A/N due to all of your lovely reviews and compliments I have decided to continue the story I have started here with Children of the Gods. This one will deal with the pressures and trials of ruling and raising children and of course, mortal peril magic, power struggles and treachery. I'll be skipping the whole pregnancy bit. Since I made you wait patiently 22 chapters for the lemon last time I thought I'd throw you a bone right off the bat in this one. Great thanks to my lovely beta Creature of Shadow. I love you all and please don't lurk. Review!
Kagome turned twinkling eyes toward her youngest child as he came bounding across the courtyard to her waiting arms. Sweeping him up in a firm hug she swung around, suddenly keenly aware of how little time she had left before he was too big to lift on her own. She looked fondly down upon the crown of his head, of all her children he was the one who most closely resembled his father.
The boy was the spitting image of Sesshomaru, silver hair and golden eyes, his markings were blue single lines like Inuyasha's, the product, Sesshomaru had told her, of being the second son; in demeanor however they could not have been more different. While Akira had inherited his father's animal senses, as had all their children, he lacked the cold demeanor that was so apparent in his father and sister. The child took after his ningen heritage and was deeply affected by the plight of those around him, his emotions ran like quicksilver across his face and no one was ever confused as to how he felt.
Kagome remembered the horror that dawned in his eyes when he had realized he also had the ability to poison the tips of his claws in battle. He had almost been in tears just contemplating the harm he could cause and she had been glad that had been a display for her eyes and not those of her mate.
Her mate, Lord Sesshomaru of the western Lands, was an imposing figure, he placed great value on the ability to betray nothing of your inner workings for others to easily read, of all his children, Akira was the one he struggled to connect with most. This caused Kagome to pay special attention to the boy, not only was he significantly younger than his siblings, but he did not have the close benefit of the twins. He seemed sometimes, very lonely, even though he was doted upon by every female in the castle and some of the males as well.
"Akira!" came the gentle voice of Kikyo, "What did I tell you about making a dignified entrance." While her words were scolding, her face held a soft smile for her nephew, and Kagome could see a deep longing in the ex-miko's eyes each time she looked at her son. She knew Inuyasha felt it too, they had yet to conceive and from her first years with Sesshomaru before having the twins, she knew what kind of stress that could place on a relationship.
"No buts child," Kikyo replied firmly, "You are soon to come of age and be presented at court, you must learn how to behave so you will honor your father."
The effect this statement had on her son was immediate, he stepped back from his mother and stood quietly, looking up at her with expressive golden eyes, he bowed and said,
"Konbawa, honored mother, it is good to see you have returned safely." She smiled at the solemn expression he had adopted and replied in kind.
"I thank you honored son, come, escort your mother to her rooms." She held out her hand and winked at him, eliciting a shy smile as he took her hand and they began walking across the gardens toward the great manor they called home.
The sound of blades meeting rang through the dojo as Kenta and Takeshi ran through the paces with the oldest son of the house of the moon. Kenta was struck today just how similar Haruko's fighting style was like his mother's, he possessed a fluidity and grace that was more subtle and effortless than that of his father. Granted, to any observer who had not trained Sesshomaru, the daiyoukai made his exceptional grace look as natural as breathing, but it was not something that had come easily to the Inu lord.
His son however practically oozed grace that the big wolf could only assume came from his mother, Kenta still bore the scars that served as his reminder not to underestimate the woman. Kagome had taught the ookami a painful lesson upon their first meeting, leaving him with a sizable scar that crossed the top of his shoulder and extended down onto the top of his chest. Not that he was vain about scars, he had more than he could count anymore, but it was that one that always reminded him of the value of hidden power.
Haruko paused in his motion, taking a moment to collect himself, he brushed a stray lock of hair from his face, it had escaped the high queue he kept it in, unlike his father's hair, like fine spun silk, the prince took after his mother in this regard as well. His hair had turned out to be an unruly mass of raven waves that defied gravity and sense to constantly invade his line of sight, causing him to grow it long with no bangs to speak of. His facial markings mirrored his fathers, bearing the legacy of the western house upon his slim shoulders, he was a solid lad, built with whipcord muscle and fleet reflexes.
His studious nature was reflected in eyes that shone brilliant gold, a feature not unnoticed by the daughters of the youkai lords who had begun to crop up at every state function. He was exquisitely polite to each simpering female but equally distant to them all, the social climbers however, were growing increasingly oppressive in their tactics, Kenta half expected to see them dropping from trees soon.
Smirking at that thought he straightened and lowered his weapon, Takeshi followed suit silently and the three of them departed the dojo, no unnecessary chatter passing between them. Kenta thought back to the younger Sesshomaru as he had first known him and was struck by the similarities between the daiyoukai and his son who was being groomed to follow his father in ruling the western lands. The rangers had been closely involved in the combat training of all three children with Amaya overseeing the daughter's stealth teaching.
Kenta could not help but be proud of the growth he had see in the entire brood, they all possessed some combination of their parent's exceptional traits and none had fallen in the trap of mediocrity or spoiled arrogance as was often the case with children of charismatic and dynamic parents. Far from being overshadowed by their formidable parents, they shone with a glow all their own that would someday outshine both Sesshomaru and Kagome.
Sesshomaru made his way toward his chambers feeling uncharacteristically burdened, he and Kagome had just returned from a diplomatic trip to Edo, Shippo had accompanied them, leaving the children in the care of the rangers and Inuyasha. Seiryuu had been a gracious host during their brief stay but had declined any tangible support for the time being. In the hundred and fifty years since the manufactured plague threatened demonkind with extinction, Suzaku had become increasingly aggressive and hostile, to the point where it was no longer safe to travel to the southernmost border of his lands.
The fire-bird always stopped just short of irrevocable insult or challenge and had been encouraging border disputes for years between the farmers and merchants of the region. As annoyed as Sesshomaru was by this, he knew it was but a precursor to the real thing, as it were. He made sure his troops were always ready and the manor's stores were filled to capacity, Kagome was well versed in siege protocol should the manor ever be attacked and she had proved a shrewd negotiator and invaluable counsel for him as events had unfolded.
At the thought of his mate, a fog seemed to lift from his mind and his steps were lighter, she had gone ahead to greet their son while he stayed behind for the required debriefing from Jaken. The tiny kappa remained his most loyal vassal and was tenacious in regards to gathering information with a network of spies that surprised Sesshomaru from time to time with it's prolific information. The silver Inu listened with growing impatience to the report of the day to day goings on of the manor since he had been gone, he wanted nothing more than to barricade himself in his chambers and indulge himself in the beautiful arms of his mate.
Slipping silently into his chambers, he quickly rid himself of his travel clothes and made his way to the bathing courtyard, the steaming water flowed over his aching muscles and he leaned back against the rocks, feeling the tension of the past few days lessen. Only a few days were afforded him before he was to embark on his trip to the continent for a meeting with possible youkai allies there, Kagome would not be accompanying him this time as the youkai nobles on the continent did not know her and the kami did not have a truce in place with them.
Allies had thinned of late, the old alliance held with the slayers village had run it's course, the children of Sango and Miroku had passed on several generations ago and the current ningen there held no love nor loyalty to either Shippo or Kagome. Yasuke the shadow prince of the north had buried his mother and adopted a policy of isolation for his kingdom, most likely in some attempt to avoid future fiasco's like that of his father. The old dragon Seiryuu was an ally in name only it appeared, he had yet to supply any tangible support to Sesshomaru's lands and efforts.
The daiyoukai let out a small sigh, something he rarely afforded himself, and turned his thoughts to Kagome. She had become an invaluable part of his world, her human compassion and drive to help others had slowly transformed his kingdom from a military youkai stronghold into a bastion of strength and compassion for all races. Ningen and youkai alike had sought and found refuge and protection in the western lands from famine and oppression, these refugees, instead of being the burden he anticipated, had enriched the prosperity of his holdings and made the west a unique experiment in cooperation.
While separation and conflict defined relations between the races in the eastern and southern lands, the tenuous harmony held under the watchful eye and tireless efforts of his mate. Suzaku had embarked on a campaign to blacken her name before the council as one who was leeching the youkai power from the west, within the noble circles, he had been somewhat successful among those youkai who had not met Kagome, her enchanting disposition and intelligent dealings coupled with his own unwavering presence and strength had kept general opinion from sliding Suzaku's way.
The Kami had retreated back to their own realm, Bishamon coming to welcome his grandchildren into the world and later again to test them as they grew. The only one of sesshomaru's children who showed any aptitude for reishi use was his daughter, the second born of the twins, as was typical of Inu youkai, the firstborn child of each gender carried the marks of birthright. Maeko bore the crescent mark of his house upon her brow while her older brother displayed stripes of power that mirrored Sesshomaru's own. When Sesshomaru had been a child there had been much talk of his manifestation of twice the amount of his father's power markers, foreshadowing Sesshomaru's eventual surpassing of his own sire's power and ability.
Maeko possessed elfin ears like her twin and had inherited Sesshomaru's silver hair, pin straight and fine, it framed her alabaster face from which her mother's eyes shone forth. Of all their children, her personality was most like his own, she was intelligent, silent and watchful, as a child her mother had worried she was not normal, as she never laughed or cried, but Sesshomaru had seen himself there within her green eyes and told his mate not to worry. He knew from experience there were deep currents of feeling within his small daughter and she found it natural to cover those emotions and not allow them to affect her. She had been found to possess more Kami traits than any of them, including her own mother, Bishamon had taken her under his wing and begun training her to control her reishi since a very young age, she spent part of each year in the realm of the kami and the rest at the manor, managing her brothers.
Haruko and Maeko were nearing youkai adulthood, their first century was coming close to pass, and with it came the manifestations of dai capability, if it were to happen. Haruko had shown partial transformations since his early adolescence and had just recently achieved full dog form, his Inu coat a deep sable in sharp contrast to his father's pristine white pelt. Sesshomaru had taken him out hunting several times now and watched as he became more and more comfortable in his true form and with the discomfort of sliding between forms.
Maeko was an interesting cross of abilities, she had the inu senses and poison claws like her brothers but her transformation had manifested in a way no one had anticipated. Not long ago, he had been contacted by Bishamonten and asked to come to his home.
'To see a wondrous thing.' was all his father in law had said.
Upon arrival he had been escorted by the heavenly general to a promenade that encircled an inner courtyard where he saw his daughter meditating with Ame no mi Kumari, the water goddess and his quasi mother in law.
"Bishamon-sama..." he began in a low voice. The kami waved him into silence and shook his head,
"Patience Sesshomaru-sama, please just observe." His face was infused with light and paternal pride, so the western lord gazed down at his offspring and waited. For a moment or two nothing happened, Sesshomaru found his mind wandering as he studied his daughter, she possessed an admirable amount of poise and discipline, somewhere along the line he had missed her transition from silent child to accomplished student. He supposed he had the Kami to thank for this change in his child. It struck him as amusing, since thanking the kami was not something he was wont to do.
He was torn from his thoughts as every hair on the back of his neck stood on end and his instincts screamed at him to 'Attend!' Locking his eyes back on the still form of Maeko he was startled to see a dark pink glow surround and swirl about her, disturbing her pristine hair, her reishi swelled and grew more solid by the second. Sesshomaru steeled himself, reigning in his instincts that were reacting violently to the outpouring of holy energy, as he watched, the storm of reishi surrounding Maeko solidified in to the form of a massive bird of prey, her head fell back, mouth open, in that instant, her physical body winked out of existence and the courtyard shook with the scream of a hawk.
The taiyoukai watched in amazement as the spirit bird turned it head and looked at him, almost immediately it began to fade into transparency, Maeko reappeared, still in her meditative pose, she opened her eyes and looked up at her great father, neutrality and wisdom in her eyes.
"She is the first mixed blood offspring to be able to achieve such heights." Bishamon's voice held a distinct note of pride as Sesshomaru turned to look at him.
"Does she excel in other things?" he asked, knowing her combat skills were adequate but not as finely honed as her mother's and wondering if she had found her niche.
"She is adept in soothsaying and foretelling, she can also detect reishi and youki across vast distances." Sesshomaru nodded, looking back at his daughter who had resumed her instruction with Kumari. Maeko was utterly focused on her task and she had never reminded Sesshomaru of himself more than at that moment, It was an odd feeling, he decided, seeing a being, completely separate from yourself hold such a strong resemblance, he felt a moment of slight displacement as he stood watching his daughter.
He wondered fleetingly if his father has ever felt this when watching him as a child, for the first time in a very long time, he actually wished to ask the Great Dog General something. Sesshomaru had been fully an adult when his father had died, but there had never been a closeness between them, he had striven tirelessly to live up to his father's expectations only to continually fall short. Not in technique or prowess, Sesshomaru had excelled at everything he turned his attention to, no, it was his lack of outer passion that caused his father to distance himself from his cold and reserved son.
"What troubles you koi?" His golden eyes opened at the sound of Kagome's voice, he gazed at her appreciatively as she slipped into the hot spring with him, coming close, an easy inquisitiveness in her green eyes. He allowed his features to relax and gave her a small private smile,
"It is nothing my love." He replied.
"Worrying about things you oughtn't," she admonished, "you should not be so solemn." Sidling up to him coyly, he caught a glimpse of mischief in her eyes, accompanied by a heat that set his pulse racing at the mere possibilities she might have in store for him.
Looking down at his tiny mate, he felt a rush of feelings fly through his mind. She was still as captivating as she had been the night he watched her meet his youkai rangers in battle almost two centuries earlier. Her impulsiveness in her manner of speech had been tempered and now manifested itself in a wicked sense of humor, she was not hesitant to put the mightiest in their place, including himself, her thought with a wry smirk. She still had the ability to send him over the edge and make him forget completely about the world and it's troubles, which, judging by her current activities, she was hell bent on doing.
The feel of her gentle hands roaming his skin sent shivers racing across his being. She never ceased to amaze him with her endless enthusiasm and creativity in the bedroom, she retained a purity in her essence that drove the taiyoukai mad with desire. They had come to find out after their mating that Kagome did not lose one iota of power and purity, if anything her reishi had increased when melded with his youki.
He remembered her shaking her head in mock regret, pining over the potential mates she had passed up in the misconception of preserving her purity. He had been quite wounded and growled at her only to be shocked by the mirthful gleam in her eyes as she laughed merrily at him, her voice tinkling like bells.
The revelation of her blood born abilities not being affected by physical pleasure was like a dam bursting, she made up for lost time with a vengeance, and this was a revenge he fully supported and enjoyed.
'Speaking of which.' he thought, ripped from his musings by a particularly sensuous movement of his mate's hips, Sesshomaru felt his body respond to her. He inhaled, taking in the delicious spike in her scent, allowing his beast to come close to the surface, his eyes bled red and he took control, something they discovered was immensely enjoyable for both of them.
Kagome found herself pressed forcefully against the stones lining the hot spring, her mate towered over her, heat blazing in his eyes, she closed her own eyes as his hair fell like a silver curtain, closing them off from the world. He lowered his head and brought his lips to the juncture of her shoulder and neck, hovering for the barest of moments before pressing a hot open mouthed kiss there.
Her body became supine under his merciless caresses, their blood sang together as he entered her, Kagome's back arched as her hands scrabbled for purchase upon his broad back. Together they climbed the heights and plumbed the depths of pleasure, finding a familiar rhythm, straining and moving as one.
Sesshomaru gazed down with blood tinged eyes and savored the vision beneath him.
'She is beautiful like this.'
Desire swelled within him so strongly his gut wrenched, it amazed him still, how badly he wanted her even as he moved within her core, her skin flushed, head thrown back with wild abandon, soft throat bare to his dominance. The soft moans she let go only served to send him spiraling higher as heat coiled in his belly and his thrusts became more intense.
Kagome reached up and caressed the jagged markings on his cheekbones, her mate obliged her silent request and leaned down, hovering above her, lips only centimeters apart, craning forward, she closed the gap, reaching out with her pink tongue and wickedly flicking it up and behind his fangs. They had discovered long ago that this was a trigger for the stoic taiyoukai, one ghost of a lick over his deadly fangs was enough to send him howling into bestial lust.
Better yet was when she 'accidentally' nicked her tender flesh on those razor points, flooding his senses with the taste and smell of her enchanting blood. Kagome knew this would send him into a frenzy, in fact she anticipated it with enthusiasm and took great pleasure in the knowledge that she was responsible for her great and powerful mate losing hold on his legendary control.
Just as Sesshomaru felt her tongue caress his fangs, his mate let out a husky whisper that drove him over the edge.
Begging would get her everywhere, his last coherent thought dissolved into lust driven possessiveness and he drove into her with renewed fervor. Kagome's moans raised to a fevered pitch before she threw her head back with a cry and convulsed around his throbbing member; Sesshomaru took in the sight of her as she succumbed to his will, she had been beautiful before but was utterly amazing in the throes of her orgasm. Thrusting viciously into her soaking core, he howled his victory before latching onto her mating mark as he exploded inside of her, rhythmic pulsations flooding into her tight passage.
Slowly Sesshomaru came back to himself, red no longer tinted his vision as he detached his fangs from her flesh and looked down at her limp form, a soft satisfied smile played over her sweet mouth, still swollen from his kisses. Her eyes fluttered open and she let out a small sigh that spoke of bone deep satisfaction, he pressed his brow to her own and nuzzled her cheek gently as he disengaged himself from her.
Kagome roused herself languidly and began gently washing her mate, she smiled to herself, happy she could distract him from the weight of his thoughts. Once clean, they exited the bath together and settled upon the bed they shared, calmly enjoying each others company. Just as she was about to drift of into light sleep, he spoke.
"How fares the boy?" It took Kagome a moment to realize he was talking about their youngest son, smoothing a hand up his bare chest she looked up at him.
"He is well, Kikyo is doing well by him, teaching him courtly manners." There was a moment of silence,
"So his studies are progressing." Kagome smiled, hearing the unspoken question behind his words, this was a discussion they had more frequently as Akira grew. The twins had manifested great power and she knew Sesshomaru worried for their youngest child, he displayed more ningen traits that the older two and though she didn't know for sure, she suspected Inuyasha had been asked to help the boy.
Not that she was opposed to any aid her son received, especially from Inuyasha, but she did not want him to feel as though he was inadequate in his father's eyes.
"Hai Koibito, he grows well." She said with a small smile, "He reminds me of my brother when he was young."
Sesshomaru looked down at her, hearing the mild rebuke in her tone, he did as was prudent and said nothing, simply looking at her, waiting to see which direction her mood would choose to pursue. A brilliant tactician such as himself knew better than to attempt to win an exchange with his mate before knowing what her platform would be. He was continually amazed at the razor sharpness of her mind and had long since learned to underestimate it at his own peril.
"You should not worry for him," she said "he is a fine boy and will grow into one who will make you proud."
"He does make me proud." the taiyoukai rumbled, "I simply look to the manifestation of his powers so he may stand on equal footing with the twins." It rankled him she though he was ashamed of his offspring, truly he was proud of each of his children, their youngest son was more like his mother in manner and disposition and Sesshomaru was concerned for him and his standing in the youkai world.
"You know he inherited the poison?"
He looked at her in surprise, this was something that had failed to make it into Jaken's briefings.
"When did this happen?"
"Just before we left on our trip to the Eastern Kingdom," she replied, "I meant to tell you but thought you should focus on the task at hand." Sesshomaru grumbled at that, it did not sit well with him that things were happening with his children he was unaware of. "Haruko was helping him with it when we left, so did thought it would be alright."
"How many others know of this?" he asked in a mock hurt tone, raising a single brow as he looked at her askance.
"Only Haruko and myself, we were both there when he accidentally melted the rosebush."
"Rosebush?" Kagome smothered a laugh at his deadpan incredulity, she could hear loud and clear his unspoken 'what pray tell was he doing picking roses?'
"He was gathering them for Maeko, koi." she said with a smile, "and Haruko was helping him."
Sesshomaru settled back against the cushions muttering something that sounded like 'secrets in my own house.' he pulled Kagome flush against him.
"I will speak with him on it later," he said, "there are things he must know and questions he will have." Kagome burrowed into his arms and let out a contented sigh, all was well in the Western lands and it was all too soon the call of statecraft would call him from her side again. She might as well enjoy the peace while it lasted.
*AN* And so we begin the saga of the western lands and the Inu who rule them. Review!