A1969: yo! A1969 here with, of course, another story. But, this time, it isn't just mine. This story if co-written by Maiden of the Heavens, too! ;)

So, direct to the point, Inuyasha and all related characters, logos, etcetera, etcetera, are owned by Rumiko Takahashi. The OC Murasaki is mine and Nicada-Yamie belongs to Maiden of the Heavens.

Summary:

Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha's half-sister Nicada's palace has been attacked by unknown enemies from the past thought dead. Now, Nicada and a strange human girl must journey to the west in order to find Sesshoumaru and find out who is responsible for everything. InuKag, MirSan, (?) SessOC, Nicada(?)

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Chapter One:

:-The Storm-:

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-Nicada-

Screaming.

I could hear nothing but screaming.

And the sound of rain falling as the night wore on…

And the cries of women and children and the crackle of flame that leapt into the blazing sky, throwing sparks of light into the heavens. I could hear nothing but the shouts of my soldiers as they tried to defend the blazing castle, the clash of sword against sword as the guards battled in vain…

I myself was drenched in sweat; a shallow cut on my forehead bled, the scent of my own blood permeating the air. The bruises on my body throbbed incessantly against me, hampering my ability to fight.

I was tired.

I wanted to stop.

But I knew I mustn't.

To stop now would mean certain death.

"Princess!"

I glanced up at the person who had called my name. One of my faithful guards was running towards me, multiple cuts all over his body, his black hair tousled from the fight.

"Kobai!" I gasped as I slashed through the demon that blocked my path.

"You must escape!" he gasped as he collapsed in front of me.

I rushed to his side. "No!" I protested. "I am the lady of my people. I am their lady and I die with them!"

"N-no," he stammered. I gasped. There was a large gash on his chest that ran all the way to his stomach. "You…you must escape." He cringed. "You…mustn't die. You must survive. If…you survive…so…does…the clan!" He gasped then his eyes rolled in their sockets and he was dead.

I closed my eyes. Too many lives had already been lost…

I glanced around me. Demons were everywhere; they ravaged the castle and destroyed the life I had built for myself and for my people…

I heard a roar behind me. I spun around to find myself face to face with a dragon demon. Though it was not powerful, I could not defeat it for I was too weak…

"Tell me," I snarled, pointing my sword at it. "Who is responsible for this attack?"

The demon laughed. "You are in no position to make demands, princess," it said in a cavernous voice. It opened its jaws and a glowing white light came from its mouth, illuminating the darkened palace grounds. And then, in that white light, an image of a man filled my mind. His silver hair blew around his face, around his cold golden eyes, covering the Prussian blue crescent moon on his forehead…

I had to see him again.

"I will not be defeated!"

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-Murasaki-

I was sure I was dreaming.

For one thing, my mother and father were fighting, something which they never did before, for another, I could hear what they were fighting about, despite the fact that I was asleep in my chamber. It would seem that the door to their chamber was ajar for their quarters were right across from my room in the hall.

"You cannot be serious, my lord!" my mother was saying.

It was dark in the castle, quiet. There was no other sound except for mother and father's voices.

"I must do what I must do," father answered. It seems that they were trying, without success, to keep their voices low. I strained to hear more, turning on my futon so I faced the door.

"No! There are other ways to win this war," mother hissed.

"I see no other way," father snapped. "Let us face the facts, Aoi, the enemy has gained the upper hand. If I do not do this, Subarashii castle will fall."

"She is your daughter!" mother cried, no longer trying to be quiet.

My blood froze.

Seeing as father had mostly sons…they were talking about me.

"She is no daughter of mine!" I did not know what to feel then…perhaps…I felt…bewildered. This was…a hurtful dream.

"She is my daughter," mother challenged.

"You know she has been marked down since she was born!" father half-shouted. "She was chosen…no, made for this and you are aware of it."

"No!" mother cried out. "You cannot allow this! I cannot believe you would listen to your foolish advisers! They want nothing more than power and—"

"And you want nothing more than a daughter!" father snarled. I could almost picture his face—eyes narrowed, teeth bared.

Mother was silent. "There is another way, my lord," she said softly. "I am sure of it."

"There is no other way," father said. "Listen to me, Aoi, if we do this, not only will our enemies be defeated, we will have the power to bring even the demon lords to their knees!"

"At the price of her life?!"

I no longer wished to listen and I presently found myself drifting into the darkness of sleep.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Murasaki." The voice was gentle and low, calling me back from the world of dreams.

"Murasaki." I felt a hand on my shoulder accompanied by the rustling of silk as the silken sleeve of the hand's owner brushed against my cheek.

"Murasaki." The voice was persistent now, almost urgent.

My eyes flew open. I looked up and saw the face of my mother looking down at me with worry in her eyes.

"M…mother?" I yawned. My mother was usually a most beauteous lady with an oval face, hair as dark as night and skin as pale as a cloud. But tonight, by the light of the low burning brazier, I could see that her face was distorted with worry.

"I had a strange dream about you and father," I said, sitting up. "I dreamt you were arguing about me."

Something flickered in her brown eyes. "A dream," she murmured quietly. She was silent for a moment, thinking. "A foolish dream. Murasaki, listen to me."

The tone in her voice made me alert. "Mother…is something wrong?"

"Murasaki…you must leave." Her eyes were hard and her tone was urgent.

"Leave?" I asked, puzzled. "Why?"

"Do not ask any more questions," she said. "You must leave. Now. Get out of bed." She pulled me by the arm until I was standing. I pulled my arm away from her.

"Mother…what is wrong? Why are you asking me to me to leave?" I asked.

She was silent, refusing to answer my question. But my intuition clicked. "It wasn't a dream…was it?" I asked her.

"No," she said. "You must leave, Murasaki, before morning."

It wasn't a dream…but it didn't feel real. "Why…what is happening, mother? Your conversation with father…"

"It is not important now," she said. She went over to a rack where my kimono rested and brought the robe to me together with my obi. She handed them to me; she then reached into the sash of her kimono and drew out a bag of gold coins. She thrust it into my arms as well. "Now go," she said. "Go to the stables and go."

"Mother…what is going on?"

She was silent for a moment, and then she stared at the door, her eyes narrowed slightly. "Wait here." She left the room, sliding the door softly behind her. Although the questions formed in my mind, I ignored them and changed into the dark blue kimono. Despite the fact that the obi was long and very hard to tie, I managed it, though it was clumsily done. I was tying my hair into a ponytail when mother came in, a box in her hands.

"Here," she said, handing me the box. "Take it. Oh, my Murasaki, I should have told you sooner, instead I have kept my silence."

"Tell me what, mother?" I asked. "What is going on?"

She sighed. "The truth," she muttered. "I should have told you the truth."

"About what?"

She stared into my eyes for a second. "When you have left the castle grounds," she said quietly. "Go to mount Ozura in the West. There is a shrine there. Seek out a priest named Hotori and he will tell you all. Now, go!"

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-Kagome-

The day was rainy.

I held my umbrella above me so it wouldn't hit Shippou, who was perched on my shoulder. I stared around me, at the falling rain. Ahead of me, their outlines softened by the falling rain, were Miroku and Sango, both sharing a blue umbrella.

"Inuyasha," I called. "You'll catch a cold if you walk in the rain."

Inuyasha, who was too stubborn to share an umbrella, snorted. "Keh!" he said, using his favorite expression. "A little rain's no big deal."

"It'll be a big deal if you catch a cold," I warned.

"My body's special, ya hear?" he said, glaring at me from over his shoulder. "I'm not like you humans, needing shelter from a little thing like rain."

"I hope it rains on the night of the new moon," I said, rolling my eyes. "Really, Inuyasha, just because you're a half-demon, doesn't mean you're better than us."

"So true," Miroku agreed, looking at Inuyasha.

"Everyone knows demons are superior to humans," Inuyasha said.

"Hm…" I said, a mock-thoughtful look on my face. "Inuyasha, we already know that demons like Sesshoumaru and Kouga are superior to those with human blood."

"How true, Kagome," Sango said, catching on. "They're faster, stronger…"

"Better looking," I added, smirking as soon as Inuyasha stopped in his tracks, the rain falling off him.

"What…was that?" he demanded. By now, all of us had stopped to look at Inuyasha, who was glaring at me. "You mean to say…you think…that…that Sesshoumaru and Kouga are…good-looking?"

"Of course," I said, shrugging. "After all, aren't they demons?"

He growled. "Fine, fine," he muttered. "I take back what I said earlier."

I smiled sweetly at him. "Good. Now get under here before you catch a cold!" He willingly obliged and stood next to me. I raised the umbrella higher.

"Hey…Kagome…" he suddenly said, as we continued walking on.

"Hm?"

"You don't…really think that Sesshoumaru and Kouga are good-looking, do you?" he asked with hesitance in his voice.

I nearly stopped in my tracks. "Geez, Inuyasha," Shippou said, sighing. "To be frank, they're actually better looking than you."

Inuyasha glared at him.

"Well, Inuyasha, truth be told, I do think they're good-looking," I said, shrugging. "But, in my opinion, you're much better-looking than they are." I grinned at him.

"Keh!" He looked up at the sky, his nose in the air. I could tell from the way his jaw was set that he was pleased with my answer. A moment later, he stopped in his tracks, his eyes darting to the path up ahead. I inadvertently walked ahead of him, leaving him in the rain.

"Inuyasha, what's wrong?" I asked.

"There's something coming towards us," he answered.

Miroku looked at where Inuyasha was gazing. "Huh?" he said. "I don't sense any demonic aura, do you, Kagome?"

I shook my ahead. "No," I replied. The area was clean and pure.

We looked ahead. A second later, there came the shouts of men and then a white horse appeared on the path ahead. On the horse rode a figure wearing a black cloak, the hood down, the cowl covering the wearer's face. The rider was egging the horse faster in order to outrun the men chasing it. The men were bandits; their swords were raised in the air as they shouted at the rider of the horse.

"Get back here!" they shouted in unison.

"And hand over the goods!" another added.

One of the bandits held up a bow and an arrow and pointed it at the rider. I gasped as the bandit took aim. "Inuyasha!" I cried out. But before anyone could react, the bandit released the bowstring. The arrow sped towards the rider, but luckily, the arrow was badly aimed. It missed the rider and struck the horse in its flank.

The horse neighed and reared on its hind legs as the blood gushed from its side, flowing to the ground like the rain. For a moment, we watched as the rider struggled with his horse but then he slipped and fell to the ground, unconscious. The horse too fell to the ground, the blood gushing from its side, its legs twitching

"Inuyasha!" I cried out again as the bandits neared the unfortunate rider.

"I'm on it!" he replied as he dashed off, a red streak amidst the falling rain. We hurried to catch up to him.

"Hey you bastards!" Inuyasha shouted at the bandits who were nearing the unconscious rider. The bandits looked at him.

"Attack!" one of them, probably their leader, cried out.

Immediately all the bandits ran towards Inuyasha and I gasped as they narrowly avoided trampling the unconscious rider.

Inuyasha's bare fist made contact with one of the bandits' stomach, sending him flying through the air. "Kill him!" they shouted, almost in unison.

"Lemme see you try!" Inuyasha snarled as he pulled out his Tessaiga. The bandits stopped for a second, but then they rushed on. "Idiots!" Inuyasha shouted. Using his Tessaiga, he struck the ground in front of the vagabonds, narrowly missing them by a hair's breadth, and sending chunks of rock flying into the air.

"Gah!" Inuyasha's last move did it. The bandits turned on their tail and ran off, screaming obscenities about Inuyasha.

"Inuyasha, are you okay?" I asked as we approached him. "You're not hurt, are you?"

"I'm fine, Kagome," he said.

"But I don't think this one is." We looked to where Sango was. She was kneeling in front of the fallen rider, her umbrella held over the poor soul's limp form. Miroku was standing aside, next to the dead horse, the rain falling on him.

"Is he alright?" I asked as I made my way towards her.

Sango carefully pulled back the hood as I knelt beside her, feeling the mud on my knees. "Oh!" she said. "He is a she." We looked at her. She looked no older than fifteen. She was pale, her lips lightly tinged with blue from the cold. She was petite, even under the cloak. Her raven hair was pulled back in a ponytail and her eyes showed just how long and thick her eyelashes were. Her face was streaked with dirt as was the black cloak she wore. She looked delicate, but there was something about her that also suggested strength.

"Poor girl," Sango mused. She looked down at the girl's sleeve. "No wonder they were after her," she went on as she pulled a drawstring bag that stuck out from the girl's sleeve. She held it for me to see. It made a tinkling sound. She carefully opened the bag and her eyebrows shot up in astonishment. The bag was filled with gold coins.

"She was carrying a large sum of money with her," Sango said, closing the bag.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Inuaysha said. "We saved her life, now let's go."

"What?" I said, incredulous. "We can't just leave her here, Inuyasha."

"It's none of our business, now let's go!" he said. "We have Naraku and the Sacred Jewel to worry about." I understood why he was worrying. There were only three shards left—the ones with Kohaku and Kouga. A few weeks earlier, we received word that Kohaku had escaped from Naraku and was hiding somewhere, much to Sango's dismay. Inuyasha had also tried coaxing Kouga into handing over his Sacred Jewel shards but to no avail. Though I understood why Inuyasha was worrying, it was no reason to abandon the poor girl.

"We have to help her, Inuyasha," I said. "And besides, we have to find shelter too. The rain's getting worse."

"She has a point," Sango agreed. She carefully eased the girl's arms around her shoulders and lifted her off the ground, the girl now slung on her back. We couldn't very well entrust her to Miroku, who might try something, or to Inuyasha, who looked annoyed.

Inuyasha growled. "Fine," he muttered. "But when the rain stops, we're looking for Naraku, got it?"

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"Are you sure this is such a good idea, Miroku?" I asked him as Sango eased the unconscious girl close to the fire to warm up. I glanced around the empty hut. "The owners might be coming back, you know."

"Look around you, Kagome," Miroku said as he sat across the fire, right next to the girl. "This place hasn't been used in quite a while."

I glanced around the hut. There were cobwebs on the ceiling and dust on the shelves. Outside, the rain increased in strength and the wind howled. "I think there's going to be a storm," I muttered, hearing the howl of the wind.

Sango nodded as she sat next to Miroku. "Looks like it." Kirara mewed on her shoulder, not liking the prospect of a storm and Shippou snuggled closer to me.

I sighed as I sat down across from Miroku and Sango, clutching Shippou closer to me. I looked at the girl. In the firelight, her pale skin seemed flushed and the blue tinge in her lips was gone, thanks to the warmth.

"I wonder who she is," I mused as I stared at her.

"We'll find out when she wakes up," Miroku said.

At that moment, the screen of the hut rustled and Inuyasha came in, dripping wet from the rain. "Inuyasha, where've you been?" I asked as he stared drying himself off like a dog, shaking his body and sending flecks of water everywhere. "Hey!" I cried out as the fire hissed from the water. "Watch it, Inuyasha!"

He ignored that and sat down next to me. "Anyway, where've you been?" I asked.

"Just scouting the area," he answered. "Making sure there're no demons out there. With this weather, it'll be hard to know if there're any troublemakers out there. Besides…"

"Besides what?"

He shook his head. "Nothing." But Miroku was narrowing his eyes slightly at Inuyasha.

"Oh!" Sango suddenly exclaimed. "She's waking up!" She was huddled over the unconscious girl, whose eyelids were flickering.

I made my way next to Sango and knelt beside her. Soon enough the girl's eyes flickered open and I blinked in surprise. Her eyes were a stunning shade of lavender, something I've never seen before.

"Are you alright?" Sango asked, not at all perturbed by the girl's strange eyes.

The girl looked from me to Sango, her eyes growing wide. She immediately sat up and looked around, worried. "It's okay," I reassured. "There's nothing here to harm you."

Her eyes landed on Inuyasha and she looked doubtful. She backed away slowly. Boy, she sure was timid!

"B…bandits," she muttered, looking around again.

"They're gone," I said. I looked at Inuyasha then back at her. "He rescued you from them."

She looked at Inuyasha for a moment. "Thank you."

"Keh," he said.

I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Anyway, he's Inuyasha. My name is Kagome. This is Sango, Miroku, Shippou and Kirara."

She hesitated for a moment. "My name is Murasaki," she said at last, still hesitant. I nodded. Her name went well with those eyes of hers. She wrapped her damp cloak tighter around her and her eyes widened, no doubt noticing how light her sleeves were.

"Oh," Sango said, pulling out the drawstring bag from her sleeve and handing it to Murasaki. "Here. It fell out earlier."

Murasaki took it, still hesitant, as though expecting us to attack. "Thank you," she said at last.

I smiled at her. "Tell us, Murasaki, why were you out on your own?"

"Obviously, a well-born lady such as yourself would have been escorted by guards," Miroku suddenly said, his eyes fixed on her.

Well-born lady?

Miroku must have read the puzzlement in both Sango's and my eyes, because he suddenly spoke up. "It's quite obvious that she's a well-born lady," he said, sighing as though he were trying to explain things to simpletons. "After all, look at the way she sits and I assure you that only ladies with influential families have such smooth hands."

Murasaki flushed and remained quiet. "And you know this because…?" Sango's voice trailed off suggestively. Of course, Miroku was such a womanizer that I was certain his conquests included empresses themselves.

Miroku shrugged.

"Yes, he's right," Murasaki said, sighing. "I am the daughter of the lord of Subarashii castle but I…ran away."

I raised my eyebrows at her. "Why?" I asked.

She hesitated. "I just…did." Something told me I shouldn't pry so, instead, I nodded. "Has anyone seen my stallion?" she asked. "I must leave."

"Your…horse…died," Sango said hesitantly.

Murasaki was silent. "I see," she said, nodding slowly. "Then, might I borrow one of your horses? I'm in a hurry."

"We don't have any horses," Inuyasha said, folding his arms as though the thought of us riding horses was offensive to him.

"Besides—" I said. I didn't finish. At that exact moment, there was a flash of lightning in the sky, followed by a loud clap of thunder.

Shippou screamed and launched himself from my arms and onto Inuyasha's head, holding on to his ears for dear life. Inuyasha cried out in surprise and tried to pry Shippou off, to no avail. Kirara hissed while Miroku and Sango both looked worried. Murasaki let out a gasp and backed against a wall, fear written all over her face.

"—it's best if you stay with us here for a while," I finished. "We think a storm is coming up outside."

Her eyes widened in shock. "No," she protested. "I must get to Mount Ozura soon."

"Mount Ozura?" Miroku said. "Isn't that in the West?"

Murasaki nodded. "Yes. As you know, it is very far away, and I must get there as soon as possible."

"You should let this storm abate first, though," I said, looking out the wooden bars of the hut's window. Murasaki bit her lower lip, a worried look in her eyes as she followed my gaze to the window. She was silent for a moment, her eyebrows meeting in the middle.

"Alright then," she said at last, sighing. "Thank you for your offer."

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-Nicada-

I ran.

Through the falling torrent of rain, I ran.

Behind me, I could hear the hordes of demons giving chase.

"Damn," I muttered. My strength was wavering, my body weakening, and my speed slowing. Was there no end to the chase? The night rain fell on me, impairing my vision, making me shiver with the cold. I suddenly felt something slimy wind around my ankle making me trip. I fell to the ground, but I wasted no time in severing the appendage that anchored me to the ground. I stood up and ran once again.

With growing horror, I realized that it wasn't merely these demons that were chasing me. Exhaustion was getting closer and closer as well…

The cuts on my body throbbed unpleasantly. I could feel blood gushing from the wound on my arm which throbbed unpleasantly as each drop of rain made contact with it.

I wanted to give up then and there.

My speed slowed.

An image suddenly filled my mind with the same brilliance as a sunrise. I could see him in my mind again. His cold golden eyes were narrowed at me, as though questioning whether or not I would give up, his silver hair fell around his face and his bangs swayed against the crescent moon on his forehead as he slowly turned his face away from my weakness.

No.

I was not weak.

I would prove it to him.

I increased my speed and ran, letting the raindrops fall on me…

The storm increased in intensity and lightning flashed in the sky and, inadvertently, as I ran, the memory of that night returned to me…

:: Washing Away Innocence ::
-A trip down memory lane-

'There was a storm on that day as well…'

Thunder roared from the clouds above, and lightning flashed across the sky, our only light. I clung to the fabric of Mama's sky-blue gi tighter. She had been running for so long. Soaked with rain, cuts and scrapes marked her face and arms. Protecting me, always protecting me.

"Mama put me down! I can run on my own!" I begged, but she shook her head and just kept running. She wasn't going to let him have me.

"If I let you go, he'll take you away," she said, sadness in her voice.

Ryura. She was talking about Ryura. A really scary demon with red eyes and hair the color of the sky that was always pulled back in braid. He scared me and he made Mama so angry. He wanted to take to me to the cauldron. A sacrifice. I would become a firefly, just like all the others.

I shook my head and cuddled my face into Mama's shoulder. It was best not to think about becoming a firefly when you're running for your life. No matter how pretty they were.

Before I knew it, I was flying through the air and landing in the mud several feet from Mama. Her foot had gotten caught under a tree root and she forced herself back on her feet. She was in pain; it was clear in her violet eyes.

He was coming. The sound of his boots against the ground and the swoosh of his swords as they spun in the air. He kept calling for Mama. His voice sounded angry and irritated.

Mama turned back to look at me, her long black hair bellowing in the storm's wind. She gripped her longbow in her hand. She wasn't going to run anymore.

"When I tell you, I want you to run as fast you can," she said sternly.

"What about you?" I asked, and she shook her head and drew an arrow from her battered quiver. Her last arrow.

"Don't worry about me," she answered and tears brimmed at the edge of her eyes.

The arrow swooned with Mama's holy power, glowing a flaming orange. Silver lightning-bolt marks appeared at edge of her eyes and ran a little bit down her cheeks. A ghostly image of angel wings formed at her back.

I heaved myself back to my feet and watched as Ryura stepped in front Mama. An evil grin on his face and one sword pressed against the flesh of her neck.

"Ame-Kohana, if you would just give me your daughter, we wouldn't have to play this game of cat-and-mouse."

"Never," mama snarled and that only made Ryura angrier. But she ignored him for a spilt-second and turned to me once more.

"Run."

I ran as fast as I could, not even realizing the warm tears that were slipping past my eyes. I cringed as I heard Ryura cry out in rage as I escaped, calling my mother a foolish half-breed.

I ran until I had to slow down to a speed. I felt myself stumble. Reaching the porch of the hut mother and I called home, I lumbered inside. I had to find something to use as a weapon to help Mama.

The hut was small, barely enough room for two futons and the fire pit in the middle. Mama's herb baskets had been wedged into a corner, along with her sutra and arrow making supplies. I couldn't use those to help her. And it would take too long for me to make my own arrow.

My eyes scanned up the wall, which gleamed from the dying embers of the fire. A smile stretched across my face. The sword. I pushed a stool as close to the sword's hilt as possible and scrambled up onto the stool, getting on the very tip of my toes. I gripped the sword's twin lightning-bolt shaped hilt, and I pulled as hard as I could and the sword finally slipped loose from its mantle. The stool began to teeter from the combined weight and I crashed to the floor along with the stool. I quickly got to my feet and began to drag the sword out the door, pulling it with both hands; it was so heavy I could not lift it. I had to help Mama somehow.

Lugging the sword down the porch steps, I began to make my way across the beach and back to the path that would lead me to Mama and the nasty demon, who dared to call himself a War God. I stopped in my tracks, nearly dropping the sword as I saw who was standing before me.

He stood in front of me, his long silver hair blowing in the wind and he was soaked from the storm. His golden eyes held what looked like pity, but I could never be sure with him, he was like a stone. No emotions. He looked down at me, his face blank.

"Yamie, what are you doing?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I'm going to help Mama," I answered and proceeded to go around him, very slowly, since I was still dragging the sword along with me. He stepped in front of me and I growled in frustration. "Big brother, I have to go help Mama!"

"It is too late for that now," he said and crouched down in front of me, taking the sword as it slipped from my grasp.

"What do you mean?" I choked out as tears blurred my vision.

"She is dead, Yamie," he answered and walked into mine and Mama's home, tucking the sword into his sash.

"Liar!" I cried out and ran after him and he glanced at me.

"I would not lie about such a thing," he said and grabbed my cloak from where it hung on the wall and handed it to me. "Put this on."

I looked at the ragged grey cloak and tied it on, pulling the hood snug over my head. I let my tears fall and heard them splatter to the wooden floor. Sniffling, I wiped them roughly with my gi sleeve. I could feel big brother glaring at me.

"Do not cry, Yamie." His voice was stern. I sniffed a couple more times and finally stopped.

"Did Ryura kill her?" I asked and walked over to my futon. I grabbed Popo from my bed, and slipped him into my red obi; the yellow stuffed animal rabbit sagged a little, as if he was sad too.

Big brother nodded in response and continued to pack what little belongings I had into a rucksack. "How old did you turn yesterday?" he asked and that's when I realized he had not visited on my birthday. He always visited me on my birthday, normally bringing presents that he said Papa would want me to have. But not this year.

"Eight," I said and bounded down the porch steps. Big brother followed after me, he stood at the edge of the shoreline, letting the ocean's waves sweep over his black boots.

I stared at the hut that wasn't going be my home anymore. Even if I wanted to stay, he would not let me. He would drag me back to the West Palace kicking and screaming. I let my long black claws become consumed in red and orange flames. He looked back to watch and see what I was going to do, pretending not to be the least bit interested.

I leapt into the air a little and let the flames spread from my claws toward the hut and consume it in its heat. It lit like kindle and quickly began turning to ash, smoke rising into the sky, the roof creaking in protest as it collapsed inward, and the whole hut began to crumble. Sparks lit the darkened stormy clouds like dancing fireflies. Thanks to Mama I would not become a firefly like the others. I clenched my fists, and began to sob. Curse Ryura and the other so-called War Gods, they would pay for what they did to Mama! But not now. Someday they would get what they deserved.

Big brother's white-clawed fingers suddenly pinched one of my doggy-ears and he tugged. Hard. "Ow! Sesshoumaru that hurt!" I growled and went to swipe at him, but he had already picked me up.

"Cease your whimpering, Yamie. It is pathetic." He said in response as I rubbed my sore ear.

"That really hurt. You're so mean!" I retorted and stuck my tongue out at him.

"You are acting like a child, little sister." Annoyance was clear in his voice.

"I am a child." I grumbled as he took to darkened skies, the rain falling hard on both of us. I sighed as I contemplated our destination…

The West Palace was to be my new home…

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I banished the memories from my mind.

The demons were gaining on me…This was hopeless…I should just give up…

"Do not cry, Yamie."

My eyes widened. Big brother's voice reverberated through my mind. It was as though that memory played through my mind to make me run…

It worked. Big brother's voice gave me the courage I needed to run.

:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:

-Murasaki-

They were a queer lot.

For one thing, the kind brown-eyed girl Kagome wore such a strange kimono that didn't cover the parts of her body that needed to be covered, which would be scandalous at court; for another, the supposed monk Miroku groped the other girl called Sango, earning him a good smack across the face and, lastly, the strange demon with dog-ears named Inuyasha kept grumbling.

"Here, Inuyasha," Kagome said, offering a bowl of steaming noodles to the demon. "You've been soaked in the rain."

"Alright, ninja food!" the demon yelled, taking the bowl from her with eagerness. I blinked. Okay…he was grumbling a while ago.

"Oh, I almost forgot," she said, pulling out another bowl from her backpack. I watched, fascinated, as she peeled back the lid and poured hot water from a container into the bowl. A moment later, a spicy aroma filled the room, reminding me that I hadn't eaten since last night.

"Here." To my surprise, she handed it to me with a smile. "No need to be shy," she added, still smiling. "It probably be won't be as good as any of the food you've eaten in your castle, but hey, we make do with what we have."

I hesitantly took the bowl from her. It wasn't made of china and it wasn't wooden…

Queer.

She handed me a pair of chopsticks. I carefully twirled the noodles around my chopsticks and ate. My eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Actually," I said to Kagome. "This is better than anything I've ever tasted before."

She smiled. "That's Kagome," the cute little fox, Shippou, said, "always bringing something good to share." So saying, he drank the spicy soup from his own bowl.

"Excellent choice, Kagome," Miroku said, eating his noodles. "It's quite appropriate for the cold weather."

Kagome thanked him and began eating her own noodles. "That's not all," she said when she had finished. She rummaged around in a strange yellow sack and brought strange white packets of…something. "Look what else I've brought, hot chocolate."

I tilted my head at her. "Chocolate?" I asked, curious. This girl seemed so different, so strange. The way she acted and the things she fished out of that yellow sack of hers seemed foreign, but she looked just like any other Japanese girl I've seen…except for her clothing and the fact that she was perpetually smiling.

The others and I watched as she tore the packet open and emptied a brown powder into a mug. She filled it with hot water and the scent of this…'chocolate' filled the room.

"Here, Murasaki," she said, handing it to me. "Try it."

I blushed as I took the mug from her. "Thank you for being so kind," I said, taking a sip. "What a queer taste!" I exclaimed, forgetting myself. This 'chocolate' was sweet, but not excessively so. Truth be told, I couldn't describe the taste.

Kagome giggled. "I love it when people from your era try something from my era," she said to her friend, Sango, who also giggled. "It's just so…refreshing to watch!"

"Era?" I asked, curious.

"Oh!" Kagome said, her eyes widening slightly. "I meant…country."

"So you are foreign," I said, though it sounded like a question rather than a statement.

She nodded, grinning. "I was brought up in…China," she said.

"And you are here, because?" I asked.

She was silent. "Well…like you, I ran away." She—there was no other word for it—tried to look sad. Maybe she didn't look sad enough because she was happy to have run away. I, on the other hand, was still devastated at my current situation.

I sighed. "Oh," I said.

"Strong my yearning for what I have left behind

I envy the waves that go back whence they came."

Sango tilted her head. "Poetry?" she asked. "From the Tales of Ise?"

I nodded. "Father often said that a young lady should be well taught in the classics," I said, sighing. "But, unfortunately for me, the classics were boring." Then, maybe because I was still hurt and mad about Father, I added, "As is the Koto, the lute and the flute."

Sango gave me a small smile, and then she turned to Kagome who was looking at me with puzzlement in her eyes. "Well-born ladies always have to learn the classics, Kagome," she explained.

She nodded to show that she understood. Sango then turned back to me. "So I take it that you want to go home?" she asked me. I nodded. "You must miss your family very much."

"Yes."

"The sorrow of parting bring such floods of tears

That the waters of this river must surely rise."

"If I could, I would return home," I finished.

"But…didn't you run away?" Kagome said. "Surely, you can go home any time soon?"

I bit my lip. How careless of me! "It seems," I said slowly, omitting out certain points, "that my Father does not want me."

They nodded their heads in sympathy. "How sad, don't you think so, Miroku?" Sango turned to the monk. "Miroku, what's wrong?"

I followed her gaze. The monk was looking at the wall of the hut, his eyes narrowed dangerously. But he wasn't the only one. The demon Inuyasha was also looking at the wall, his ears twitching, his eyes narrowed.

"What's going on, you two?" Kagome asked, concerned now.

"Don't you sense it, Kagome?" Inuyasha asked. "Demons."

My blood froze.

I have never seen a demon, but I hear that they are quite deadly, with poison coming out of their mouths, fangs and claws for teeth and fingernails and…and…

I shuddered.

But then, I told myself, the demons in this hut didn't look hideous in any way…

"C'mon, Miroku!" Inuyasha said, standing up and dashing to the door.

"Right!" Miroku quickly followed Inuyasha out the door. "Sango, Kagome, it's best if you two stay in here! The weather's gotten worse and there are many demons. Let us handle it. Stay here and look after Murasaki."

"Got it," Sango said. She watched as Miroku dashed out of the hut.

It was suddenly silent.

:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:

-Nicada-

"Leave me alone!"

Despite the fact that the image in my head gave me the will to run, it did not give my body the strength it needed. I felt my limbs wail from the sheer exhaustion. My lungs ached with the effort of so much running, despite what little demon blood I had. The rain fell down in torrents, sending waves of cold throughout my body.

Now, this time, I wished to stop this futile running.

Behind me, I could hear the growls and shrieks of the demons that pursued. Was it my imagination, or could I actually feel their hot breath on my body?

In the distance, I could see a strange shape amidst the falling of the rain and howl of the wind. A strange shape…

It looked like a hut…

I knew it was foolish thinking, but could I find any help in there?

I sped on.

"Inuyasha, up ahead!" I heard a voice suddenly shout.

There were exchanged words of warning, the sound of a sword being drawn…

"Wait, Inuyasha, no!" I quickly ran to the voices. The storm peaked and blew gusts of wind at me and sent torrents of rain against my skin. "You'll hit—!"

"I'm no fool, Miroku!" The voice was rough…unfamiliar.

I suddenly felt—with foreboding—a rise in demonic aura…

"Wind Scar!"

Amidst the darkness and the rain and the howl of the wind, I saw a light headed towards me, a light that radiated with pure power, power that made the hairs on my arms stand on end.

I was going to die.

But I was wrong. The light swerved a little to my side and hit the demons behind me. I could hear the shouts of the demons as the attack obliterated them.

My knees trembled. The danger was over. I didn't have to run anymore…

This realization made my body fall to the ground in exhaustion. I felt my face hit the mud, felt the rain pelt down on my back.

"Do you think she's alright?" the first voice said.

"Doesn't smell dead. Wind Scar didn't hit her, so she's alive," the rough voice said. I heard their footsteps coming closer till I felt them near me. I lifted my head off the ground to see who had saved me. But it was so dark…

Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder. By the light of the lightning, I saw who had saved me.

Golden eyes, silver hair…

"Se…shou…?" But before I could finish my sentence, I fainted.

:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:

A1969: end of chapter. Oh, and I almost forgot. This story has been posted on both mine and Maiden of the Heaven's profiles, just in case you all start to wonder. Oh and, you all know that that I'm going to beg you all to review, right? Please review!