Ayumi woke some time later with a waning gibbous in the sky. The new moon would be coming soon, only one more day, so that means she had already missed all of her tests. She remembered overhearing her teachers praising her for not being like her mother who never seemed to show up for school at all and mostly failed her tests when she did. According to them, she was the sickest person they had ever met.
The sky was dark and eerie as Ayumi stood and stretched. She felt her dog ears again, wondering why Kohaku just attacked her out of nowhere. Was it something she said, or looked if you count the ears? She gave up trying to figure it out and leaned against the tree. The North Star was supposed to show your way no matter where you came from, right? She frowned. All of them looked just like stars, nothing special about them.
"Hello? Is anyone there?" a woman asked. She sounded as if she were only a few years older than Ayumi. Ayumi stiffened and looked around. A woman, somewhere around her mid-teens going into the twenties, moved the brush aside. Her orange and white kimono snagged on the brush and she frowned before freeing herself. "Hello there, I'm Rin."
"I–" Ayumi wasn't sure if she could trust this woman, but she needed someone to tell her what was going on with the weird dog ears, "I'm Ayumi."
"Rin, get away from her." A man with one arm missing and silver hair pushed through to the woman.
"But, Master Sesshoumaru, Ayumi's only a little girl," Rin frowned.
"That half-demon smells of my pathetic brother, Inuyasha," Sesshoumaru answered.
"You're h– his brother?" Ayumi asked, shocked by the twist of events.
"How do you know of Inuyasha?" Rin asked.
"He's– he– he saved me from a demon," Ayumi lied.
"No, you're scent is too much like his, you have to be close to him," Sesshoumaru frowned.
"Hmm, she looks a lot like that human he travels with," Rin remarked.
"Um, I, uh, got to go, uh, to my, uh, village," Ayumi lied and turned around. The path was behind her and she had no idea where she was going, but she knew she had to get away.
But before Ayumi could start running, Sesshoumaru leapt in front of hr and grabbed her shirt collar. "I know who you are, little girl, and I know my brother will be looking for you."
Ayumi couldn't speak. Her heart was throbbing too strongly in her throat for her to let out more than a pathetic squeak. Thankfully, Rin stepped in and grabbed Ayumi's wrist before Sesshoumaru could drag her away. "Master Sesshoumaru, she needs rest first and it could take days trying to find Inuyasha. We should let her rest first and then take her back."
"Rin, she must be returned to my incompetent brother before Naraku finds her. The quicker I can get back, the quicker we can begin looking for Naraku again. Understand," Sesshoumaru asked. Rin nodded and didn't notice Ayumi's pleading eyes begging her to let her be. Ayumi was pulled close to Sesshoumaru and she could smell blood on him. She tried to struggle away from the scent, but stopped when he leapt off of the ground and over the trees.
"Please, sir, just let me go. I can find my own way back and my father won't be too hard to find and–" Ayumi begged.
"Be quiet," Sesshoumaru snapped. "You're changing into a half-demon and if you lose control of that than you won't be able to change back into what you were."
"A half-demon, but I'm only one-fourth demon, aren't I?" Ayumi asked. She suddenly remembered that girl and the pain she had caused. Did that change her?
"You must return to your own time before you change even further. It is dangerous for you to be here," Sesshoumaru stated. Ayumi just rolled her eyes and wondered how many times she had heard that. She didn't want to go back, not yet anyway. There was something she needed to do, but she couldn't remember what.
The moon was nearing the horizon and it gave a feeling of hope and distrust at the same time. Maybe she could hide in some village somewhere where nobody could find her. She would stay near the well and could jump in and out so she wouldn't miss too much school, but she needed to find the well first. Her uncle was taking her to her father, right? She scanned the horizon for anything that looked like her father, but nothing showed. The sky was still too dark to see any small specks of people in the air.
Sesshoumaru suddenly changed his course and turned right. He stopped soon after and sniffed the air. Ayumi could smell it too. Sango was nearby with Kirara. Sesshoumaru leapt off the ground again as Sango's scent neared and the small bit of flames around Kirara appeared out of the sky. Ayumi waved with her free hand as she saw Kirara land nearby. Sesshoumaru landed next to them.
"I found her in the forest. Tell Inuyasha to keep a better eye on his possessions because he'll never know who will take them," Sesshoumaru said as he dropped Ayumi on Kirara's back and left.
"Ayumi, are you hurt? Did Sesshoumaru do anything to you?" Sango paused and stared at her for what seemed like a decade. "You have Inuyasha's ears!"
"Surprise?" Ayumi frowned. She had been hoping that not too many people would notice them, but they stick out like a bright, glow in the dark object.
She lifted her hands ad covered them which snapped Sango out of her shock. "Sorry, but I'm not sure Kagome is going to like that much," Sango frowned. Kirara jumped off of the ground and Ayumi let go of her ears so she could hold on.
"Is Mom still here?" Ayumi asked. Normally her mother would be too busy to worry about her, but now that she was in the Feudal Era, she wouldn't go away.
"Yes, she's with Inuyasha. They're both worried about you," Sango explained. "But I'm not sure Kagome will let you come back when she sees that you have…"
"As if school wasn't hard enough, now I have to deal with being the freak of nature," Ayumi sighed. Life still looked better in this time than in the future.
There was silence for a long time as Ayumi gazed down at the forests and fields they passed over and Sango who continually searched for Inuyasha jumping over the forest's canopy. Ayumi smelled Inuyasha and Kagome before Sango pointed them out to her. She frowned at them and turned away. There was something wrong that she couldn't figure out. Something that she had forgotten to do, but now couldn't at all.
"Inuyasha! Kagome! I've got Ayumi!" Sango shouted, ignoring Ayumi's frown.
"Ayumi!" Kagome cried from the back of Inuyasha. Her determined face only proved that she was trying to be stern and hide her relief from her daughter. Kirara landed in an opening through the trees below and Ayumi slipped off. She couldn't look at any of them in their eyes for fear that they might notice something amiss. She kept looking down at the ground as the sun broke free from the horizon and the moon disappeared behind it.
"Ayumi, are you hurt?" Inuyasha asked.
"I'm fine," Ayumi answered sternly.
"Ayumi, you have dog ears!" Kagome cried. "How are you going to go to school with those?"
"Kagome," Inuyasha put his hand in front of her and stepped up to his daughter. "You smell of Naraku and Kohaku, what happened?"
Ayumi flinched at the name, still remembering his cold voice. "He kidnapped me. I broke free and ran away." It wasn't enough information to show that she was alright, but it was enough to show that she wasn't scared to recall it.
"Oh, Ayumi," Kagome cried and hugged her daughter.
"Mom, I'm fine," Ayumi answered, wanting to break free as tears formed in front of her eyes. "Really, I'll be okay. He didn't hurt me, I swear. Please, just let go."
The tears that Ayumi was trying to hold back broke free and fell down her face. All she could do was to hug her mother back tightly and then push away. She wiped them away sorrowfully as Inuyasha hugged her. He let go of her quickly so she didn't have to squirm under his grasp as she did with Kagome, but she still missed the feeling of being protected by both of them in their grip.
"Ayumi, what happened to you?" Inuyasha asked. "You smell of a half-demon instead of one-fourth."
"I don't know," Ayumi frowned. Was it that girl? Or was it staying with Naraku? Or was it something else that had changed her?
"Well, come on then. We better head back to the well so we can at least get some more food," Kagome said through a choked sob. She smiled sadly and helped Ayumi onto Inuyasha's back before climbing onto him herself. Sango didn't know what to say through this whole reunion so she stayed quiet as Kirara took off and Inuyasha followed.
Ayumi still couldn't remember what she was supposed to do, but she knew it was important. The well was only half a day away so she fell asleep wondering about it and awoke forgetting about it. The day was almost over and the sun was trying to stay above the edge of the horizon for as long as it could as Kirara landed with Miroku and Sango. Ayumi couldn't remember when Sango had left to go get him, but gave up trying to remember. She wasn't in the mood to try for it.
There were only a few more minutes before the moonrise and Inuyasha seemed more than agitated by it. Inuyasha tried hurrying Kagome, but she wouldn't leave until she knew he was safe for some reason. Ayumi just sat on the edge of the well and enjoyed the brilliant array of sunset colors. Sango and Miroku seemed to have taken up their own argument and a red mark was appearing on Miroku's face as Sango yelled at him. Both arguments blended together to cover up what they were saying, but it didn't bother Ayumi. She was content with just staying in the Feudal Era for as long as she could.
"Inuyasha, I'm not going to leave with the new moon so close! Who knows what trouble you could get yourself into?" Kagome shouted.
"You have to go back to your own time to protect Ayumi!" Inuyasha shouted back. Sango's and Miroku's argument had died down and they sat nearby on the well's edge with Ayumi.
"This is a rare time when Inuyasha actually wants Kagome to leave," Miroku smiled as if laughing to a hidden joke. Ayumi didn't understand why.
"That's true. It's normally Kagome that has to punish Inuyasha for trying to block up the well in one way or another. What was it last time, the boulder technique or the stand in her way technique?" Sango asked.
"No, Kagome slipped away while he was busy searching for the 'demon.'" Miroku grinned.
"How is Jaken anyway?" Sango asked. "I hope he didn't take too great a beating from Inuyasha once he found out."
"He's still at that old woman's hut, trying to get healed." Miroku grinned incessantly as Inuyasha and Kagome shouted over each other to be heard.
Ayumi suddenly got the scent of something sickening mixed with blood. Her ears perked up and they swiveled until she heard a man laughing and others screaming. "There's something bad going on nearby. The scent of blood is weak, but still there and I can hear a man laughing," Ayumi frowned at the two who weren't arguing.
"Better go without Inuyasha noticing or else he might want to help," Sango frowned. Kirara who was sleeping peacefully in her lap woke up and changed into the demon. Ayumi still had a slight fear of it, but it was only a slight fear as she climbed onto it and Miroku sat behind her.
Ayumi still couldn't understand why everyone seemed to be worrying about Inuyasha. Couldn't he take care of himself? Kirara lifted them over a village where a man was laughing. The setting sun made everything look even more bloodied as the red light was darkened by spots of bodies and blood. Ayumi couldn't help feeling sick from the scents, sights, and sounds of death. The man who was laughing was found easily as people were seen trying to run away from him.
Something was shining on his forehead as more people fought against him or ran away from him. They were all slaughtered by some unseen force. The purplish glow made Ayumi even sicker and if she had eaten recently, she would have thrown up. "Why is that man's head shining?" Ayumi asked, hoping for a distraction from the destruction.
"He must have a jewel shard with him. Damn, I thought we had all of those," Sango frowned. She threw her boomerang at the man, only to have it bounce off of some sort of barrier.
"That means I can't use my Wind Scar," Miroku frowned. The laughing man had stopped and turned to face Kirara as she landed with her passengers.
"Who dares to defy me? I, the Great King of Bandits, shall destroy you!" He shouted. The light coming off of his forehead glowed and several waves of something flew at the group. Ayumi screamed for them to duck, but it wasn't fast enough. They were all hit and blasted against a nearby house.
"What the hell was that?" Miroku asked as he rubbed his sore chest. Sango was holding her head and Kirara had changed back into a kitten, unconscious and unable to fight. Ayumi rubbed her neck where she had been hit and tried to focus her blurry vision on the man walking closer to the group.
"Get down!" Ayumi shouted. This time she was heard and the invisible waves took out the hut behind them, missing the group.
"How can you see my attacks? You're just a pathetic little girl," the man asked. He picked Ayumi up by the collar on her shirt and she struggled to break free. Another blast made Miroku and Sango unconscious behind her.
"Let me go!" Ayumi cried as she fought against the man. He threw her aside and she landed painfully on her side before rolling into a hut. Her vision was even more blurry than last time, but she saw the attacks coming at her and dodged them. They left a hole in the ground where her body would have been torn to shreds had she not moved.
"Such a pathetic girl," the man laughed. "Even if you can see my attacks, you don't stand a chance against the Great King of Bandits!"
Ayumi was sick of this man and his cold hearted laughter. She was sick of the smell of blood that clouded her sense of smell, the sounds of screaming and moaning as people died around her, sick of the purplish glow from the man's stupid forehead. She staggered a little as she stood. She used the hut she had hit to help her balance. She was too weak to stand, but her body refused to give up.
The man seemed surprised and scared of her at that moment as she felt herself change. Something inside of her was changing and becoming stronger. She remembered hearing Sesshoumaru's words, "If you lose control of that, you won't be able to change back, not matter what you were."
"Fight it," she whispered under her breath. "Fight for control."
But her struggles weren't helping as she walked forward. She had lost control of her body, but she couldn't worry about that now. She didn't want to become a demon. Her teeth tingled and sharpened as her hair fell in front of her face, changing to silver before her eyes. She looked like her father now.
The new moon was barely showing itself over the horizon. She dropped to her knees, feeling weak and strong at the same time. She couldn't understand it. Her hair changed back into the black that it should be and her teeth tingled and dulled. She closed her eyes for a few seconds to reestablish what was going on. She couldn't hear the sounds from way off anymore. The smell of blood dimmed and she wasn't dulled by it.
"Ayumi!" Kagome shouted over the laughing man. Ayumi snapped out of her confusion as the man stood over her and grabbed the back of her shirt. She was lifted to her feet and something cold and sharp pressed against her neck. Kagome ran out of the woods with a different man, one with black hair and brown eyes like hers. He looked familiar and a stranger at the same time. Who was this man?
The man rushed over to Sango and Miroku as Kagome lifted an arrow to her bow. The man checked their pulses before grabbing Miroku's staff. His sword stayed sheathed by his side. Ayumi suddenly recognized her father's sword and saw how he looked like him, but different, more human. Inuyasha must have been turned into a human like she had!
"Ayumi!" Both of her parents cried as she realized the Great King of Bandits was the one holding the knife to her throat. She didn't really care about that though. She knew her parents were in danger of his power more than she was with his knife slicing her throat.
"Inuyasha, there's a jewel shard in the man's forehead!" Kagome shouted as she tightened her arrow.
"I don't think you want to do that Miss," the bandit laughed again. Ayumi felt hatred well up inside her, but got control over it.
"Let Ayumi go!" Inuyasha demanded. He held Miroku's staff tightly and wielded it like a sword. That wasn't how you wield a staff, but Ayumi wasn't sure he knew how to wield one at all.
"I don't think you're in the right position to be ordering the Great King of Bandits around when I have this girl." More laughing came from the man as Ayumi once again had to gain control of her hatred.
"I am sick and tired of me being used as a tool to stop other people!" Ayumi screeched and grabbed the man behind her. With new found strength in her hatred, she threw the man over her and kicked him in the back before he could touch the ground. He rolled and stood slowly. The anger coming from his eyes was more than enough to scare Ayumi and make her want to flee. Kagome let lose her arrow which hit the man directly on the forehead, knocking out the jewel shard, but not killing the man. He quickly picked it up again and put it back in his forehead before Kagome could let loose another arrow.
"Ayumi, watch out!" Kagome cried. Ayumi was already preparing for the waves of whatever it was to come at her. Inuyasha didn't notice that she could see them and blocked their path. Ayumi looked away as her father was hit and blasted back. Kagome cried out for him, but Ayumi didn't hear her and instead looked down.
Somehow, Inuyasha's sword had slid out of its sheath and along the muddy ground to stop in front of her feet. Ayumi picked it up, not knowing exactly how to use it. It looked so old and so frail that it could break at any moment, but it didn't. She felt something in her move inside of it as it grew and became too heavy for her to lift fully. The Great King of Bandits was still laughing, making Ayumi hate him more and more until she picked up the sword and swung it at him.
He wasn't able to move away from it fast enough and got hit. His blood sprayed over the ground and hit her clothes, covering them in his blood. The jewel shard fell from his forehead and dropped to the ground as Ayumi staggered and used the sword to support her. She was becoming dizzier by the moment and soon dropped to her knees. Hands grabbed her tightly as Inuyasha's voice came in to her clouded mind. She couldn't understand what he was asking her as she slipped into unconsciousness, welcoming the feeling of an embrace.