Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or InuYasha (though I wish I could have Kakashi and Sesshoumaru all to myself *sighs wistfully*)
Kagome – 3
Eh-hem, anyway, let's get started
Kago no naka no tori wa
Itsu itsu deyaru
Yoake no ban ni
Tsuru to kame ga subetta
Ushiro no shomen dare?
The bird in the cage
When will you come out?
In the evening of the dawn
The crane and the turtle slipped
Who is behind you now?
~ 'Kagome Kagome'
Traditional Japanese Children's Song
Rain fell in a light drizzle in a small village in Mizu no Kuni (Land of Water). The sky was a light slate-gray, and every once and in a while the sun peeked through the clouds a little, like it was playing hide and seek with the people that it shone down on. But, then again, this was Mizu no Kuni, where the weather was usually cool and where one usually woke to fog due to the lakes in the countryside.
The village that the rain fell upon was nondescript, and made up of only a couple hundred people. But the village, called Amedori ('rain bird'), was also known for its shrine. The shrine was called the Higurashi no Miya (Higurashi Shrine), and even though the shrine was well-known, people rarely went there anymore.
In the courtyard of the shrine, a little girl short of four years was playing in the mud. Her hands were coated in the dark sticky substance, as well as up to her elbows, smudged on her face, and also clung to her short, dark hair that reflected blue highlights. But she paid no mind to that. Carefully, she shaped little mud-pies, humming a tune all the while. Kaa-san (mother, mom) didn't know that she was out here playing and getting dirty. Kaa-san had fallen asleep.
The little girl frowned and paused, her sapphire-blue eyes worried. Soon, kaa-san would wake and find out that her daughter had been outside. She would be very angry; going outside was forbidden, one of the many strict rules placed upon the child. After all, as her kaa-san pointed out everyday, she wasn't supposed to exist. According to kaa-san, she was a bastard child that should never have been born. To the little girl, these terms meant nothing to her, but she did know that for some unknown reason, her kaa-san hated her.
Shrugging, the girl continued to make little mud-pies. Once she was satisfied with the number of pies, she began making little houses with the strange powers she had come to understand she had. Once, she had shown these powers to her kaa-san, hoping that maybe she would be praised for what she had done. But instead, kaa-san had beaten her and forbid her to ever use those powers again. Like she ever really listened to her kaa-san.
The little girl sighed and focused on her task, failing to notice that a man had approached her.
The man squatted down next to her and asked, in a low baritone, "What are you making?"
Startled, the girl stopped what she was doing and looked up. Her gaze landed on a strangely dressed man. He wore a dark cloak that enveloped his whole form, and a painted wooden mask that covered his entire face. Wavy stripes adorned the mask, all of them reaching out to surround the one eyehole on the man's right side. The mask was a little worn; the white and blue paint that made up the wavy designs was flaking off. Above the mask, the man's black hair was spiked but was longer down the back.
Resuming what she had been doing, she answered simply, "A village."
Then she looked up and smiled.
The man chuckled, a deep rich sound, and said, "Iie (no), iie, I'm afraid I can't make mud structures quite like you can."
The little girl decided that she liked this person. Her kaa-san had never told her to never talk to strangers; she had only said to stay inside, be quiet, and avoid being seen. In fact, this man was the first person she had spoken to besides her kaa-san in her entire life.
"What's your name?" asked the stranger.
"Kagome," said the little girl.
"Ka-go-me," said the man slowly, as if testing the sound of it on his tongue.
"It suits you."
"Arigatou (thank you). Kaa-san said she called me that because she wants me locked up forever like the bird in the children's song," replied Kagome, as if she were commenting about the weather.
Behind his mask, the man's one dark eye that peeked out through the eyehole, the one that could actually see, narrowed.
"What song?" he asked.
"The one about the bird and the cage, and the crane and turtle slipping before the dawn. I've never played the game that goes with the song with the other kids in the village. They don't know I exist, because kaa-san never lets me go outside."
The man was furious now. How dare that woman not let this child outside to be in the open air! In fact, if he hadn't just used a sleeping Ninjutsu (ninja technique) on her, this poor child would still be inside, trapped and all alone.
Eyes brightening, Kagome looked back up at him.
"Oi (hey), Otoko-san (Mr. Man ^.^), what's your name?" she asked.
Directing his attention back to the child, he smiled behind his mask.
"Otoko-san is just fine. Besides, I came here to speak with you."
The little girl frowned.
Drawing out a small ceramic vase with a lid, the man said, "You see, I have something very precious in here. I can't just carry it around; the vase might break, you understand?"
He received a nod from the little girl.
"Otoko-san, what's in the vase? What has that got to do with me?" asked Kagome.
The man leaned forward and spoke in a low voice.
"What I have in here…is a youkai (spirit, demon)."
"A youkai?" asked Kagome, blinking.
She knew very well what a youkai was. After all, the Higurashi no Miya held ancient scrolls dating back to centuries before when youkai had supposedly roamed the earth like human beings did now. And even though she wasn't yet four years old, Kagome knew how to read. Being stuck in a shrine all day made one very bored, and the scrolls were a nice opportunity of getting rid of boredom. But youkai were supposed to be extinct…weren't they?
To the man's surprise, Kagome laughed.
"You're funny, Otoko-san! But youkai don't exist anymore!"
The man's one eye twinkled behind his mask; this child amused him. She had an innocent charm that most children had, but was increased due to her large blue eyes. And she wasn't even four years of age, by the looks of it.
"True," he admitted. "But every now and then new youkai are born from what we call 'chakra'."
"What's 'chakra'?" asked Kagome, her eyes lighting with curiosity. She was always eager for new information.
"Chakra is the energy all living things have in their bodies, a mixture of energies from using your legs and arms, and energies from the soul. But humans have learned how to control it, and humans who have are called 'ninja.'"
"Oh, I know what ninja are. Kaa-san doesn't like them very much. I don't see why, because the ninja of this country protect us."
For a few moments, the man remained silent. The child's mother had a good reason for hating ninja, but he wasn't about to voice them to the child.
"What's wrong, Otoko-san? Did I say something wrong?" asked Kagome worriedly.
"Iie, I was just thinking. But as I was saying, some youkai are born from chakra, made by humans. Currently, there are ten known youkai, and they are called 'Bijuu (Tailed Beast(s)' by ninja. But I'm the only one who knows of the tenth Bijuu, and I have it with me."
To emphasize his point, the man held up the vase and it rattled from the inside for a moment. Excited and curious, Kagome leaned forward for a closer look, not noticing that she was squishing some of her mud houses in the process. Her mouth formed an 'o' shape, her blue eyes twinkling. The vase rattled again, this time with more force.
'Chikushou, the seal is wearing off,' thought the man.
"Anyway, Kagome-chan – I can call you Kagome-chan, can't I?" he asked, and received a nod, "Good, now I came here because I decided you are the best possible candidate for protecting this Bijuu. She's special, you see, and not just anyone can take care of her."
"'She'?" inquired Kagome.
The man nodded and said, "Indeed. This youkai is a girl, and her name is Kawarubi ('change tail'), because she never has the same number of tails. Therefore, her power is always changing, and that can be dangerous. But that is why I chose you, because you possess spiritual powers that can handle her without damage to yourself."
Kagome looked excited now, overjoyed with the prospect of getting a youkai to watch over. Then she frowned. What if kaa-san found the vase? What if she asked what it was, and worse, broke it in one of her fits of anger?
"How am I going to take care of her? If kaa-san finds out that I have a youkai in the shrine, she might try to destroy it!" she cried out in fear.
Smirking behind his mask, the man replied, "That is why I'm going to put her in a place that your kaa-san won't be able to get at her. Even if your kaa-san discovers the Bijuu's existence, she won't be able to do anything about it."
"Where are you going to put her?"
"Inside of you."
Kagome's eyes went wide in shock. Inside of her? How was he going to do that?
"Inside of me?" she questioned, trying to comprehend what this man was trying to say.
"Hai, inside of you. I currently have the Kawarubi under a temporary seal, but it is temporary. Even now she is trying to escape."
The vase rattled again, this time with even more force than the previous two times. The seal was wearing off, and fast.
"I need to seal her inside of you, immediately. If she were to escape, she would wreak havoc on this countryside like the bloodthirsty beast she is. I need to seal her between your shoulder blades."
Kagome became aware of the desperate tone in the man's voice, and mistook it for concern for the people in Mizu no Kuni. But the man wasn't desperate for that reason.
'I need to get this Bijuu off my hands quick before it starts a war. I have to keep a low profile; I'm supposed to be dead, after all,' he thought.
"O-okay, what do I have to do?" asked Kagome.
"You'll have to remove your yukata (informal cotton kimono), so that I can have access to your back," said the man. (1)
The next few minutes went by quickly. The man Kagome knew as Otoko-san had her lay facedown on the wet and muddy ground while he began writing circles on the ground with kanji. Then he pricked Kagome's finger with a sharp object, which she couldn't see, and began tracing more symbols on her back between her two shoulders.
"I'm almost done," he informed her.
"Otoko-san," said Kagome in a quiet voice. "Will this hurt?"
Deciding not to lie, the man said, "Hai (yes). A lot."
Squeezing her eyes shut and fighting back nausea, Kagome focused on taking deep, calming breaths. She recited Buddhist proverbs in her head, ones she had read on scrolls in the shrine.
'Hana wa ne ni kaeru. Inguwa wa, kuruma no wa. Makanu tane wa haenu…' she recited, trying to forget that in a few moments, she would be in a world of pain.
Finishing the seal on the little girl's back, the man made a similar seal on the surface of the vase. Making several hand seals which mainly consisted of the seals for 'Ne (rat)', 'Ushi (ox)', and 'Tora (tiger)', he said, "Fuuinjutsu: Youkaibuuin! (Sealing Technique: Demon Seal!')" (2)
Both seals, the one on the vase and the one between Kagome's shoulders started glowing bright red. Kagome's mouth opened in a soundless scream, and her back arched in pain. Her hands scrabbled in the mud, trying to find something, anything, to hold on to and never let go. Tears streaked down her cheeks, momentarily blinding her.
Most of the pain was focused between her shoulders, where the man had drawn something with her blood. It was a burning, white-hot pain that felt like fire spreading through her veins. And it did spread. Soon the pain was unbearable, as it had encompassed her entire body full force.
'It hurts, it hurts! Kami-sama (God), onegai (please), please let it stop!' she chanted in her head.
Black spots swam in front of her eyes, even though tears blinded them. The last thought she had before losing consciousness was wondering how Otoko-san knew about her strange powers, also known as reiki (holy energy). And when the darkness overtook her, Kagome welcomed it gratefully.
Once the child had stopped convulsing, the strange man dressed her once again in her yukata. Then he stood and gazed down emotionlessly at her. He was a fool to be taken in by her cute nature, and he pushed away any thoughts of having a connection with her.
Already, the Bijuu he had sealed within her had given her aftereffects. Pale, silvery-blue streaks now ran through her hair, and a stripe the same color ran down her spine from the base of her skull to her tailbone. It was likely that when she woke she would have heightened sense of smell and hearing, seeing as how the Kawarubi was an inuyoukai (dog demon). The seal he had drawn on her back had also become one with her skin; it was the same blue as the stripe, and the stripe did not disrupt or go through it at all.
Smirking at the seed he had planted, the man turned to leave. He cast one last look at the girl. She would be hated; all of the Jinchuuriki were. And it was that hate that would harden her heart and give her strength. If everything turned out as he planned, she would hate humankind with a vengeance.
The strange man dispelled the Ninjutsu he had placed on the child's mother. In a few moments, she would wake, and discover that her daughter had become the host of a demon entity. And the poor child would suffer for it. But the child had made her choice; she hadn't been forced to become a Jinchuuriki, she had made the decision on her own. That way if the girl happened to encounter him in the future, she could not blame him for what she had become.
Using his special skills with speed, the man left as quickly as he had arrived, like a phantom in the night. The two people he had left behind were pawns in his grand scheme, nothing more. First the woman, and now the child, Higurashi Kagome.
~One Month Later~
'Why is everything red?' thought a blue-eyed little girl.
She had woken in a field, and had been confused. But what confused her even more was that the field was soaked in a sticky red substance. Gazing down stupidly at the red substance that coated her entire body, she tried to remember what happened. Nothing. She couldn't remember anything.
Panic overtaking her, her head swiveled around in both directions. To her horror, the bodies of villagers lay around her, their flesh frozen and their throats slashed. Standing up, she realized she was the only living thing in sight. Weapons lay forgotten on the ground, those of ninja included. Their bodies were among the dead.
'Why were they here? Who killed them?' thought the scared little girl.
The ground was scorched in some places and frozen in others, as if a fire had started and frost had put it out. But there was no fire now, just the acrid smell of smoke and the metallic smell of blood. Horrified and traumatized, the little girl realized something. She had no memory of who she was and where she was. She couldn't remember her name, how old she was, what family she came from, and what country she as in.
"Who am I?" she whispered.
Clutching her head, she tried to remember, but it only resulted in a headache.
"WHO AM I?"
Vocabulary Whose Definitions Are Too Long to Put In the Story (^.^;)
Chikushou – 'Damn it!', 'Shit!', 'Son of a bitch!'
Chan – a suffix usually given to girls you are familiar with or someone who is younger than you that is either a girl or a child
These are actual Buddhist proverbs in Japanese I found while surfing the net at one point
Hana wa ne ni kaeru – The flower goes back to its root
Inguwa wa, kuruma no wa – Cause-and-effect is like a wheel
Makanu tane wa haenu – Nothing will grow, if the seed be not sown
(1) No, he's not a pedophile!
(2) Totally made this up, don't know if it's right or not
How'd I do? Remember, this is only the prologue, so next chapter will be set in the main storyline when Naruto is already a Genin. Some of you have probably already guessed who 'Otoko-san' is, but I'm not tellin'! Not now at least. All will be revealed in later chapters! So please review, 'cuz this is my first story. And you can flame me all you like, so that way I'll be motivated to write better and better! ^.^