THE ONLY DISCLAIMER:
This story is a work of fiction placed within the canon universe of INUYASHA by Takahashi Rumiko. All characters which are hers are merely being borrowed for entertainment purposes. Any other characters not seen in the canon are created for literary practice. Some of these OC's have names which are made up. Any references to Japan--its history, its culture, its language, and its people--are made because of when and where the canon story of INUYASHA has been placed. Any insult done because of the OC names or the references within the fiction are not intended.
I deeply apologize for any possible mistakes I make within this work-in-progress story, including any literary/grammatical errors.
THE GENERAL was written for the betterment of my own writing and is intended for only entertainment and practice in character development, plot construction, grammar, etcetera. Criticism and advice is highly welcomed!
IMPORTANT NOTE BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
This story takes place in the canon setting and timeline but should also be considered a kind of ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. Obviously all events within this fiction could not possibly happen in the original storyline by Takahashi Rumiko. The term "alternate universe" is the best way to describe this fiction, although the general connotation of AU is vastly different than how I'm applying it. I began posting THE GENERAL before the manga was over. Now that we all know how INUYASHA truly ends, here is the sketchy area where I think THE GENERAL would work into the manga timeline.
Kikyou is dead, for good. (I really just do not want to deal with her in this story). Because it is insinuated that Sesshomaru, in this fanfiction, still has one arm–things are taking place before Bakusaiga and consequently before Sesshomaru's traipse into hell to save Rin's soul also (Oops. Spoiler alert!). In the manga, Kohaku would have been traveling with Sesshomaru by the time of Kikyou's final death. However, I do not want to go back and edit him back in after I have already gotten so far in the story. Besides, he's really not all that important for this particular fanfiction. If it's not too much of a stretch of the imagination, please consider that Kohaku was not ready to see his sister, Sango, so soon and did not join the sick Rin and Jakken into the village (Oops. Spoiler alert for future chapters!). He is off training somewhere maybe. The war waging in the Western Kingdom, within this fanfiction, has effectively stalled Sesshomaru's searching for Naraku. Naraku is still alive but he won't really be a part of this fiction. We all know how he dies anyway. The manga is over!
Although it is not canon, this fanfiction also takes place after the third movie INUYASHA: SWORDS OF AN HONORABLE RULER and makes references to how Inuyasha and Sesshomaru's father supposedly died.
Thank you for reading this! Hope you enjoy the story!
Accept what cannot be accepted.
He was surrounded. They stalked around him in a circle, patient and calculative. They had been ready for this. They had planned.
With heated blood pooling down the length of his body, the General couldn't help but feel a smug amusement. Death was there before him, engorged and stained in his enemy's hands, but he was amused, amused at their cunning. It had taken them months of slaughter and losses to make them finally understand that they needed a strategy.
Idiotic fools…but now that they had formulated it; it had been a good tactic.
It had beaten him.
He could still fight. He could still win. This was repeated senselessly in the depths of his pain-ravaged and soaked body, in his weary but adrenaline-filled mind. Yet there came a time when a warrior had to face reality, to face the sword's hungering jaws. He was finished.
He was abandoned.
But with every time this thought appeared, came a possessive fury. Without warning, he slashed through two of his enemy, the corpses' blood dripping like acid through the snow. A red curtain covered his eyes, filled his world, and numbed his thoughts. Kill them all!
How dare they? They would pay for this treason!
The enemy was now accustomed to this unpredictable act of rage and quickly blockaded the General's attempt of escape or of triumph. A spear ate through his shoulder, an arrow at his side, but a sword was kept from a meal when the General ducked and rolled.
He was back in the middle. Their band, still strong though minus two, tightened inward, closer, closer. They would finally taste victory. The fighting would be over if only this stubborn dog would spit and die.
The anger, now aflame, had smelted any doubt or acceptance in the General's mind. He was not to die this day. He was going to live and gain satisfying revenge on those who had done such a dishonor. Their future generations would feel his retribution.
The warriors knew this moment well. The waiting, the rattled beating of their hearts as they readied to strike, readied for the final blow. The continual winds of winter even slowed, holding its breath, waiting…waiting…closer…
Strike. All at once.
They had been ready. They had planned.
The General fell.
The playful banter of a first snowfall had lasted for a couple days, convincing morality that it was going to be different this time. Rays of sunlight would glimmer on the unpolluted white. The hot and cold, summer and winter, complimenting each other with a surprising beauty and balance.
But it was Nature's trick.
The winter bit, as does a whimpering dog when your hand comes too close.
Slashing winds froze everything in stunning speed, and what was strong and stable in the heat grew brittle and fragile in ice. Wood cracked and water solidified. The bright glee brought on by winter games and Nature's soft beauty was weighted down to moans and chattering teeth brought on by Nature's fury.
This happened every year. It was to be expected. Yet morality continued to complain about the unfairness of it all.
The hanyou found it considerably annoying. He sat in the corner of Kaede's hut, arms crossed, and growled sarcastically at the girl rubbing her hands in front of the puny fire. "Hey, Kagome, want to make a snowman now?"
Kagome could have given strength to the flames by the intensity of her death glare. "Fine, Inuyasha. Fine! I don't care. We should have listened to you, O wise and grumpy sensei. You were right and we were wrong. You happy?"
Inuyasha grumbled, "Feh. Took you long enough to admit it." He tightened his arms closer to his chest and stuck his tongue at the girl.
Kagome bristled. "Don't make me come over there!"
"Think you can take me on? I don't think so, wimpy girl!"
"I bet I can! You're not so tough!"
"Oh yeah, and you make me shiver in fear!"
"Kagome, Inuyasha, enough!" Kaede walked into the small building and shook off; layers upon layers of ice crystals flew around her and plunged to the ground. "This is not the time for ye constant bickering. I can hear ye both at the other end of the village even with this dreadful storm."
Inuyasha harrumphed and Kagome pouted in aggravation.
"I did not!"
"It was you!"
Lady Kaede sighed and slid off her wet coat, hanging it on a line that was hung over the fire to dry. Water dripped and hissed in the pathetic fire pit, threatening to murder what little source of warmth they had left.
"Inuyasha, please go and fetch some more firewood."
The hanyou, distracted from his argument by such an unwelcomed request, scoffed, "Out there? You got to be kidding. Everything is frozen and too wet to use."
Kaede rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Then go over to Kagome's era and find some."
Kagome cut him off and grudgingly admitted, "He can't, Kaede. The well's blocked off with snow."
Kaede's old face grew more wrinkled with dismay, "No…"
The girl nodded slowly, "I'm afraid so. It's filled to the brim and iced over."
Inuyasha's mouth was left parted open. This was bad. But wait…
"You tried to go through didn't you?"
Kagome didn't answer and busied herself with rubbing her hands together again. Inuyasha growled warningly, "Kagome…"
Kaede effectively sliced the argument short by bopping the hanyou's head as she walked past. She ignored his seething cry. "This is not the time. People are slowly dying in this village."
"Is it getting worse, Lady Kaede?" Kagome whispered.
The old priestess deflated her lungs, pulling her aching body down into a sitting position. Her posture was withered and fatigued, signifying her years of seeing too much, of experiencing too much that was not good from this world. "Yes. The sickness is spreading, infecting the children more disastrously. Your medicine from the future helped wonders Kagome…but it has depleted far too quickly. There's just too many. And with this storm…why, I cannot find the herbs I require. They all have perished in the cold."
Kaede closed her eyes wearily, "Now with the well blocked off…I'm afraid…the effects of this winter will be dire." That so many children would die, their little bodies so broken, was too awful and inviolable to say aloud. What were they going to do?
"Is Miroku, Sango, and Shippo still out there?" Kagome asked. Inuyasha remained silent in the corner, eyes distant, though his ears lingered in their direction.
"Yes. They have helped to the best of their ability, even little Shippo. They actually shooed me away. I must admit however, I am grateful." Kaede chuckled, but it sounded like the beginnings of a sob. "We have not lost one yet…but I know…" Her voice cracked and she could not finish.
They'll die. Inuyasha thought about saying it aloud but knew that this was not the time to be so cruelly realistic. Kagome and the old hag already understood this horrible fate anyway. He came to his feet in one fluid movement, feeling a sense of uselessness that needed to be amended. It was pointless, he was aware of that. This was not the first time that he had seen this ravaging disease at work. But at least, he wouldn't have to sit here like a pathetic fool.
"Where are you going?" Kagome choked, fighting against tears.
Inuyasha stopped in front of the rickety old house's exit, his back to the priestesses. Crying wouldn't help matters. He kept the comment to himself, once again. A rarity.
"The wind is slowing down." And that was that. He walked out the door.
True to his words, the Nature's explosion outside was whistling down to but a calm ululation. It was a relief to their ears.
Kagome closed her eyes, sending a soft prayer of gratitude upwards.
"Well," she began when she was through, "how about I start lunch?"
Flesh upon ice as soon as metal became useless. But such a transition was like switching to a bicycle instead of a car. He was getting nowhere.
Blood leaked from his knuckles, running clear and swelling together at the sides of the well. He was standing in the middle of the structure, upon what had once been a two-foot high mound of ice corking the link to the future. He had managed to hack his way down till he was level to the wooden trim but the process had taken well about two or more hours.
Who knew what time it was, for the sun had been hidden behind dark gray clouds for weeks now. Nature had done a fine job of messing up things. Not even Tetsusaiga had been able to take much of this for long; he had been worried that his trusty sword was about to break in half. Tough ice.
With hopelessness and frustration beginning to cloud upon him, and because of the ache in his numb arms, Inuyasha stopped. He slid to his knees and panted, licking at the wounds on his knuckles. His skin was turning blue and clammy. Not even a hanyou was impervious to the change of temperature, though he would never admit it.
"This is going to take forever. And if I try Wind Scar, I'll destroy the well." Inuyasha growled, punching the ice and immediately regretting it. He cursed and tended to his battered hands. "I hate winter."
"Don't we all?"
Inuyasha jumped to his feet by the unwelcomed voice, berating himself for not realizing the man's presence sooner. He reached for his Tetsusaiga and snarled, "Who are you?"
Even worse. It was a demon.
The raggedy coyote youkai sniffed contemptuously at the hanyou's behavior, "Now see here, pup. I haven't harmed ya at all have I?" He tossed his head with a foolish air, trying to act dignified. "Whelps these days. Not even human blood can teach them respect for their elders."
"What do you want, you old mutt?" Inuyasha barked.
The youkai, who was carrying a bundle of—to Inuyasha's disgust—bloody swords and broken spears, along with some tattered clothing, smiled, "Why, I was just wondering what you were up to. Ya looked mighty ticked at the snow. Besides, you seem cold."
He dropped his possessions and shuffled through them, muttering to himself. "Let's see. Let's see. Ah, here we go. This will do." He tossed Inuyasha a piece of clothing, permeating with the scent of sweat, blood…and death.
Inuyasha caught it out of instinct and slight curiosity. He had seen this kind of material before. Forcing himself to breathe out of his mouth, he looked it over.
It was a uniform.
"Come on, pup. Put it on! Before you catch your death." The coyote wagged his finger rather paternally and bent down to gather up his things. "It may be a little dirty but it'll warm ya up just fine. Ya just keep it, ya hear? Ya need it more than me either way, what with ya putting up such a fight with that ice." He started snorting with laughter at his clever joke. "Well, I suppose I shall be leaving now. Good luck, my lord."
He didn't get far. Inuyasha landed in front of him and grabbed the demon's collar, lifting the skinny beggar up from the ground. His things clattered back to the snow. "What…did you…just say?" Inuyasha said threateningly.
The coyote swallowed but there wasn't much fear in his eyes. "Hey now, pup. I meant no disrespect. Ya'll teaching that ice a lesson, believe me." He snickered, not able to help it, but it was quickly stifled by Inuyasha's deadly growl.
"No…what did you just…call me?" No one, except Myouga, had ever put such a lofty honorific to his name. It set Inuyasha farther on the edge.
His question made the coyote aggravatingly amused. "Oh. I see. Ya thought I wouldn't recognize ya. 'Course, never met ya before in my life and I never thought I would but I would always know that haori anywhere. That's one special kimono you got on, hope you know."
"Explain yourself, you stupid hound." Inuyasha was growing more and more irritated with this blathering and bobble-minded fool. And even more so, the demon's complete lack of disrespect or repugnance for his hanyou heritage. It wasn't normal behavior with the demons Inuyasha came across with. This guy had even given him something.
Even though it was a stolen something.
"Tell me too, where you got all this stuff. By your stench, I know you're not one of money." The half-demon spat.
The coyote nodded understandably, "Yes. Yes. I guess I can't blame ya for wanting to know. Ya maybe want some too after all. I'll explain, Lord Pup, if ya first please put me down first. This is mighty uncomfortable."
Inuyasha contemplated for a moment and then released the demon with an uncouth shove. The coyote managed to keep his footing and amazingly wasn't insulted. "Thank ya, Lord Pup."
"Don't call me that."
"Then what should I call ya? I don't know your name, though I'm guessing your Lord Touga's legendary dead son, am I right?"
Inuyasha furrowed his brows, "I don't know a Lord Touga."
The coyote was surprised. "Really? Then why are ya…?" He sniffed and waved it off. "Never mind. Not my business about what ya'll business is. Probably got it the same way I get all my treasures." The demon left his possessions on the ground and pointed his thumb to his chest. "The name's Nagaharu, pup. Nice to meet ya."
Inuyasha fingered the uniform and threw it at Nagaharu's head, "Where did you find this? The blood is only a few days old."
Nagaharu skillfully caught the article of clothing and shrugged, slinging it over his shoulder, "Got it not too far from here. Gruesome place. Sorry to say, but the pickings are probably all gone by now, whelp, if ya'll thinking about fetching some nice trinkets. 'Course I don't mind giving ya some of mine, I got plenty." He laughed joyfully.
This was one unique fellow. Inuyasha kept one hand on the hilt of Tetsusaiga, suspicion tensing his shoulders. "Looks like it was a bloodbath."
"Oh yes, bodies as far as the eye can see. I didn't go look at every one but look at what I got with just a few. Phew! What a haul, eh Lord Pup?" Nagaharu continued to laugh and Inuyasha twisted his lip in revulsion.
"Stop calling me that." So there was a battle. How could I have not sensed it if it was so close to the village? It must have been the storm. "Take me there."
Nagaharu stopped mid chortle, "Take ya there? Well, I guess I can…I mean, I'll be happy too. But everything is probably gone by now, pup. The storm is let up and there are people like me all over that field."
"I don't want anything." Inuyasha snorted. "I'm not some disgusting grave robber like you."
Nagaharu, again, was not insulted. He began gathering his things, "We do what we can to survive, Lord Pup. I'm sure ya have done worse things in order to live…eh…hanyou?" His eyes flashed upwards.
Inuyasha froze and remained silent. Nagaharu nodded in understanding, "Besides, not like the dead feel nothing. Now come on, I'll go show ya. But be warned, it is a horrible sight."
I'm sure I've seen it before. Inuyasha followed after the demon, his arms crossed in the dampness of his haori sleeves and his eyes distant.
AN: Edited on July 4, 2009