Okay, folks. I've had some questions about Sesshoumaru, so, let's get this straightened out for those of you who don't know this. In the original Japanese version of the manga and the anime Sesshoumaru has an unusual manner of speech. He's speaking in the Japanese version of what we westerners tend to call "the royal we". In European royalty a nobleperson of high enough status would speak in the royal we pretty much all the time. It's kind of like speaking of yourself in the third person. Here's an example: Normally I, being a commoner, would say something like "I do not like this dress." in the royal we I'd say something like "We do not like this dress". Japanese nobility also has a particular mode of speech that is similar to the royal we but doesn't translate quite so well to English. In their version, referring to one's self is more or less done by saying "This One wants..." or "This Sesshoumaru thinks..." rather than "I want..." or "I think..." So then, why isn't this kind of language included in the English versions of InuYasha? Most likely it's because it's a very obscure concept for mainstream people to grasp, especially when you consider that it doesn't translate into English exactly like the royal we does. I, however, have chosen to keep Sesshoumaru's speech as close to how it was depicted in the Japanese versions as possible. I'm keeping it like this because I think it adds another layer to his character and InuYasha's that we miss out on in the dubbed version of the anime. Think about it: every time Sesshoumaru speaks to InuYasha he sounds so very different from his brother. It says a lot about how different their upbringings were and it could even be a small barb thrown at InuYasha consciously or unconsciously by his brother to show his apparent "superiority" to him in all things.

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The world around her was filled with darkness. Though she could not see anything she could hear the rustling of tree branches in the wind and the scent of leaves warmed in the sun. It reminded her faintly of sitting up in the Goshinbuku tree with InuYasha. Just as she was about to be lulled into a peaceful sleep an unfamiliar voice stole upon her.

"I'm sorry." It whispered. "I had forgotten my strength."

She couldn't decide if the voice was male or female. It had the soft, lilting tones of a woman, but also a deeper thrum of a man's voice. It didn't feel threatening. In fact, the voice brought with it a tender, familiar warmth.

"It's all right." She murmured, though she wasn't sure what, exactly was all right. She felt too peaceful and at home to be terribly concerned.

"It's been longer than I thought since I used my power..." The voice sighed wistfully. "You were meant to be elsewhere safe with your companions to prepare. The weed's interference got in my way."

"You meant well." Kagome assured the voice. She still wasn't sure why she was so agreeable to it, but it seemed so right.

"I do. I'm sorry I can't watch over you from where you are thrown out. I can only offer you this: to destroy the weed..." The wind grew more intense and she struggled to hear the voice. "... find the..." Her ears strained to catch his words but the wind was roaring and she heard nothing more and she blacked out once again.

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"...gome..."

A voice called to her.

"...Please..."

This one was familiar. Youthful, full of fear.

"Wake up, Kagome!" The voice called urgently. She felt herself shaken.

Her eyes snapped open to find Shippou's worried visage hovering over her. He released the breath he had been holding in a long whoosh. "Whew. You're up."

She blinked and rubbed her eyes. "Shippou?"

The kitsune shifted and sat back on his haunches. "You were out for a while. So take it easy, okay?"

The miko slid her palms beneath her and pushed down until she had levered herself up into a sitting position. She noticed that the kitsune had attempted to build a modest bed of the driest leaves he could find, but her clothes remained slightly damp.

"InuYasha?" She inquired. Though she could not sense the pull of his demonic aura anywhere.

Shippou shook his head in confirmation. "I can't find him, or Miroku, or Sango." He scratched the back of his head absently. "I tried to take a look around, but I didn't want to go too far while you were asleep. I can't smell any demons but... best not to take chances."

Kagome frowned and glanced around her. Trees loomed up on all sides of her, dark and damp from a recent rain. One tree in particular caught her attention. The roots of the tree were stretched up and distorted into the semblance of a doorway. It looked almost identical to the one they had been sucked through. Yet, this tree had no glow, and she could see straight through the opening to the trees beyond it. She pushed herself up to her feet and took a few cautious steps towards the tree.

It remained dormant. No lights burst forth from the tree, nor did any voices shout. The miko placed her hand against one of the roots and prayed silently for the portal to open.

Still nothing. She waited a few minutes longer until nothing further happened, then shivered. The air was cool, not cold, but the water that had dampened her cotton robes chilled her skin considerably. Shippou shifted uncomfortably. He could smell a good many things in this forest they were in but none of them, including the trees themselves were familiar.

"Kagome, do you know where we are?" The young demon asked, nervousness tinged his voice.

The miko's fingers curled into the bark of the tree in front of her. "Nowhere I know of..."

Shippou raised his head and sniffed the air. Emerald eyes wandered up the side of one tree. "Hang on, Kagome, let me go take a look around. Stay here."

Without another word he scampered up one of the taller trees near them. He vanished into the foliage, cursing when the needles of an overhanging pine nearly took an eye out. Kagome listened to his fussing, her fingers twisting together absently. They were lost somewhere unknown, InuYasha, Sango, and Miroku were missing. Not to mention Noboru had to be lurking around somewhere as well. Her stomach did several flip flops at the thought. At least I'm with Shippou. She reminded herself.

As if on cue, the fox demon in question reemerged from the highest branches of a tree and bounded downward until he could easily jump down to the forest floor. He landed in a hushed, rustling thud.

"Two things." He crossed his hands over his chest, his face thoughtful. "One: There's kitsune here. I can see some kitsune magic markers in places around the forest canopy."

"Kitsune? That's good, right?" Kagome ventured.

The teenager shrugged. "Not sure. The magic has a funny tint to it... kinda... greenish. It's definitely kitsune, for sure. But, I don't think it's anybody local and it's definitely not anybody's magic I recognize."

The miko wasn't sure what to make of this new bit of information so she stowed it away in the back of her mind for the moment. "So what's the second thing?"

"We're not too far from the edge of tree line. If we head east from here it looks like we'll come out in someone's wheat field." He replied, a clawed index finger pointed them in the appropriate direction. "So, we must be near some village. Farmlands mean a village has got to be near by, right?" He added quickly.

She nodded. A thought pressed her to question further. "Did you see Mount Fuji at all up there?"

The boy shook his head firmly in the negative. His face clouded in confusion. She wondered if perhaps, then, they had been teleported to another island in Japan? Kagome gave one last look at the tree that looked like a doorway. Standing around there all day long wouldn't answer her questions, that was for certain.

"Let's go then."

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Thirty minutes later the two emerged from the forest. The gray sky had remained unchanged in their silent trek through the woods. With the sun hidden away behind the clouds it was hard to say what time it was, exactly. All she could tell for certain was that it was still daytime.

The woods opened up to rolling fields of emerald. Each field looked like a patchwork quilt of green and gold. The squares land were haphazardly spliced together with rows of small brush or rocks to separate them. It certainly hadn't been the rice paddies of the Sengoku Period she had been expecting.

Thus she asked herself again, "Just where on earth are we?"

Shippou looked uncomfortable and stuffed his hands into the folds of his sleeves. "I was hoping you could tell me... Oh hey, look, there's a villager over there!" He motioned to a dark figure several yards away. He appeared to be hacking away at an old tree stump with an axe. The two shuffled towards him.

"Ah, excuse me, Sir! My friend and I are lost." Kagome waved a hand and slowed as she neared him. The man straightened up as he saw their approach. "Could you tell me where...?" The miko's voice trailed off.

The man wore a pair of worn brown trousers with a high waist that ended in suspenders. His shirt hung off his thin frame. The long, billowy sleeves emphasized how skinny he was. His collar, and part of a ragged tie that looked more like a sash than anything she recognized were drenched in sweat. Dirty blonde hair poked out from a large floppy hat and his skin was covered in freckles, so much so that it seemed that the freckles made up his ruddy tan.

These clothes... these are definitely not from my era... She thought to herself, her mind buzzing. But then... what time period are we in? And for that matter, where are we? He looks like an American. Is this America?

The man blinked large hazel eyes at her, then began rambling in a different language. Shippou stared open-mouthed at the man, utterly befuddled. The stranger pointed at Kagome and the kitsune, then somewhere towards the distance and spoke again, this time he repeated himself slower. A flash of recognition dawned on her.

"Lost." He'd said the word 'lost' in English. She remembered it from her summer classes the timber to his voice was odd, though. He had an accent to it that wasn't familiar. Maybe he's not an American?

He must have seen some recognition in her eyes because he repeated the word 'lost' again. She nodded her head. Yes, they were definitely lost. Feeling encouraged, the man launched into a long, complicated question. This time, she understood "lost" "people" "city" and "England."

"England?!" She gasped and turned to Shippou. "We're in England!"

The kitsune gave her a blank viridian stare. "Eng...Wha..?"

"It's a country on the other side of the world. Oh gods, we're a long way from home." She moaned. "If we got sent here, there's no telling where InuYasha and everyone else ended up."

"Um... Kagome? That guy's still talking..." Shippou interjected.

The miko blinked and blushed. "Oh right." She switched to English and asked the man as best she could if there were other Japanese nearby. The miko made a note to herself to study more English when she had time.

To her surprise he responded positively to her question. She understood only enough to know that there were Japanese in a big city and that the city was not too far away. He heart lifted a bit. She hoped her husband and the rest of her friends were there waiting. She managed to get some directions and, though she was fairly certain the farmer wanted to direct her himself, she managed with great difficulty to dissuade him. Thus the miko and the kitsune began to make their way towards the city called Manchester.

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When they were out of earshot Shippou began asking questions.

"So if we're here and the locals are dressed funny... does that mean we're in your time period?" His voice sounded hopeful. Like the others, he knew her time period was supposedly a very safe time to live in.

She shook her head "I don't think so. His clothes looked funny to me, too. I'm not sure what year this is. I never did much studying on European history."

Shippou looked more than a little disappointed. He had heard many things about her time that sounded wondrous: Actors that lived in small boxes and entertained people, mechanical horses that took people anywhere they wished, and buildings that reached up into the clouds.

She laughed and swept up his hand in hers and gave it a squeeze. "You'll see it one day. I promise." Kagome could not help but feel relieved that, though she was separated from a lot of her friends, she still ended up with one of them.

He blushed and curled his fingers tighter around hers. InuYasha's words from many years back moved to the forefront of his mind. The hanyou had told him that if something happened to him that he should take her mark. The kitsune raised his nose to the air and scented her. Her mark was fairly weak, but still good. He hoped he wouldn't need to take it before they found InuYasha. It felt too much like admitting the dog demon might be indisposed...or dead. He shuddered inwardly at the thought. No, he couldn't think like that. They would find him before the mark faded enough for her to be vulnerable to aging and disease again; that's all there was to it. Until then though, it was up to him to protect her.

The afternoon sunlight had faded to crimson dusk when the kitsune and the miko saw the first signs of the city. Foot and hoof traffic picked up first. Everywhere people stared at them, some small children even pointed from the window of a horse-drawn buggy. Shippou's cheeks pinked with embarassment. Kagome continued on, unfazed, years of wearing her high school uniform in the Warring States Period had made her immune to the scrutiny of others.

The roads changed from dirt to cobblestone and the houses gradually drew closer and closer together. As they did they became taller as well. Shippou gaped at the dark brick buildings with their gothic architecture that seemed to reach up with clawed hands towards the heavens while stone gargoyles snarled silently downward.

"Everything's made of stone..." He murmured. "It's not stucco or wood or paper..."

Kagome barely registered his voice as her eyes fell upon a small wooden kiosk set up on the edge of a sidewalk. She hurred over to it and scanned the stacks of papers over it while a man babbled at her in English. She ignored him, focusing instead on the numbers in the far corners. The miko released a breath she had not realized she had been holding as her eyes found what she was looking for.

"Shippou. It's 1871." She turned her eyes back up towards him. "The Meiji Era. We're in the Meiji era at home."

The young demon stared blankly back at her, he understood the year clearly enough but the meaning of the era was lost on him. The miko turned to him, her eyes shining, a hopeful smile turning the corners of her lips upward.

"It means Japan's borders are open. It means we'll be able to go home." She breathed.

He scratched his head. "The borders were closed before?"

"Ah, yes." She gave a small, embarrassed laugh. "A long time ago the humans of Japan cut off all contact from the rest of the world and we went into a long period of isolation. In the 1860's an American naval convoy forced Japan to re-open its borders."

"That sounds bad." Emerald eyes turned critically towards her.

"You'd think, but it actually opened up a period of great prosperity, innovation, and advancement for Japan that will last two hundred years."

"Really?"

"Yep, in fact, Edo might look a little bit more like this place when we get back." She added.

Shippou looked thoughtful as he digested the information. "So... how do we get home?"

Kagome thought about it for a minute. "I'm not sure. I guess we go looking for the Japanese people that farmer was talking about."

"You won't have to look far, madam." A silken voice chimed in near-perfect Japanese behind them. "We'll bring you to them."

The two turned at the same time towards the sound of the man's voice. Two slender men of short stature bowed to them. They both looked nearly identical to the other with short hair spiked up and away towards the base of their skulls. They were fair-skinned and smartly dressed in black slacks, white button-down shirts, and brown and white checked vests of silk that matched the color of their deep brown eyes. The only thing that differed between them was the color of their hair. One had dark brown hair with two white strips originating from the tip of his widow's peak outward towards the back of his head. The other had deep ebony hued hair with tan stripes in the same pattern as the other.

Shippou stepped protectively in front of the miko, his lips twitched in the beginnings of a snarl. "Who the hell are you?"

The two men glanced at each other, then grinned. The one with brown hair bowed with a flourish. "My name is Currey. My compatriot here is Daz." The other man nodded a silent greeting. "We've come to escort you back to your group."

Kagome placed a gentle hand on her friend's shoulder to let him know she appreciated his protection. "You'll have to excuse our hesitance. We didn't expect to find anyone who knew Japanese out here."

Daz chuckled. "Ah, well, you probably haven't seen us before. You see we are escorts for the Iwakura Mission. We only get sent out when someone wanders off. When we heard rumor there were a couple of oddly-dressed people walking around talking in a foreign language we figured one of our guests got lost."

Kagome knew immediately of what they were speaking and she raised a hand to cover her mouth as she gave her best embarrassed titter. "You caught us. I'm so sorry. I thought I would take a peek at these European markets everyone's been talking about and... well... we got lost."

The miko turned her gaze towards companion. She hoped Shippou would be smart enough not to ask any questions of her. They needed a way to get back home, and their best bet would be to infiltrate the famous mission without raising any immediate suspicion. She prayed the Kakuri beads would help hide their identity enough to blend in, of course, if Shippou said the wrong thing it wouldn't matter what they looked like to the two esorts. Fortunately, the boy was quite adaptive, understanding immediately what she needed of him.

Currey rolled his eyes and muttered something in English to Daz about women and getting lost. She could only imagine that it was something disparaging about her gender but she acted like she hadn't understood. Her cheeks flushed in irritation but she pretended as though she was merely blushing in embarrassment.

"Very well, then, my lady. Shall we be off?" Currey chimed in.

Kagome nodded emphatically. "Yes, please, take us back."

Daz swept in beside her and scooped her hand up and placed it in the crook of his elbow. Shippou began to growl menacingly at the other man. To cover the feral sound Kagome squeaked and pulled her hand away to her face, releasing a series of embarrassed giggles.

"Oh my! That is much too forward a move in my country." She gasped as she scooted closer to the kitsune and gave him a gentle nudge to calm him.

"My apologizes if I've offended you." Daz smiled ruefully, "In our country it is considered common courtesy to take a beautiful woman by the arm and escort her like such in public."

This time both Currey and Shippou rolled their eyes simultaneously. Apparently, neither were enamored with Daz's antics.

Kagome shied closer to Shippou. "No offense taken."

Daz shook his head and sighed. "Ah, well, can't blame a bloke for trying. Follow me then."

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