My Brother's Eyes
My brother's eyes are closed.
I know it's him. There's no mistaking it. His hair gives it away, in spite of the unsightly canine ears sprouting from the crown of his head.
He disgusts me even now.
I saw him once before. He was a pup, not even forming words yet. I went to see him to—honor—our father. My father. I wanted nothing to do with this child, this half-breed offspring my father created with his mortal woman. But to honor my father's memory, I visited the child.
He looks now as he did then.
He was sleeping—peaceful, at rest—in his mother's arms. Barely old enough to be called an infant. I despised him. And I despised her. Didn't they know what they done? What they were the cause of?
I would have killed him there, and her as well, but I am not without honor. Such a thing would have been unseemly, even for a demon of my rank.
Her manners were irreproachable. She treated me with dignity and respect, while the members of the household in which she lived cowered in the corners.
I would have preferred that she cower.
But she didn't.
Lady Izayoi bowed. She welcomed me. She offered herself as my servant and begged for forgiveness for the death of my father—of her husband.
I wanted nothing to do with her or the sleeping creature in her arms.
The sleeping creature sleeps still, even now, though no longer in the loving arms of a woman but pinned by a priestess's arrow to an ancient tree.
The word had come to me on the battlefield that my brother had been trapped thus, that he had given his heart to a mortal woman who would fasten him to this tree and leave him to hang for all eternity.
Had he no care for his father's name?
Our father, so great a demon that he needed no name. The Great Dog Demon. The Dog General. The greatest Demon Lord of the West. And there hangs his half-wit son, tricked by the wiles of a human woman, displayed for all Japan to see the great power that is the legacy of the Great Dog Demon.
I know not what angers me more. The fact that my father gave up his life for this worthless half-breed or the fact that I shall never be able to kill him to avenge my father's life.
For the creature hanging on this tree was the cause of my father's death. It was to him my father rushed that fateful night, while he still dripped with the blood of his wounds from Ryokotsusei. My father sacrificed his life to save this half-bred brother of mine.
Why would my father give his heart to a human?
Why would my brother do the same?
Humans are petty and weak. They resort to meaningless violence. They have no honor.
"Stop! You there!"
The voice rings out through the forest clear and piercing. I cast an unconcern glance to my side.
A woman stands near, arrow notched in a bow. She wears priestess garb, and I wonder momentarily if it is the priestess who destroyed my brother.
For a human's standards, I don't suppose she is disagreeable to the eye. She is very small, but she presents herself with confidence. She is missing an eye, though.
"What do you want here?" the priestess cries out. "What do you want with Inuyasha?"
I do not answer the priestess. My claws are tingling with venom. I'd like nothing more to kill her for the shame she and her kind had brought upon my father's great name.
"If you intend to release Inuyasha, you shall be unsuccessful!"
Her arrow did not shake as she aimed it at my head.
"Release him?" I ask. "Why would I release him?"
"I know not," the priestess says. "But even if you were to try, you would fail. The seal upon him is set and cannot be undone, for he was pinned there by my sister."
I face her fully. "Your sister?" I narrow my eyes at her. "You are not the priestess, then."
"No," the woman says. "I am Kaede. My sister, Kikyo, pinned Inuyasha to that tree after he betrayed her. After he betrayed us all."
"He betrayed you, you say."
I look back at my brother, hanging lifelessly against the tree as though the bark would swallow him whole. His expression, his face so like his mother's, is calm and serene.
"He made us believe he was our friend," the Priestess Kaede says. "Then, he turned against my sister and wounded her so fiercely she would later die from it. But before she passed on, she sealed him to this tree."
"Why did she not kill him?"
"She loved him." Priestess Kaede lowers her bow. "What have you to do with him?"
I don't answer that.
I stand and stare at my brother's face. His eyes are closed. His face is peaceful. And I find it hard to believe that he was capable of ever betraying anyone. If his eyes were open, I imagine they would have the same expression as my father's did. That same weakness.
I do not understand it.
The priestess is still speaking. I am not listening to her, although some of her words ring in my ears.
"My sister is dead, and Inuyasha will never wake."
"Such a thing is not likely."
"What are you saying?"
I ignore the priestess and walk back into the woods. She is saying something to my back, but I still ignore her. What can a human have to say to me? I am the Lord of the West now, in my father's place. Humans mean nothing to me.
But the same was not true of my father and, obviously, not of my brother.
Inuyasha betray a human woman?
Such a thing is not likely.
Not when I imagine his eyes are so much like my father's.