Moon Behind Clouds

(an Inuyasha fan fiction story by Ammaranth *b_ed* )

(Author's Note: I do not own Inuyasha, or any of its characters. That honor goes to the much esteemed Lady Rumiko Takahashi, and the respective studios, publishers, distributors, etc, as the case may be. It's a great series, so I strongly encourage you to read the manga, watch the videos, buy the figures, calenders, keychains, plushies, and any other licensed swag you can get your hands on. But as for me, I'm not making a penny off of this. I do it all for the joy of writing. And the mikos . . . the angsty, undead mikos ;)

Chapter 1

"Demon! Tell me your name…"

The priestess held an arrow in her bow, bent to full draw.

"Who I am, and what my name is, are none of your concern."

"Suppose that I MAKE them my concern? I would know the name of the one I am about to kill!"

The ghostly figure in white sighed, as if this sort of thing were an ordinary, everyday sort of inconvenience.

"You must be the priestess Kikyo…"

* * * * * * * *

"Where are you going, Lord Sesshomaru?"

"Nowhere", Sesshomaru said, in that tone of voice that Rin liked so much. Sesshomaru did not smile very often. It wasn't the sort of thing that he would not do. But he did get this certain sound to his voice at times, that almost sounded like smiling, if smiling had a sound. The last time he had gone "nowhere", he had come back with a bundle of "nothing." "Nothing" turned out to be a beautiful orange and white kimono for Rin. It was the nicest thing she had ever been given.

"Hurry back!", Rin said. "Master Jaken and I will be all alone without you."

"You and Jaken will have to fend for yourselves for a while", Sesshomaru said, adjusting his two swords in his sash.

"Please, Lord Sesshomaru, take me with you! Do not leave me here with this silly human girl!"

"Jaken", Sesshomaru said, as if he had not heard his request, "take care of things while I am away."

"Yes, m'lord, of course."

With that, he turned, and was gone.

Sesshomaru was a youkai. You could tell this by his flowing white hair. His face was the face of a young man, but his hair was as white as snow, and his pale skin glowed like the light of the moon -- like the crescent moon shaped birthmark he had on his forehead. Now youkai is often translated as "demon", though "goblin" or "elf" would also do. They are one of those classes of faerie tale creatures which, sadly, no longer seem to be so common in the world these days. His father had been a great dog-lord, a Tai-youkai. He was much respected, and upon his death, he had left Sesshomaru the Tenseiga, one of two great swords forged from his father's fang. The other sword, the Tetsuaiga, he had left to Inuyasha, Sesshomaru's half brother. But it was the Tenseiga which lay at the heart of this day's journey.

"Why did father leave me such a wretched, useless sword?", he wondered, drawing it out from it's sheath. As he held the sword in his hand, a faint blue mist descended on the forest around him. It was the appearance of the netherworld.

The Tenseiga had been forged to work in that world, not in our own. With one stroke, it could kill 100 denizens of the underworld, and bring 100 people back to life. But unlike the mighty Tetsuaiga, which could kill 100 youkai (or humans) at once, the Tenseiga could only cut beings from that world, and not from this.

Sesshomaru surveyed this other world around him, a faint haze superimposed upon our own, always there, but seldom visible. At the moment , it did not appear that any members of the netherworld were nearby. But he kept the sword drawn all the same.

"If Inuyasha can work with the Tetsuaiga, and build its power, then perhaps I can do the same with the Tenseiga, until it gains some more useful ability", he thought to himself. He was so busy thinking that at first he did not notice the ghostly figure moving among the trees, coming down the path that lay on the other side of the juncture before him. When he did notice, he was rather surprised to see that the figure was dressed as a priestess, with a white kimono and red hakama pants. She wore no shoes.

"Why would a priestess be all the way out here?", he murmured to himself.

Even more surprising was that a blue mist seemed to hang around her, and trail along after her, as though she were somehow connected with the netherworld that the Tenseiga let him see.

"Demon!", she called out with a very unladylike snarl, "Tell me, what is your name?" Sesshomaru stopped in the middle of the path, still holding the Tenseiga. His garments fluttered in an almost imperceptible breeze, which might have been blowing in this world. Or it might have been in the next.

"Who I am, and what my name is, are none of your concern."

"Suppose that I MAKE them my concern? I would know the name of the one I am about to kill!"

Sesshomaru looked at her hand as it held the bow, his gaze traveling along her outstretched arm, along the billowed sleeve of her kimono, up to her face, which looked as steely as the tip of any arrow. It was as if she could kill a man, or a youkai, with just her eyes, and the flight of the arrow was only to give a path for her deadly gaze to follow. Though he couldn't be sure, when their eyes met, there seemed to be a pulse in the Tenseiga.

"You must be the priestess Kikyo."

"How is it that you know my name when I do not know yours?"

Sesshomaru smiled. It was a deadly smile.

"You're Inuyasha's woman . . ."

Kikyo's eyes flared. The hand that held back the arrow quivered.

"Oh well", he went on. "It's not as if it's a surprise. Inuyasha's mother was a human. It only makes sense that he would keep to his own kind. I don't know which I should hold against my father more, that he left me this useless sword, or that he cursed me with an even more useless brother."

It took a moment for his words to register, first in her mind, then across her face. Her anger became a look of perplexity.

"The Lord Sesshomaru . . . I've heard of you."

"Lady Kikyo."

Kikyo relaxed the pressure of her bow, then took the arrow from the string, and placed it back in her quiver.

"I am not . . . 'Inuyasha's woman' ", she said, easing her back against a tree.

"I see", Sesshomaru said slowly. "So that's how it is . . ."

For a moment, the Lady Kikyo did not say or do anything. She just stood there, leaning, looking very little like the fiercesome demon hunter who had been about to slay a youkai only moments before. She looked tired, but her weariness did not seem to be from holding back her bow.

"Lord Sesshomaru," she said, when she was able to speak again. "If I may enquire, what brings you to this place?"

Sesshomaru chuckled to himself at being so politely addressed by someone who had expressed her intent to kill him only a few moments earlier.

"This sword will not cut", he said, and he returned the Tenseiga to its sheath. The blue mist that hung all around them, and trailed from Lady Kikyo's hair, disappeared. Kikyo waited a polite amount of time, but no other information was forthcoming. That was how Sesshomaru explained things -- without explaining anything at all.

"And what brings a priestess so far from her village?"

Kikyo frowned.

"Two days ago, a messenger came to my village. He was from Yamamura, over the other side of the mountains, and he told terrible tales of a demon that had suddenly appeared and begun ravaging the countryside. None of the warriors or holy men were able to do anything against it, so I am traveling there now, to slay it myself."

"You will not."

"Do you intend to try to stop me?"

Kikyo put her hand to her quiver, and took hold of one of her arrows.

"You will not be able to slay the demon."

"And why is that?" she asked, letting go of the feathered shaft, and instead putting her hand on the side of her hip (which may have been an even more threatening gesture.) "Are you implying I am not capable of killing this demon? I'll remind you, I pinned your brother to a tree. I could have killed him, if I had wanted to."

"Incapacitating my useless brother proves nothing. And you will not be able to slay this demon because I am going to slay it myself."

"Hmph!" she chuckled. "With a sword that does not cut?"

Sesshomaru smiled his deadly smile. Kikyo pushed off from the tree and adjusted the knot that held back her hair. Then she took her bow in her hand, and started off down the path. Sesshomaru waited for a moment, then started walking, going the same way. He had hardly gone more than a couple of steps when the priestess whirled to face him, making her hair dance along her shoulders.

"Do NOT follow me . . ."

"I was following the road."

Kikyo scowled, then started walking again. Her legs were much shorter than his. But Sesshomaru was not one to hurry. Somehow, they found themselves walking next to each other, on opposite sides of the path.

"I don't trust you to walk behind me", Kikyo said, "but if I were to walk behind you, I might not be able to refrain from shooting you. You remind me too much of your brother."

Sesshomaru's hair bristled.

"No one is going to kill Inuyasha", he said, "unless I do it myself." They walked on for some while, and had just passed a place where the road was very rough, being strewn with rocks that had washed down the side of a neighboring hill, when Sesshomaru stopped.

"What is it?"

He said nothing, but instead drew the Tenseiga, and stood as if he were looking for something. Kikyo's hand went to her arrows.

"There must be a village nearby", he said. "I thought I heard someone playing the flute."
"Your pardon, Lord Sesshomaru, but I did not hear anything."

"Perhaps I didn't either", he said, and sheathing the sword, he started walking again. They had been walking for some time before he spoke again. "It's really none of my concern", he began.

Kikyo sighed, then took a deep breath, as she braced herself for the inevitable line of questioning about what had happened between her and Inuyasha.

"What happened to your shoes?"

Kikyo blinked, letting his words register, then gave Sesshomaru a questioning look, before answering:

"I lost them in a puddle of Naraku's poisonous miasma."

"You should be careful. I have heard that servants of Naraku were seen not long ago, not far from this place. If he found you, you might do much worse than lose your shoes."

"I do not fear Naraku. So long as the heart of Onigumo beats within him, he will not be able to kill me. He . . . desires me . . . too much."

Sesshomaru smirked.

"It would seem your charms only work on half-breeds."

Kikyo shot him an arrow from her quiver of deadly looks. Then she relaxed, and made a smirk of her own.

"I . . . have no charms . . ."