There were days when it simply did not pay to have been born.

"Aw Hell! My livestock!" Hiroshi scowled, viciously kicking what was once a proud stable filled with strong, hale horses that were supposed to be a gift for the daimyo this year, to pay for his taxes.

At least until that strange, womanizing monk had that fight with the hanyou right in the middle of the streets, and then proceeded to use some odd magic to destroy not only his stable but his horses as well.

More than four years of work, gone in an instant.

Hiroshi cursed under his breath.

The daimyo was going to have him beaten so badly for this...

Today sucked.

---

Satoshi gasped deeply, the cold, thin mountain air filling his desperately empty lungs. His stomach rumbled, protesting the small rations it had been given over the past few days, and his whole body ached from sleeping upon the ground.

Even if the grass was soft, there was still the matter of the dirt and rocks beneath.

Still, it was worth it. His village was plagued by a rash of illnesses that were debilitating the young, the old, male and female. He was sent to find a supposed cure, a rare herb that existed only in the mountain up ahead.

He smiled tightly, a happy feeling pressing through his body. He could save his village soon, all it would take was just climbing this last mountain and he would be able to see his destination.

"Just hold on everyone. I'll be back soon." Satoshi murmured. He pushed himself, step by step, up and up until at last, he had reached the summit. Eagerly, he looked forward, awaiting his eyes to see the large, majestic forest that the mountain was known for.

"What the fuck?"

The mountain had a Goddamn hole in it. No, scratch that.

Where there was a mountain, now there were two small lumps that had a bit of scorched forest, and in between those was a large amount of decimated land.

"It's bad, isn't it?" Satoshi turned to see an old man clucking his tongue, shaking his head sadly as he pulled a large cart filled with various possessions.

"Wha-what happened?" he breathed.

The old man shrugged. "Giant youkai attack. All I know is that this guy- I think he was a guy, but he looked sort of girly with that long hair- swung his strange sword and suddenly the mountain was gone." He bowed his head. "And I just had this nice young monk do an exorcism for me and my inn too. Although he did have a weird looking girl and a silver haired young man with him too, so maybe he wasn't an ordinary monk..."

And with that, the old man patted Satoshi's shoulder in an "I know life sucks kid, so deal with it" way, and then went upon his own path.

"But... the herb..."

Satoshi fell to his knees, and started to cry like a grown man really shouldn't.

---

Ryoma sighed as he paused from his labors, rubbing his eyelids tiredly. If he hadn't been up late with the other men, watching out for who was stealing fish from the river, he might have had a better night's sleep.

He frowned. Rin was such a strange child, true enough. The girl never spoke a word. But that didn't explain why she felt the need to steal fish...

Ryoma shrugged his shoulders as he hefted the hoe, returning to his labor. Oh well, he thought to himself. Hopefully that small beating would have knocked some sense into the girl.

As he moved, however, he heard the loud, chilling cry of a wolf. A rather small, isolated whirlwind tore on by, ruining his crops.

In the background, he began to hear screaming.

Ryoma turned around.

Just in time to see a wolf's drooling, pointy teeth about to tear his throat apart.

Oh shi-

---

"Miroku?"

Miroku turned toward the young woman, glancing at her curiously. "Yes, Kagome? What is it?"

"Do you ever wonder what happens after all those battles we fight? I mean, sometimes we leave a lot of destruction, so what happens to the villagers..." Kagome trailed off, and by now, everyone in the group was listening in on the conversation.

"You know, I never thought about that." Sango said thoughtfully, cupping her chin in her hand.

"That's true. I suppose they might be a bit worse off..." Miroku murmured, crossing his arms and closing his eyes in contemplation.

Inuyasha gave a low grunt of annoyance.

"Doesn't matter. I'm sure that nothing really bad has happened."