Kagome breathed heavily as she watched Inuyasha dispatch the last wolf that lunged at him. Who knew that providing backup with arrows was so tiring! There were more than a dozen wolves and it took the group half the day to clean out half of them. When the mangy canines realized that they were no match for the three humans and the hanyou they fought with, most retreated with their tails between their legs. The other foolish ones continued to attack with a determined glare, only to be cut down by Inuyasha's Tetsuiga, Sango's boomerang, Miroku's ofuda and staff, or Kagome's purified arrows. Now with the last one gone, the three humans collapsed, breathing hard as the adrenaline finally subsided. The only one who didn't show his exhaustion was Inuyasha. He instead was staring off into the distance, watching the sun set behind the mountains with a scowl on his face.
Those wolves came from the direction of the village that was under his protection, and further past that village was a mountain where he knew for a fact that a pack of wolves resided rather peacefully. They wouldn't attack the village that they lived so close to for decades randomly. For one it was too far from their dens, especially for their cubs, to travel for food. More than a three day's run if he remembered correctly. The only reason he could think of for the raid would be that they were ordered to attack by a higher ranked wolf demon, and the only higher ranked wolf demon that would have control over the wolves to order them to attack not only innocents but to randomly attack him and his pack, breaking their truce, could only be Kouga.
"Inuyasha, do you…do you think Kouga was behind this?" Kagome asked after catching her breath.
Inuyasha inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. He answered his woman on an exhale and turned to the group. They all fought valiantly considering that this was their first fight against youkai and Inuyasha couldn't help but bristle with pride at his pack for fighting so diligently without complaint. He was especially proud of Kagome. She amazed him by constantly shooting her arrows without stopping, rushing over to dead bodies to pick up a used arrow to re-use it when she ran out. It was more than what her incarnation would have done that's for sure and even though he wanted to strangle the reckless woman for running head first into the battle for a few arrows, he was proud nonetheless.
"I'm sure that it was, but this was just a ploy to mess with us." The hanyou replied.
"Whether it was or not, I'm positive that he wanted to take one of us out at least. Miroku said as he stood on his feet and helped his wife as well.
Inuyasha turned to help his own stand on her two feet before he turned to face the direction the children and Kaede ran to. "We should go find the others. I'm sure the kids are worried to tears thinking up the worse possible situation for us right about now."
Kagome and Sango immediately became alert at Inuyasha's statement. Kagome grabbed Inuyasha's hand tightly. "Oh my gosh the kids! Inuyasha what if some of those wolves went after them? What if they're hurt?" she asked frantically.
"Easy there, Kagome. Take a deep breath. I'm positive that they are all completely fine and unharmed." Inuyasha reassured the woman.
Miroku nodded in agreement. "They're fine. The distress sutra I put in the twins' pockets would have alerted me otherwise."
"Seiji actually let you put an alarm in his pocket?" Sango asked incredulously.
"No, he doesn't know it's there." Miroku replied with a smirk.
"Can we go find the children now? Please?" Kagome snapped as she began walking out of the clearing.
Sango followed right behind her as she was also worried senseless about her twins. The men both shrugged with a sigh as they walked into the trees to follow their mates with Inuyasha calling ahead that he should take the lead.
Kouga sat upon the pile of bodies glowering at the pack of useless wolves cowering before him. He could understand his wolves having trouble taking down the half-breed mutt, but there were also four human adults and a bunch of kids with them! None of them had extraordinary powers to take out his pack, so there was no reason why his hunting party was dwindled to about half of what he started with. Even if his whore of an ex-wife managed to purify some of them, they should have been able to bring her or his hanyou brat back to him. Even the mutt's hanyou brat would have sufficed. Then he would have a bigger leverage over Inuyasha. Everyone knew he couldn't control himself when he let his demon take full control. With a frustrated growl Kouga hopped off the pile he was sitting on and kicked one of the wolves in front of him.
"Incompetent fools. How hard is it to capture two kids and kill three out of four humans?"
"My lord, please allow me to explain in their stead." A voice called from a tree nearby.
Kouga turned with a scowl to the occupied tree. "It better be a grand explanation Hakkaku otherwise I'm taking it out of your hide."
Hakkaku jumped from his perch in the tree and kneeled in front of his pack leader. Even after all of the centuries Hakkaku still viewed Kouga with high esteem and saw him as a valued friend. His brother Ginta, however, decided that Kouga was too far gone mentally and opted to move away to another pack after the tragic death of their queen. So now it was only the two of them left.
"Kouga, try not to be upset with these pups. According to my sources, Inuyasha has been training his humans along with their children in combat to prepare them for days such as this one so we would have had to struggle with them at some point. The children were sent ahead a head with a powerful miko and not only that, but all of the children save one kitsune pup have awakened their spiritual powers. Even Souske. Our wolves would have been purified instantly if the brats allowed their fear to guide their power. Not to mention that none of them could get passed Inuyasha, the demon slayer cast out and her husband."
Kouga scowled and crossed his arms over his chest. "I wouldn't have to be upset with these useless pups if you had done your previous job correctly and had your idiot goons do their job correctly months ago. I could have gotten rid of the mutt's bitch by taking my son from her then." Kouga lowered his arm at that thought.
He advanced towards the old friend slowly. "And let's not forget how you somehow failed me yet again with the demon slayers. How you managed to do that is beyond me. They practically gave themselves to you and you still couldn't capture Kagome or kill the other three. You all have failed me countless times. You, Kikyou, and that other fool who couldn't even burn them with that fire."
Hakkaku watched the advancement warily. "Kouga, please understand. Give me another chance to fix all of this. I'll bring Souske and Inuyasha's brat back to you and then you'll get your revenge for the disgrace they've brought upon you." He said standing slowly.
The wolf demon leader grinned menacingly at his long time soon to be ex-friend. "No. Don't worry about the brats and half-breed. I'll deal with them myself."
Hakkaku didn't like the look in his friend's eyes and he shivered slightly with fear. "Wh…what do you need me to do then Kouga?"
Kouga smirked. "You've failed me so many times Hakkaku. The only thing I need you to do," he paused as he turned to the demon standing before him. "Is die!"
Hakkaku barely moved out of the way of Kouga's claws, avoiding a lethal strike by mere inches. "Kouga…why?" he asked as he held his own clawed hand to his chest where five deep gashes glistened brightly with blood.
Kouga looked at his bloody claws in admiration. "I'm tired of failure Hakkaku, and you've done so too many times. Now be a good boy and die for me."
Hakkaku jumped once more away from the claws trying to tear him apart before he took to the trees and jumped from branch to branch to get away. He heard the pounding of paws and feet behind him, both on the ground and in the trees as the pack followed after him.
"I have to lose them." the wounded wolf panted.
Apparently his wounds were deeper than they seemed. Black dots winked in front of his eyes as the scent of water hit his nose. A stream flowed quickly in front of him and without hesitation, Hakkaku threw himself into the freezing water allowing the current to drag him away and the darkness to close in on him.
Shippo sat on a rock by the camp fire that his brothers and cousins made, staring up at the starry sky. He was worried about his parents and his aunt and uncle. Ryu had ensured him that they were alright, but the young kitsune couldn't help but wonder if they were hurt or worse. It made him sad to think like that but he just couldn't stop. With a sigh, Shippo looked to the night sky, spotting a group of constellation that Inuyasha and Kagome had showed him one night while at home. The song that Kagome taught him started to play in his head. Most nights he would get his brothers or parents to sing with him, but the adults were fighting those wolves and his brothers- cranky as they were tonight- were practicing with Kaede on their miko and priest powers with their cousins, so he was stuck singing alone. The notes played softly in his head as he sang out loud, swaying slightly to the tune.
"Kira Kira Hikaru
Osora no Hoshiyo
Mabataki Shite wa
Minna o miteru
Kira Kira Hikaru
Osora no Hoshiyo"
"Hey Shippo, what are you singing? It sounds like the ABC song." Emma asked coming from the trees where everyone else was concentrating. Shippo jumped at the sound of the girl's voice. "Sorry for scaring you." She said softly.
"It's okay. I'm singing a song mama taught me. It's called Kira Kira Boshi…um, what's the ABC song?"
Emma sat next to the young boy as she thought of the English translation for the song Shippo just named. Sometimes being multilingual was a headache and annoying, considering all the filtering one had to do in order to translate one simple sentence. Shippo continued to watch her closely before jumping in fright again at her sudden exclamation of clarity.
"That's it! You're singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! I never knew that Japan had the same song, let alone the same tune. That's so awesome!"
Shippo looked confused. "Emma, what's Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? And the ABC song?"
"They're English songs and they both have the same tune as Kira Kira Boshi. I use to sing them all the time I was little like you."
"Hey! I'm not little! Mama says I'm a big boy! And you're not that much olderer than me."
Emma giggled behind her hand. She was quiet for a while before a nostalgic feeling overcame her. "Hey Shippo, can I sing with you?"
Shippo frowned at Emma, still a bit put out for being called little, but nodded at her request. He wanted someone to sing with him anyway. "Can you teach me the English version?"
"Of course Shippo-chan. It starts like this." Emma cleared her throat as she began to sing.
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I wonder what you are"
Shippo smiled after she finished. It did sound just like Kira Kira Boshi. He didn't understand most of it, but he was determined to learn so that he could sing for his mom and dad when they finally came to the camp. The two children continued to sing their songs, teaching each other the verses in both languages until they each fell asleep by the fire where Ryu and the others found them sometime later.
Ryu held a gentle smile as he covered his adopted baby brother and his cousin with a blanket his mother had in the bag she had given him early that day, however the thought of his new mother brought on some morbid ideas about the other adults. Earlier that evening he and Souske told the younger boy that their parents would be fine and would return to them alive and well. However, the young hanyou was still afraid and had his doubts. What if they didn't return? He would have to take care of everyone. He was the oldest after all…well after Declan of course, but he was human. He wouldn't be able to protect them all by himself, which brought on a new dilemma for Ryu. Would he be able to take care of his human relatives, along with his demon ones all on his own?
Ryu jumped at the voice and glared at his new brother. How come he didn't smell him coming? "Don't do that Souske. I almost had a heart attack." He whispered harshly.
Souske rolled his eyes. "Demons and half demons can't have heart attacks. Besides, if you weren't so bent on taking over for dad as if he were dead you would have heard me coming. Sad excuse for a demon you are."
Ryu growled softly before sighing. "I know. I'm just…I guess I'm a little scared."
"We're all scared Ryu." Seiji said coming walking up to them.
The three boys looked to where Kaede was getting Suki and herself settled down by a tree. Kirara and Shizuru were under another tree resting themselves up. Declan went to curl up with his sister and Shippo, placing a protective arm around the two younger children.
"We're all scared, but you won't have to protect us alone. Souske and I will also help." Seiji reassured his god-brother.
Ryu grinned and nodded. "Yeah, you're right and if we continue training our demon skills and your priest powers, we'll become an unbeatable force."
"An unbeatable force for what?" a male voice said from the tree line.
Ryu spun around to face the voice with a smile on his face. He would know that voice anywhere and tears came to his eyes that his father was safe. He didn't want to wake the others up so he ran into the trees and tackled the older hanyou hugging him tightly. Souske followed suit, however being much gentler with his mother and Seiji ran to jump-hug his own father and mother. Inuyasha grunted from the impact of his son's embrace, chuckling softly at the antics of the three boys.
"Whoa pup, what's with the teary reunion?"
Seiji sniffled into his father's shirt before replying that they were all afraid of losing their parents to the wolves.
"Trying to be rid of us so soon huh" Sango asked teasingly.
"No Auntie Sango! We…we're just super glad to have you guys back." Souske said burying his face into his mother's stomach as exhaustion took over his small form.
Kagome exchanged a glace with Inuyasha who smiled at the boys' behavior. All three fell asleep in the arms of their parents once they knew that they were alive accounted for, and that put smiles on the parent's faces as they carried the three boys into camp and settled down with them by the fire, allowing exhaustion to take over and soon they fell asleep as well.
Ryu gripped his father's shoulders tightly as Inuyasha jumped over another fallen log, the young boy sighing for the fifth time. He was stuck riding on his father's back today since he transformed into a human today. On any other day that he turned human, Ryu would be happy with the ride, however he wasn't the only one to change that day and he found it completely unfair that Souske was allowed to run alongside his dad just because he turns into a full demon. He should have been forced to ride Kirara or Shizuru, but Ryu didn't voice his opinion a second time, not after the scolding and warning his father had given him this morning. He may be a bit cranky and upset at the situation, but Ryu wasn't daft enough to irritate his dad any more than he already was.
"How much farther do we have to go before we get to your brother's house?" Souske asked.
Inuyasha glanced quickly to the boy running beside him before focusing on where he was going. He was a bit surprised that they boy would even speak to him after he told both him and Ryu off this morning for being brats to both him and Kagome, Souske being the worst offender by telling his mother to 'leave him the hell alone'. He had restrained himself from knocking the kid's teeth out earlier, but he told all of the kids that if there was any more disrespect that there would be some sorry children. Needless to say, all of the children fixed their attitudes right away.
"Dad, how much longer?" Souske asked again.
"We should get there by dinner tonight since the arrogant jerk finally sent his pet to carry the others. We won't have to stop for a break anytime soon." The older hanyou replied.
A creature looking similar to his brother's old two headed mount from years ago-'Could be an offspring of Ah-Un' he thought as he jumped over another log- was standing just beyond the tree line that morning with a note attached to its horn written in his brother's neat handwriting. Even though Inuyasha was a bit miffed about the insulting note – it insinuated that Inuyasha couldn't safely bring his pack to the castle- he was grateful for the extra ride since both Kirara and the pup were over loaded with humans. As least this way all three demons could carry a handful of children and their parents.
"Why are we going there anyway dad?" Ryu inquired while shifting slightly to get comfortable on his father's hard back.
Souske rolled his eyes. "You're so out of the loop. Hello! We have to meet up with your uncle so that we can come up with a plan to beat up my father." He said before Inuyasha could answer.
"Uncle Sess is your uncle too now. And I asked dad Souske, not you."
"Yeah… and? What are you going to do, cry about it you big baby?"
Inuyasha replied to the taunt before Ryu could continue with the banter. "Unless you would like for me to 'do something about it' I suggest that you both cut the crap and stop arguing right now." He said in a no nonsense tone that kept bother boys quiet for the rest of the morning.
Around mid-day the group – sans Inuyasha- found themselves staring in amazement at a very large castle bustling with demons of all species walking around or standing at old fashioned stalls selling their products. Inuyasha took hold of the harness for his brother' creature, Pa-Kun, and began guiding it through the mini market into the adjacent village dutifully ignoring the calls to buy this or that. Kagome quickened her pace to catch up to Inuyasha while many of the demons –those who weren't trying to gain Inuyasha's attention- eyed the humans of the group with a mixture of disdain or hunger.
"Inuyasha," she called in a whisper as she continued to look ahead, knowing that he could hear her. "I thought Sesshomaru lived in a mansion or something similar. You never mentioned that he lived in a castle town." She hissed, keeping her eyes on the demons that were eying them.
Inuyasha kept his eyes forward as well, but noticed the hostile stares that were aimed at the humans in his group. "He's the lord of the Western Lands Kagome. I figured it would be fairly obvious that he would live extravagantly when we're not in the city."
"Yes, but…well I mean I know that he has wealth unlike any other but-"
Kagome ceased her rambling as two feline demons stepped in front of them and kneeled at Inuyasha's feet.
"My Lord Inuyasha. It is an honor to see you well and healthy. We are grateful to both you and Lord Sesshomaru for all that you have done for the villages." one of the demons said looking up with a toothy smile.
Inuyasha narrowed his eyes, staring the two demons down. "What is this 'Lord' bullshit that you felines are spewing out of your mouths? You full demons never address me with that type of respect before and as long as I live you probably never will."
The second demon raised his head. "We mean no disrespect my lord, but you are Lord Sesshomaru's brother. You are considered his heir until he bears a proper –"
"Yeah yeah all of that political shit is great and peachy," Inuyasha said cutting off the brown nosing. "What is it you want from me? I'm busy."
The first demon glanced at Kagome and licked his lips, making the young miko narrow her own eyes as well and grip her bow tighter preparing herself to notch it in case she needed to shoot one of them. The demon looked to Inuyasha once again. "It was so wonderful of you to bring us some treats and treasures, my Lord." he said as he eyed Kagome and the other women with lustful hunger.
Ryu, who was standing behind his father watching the scene began to notice a crowd of various other demons begin to crowd them and he moved closer to his father's side. Apparently the other adults noticed as well as they started to form a tight circle around the children. Ryu looked to Inuyasha.
"Dad, what's going on?" he asked softly.
"I'm scared Uncle Yasha." Emma said from behind her brother who was standing guard in front of the girls with the other boys.
"There's nothing to be afraid of Emma. These pussy cats don't know what they're talking about nor do they realize who they're messing with." Inuyasha said.
"Oh we know exactly what we are talking about, hanyou," the first demon sneered. "And we know that you wouldn't dare break the treaty you have with us demons within the walls. You can't kill a demon in the pure –blood section of the village."
Inuyasha growled. "You honestly think I care about politics after you threaten my pack?" he responded as he placed a hand on his sword.
The demons moved closer in unison, preparing to strike until a forceful gust of wind blew the approaching demons aside.
"What is the meaning of this? I do not believe my husband would appreciate the horrendous reception you are showing to his guests."
Various whispers of 'Lady Kagura' were heard before all of the wind blown demons scattered.
"Yeah, you guys better run!" Souske yelled after them only to receive a cuff on his head from Inuyasha.
"Don't instigate a fight you can't possibly win boy." Was all that he said to the boy's look of indignation. Inuyasha looked at Kagura who only smirked.
"Don't look so angry brother. Let's go inside. I'm sure Sesshomaru would love to hear all about your displeasure with this…greeting of sorts." She said as she turned around to escort the group inside the castle.
Almost 6 months. I'm sorry for the long wait. This past summer has been hectic, losing two members of my family and babysitting plus college started up as well so I've been a bit busy. I hope you guys enjoyed this update. They finally reached Sesshomaru for this impending repeat in history that they were warned about. I'll eventually get to an explanation of why Kouga has lost his mind and is the way he is. Also, there's a bit of angst in the next chapter and Souske finally pushes Inuyasha's buttons a bit too far.
Also, I'm reviewing, rereading, and revising the first 25 chapters. Apparently FFN, or maybe it was just my computer's programing, has been making the wrong corrections to my chapters and I've noticed SO many spelling and grammar errors, not to mention some sentence structure issues as well. So it may take a while before the next chapter comes out, but I will be adding things here and there and taking some unnecessary parts out or rearranging some parts in the previous 25 chapters while I continue to write the next chapters. Multitasking is wonderful, isn't it?
Don't forget to review! Thank you to everyone who does review and thank you to everyone who is still reading this story.