Blanket Disclaimer: The writer does not own any characters created by Rumiko Takahashi but like everyone else wishes she did. All original characters or concepts are the author's Inuma Asahi De's (with the exception of historical figures).
Shikuro: A Caribbean Fairy Tale
Captain Inuyasha was about as bad as pirates came—or at least that was what the story tellers often said. He was feared in legend: brought up to keep children in their beds at night and to keep prisoners afraid from being set adrift in the vast sea. He was said to be a phantom, something that lurked in the waters of every coastal town. No one knew what he looked like—descriptions of him were rare but of those who had seen him and lived, of those brave enough to speak of him in dark taverns deep at night, one thing was certain: He was no human.
It was a strange thing a demon pirate. Most pirates were human, it was a human trade, and demons saw it below themselves to spend their lives scraping for food upon the whirlwind waters of an opened ocean. Demons were rich and powerful, they controlled the world with their might and strength. Humans were of the lesser class and because of that they often were the ones who became the pirates in order to survive.
But Captain Inuyasha was different, they said. Captain Inuyasha was an outcast among demons. For what reason's, no one knew. His legend went back decades—the demon that roamed the seas—and in all those years and in all those tales, no one would agree upon the reason why he left the demon world. None could fathom why a demon child would leave the comfort of a demon life.
Still, their was one part of the legend that was agreed upon by every man who said they had seen his face, one collective thought: His eyes would be gold, his hair a haunting silver with strange dog like ears nestled within among the strands, and as he raised his gun, his sword, his knife, his bloodied claws, he would ask one thing.
"Do you have something to live for?"
And with those words he would await your answer the weapon of his choice frozen on your neck, against your head, a top your heart and depending on how you spoke, depending on your answer—you would either tell your tale in a dark tavern deep at night or you would only discus the encounter with the relenting waves of the sea.
The Girl Who Loved the Sea and the Boy Who Lived There
"Captain!" A man yelled as the ship lurched forward for the millionth time his feet just barely able to maintain his footing as the vessel spun from the rogue wave. "Damn it!" He yelled as he managed to grab hold of a nearby railing keeping himself afoot as he looked around the ship,his eyes barely able to see through the thick rain of the ever strengthening storm. Holding onto the rail he puled himself along the side of the ship, his eyes searching desperately for any sign of vessel's Captain. A large gust of wind threw him against the rail his back cracking from the violence of it, effectively knocking the wind from his lungs. "Shit, the wind," He groaned as he panted. "It just keeps getting stronger!"
Pushing himself off the rail he shook his head sending droplets of rainwater into the air from his soaked bangs. To his right a loud crackle filled the air followed by a sonic boom that nearly made him jump. Heart in his throat he turned towards the sails feeling an immediate sense of relief when he saw the bright white sheets still free of fire. He ground his teeth together and gripped the rail hard, as the Quartermaster and First Mate of this ship he knew better than anyone that it would only take one hit to any of their mast for them to be in serious trouble.
He felt his body lurch as a rather violent wave hit the side of the ship throwing his footing off as he clung desperately to the side rail. He looked downwards momentarily into the turbulent sea and felt fear enter his heart. "This is bad," He told himself as he stared into that ocean the turning water a death sentence. "We haven't been in a storm this bad in years." He groused clinging to the rail as the ship rose high into the air as it found itself on the cusp of another wave before plummeting downwards violently. Water sprayed up into the Quartermaster's face and he held his breath hoping not the inhale any of the water. "Damn it Captain," He thought to himself as he rode out the wave. "First time in years you missed the mark."
It was a true statement, usually the Captain was great at avoiding storms his eyesight amazing even without his spyglass. With the spyglass, he was able to spot storm clouds far easier than any human captain ever could dream of and from greater distances too. It was a trick that had kept the Captain alive on the sea for nearly sixty years and had kept the Quartermaster/First Mate alive for the ten years he had served the Captain. This time though, the Captain had not seen the cloud until it was too late. It was almost like the cloud had formed right above their heads, a joke of the cosmos.
Another wave hit the ship, causing them to spin hard in the water nearly knocking him off his feet as he continued to hold on. "Damn it." The man cursed and looked for the Captain, his previous thoughts pushed to the back of his mind. He searched in desperation for any sign of the Captain but came back with none. The rain was simply too thick and blinding for him to see through, even though the Captain was not typically a hard man to spot with his silver hair and bright flamboyant red jacket, a little rain shouldn't have made those two bright colors hard to spot. He reached up and wiped the rain from his face attempting to get a better look but the gesture made no difference. "Shit." He sighed his heart pounding in his chest as his mind raced. "What should I do? Give me a sign?"
Suddenly, a flash lit up the whole of the ship making it appear to be daylight for just a brief moment before the flash dissipated in the air just as quickly as it had appeared. In its wake, a particularly loud crack was heard followed by the nostalgic roaring echo of replying thunder and then a distinct hiss. It was a noise that all pirates, navy men, even people of land feared and hiss and crackle, then a pop. As if in slow motion the Quartermaster turned his head, some men nearby that he just make out among the rain matching his movements, all of them coming to view the exact same horrifying sight: their worst fear coming true.
His heart stopped in his chest as he looked up at the foremast and watched in terror as the dark material started flickered for just a second before catching with white hot flame that began to spread in a matter of seconds. He knew from experience that even with this rain around them the fire could burn the entirety of the ship easily and there was nothing they could do about it.
"Fuck!" He said under his breath and released himself from the rail moving with balance and precision he didn't know he had towards the helm deck. "If the Captain's anywhere on this ship it's gotta be there." He assured himself as he raced towards the staircase that lead to the helm's deck. Out of the corner of his eyes he caught sight of a wave about to hit the ship and desperately upped his speeds towards the safety of above. Even with all his tenacity however, he was unable to dodge the fast water of the ocean as it hit him dead in the legs washing up to his waist. Desperately, he fought against the pull as it yanked him back towards the side of the vessel and to a watery grave.
Frantically, his hands grasped the air hoping and praying that he might find some of lifesaving grace. Heart in his throat he barely registered the feel of tightly strung rope against the palm of his hand, clutching it just in time to prevent himself from being pulled into the violent death trap below. He held on tight the fibers of the rope cutting into his palms as the deck tilted with the wave causing his body to slide against the wood towards the railing even farther before the rope went taunt and he found himself begging for his life at an even odder angle. "Just hang on!" He told himself as the surf continued to pull outwards.
He opened his eyes at the sound of the call just in time to see a man hit the side of the railing hard, the surf yanking and pulling him vigorously towards his death.
Miroku closed his eyes in response to the man's yell trying to block out the pitiful sound that was heard easily even over the torrential downpour. "Don't look," He told himself firmly as guilt weighed in his heart. During a storm on the sea such as this no man could dare a rescue, it was suicide the chances of living zero to none. It was a sad truth, a painful one but lifesaving. He felt a great pain in his chest as the man's screams became drowned in waves. If the man wasn't in the process of dying by now, then he was already dead.
Pushing the feeling of tremendous guilt aside, Miroku pulled himself away from the receding wave using the rope as leverage as he pulled himself up towards the staircase. Slowly, the ship righted itself but the relief did little to lessen Miroku's pants as he struggled to find the strength to pull himself forward. Finally, he found himself next to the stairs just within reach of a propping hand. Without hesitation he grasped for the rail pulling himself up as he dropped the rope that had saved his life. For a moment he paused to catch his breath his ears practically twitching on the sides of his head as he listened to the distant sounding screams of nearby crewmen attempting to distinguish the voice of his Captain from the chaos. An impossible fete.
Giving up within seconds, he managed to pull himself onto the first staircase just before the next powerful wave threatened his life. Looping his arms through the railing to form a chain he waited for the water to recede, the desperation of a few minutes before no where near as powerful because of his much more secure position. Unconsciously, he glanced at the foremast with his opaque eyes hoping to see good news only to watch in dismay as the mast continued to burn, the sound of cracked wood and sizzling filling the air. "It's gonna fall." He barely got out as his eyes widen in complete and utter distress.
If a mast fell, a burning mast that is there would be little hope for the ship, especially if the mast fell onto the ship. From where he stood now he couldn't tell which way the mast was leaning but he knew by the sound alone that they were in a lot of trouble. Even if the sail managed to fall into the sea instead of on the ship they would still be in trouble if the storm continued to rage on around them. A ship down a mast was in serious danger of being down a crew after all.
As soon as the water ebbed low enough for him to move he pulled himself away from the terrifying sight and continued upwards, his feet heavy in his water logged boots. "Captain." He yelled hoping the man really was here.
He heard the response above the din of thunder, lighting, and screams a wave of relief going through his heart. He reached the top of the stairs without incident, his eyes poised and ready looking for the red and silver trademarks among the blinding rain. Sure enough, standing in front of the ship's helm holding on for dear life was the outline of a red jacket with choppy silver hair, tanned hands on the wheel attempting to keep the ship as steady as possible."Captain." The word slipped from Miroku's lips with such relief evident that he should have been embarrassed but now wasn't the time for such feelings.
"We're fucked." The Captain said without preamble but Miroku didn't even wince used to the brash manner of the Captain.
Instead he ignored the words all together as he ran to join the Captain, grabbing at the wheel without a thought helping the older man to steady the ship. "Where's the helmsmen?" He yelled above the raging storm as he side glanced at the piercing golden eyes.
The Captain spit in response before he spoke with a voice on edge, "Ask the sea."
Miroku felt his heart fall all the way into his toes. "Shit."
"That's how I feel." The Captain continued to hold the ship steady as the men below continued to try to hold it together. Between the two and a lot of luck they might, probably not, but might make it out alive.
"We could make it." Miroku said as he held onto the wheel as hard as he could, his eyes stinging as the rain hit his face even harder, the storm worsening with each passing second.
"Look at 'er." The Captain yelled above the sound of pouring rain as he pointed towards the burning mast with one hand the other otherwise occupied.
Miroku focused on the object, the water in his eyes making it hard for him to see. Barely, he made out the tilt, the slight lean of the mast. Sure enough, the Captain was right, the mast was leaning in the direction of the helm. "Damn."
The Captain grunted and tried to fight the wheel, tried to pull it slightly Larboard. "If she falls we're as good as dead."
Miroku gulped as he watched the mast start to tilt more each wave that hit the ship causing the weakened wood at its base to crack. "We have to abandon ship," he concluded as he turned his head back at the Captain, giving the man a serious uncompromising look. "The mast will kill us, its falling back."
"I know." The Captain continued to focus on holding the ship steady, the action seemed useless.
"It's burning," Miroku stated the obvious in panic as he managed to free one hand from the wheel to motion at the devastation. "If its falls the ship will burn," He spoke anxiously trying to get the other man to understand. "We won't just be crushed we'll burn to death," Fear prickled in his voice. "That is if we don't drown first."
"I know." The Captain repeated and took a moment to wipe some water off of his eyes his choppy bangs soggy with it.
"We're dead unless we move now." Miroku looked straight at the Captain. "We got no time. We gotta leave, the storms winning."
"Go then." The Captain replied as he held the wheel, his eyes not leaving his ship as he fought the rough pull of the rudder. "I won't leave my ship."
Miroku wanted to argue but he knew his Captain, he was a true Captain of the sea who would never leave his ship under any circumstances. He had often been told by this very man when he was but a small boy that it was below a man of the sea to do so. The sentiment had stuck with him for years, it was one of those things that Miroku knew he would never forget. With a sharp intake of breath, Miroku closed his eyes, ignoring the yells of the men, the howl of the rain, the sound of the mast buckling as it started to fall back more, the sound of the fire popping and hissing as the rain hit it. He held firmly to the helm continuing to aid the Captain not wanting to leave unless the Captain left with him.
The man in question turned and glanced at him out of the corner of his eye fire seeming to burn in his sun colored irises. "Get the fuck out of here, Miroku." He said as those piercing golden eyes beat into the younger man. "Get the men off, get Sango and head for shore." He motioned with his chin to reiterate his point. "We're close, you'll make it."
"What about you?" Miroku yelled above the wind, above the sound of his heart pounding in his ears.
"A Captain goes down with his ship!" The Captain snarled back breaking his eye contact with his first mate and quartermaster to look at the angered storm overhead. "A man who sails the sea dies with the sea."
"But," Miroku yelled back in way of protest his hands going lax on the wheel for just a second in disbelief. "I'm a man of the sea too!"
The Captain turned slowly and looked down at the younger man with a smirk on his face that he always wore when he was about to be an ass. "You're as much a man of the sea as the sea is calm." His voice was even as he spoke but that didn't make the comment any less aggravating for the Quartermaster.
The younger man glared darkly as anger welled up in his chest. "I've sailed with you for ten years," He spoke just loud enough to be heard by the Captain's ever twitching dog like ears. "I will not leave you now, you're too important to me." He finished with a fire in his dark eyes that rivaled even the Captain's natural eye color.
"Fuck you then." The Captain replied without a second thought as he turned away from the other man his eyes trained on the darkness that was spread out before them. "If you want to die with me that's your own business but don't sound like a bitch when you declare it."
Miroku cussed under his breath in victory and looked at his prideful Captain. This man was the most infuriating person he had ever met while on the sea and yet, he was also a great friend and his only family. He had practically been raised by the Captain, he had been made Cabin Boy of the ship when he was only eight, and even back then the Captain had already been an adult. The Captain had shown him everything, had taught him everything he needed to know about a ship, and about the life that one lived on the sea.
Over the course of the past ten years Miroku had worked his way thru the ranks learning every possible aspect of running a ship, of keeping one afloat from storms like this one to mutinies and Cabin Fever, and during that time he had gained the Captains undeniable trust and friendship. But they were more than friends they were brothers on the sea, almost a father and son, and there was no storm strong enough to separate that bond. He couldn't leave that bond behind—
"Get the fuck off this ship Miroku," The Captain said suddenly, his eyes flashing towards his first mate with worry and fear befitting of a father. "Or I swear I'll throw you over the side myself."
Miroku cursed again, it may have been harsh to anyone else but he saw the Captain's words for what they were. The Captain didn't want him to die. Miroku let go of the wheel and fought his way to the side rail, which overlooked the main deck. He looked out at the men who were trying desperately to keep the ship afloat and couldn't help but be proud of the way they were fighting to keep the vessel alive. This was the life of a pirate protecting the strange floating home that they had been blessed to live on. "This ship is my home," Miroku thought as he looked out over the crew as they were sweep by water and dragged but still somehow managed to stand. "For ten years this has been my home and I won't, no man would," He gritted his teeth with conviction. "Let his home die."
With hard eyes Miroku turned back to the Captain standing in the living room of his home with pride and conviction. Down below the men continued to work just as prideful and just as tenacious, so much so that Miroku knew if ordered even one of them to abandon ship they wouldn't even look up. "Inuyasha!" He yelled, addressing his Captain as his friend and not as the man who commanded him. The strength in his voice sounding even surprising to him as he stood his ground somehow not shifting as the boat rocked underneath his feet.
Inuyasha looked back at him startled, "He never calls me that." He thought as he narrowed his eyes, his first name ringing in his ears. It was an unspoken rule between him and Miroku that his first name was never said by the boy without the obligatory 'Captain' before it, a mechanism they had devised to keep the men from knowing just how close they really were. If Miroku was saying it now however, that meant that what he was about to say was very important and that Miroku wanted his full attention when he spoke. With this in mind, Inuyasha stared at the man's shinning eyes feeling himself puff with pride at the sight of them. "You're a good man," He couldn't help but think. "A good Quartermaster, a good friend, a good son."
"This is my home." Miroku yelled above the wind speaking his earlier thoughts aloud. "I won't leave it—I'd rather die!"
Inuyasha looked at him and laughed into the wind his demon spirit stirring inside of himself as Miroku's words gave him a second wind, gave him strength, and the undeniable will to fight. He smirked with the surge of adrenalin and looked at his friend. point blank. "We fight to live." He spoke his life's motto.
Miroku smiled, a desperate gleam in his eyes before he screamed into the violent winds of the Caribbean. "We fight to live!"
The men below him wet and water logged echoed the motto right back to him without even a moment's hesitation. "We fight to live!"
The chorus of voices that refused to leave their ship, refused to stop their fight for their home and their life, made Inuyasha's chest swell even larger the power of his ego. He was the Captain of these fine individuals who would rather die for their ship than abandon it. Quickly, his mind went to work devising a plan. "There's just one way I can think of to stop this ship from sinking." He told himself as he clutched the wheel tightly his eyes focused on the still burning foremast. "Yeah, I can save us, everyone of us plus our livelihood." With a deadly smirk he whipped his head around towards Miroku and yelled into the sharp wind. "Take the helm!"
Miroku nodded with a smile on his face somehow knowing just from looking at the Captain that they would live. They always were that lucky. Miroku dashed forward reaching for the wheel once again and grasping it with renewed strength. The Captain growled beside him the sound almost predatory as the man removed his hands and backed away only to place one hand surprisingly back on Miroku's shoulder not seconds later. Startled, Miroku turned and looked at the much older man unsure, "What?"
"Do you have something to live for?" The Captain asked as a gleam filled his eyes his demon blood haunting the surface.
Miroku felt a lump grow in his throat as he looked at the man he had known for ten years memories surfacing in the very back of his mind as he did so. He remembered being a small boy, an orphan of only eight years old with a small tin cup in his hands as he set on a dirty street corner begging for money. The question had been the same then the face had not but the question had, "Do you have something to live for, boy?" Miroku shook his head, back then as that tall man had stood over him with a kind and surprisingly gentle face he had a hard time coming up with an answer. Perhaps, it was because he was too young at the time to understand the connotations of the question but despite that Miroku had still managed to come up with an answer that the Captain had appreciated, had accepted in more ways than one. "I live for tomorrow."
The wind hit both of them hard and the sound of the mast breaking came to their ears. Inuyasha felt his blood pound throughout his body, his blood pressure skyrocketing as he allowed himself to lose some control of his demon blood that he would need if he was going to pull this off. "On my signal," His voice was edgy and just a little less human. "I want you to go hard to Starboard."
"Aye, Captain." Miroku said with confidence as he straightened himself and looked out in front at the storm ahead. He felt a squeeze on his shoulder and then the Captain was gone.
With the strength of someone not completely human, the Captain of the Shikuro jumped over the rail and landed on the main deck his feet firmly planted on the ground as water sloshed in his boots. The ship tilted and spiked going this way and that as he walked with as a man whose sea legs were older than himself. Every wave that hit the deck seemed to miss him somehow as if they were afraid to touch him.
"Myoga," Inuyasha yelled into the storm an older man on the deck immediately looking towards him his eyes swimming with fear. "Cut the lines between the Mast!"
"Captain?" The older ship hand, the Master Rigger and only man on the ship who knew exactly how to separate the mast correctly, asked in fear.
"Cut the foremast away from the other mast." Inuyasha snarled back in a stern and terrifying voice. "Now!"
"Aye, Captain." Myoga yelled running immediately up the middle mast as Inuyasha watch on a smile on his face as he took in the sight of the hastily retreating back.
"This is it." He told himself as he waited, several minutes seeming to pass before Inuyasha heard the distinct snapping sound of a line breaking. He smirked as the noise was followed by another and then another before the strange explicit accent of Myoga rang out onto the waves.
"Zaat ze rast one, Captain!"
The man popped his knuckles as the voice faded into the background his heart thumping against his chest as the blood of his ancestors became a fire in his stomach. Unable to help himself, he lifted his head tilting his chin back and amongst the rain howled long and loud like the dog that he was. Several of the crewmen joined him a last rally of sorts before he dropped his chin back down bright gold eyes twinged with red staring at the foremast as the heels of his boots dug into the ground sending him forward. He moved down the ship the sound of the wind, the rain, the shouts, and the smell of the fear became drowned by the salty water in the air and blood rushing in those strange ears that set atop his head.
Faster than any human, he reached the mast and looked at it as it leaned dangerously towards the helm where he had left Miroku. Every wave was causing it to crack further as the fire burned up high in the sails eating at all rope and wet wood that came into its path, albeit slowly because of the rain. "It'll only take one more big hit," He thought as rolled his shoulders back. "And then this mast will be down for good." He finished the thought just as the heat of flames doubled from the flames catching the topmast of the foremast on fire as well. He smirked, in response as the fire moved dangerously close to the next mast in line threatening to make his day even worse. "Do your worst." He said as he looked at the mast in front of him the blood in his body daring him and telling him to be reckless in order to save his livelihood. "I'll fight back!"
With the strength of a million men the captain ran his shoulder into the wood of the mast, pushing with all the power that he possessed. The mast cracked under the pressure and began to tilt the opposite way out over the ocean the shift in weight causing the boat to tilt dangerously to one side. The ship immediately lurched back to the right the product of Miroku correcting the fatal position instantly. With a chuckle he glanced back at the boy he had raised on this very ship for all of a second, he had learned well.
Inuyasha stepped back his eyes focused on the mast once again and his teeth gritted. He brought his hands in front of him his claws glistening with both rain and sea water as he prepared himself for the final attack with his most prized weapons. These were the claws that had cut chains, had cut nooses around his neck, that had cut people, had killed people before they could even scream. He stared at the mast with all of the resolve in his body knowing that these would now be the claws that would take down this very mast.
Above him, still holding the ship as steady as he could Miroku watched on in absolute shock. "What's he doing?" Miroku questioned as he waited for the signal wondering if the Captain had been preparing him for a shift in weight like the one moments before. But, it seemed that the Captain had another idea all together. "Is he?" Miroku's eyes widened as the Captain unleashed his favorite weapon slashing at the mask with claws so sharp they could cut threw iron. "Fuck!" He screamed as everyone on the deck froze.
It was slow motion as the mask began to fall away from the ship, the fire blazing and hissing as the rain beat into it. Miroku couldn't believe what he was seeing, his Captain had just outright slashed through the thick wood of the the mast with his claws and no second thoughts. How was it even possible? How could any man, even one with demon blood, slash through a mast that thick?
"NOW!" The Captain yelled above the storm and Miroku came back to himself.
He turned the wheel as fast as he could the ship pivoting automatically as the rudder took effect. The crew members dashed about grabbing whatever they could for support as the ship threw itself around. The burning foresail crashed off to the Starboard side hitting the ocean with a powerful wave that built spontaneously in its wake.
The wave jumped and covered the deck yanking at the men who were now holding onto anything they could to stay on board. Miroku closed his eyes gritting his teeth as he attempted to keep hold of the wheel. His strength didn't seem to be holding out but right as his hand began to slip he felt the weight of the ship's pull come off his hands. He opened his eyes to see the Captain now holding the wheel tightly his eyes wild with the thrill of the fight. Vaguely, Miroku wondered how the Captain had gotten back to the helm so quick but the thought never had a true chance to come to fruition before the Captain yelled once more.
"Try me!" Captain Inuyasha yelled into the raving storm as the water soaked him to the bone. "You won't sink this ship! You won't sink me!" The Captain screamed as he let off the rudder. The ship spun around violently once more the crew crying out as they lost their balance some even losing their hold and yet by the grace of God none of them lost their grip on safety.
The Captain re-gripped the wheel tightly holding the ship straight as he dug his heels even firmer into the wood. Behind them falling into the sea was the foremast the fire now put out by the waves that gripped it and took it down below to Davy Jones.
"Get the fires out on the deck." The Captain yelled above the storm, his commanding voice easily heard above the din of rain and lightening. Men scurried on the deck quickly extinguishing small fires that had caught before the mast had been purged from the ship.
Miroku stared at the Captain in pure adoration having never seen something so amazing in his life. The man had just cut a mast from his ship saving them from a fate underneath the waves and here he stood still calm and collected shouting orders as if nothing had happened. Even after ten years Miroku couldn't believe this man. Collecting himself he looked out at the ship surveying her present state: the sails were loose, the rigging flying in the wind, everything in upheaval that was typically always in order. With a stern breath he remembered his post; it was time to get the ship in order and win this war not just the battle.
"Secure the sails!" He yelled out across the deck his voice just as loud as hi Captain's. "Tame the riggings!" He came to the side of the rail that looked out over the master deck. "Master's to your post!"
"Aye!" Men yelled up at him as the Master Rigger and the Master Carpenter got to work both gaining control of the ship and repairing what could be repaired immediately.
For several minutes they continued to fight. Even though the immediate danger of the falling mast was gone there was still the danger of the storm. Little by little the men got everything under control they began to tie the sails back down, gained control of the lines, and the rigging. Slowly the ship became as manageable as it always was.
Around them the storm started to lessen the winds became less fierce. Inuyasha loosened his grip slightly on the wheel testing the waters; the ship still pulled with the strong currents but it was nothing he couldn't handle. He smiled as his sharp eyes caught the first rays of sun on the horizon and laughed into the still strong winds his demon blood screaming in triumph as they pushed forward. The men of the ship followed soon after as they too began to loosen their own grips the sight of the light in front of them a trophy of their victory.
"I'll be damned." Miroku said from beside Inuyasha as he looked towards the coming sun and took in the sight of the men beginning to celebrate. His heart rate slowly began to come back to normal as he dared to glance behind them at the still violent sea. "How do you do it?" He whispered into the somewhat less violent wind his mind trying to comprehend that they had made it to the edge of the storm.
An ear on top of the Captain's head twitched water flinging off of it as it moved before he looked back at his his Quartermaster. "Luck." He said with a smile then turned back towards the horizon one hand on the helm and the other touching the only piece of jewelry he wore a small broken gem stone that hung around his neck attached to a dirty chain.
"I hear there is a ship heading in today." A finely dressed lady said into her cup of tea as she set at an elegantly prepared table with a few ladies of certain esteem.
All of them were clothed in full dress wearing heavy petticoats and gowns held together by constricting stays that cut off their ability to breathe. The woman talking wore the most fashionable clothes at the table her petticoat a beautiful blue color with small silver threaded embroidery and her apron lined with delicious lace. Her outer gown was just as beautiful and daring consisting of the same blue color as the petticoat but with edgings, ruffles, and bows lining it.
Sitting properly around her the other women wore similar clothes as they took their afternoon tea together. There were four of them in all at the table, which was lined with a silk tablecloth and decorated with the finest China that could possibly be imported from the Asia's, each dressed in their best fashions appearing so colorful and exuberant that one might assume they were attempting to attract a mate.
"I heard the ship coming in took on some damage." One of the women said as she lightly stirred some sugar into her tea being absolutely above careful to make sure her spoon did not scrap a single edge of the cup before removing it and delicately wiping off the excess tea on its rim. Of all the women her hat was the flashiest reflecting her feisty personality with its deep purple blooms of an exotic but dyed ostrich feathers that came protruding up out of the top. All in all it was a very gaudy yet accepted fashion statement.
"That is what they said when they spotted it, Yuka." Another girl entered the conversation her green petticoat matching her red hat in a very odd way that was becoming to her plain brown hair and soft brown eyes.
"When did they spot it Eri?" A girl with curly black hair asked as she smoothed her outer gown down because the hoop skirt was pushing it up about her hips. Her own gown was a rather lavish pinkish color somehow fitting of the state of her brain.
"My husband said they spotted it sometime early yesterday." Eri answered the question in an airy subdued voice as she took a sip from her cup daintily before setting in back down before her and folding her hands in her lap. "He told me it might be in by nightfall."
"That seems like a long time to reach port?" The girl with curly hair looked at her with curiosity in her deep black eyes as she once again smoothed down the pink grown.
"I know Ayumi." Eri rolled her eyes in a very unladylike fashion only to catch herself seconds later. Bringing her napkin to her lips she lightly brushed them to disguise her moment of improper behavior. "Mr. Hojo noticed they were missing a mast through the spyglass that's—."
"Missing a mast?" The last girl at the table entered the conversation. She had been quiet the whole time glancing out the window and looking into the sea with longing. Unlike the others her clothes were not as flashy her petticoat and outer gown both a dark green, the ruffles on her sleeves the bare minimum required for her station in society, her hair loosely and hap-hazardously tied in a bun that she had obviously done herself instead of having the maid take care of, and atop her head a very plain and small white hat—white—and only white.
"Yes," Eri informed her as she reached across the table for a small bit of finger food picking it up with a pair of beautiful gold tongs and bringing it to her plate depositing it with grace befitting of the queen herself. "He said the—what's it called—the forthmast?" She pondered out loud as she replaced the golden tongs back on the doily in the middle of the table before picking up her silver knife and fork to continue eating.
"The foremast." The young woman corrected as she looked at Eri with curious eyes anticipating lighting in her very pupils.
"Yes," The girl agreed as she cut into the small bit of pastry ever so delicately. "The foremast was gone."
"Wow," The girl said honestly impressed by the ships fortitude. "And the ship was still making its way into the harbor," She shook her head and leaned back in her chair before catching herself and sitting up with her back straight once again. "That's amazing. A ship normally can't catch the wind without the foremast," She continued on her voice growing excited as she looked at the other girls happy to finally have something to contribute to the conversation. "The fact that it is able to sail is simply—"
The other three girls sighed in boredom collectively.
"Only you would be entertained by ships, Kagome." Yuka groused although in a distinctly polite way as she fanned herself lightly her eyes drifting away from the table to look at the other people around the room.
"I'm entertained by the thought of the men on the ships myself." Eri added as an afterthought to Yuka's comment as she brought a piece of pastry up to her lips the silver of her fork reflecting the faint flush of color that had appeared on her cheeks. Whether the flush was from the thought of the sailors or from the heat no one could tell.
"I wonder if it's a navy ship." Ayumi said dreamily to the other girls her eyes far off and distant as she thought of the men who worked for the crown as the King's royal navy.
"I wonder if they're muscular." Yuka said as she set her fan down in her lap softly before reaching for her cup and perching it in her hands taking a long sip of tea before she continued. "Working on the sea is rather difficult you know." She whispered discreetly as she eyed the people around them before leaning forward teacup still perched in her hand. "Men come back with muscles and broad chest after just a few months."
"Oh," Eri piped up at the thought a bit of pastry half way to her mouth that she slowly lowered back to the plat before turning to Yuka with a sot giggle already in her throat. "I wonder," She leaned forward as did the other girls with the exception of Kagome. "If they have longing eyes." She brought set her knife and fork down covering her face with one hand while the other moved to retrieve her fan opening it so she could cover her face only her own eyes visible to them now. "—eyes that haven't seen a woman in many months."
The three women giggled at the thought and began to chatter about the imaginary handsome sailors. The forth girl however, looked away and back out the window her tea forgotten in front of her. On the horizon she could make out the ship still an hour away or so away from the harbor. If it was missing a sail it would take far longer than an hour to get in, however. Kagome sighed at the sight of it wishing she could be there on that vessel on the sea but her gifted sex in life had been a joke.
She looked back at the other girls and listened as they talked about lonely romantic sailors secretly wishing she was one, well, a sailor at least that is. Keeping her hands in her lap she looked at the table cloth white and perfect like the life she was meant to live. She was the daughter of a powerful military official. He was no demon but he was still high ranking in the government. It was a rare thing a human who had gained the trust of demons and yet here she sat in a demon tea room the only five human's in the place these girls, herself, and the waitress that had served them.
They were girls of fortune who had been born into powerful human families: families that had somehow become strong inside demon society. Kagome glanced back out the window and felt her heart sink at the sight of the broken ship coming into port. She was broken like that ship. Boken because she was a woman and women were not good enough, strong enough, or made well enough to travel the sea. Her birth would never let her know that ship or any other ship. Human women, demon women it didn't matter they were not allowed on the sea. It was a rule of propriety a matter of manners and high bred lifestyle.
Kagome closed her eyes forcing everything else to disappear but her thoughts, "I wish," Her voice sounded broken even in her own head. "I wish I had been born a boy." She took a deep shaky breath the chatter around her continuing as if she didn't exist. Slowly, she opened her eyes and frowned as looked back at the table studying her face in her tea. It was murky because of the water.
Her station in life had been set from the moment of her birth, the second the midwife had announced 'it's a girl' her future had been set in her families eyes. With any luck (their luck not hers) she would be fancied by a high ranking demon and made to be his wife. She would marry him for prestige and he would take a fellow demon as a mate so as to not sully the blood lines with half demon spawn. Hers would be a marriage of appearances no children coming of it to ease her pain and make her life more bearable. Still, for her family it was the best possible outcome. If she wed a demon and became the ruler of his house and servants then they would gain his family power. It was a marriage more of convenience for her family than anything to do with her, her heart, or her happiness.
"But so is the way of the life of a woman." Kagome concluded and felt a wave of sadness hit her heart at the thought. Melancholic she turned away from her friends, her tea, and the tea table looking outside into the endless sea studying that ship as it came in onto the horizon.
The life of a housewife was not the life Kagome wanted it was not who Kagome was. Her eyes ventured passed the ship looking at the line that separated the ocean from the sky. The line where blue meets blue and everything appears more opened and possible and probable. The life Kagome wanted was on the other side of that line a place she had never known; a thought she had to push away but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't get the thought out of her head.
Kagome closed her eyes tightly before reopening them hoping the brief black out would clear her mind. But as she opened her eyes she found herself staring at the ship coming into harbor with envy and pain lodging in her breast. After a moment she sighed and focused on it, only one thought making its way into her head, "I wish I was on that ship."
End of Chapter
Edited for content 7/13/2012
Both the title of the fanfiction and the title of this first Chapter are spoofs of the anime.
(Points if you can name how!)