A1969: -sobs- waah! The last chapter! –sobs-
Kagome: -sobs- It's been nice knowing you all!
Inuyasha: yeesh! You guys!
Kagome: shut up, Inuyasha! Speaking of which, anyone seen Sesshoumaru?
Inuyasha: nope, and I hope he doesn't come back!
Sesshoumaru: sorry to disappoint you, little brother.
yeesh! Couldn't you have hung yourself? Everyone will be happy if
you did! Well…except for your legion of fangirls, that is.
A1969: anyway…thank you all so much for the reviews I've received throughout the entire story! Without them, I wouldn't have had the inspiration to write! So, thank you so much!
That was the only word that made any sense at the moment.
I have often heard people—okay, mostly demons, and some arrogant humans—say that protecting someone or something was a complete waste of both time and energy. However, they might not have had something precious to protect which was why they say so…
I had something to protect.
Something infinitely more precious than my own life…
I stared at Kagura. Her eyes were taunting and her ruby lips were smirking at me.
"Bring it on," she said again.
I glared at her. I held out my hand and a ball of white light appeared on my palm. It elongated and stretched until it became a staff.
"Oh?" Kagura said, amused. "You really are going to fight me? You won't just surrender those two infants over? If you do, your life will be spared, I assure you."
I narrowed my eyes. "You," I snarled, "insult me. You think that I would think of myself before I think of my children? I'd rather die!"
"Oh? Is that how important they are to you?"
"They were born out of the love Sesshoumaru and I share!" I snarled. The staff I held glowed white and I pointed it at her. "Of course they are important! More than my own life! And you…if you think that I will let you lay a single finger on them, you're dead!"
Kagura smirked. "Enough talking, little girl. Dance of Blades!"
I jumped out of the way just as crescent-shaped blades sped towards me. They rammed into the floor, sending a spray of dust and pieces of tatami matting into the air. There was a low groan, and then, without warning, the ceiling fell in, exposing the starry night sky beyond. I quickly raised my staff and sent a gust of air at the debris to keep them from falling on me and my precious ones. I glared at Kagura then, with a flick of my staff, I hurled the debris at her.
"Kochou, Asuka!" I called over my shoulder. "Get Shigeru and Tsumiko out of here now!"
Kochou and Asuka both glowed with a yellow light and slowly, they ascended into the air, but before they could even make it out of the opening in the ceiling, a jet of flame snaked towards them.
"No!" I cried out. I sent another gust of air at the flames and they dissipated. Kochou and Asuka fell back to the floor, Shigeru and Tsumiko safe in their arms.
I glared at Kagura.
She smirked at me.
"I'm going to kill you!" I snarled.
"Follow me!" Inuyasha shouted over his shoulder, at Miroku and the others, except, of course, for his brother who had taken to the air and was flying high above them.
"You're just following Sesshoumaru," Shippou, who was riding on Inuyasha along with Kagome, said.
Kagome was silent was she stared up at the demon lord. His desperation to find Mizuki is astounding, she thought. The adrenaline rush is enough to make him sense Naraku's barrier—or maybe we can sense the barrier because Kikyou is leading us to it?
Earlier in the night, Kikyou had used her teleportation to lead them to Naraku's barrier. Both Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru were following Kikyou's scent. Kagome looked up at Sesshoumaru again, who looked more like a white ghost against the dark night sky than the fearsome demon lord that he was.
"Inuyasha, do you think we'll make it in time?" she asked, worried as she clutched Inuyasha's shoulder. "When we saw Mizuki in the mirror, she was already in labor…I'm sure…by this time…the babies would be born…do you think"—she lowered her voice so Sesshoumaru wouldn't hear—"that they're alright?"
Inuyasha had a hard look in his eyes and he gritted his teeth. "They have to be." He glanced up at his brother for a fraction of a second then back to the forest path they were taking. "If they aren't, Mizuki will have hell from me when we find her!"
Kagome suppressed a small smile. It seemed that Inuyasha cared about his brother's happiness though, of course, he wasn't showing it. The worry soon returned, however. We have to hurry! Who knows what's happening now?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"There she is!" Sango cried out, pointing to a lone figure in the distance. They had reached a forest at the foot of a mountain. At the very edge of the forest, stood Kikyou, her white haori blowing softly in the wind, her new bow slung over her shoulder. Sesshoumaru descended neatly a few feet away from her, his eyes fixed on the forest.
"A barrier?" he said to himself.
"A weak one," Kikyou said, walking passed him and approaching the invisible barrier. "Inuyasha's Tessaiga can destroy this barrier. It's weak…almost as if Naraku wishes us to be able to break through…" Her voice trailed off and a faraway look came into her eyes.
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes dangerously at the barrier and, without another word, he pulled out his Bakusaiga. Kikyou eyed him wearily then stepped back just as Sesshoumaru pointed his sword at the barrier.
"Wait, Sesshoumaru!" Inuyasha called out just as he and the others arrived. "Lemme—!"
Inuyasha wasn't able to finish his sentence. A flash of light burst out of Bakusaiga and rammed against the barrier. The light licked the sides of the barrier which surrounded the whole forest and the mountain behind it.
"He won't be able to destroy it," Inuyasha muttered in a low voice. "That barrier is too huge!"
But he was wrong. The barrier pulsed with energy and vanished like a wisp of smoke blown away by the breeze.
"You spoke too soon," Hakudoshi said, smirking, at Inuyasha.
Inuyasha glared at him. "Shut up."
The room was dark.
In the darkness, a single point of light came from a low burning brazier. Naraku stood near the brazier, shadows dancing across his features and a wicked smirk forming on his lips.
"Kanna." A soft glow of white light materialized in the center of the room. Kanna slowly walked towards her master, her mirror held in her hands.
"Show me Inuyasha and the others." Kanna quietly held up her mirror. There was a brief flash of light and Naraku peered into the mirror's depths. Light from the brazier glinted off the mirro's lustrous surface as the images of Inuyasha and the others appeared before Naraku's eyes.
"Don't be hasty, Sesshoumaru!" In the mirror, Inuyasha screamed as his elder brother charged into the forest and towards the castle on the mountain. "Dammit, c'mon!" Inuyasha and the others chased after the demon lord.
Naraku's smile slowly faded as he realized one thing—Kikyou was with them. Not only that, but Kagome's bow had been fixed and copied, the copy being with Kikyou. A frown replaced his smile. Those bows would be a problem, he admitted to himself.
"No matter," Naraku said as he made his way to a dark corner of the room which was lighted only by the moonlight filtering through the window. He removed a sheathed sword from the corner, his eyes glinting with malice. "It really doesn't matter."
"Tonight, all of you shall perish."
Sesshoumaru pointed Bakusaiga at the castle's main gate and a blast of energy spiraled from the sword and towards the gates, blowing them away and sending a shower of debris into the courtyard. They entered the courtyard and Kagome hopped off Inuyasha's back, her eyes scouring the courtyard.
"Something's not right," Miroku muttered as he and Sango both alighted from Kirara's back.
"It was all too easy," Kikyou said, taking a step away from everyone else. She looked up at the towering castle and frowned. "Naraku…what are you planning?"
At that moment, a loud boom was heard from the castle's east wing. Sesshoumaru's head automatically snapped in the direction of the sound, his eyes narrowing. Mizuki's scent came from that wing of the castle…
He automatically ran towards the east wing, but before he could even take a step out of the courtyard, he felt something hard ram into him, sending him flying backwards. Sesshoumaru landed neatly on his feet, next to Inuyasha, his eyes narrowed menacingly at the creator of the barrier.
"Naraku," he snarled as miasma swirled in the air above them. A low chuckle came from the miasma as it slowly swirled and twisted in the air.
"Lord Sesshoumaru, what's the rush?" Naraku slowly emerged amidst the miasma, his red eyes glinting with malice.
Everyone's eyes—except Sesshoumaru's—widened in shock.
Naraku looked nothing like his former self. He wore a black haori and equally black hakama. Armor covered his shoulders and his chest, spiked and glinting softly in the light of the moon. His hair was drawn back into a ponytail for a change and on his waist was strapped a sheathed sword. It was to this sword that both Kagome and Kikyou's eyes were drawn.
"Kikyou…" Kagome said, her eyes widening as she felt a familiar pull coming from the sword. "That sword…"
"I can sense it as well," Kikyou said softly, her eyes narrowed up at Naraku.
"What is it?" Inuyasha asked.
Kikyou did not answer; instead, she took another step forward and glared up at Naraku. "Naraku…you have embedded the Sacred Jewel in your sword?"
Naraku chuckled as he slowly drew out his sword. The Sacred Jewel was embedded at the sword's hilt, its aura emanating from the weapon. Sesshoumaru growled at him and Naraku turned his attention to the aggravated demon lord.
"Ah, I almost forgot, Lord Sesshoumaru," Naraku said, somewhat amused. "Tell me why are you so aggravated?"
Sesshoumaru glared at him and pointed his sword at Naraku. "Move." His voice was cold, deadly and menacing.
Naraku only chuckled. "Tell me, Lord Sesshoumaru, are you really that desperate to save her?" he asked. "And to think that you, the great Lord Sesshoumaru, would fall prey to the same kind of emotions that destroyed your dear father."
Without warning, Sesshoumaru leapt into the air towards Naraku. Naraku smirked and pointed his sword at the demon lord. The jewel embedded in the hilt pulsed and tuned darker.
"Sesshoumaru, watch out!" Kagome shouted as the jewel let out a blast of dark light. Sessshoumaru immediately jumped higher into the air to avoid the deadly blast.
"Don't think I'll let you get passed me that easily," Naraku said, his tone amused as Sesshoumaru jumped lightly back to the ground.
"Hakudoshi," Sesshoumaru suddenly said. "Go."
Before anyone could blink, Hakudoshi formed a barrier around himself. With lightning speed, the boy rammed his barrier against Naraku's and, to everyone's surprise, Hakudoshi's barrier went through Naraku's.
"Go!" Sesshoumaru said, a little more forcefully.
Hakudoshi gave them all a doubtful look then turned and darted towards the castle, his barrier slowly fading into the distance.
"What're you up to?" Inuyasha asked, throwing a sidelong glance at his brother.
Sesshoumaru didn't answer; instead, he turned his attention back to Naraku.
"Very amusing," Naraku said and indeed, he sounded amused. "You intend to have the boy rescue your Mizuki. I doubt he'll make it."
"Give it up, little girl!" Kagura's wind blades whizzed towards me and I jumped up to avoid them.
No, I would never give up. Behind me, I could hear the whimpering of the two precious jewels that I absolutely had to protect. I glanced slightly behind me. Kochou and Asuka held them in their arms. I could feel my eyes soften.
"Don't worry, I'll protect you," I whispered. "Even if it costs me my own life."
"Then you'd better pay up!" Kagura's wind blades rained from her fan. I waved my staff and managed to dispel her wind blades. But I was breathing hard. My breath was short and I realized that I was growing tired—after all, I had just given birth. Despite the fact that Kouchou and Asuka had given me Senensu berries, I was still tired.
She let out a low chuckle. "For your own sake, you'd best give up and hand those two over to me."
I glanced behind me once more, at the two precious ones that I had to protect and turned back to Kagura, my jaw set in determination. "I'd rather die," I hissed, pointing the staff at her.
"And so you shall…Dance of the Fire Titan!"
She twirled her fan in the air and as she did so, flames leapt from it. For a moment, the flames spiraled in the air and then they slowly took on the form of a fiery woman. Heat emanated from her. The floor at her feet was instantly burned to ashes.
"Kill her!" Kagura ordered.
The titan charged towards me and I jumped backwards into the air. The fiery woman jumped and held out what appeared to be a blade of flames. I parried her attack with my own staff and, to my horror, where the staff made contact with the fiery blade it slowly started to burn. I pulled away from the titan and jumped back to the ground, just in front of Kouchou and Asuka.
Kagura was chuckling by now. "You're not what you used to be," she said, amused. "Has being married unhinged you somehow? I think so. Heh. I told you to give your mate to me."
Rage flowed through me. "Shut up!" I snarled as I pointed my staff at her. "I'd rather die excruciatingly again and again than see him in your arms!"
She raised her eyebrows. "Oh? He would be touched to hear you say it!" She waved her fan again and another fiery woman emerged from thin air, horrible and just as fiery as the first. The two titans stood side by side, in front of me, fiery blades held out, heat radiating from their bodies.
Damn. I couldn't let these two anywhere near Shigeru or Tsumiko.
"Get her!" Kagura shrieked, pointing her fan at me.
The two fiery women ran towards me, both blades held out. I held out my staff and blocked both blades. The combined force and the heat of the two fiery demons pushed me back. I could feel my heels digging into the ground as I struggled to hold back the two demons. Urgh…the heat was murder. How could Kagura have gotten so strong?
To my horror, the force and the heat of the blades of the two demons was just too much. The staff I held slowly started to crack, splintering in the middle…
"Give up!" Kagura snarled.
But no. I would never give up. I looked at the crack in the staff and willed it to seal up. The crack glowed with light and isealed up. I glanced at the two fiery demons and, with a surge of strength, I pushed them back. They jumped into the air, their heads lightly brushing against the ceiling and setting it aflame. The flames lapped at the walls, spreading rapidly.
Damn, yet another complication that I had to attend to.
Kagura was laughing. "What now?" she asked.
I gritted my teeth and glared at her. The flames spread from the ceiling and to the walls, encompassing us in flames. I suddenly heard two low wailings behind me, and I felt my heart ache at the sound of my children's cries. The heat was getting to them. At that moment, I heard a low splintering coming from above me, on the ceiling. I spun around and, to my horror, a blazing beam fell from the ceiling and towards Kochou and Asuka…
"No!" I cried out as I instinctively turned my back on Kagura and her demons and raced towards my precious ones. Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and the beam fell uselessly against a blue barrier erected by Kochou and Asuka.
I stopped in my tracks as indescribable relief washed through me…followed by a flash of heat and a deep sense of pain.
Kagura had played dirty.
One of her fire demon's blazing blades was lodged in my right shoulder. It was no longer blazing, but it was still burning hot. I gasped as the pain washed through me. I gingerly placed a hand on the blade and, with a cry, pulled it out of my shoulder. The gash was deep and it bled profusely.
Kagura was laughing again. "Never turn your back on your opponent," she hissed.
A hand still on the gash, I turned to face her slowly, my staff held in my other hand, the pain coursing through me.
"Mizuki, you needn't worry about these two," Asuka said. "We will protect them."
Right. Still, could you blame me if I worried nonetheless?
I glared at Kagura. I was aware that I was at a disadvantage. The pain in my right shoulder flowed throughout my entire arm and I doubted that I would be able to fight properly.
Damn, what now? I transferred my staff to my left arm, and glared at the two fire demons that stood side by side.
"Oh, you persist, eh?" Kagura asked. "Really, where do you get the strength?" She sounded mocking.
"I have those whom I want to protect," I snapped.
She rolled her eyes. "What a boring answer…Kill her, and this time, make sure you get it right!"
Once again, the fire demons lunged towards me. Only one of them had her weapon with her and it was that demon whose attack I parried with my staff. The other demon tried to claw me with fiery talons and I held out my injured right arm and sent a gust of wind at it. I had the satisfaction of seeing it stagger backwards, giving me a few moments to deal with its partner. But before I had time to act, however, the demon that I had managed to throw off balance emitted a jet of flames from its mouth. My eyes widened when I realized that I had no escape this time…
"Die!" Kagura shrieked.
I could think of only one name then…
I hoped he would forgive me for dying…
"Stop!" Before the jet of flames could reach Mizuki, the two fire demons were knocked out of harm's way by a pinkish sphere.
Mizuki's eyes widened. "Hakudoshi!" she exclaimed.
Hakudoshi and his barrier stood between Mizuki and the two fire demons that were clumsily standing back up after their fall.
Kagura raised her eyebrows, amused. "Oh?" she asked. "You, of all people, are here, Hakudoshi? Come to save her?"
Hakudoshi only narrowed his eyes at the wind witch. He glanced at Mizuki from over his shoulder. "Take those two and get out of here," he ordered, somewhat imperious. "Sesshoumaru will kill me if anything happens to you or to your offspring."
"But, I can't just leave you here to deal with that witch!" Mizuki exclaimed.
For a moment, Hakudoshi's eyes softened, or maybe it was just a trick of the light. "I'm not weak like you," he sneered. "I can beat that witch on my own, thanks. Now go."
Mizuki smiled slightly at the boy's insult. "But still…"
"Go." Hakudoshi's tone was a little more forceful. "Sesshoumaru and the others will be waiting for you."
Mizuki nodded. "Right." She stood up and made her way to Kouchou and Asuka. She took both her children from their arms and held them in her own. Shigeru and Tsumiko wailed loudly as the flames spread rapidly in the room. Mizuki looked at Kouchou and Asuka who both nodded at her. In the blink of an eye, a barrier formed around Mizuki.
"Oh, and Mizuki." Mizuki stopped in her tracks and whirled around to look at Hakudoshi, whose back was turned to her and who was regarding Kagura with apparent venom in his eyes.
"Thank you…for everything. For my freedom…for the friends you gave me…"
Mizuki smiled softly again. "I'm hardly the person you should be thanking," she said. A moment later, there was a flash of flame and Mizuki, Kochou and Asuka vanished.
"What fools you all are," Kagura sneered as her fire demons closed in around Hakudoshi's barrier. "Especially you…You are the biggest fool of them all, Hakudoshi."
"Fool, am I?" Hakudoshi said, holding his naginata tighter. "You just don't see it, Kagura. I've changed since Mizuki gave me my heart. You say I'm a fool…No, you say everyone in this castle is a fool. Does that mean that you are the only exception? Of course you would be the only exception—you have no heart. How could you be a fool if you have no heart?"
"Shut up!" Kagura waved her fan and her fire demons charged towards Hakudoshi. They rammed against his barrier and the boy only smirked, but the smirk faded as soon as Kagura waved her fan again. A white mist emanated from her fan, slowly wrapping itself around Hakudoshi's barrier.
"Damn it," the white child muttered as soon as his barrier slowly faded away.
"Ah, ah," Kagura said. "This time, Hakudoshi, we're playing this my way."
"So be it," Hakudoshi said. "I can beat you—barrier or no barrier."
"We shall see." Kagura waved her fan again and this time, three more demons materialized from thin air. Fire, water, earth and air demons, all made up of the element they represented, closed in around Hakudoshi. The boy glanced left and right, trying to find a gap through which he could escape, but could find none.
"Well, well, well," Kagura said. "Any last wishes before I let my titans devour you?"
"Yeah," the boy said. "Fool." Without further ado, Hakudoshi created another barrier around himself and, in the blink of an eye, the barrier shot upwards and towards the ceiling. A moment later, there was a deafening crash as pieces of wood and beams, all aflame, fell from the ceiling and towards the floor. There was another crash as the burning debris fell on the four elemental demons that Kagura summoned.
"Damn you!" Kagura snarled as she waved her fan above herself. There was a strong gust of wind and the burning debris was blown away from her and back at Hakudoshi who only smirked as the debris rammed uselessly against his barrier. The debris fell on the four elemental demons who were all buried underneath the flaming pieces of wood with the exception of Kagura's fire titans.
Kagura glared up at the boy. He could recreate his barriers without having the need to rest?
"Ah," Hakudoshi said, as understanding dawned on him. "Your mist that dispels barriers—it takes a great amount of energy to use, doesn't it? Ergo, you can only use it once in battle."
"Oh?" Kagura asked. "Figured it out, haven't you?"
Without bothering to reply, Hakudoshi charged towards Kagura, his naginata held aloft, his barrier glinting faintly in the firelight. Before he could get to Kagura, however, the two remaining fire titans blocked his path, their fiery blades clashing with Hakudoshi's barrier.
"Kill him!" Kagura ordered.
"Why don't you fight me yourself?" Hakudoshi taunted as he allowed his naginata to phase through the barrier. The naginata clashed against the fiery blades of the titans, sending sparks flying into the air. He pulled his naginata back quickly. He couldn't use his blade on these demons—the blade would melt.
Kagura saw his dilemma and smirked at him, her ruby red lips glistening in the light of the flames.
"Don't smirk at me!" Hakudohi pushed back the two demons using his barrier, sending them flying against the wall. The demons hit the burning wall with a loud thud. The wall gave way and fell on top of the two fire demons. Flame against flame didn't have any effect, however, and the two demons stood up.
Curses, Hakudoshi thought. You can't fight fire against fire, eh? Inspiration suddenly hit him.
"You're loosing your touch, Kagura," Hakudoshi said as he turned in his barrier to face the wind witch. Behind him, he could hear the two fire demons unleashing jets of flame against his barrier to no avail. "The last time we fought, you were much quicker, weren't you?"
"Damn you, Hakudoshi!" Kagura may have been made stronger by Naraku, thought Hakudoshi, but there was one thing he didn't give her—brains.
The barrier around the boy suddenly vanished.
Kagura smirked. "Bad move boy!" She waved her fan at him and her two fire demons released jets of flame at him. Hakudoshi jumped out of the way, but wasn't quick enough. He gasped as he felt the scorching heat on his arm. He fell back to the ground, landing on his two feet, his eyes narrowed at Kagura.
"You're impossibly slow without Entei, aren't you?" Kagura sneered as her demons stood in front of her, ready to strike Hakudoshi down.
"And you're impossible stupid, aren't you?" Hakudoshi retorted.
"What?" Kagura asked.
Hakudoshi grinned at her. There was a flash of purple and Kagura found herself trapped in Hakudoshi's barrier along with her two fire demons.
"Damn you, you brat!" Kagura snarled. She waved her fan and her two fire demons vanished, leaving her alone in the barrier. "Let me out!"
"Then get out," Hakudoshi taunted. Finally…payback after all the humiliation that Kagura gave him.
"Let me out!" the wind witch screamed.
Hakudoshi held out his hand towards the barrier and began closing his fingers slowly. Kagura's eyes widened as soon she realized what he was doing. The barrier started to diminish in size, closing in around her.
"Damn you, let me out!" Kagura screamed as she waved her fan at the barrier, to no avail. Damn it! If only she could summon her dispelling mist again…
Hakudoshi closed his hand and Kagura was no more.
Mizuki stopped in her tracks. In front of her was the double doors of the castle and beyond that, in the courtyard, she could make out flashes of light and loud bangs of the battle that raged on. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as the scents of those who fought reached her—Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango, Shippou, Kirara, Kikyou…Sesshoumaru.
Everyone was there. Then is this to be the final battle? Mizuki thought. She looked down at the two precious bundles in her arms, a smile slowly spreading on her face. The two infants in her arms were asleep. Unbelievable. Sighing, Mizuki bent her head gave them each a kiss, her eyes closed, just remembering their scent. Tsumiko whined as her lips lightly brushed her daughter's forehead, but the infant moon demon did not open her eyes.
Mizuki sighed then turned to Kochou and Asuka who were both looking at her. "Kochou, Asuka, take them, please." She knelt on one knee as she handed Shigeru to Kochou and Tsumiko to Asuka.
"Lady Mizuki…" Asuka said as Mizuki made for the door. "Lord Sesshoumaru would not wish you to fight."
Mizuki stopped at the threshold of the palace and placed a hand on her neck, on the two necklaces she wore. Her necklace, the crescent moon and star pendant and the other necklace that Sesshoumaru's mother gave to her on her wedding day. Funny how she wore both of them at the same time, but tonight that would change. She silently took off her necklace, the crescent moon pendant and held it in front of her, watching as the moonlight softly glinted off it. She turned to Kochou and Asuka.
"I have to help them," she said quietly. "Tonight is the night that Naraku's evil must end. For the sake of everyone, Naraku must die. And I have to help them accomplish that." She looked at the necklace again, her eyes narrowed slightly. "Tonight, it must all end." She looked back at Kochou and Asuka and at the two infanfts in their arms. "Keep them safe for me," she whispered as she ran out the door.
"Adamant Barrage!" Spears of adamant flew from Inuyasha's Tessaiga and towards Naraku's barrier. There was a loud boom as the spears of adamant collided with the barrier.
"Did he do it?" Kagome asked as dust rose in the air.
"No." Kikyou's eyes were narrowed as the dust slowly settled. Naraku laughed at them, his barrier still intact.
"Not even Inuyasha's Adamant Barrage can dispel Naraku's barrier!" Sango exclaimed.
"Your mere attacks won't work so easily on me, Inuyasha," Naraku sneered, his red eyes glinting sadistically.
"Inuyasha." Inuyasha nearly jumped out of his skin as soon as he realized that it was his brother who was addressing him.
"If you're gonna say something about my being weak, then can it, Sesshoumaru!" Inuyasha snapped, without looking at his brother, his gaze fixed wholly on Naraku.
"Stop jumping to conclusions, Inuyasha," Sesshoumaru said as he went to stand next to his brother. "Keep your silence and listen."
"Your Adamant Barrage—unleash it. Now."
"What?" Inuyasha asked. "Adamant Barrage? Are you blind, you mutt? It has no effect."
"Inuyasha, just listen to Sesshoumaru, won't you?" Kagome said.
Inuyasha glared at her. Then he turned his attention back to Naraku, who only laughed at them. "Something up your sleeves?" he sneered as the black Sacred Jewel pulsed.
"Adamant Barrage!" Inuyasha shouted as spears of adamant flew towards Naraku.
"Dragon Strike!" Inuyasha's eyes widened as Sesshoumaru's attack combined with his own. The Dragon Strike both propelled and fused each spear of adamant with its own power. The spears of adamant turned blue and started glowing. Naraku's eyes widened as the combined attack made contact with his barrier.
"Wow!" Kagome cheered. "Adamant Strike!"
"It worked," Kikyou said, smiling a small, triumphant smile for there, floating several feet above them, without his barrier to protect him, was Naraku, with a look of rage and amusement on his face. How rage and amusement could have kept company, one would never know.
"So you have nothing to hide behind now." Sesshoumaru leapt lightly into the air so that he hovered in front of Naraku, a small smirk threatening at the corners of his mouth. Sesshoumaru pointed his sword at Naraku and a flash of light erupted from the blade and towards the half-demon.
"Did he get him?" Shippou asked, jumping onto Kagome's shoulder. To everyone's surprise, Naraku had vanished. No trace of him remained, not even pieces of his flesh that were usually left behind every time either Inuyasha or Sesshoumaru managed to inflict damage on him.
"He's…gone?" Sango mused.
Kikyou's eyes suddenly widened. "Kagome, behind you!"
Kagome spun around to find Naraku standing behind her, a smirk on his face. She screamed as Naraku raised his tentacles. Before Naraku could hit her, however, Kikyou notched an arrow to her silver bow and launched it at him.
"Kagome, get down!" Kikyou shouted.
Kagome ducked just as the arrow lit up with a strong light. "It's stronger than before," Miroku said, awe in his voice.
"The bows increased their spiritual power," Sango said.
The arrow was useless. Naraku vanished again, only to end up behind Inuyasha. Before Inuyasha could even blink, Naraku's sword slashed through his shoulder, sending a shower of blood on the ground.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome shouted as the hanyou staggered backward.
Naraku chuckled sadistically and raised his sword to point it at Inuyasha who fell to the ground, a hand on his wounded shoulder.
"Hiraikotsu!" Sango's Hiraikotsu wheeled through the air, heading straight for Naraku who merely deflected it with his sword.
"Nothing will work, you fools," Naraku sneered.
"Kagome," Kikyou said, turning to the miko hanyou. "Let's combine our arrows—that will kill Naraku."
"Right," Kagome said, nodding as she and Kikyou both notched arrows to their bows.
Naraku raised his eyebrows in an amused manner. "You can't kill what you can't hit now, can you?" he taunted.
"Now!" Kagome and Kikyou both fired their arrows. Everyone watched as the arrows collided with each other in midair. The arrows fused together into one and the light that emanated from the arrow was so strong everyone had to cover their faces with their sleeves.
"Incredible," Miroku said as the light headed for Naraku.
"Did they hit him?" Shippou asked as the dust raised by the attack slowly subsided.
But Naraku had vanished again.
"He's gone!" Kagome said, dismayed.
Suddenly, there was a loud shriek from Sango. Everyone wheeled around just as Naraku's tentacles caught the taijiya unawares. Sango was sent flying into the air.
"Sango!" Miroku shouted as he ran after Sango. He held out his arms and Sango fell into them with a grunt.
"Thanks, Miroku," Sango said as Miroku set her on her feet. "Damn, he's quick."
Naraku had vanished again.
Everyone unconsciously formed a circle, their eyes scanning the area for any sign on Naraku.
"Come on out and show yourself, you bastard!" Inuyasha roared.
"Gladly." Naraku was suddenly behind Inuyasha and, before anyone could react, he plunged his sword deep into the hanyou's back.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome and Kikyou both notched arrows to their bows and simultaneously fired them at Naraku. Once again, the arrows combined and veered towards Naraku who had once again vanished.
"Behind you, Sesshoumaru!" Kagome shouted just as Naraku reappeared behind the youkai lord. Sesshoumaru quickly spun around and slashed at Naraku with his Bakusaiga only to find that Naraku had vanished again.
"Dammit!" Inuyasha roared, not even taking notice of the blood that dripped from his wounds. "Quit running away like the coward you are, Naraku!"
"Kagome, look out!" Sango suddenly shouted as Naraku appeared behind Kagome, his sword raised above the young woman.
Kagome spun around, her eyes wide, as Naraku's sword descended on her.
"Kagome!" Inuyasha shouted.
Suddenly, there was a tinkling sound of a small chain and Naraku froze where he was, his sword suspended in midair. Kagome quickly jumped backwards, landing next to Kikyou.
"He stopped?" Sango said. They saw the reason why. A thin silver chain was wound around Naraku's throat, the chain of a necklace whose pendant was visible at his throat. Everyone's eyes went to the owner of the necklace who stood behind Naraku and who held the chain to his throat, immobilizing him.
"Mizuki…" Sesshoumaru whispered, relief coursing through him. She was safe, she was unharmed…
"Mizuki's alright," Sango said. "Wait a moment…has she…given birth already?" The last part she muttered to herself as her eyes landed on Mizuki's flat stomach.
Mizuki held the chain tightly in her grasp. "Damn you," Naraku hissed, totally unable to move.
"Kagome, Kikyou!" Mizuki shouted at the two priestesses. "Shoot now!"
Kagome and Kikyou glanced at each other. "Step away, Mizuki," Kikyou said as she and Kagome both notched arrows to their bows.
Mizuki gave them a sad smile. "I'm sorry, I can't," she said softly, her eyes finding Sesshoumaru's. "If I do, then Naraku will be able to move again. Shoot now while you have the chance."
Sesshoumaru's eyes widened infinitesimally as soon as he realized what Mizuki was going to do. "No!" he snarled. "Step away from Naraku now." His tone was laced with command—a tone he had never used on her before. If Mizuki didn't step away from Naraku, the combined power of Kikyou and Kagome's arrows would purify her as well.
"I'm sorry," Mizuki whispered, a soft smile on her lips. "There is no other way…"
"Mizuki!" Sesshoumaru snarled.
"Inuyasha, Miroku, hold him tightly," Mizuki ordered with such imperiousness that the two automatically obeyed. Inuyasha latched onto Sesshoumaru's right arm while Miroku held his left arm. The monk took out a sutra and threw it at the ground at Sesshoumaru's feet. Threads of light erupted form the sutra and bound Sesshoumaru tightly.
"I'm sorry," Mizuki whispered as she slowly felt Naraku struggle against her hold.
Sesshoumaru was snarling by now. His eyes had turned blood red as he struggled against Inuyasha and against the holy threads of light that immobilized him. No! He was not going to let her die for their sakes.
"Kikyou, Kagome, shoot!" Mizuki shouted urgently. "Do it now! I can't hold him much longer!"
"Mizuki!" Sesshoumaru snarled, struggling.
Mizuki turned her gaze on him, smilingly lovingly at him. "I'm sorry," she whispered softly.
Kikyou and Kagome looked at each other, their eyes hard. They slowly nodded at each other and pointed their arrows at Naraku and Mizuki.
"No!" Sesshoumaru struggled now. Inuyasha felt his brother's demonic energy rise and knew that at any moment, Sesshoumaru could break free of Miroku's holy restraints.
Mizuki smiled at him. "I love you…" she whispered as Kikyou and Kagome released their arrows. The arrows combined and sped towards her and Naraku…
The light that sped towards me and Naraku was so bright and so pure…
It would be the last thing I would see…
I had no regrets. Memories of the time I spent with Sesshoumaru raced through my mind and the thought of not having any regrets became stronger. Wait…I would have one regret. I would not live to see our children grow…
But no. I couldn't turn back now…
Besides, even if I did want to, it was too late.
The combined arrow struck Naraku's heart. Light radiated from the arrow, surrounding both me and Naraku. I could feel the burning pain of the holy energy that slowly enveloped us…
"Mizuki!" I could hear him. Sesshoumaru…
"Mizuki…" Huh? This voice…it wasn't Sesshoumaru's…
As the blinding light slowly engulfed me and Naraku I saw a woman surrounded by a different light. She was very beautiful and very familiar and her arms were outstretched towards me, as though she wished to embrace me…
"Mizuki," she whispered.
But everything was black.
"No!" There was a loud bang and Miroku and Inuyasha were thrown backwards just as Sesshoumaru's demonic energy destroyed Miroku's spell. Sesshoumaru automatically raced towards the light that engulfed Mizuki and Naraku. He stopped in his tracks. That light was too pure, too holy and it was slowly fading…
His heart raced as the light slowly dissipated.
Mizuki and Naraku were gone, both purified into oblivion. Nothing remained, not even the much sought-after Sacred Jewel. Such was the strength of Kikyou and Kagome's spiritual energy.
She was dead…
For a moment, nothing but numb disbelief coursed through him. It can't be real. Surely, it was all just a trick? Some horrid joke that they were playing on him? And if it was a joke, they would all pay most dearly…
But then, his mind slowly started to shun all the denial and the horrid reality of truth dawned on him like the sun rising on the horizon, destroying the denial that was night…
His Mizuki was dead.
And there was no bringing her back for her body had been purified.
He suddenly fell to the ground on his knees, his head downcast, a shadow falling across his eyes. He was as still as a statue.
Kagome and the others watched him in dismay. The miko hanyou felt guilty—too guilty. It had been her and Kikyou's arrow that killed Mizuki…
She glanced at Kikyou. The undead priestess's face was impassive and seemingly emotionless but Kagome knew that, like her, Kikyou was also feeling the bitter torments of guilt and grief. She turned her attention from Kikyou to the others. They all had downcast looks on their faces. Sango looked as though she wanted to cry and Miroku's arm was draped comfortingly across her shoulders, while his own face was hard like stone. Inuyasha's eyes were fixed on his brother and his mouth was set in a hard line.
They were all like stone.
Even the demon lord who knelt on the ground, his head bowed.
Kagome's eyes zeroed in on Sesshoumaru who knelt unmoving. Poor Sesshoumaru, Kagome thought. It was so unfair. They both spent most of their lives believing that they hated each other and now that they found each other, fate had to take her away from him…but no, it wasn't fate that took Mizuki away from Sesshoumaru…it was me…
Kagome held her breath. She knew that Sesshoumaru had a rather vindictive nature and that the demon lord would most likely blame her for his wife's demise, but…
Kagome let out her breath and broke away form the group and made her way towards Sesshoumaru. She suddenly felt a hand close on her wrist, stopping her in her tracks.
"Kagome, what do you think you're doing?" Inuyasha whispered softly. "You know he'll blame you even if it's not your fault…"
She shook her head and gently pulled her wrist away from Inuyasha. She gave him a reassuring smile and walked towards Sesshoumaru who did not even look up at the sound of her approach, so absorbed was he in his grief and in his thoughts.
She hesitated before she placed a hand on the youkai's shoulder. Sesshoumaru looked up at her and much to Kagome's surprise, his eyes were as emotionless as ever but she could see, just beneath the surface, the haunted look in his golden orbs. She gave him a sad, mournful smile.
He looked impassively at her then sighed as he stood up. He wanted very much to lash out at the woman who removed her hand from his shoulder and smiled at him. He wanted very much to blame her for Mizuki's death but knew that, no matter how you looked at it, it was neither Kagome nor Kikyou's fault.
Kagome watched him carefully. He looks colder than ever, she thought sadly as she watched Sesshoumaru who was staring at the ground, staring at the spot where Mizuki last stood.
"Wh-what's that?" Sango's voice cut through the silence. Everyone looked at the entrance to the palace. A small, white figure was slowly walking towards them, flanked by three other figures, two on the side, on at the back.
"That's Kanna!" Inuyasha said, immediately drawing out his Tessaiga.
"Inuyasha, stop," Kikyou said. "Remember: Naraku is dead. She is free and look who are with her."
Everyone watched as Kanna slowly approached them and, in the moonlight, they could make out the three other figures with her. Bringing up the rear was Hakudoshi, naginata slung over his shoulder. Beside Kanna were Kochou and Asuka both of whom carried little bundles in their arms.
"Kanna has been giving me information about Naraku ever since Hakudoshi was freed," Kikyou said softly.
Kochou and Asuka did not go directly to their mistress, instead, they went to where Kagome and Sesshoumaru were standing.
"Lord Sesshoumaru," Asuka said as she and Kochou held out the little bundles to him.
Sesshoumaru's eyes widened infinitesimally as he slowly realized what the little bundles were…
"Oh!" Kagome cried out with surprise as Asuka gently pulled back the covers to reveal the face of an infant girl. Kochou likewise showed Kagome her charge. "Twins!" The miko hanyou didn't know whether this occasion ought to be a happy or a sad one…
By now, everyone gathered round them all. "I forgot about…" Sango said as she gently took the infant girl from Asuka's arms.
"Tsumiko," Asuka said.
"Shigeru," Kochou said, handing Kagome the infant son.
"Sesshoumaru, look," Kagome said, turning to Sesshoumaru.
Sesshoumaru took one glance at Mizuki's son, his son, their son and promptly turned his gaze away, much to everyone's surprise. No, he could not look at them at the moment. They would only remind him of her.
Kagome looked at Inuyasha. He was looking at his brother, a frown on his face. Everyone had the same expressions on their faces, the same thoughts and questions on their minds: would Sesshoumaru disregard his own children all because they would remind him too much of the woman he had lost?
Only time would tell.
"I can't believe it," Lady Takara said, her eyes wide with shock, as she knelt in front of everyone. They were all seated in the dining hall, kneeling at the table. Kikyou had left earlier, taking Kanna and her two shikigami with her. Kagome had just finished telling the inu youkai of what had happened. "Mizuki…gone." She held her two grandchildren in her arms, her eyes fixed on them.
"It can't be helped," Kagome said, sighing.
"Mizuki died a noble and brave death," Sango said, her eyes downcast. "She sacrificed her life to help us kill Naraku…"
Sesshoumaru glanced at them all and then stood up as they began conversing in hushed voices. Kagome watched him out of the corner of her eye. The demon lord walked towards the open veranda. She thought he would look at the moon, like he always did.
Sesshoumaru took one glance at the skies and then turned his gaze away from the moon.
I know, I know, crappy ending, huh? -sigh-I hate it when the story
has to end and this being my first fanfic, seeing it end is
Kagome: I don't know what to say…
A1969: anyways, DON'T give me emotion-filled reviews yet, please, since there's going to be a sequel…soon.
I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed from the first chapter all the way to the last and even those who just recently started reviewing! You guys are the reason why I update, you know!