I swear I did not set out to write such a tragic story. I expect many flames for this cringes, but is ready. However, my goal was to try to get inside Sesshoumaru's head and try to understand the circumstances in which he would allow himself to be enticed into loving Rin. Although I enjoy reading them occasionally, I do not find a Sess/Rin pairing very plausible if we keep Sesshoumaru in canon character. He is an aristocratic youkai and I find it hard to believe he's motivated by what we understand as simple human compassion and desire. As I developed his perspective, the perspectives of the humans caught up and entangled in his web also came into focus and it occurred to me that Rin would be torn in her loyalties. Believing as I do that when humans are motivated to free themselves from tyranny, they will find a way, the story began to write itself and I gave myself to it. Thus, it is what it is, even though it is not what I planned to write.
HUGE thanks for Fenikkusuken for doing a beta read of this, giving me some cool ideas and encouraging me not to soften the story line for the feint of heart. Thanks also to a bunch of my LJ friends and a fan for helping ply with historical information and perspective on feudal Japanese women's traditions and roles.
Characters of Naomasa and Yoshimoto are based on true historical figures in the early years of the Tokugawa Shogunate as it came to power in the latter half of the 1500's.The Imagawa clan did control the territories around the Tokaido road which gave them power in Tokugawa's rise. Yoshimoto in particular was described as having ascended to power through strategic alliances with other clans. In fact, there was probably a ruler in between Yoshimoto's regime and Naomasa's rise to power, since Naomasa was still a child when Yoshimoto was killed in 1560. Also, while I'm fairly sure that Yoshimoto was a daimyo, Naomasa is described as a General in Tokugawa's army, one of his "better ones." And Noamasa's army did wear stunning red armor with huge white horns on it would would have looked like a swarm of "red devils" on the battlefield. Check out a picture of it on wikipedia under "Ii Naomasa" if you're interested.
Oda Nobunaga – this powerful figure was referred to in the Manga and Anime when Kagome mistook another character named Nobunaga for the despot daimyo who successfully united several warring clans in the Sengoku Jidai period. The real Nobunaga was quite a devious guy and was the one that, when he could only raise an army of 5,000 to confront Yoshimoto's army of 20.000, ostensibly rode out to a shrine to pray and ended up sneaking into Yoshimoto's camp and killing him. This was called the Battle of Okehazama. I made convenient use of this in the story, but I'm guessing it was really Oda Nobunaga that did the killing, not some wolverine youkai in disguise. Nobunaga is given credit in history for uniting several warring clans and in that sense brought some semblance of peace to the region (though in a rather bloody way from what I can tell).
Along those lines, based on what I read, the "peace" I wrote about in Sesshoumaru's lands would only have been visible to the youkai lord, for whom human affairs were irrelevant. The violent dramas and tragedies of the many battles and conflicts during that time would have been heartwrenching for the humans living around him.
The Shirabyoshi also have an interesting history as the female entertainers that preceded the geisha. Beginning in the 7th century, some women who found themselves husbandless due to war and poverty began to find employment as entertainers – ranging from prostitutes to courtesans who excelled at poetry, storytelling, dance and music. By the 13th century, this elite class of women was called the shirabyoshi. They performed in a unique style of dress that – interestingly enough – is exactly what Kikyou wears in the IY series (except that they also wore a priest's hat, much like Jaken's). Their clothing, red hakama and white suikan and kosode, was very specifically "male" clothing, which (although I didn't read this anywhere) probably bespoke of their special place in society, similar to Geisha. They also wore, as a part of this costume, a katana (sword). One history of the Shirabyoshi I read indicated that they were trained in how to use the sword for violent purposes, a fact I made use of in the story. Much like the Geisha, while some Shirabyoshi were concubines to powerful men, this was more a position of honor than of duty and being a Shirabyoshi did not necessarily mean being a prostitute or sexual entertainer.