A/N: Hey all… I've decided to get back to writing, and I've finally gotten some inspiration back. It's been almost a year and I've developed a lot as a writer and a person, so hopefully that'll show in my writing )
Summary: It's been seven years since Sesshoumaru and Rin parted ways. Despite Rin's sadness and longing for the demon lord, she has managed to find a new life – and one that is filled with the sorrow and despair of being a human. Having nothing but her body and mind to help her survive, Rin has been forced to resort to socially unacceptable methods to insure her survival. Now that she has finally settled down and found a home, and a good man who is eager to take her as a wife, a few familiar faces have finally crossed paths with her, and her life, once again, is to be turned upside down.
- Never Say Goodbye -
- Chapter 1 -
The howl of the wolf. Every time I heard its eerie cry, a strange sensation refills my soul. Lying in the fields and staring up at the evening sky, my nights would pass in silence and solitude as the moon illuminated the dark curtains of heaven. Never have I felt so alone. My master's abandonment was no choice, for I knew that fate would strip me of all it had endowed me with. Thinking back, my childhood was one a child should never have to experience, although I never regretted most of it. I was a happy child, or so I wanted to believe. Yes it is true that my family was torn apart, killed my menacing demons during the wars that plagued this country. I would have been next, but then, he came. His magnificence and his grace reflected holiness and an air of majesty. All would look up at him in awe and wonder, praising and glorifying him for his greatness. Lord Sesshoumaru of the Western Lands. He was my savior. Although he himself was a demon lord, he lacked the primitive animalistic demon nature that most had. He was far too great for them. I could still remember his flowing silver hair, cascading down his back and shoulders. Cold, piercing golden eyes, boring into any living creature, instilling fear, and trepidation. He had saved me that day, when fate had stolen my family from me. Carried my weak, frail human body, and tended to my wounds. I was certain I had been dead, and he, being the god he was brought me back from the dreadful fires of hell. That day was seven years ago. I called it my rebirth.
Time never failed to beat away hope. Wandering from village to village, begging for the hospitality of locals was not a life I was used to living. I had always had everything offered to me in those short glorious years with my master; food, protection, shelter, and above all companionship.
I still remember those days of innocence… when I'd look up at him, my chocolate eyes filled with a kind of awe and joy as my breath would catch in my throat and I'd speak his name as though it was the most beautiful thing in the world.
"Lord Sesshoumaru," I mumbled to myself. To this day, that name is burned into the depths of my mind, never leaving me at peace. When I was first left alone, I knew for certain that I'd see my precious Lord again. I knew he'd come for me. But a our childish naivety and hope disintegrates with years of experience and evil that is forced upon us, tainting us, and forcing us to understand the reality of life: that it is cruel.
I figured this experience made me a grown woman, yet there was still so much I did not understand, and still I knew in the depths of my heart, there was a naïve, childish hope, that he would one day return for me, and we would continue on our boundless journeys once again. But my mind told me otherwise. 'Those days are over,' it would say. I didn't know what I wanted more. Hope was comforting, and made me feel a tang of happiness on occasion, but the disappointment that followed outweighed the despair of reality any day. So what should I choose? To live in what may be a false hope, escaping cruelty and despair for a temporary release… or should I accept my fate, and live the life the gods have chosen for me?
I missed him. I missed the way he said my name, quietly, just above a whisper – yet I could hear it no matter how far away he was. My name… it never sounded more beautiful, back in those days.
I turned my head, the irony of my thoughts catching me off guard.
"Tokome," I blinked, regaining my composure and clearing my thoughts. "What are you doing here?"
Tokome smiled, shaking his head slightly to clear the black strands of hair from his eyes. "You shouldn't be out here… it's almost sundown."
I sighed to myself, turning away so he couldn't see me roll my eyes.
"Come on Rin, you know the elders always get fussy when you stay out like this. It's dangerous… there could be demons about!" he exclaimed.
"Please… I've been in much more dangerous situations and in more dangerous times. And THAT was when I was a child," I retorted dryly.
Tokome sighed. He never quite understood me, or my so-called "reckless" ways. He was born and grew up in this tiny village where Lord Sesshoumaru had left me. Coincidentally he was also the nephew of the old couple designated to care for me, as well as the boy who would grow up to fancy me, following me around and watching my every step, as though I was a delicate piece of glass just waiting to be broken. It irritated me to an extent, seeing people fuss over me as though I needed attention. I didn't, really. I was perfectly content with being left alone outside the village, possibly being eaten alive by demons. Yet, I couldn't help but appreciate the amount of care Tokome put into me. Most of the villagers had given up, whispering rude comments amongst themselves. They said things like "She'll get what's coming to her…" or "Let her go into the forest with the animals… she's one of them anyways."
Although I shouldn't care about what these sorry, narrow-minded people think, I can't help but feel anger towards their silly words, despite the fact that they make no sense. I knew these people would never know anything past what they saw with their own eyes, which was very little – but their ignorance still bothered me. They figured every demon was a brainless beast, which knew nothing but blood lust and the pleasure of killing. But I knew different.
Lost in my thoughts, I hardly noticed Tokome's eyes running over me, analyzing my face for some clues as to what I might have been thinking in that moment. Finally turning my gaze to him, he looked away, his cheeks flushing a faint red colour. I smiled to myself.
"Hey, let's go back then," I said to him quietly. "It's getting cold."
He looked back at me, his mouth hanging open slightly. I guess he was surprised I was cooperating so easily this time. "Uhh, right," he replied intelligently.
As we made our way down the hill, I noticed smoke, rising from the center of the village. This was usually where ceremonies or celebration took place.
"A bonfire?" I murmured to myself.
"No, actually…" Tokome began. "Some hunters were in the forest when they caught some kind of toad demon. Apparently he speaks in our tongue… and is quite rude even. The village elders believe he's the cause of the drought, cursing our farms – so they've decided to sacrifice him in order to get the rain back."
I stared at Tokome as he explained. Yes, it was true we were having severe droughts lately, and the weather had been unbearably hot – but any slightly educated person would have known it was impossible for a mere toad demon to curse the entire village and be the cause of the drought. Then again, what more could be expected from such primitive people.
Apparently this village was one of the unlucky ones, which had been completely torn by war, more so than other villages. Shogunite soldiers would frequently travel here, and stop for shelter, food and "pleasurable company." Many of them felt empowered, and decided they had the right to bully poor villagers into giving them whatever they wanted. Over time the village had become completely raped of its wealth, thanks to the constant burden of the armies. But of course, the farmers never dared blame the shogunite for this. Instead they blamed demons for ruining crops, and killing farmers or burning down houses and other villages. It was true that demons were troublesome some of the time, but they were not to blame for the social problems.
We had finally reached the village gates, which were already open for our arrival, or Tokome's arrival I should say. He was very popular in the village, and would probably become its next leader in a few years. He was only twenty now, but commanded the respect of almost every citizen and elder. Even the damn children loved him. Although Lord Sesshoumaru had left me in this particular village when I was still a child, I couldn't bare to stay, waiting day by day for him to return. So I ran away, in hopes of finding my Lord and rejoining him. For almost six years, I wandered around living off the kindness of others, but never did I find Lord Sesshoumaru. Last year however, I was attacked by a couple of bandits who robbed me of everything I owned, beat me, took advantage of me, and left me. Three days later, still battered, Tokome found me by chance while he was on his way back to the village from a hunting trip. Tokome is a genuinely kind person, and would take any helpless person back to his village for help – but it was chance that he recognized me as a childhood friend, and was extra zealous to get me back, and this time, to make me stay for good. And so, I have been living here again, only this time I've been here for over a year, and have almost no intention of leaving – despite the fact that I often have the urge to. I knew the people didn't like me.
Even as we walked towards the fire in the middle of the village, people stared at me and Tokome, wondering what I was doing by his side. Most of the villagers knew Tokome's feelings towards me, and disapproved greatly. It was no secret that he intended on asking me to be his wife sometime in the near future. My adoptive family pushed for it. They knew it would help their reputation, and help them regain their honour. I on the other hand, wasn't really up to it. Of course, even I thought it would be a good match, politically speaking. But I didn't love him, not as anything more than a brother. And even though Tokome liked me, I was sure what he felt wasn't love either. Maybe some kind of childish infatuation, but definitely not love. He thought of me as a sweet and innocent girl, the kind I was when I was still a child. But those days were long gone, and although I may have appeared sweet and innocent on the outside – on the inside, I was far from it.
The majority of people lived in poverty. For a young woman with no parents or husband to protect and provide, there was little choice. I myself have much trouble admitting this, even within my own heart, thinking I would have gone to such a length to earn money. But then I would always say to myself; I had no choice.
Prostitution was extremely common for women past the age of thirteen. Men too were desperate for more than just food and shelter, and so business was always good. Although it was a dreadful thing to submit yourself to, it had some perks. If a customer liked you enough, you might get lucky. He might feed you and shelter you for a while, until he gets bored of you, or until you get stuck, and need to run.
Of course, I never admitted this to Tokome. He had no idea that for nearly six years, I sold my body to survive. The dishonour I would bring to him and my adoptive family would be unbearable. Sometimes, it was best to keep some secrets – at least until they are forgotten.
Nevertheless, as someone in that kind of business, I met many other young women in the same situation as me. Some had started off as slave girls, and have worked their way up to becoming concubines for some of the richest men in Japan. And yet, there was one woman I'll never forget, who claimed she had served even demon lords. Of course, the other women of the whore house would only laugh at her, and whisper amongst themselves, saying how crazy she was to think a demon lord would take a human concubine.
Still, despite the improbability of what she said, I was intrigued. Although I hated myself for it, I wondered what it would have been like to serve the Lord of the Western Lands in such a way.
Once again, I shook the thoughts away as I felt Tokome gently place his hand on my shoulder.
"Are you alright?" He asked, his eyes drawn together in concern.
"Yes, I'm fine," I replied weakly.
"Are you sure?" he asked again. "You seemed to be in your own little world for a while there… you didn't hear a word I said."
I blushed, embarrassed at my wandering mind. "Sorry…" I apologized humbly, casting my gaze towards the ground.
"Behold here! The demon, which has cursed these lands, killed our crops, and caused us great despair for weeks!" a voice shouted over the crowds of people gathered around the fire. I recognized him as the leader of the village hunters - a brute man, with little brains or common sense.
I pushed my way through the crowds, trying to get a closer look. No doubt it had caught my attention – this demon that had apparently caused the drought.
As I approached I could hear a familiar, toad-like voice, cursing at the man in a familiar, esteemed and pompous fashion.
My heart began to beat quicker as I pushed harder through the crowd, desperately trying to get close enough to see the occupant of the voice.
'It can't be… It's been seven years… and how...why??' I asked myself as my mind raced miles.
"Get your hands off me you FILTHY human! I'll have you pay for this! Just you wait and see… when my lord gets here he'll have you all massacred like the worthless creatures you are!!" the tiny voice threatened without fear.
Finally reaching the fire itself, I scanned the area, shielding my eyes from the sparks jumping from the dancing red flames before me.
My chocolate eyes widened, shock filling my every limb. I could feel my skin pale as the blood drained from my face.
"N-no, it can't be!" I stuttered, my mouth working without my brain's permission.
It was when I said this that the small toad demon stopped his chattering and turned to me, he in turn becoming visibly filled with shock.
"Rin!" he exclaimed immediately, "It's you!"
I was now speechless. My mouth felt dry, as though I had spent weeks in the desert. My mind in that instant was completely blank… blank and void of all words and names but one: