Author's Notes: So then…it's been a while.
Quite a while.
I fell into a hole somewhere along the way, and have only just now managed to climb back out of it. And this story, I have to admit to you all, has been a long, long, long time in coming.
Actually, this story has not been a long time in coming; what has been is the conclusion to 'Impossible Dreams'. I have received countless messages from wonderful readers asking when I would be finishing that story, and I have been giving much thought to that very question for several months now. However, in the end I came to this conclusion: enough time has now gone by, and I have changed enough as a writer, that at this point it's better for me to simply start over. Rework it. Rewrite it from the very first page onward.
You'll find on my profile that I've still kept the original 'Impossible Dreams'; I'm viewing this as a whole new spin on that older story. The premise will still be the same; and in fact, those of you familiar with the original will find much that doesn't change at all. But there will be some plots I expand upon, and others I perhaps decrease in importance.
Regardless, I hope you all can enjoy this story, and I look forward to connecting with all my readers, new and old, again.
Note the rating of this story; the first several chapters will be fairly mild overall, but the subject matter is intense, and eventually there will be more adult content to contend with, so I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.
Blessings, everyone! And I hope you enjoy!
Title: In Search of Eden
Rating: M - Violence, Language, and Sexual Situations
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha. Any similarities to other existing stories is entirely unintentional and coincidental. This story is based originally on an earlier work, titled 'Impossible Dreams', and that work, like this one, belongs to me. Please do not plagiarize.
There was nothing so filthy as a slave auction. And Taro Higurashi, owner of the massive Shinto Estate, meant that in the most literal sense of the word.
The stench was probably the worst. And it was also always the first thing he noticed. The air thick with the putrid smell of unwashed bodies; of sweat and musky, well-worn clothes.
"Honestly, you'd think people trying to sell off their slaves would at least try and make them presentable," Lord Higurashi said as he wrinkled his nose and looked away from a particularly disgusting middle-aged man crouched on the other side of a slate of iron bars. He looked like he'd not seen the inside of a bathtub in months. "What man would purchase that knowing he'd then have to spend the first few weeks just cleaning the man up?"
Lord Higurashi's companion, a short, chubby man, just chuckled. "We're not all like you, Taro. Not all of us care about keeping our slaves clean and presentable. That takes up far too much time and energy. Honestly, I don't know how you manage it."
"You'd change your tune once you realized the benefits of having order in your household," Lord Higurashi responded, to which his companion merely shrugged and remained silent.
Sighing, he mentally promised himself to do his duty quickly, choose some fresh blood, and get home as fast as possible. Because it wasn't just a matter of how disgusting this environment was; Taro Higurashi also found it much more difficult to ignore his conscience when he saw such poverty and ruin around him. When he saw the tragic eyes of children forced to grow up long before their time. The resentful eyes of the men who were going hungry, dressed in rags, while he strolled among them dressed in clothes made from the finest of silks. And the women…well…they always either made him think of his daughter, or he'd remember his long-deceased wife.
And neither of those thoughts did him any good.
Lord Higurashi had long since come to terms with the fact that his beautiful Megumi would have hated him for what he now did, and he had also long since learned to let go of the reality that his daughter Kagome didn't understand him, and that a rift had long since developed between them. Fracturing and splintering over time so that now it was as deep and wide as a chasm between mountains.
He'd done it all to protect her; to save her from the fate he now saw before him in the shape of every man, woman, and child clothed in rags and seated behind barred enclosures. And in saving Kagome, he had in turn been forced to sell his soul.
Taro Higurashi knew he'd never get that soul back.
There was no point in wishing things were different, either. The devil didn't give back what was freely offered in the first place.
So instead, he hardened his heart and did what needed to be done.
"What exactly are you looking for today, my good sirs?" One of the people in charge of this particular auction and sale, an elderly man with pale skin and hands that were so soft it was obvious he'd never worked a day in his life, approached, and Lord Higurashi had to fight the urge to step back in disgust. Knowing deep down he wanted to disassociate himself from such men…but also knowing such a thing was no longer possible.
He was one of them now.
"I'm in need of a few strong slaves to help back at my large estate," he said at last, keeping a mask of neutral boredom firmly in place on his face. "We're expanding, you see, and what I have can no longer get the job done. Not without working them to death, and I'm not really in the mood to replace the manual labor every time someone keels over."
Kagome would have cringed to hear him speak thus, and it made him ashamed of himself on the inside, but Lord Higurashi refused to let that show outwardly.
The older man, oblivious, simply smiled knowingly and nodded his head. "Of course. We have plenty of choices for you today, I think you'll find. If you'll just follow me…"
Lord Higurashi fell into step behind the other man, his companion in tow, and vaguely listened as his guide explained the various 'options' before him. Men. Women. Older. Younger. Looking with guarded eyes at the various specimens pointed out to him, but not feeling overly impressed by anything he was seeing.
He wasn't entirely sure what he was looking for as of yet…he just knew he'd recognize it when he saw it. He had a knack for reading people.
"…she was a bit of a handful for her previous master, but I think you'll find that in time you could probably teach her all you needed her to know…" The guide continued prattling on, indicating a young woman with hair that was already starting to gray at the temples. Her eyes tired. Her head down. Her shoulders slumped forward as though she were in a constant state of exhaustion.
It made him recoil, and Lord Higurashi wondered if there was even remotely any fight in her whatsoever, let alone enough to be a 'handful' for anyone, as the guide was saying.
There were so few left that he ever came across with any spark or spunk or personality.
Seven years had done that, he supposed; seven years since the Great Revolution had thrown the entire world on its head and changed everything everyone had ever believed in or known to be true. Free men had been enslaved overnight, and criminals had walked free to rule the land as its new masters. And a reign of terror had been born the likes of which no one had ever known before.
Lord Higurashi had survived and kept his freedom only by giving away everything he believed in and valued; had forsworn his heart and his soul over the still-warm body of his murdered wife, in order to save his daughter. And that was the only reason he was on the other side of these glorified cages now.
"Don't you have anyone with any sort of spirit left?" He finally found himself asking as they came to the end of yet another row of enclosures. "Forgive me, but these men and women all look as though they would collapse if asked to work one full day on my estate."
The guide looked slightly offended, but was wise enough to keep any insults to himself, recognizing that if he voiced anything out loud he might lose a customer.
Even Lord Higurashi's companion seemed baffled as he shook his head from side to side. "You make no sense to me at all, Taro; why would you want a slave with any sort of spirit? That makes them more likely to give you trouble, if you ask me."
He didn't respond.
How could he explain it?
Really, the other two men were right…as a slave owner, it was better to have subordinates who could barely remember their own names, let alone have any energy to cause trouble. And yet Lord Higurashi hated slaves in such a state. Maybe because it made him feel even worse about himself.
Who really knew for sure?
"It's just what I prefer," he finally said, hands in the pockets of his perfectly tailored pants, watching in distracted fascination as mud splashed over his boots as they walked.
And then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of amber…and his world shifted forever.
Stopping abruptly before an enclosure that seemed slightly separated from the others, Lord Higurashi came face to face with the most intense eyes he had ever seen in his entire life. A stunning shade of amber, they regarded him as though he were the slave up for auction, and not the other way around.
Totally caught off guard, Lord Higurashi could only stare as he slowly took in the rest of the man; young, painfully handsome, but with a fierce scowl etched onto his face that seemed to scream 'fuck you' to the rest of the world. His posture oddly relaxed as he sat in a crouch in the far corner of his enclosure, one hand resting on his knee as a soft breeze silently blew through an amazing wealth of silver hair. Atop his head was a pair of little dog ears that should have been cute, but none would dare call this man cute for any reason.
He was dangerous.
Plain and simple.
"And who is this?" Lord Higurashi found himself asking at last, after finding his voice again.
Damn…if he'd wanted spirit, he'd found it in spades with this one…
The guide, who'd not even noticed he'd stopped, now came back and made a disgusted face as he looked at the young man in the cage. "That man…you don't want anything to do with him, let me tell you. He's been through four masters in the past two years. Has been the inspiration and the cause for numerous attempted revolts. Causes trouble everywhere he goes. Honestly, I fully expected he wouldn't sell to anyone for any price today, and am prepared to just kill him when all is said and done."
The slave barely even reacted to such a blunt pronouncement of his fate; either not caring that he could very well die before the day was done, or simply not letting them into his private thoughts.
Perhaps a little of both.
He was obviously a demon of some kind; not only did he have those dog ears, but he also had nails that looked sharp and dangerous, and around his neck there was a small black diamond. The ultimate weapon from the Great Revolution; the one thing that had managed to subdue humans and demons alike.
No one knew where they had come from, or how they were created, but these black diamond shards managed to seal away and restrict a demon's natural strength and powers, rendering him or her almost the same as a human. They could not be removed, nor could they be destroyed. And while of course there were rumors of people who could purify the magic within the shards and free a demon from the spell, at the end of the day obviously they were simply rumors…because the demons remained firmly under the control of their human masters.
The black diamond around this particular demon's neck stood in stark contrast to the brilliant red of his pants and his jacket, glowing ominously strong. Showing this particular shard required a significant amount of dark magic to keep the man in check.
"What's his name?" Lord Higurashi found himself asking, more and more fascinated by the minute.
The guide shrugged his shoulders. "No idea. Won't tell us, and his last two masters didn't know either. The only thing we do know is that he is always in the company of that man right there." The guide pointed out a second figure in the enclosure, and Lord Higurashi noticed him for the first time.
This was clearly a human man; there were no shards around his neck. But he was not without his own strength as he flicked his violet eyes towards them; hair slicked back in a thick, jet-black ponytail at the nape of his neck.
Currently he was crouched over a small fire they'd apparently managed to start, and aside from that one little glance their direction, he was apparently determined to ignore them.
"And how much would you be expecting to sell them for?"
The guide laughed. "Nothing. Like I said, I was fully expecting I'd be executing that demon by the day's end, and probably just giving away the human to whoever would take him." Suddenly the man looked intrigued. "Why do you ask?"
Lord Higurashi looked one last time at the demon, and then over at the guide. "Because I'll offer you fifty pounds for each, and spare you the energy it will take to kill the demon at the end of the day."
The other two men looked aghast, and it was Lord Higurashi's companion who found his voice first. "But…Taro…surely you can't be serious. Did you hear what the man said? This demon is nothing but trouble. Surely you can see that. His eyes…they really bother me. He'll bring you nothing but grief. Think of your daughter; think of Kagome. Of the danger you'll put her in."
Briefly Lord Higurashi wondered if his companion didn't have a point; if this might endanger Kagome.
He'd seen the look in that demon's eyes, and he wanted him. And if that meant he'd also get a human slave in the bargain, so be it.
Looking back at the guide, he straightened his shoulders and stiffened his spine. "Fifty pounds each. Take it or leave it." And with those words, Taro Higurashi sealed his fate, and that of his daughter Kagome, forevermore.