AN: to those people who think that the story has been too rushed, I apologize. When I wrote the last chapter, things were getting really messed up in my life and I just didn't have the heart to write out details. Sorry about the rushed story! takes a deep bow

Youkai Market

Chapter Three

Kagome stared at the fire flickering in front of her, the cold stone floor below her hardly giving her the warmth she needed. She had taken Akuran's hand without a second thought, and somehow managed to forget that it was mid-winter and a blizzard had just crossed the western lands a few days ago. Her brain must have been damaged from staying in that cell for too long.

Akuran had disappeared after dropping her off in this cave, hardly giving her any time before waving his hand and starting a fire. So she had stayed alone, curled up as close to the fire as she could get without getting burned. Time didn't pass for her anymore, everything melted against the chilly air surrounding her skin.

"Kagome, I've brought back some food for you in case you're starved. It's true that you haven't eaten for quite a while," Akuran grinned, flashing his fangs as he dropped some deer meat on the floor.

She raised an eyebrow at him, wondering where on earth he had gotten a deer in winter.

"I have my methods."

Kagome hungrily devoured the deer meat, not leaving a trace behind and cleaning the blood on her lips with her tongue. It sure had been a feast after being starved for so long.

"Say…Akuran…you say that you are the guardian, but what if the slave knows about you and purposely defies his or her master? Would you still step in?" she asked.

"I do everything within reason. Trust me, I know when slaves are unworthy to be saved," he snorted, disgusted with the past examples he had had the displeasure of dealing with.

Then it became quite awkward, as the two neither talked nor looked at one another, both of their eyes glued to the fire.

"Sesshoumaru will track you down. Even if he can't, he's tracked me down before when I hid in Kaede-chan's hut." Kagome whispered, though reluctant to acknowledge the fact that Sesshoumaru could easily find her. "He has the mate-searching stone that can easily find me."

"Ah, that little annoying thing. Don't worry about it, it doesn't actually search for you, it merely glows white when he nears a female worthy of being his mate. It won't necessarily be you."

She nodded; satisfied that Sesshoumaru wouldn't easily find her unless he was near her.

"I'll take you to my place; I'm sure you'll love it." Akuran smirked, somehow awakening an uncomfortable feeling from Kagome.


Then for the next few days, they simply traveled. Akuran purposely took her through places that looked good enough to ravish. Who ever said that winter was not beautiful? She saw iced lakes and rivers surrounded by a barrier of pure white snow, decorated with a few leafless trees here and there. What never crossed her mind was the hell that Sesshoumaru was going through because of her disappearance.


Sesshoumaru slammed a fist down upon the wooden table, the poor table crushed under his power. Papers went flying everywhere and the ink bottle spilled. Damn that woman! He had sent scouts out; looking for any traces of a woman with the teardrop nestled upon her forehead. All of them had failed, and the stupid stone that the counsel had given him had proved to be useless.

Within a few days, he had traveled far and wide, visiting every place he knew of. He even lowered his pride to ask Inuyasha and Kikyo, who had both snorted and slammed the door upon hearing his question. Though he had had the urge to gut those two, he felt that searching out Kagome was more important.

Occasionally the stone would release a soft glow and he would rush towards the destined location, only to find another woman. He growled at the thought; why in the world couldn't the stone just pinpoint one woman!?

Sesshoumaru had practically searched every corner of the four lands, from top to bottom and inside out, he had even considered having the youkai flip the earth to see if Kagome was hiding underground. That idea had of course, been rejected by the four lord counsel.

He had even questioned Nasako about that strange Akuran who had taken her away. The hime's maid had never heard her mention such a person and assured him that she had seen no one with wings meet up with Kagome before.

Then there was the trouble with community. People started questioning him, him, the lord. How dare those impudent humans and youkai!? Rumors flew around the four lands that the Lord of the Western lands didn't have enough power to have his mate-to-be leashed at his side, rumors that the said to be beautiful woman had abandoned Sesshoumaru for the embrace of another male.

His reputation was forever ruined.

All because of that damn woman by the name of Kagome.


Kagome gaped, no, not gaped; it wouldn't be enough to describe the look on Kagome's face. She was…astounded by the scene Akuran's home created.

She couldn't even understand how Akuran called it home.

It was no home, it was heaven.

It seemed that even in winter, Akuran had the power to create a shield that blocked the outer world from his home. He had the power to stop time from flowing within the barrier, so that time was always spring.

There were flowers, of all sizes in colors blooming in the area. Birds chirped and butterflies danced, a little stream running through the fields. Then when the stream ended, there was a huge lake. Beside that lake was a cottage, the small wooden architecture delicate and pleasing to the eye.

This was the type of house she was content to see, a small house in a large flower field.

When he gently took her hand and led her towards the cottage, Kagome simply allowed him to drag her there, barely any resistance in her steps. All the while she was enchanted by the scene around her, not even caring when Akuran pushed her through the door and inside the cottage. Her eyes barely noticed the differences until Akuran shut the wooden door and the scene disappeared from before her eyes.

"Now, we talk about what you're going to do while you're here," Akuran flashed a grin, his eerie golden eyes seeming to pierce through her.

He made her skin crawl, and she suddenly felt the urge to cower and back away from him. This was wrong, she knew it, and perhaps she shouldn't have come with him at all. The person before her was totally different from the one who had 'rescued' her from Sesshoumaru. Akuram now emitted an aura that suffocated her. It wasn't evil like Naraku's, but it was icy cold and seemed to freeze her on spot.

Then as quickly as that feeling had come, it evaporated so quickly that Kagome couldn't decide whether that feeling earlier had only been her imagination.

"Come now, sit down across me,"

When Kagome came to her senses again, Akuran was already sitting by the mahogany table, motioning for her to sit on the chair directly in front of him. The earlier feeling was gone, and looking at the lopsided smile upon Akuran's face, Kagome couldn't choose to not trust him.

She was so engrossed in her own thoughts that she missed the lazy, cat-like smile that flashed on his fade that meant nothing more than trouble.

Dear little Kagome, you'll be trapped here with me. My little bird Kagome, ensnared in my grasp. That baka inu would never find you here, in my world. Soon, you'll become my mate.


Sesshoumaru rushed towards the place that someone had last spotted Kagome; it was barren ground, with only snow to decorate that bare land. He smelled the scent of illusion here, immediately knowing that the user of illusion was Akuran. What was his purpose of using illusion in a field like this? Why did he create an illusion, no doubt, for Kagome to see? Where were they now?

So many questions and no answers, even a great lord like him was getting frustrated. He didn't even know why he was chasing that damn woman. There were many others who would willingly become his mate, without kicking and snarling like Kagome had. Maybe he was attracted to her spirit? It had been ages he had met someone who dared to defy him.

"Kagome Higurashi, you will come back to me and become the lady of the West, I'll make sure of it. As for that little bastard Akuran, he will be dead as soon as he is within my sight." Sesshoumaru swore as he walked onwards, looking for traps that were sure to spring.


Akuran looked as Kagome fooled around with the deer that had appeared one that he had raised.

Ahhh, rather fast for him. Intruders are never good; don't you think so, Sesshoumaru-sama?

"Kagome, I'll be leaving for a while. Although it is usually not possible, if anyone comes in, keep them here until I come back," he gave her a smirk and left with a swish of his bright red hair.

Kagome stared after him, her eyes glazed over. It wasn't until Akuran left that she snapped out of her daze. She looked down at herself, what was wrong with her lately? Why did she always seem to enter a sort of…trance when looking at Akuran?

Was there really something wrong with Akuran?

"Sesshoumaru," she whispered, now somehow hoping that he would come quickly to take her out of here.

The whole place was starting to make her feel uneasy. Although at first she had loved the place, very soon she had questions. Hunger didn't claim her and she hardly needed any sleep. Not to say that she needed much sleep as a youkai, but now she never seemed to tire.

The whole joyfulness of the place seemed so false, and a few times after she had wandered off, there had been rather suspicious points in the place. Akuran wouldn't allow her out of the barrier; she began to question where this place really was.


"Look who's here. To what do I owe the pleasure, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Akuran grinned with a mock smile, though his eyes were sharp and alert.

"Give her back to me," Sesshoumaru stiffly demanded.

"Give who?" Akuran continued to push Sesshoumaru, testing his limits.

"Kagome," Sesshoumaru clenched his fist, yearning to spill the blood of the person before him.


"Give the damn woman back to me!" Sesshoumaru snarled, red tinting his eyes.

"Well, well, a tad bit inpatient aren't we? Do you honestly think that I would allow you to see Kagome so easily? After all, she was mistreated by her…master." Akuran laughed.

Sesshoumaru swiped at Akuran's disappearing form; another illusion. His mocking laughter echoed in his sensitive ears. He cursed the damn 'guardian' when he heard the land beneath him shift. There was movement directly beneath where he stood, and everywhere surrounding him. A sick twisted feeling rose in the pit of his stomach, it wasn't going to be pretty.

"Well you see, I wouldn't want to leave dear little Kagome alone in my world for too long. Who knows what will happen? Perhaps she will discover the little flaw in my illusion and escape from my grasps. I'll leave you here to play with a few of my pets," Akuran laughed and gave a mock bow, melting into the shadows once again.

Sesshoumaru snarled when he spotted himself to be surrounded by ice statues. No, not exactly statues, they were alive and looking extremely menacing at the moment, advancing and closing up on him.

"Damn you Akuran!"

An irritating laugh was all he heard.

Inside his barrier, Kagome looked around, confused. Was it just her imagination, or had she just heard Sesshoumaru? Must be illusions, Akuran had already assured her that Sesshoumaru would never be able to find his way here.


Kagome grinned and turned around, smiling like an idiot when she spotted the return of Akuran. Seriously, why was she acting like a teenage girl?

"Where did you go?" she asked with a sing-song voice.

"Nothing that is any of your business," Kagome wondered at the cold voice. "Don't worry about it, I've attended to it." Then his charming smile covered everything up again.

A mask.

That was what the smile was.

She was finding Akuran to be more and more suspicious.

"Sa, don't worry about those minor things, I'll show you a place within these barriers that you can go visit. That way, you won't be bored while I'm away," he gave her a wink, gently holding her hands and leading her down a path that she had never noticed to be there.

"Why do you seem so tired?"

"Tired? How can I be tired?" Akuran assured her with a wavering smile.

He was damn close to being spotted by Kagome. Just before she had ventured to a place she should have not have gone, he had returned just in time. With a flick of his elegant claws, he had managed to add some juice to his illusion before Kagome lost interest in staying with him.

His power was currently completely drained.

But he had confidence, that this new illusion would keep Kagome occupied for a while, just about long enough so that he had the chance to forever trap her in here with him. Such a lonely life as a guardian. He had waited long enough for a mate, and he wasn't going to allow Sesshoumaru to take her away.

Kagome gasped at the waterfall in front of her, surrounded by a circle of smooth boulders. The bottom of the lake where the waterfall ended seemed to glitter under the sun, and once she neared it she found that there were colorful pebbles underneath the water surface.

"Akuran, why haven't I seen this place before? While you were away, I've been searching through the whole place, and I never saw this place." Her eyes narrowed a little bit, she just had to be cautious with everyone around her.

"That was because I locked parts of this place so that you wouldn't find everything in one day and quickly lose interest," Akuran placed a claw next to his lips, as if signifying the secrecy of such a fact.

A few more strings to be pulled, and then she would fall in his web. Well, well, he had planned for this for far too long. The deal with Naraku was certainly worth it. Who cared about the Shikon jewel? Naraku could have it, and he would have his mate.

"Come now Kagome, let's go back to dinner."

Kagome nodded her head, allowing Akuran to take a hold of her hand and lead her back to the little cottage.


AN: so the plot un-folds