End of the Road
The moment he stepped forward, staff swinging with deadly intent, he knew how it was going to end.
It were as though she stood next to him – his wife, his partner, his strength and life – as he brought the length of the pole down on one bandit's back, a sickening crack echoing in his ears.
Miroku moved to the next closest one as though moving through sludge; it were as though something else moved his body for him, as though he were on the sidelines watching his body go through the motions.
This wasn't fighting – this was karma. For him and for the bandits whose lives he now sought and snuffed out, one by one.
This was living – this was death in its most brutal, honest form. There was no room for life in this darkening clearing. From the men coming toward him only to fall at his feet to the haunting specter of his one true love beside him, guiding his hand, there was only death.
Miroku had left his life behind him, with the most honorable hanyou Miroku had the pleasure of knowing, and the brightest ray of sunshine to grace his life since Sango's passing.
The girls had sobbed, fearful that, just like their okaa-sama, otou-sama would not be returning.
Haruo simply stared, eyes following as the man exited his life. He knew Miroku would not be returning.
'Was it really two years ago,' Miroku wondered in the recesses of his mind, the part screaming to stop the bloodshed, the violence, the path of destruction he'd set foot on, 'that Haruo came home with me? That I resigned to be a better monk, a better role-model for my children?'
Miroku cleaved a path through the lesser men, making his way unerringly through the rabble to the one who laughed, recognizing the defeated lone warrior as the husband of the brazen woman he'd torn down more than a year ago.
All paths led to this moment. His noble Eight-Fold Path crumbled at his feet, leading him into youkai-infested woods. All he'd known and grown to accept had taken on a twisted perversion, a darkness that encouraged him to move forward even as he acknowledged that karma would cycle around – as he brought his wife's killers to their knees, he would be struck down himself.
He wouldn't have it any other way.
Life without Sango had ceased to have meaning. He always had something pushing him – his father's death, the kazaana, the need to avenge Sango's family, and now the need to avenge Sango herself. Living for his children as Kagome had begged seemed far too empty – his mind had twisted in on itself, leaving him fearing at night what his children would learn from him given the opportunity.
Best to leave them behind, with those uncorrupted by hate and malice.
Those sinister feelings rushed through him now, pushing him harder to swing the sharpened head of his staff through flesh, muscle, blood and bone. His right views, right intentions pushed him forward – understanding of how things truly right, the commitment to better himself by pushing to and through the end, through his own skin and skeleton into the end that awaited him.
Miroku choked on blood streaming from his tongue as his teeth clamped down; a sword bit into his ribs. He would not sully this moment with malicious words – Mushin's lessons on right speech beat through him. A dark chuckle was all that could escape his lips, amusement that he would cast back on lessons of ethical conduct while moving through an ever-thinning horde of vicious men like death on legs.
His livelihood had ended months ago; since acquiring his new staff, he'd done nothing to draw attention to himself. He refrained from dealing at all, relying thankfully on InuYasha and Kagome to feed and clothe him in return for educating their young child. He stayed clear of sake – though drinking his pain away beckoned each night – and refused to partake in other women.
All his efforts went toward one goal: his revenge. The same energy that he directed toward educating his students fueled waking nightmares as he lie in bed, ghastly images of his retribution playing out in his mind. As they solidified, he'd drawn away from his family, afraid of inflicting the darkness upon them.
Only four men remained between Miroku and his goal now. His focus narrowed and two attackers fell to the ground. He found himself in combat with one while the leader wavered, backpedaling to make good his escape.
Miroku reined in his runaway thoughts, his memories of the past and hopes for the immediate future and with perfect control, removed his enemy's head from his shoulders.
One remained, and Miroku's right mindfulness asserted itself. His body, emotions, state of mind and awareness of the things around him narrowed to the clear path between his life and death – his weapon and Sango's murderer.
Concentration focused on the only wholesome thought left – to be clean and clean the world of the scum that stood before him, quaking in badly-sewn leather boots. With this death and his own, an unnatural shadow would be raised from the land.
He never remembered the final swing – his beautiful wife, flickering on the edge of his perception, led the fatal stroke.
He was unaware of the bite of the sword in his back, slicing across his body as he followed through on his own stroke and fell beside the body of the man who killed his love.
All he knew was peace, the lifting of a weight, the sigh of his final breath…
And the fleeting knowledge that his suffering had come to a selfish, violent… and entirely satisfactory end.
"The Eight-Fold Path" is a serialized fic, written based on prompts from the mirsan_fics community on LiveJournal.
"End of the Road" was originally posted April 17, 2010
Word Count: 952