to push it and tell me what you thought of me first chappie. I know you want to. You feel yourself being drawn to that amazingly attractive purple button. Push it! Go ahead. I won't tell anyone. If you review, I will give you a rose and a really big cookie. (Not to mention a nice, juicy, LONG second chapter.) I promise! ; )

PS. BTW, for those of you who can read but not subtract, Sesshomaru is twenty-two and Inuyasha is nineteen.