Kikyo was running. She was running so fast, the surroundings were a blur. The shadows swallowed her up, the ancient trees so tall they blocked out most of the sunlight. She was running to something, but also away. Kikyo had never been more scared in her life. Time seemed to slow down for her, and even as she drew her quiver of Hamaya, she knew what was to come. Kikyo took aim; she never missed. She felt a flicker of something inside- regret?- but no matter. Nothing mattered, because she hit her target. She hit her target, and then she died.

Kikyo awoke with a start. She lay quietly, as not to wake anyone. This dream was no longer disturbing. She had dreamed it every birthday since she was eleven. Her parents died that year. They were murdered demons, leaving a baby Kaete. She listened to her sister's breathing, reflecting on the choices she had made. Her parents gone, her choice was clear. She decided to study to be a Miko. In return, she was given a house. Kaete was looked after. They did not go hungry. Kikyo was a very intense person. Since she was a little girl, her mother would read her her fortune in the way her tea leaves sat, in the way the fire spoke when she added wood to it, by what the lines on her hand said. Her mother always told her she was destined for something great.

She was the best at what she did, and was reputed for villages around, although it did not always make for friendships. Her mind wondered. To the surface came the memory of Tsubaki. Not two days earlier, Kikyo had been summoned to a nearby village. There was a horrible infestation of demons, and the villagers believed it was too much for even the Miko Tsubaki to handle. So they summoned Kikyo. She arrived promptly, and the unsettling way Kikyo attended to her work angered the vain Priestess. She poked and prodded every way she could, but nothing angered or unsettled Kikyo. She glanced at her companion in contempt. She was beautiful. It angered her more, and she longed to flair out. Deep down, she did not want to be a priestess. What beautiful girl would want to through her life away? Tsubaki smiled, a horrible thing. She flicked out her tongue and tasted Kikyo's weakness. There! The fight was nearing the end, and Tsubaki new what she was to do. She turned to Kikyo.

"You are a cold woman indeed, Kikyo! No, you are not a woman at all. You are a priestess!"

It seemed to Tsubaki that she had struck a nerve. She had been right, then. Kikyo's destiny was one she did not care for. Fine. She would leaver on own mark on the proud Miko's destiny. She watched Kikyo begin to walk away.

"Are you certain you don't want a reward for your troubles?"

"Yes. Keep it for yourself Tsubaki."

Tsubaki inclined her head. "Very well then. I accept your kindness."

There Kikyo walked away, but Tsubaki could not let her go that easily.

"Kikyo, let me give you a piece of advise, from one priestess to another. When a priestess abandons all human feeling, her true power comes alive. Then again, for a woman, it's only natural to fall in love."

"Fall in love?" Kikyo could not suppress her smile. "You think I would fall in love?"

Tsubaki's eyes flashed. "Mark my words. You must not fall in love. Never allow any man to desire you. For if you do meet such a man, you will die a violent death."

"I'll keep that in mind." With that, Kikyo had walked away.

Later, when she was nearing home, she told Kaete, "Tsubaki is unscrupulous, I'll say that much of the woman. That was a curse she just put on me Kaete."

"A curse?!"

"It's okay, there's nothing to worry about. If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that I'll never fall in love."

That much, Kikyo thought ruefully, is true. I never expect to fall in love. Her mind wondered on, until it came to the scene that came to pass less than two hors ago.

When Kikyo had returned to her village, she was told she was going to have some visitors. She put Kaete to bed and waited their return. They came to find her, those who made it there lives to slay demons. They brought with them a birthday gift unasked for. Once Kikyo received the Shikon no Tama, her life, in all affects, was over. She knew she would now never be normal. And, because she had to keep herself pure to purify the jewel, she could never fall in love. No matter what. The sun came up.