It was the eve of battle.

Ryuukotsusei, the mighty dragon youkai, had been driven to this green valley, with the very last of his stalwart allies who refused to surrender to the Inu no Taisho.

Those who were within the camp of the Inu youkai feared that they would never see tomorrow's setting sun. Ryuukotsusei was mighty, and would no doubt slay many before he himself was slain.

Lord Sesshomaru was relatively young for daiyoukai, but refused to be left behind throughout for this campaign (having been too young for the previous war against the Panther Tribe, a fact he resented greatly), and his father had acquiesced.

He searched the camp for his father, hoping to discuss where his own place in this final, epic battle would be. The gazes of the various youkai bowed respectfully toward their master's son, and eventually, Sesshomaru was lead to the cliffside, where the Inu no Taisho, in his human guise, waited, standing over the cliff.

"Hello, Sesshomaru." The Inu no Taisho's voice was soft as moonlight, and he did not turn. "What brings you here at this time of night?"

"I wish to discuss where my place on the front lines will be." Sesshomaru said. "After all, you yourself have said that a future warlord must fight alongside other youkai to prove his strength first."

"Yes, I did say that, didn't I?" the Inu no Taisho replied, chuckling with an oddly weary voice.

"Father? You sound... odd, this night." Sesshomaru said slowly, his voice trying hard not to be the worried son.

"Tell me, Sesshomaru. Why are we fighting Ryuukotsusei?" his father questioned, without answering the question.

"Because he attacked us first. He challenged your rule." Sesshomaru answered, without hesitation.

"The exact words of youth." Inu no Taisho commented, tiredly amused. "Well, Ryuukotsusei did attack us. But how many of those in that valley below were participants in that attack? Or for that matter, do you think Ryuukotsusei himself was present on that first attack?"

Sesshomaru blinked, feeling uneasy about this line of questioning. "Well, in reality, none of these particular enemy youkai participated in that attack. We wiped them out in our counterattack."

"So, even with the actual perpetrator's dead, we continue to kill these youkai. Tell me, my son, why do they fight us, do you think?" his father continued, his voice tired but relentless, and Sesshomaru felt more and more uncomfortable with each passing moment.

"Because Ryuukotsusei demanded they fight." Sesshomaru answered, but his voice hesitated for just a moment.

"Or could it be because we slaughtered their kin, attacked them on their lands?" the Inu no Taisho interjected wryly, turning his head to show his son the edges of a dry, sad smile.

Sesshomaru did not answer.

"Ah, now we get to the heart of all of this. So, if these youkai are defending themselves, and we are defending ourselves, who is to blame?" before Sesshomaru could answer, he continued, "Ryuukotsusei? Perhaps. But he attacked first because of my power."

"Those without power are jealous of those who do." Sesshomaru said mechanically.

"Ryuukotsusei? Without power?" the Inu no Taisho snorted. "Do try to remember that you're my son, no matter how much you have tried to distance yourself from me. Ryuukotsusei's power is fearsome, otherwise we would have won this accursed war decades ago."

"When there are two strong powers, they must inevitably come into conflict." Sesshomaru responded, frowning. "You told me this yourself."

"The foolishness of my youth." The Inu no Taisho replied, sighing. "My son, I have lived through centuries of war and death. I have burnt homes to the ground, I have slaughtered many, fathers, sons, brothers, that didn't seem to matter in the field of battle."

"What are you saying?" Sesshomaru questioned stiffly.

"I have learned something." His father's shoulders were slumped, and he looked up into the starry night. "When you were born, I felt no fear for your life. I was younger, I was reckless, and I believed no son of mine would ever fall in battle."

"Your bastard hanyou might." Sesshomaru cut in darkly.

"He is your brother." The Inu no Taisho replied tersely, his hand wavering over Tessaiga's hilt. "Inuyasha will be strong, I have no doubts. But his mother..."

"Mortals are frail." Sesshomaru sneered, voice heavy with venomous contempt.

"All things can die." His father countered easily, lightly. "Neither myself, Ryuukotsusei, or you, Sesshomaru, are exempt from that rule."

"The weak die. The strong survive." Sesshomaru responded coldly. "That is the fate of all things."

"Death is the fate of all things, yes." Inu no Taisho agreed. "But, my son, realize this. If you kill a father, the son will swear vengeance. Kill the son, and the mother will curse your name, and their kin will rise in retribution."

"Blood calls for blood," Sesshomaru snapped, his patience finished and his frustration peaking. "Why must you falsify everything you have taught me?" he demanded harshly, a thin, cold edge to his voice, like a keening northern wind.

"Teachings can be wrong." His father inclined his head, a mirthless smile playing on his lips. "Even my own, it seems."

"You ask me to reject everything you have taught me, simply because you have become 'enlightened'?" Sesshomaru sneered again, and his naked contempt was almost visible. "I am not so weak as to throw away that which is the way of the world and attempt to reach for some foolish ideal."

"Then I suppose I have taught you too well." Inu no Taisho said in reply, an odd smile playing on his lips, illuminated in the deathly pale glow of the moon. "I fear I shall perish in the coming battle, and should that happen, you shall inherit the Tenseiga."

Reflexively, Sesshomaru clenched. "What madness is this? I have no use for a sword that cannot kill."

"No, but you are in need of a teacher." His father murmured, and finally turned toward his son. There was a trace of something in those eyes- and Sesshomaru likened it not at all.

"I will have the Tessaiga, whether you bequeath it to me or not." He warned dangerously, his breath almost a snarl.

"You will try." The Inu no Taisho said in lieu of reply. "But nonetheless, Tenseiga will be yours. This is a command of your father's, and you shall not break it."

Reluctantly, Sesshomaru inclined his head. "As you wish, Father." And with that, he moved to dismiss himself.

"One more order."

Sesshomaru stilled himself.

"Send the soldiers home." Sesshomaru turned violently, a rash action that he took no note of.

"You have truly lost all sense, Father," he snarled. "You cannot hope to fight Ryuukotsusei and his warriors on your own."

"True," his father agreed, a tone of dark amusement in his voice, "I will fight the dragon himself. Alone. He has already sent me his word that his men will leave this valley."

"And you gave your word as well?" Sesshomaru's controlled voice was strained, like steel about to snap.

"Those are the terms."

"You are a fool. You could sweep down with your army and crush the dragon when he is alone, friendless. Instead, you go to your death." Sesshomaru spat at his father's feet, but still, the Inu no Taisho did not stir to anger.

"I will no other to go where I go." he said in response. "If you will not relay my order, I will tell them myself." The Inu no Taisho made to move, but Sesshomaru spoke.

"I will tell them of your foolish decisions." Sesshomaru all but snarled. "But I will not speak of your madness to dissolve the army that drove back Hyoga of China, crushed the Panther Tribe, and brought even Ryuukotsusei to his knees not but three moons ago. I will tell them only that you have set them free, so that at the very least your legacy won't be as tainted as you."

"Thank you," his father said quietly, though he knew it would be neither welcomed nor accepted. "Go now, my son."

Sesshomaru bowed stiffly, and left wordlessly, his fury radiating out from him like a fierce blizzard.

"I have raised a warrior." The Inu no Taisho murmured softly as he watched his son go, brushing Tenseiga's hilt as he glanced at the Sword of Heaven fondly. "Will you help make him something more?"

Tenseiga pulsed once, uncertain.

"Give it your best shot then," he said mirthfully, and chuckled.

"That's all I ask."