N/A: I finally updated upon seeing the new Inuyasha Final Act episodes. By the way, my viewes on Naraku are not really depicted in this story. I love Naraku :)
Chapter XXIII: Sacrifice
Naraku jumped back, his skin burned and pieces of flesh falling to the ground. His tentacles had evaporated, beams of purifying energy shreading them to bits.
The girs was uncouncious, but her aura glowed angrily, protecting her. Even without the Miko's presence, she was still a nuissance.
Naraku's brows knitted and he took a step closer, ignoring the pain he felt. The burns wouldn't heal for weeks, even with his regeneration powers.
„Curse you" he whispered, looking at her broken form. She seemed so small and fragile and still she could be so dangerous to a demon of his calibre. One little girl, one human girl standing between him and his desires.
His blood red eyes look through her as he remembers another certain human girl that always got in his way. Except she was more of a woman than this one could ever be. She had hair as black as the night and piercing eyes...she wore a bow and her arrows shot deadly purity into his flesh. She was the one he could not bend to his will.
The energy around Kumiko started to fade and he knealed beside her. His thoughts were still elsewhere as he touched her skin, almost uncounciously.
He felt a burn, but didn't retract his hand. What he had discovered was way more important. There was a place of sadness inside of this girl's mind. Sadness and guilt and helpless anger, locked away in a dark corner.
Naraku grinned, allowing himself the privilege of wandering through her thoughts.
A spark left his ruby eyes as soon as it appeared and he rose to his feet.
„Kanna" he spoke.
The nothingness youkai appeared, holding her cracked mirror.
„The Schinintai will watch over her. Summon Bankotsu for this matter. It's of the utmost importance."
The white girl bowed her head slighlty in acceptance and her figure started to fade.
„Wait." Naraku ordered.
Her black eyes rose to her master's.
„That crack...did she cause it?"
Kanna nodded faintly, her small hands clutching the mirror.
Naraku's eyes shined red and the hairline crack in the mirror became smaller. His brows knitted.
It cannot be whole again.
„Go." he told the child and she vanished without a trace.
He turned to the unconcious girl and oddly, he smirked.
You will do as I say...of your own will.
Suddenly, his form shifted. His long, wavy hair straightened turning a blue color and the eyes that looked at Kumiko were now fuchsia.
He flexed his fingers, getting used to the sharp panther demon claws.
Sesshoumaru looked at the shards in his hands, noticing they were completely black Their aura was appealing, alluring...beconing him to be one with them.
We can increase your power...they whispered. Combine your strenght with ours and we'll be unstopable...
Sesshoumaru's brows knitted and his youki rose, silencing the Shikon's calling.
I'm already unstopable.
But an annoying thought leaked into his mind, like poison.
How come he took her, then?
A red aura glowed around Sesshoumaru as he acknowledged the truth behing the thought. His eyes turned red and he allowed himself the anger.
Suddenly, the shikon's dark glow started to fade.
Sesshoumaru stopped the metamorphosisis and his eyes turned their usual golden color as he looked at the shards.
She is close.
Kumiko woke up with a headache as she searched her surroundings. She remember being chained up by an evil demon named Naraku…she remembered him getting close to her and then…nothing.
In front of her, a boy about her age with dark hair and blue eyes looked at her curiously.
"Who…?" she started.
Bankotsu's eyes narrowed questionably. This was the woman…golden hair, dark eyes…but her attitude seemed slightly off.
She was still alluring as hell.
"Do you remember anything?" he asked, playing with his giant sword.
"I know I got kidnapped…so you're my guard?" she spoke in a low voice.
"Something like that." He admitted, sheathing his sword. "Don't you know me?"
"I know you…you're Naraku's henchman."
Bankotsu felt a sting of anger at her statement. It was true though…But she seemed so different from the woman he wanted.
"I owe you my life…I'm letting you go. Now we're even." He stated, unlocking her chains.
Kumiko widened her dark eyes…
Midoriko probably helped him…she realized.
"Thank you…I hope no harm will come to you." She said.
Definetely weird. He thought.
Her hands and feet were numb, but she tried her best to get out of the cave. But the person she saw made her freeze in place.
"Kumiko." The familiar voice said.
Midnight-black hair, fuchsia eyes…but it was impossible….
"Menoumaru?!" she cried.
He smiled and she felt her heart give in. He was alive, he was in front of her…
He came closer and entangled her in his arms…she closed her eyes, giving in to the pain she felt and she sobbed, buried in his shoulder.
"I thought you were dead…I saw you die…" she managed to say between sobs.
He held her closer.
"I survived…but Sesshoumaru is after us now. We have to be careful."
Kumiko looked into his eyes, an expression of hurt and determination on her face.
"I won't let him have his way."
Surprisingly, he had her bow and arrows.
"Here" he said, "We'll fight him off together."
She nodded in agreement, taking the weapons.
Sesshoumaru was sure. He had detected Naraku's aura…His barrier was down, surprisingly.
The castle seemed empty, but he could sense Kumiko's pure glow inside.
"Naraku." He called. "You coward."
He advanced further into the courtyard, but the sight he saw made him stop in his tracks.
Kumiko…Kumiko holding a bow and pointing her purifying arrow towards him.
And next to her…if he didn't know better he'd say it was Menoumaru. But his disgusting scent revealed that he was none other than Naraku.
"Stop it you foolish girl, he's not what he appears to be." He spoke.
"Get back!" she cried, tears flooding her eyes. "I will shoot!"
He felt a sting of pain, seeing her like this. Naraku was manipulating her, making her turn against him. He wanted to make her see the truth, make her realize he she was safe with him…
"I don't want to hurt you." He stated.
Her eyes turned to Menoumaru and she readied her arrow.
"You won't hurt him either."
Sesshoumaru felt his demon blood boil, asking for blood. She was under Naraku's spell. He would take him out.
He charged for Naraku, ignoring the purifying arrow pointed at his chest.
A single tear fell down Kumiko's cheek and she let her arrow fly.
The purifying energy was more powerful than he had ever seen. He knew of one such Miko, the one Inuyasha had loved fifty years ago.
The arrow shattered his amour and bruised his flesh.
"Stay back!" she warned. Tears fell down her cheeks as she readied her second arrow.
Naraku was grinning.
You bastard. Sesshoumaru's youki was raising to dangerous levels. He knew he had to keep it in control or he might end up killing her by mistake.
His eyes turned crimson. He wouldn't let Naraku use her any longer.
Kumiko let her arrow fly. She should forget her feelings toward Sesshoumaru. He was an evil demon…trying to fool her and kill Menoumaru. It hurt, but she had to do what was right.
Her purifying arrow hit him in the stomach. The pain was unbearable. Her power was way beyond a normal Miko.
Sesshoumaru clenched his fist and charged.
The second arrow hit him in the leg and he faltered. He could sense her grief and despair and also he wish to protect "Menoumaru".
His own feelings raged out of control…he felt helpless.
This was the woman he wanted to protect, the fragile human creature he treasured. And for the first time he realized what his father must have felt for Inuyasha's human mother.
He advanced and promptly a third arrow hit him in the shoulder.
Her purifying powers were enormous. He could die, he realized. And he also realized he didn't care if he died saving her.
He ignored the pain in his limbs and went for Naraku.
"Please stop!" she cried, dropping to her knees. "I don't want to kill you! Please!"
Her pain echoed inside his own heart and his claws dug into his skin.
"Don't you see that I'm not fighting back, you stubborn woman?" he finally replied.
She lowered the bow, her hands shaking.
"Don't trust him." Naraku said. "He's trying to trick you."
"I won't let him hurt you" Kumiko answered, tightening her grip on the bow. She placed herself in front of him. "He'd have to go through me."
Sesshoumaru, bleeding out of three wounds, fixed his golden eyes on her.
What would I have done before meeting her? He wondered. I would have squashed her like an ant and than I would have taken care of Naraku…
But he knew he couldn't do it. He realized her frailness, her silly determination, her wish to sacrifice herself to save others…her human heart had bound him in a way he never thought possible.
I understand now, father.
Her arrow was aiming at his heart.
He took a step forward.
A/N: If anyone's still reading…props to you!