The members of Inuyasha's tachi continued to travel the countryside, hunting for any signs of Naraku or the jewel shards. Both remained elusive as Kagome had not sensed the presence of a shard in several weeks, leaving them the only option of continuing their search by following rumors of demonic activity from the local villagers in the area.
Inuyasha and Kagome broke camp in the nearby woods while Miroku and Sango headed towards the village, intent on finding some answers.
The fast-approaching night was nearly upon them as Kagome managed to get a fire lit with Shippo's help. She knew why Inuyasha had wanted to stay behind at camp when the others set out to get information. The night of the New Moon was nearly upon them. Even as the light of day around them waned, so did her hanyou companion's demonic powers fade into nothing. He remained indifferent, leaning in the branches of an overhead tree with his arms crossed over his chest.
Kagome bit back a sigh as she prepared her sleeping bag for the night. It felt like weeks since they'd had a conversation.
Ever since Kikyo had come around to the right side of things and it became apparent she was the greatest weapon and ally they had against Naraku, she had watched Inuyasha become more and more distant. It was somewhat ironic to think that while her relationship with Kikyo had greatly improved, resulting in an almost sister like trust, her relationship with Inuyasha had quickly deteriorated.
She could hardly make small talk anymore without feeling awkward, knowing that he was running off to Kikyo almost every other night. He really made no clear attempt to hide the fact, either, which gave Kagome the final flag that things were really over between them. She was much better now than before, she thought, remembering the many nights she spent in Sango and Miroku's company, grateful for their comforting words and the advice they provided.
True to their oaths, the pain in her heart had gradually begun to lessen as she thought of her friend as anything more than that less and less. Now when she looked at him, she hardly ever thought of a time when she had seen him that way. She felt a great relief that someday they would be the best friends they were before all the complications.
Idly, she wondered if he would go to her tonight and was surprised to note that the thought actually relieved her in several ways. Being around him had become uncomfortable, if only because she wished he had been more direct with her and considerate of her feelings. She still cared about him as a friend but that didn't quell the ire she felt at the way he chose to handle the situation or the atrocious way she had misread all the obvious signs.
She could sense the other piece of her soul settled not far from their location and silently, she hoped the winds would favor her this evening. Closing her eyes softly, she willed her pure power to rise inside her and began whispering her will like a mantra in her mind.
As she felt the soft breeze blow across her face right as the sun slipped below the horizon she smiled lightly, knowing her spell had worked in her favor. She stole a glance at the hanyou above her and resisted the urge to laugh at the sight of his twitching nose, obviously picking up the scent of his undead lover.
Wanting to give him every possible chance, she yawned and stretched dramatically. "Well, I'm beat. I'm going to go for nice, long soak in the hot spring around the corner and then I'm off to bed. Later," she bid Inuyasha and Shippo offhandedly as she slung her pack over her shoulder, not giving either a chance to respond.
About an hour later, she smirked triumphantly as she toweled her hair dry while walking into camp to find Sango and Miroku awaiting her return but a certain hanyou missing. She felt victorious and planned to enjoy every moment of relaxation she had acquired from the reprieve.
"So, any useful information?" she prodded Miroku casually as she methodically pulled a brush through still damp, raven locks.
Miroku shrugged. "The village priestess seemed quite adamant about telling us the legend of a local Kami, said to reside in a mountain just beyond the valley. They say this Kami was a pure entity that smiled upon the virtues of mankind and that if it looked into your heart and deemed it worthy, it would bless the possessor. She strongly encouraged we go and leave an offering.
"It's not actually a bad idea," he continued mildly, catching the gaze of both women while he scratched his chin in thought. "The mountain is on the way to the next village where a recent attack was and it's not out of our way. The caves along the mountainside would provide excellent shelter and the place is riddled with hot springs and waterfalls." He chuckled at Kagome's expression of awe. "It would be nice to unwind a bit after that last run in with Naraku, ne? Now we just have to convince Inuyasha. Speaking of the baka, where did he get off to?"
Kagome shrugged. "I think Kikyo is around somewhere or something. Anyway, who cares? I'll deal with Inuyasha later. Let's eat and get some sleep so we can get to this mountain you were talking about.