Absolution's Pursuit

The Epilogue


In the distant regions of the north, there is a range of mountains near the sea.

Having stood since the beginning of time, it is an eerie place, uninhabited by any human. It is strange to say, but there seems to be a barrier there. A barrier that wards human beings away, though the animals are permitted to pass through with ease.

There are some who believe the last youkai society resides there.

According to legend, it was centuries ago when youkai roamed the lands freely, hunting, raising families and making lives for themselves, just as any other creature. Some took on the forms of great and mystical beasts, while others resembled human beings. All were said to possess great strength, power and healing abilities not afforded to any man or mortal creature.

For a time, the youkai and mortal creatures shared the lands in peace, a healthy curiosity between the different species and nothing more. However, times were not always easy and food was sometimes scarce. From time to time, the youkai preyed upon the mortals. From time to time the mortals preyed upon the youkai. Life and death have always circled around one another in an endless dance, and human flesh was just as satisfying as any.

It was not until the most powerful youkai truly set themselves against humanity that things began to change. Believing themselves the superior species, the youkai turned against the humans, no longer hunting them merely as a means of survival, but for the sheer pleasure of shedding their inferior blood. In less than half a century, man was driven to the brink of extinction! Unwilling to see their greatest creation wiped clean from the earth, the gods decided to intervene. Priests, priestesses and monks were born, all possessing a touch of godly power, the likes of which no human had ever known. It was this intervention that brought the humans back from the fringes of oblivion, but the race for survival was not yet complete.

As the humans grew stronger in power, numbers and intelligence, the demons began to adapt, matching and outmatching the strength of the humans. Their numbers began to rise once more, and their audacity increased one-hundred fold as they began attacking the gods' chosen protectors.

It was in this that the youkai sealed their own fate.

The very air began to change. Mortal creatures did not register the difference, but the delicate waves of purity that washed through the air began to burn the lungs of hostile youkai. It leeched them of their strange and awesome powers, sapped them of their immeasurable strength and left them no more powerful than the mortals they had come to abhor. They were condemned to a slow and pitiable demise. But, as with all creatures the more powerful of the species were resilient and did not die off right away. Some even sought a means of escaping the gods' wrath.

It is said, that only one succeeded. His name, is Sesshoumaru.

Hailing from the lands of the west, Sesshoumaru was born the prince of dogs. Unlike his father before him, the young prince did not care for humans. He was a cold, heartless creature, his every action strategic and calculated to serve his own purposes. The young prince even went so far as to murder his only brother, merely because the boy was a half-demon, a stain upon his family's pure blood and a constant reminder of his father's love for humanity.

For many years he lived and ruled his territory with impunity for his transgressions, until the day his great and terrible father, the Inu-no-Taisho returned from the grave, warning him of the terrible fate set before him.

Initially, Sesshoumaru believed himself above punishment from the gods, but was soon convinced that a pathetic demise awaited him when his seemingly endless power began to wane. When asked how such a tragic demise could be avoided, the Inu-no-Taisho told his son that he must seek a means of absolution, though no specific instructions were given.

The prince of dogs then went on a quest to seek a solution. Along the way, he met a young maiden. The woman was familiar to him, for she had been a companion of his departed brother. Believing it would grant him sway with the gods, the young prince offered the maiden his protection. The maiden agreed and the pair began traveling together.

Eventually, the inu prince consulted his father's most trusted vassal for advice. 'If there is a means of absolution,' the old youkai had said, 'You would have to journey far and wide to find it.' When the prince readily agreed, he was told he would have to go far into the north, and high into the mountains. As the air is much thinner in the mountains, the purity that swept the lands was less effective there. Most of the weaker demons had already began dying off, but in the mountains they ran in droves. The prince of dogs was still immensely powerful and therefore unconcerned about the weaker demons, but for the young maiden, traveling into the mountains meant great peril. Knowing the danger, the pair traveled to the mountains anyway.

At dusk they arrived at its peak, and even though it was eerily quiet, the presence of the youkai could be felt by both the maiden and her companion. It is true most demons are emboldened by the dark, so as night began to fall, the tenuous danger became a solid, tumultuous entity. Slowly at first, the youkai seemed to creep in from all corners, stalking the pair's encampment and seeking the flesh of the woman. They were unable to flee the mountains and had already devoured every mortal beast that resided there. Many were ravenous, hungering for flesh and power in order to ensure their own survival. Since the female would provide both, the youkai set their unwavering sights upon her, their empty, desperate bellies demanding their pursuit.

As time crawled on, the youkai became more and more persistent and Sesshoumaru was forced to fight them off in the interest of protecting the maiden. He was a powerful and accomplished warrior, but the numbers were not in his favor. In spite of his best efforts, the maiden was injured and the prince of dogs was forced to unleash his most powerful attack in order to vanquish the remaining threats that surrounded her.

From all outward appearances the maiden's injury was only minor, and the pair did the best they could to tend to it. As he looked at her fragile skin, torn and bleeding because he had not been able to prevent it, he realized how much he had come to care for her. True she was human and her body was weak, but the woman possessed an inner strength to be admired and feared. It was this which had earned his respect.

That night, high in the northern mountains, the prince of dogs gathered the young maiden into his arms and the two became one, the timeless dance of intimacy forging a new and powerful bond between them; one which could never be broken.

Unfortunately for the pair, things are not always as they seem, for the maiden's injury was not so innocuous as it had initially appeared. She'd been poisoned, and the prince, weakened and exhausted from the energy he'd expended to protect her, had not detected the scent of it until it was far too late.

The maiden and youkai were dying.

The morning sun found the pair in a lovers' embrace, warm and sated and pale. The woman was weak, for she was only human, so when the night fell upon them again, the maiden had died.

Devastated by her loss and convinced that no absolution existed for him, the prince of dogs discarded his enchanted armor and laid down his powerful swords. He gathered the woman's limp, cooling body into his arms and slowly descended the mountain. The gods had set a terrible fate upon him and the life he would have lead was gone, scattered to the four corners of the earth, never to be seen again. He was destined to die, but how he departed the land of the living remained in his own hands.

The sprawling blue sea lay ahead of him and the prince moved toward it with unblinking eyes and resolve in his heavy heart. He did not flinch, did not turn back when the cool water lapped at his ankles. Was unconcerned when it rose above his hips. In fact, he did not stop at all, even when the icy waves closed over their heads.

Even in death, Sesshoumaru's grip held firm; the maiden remaining trapped in his embrace as an unseen force pulled them at last to the bottom of the sea.

So deep had the pair drifted beneath the icy waves, that not even the pallbearers of the afterlife could reach them. Their spirits remained trapped on the ocean floor, even as their bodies were consumed by the elements and time.

No one knows how long they remained, but in time the spirits became more and more cohesive, even fusing with the water that surrounded them. In time, they would emerge again, the cool crisp sea parting before them as they reemerged to the world above. The fated pair lived again, though changed from what they once had been. Upon each of their faces, the sea had kissed its mark; a pale blue droplet upon Sesshoumaru's brow, and perpetual "tears" that leaked from the outer corners of Kagome's eyes. The markings sparkled in the morning sun. Their long hair, hers darker than his, also bore the brand of its depths; and as they moved, the trailing, aquamarine strands fell in waterlogged heaps behind them.

They had become elemental youkai, reborn with the ability to control the water in all its forms.

It is said that the pair claimed the northern mountains as their home, mated and had many children. Over time, they were joined by other youkai who sought refuge from the humans who still feared them, in spite of their lack of malice. Those who resided there, built their exquisite, awe inspiring homes in and around the mountains, creating a beautiful village that stretched from its high peaks down to the shore of the sea.

Spreading thick layers of mist about its inland borders, the youkai safeguarded their home so that their children could live in safety. The animals were not a threat, but humans who feared them would seek to wipe them out. It was for that reason that the barrier was placed. Any human who sought passage would be turned away, though without being harmed. Even though the pair now held the status of some of the most powerful youkai ever known, they still realized that their continued survival hinged on amiability toward humanity. Not even elementals are above the gods' wrath.

It has been many centuries now, and some believe that the elementals yet live. No one knows for certain, but it is quite possible, even probable that the youkai occasionally masquerade themselves as humans and venture down from the mountains to visit the outside world.

Sighing softly, Kagome closed the ancient book, its pages faded and worn with the passage of many years. For several moments, she watched as the boy slept, carefully tucking a lock of pale blue hair behind his pointed ear. She smiled, her own thick, cerulean tresses spilling over her shoulder as she leaned forward to press a petal soft kiss against his brow.

"Sleep well my son…"

She lifted herself from the boy's bed and quietly left the room. Outside, Sesshoumaru was waiting for her and she looked at him and smiled.

"Do you never tire of that story?" he asked stoically, though his eyes fell upon her with gentle warmth. Having learned to read his emotions centuries before, she could no longer see the frosty indifference that would be perceived by those who did not know him well.

She walked up to him, her silken robes whispering quietly against the polished floor as she held the gaze of her beloved. "It's never failed to put any of the children to sleep," she admitted cheerfully, before carefully cupping his face in her delicate clawed hands. He acquiesced as she pulled him close, the warmth of her lips pressing against the pale blue mark that graced his brow.

She missed the crescent moon that had once resided there, as well as the magenta stripes that had graced his high cheeks, but their loss was a small price to pay for everything they'd gained.

She pulled away, her eyes shining as she moved to his side and wrapped an arm around his waist. Unhesitant, Sesshoumaru returned her sidelong embrace and the pair turned and made their way down the long corridor.

"Besides," Kagome said at last, "It's a really great story."

~Owari~


Yay! The story is FINALLY completed! I am so happy! This final chapter is the one that inspired the whole story! I've never written one where I turned Kagome into a demon before, so when I thought of how I'd do it, this is what I came up with. I really hope you all enjoyed this little tale!

I'd also like to send out a special thanks to Creature of Shadow! She has been a HUGE supporter of my work for quite some time now and I can't tell her how much I appreciate it!

Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, nominated and voted for the Dokuga awards. It has been an honor and a privilege!