Chapter One - Day One
Sesshoumaru gave Tokijin a strong swipe through the air, ridding the blade of much of the blood that stained it. It had been quite some time since he'd killed humans. Perhaps Rin had made him soft all those years ago. He quickly pushed the thought of her out of his mind. What was the point of thinking on things in the past, of people who no longer breathed the air of this world? He looked at the still tainted metal of the great sword. He had actually taken the time to cut them down with the physical blade itself rather than the youkai attacks it possessed and still it hummed with the thrill of battle. Even now it sought to posses him as it had its original maker but he was far too strong to be taken in by its call. He was the master here and always would be.
Stepping away from the battle scene, if it could even be called such, in reality it had been a massacre. He noted with macabre displeasure that not one of those mortals even stood a chance against him. In truth, the whole situation had been beneath him. He scoffed at himself. It had been their fault, not his. He had warned them to let him be but they had persisted, taking him for some hanyou or some other lowly youkai. It was not until they attacked that he dispatched each of their lives in the amount of time it took for them to draw one breath...their last as it was.
He resumed his course down the path as he had only minutes before he was inconvenience by the pathetic humans, the incident pushed out of his mind like so much unwanted trash. Patrols were not having the calming effect on him they once did. They had not been enjoyable ever since... He shook his head. Damn her. She simply refused to remain dead. She had just been a human, nothing more. She followed him when she was young and even when she was not so young. When she became elderly and looked to him to be about a millennium old, he still kept her safe, delaying patrols and shortening the ones he went on. Eventually she died, like all humans do. It seemed as though it had only been the bat of an eye and she had been gone.
He stepped gracefully over a fallen log in the path. Damn her. He never should have revived the creature. She had proven herself a bother on more than one occasion yet he had never sent her away, despite his innumerable thoughts to do so. She never took a mate, though he would have allowed it. She stayed as long as she could but had ultimately failed to stay with him forever.
He shook his head again. Still, he was thinking of her! What would other youkai think? He didn't care what they might think but he desperately wanted to forget her. If Jaken or Ahun died, he would not be thinking of them now, so why her? She had never done anything spectacular in her lifetime, so why?
He now walked along a quiet stream. Today would be the last day and after this, he would think of her no more. There was simply no reason. It gained him nothing and thus there was no point. Yes, he would think of her no more.
Suddenly he stopped in his tracks. Something was near that he couldn't identify, something...he'd never before experienced.
"How many does that make now?" A strangely feminine yet masculine voice asked him.
He did not answer. He was the Lord of the Western Lands and as such, answered to no one.
"You have always been a silent creature have you not? Cold and silent...just like death."
Again, he said nothing. He slowly grew mildly irritated at this seemingly disembodied voice.
"Why is it that you see the need for such brutality? Not even your sire was as much a killer as you and it can't simply be your namesake, The Killing Perfection. Do you think that's true, that you are the perfect killer?"
Sesshoumaru was now quickly becoming bored with this little game. "Who are you?" He finally asked.
"Why should I answer your questions when you refuse to answer mine? A very spoiled child you are."
The feminine side of the voice took charge of the last statement and Sesshoumaru had the distinct impression that he was being chastised by this unseen creature. He did not answer the newly posed question and waited for an answer to his own.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk." The feminine part of the voice continued. "Do you think it is your youkai blood that makes you such a vicious killer or is it your cold heart?"
"I will not ask a second time. Answer my question or I will seek you out and end your bothersome existence." His voice betrayed none of his irritation and delivered the same cold, even tone that it always did.
"You think to threaten me?" The masculine portion of the voice now dominated. There was a sudden gust of wind that tore at Sesshoumaru's clothes and sent his silver hair into a dizzying tornado about him.
Sesshoumaru remained impassive, unimpressed by the theatrical display. As quickly as the zephyr erupted, it ceased.
"Perhaps you have a great deal more to learn about the world young one." There was silence and the silver haired youkai lord again chose to remain impassive about the strange situation in which he now found himself. "Maybe it is a lack of a solid form that unnerves you and renders you silent." There was a balance back in the voice, both masculine and feminine.
Sesshoumaru continued in his stoic manner even as a dim glow settled noiselessly in the trees in front of him. Then there was nothing, no light, no voice, no glow; until finally he saw movement in the vicinity where the illumination had been. The creature that had been speaking with him and asking him questions that it had no business asking, finally stepped into view. The vision of the creature before him was as much a contradiction as the unusual voice had been. The humanoid creature before him was neither feminine nor masculine in appearance, yet it seemed perfectly like both. It appeared both old and young, tall and short. For a moment, Sesshoumaru closed his eyes in an attempt to adjust them to the peculiar sight before him.
"Perhaps now we can speak with one another."
"What are you?" Sesshoumaru asked before the creature had even finished speaking.
"So brazen you are but I will indulge you for the moment. My name is Brota and what I am is something you simply can not understand so there is no real point in trying to explain."
"Why are you here?" He then asked though he was not satisfied with the first answer the creature had given him.
"No, I have answered one of your questions and now you will do me kindness of answering one of mine. Do you believe that you are the perfect killer?"
"It would be unwise to continue not answering. This is always so much more... interesting if I am able to speak with you before what will be done, is done." It cocked its head at him. "Now, where were we, oh yes, do you believe that you are the perfect killer?"
Deciding he felt rather magnanimous at the moment, he answered. If he did, perhaps he would find more out about this creature before he killed it. Curiosity had always been strong within him.
"Yes." He answered simply.
"Hmm. Do you think you always will be?"
The creature's face seemed to glow just a little brighter as his second answer.
"Do you? How interesting. You will not be," the creature paused dramatically, taking a step closer, "but that is not important yet. Do you believe that it is important to know how a creature thinks before you kill it?"
"Such a cocky youkai."
Sesshoumaru felt he had answered more than enough questions at the moment and decided to ask one of his own. "What do you want?"
"To conduct an experiment."
"What kind of experiment?"
"To find out if it is your blood or your heart that makes you such an effective, brutal and ruthless killer."
Sesshoumaru was still unimpressed. He turned to walk away. He'd had quite enough from this cryptic creature and was ready to be away from here and back at his campsite where Jaken and Ahun were patiently waiting for him.
"Leaving already? But you don't even know how the experiment will be conducted yet."
"Leave me be or I will be forced to kill you." He stated as he continued to walk away as though the conversation were beneath him. As far as he was concerned, this encounter was over.
Then the creature did something that no one dared to ever do. It laughed at him. It was a laugh full of mirth and reproach. Sesshoumaru stopped and slowly turned around to face the still taunting creature.
"That's excellent. You kill me. An utterly impossible course you silly dog."
Sesshoumaru was finished here and he was now going to show this foolish creature that it too was done. He drew Tokijin and with the speed that a human could not even register with its weak eyes, he lunged at the embodied voice. To his utter surprise, he passed right through the area that the creature had just occupied, only to find it empty. When he spun around, there it was, as though it'd never even moved, as though it had always occupied the space that it did now.
"You can not kill me and it is silly to even attempt to do so. Do not make a fool out of yourself a second time."
Sesshoumaru did not listen to its command however and lunged a second time, only to be met with the same result as the first attempt.
"You are not listening to me child. Answer me one more question and I will do what I have come here to do and bother you no more."
Deciding that another attack would be futile, he decided to play the decidedly quick creature's little game for the moment.
"Will you always hate humans?"
The unexpectedness of the question caught Sesshoumaru off guard and sent a small ripple through his normally impenetrable facade. He thought of her again. He hadn't hated that particular human but that did not changed his mind about the rest of her kind. Yes, he hated them and had not been given a good enough reason as to why that should change.
"Very well." The tone of its voice sounded very amused though its face remained oddly angelic, androgynous and ageless while betraying nothing. "Since you answered my question, I will hold up my end of the bargain. I have watched you all your life and I am quite disappointed in the way you wield your substantial powers, both physical and political. You are sadistic, cruel, without compassion and I find no redeeming qualities within you that should allow your escape from the punishment that I have devised especially for you."
Sesshoumaru waited. He did not particularly care for the way this encounter was proceeding, despite that, he neither expressed nor felt any fear. There were many quick creatures out there but that didn't mean that he was afraid of what this one would do. His confidence in his ability to protect himself from harm still held strong no matter what harm the creature intended or boasted.
"And what is that?" He asked with a boldness he had always projected and felt.
"You will understand what it means to be weak and perhaps find out what it means to be strong in the process though I doubt you will survive the journey in store for you. You are too stubborn and strong willed. It will likely be your downfall in the end."
"I await you answer." He ignored the cryptic answer, beyond mere annoyance now.
"You will be what you hate most in this world. You will have to survive this transformation for a year and then, if you make it, I will make you back to your old mantle."
"Enough, what do you mean by the foolishness you speak?"
The creature never answered though and for a moment Sesshoumaru began to believe that it simply meant to kill him. Suddenly he could not see, his scent of the world disappeared and it became muted to his ears. The hand that grasped his sword suddenly felt as though he held a burning poker and he felt the pain more acutely than any he ever had before. He threw Tokijin to the ground and spun around where he stood, only to lose his balance and fall ungracefully into a heap of twisted limbs in the freezing cold water. He quickly became aware that he had never felt such cold water before in all his life as he did now in the stream waters of late fall. Unaccustomed to the utter lack of senses, he scrambled out of the water as a crab would and then somehow managed to make his weak hands trip over themselves.
There he stayed for a long while, just trying to regain his breathing that had become difficult to control. After a long while, he slowly began to realize that he was not, in fact, blind, for he could dimly make out the outline of the evening's foliage. The light of the moon just barely illuminated the forest backdrop enough for him to make it out. Looking around quickly, it seemed that the creature had fled. Also, he now knew that he was not deaf because he could easily hear his own breathing with his dulled ears. Sitting up, he winced in pain and brought the aching appendage up to his eyes, just in front of his nose so that he could inspect it. What he saw froze him to the very core. It was not the swelling of the sprained wrist that drew his attention but the absence of his all too deadly claws. What he saw in their place made him think that this was all some sort of dream, or more accurately, some terrible nightmare. Instead of claws, there were flat, blunt, silly looking human nails. Pulling up on the fabric covering his arms, despite the pain the motion caused, he found another disturbing absence. His markings were gone. Finally, he took notice of the hair that fell around him in an obnoxious mess. It was not the fine silver that had adorned his head all through life, but raven black that blended well into the inky darkness that was now his vision.
He was human.