Word count: 5,978
Note: Doesn't follow Movie 3 or anime canon. Manga compliant though—I think.
Summary: This is my own version of how Sesshomaru acquired Tenseiga and another seemingly useless memento named Jaken—and how he tried to lose them both.
The Inu no Taisho placed the necklace over his wife's lowered head, laying it across her shoulders. The necklace was composed almost entirely of pearls—large, iridescent, and flawless—and they by themselves were remarkable enough alone. But the focal point of the necklace was without question the treasure set between the pearls. It was an amulet, round, gold-rimmed with an unearthly black center, and when the Inu no Taisho took his hands away, and his wife raised her head again, it came to rest against the lady's silk, lavender yukata, directly over her heart.
"This I entrust to you," the Inu no Taisho said, his voice low and somber.
The lady ran her long, slender fingers over the amulet, eyes wide. "The Meidou-seki…" she said in awe. She had heard of its powers, and they were not to be taken lightly. If her husband was truly leaving this treasure (some would say a burden) to her, then it could only mean one thing: He would soon be facing Death. A thousand questions the lady desired to ask her husband then, but only one managed to find its way to her throat, and it was perhaps the one least important. "Why are you giving this to me?" she said, her voice rising dangerously close to a demand.
The Inu no Taisho had turned from her, and his hand had gone to the two swords sheathed at his left hip. His fingers lingered on the older sheath, the one that housed the sword called Tessaiga. For a brief moment, the lady thought he was going to draw it out, and her heart involuntarily quickened. Her husband was not in the best of states; he had been drinking, and though he was mostly sober, she could tell that his mind was troubled. But he did not draw the Tessaiga. Instead, his hand moved on to the new sheath, the new sword. The one that the youkai sword-smith Totosai had sheared and shaped mere days ago, in secret.
The Inu no Taisho pulled out the blade and inspected it in the flickering lantern light, eyes ablaze. His face was reflected in the silver blade, proud, yet somehow tired, and deep in thought. "One day," he said weightily, "our son will come to you, seeking answers. And when he does, it will be your duty to test him with the Meidou-seki. It is the only way for him to unlock the sword's full power."
"Ah, yes," the lady said with a casualness that bordered on sarcasm, "this sword you mean to give to him." Her tone quickly shifted to solemnity. "Sesshomaru will not like it," she stated bluntly.
His back to her seemed to stiffen. "That matters not."
"Indeed? And how can you be so sure he will even accept it?"
"He is my son. I have faith in him. It is your acceptance that concerns me now. Will you bear the Meidou-seki and honor my instructions?"
The lady's voice trilled high like a songbird's, as though she did not take the matter seriously at all. "The test of the Meidou-seki cannot be administered unless Sesshomaru has a companion. And perhaps you did not realize this, what with your… absences… but companionship has never interested our son."
The Inu no Taisho's back was still turned to her; his eyes still fixed intently on the blade; yet, he had not missed the note of accusation in her voice, nor the pain. But these things could not be dealt with now, nor remedied. His jaw tightened.
"That has not gone unnoticed," he said, "but you must trust me now. Sesshomaru will find his way. Will you help me lead him to it?"
The lady sighed, and the Inu no Taisho raised the sword parallel to his face and saw in its reflection his wife grasping the Meidou-seki behind him.
"I will," she said finally.
The barest trace of a smile graced the Inu no Taisho's face. He sheathed the sword and replaced it at his hip. Then he turned to embrace her, one last time….
It was night.
"I fly to battle now, Sesshomaru." The Inu no Taisho paused, then said, "I do not expect to return."
Sesshomaru was standing some distance from him, his face stern. As the Inu no Taisho spoke, he noticed keenly how his son's eyes drifted toward the swords residing at his hip. Though only the slightest hint of change came over Sesshomaru's face, the Inu no Taisho could tell that his son was surprised by the existence of a second sword. But if Sesshomaru was curious about its origin or purpose, he made no indication. All he said was, "If you are so set on death, Father, then why wastetwo blades in battle?"
The Inu no Taisho smirked. Leave it to his son to be so straightforward. Sesshomaru would not show sentimentality over his imminent demise. But this did not trouble him, for his son was behaving according to plan.
"Yes, I believe you are right," the Inu no Taisho said. "One blade should be enough for my purposes." He removed the swords, still sheathed, from his sash, and held out one in each arm. "The question now becomes which sword to bequeath to you."
Sesshomaru made no pretenses of doubt or indecision. "Tessaiga," he said firmly and without hesitation.
The Inu no Taisho pretended to think it over. He seemed to be weighing the swords in his hands, and finally he held up the newer sheath. "Have you no interest in this one? It is new, and Tessaiga is old."
"Tessaiga will do."
The Inu no Taisho appeared deep in thought, regarding his two swords. Finally, he looked up at his son. "What if I told you this new sword is the equal of Tessaiga in strength and power? Then would you desire it?"
"If it is Tessaiga's equal, then I see no reason why you should not gift me Tessaiga itself."
The Inu no Taisho's expression grew dark, as one who knows he is about to face Death, and he spoke to Sesshomaru now not as a warrior, but as a father saying a final farewell to his son, his words soft, slow, and weighty. "And if I told you that it was my last wish that you should bear this blade and keep it with you always, Sesshomaru, would you accept it then?"
Sesshomaru's brow furrowed slightly. For a while, there was no sound but the wind howling past the two stalwart figures, and no movement but the swaying of their hair in the breeze. Finally, Sesshomaru moved toward his father, and when they were standing very close, and the Inu no Taisho was not quite sure yet what his son would do, Sesshomaru held out his arm and said, "Very well."
Some of the tension went out of the Inu no Taisho's face, and he placed the new sheath in his son's hand. Then Sesshomaru turned and separated himself somewhat again.
"I shall simply acquire Tessaiga after you are gone," Sesshomaru said resolutely.
"It is my hope that you will not desire it then," the Inu no Taisho replied, but he feared his son had not heard him. Already Sesshomaru was unsheathing his blade and getting used to the feel of its weight. It was a thin blade, much smaller than Tessaiga, and he frowned at that, but it felt strong in his hands. He held it out at arm's length for a while, and then, aiming at a nearby tree, he raised the sword up and made to swing, ready to slice the trunk down.
"Wait," the Inu no Taisho said at the last moment, his voice full of the strength that made him such a commanding leader. Sesshomaru kept his arms raised, but his eyes met his father's. For a moment, the Inu no Taisho was consumed with the unnerving sensation of fear that he had felt so few times in his long life. Fear that his son would test the sword now and all his plans, all his preparations, all his hopes would be for naught. But Sesshomaru was not aware of any of these things going through his father's mind. All he saw, standing there with the new sword raised in his hands, ready to strike, was a piercing seriousness in his father's eyes. The Inu no Taisho cleared his throat. "It would be in poor taste," he ventured, "to enjoy your inheritance before your father is dead."
A silence passed between them, and Sesshomaru's eyes squinted, and the Inu no Taisho wondered, had his son seen through him?
Sesshomaru's eyes turned back to the tree, and dread filled the Inu no Taisho as Sesshomaru opened his mouth to speak. "So it would," he said simply, and lowered the blade, and inwardly the Inu no Taisho breathed a sigh of relief. The sword's secret was safe for now. It was imperative that Sesshomaru should not discover it until after his death.
Casting his eyes down on the blade, Sesshomaru asked, "And what is the sword's name?"
The Inu no Taisho saw Sesshomaru's hand tightened around Tenseiga's handle, and he could tell his son was feeling slightly more connected to the sword now that he knew its title. He just hoped that small connection would be enough.
"It will set you on your rightful path, Sesshomaru. I must go to mine now."
The Inu no Taisho turned to leave, but suddenly his son's voice rang out loud, cold, and not entirely devoid of anger.
"To Ryukotsusei? Or to your human wench and her bastard hanyou?"
Sesshomaru had never spoken to him of Izayoi and Inuyasha before. It had been a silent pact between father and son never to acknowledge this second family's existence in the other's presence. His father's imminent death had made Sesshomaru bold.
"Do not speak of them in such a manner," the Inu no Taisho declared dangerously, teeth gritted, but he had not the heart to chastise his son further. He knew how Sesshomaru felt about the matter, and he did not want their last words together to be sullied in argument. He kept his voice even and calm, wishing to keep the peace. "It is not just Izayoi and Inuyasha. I must bid farewell to my other companions, too." Sesshomaru made a scornful laugh, and the Inu no Taisho cut him off abruptly. "Do you have any companions, Sesshomaru?" he asked, though he knew full well the answer.
"What does a warrior such as I need a companion for?" Sesshomaru countered.
"Even warriors need friends."
"Like the witless fools you keep for company? Pathetic codgers and puny tagalongs like Totosai and Myouga?" Sesshomaru scoffed. "I have no need for their kind."
"But perhaps their kind have need of you," the Inu no Taisho said, but he did not give Sesshomaru time to puzzle over this long. "Friendship is a sign you have a soul."
"Your love of humans has clouded your reason, Father. Youkai do not have souls."
"If that is truly what you believe," the Inu no Taisho said seriously, "then you will know you have grown a soul when a friend is standing by your side."
Sesshomaru did not answer. The Inu no Taisho turned to go, but then he gave his son one last, long, searching look, and a final request.
"Keep Tenseiga with you always."
Then, the Inu no Taisho transformed into his canine form, a towering, white dog as large and majestic as a mountain. The pads of his paws gripped the earth, knees bending, and he jumped into the air, sweeping away into the sky with tremendous speed and power. The push of his paws on the earth shook the ground that Sesshomaru was standing on, and a gale of wind blew back as he flew away.
The wind swept past Sesshomaru, a final goodbye, long after his father looked like nothing more than a cloud in the distance, until the wisp of white seemed to disappear altogether, into the horizon and gone forever.
Damn him, Sesshomaru thought.
His father had defeated the dragon Ryukotsusei, but victory against so great a foe came at a price. Soon thereafter, the Inu no Taisho had died from his wounds, as he had foreseen. But his death was not what troubled Sesshomaru the most now.
The Inu no Taisho, cunning bastard that he was, had hidden the sword Tessaiga in his grave, the location of which Sesshomaru had no way of discovering. Father never intended to give me Tessaiga, Sesshomaru thought angrily. And he had allowed him to get away! He had willingly accepted the other sword, instead of taking Tessaiga when he had the chance! Now it was lost to him, possibly for centuries, until he could find the Inu no Taisho's grave.
But that was not the worst of it. After his father's death, Sesshomaru had discovered to his extreme horror and unquenchable fury that Tenseiga, the blade that he had taken out of mere respect for his father's dying wishes, was completely and utterly useless to him. The sword could not cut, could not wound an opponent any greater than if he wielded a feather!
He had learned this unpleasant news at a most inopportune time. While traveling, he encountered a gang of human bandits on the road, who demanded that he, being "stinkin' youkai scum," get out of their way. Then the leader had dismounted boldly from his horse and spit at Sesshomaru's feet.
Sesshomaru decided to teach these humans some manners, and though they were certainly beneath the use of a youkai sword, he could not contain his urge to test it out, and quick as a flash, he lashed out with Tenseiga at the offending bandit, a hulking, ugly brute with a scarred and lopsided face. The blade went across the bastard's mouth, penetrating through the back of his skull, for Sesshomaru had thought how wonderful it would be to cut out his filthy tongue.
The bandits gasped then, expecting their leader to fall to the ground in two pieces, but then, to Sesshomaru's surprised consternation, instead, the bandit stood there dumbly, patting his cheeks where the blade had sliced through him, searching for a wound. When the witless brute finally processed that he was not dead, he let out a laugh. Then the others joined in, a ringing, horrible, surly laughter. The leader cried out triumphantly, so strongly that Sesshomaru could smell his stinking, fetid breath, "The youkai's sword is so blunt, it doesn't even leave a mark!" With a guffaw, the bandit drew his own sword, still wet with the blood of women and children from a recent village raid, and aimed it at Sesshomaru's skull….
That foolish bastard was the first to die. Sesshomaru finished him in one strike and then turned his claws on the rest of them, twenty men in all, and their mounts too, unleashing his full, unmitigated rage. Blood rained around him and splattered across his face. He licked his lips, and grimaced, but filthy human blood was not the only thing that left a bitter taste in his mouth. He could hardly stand to admit it, but they had been right to laugh. What was Father thinking when he gave him a sword that could not cut? What was this final insult?
There was a crunch as the last bandit's spine twisted, and his body fell to the ground on top of a pile of limp and broken carcasses. Sesshomaru turned away, disgusted, but not by the carnage. He took Tenseiga, sheathed, from his hip, staring at it, disbelieving, silent, enraged. Blood was dripping into his eyes, making him see red. The blade, the only remnant left of his father, his father who was the most fearsome youkai warrior for centuries, was completely impotent. Sesshomaru wished to destroy it then, to rid himself of this insult forever. With a growl, he hurled the blasted sword with all of his might into the air. It sailed away from him and landed with a satisfying crack far away behind a large boulder. But the crack was instantly accompanied by a loud yelp, followed by many curses. Apparently Tenseiga had landed directly on some unlucky creature's head.
That was the most pain Tenseiga would ever inflict on someone, Sesshomaru thought bitterly, wiping the blood out of his eyes, and he turned to leave. He never wanted to see that useless memento of Father's again.
The sound of Sesshomaru's boots crunching over gravel and grass was irritatingly interrupted by a squawking voice coming from the vicinity where Tenseiga had landed.
"What's this?" the voice squawked, and Sesshomaru's acute ears picked up the slight clutter that told him Tenseiga was being clumsily unsheathed. "A sword!" the voice chirped. "A mighty fine sword, too, by the looks of it…"
Sesshomaru kept walking, though a furrow had formed in his brow.
"And not just any mere mortal blade! No, this is a youkai sword, I'd bet my life on it. And where's its master? Going away, is he?"
Sesshomaru sniffed the air. A toad youkai. A lowly piece of youkai trash hardly better than a mindless worm. Holding his father's memento. Sesshomaru's footsteps continued onward, though at a noticeably slower pace.
"Well, this will make a fine blade worthy of me! I'm its master now!"
And as the little imp chuckled deviously to himself, suddenly his laughter was cut short by a blunt pressure on his head and the air being knocked out of his lungs as his chin landed in the dirt.
Sesshomaru was standing there above him with a dangerous expression on his face, his heavy, ironclad foot planted firmly on the imp's skull.
"That is mine, worm," Sesshomaru said forebodingly, and the imp didn't waste a second considering putting up a fight.
"Y-y-y-yes, of course it is, milord," the imp stuttered, dropping the sword as though it were on fire.
Sesshomaru ground the pest's head into the dirt a bit more for good measure, and then promptly forgot him. Tenseiga reclaimed and sheathed once more, he put it to rest at its rightful place on his hip. As Father had intended, he thought grimly, for it were his father's words, "Keep Tenseiga with you always," that had flashed through his mind as he dashed to retrieve the blade from the imp.
Sesshomaru began to walk away again, suddenly angry with himself. Father still held sway over him, even from the next world. Why didn't he have the resolve to leave Tenseiga behind? He regretted ever asking Father the blade's name. Somehow it would have been easier to cast aside had the sword gone nameless.
"Excuse me, milord," that irritating voice piped up again, "might I inquire what is the name of my savior?"
What was the imp babbling about now?
"Savior?" Sesshomaru said, clearly pronouncing his distaste for the imp's stupidity. Did such an ignorant fool always deem those who thrashed him saviors?
But the imp nodded emphatically. "Yes, milord!" he squawked. "For I was walking along this road when I heard the trampling of many hooves coming this way, and fearing the worst, ducked behind this rock to hide. As soon as the band grew close enough, I saw that my suspicions were confirmed. That was a group of human bandits notorious in these parts for their cruelty, especially toward youkai-kind. I sat here knowing I was a goner, for if they passed by they would be sure to notice and slaughter me, when I heard them stop on the road. That's when I saw you take care of them, milord! Never have I seen such a fierce and powerful warrior! Might I learn my savior's name?"
Sesshomaru looked down on the little imp, who reached no higher than his shins and wore a ridiculous set of overlarge robes that only increased his comically small stature. "My name is Sesshomaru."
"Ah, Lord Sesshomaru!" the imp proclaimed proudly, bowing. "Allow me to repay my life debt to you by becoming your obedient vassal for all eternity, or until I shall perish, whichever shall come first."
Sesshomaru frowned. This pathetic, tiny creature hardly looked like he would last a week in the harsh warring times that they lived in. It hardly seemed a bother taking him up on this offer, for it wouldn't last long. Sesshomaru hardly cared for, let alone needed, a servant, but if there was one thing this imp was good for, it was taking his mind off Father's betrayal and the hated Tenseiga for a little while.
"I accept your service, worm," Sesshomaru said in a bored manner.
"I am called Jaken, milord," the imp said eagerly.
"Let's go, worm," Sesshomaru said, already leaving his new vassal behind.
Jaken squawked in dismay, and hurried to catch up with his new master.
Sesshomaru tolerated the worm's presence for a week, and, finding the little imp alive at the end of it, tolerated him still for another, and yet another. He was a hardy little creature, though skittish and over excitable, and loyal to a fault. He would follow Sesshomaru's instructions to the letter, including if Sesshomaru told him to wait somewhere, and yet he always seemed anxious for his lord's return, and hated to be parted from him. It was bewildering, and Sesshomaru didn't know what to make of him. The worm loved to talk, often praises for his lord, and he suffered many kicks to the head and threats for his silence, which never seemed to last long enough. Sesshomaru wondered when the little beast would shut up and die.
By the end of the third week, though, it occurred to him that no accident would befall the wretch while he was around. Sesshomaru and his vassal encountered many foes along their path, both human and youkai, but Sesshomaru always dealt with them before the imp got hurt, and finally he decided there was nothing for it except to let the shrimp fend for himself at the next sign of danger.
The opportunity presented itself as they were walking through the woods one day. Sesshomaru was heading north when his nose caught a scent that made him stop in his tracks. A pack of wild boar youkai was trampling through the forest to the east, he realized. And the imp, who always kept so carefully and respectfully behind his lord at all times, staring at his feet, did not see his lord stop ahead of him, and now was in grave danger of reaching equal footing with his master. He was one step away from this deadly mistake, when Sesshomaru spared him it by placing his own boot down on the imp's head, smashing his face into the foliage.
"Stop," Sesshomaru said.
"Sorry, milord," the worm cried, spitting out leaves. "Why have we halted? Is there danger nearby?" The imp looked around wearily, beads of sweat already breaking out on his forehead. He was pathetically spineless, Sesshomaru thought with disgust.
"We are changing course, worm," he said without explanation, and being a loyal vassal, the imp asked for none. "Now, follow."
"Yes, Lord Sesshomaru!"
Sesshomaru made his way steadily through the woods, striking his own path through the thick undergrowth with his claws, toward the pack of boar youkai. They were on the move, but Sesshomaru could track them with his powerful nose. The imp, having no such outstanding olfactory capacity, was entirely clueless about the danger into which he was being lead. The boar would overtake him, as Sesshomaru planned, and when the imp failed to defend himself and prove himself useful, Sesshomaru would allow him to die. Sesshomaru would not bear this creature around with him like another useless weight at his hip. Anything that did not serve a purpose must be left behind; that had always been Sesshomaru's philosophy, and the small fancy that had taken him to allow the imp to follow him was long gone. The boars were close by now. Sesshomaru could smell it… and hear it.
"What's that, milord?" the imp said, quivering at the sound of rustling in the bushes. "Why are we stopping here, Lord Sesshomaru? Shouldn't we keep moving?"
Sesshomaru said nothing. His face was impassive. The imp shrieked as the rustling grew louder, closer, coming from three distinct sides, and ducked behind his lord's trailing, white puff.
Suddenly from out of the undergrowth burst a large, vicious boar youkai. Snarling and bloodthirsty… this youkai was a mindless animal, incapable of speech or humanlike form. Its only thought lay in filling the pangs of hunger in its belly. It was larger than a wolf, with red eyes, drooling mouth, and two fearsome, bladelike tusks that curved upwards on either side of its snout. The boar stood there, snarling, sizing Sesshomaru up, readying itself to take on the inuyoukai if need be. The toad youkai was much smaller, weaker… easier prey.
The imp shrieked again, wondering why his lord did nothing. One intimidating stare from Sesshomaru would send the beast running, but his lord just stood there, face blank. Sesshomaru could feel the imp trembling against him. His cowardice was disgusting.
"What will you do, worm?" Sesshomaru said softly. "You have one foe ahead of you, and two more on either side, hiding in the bushes, waiting for their leader to strike." If the imp had any sense at all, Sesshomaru thought, he would forsake his oath of lifetime service and run—run away from the boars, run away from Sesshomaru, and hope to never see him again. That would be the only way to spare his life. The worm should run.
The imp gulped loudly, quivering. "I-I-I underst-t-t-and, Lord Sesshomaru."
Good, Sesshomaru thought.
Taking a deep breath, the imp jump out from behind his cover and ran… straight toward the boar to face him head on.
"I will take care of these foul beasts for you, milord!" the imp cried, and as he did, the boar, seeing his prey forsake his cover, charged toward the pathetic fool.
Sesshomaru's eyes widened as the two beasts clashed. The imp ducked as the boar aimed his tusks at his head, but the imp's natural weapons were few. He dug his puny claws into the beast's leg, and came away with blood. But it was only a scratch. The boar shook him off.
And that's when Sesshomaru felt something hit him from behind with such force that he fell to his knees. The other boars! He'd let his guard down, so surprised to watch the imp rise to fight, that one of the other boars had trampled him. A tusk as wide as his wrist was embedded in the back of his knee. With a grunt he slashed at the beast with his poison claws, killing it instantly. He pulled the tusk out in time to hear a terrible screech. He looked up and saw the worm standing in front of him, straining eyes almost level with his, smiling slightly, blood burbling at the side of his mouth. One of the first boar's tusks was poking through his chest. The boar's target had been Sesshomaru, seeing him wounded, but the imp had jumped in the way at the last moment.
"Lord Se… Sessh… oma…" the imp said, and his eyes rolled up in his head before he could complete his lord's name.
Two seconds later, the boar was decapitated, and the imp's body removed from the tusk. The third boar, still hiding in the bushes, fled, and Sesshomaru didn't bother going after it.
The imp wasn't dead… yet… Sesshomaru realized. Most youkai could withstand blows to the chest that would surely prove fatal to mortals. But the imp was small and weak. He needed help. Sesshomaru tried to stand, but faltered. That damn boar had torn a hole in his knee. He could bear the pain with hardly a grimace, but walking was another matter. His leg would be useless for at least a few hours.
Sesshomaru gave a whistle, high-pitched so that only a few creatures alive would hear his call. He waited dutifully until one of his mother's servants arrived. It was a transport beast, one of the many two-headed dragons she kept in her realm. Sesshomaru recognized this particular dragon as one of her favorites, Ah-Un.
The creature, well trained, dropped to its knees in front of Sesshomaru, allowing him to climb on, carrying the imp in one of his arms. "Home," Sesshomaru commanded, and Ah-Un flew them up, up, up into the clouds….
"He is a tough little thing," the lady said, and turned to Sesshomaru. She smirked. "Friend of yours?"
Sesshomaru frowned. Mother could be so exasperating. "He is my vassal. That is all."
"I administered a potion to let him sleep through his recovery. He will wake up after you have left this place."
Sesshomaru nodded. The imp was lying asleep on a mat in his mother's court in the sky. He was wearing a new set of robes to replace his torn, bloody ones. Guards were standing about nearby along the steps.
"Come with me, Sesshomaru," the lady said. "I wish to speak to you in private."
He followed her into her palace and watched passionlessly as she sent more guards away. Then she began rummaging through a chest. "The little youkai should not be made to walk for some days. I suggest you take Ah-Un with you on your journey back. Consider him a gift." Sesshomaru tilted his head forward slightly. "And this," the lady said, retrieving a wooden staff from the chest, "this is for the little youkai."
"The Nintoujou?" Sesshomaru said.
"Of course. One should always keep one's servants well armed. You would know that if you had ever allowed yourself a vassal before."
Sesshomaru felt that his mother was criticizing him, but he took the staff tight-lipped.
"And now, my son, I must know what it is you wish to ask of me, for I can tell it is not only for the little youkai's sake that you are here." Her eyes drifted down briefly and met his again. "I see you have kept your father's sword."
"Tessaiga," Sesshomaru said, ignoring her remark of Tenseiga, "you must tell me where Tessaiga is. Where is Father's grave? You must know."
The lady sniffed in faux-offense. "I know no more than you. All your father left me was a riddle to give to you: Where one can see, but cannot be seen. The place where its own keeper cannot look upon."
Sesshomaru waited for her to finish, but she spoke no more. He could hardly contain his anger. "What does that mean?"
"I have no idea," the lady smiled. "Hm, do you suppose your father did not intend for you to find Tessaiga?"
Sesshomaru growled and turned to go.
The lady called after him. "Perhaps your half-brother knows where the grave is. I believe he was the last to see your father, whether he is old enough to be aware of it or not."
"The hanyou is a useless child," Sesshomaru said, but mentally he made a note to pay his dear little brother a visit someday, if all other attempts failed.
The lady's eyes fell once again to Tenseiga.
"Is there anything else you wish to ask me?"
Sesshomaru's brow furrowed, and his hand went to Tenseiga's handle. The lady's heart quickened.
"Yes," Sesshomaru said, letting Tenseiga slip through his fingers. "Where do I find Totosai? I'd like to have a few… words with him."
The lady sniffed again, and Sesshomaru got the distinct impression that she was disappointed about something. "I am sure Master Totosai has moved away by now."
"Of course." For a moment he considered asking her what the strange, new amulet she bore around her neck was, but figured it was none of his concern what silly trinkets his mother decided to wear. "Farewell, Mother."
Sesshomaru exited the palace, and the lady watched him go. He had not asked her about his father's memento, Tenseiga. But then, the lady realized she had been hoping for too much. Tenseiga was new to him, and it would be a long time yet before he would be ready to unlock its full potential. She would not see him again until then. But Sesshomaru left her with more hope than she had had before. He had found a companion. Tenseiga had set him on his rightful path. She raised the Meidou-seki to her lips, the connection to the land of the dead, and whispered, "You were right after all, my love." Now he just had the long road ahead.
Jaken woke up in a daze several days later, his head still groggy from the potion that had unknowingly been administered to him by a beautiful lady he was not aware of ever meeting. The world spun when he sat up and his vision was blurry, but when all finally stilled and cleared, he saw that his lord was sitting nearby.
"Lord Sesshomaru!" he cried happily. "You're all right! I'm so thankful! How is your leg, milord? Has it healed? Oh, I am so glad to see you!"
"Shut up," Sesshomaru said quietly. "Can you get to your feet?"
"I think so," Jaken said shakily, standing up slowly.
"Lean on this," Sesshomaru said harshly, pushing a two-headed staff into his hands.
"Thank you, milord."
"The Nintoujou is a powerful weapon. You must learn to command it well."
"Yes, Lord Sesshomaru! You are too good to me, Lord Sesshomaru, after I failed to defend you so miserably!"
"Shut up. I have thought of a use for you. You shall come with me and help me find my father's grave."
"You mean… I can continue to serve you, milord, and make up for my previous incompetence?"
Sesshomaru's eyes pierced him. "On one condition."
"Anything for you, Lord Sesshomaru!"
Sesshomaru turned his head so that he was not looking at him.
"Just don't get yourself killed, Jaken."
The little imp choked, and the sound made Sesshomaru turn his head back. The imp was staring up at him most adoringly, his eyes two large pools swimming with tears. It took Sesshomaru much aback.
"What is it?"
"Th-that," Jaken stuttered, choking back his tears, "that was the first time you called me by my name, Lord Sesshomaru."
Sesshomaru turned his head again. "Hn," he said, and started walking off quickly, with no heed for Jaken's recovered state. "Let's go, worm."
Jaken silently obeyed, and the poor imp hobbled after Sesshomaru as fast as his injured state allowed. But Sesshomaru was soon far ahead, and in danger of leaving the little imp behind. Suppressing a sigh, Sesshomaru stopped and waited for Jaken to catch up. He never would have allowed himself such a delay in the old days, he thought.
The imp scurried over the ground, head down, alert to any rocks or tree roots that might trip him. And so he fell in danger once again of falling into step with his lord. By the time his foot reached Sesshomaru's stance, he realized it too late; the unfortunate foot stepped down, exactly in stride next to his lord's. Jaken winced, waited for the boot to connect with his head in punishment. But Sesshomaru just started walking, and slow enough for Jaken to keep up. Jaken could hardly believe it, but he was walking side by side with his lord, as he had always dreamed he could!
For a brief moment, Sesshomaru felt as though Tenseiga pulsed once at his hip, and suddenly a voice or memory flashed through his head: You will know you have grown a soul when a friend is standing by your side.
Sesshomaru looked down at the companion by his side. To his dismay he realized he had a friend—and a soul—after all.
Author's Note: This is it. After over 2 years and 28,000 words, I have finally completed this collection of Jaken stories. I want to thank everyone who has supported and encouraged this effort through reviews, story alerts, and favorites. And thank you to the mods over the years at 30shards on LiveJournal for maintaining the community and inspiring this collection. Thank you, everyone. It is nice to know that even the most unpopular of characters can be well liked. I've grown quite fond of Jaken over the years. When I first visited the 30shards community, I decided to write about Rin. Well, luckily for me, she was already claimed there, and so I decided to take the only character available at the time that would still allow me to write about Rin on occasion: Jaken. Now, I had written Jaken a little bit before I started this collection ("The Plight of Master Jaken"), and I appreciated his character. But it was only through this collection, through writing him over and over and looking at things more from his point of view, that he grew to become one of my favorite characters. I can now say Jaken is one of the chief delights of the Inuyasha manga to me. He is both sweet and scared, nervous and brave, small and proud, big-hearted and snippy. He is a worrywart, a big brother, a best friend. He has many moments of comic relief, but also moments of tenderness and drama. He is a well-rounded character thanks to Rumiko Takahashi's wonderful writing, instead of being relegated to a one-note being. There are many sides to him, and I hope I explored a few of them during these 30 shards (and I hope my writing improved as I went along!) This collection was one of the first things I began writing in fandom, and I am happy to say I think I ended it with my favorite story of the bunch (and certainly the longest by far!). But don't worry, the collection may be complete, but it's not over yet. I still intend to write about Jaken whenever the plot bunnies get me. In fact, I have a drabble published recently outside this collection with Jaken called "Not Without Me". So there's more of the little youkai yet. My sincere thanks to everyone, and a special thank you if you happened to stick through this collection from the very beginning… We did it!... :-D