Chain of Love
Summary: Sesshoumaru's Mother decides that it is time for the West to have an heir. She hires a vixen Matchmaker to deal with the situation. As the renowned Matchmaker studies Sesshoumaru from afar she realises that no mere arrow of Amor would be enough to make the daiyoukai fall, so she decides to resort to more extreme means - or rather, it would seem, to a chain.
Genre: Mainly Drama and Romance, with some humour sprinkled in for good measure.
Disclaimer: Let's get this over and done with. Inuyasha and all its characters belong to their creator, Takahashi Rumiko. I am merely a fan, writing for fans (and myself) and I am not gaining any financial benefits by exploiting characters that do not belong to me. I'll only borrow them a bit and treat them nicely (most of the time).
Chie: I've been toying with this idea for a long time. I even started writing something similar to this once, years ago, but I seem to have lost that first draft version. Oh well.
I'd also like to mention that while the title of this fanfic - Chain of Love - might sound a bit corny, I chose it for a reason: it is in actuality a pun; the matchmaker's name Aiko is written with the kanji for love.
The Prologue – Resonance
She stared deep into the mirror. Instead of reflecting her delicate features, the instrument showed another image altogether, one of a small group of three: a tall silver-haired demon, his squat toad-like servant and a cheery dark-haired human girl.
The woman's thin lips curled into a refined pout. Things were not going the way she wanted at all. She was all alone in this huge castle, while her good-for-nothing son was living the life of a wanderer.
Furthermore, her son had not performed his duties to the West as its sole heir and his life of a vagabond was nowhere near the life he should lead. Nor was it safe. And what would befall to the Western kingdom if its sole heir were to die in one of those meaningless fights and battles in which her son seemed to end up too often to the Western Lady's liking.
She had put up with his behaviour for too long. He had been wandering free for decades without even trying to find himself a mate with whom he could perform his ultimate duty to the West - produce the next in line.
Like any mother, the Lady of the Western lands knew her son well. She knew him to be the sort of a demon likely to never mate a soul. Unfortunately, in his case that was out of the question. The West needed an heir, and it would surely get one.
Perhaps it was time to intervene and give the irresponsible heir a helping hand.
The Lady of the West sat down onto the silken cushion next to her desk. She took out a roll of parchment and started to scribble down a message on slender characters. When she was finished, she sealed the scroll and called for a servant.
The servant arrived soon after. Nervous, he bowed down.
"How may I be of service to you, my Lady?"
"Have this delivered to the matchmaker," the dog demoness simply replied, handing the scroll over.
Her true name was Aiko, and she was a fox demoness. Age-old, intelligent, cunning and sly, she was known as the Matchmaker throughout the demonic circles. She was respected and had built a vast reputation over the years. So vast, in fact, that even the Lady of the Western lands had requested her services.
And what a request it was! Aiko had heard many rumours concerning the cold and dignified heir of the West. She was intrigued to see if he was truly as difficult to find a mate for as the rumours suggested. Aiko wasn't worried the slightest, quite the contrary. She could barely control her excitement, for she couldn't resist a challenge.
Her auburn hair was braided and her green eyes were sparkling with energy that did not reveal in any way that she had in fact already seen many, many centuries pass. But that was only typical for the ever playful fox demons. Kitsune tended to age better than most other youkai, perhaps because they never really lost their touch with their inner child.
Though Aiko was clever and had created a very sharp eye for people and personalities over the long years of her existence, she also relied on magic in her matchmaking. For example, she had a certain amulet that she always wore around her neck; a thick golden chain on which hung a heart-shaped ruby pendant. The amulet was enchanted so that it would respond to the feelings of love by starting to glow. Aiko had learned that the best way to get started with the process of finding a mate was to first find out if the bachelor already had someone on his or her mind. If the recipient of the bachelor's affections was suitable and the budding feelings were mutual, Aiko had her work pretty much cut out for her.
As she travelled north-east, looking for the Western heir's track, she pondered about the task given to her.
The Lady of the Western lands wanted Aiko to find an ideal mate for her son, so that he could finally settle down and produce an heir to the West. It all sounded simple enough, but Aiko had a feeling that it would all prove very, very difficult and complicated. She also figured that this would require quite a while. The stubborn Western heir wasn't likely to see things Aiko's and his mother's way until he was given a lot of time and subjected to a lot of subtle persuasion.
Aiko chuckled to herself. No matter how difficult it all would prove, she was certain that this particular match would be a very, very interesting one to make.
Aiko was studying the trio from afar. Her red lips were pursed tightly as she pondered the situation.
It didn't take long for her to realise that no feeble arrow of Amor would be able to make the daiyoukai fall. Tapping a painted, sharp-tipped claw to her chin, her bright green eyes closely followed the silver-haired young youkai's form.
He couldn't be entirely a lost cause, Aiko concluded, given that he allowed the human girl to travel with him. And even if he did not pay much attention to the child, he didn't really seem bothered by her company. Aiko also noted the occasional blows that his pale fist would rain on the thick green skull of the toad servant.
The vixen nodded to herself, satisfied. It would seem that the young daiyoukai did have feelings after all - save for the obvious pride, of course. He had just suppressed them and kept them in a short leash, hidden deep, deep inside the iceberg that some people would dare to call the demon lord's soul.
There was hope, Aiko admitted. But there was no question about needing rather extreme methods on this one, in order to drag those emotions out from his cold core. Idly, she wondered what kind of a woman would possibly match the dignified young lord and whether she would be as impossibly stuck up as well. There sure seemed to be a load of work cut out for her.
But Aiko didn't feel discouraged.
For several days, she kept her distance from the group enough not to be noticed, but still staying close enough to be able to continue studying the daiyoukai. Aiko was trying her best to judge and map the Western heir's characteristics, feelings and thoughts, so that she could form some sort of an image of what kind of a female to look for him to be his mate. The task was by no means an easy one. The dignified inuyoukai was none too easy to read, even to Aiko's extraordinary skills.
As it turned out to be impossible for Aiko to get enough information of the daiyoukai's mind-set, she decided that she would have to rely on magic when finding a mate for the heir of the West. She would most probably have to resort to magic again in order to get the stuck-up Western heir to court the mate-to-be.
And that magic had better to be strong, Aiko scoffed. With such a difficult task appointed to her, the kitsune grudgingly admitted that she just might have to go to the extreme.
Few more days, Aiko decided. For a few more days, she would trail the inudaiyoukai. After that she would cast a spell and start to look for a suitable mate.
Two days later, Aiko was still following the heir of the West from a safe distance. She thought that she would study the heir for this day, and would then perform the seeking spell at dusk. She watched the group go through the usual routines when preparing for the road. The two-headed dragon steed slumped obediently forward, carrying the human child. Next to the steed the toad servant waddled on, grumbling to himself and holding his staff close to his chest. The daiyoukai was leading the group and judging by his indifferent face one might have very well assumed that he wouldn't have cared if any of the group tracing his steps would cease following him. He walked on in silence. Behind him the girl kept on chattering cheerfully. The toad grumbled and grunted, occasionally barking at the girl to cease her babbling. On one of those occasions, he earned a bump on his head as a way of reprimand.
The group walked on and Aiko kept tailing them. The daiyoukai scouted ahead, leaving his followers behind but always returning to them after a while.
They stopped around noon, for the human child needed to eat. After her meal, the inuyoukai permitted the girl to rest for a while. The child was obviously delighted and ran on the field, picking up flowers as she went.
The toad servant grumbled, but was obviously glad for the chance to rest.
The daiyoukai himself was sitting under a tree, leaning against its trunk with his eyes closed.
All of sudden those eyes spun open. The demon stiffened and got up.
Aiko frowned. What was it? Something had alerted the young lord. Could he have sensed her presence, even after all the precautions she had taken to mask and hide it? She had been following him for almost four days now, without getting caught!
But then she caught the scent as well. There were people nearby.
"Stay here," she heard the daiyoukai command to his followers. He turned and started to walk to the direction the scents were coming from. Curious, Aiko followed him.
From afar she saw the daiyoukai step in to a clearing where a group of people seemed to be resting. Three of them were human, one male and two females. The group also had a kitsune pup travelling with them.
Aiko understood everything the second she laid his eyes on the leader of the group, a hanyou.
It was the rumoured bastard child of the late Lord of the West.
At first, she followed the not-so hearty encounter closely. The hanyou pulled out his sword and lunged at his half-brother.
When their swords met with the clear and sharp sound of ringing steel, Aiko was struck by an idea.
She had never used it before, but she was certain that it would be the most extreme method she could muster. The more she thought about it, the more convinced she became that nothing but the chain could do the trick.
Aiko pursed her lips. She had never before dared to use the chain. It was a powerful, powerful instrument indeed. I had been forged over 600 years ago by the best of youkai smiths, blessed and enchanted by some of the most renowned Shinto and Buddhist priests and monks. To strengthen the chain it had been drenched with youkai blood. And to bind it all together and to place an enchantment of its own, Aiko had also spilled her own blood on the chain.
The chain had been in her possession for centuries and she had never once dared to use it. The magic within the chain was so strong, perhaps one of the strongest she had ever encountered.
But then again, strong were also the walls around the Western heir's heart.
Aiko nodded, finally making her decision.
She reached into her left sleeve and pulled out a very innocent looking silvery chain, no thicker than her thumb.
Idly she raised her gaze to the battling half-brothers, rolling the chain absent-mindedly on the palm of her left hand. It was rather interesting. Her right hand rose to grasp the enchanted medallion she wore around her neck. It was warming up.
Her intense, trained gaze travelled from the human male to the woman wielding the boomerang. A match. Mutual feelings of attraction. Aiko smirked.
But that wasn't it all.
Her eyes settled on the strangely dressed young woman. She loved the hanyou, the fox demoness realised in an instant. The young woman was watching the battle with worry in her blue eyes.
Aiko's green eyes sought out the hanyou in turn.
And the hanyou again... He cared a lot for the young woman, but could not quite return her feelings. He already loved someone else.
Aiko shook her head.
While all this was interesting, it would help little with the task at hand.
Right now, she ought to find the mate candidate for the young lord; else she wouldn't be able to use the chain.
Closing her eyes, she started to silently gather her youki and prepared for performing the seeking spell. She had barely muttered the very first words of the enchantment, when the chain pulsed in her hand.
Taken over by surprise, she stopped. Her widened eyes flew to the still pulsing chain.
It was resonating! But that would mean...
Aiko's eyes narrowed. There were only three women present, herself included. She immediately counted herself out. If she had been the match for the heir of the West herself, she would surely have sensed that long before this.
But eliminating herself as an option only left two others.
And both of them were human.
The Lady of the West would not be pleased, Aiko realised, but there was no fighting magic this strong. If the chain claimed the young lord's match to be a human, it could not be wrong.
But which one was be the right one?
Aiko's gaze wandered between the two human women. She was fairly sure which of them was the match.
But it was better to play it safe. The chain would seek out to snatch the candidate, once it would have got the hold of the daiyoukai.
It was time to set forth.
She grabbed the chain tightly and lunged forward. Using her demonic powers, she was so fast that she was almost blind to the eye. She circled the battling lord and lightly wound the chain over his wrist.
The chain would do the rest.
Aiko retreated as quickly as she had appeared, stopping to watch the scene from a safe distance.
The chain had wound around the daiyoukai's arm. The heir had ceased his battling, looking at the offending piece of metal with disgust. As he concentrated on trying to corrode through it with his poison to release himself, he missed the way the other end of the chain snaked forward.
A shriek caught the attention of the brothers and they turned to see the bow-carrying human woman, looking in horror at the chain that had wound its way around her left wrist.
Aiko nodded. Her work here for now was done, the rest would largely be for the two to tackle. She turned away from the scene and headed back towards the west.