Author's Note: The tone of the story still seems to be out of whack, but just so you know... There is a hint at Miroku/Kagura later on, which was always my intention if I ever did a side story and not just a plot device. Just a heads up too. They've restarted the series with a new season in Japan as of this October. I watched the 1st episode on YouTube. Hopefully, Viz will get a hold of it and it'll be on Adult Swim.
Reference: The Sea of Trees, or Aokighara found at Wikipedia.
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha...etc.
Kohaku sat propped against a great tree with only a small fire's illumination to ward off the inky darkness. The forest ahead seemed to reach out and enshroud them like a great thick cloak. He looked down at Rin's tiny form that slept curled up on a bed of rushes beside him. Placing a protective hand on her shoulder, Kohaku could only gaze helpless towards the open forest. He felt trapped inside; trapped with a helpless little girl, an evil demoness and Naraku lurking close by in the shadows.
Casting his eyes past the fire, he was barely able to make out the golden form of this demoness that had somehow allied herself with Naraku. He surmised that she had done so merely for her own selfish purposes with hope for personal gain.
He felt a quirk pull at the corner of his mouth in ironic mirth and as he watched a curious red veil dance and swirl about her like a dangerous snake ready to strike. Kohaku resisted the frivolous urge to shake his head. For whatever may happen to him, Kohaku knew that it was going to end badly for the proud fool he spied just beyond the flames.
But his victory was short-lived as he turned his eyes back to the girl next to him. Whatever the purpose; no matter what happened; Kohaku's full intent was to protect Rin. Even to the risk of his own life.
Lowering his eyes to her once more, he could only hope that he could protect her for as long as he had hold of his own mind. After that, he wished fervently that someone would kill him before he could do her any harm.
No wind rustled the leaves of the trees.
Not even one tiny cricket dared to chirp.
Kagome curled her shoulders and wrapped her arms about her middle as if to ward off the evil that seemed to lie just beyond the silent blackness as she braved the dark to search for her distressed friend.
Until now, Kagome had never realized just how much she had taken the moonlight for granted. This night was the blackest she had ever seen and carefully inched towards the general direction she thought Sango had gone. It wasn't until she heard a quiet sniffle that she stopped short and peered into the dark before her. Her eyes began to adjust as Sango's form began to materialize.
"How am I supposed to fight, Kagome?" was the sudden, yet disparaging reply.
Kagome's shoulders sagged somewhat at the pain in Sango's voice and she stepped closer to her friend, unsure of what to say. "Oh Sango," she breathed, feeling at a loss for words as she continued to approach her friend. "Maybe Inuyasha can somehow fix your Hiraikotsu—"
Sango turned suddenly and Kagome was taken aback. Even the lack of light couldn't hide the ravaged look on Sango's face. "It isn't my Hiraikotsu that I'm worried about," she whispered. "Kohaku has Rin and I know Sesshoumaru is going after them." Unsteady with burden, Sango's shoulders raised and dropped with a great sigh. "How will I fight him?"
Kagome could only lay a nurturing hand on the slayer's shoulder. So far, it didn't take a genius to figure out that "him" didn't necessarily mean Kohaku was these days and Kagome sensed in the slayer's voice that she wasn't worried about fighting a powerful demon, so much as the despair of having to fight someone she cared deeply about.
While the idea alone was baffling on its own, yet somehow even Kagome could empathize.
Sango hung her head to stare at the ground. "Several times, he's saved my life, Kagome," she proclaimed as though she were making a great confession. "How could I possibly fight him?" She suddenly shook her head nonsensically. "I shouldn't have dragged any of you into this," she said and pulled herself to full height with determination. "I asked you to find Kohaku and you have. This is my fight and my fight alone."
Kagome moved to stand in front of her friend. "Sango, you don't have to do this alone. We all want to help," Kagome assured. "I'm sure we can see that Sesshoumaru doesn't harm Kohaku," Kagome proclaimed confidently—at first. "However, I'm not sure that Inuyasha won't try to kill—
Sango's head came up suddenly "No!" she half-shouted in desperation.
Kagome was taken aback for a moment. "Okay, Sango."
Sango sighed, her shoulders slumping a bit. "No, I'm sorry," she apologized quickly. "I can't explain it, just the thought…"
Kagome tilted her head to the side with a smile. "You really care for him, don't you?" sounding as though she were in awe.
Sango opened her mouth with the full intention to totally spill guts to the one and only person who could and would understand this very unusual dilemma, but she was interrupted by a sudden downburst of wind.
Shielding themselves, Kagome and Sango struggled to see what could've caused the sudden disturbance. As they lowered their arms, one form revealed their suspicions.
Her ruby eyes were difficult to miss, even in the dark. She simply stood before them expressionless.
"Where is the monk?"
She stood along the edge of the Sea of Trees, gazing into the darkness; feeling the massive energy that lay cloaked beyond reach out to tease and tantalize her desire for such raw power.
It was here.
Here that she would finally gain the power that she'd always known belonged to her since she had been a small child.
The legend of the Sea of Trees. It was nearly as old as she.
Stories of souls belonging to those long since dead; human and demon alike, trapped. Trapped within to fester with time and become bitter with restlessness.
And even with all that power building and growing with negative energy and raw power just waiting to be harnessed, she needn't guess to whom the sudden onslaught of demonic energy that filled the darkness belonged nor did she have to turn around to know that the great presence of Lord Sesshoumaru had just entered her camp.
He'd followed the smell of the boy, along with Rin's familiar scent and found them he did. He gave them momentary regard, noting that the boy was eyeing him carefully, his body taut and braced, but not for a fight. He sat crouched in an almost protective motion in front of Rin's still sleeping form.
However, he had not sensed the presence of Naraku, but it had been expected. The demon that he spied only a few feet away only stood to confuse him.
"What are you doing here?" he asked coolly, only the slightest hint of confusion laced his question.
"Why Sesshoumaru," she turned, only allowing him a glimpse of her profile. "You almost sound surprised," she said with a tantalizing glimpse from the corner of her eye.
Sesshoumaru eyed her carefully. "Am I to believe that you have orchestrated this?"
"Would you believe me if I told you that I had come to retrieve your ward?" she suggested outrageously as she gestured towards the fire. "That I hold this boy hostage for you to punish as you will for taking what belongs to you?"
Sesshoumaru squinted at her obvious tone laced with sarcasm.
"I believe that your intention is a sorry attempt at pulling the wool over my eyes," he replied stiffly.
"Believe as you would," was her only reply as she sent her veil sailing into the air.
Sesshoumaru tried not to show the confusion he was certainly feeling at the moment. He had questions and he wanted them answered. "Why?" he asked coolly. "Was your insult so great that you felt that you had to resort to kidnapping and trickery to get my attention?"
At that, she turned then, her blue eyes blazing with confidence and merely waved a dismissive hand. "Do not flatter yourself," she said, sounding nonchalant.
Sesshoumaru looked down at her, a low growl of aggravation rumbling in his throat. "Then I'm afraid that this pretense of yours has no bearing. What had you hoped to gain in return for my unwavering trust at such a loyal initiative?"
She smirked with a sense of irony at the word 'loyal'. "Because I knew," she claimed, casting her eyes towards the forest that was beginning to glow, her veil beginning to dance wildly. "I knew the moment you merely banished that human bitch from your court that there would be no hope of attaining what was rightfully mine."
"You would've made her your mistress," Emi mused, looking towards the sky and laughed in an ugly fashion. "Like father, like son, I suppose," she drawled, her eyes sliding towards him in a snide glance.
Under normal circumstances, he felt that he would've been angered by such a remark, but couldn't bring himself to feel the slightest ounce of irritation."So all this is merely a jealous fit; a reprisal of your bruised feminine ego?" Sesshoumaru remarked coolly.
"Don't be absurd," she shot back at him. "Though, had you killed her where she stood, I would've been honored and shown the appropriate appreciation."
Sesshoumaru merely grunted with a squint of disbelief.
"You see, my father wanted you dead and had that-- horrendous abomination not interrupted, make no mistake Lord Sesshoumaru…you would be dead."
Sesshoumaru merely squinted at her declaration. "Now who is the one that sounds absurd?"
At that, Emi tossed back her head a laughed aloud. "Of course, you wouldn't believe that anyone could cut down the mighty Sesshoumaru," she proclaimed with a great flare, tossing up her hands in a graceful manner. As she glided towards him, Emi pulled back her lips into a great smile, the firelight glinting wickedly off her fangs. "I thought to myself in those beautiful gardens that were you to kill the wretch right then--right there--that you would be worthy to rule beside me and that together we would thwart my father and rule supreme."
"I see that you are no less delusional than he," Sesshoumaru ground out and quickly shoved her away, simultaneously pulling Tokijin.
Emi's expression of confidence didn't diminish and with a great sling of her arm, she sent the red veil sailing.
A tiny scream and Sesshoumaru realized quickly that Rin had been caught up, wrapped head to toe in Emi's veil, dangling between them with Emi cleverly standing behind her.
"Just how much are you willing to pay for your attachment to humans?" she taunted, lifting her arms to raise she and Rin into the air and with a mere flick of the wrist, sent she and the young girl flying into the forest, disappearing into the darkness.
Kagura turned towards Miroku and Inuyasha as they rushed into the clearing.
Immediately, Inuyasha drew his Tetsusaiga.
Kagura was completely placid, merely lifting up her unfolded fan in a pointed gesture. "Stay your sword, Inuyasha. I didn't come here to fight."
"Then what are you here for?" Inuyasha shot out angrily, solid and poised in his stance.
Kagura completely ignored him. For that matter, she seemed to ignore everyone.
Everyone, that is, except Miroku.
Turning towards the violet-eyed monk, the wind sorceress tentatively approached him, while everyone else watched in absolute befuddled curiosity.
"You shouldn't be here," Miroku declared as he met her…almost as if it weren't the first time. "It's too dangerous."
"No more dangerous than what I am about to tell you," she replied in dulcet tones of warning. "Sesshoumaru is walking into a trap," she informed quickly and turned to the others. "You are all walking into a trap!" she announced and then turned back towards Miroku.
"Naraku is after Sesshoumaru's sword," she stated.
"The Tokijin?" Inuyasha interjected suddenly.
She shook her head with closed eyes. "No, the other one," she replied. "The Tenseiga. I believe that he means to try and cut a rift directly into the underworld."
Miroku blinked in surprise. "The underworld?
Inuyasha unconsciously lowered his sword. "But…why," was Inuyasha's sudden, involuntary question.
"I don't know," she shook her head and turned back to Miroku. "All I know is that it can't be good…for you," saying the last in a near whisper. "For any of us."
"That's ridiculous!" Inuyasha barked. "Naraku couldn't possibly defeat Sesshoumaru, much less take his sword!" he boasted, remembering their last few encounters that he and his brother had with Naraku.
Kagura turned red eyes of aggravation towards the half-demon. "There's someone else," she informed quickly. "Another demon…like Sesshoumaru--"
At that, Sango lurched. "I knew it!" she half-shouted.
Author's Note: Still taking some baby steps with this 'final showdown' sort of business since an oc is involved. Thanks to those for still reading! And a huge special thanks to those who review! Suggestions and critiques are welcome, as always!!