Chapter 6: Illumination
Sesshoumaru stared with hatred at the male youkai chained to the wall in front of him, not speaking, just glaring at him silently.
Yori shivered – he'd been blatantly wrong when he'd thought that the human bitch was weakening his Lord, as was completely obvious now. Sesshoumaru was every bit the powerful, dark, vicious daiyoukai that he'd ever been, and now he, Yori, was going to pay for his false assumptions with suffering, and his life.
"Sesshoumaru-sama," he whimpered submissively, baring his neck to his alpha, "the huma-" he was cut off by the slash of the Lord's acid whip across his face.
".., you traitorous filth," he snarled, his crimson eyes reflecting the servant's shameful cowering. "She is above you in every way, and all will shiver at mention of your fate for a thousand years for the presumption you showed in daring to lay your undeserving claws on her."
"My Lord!" he gasped as a terrible pressure began to push against him, Sesshoumaru's enraged youki rising up and dominating the fool who had thought to second-guess his Lord's decisions. "How could you place a weak human over your faithful servants?" he pressed on determinedly, trying to make his Lord see that despite the fact that he was still just as great and terrible as ever, a human should never be raised to the place she had been. Humans were weak, filthy vermin!
"Weak?" the daiyoukai questioned, a sudden terrible, angry amusement in his voice. "Kagome is only weakened right now because of the pup. You are a fool if you think this one would ever be attracted to one who was truly weak. If she had not been pregnant when you attacked her, you would have been purified to dust before ever coming near her or the children."
Looking in the daiyoukai's dangerous eyes, Yori blanched. Could his words be true? "How could a mere human have so much power?" he questioned, shocked. Only Midoriko was so powerful, and since her death, none with her strength have wandered the lands!
"Your prejudice blinds you, as it once did the same to me," he growled. "Many have coveted her, but I am the one who has her." He fell silent for a moment, still staring at the useless inu before him. "Tell me, would you place yourself in judgment above the kami?"
Shivering with fear and apprehension, Yori was at first confused by the question. "What have the kami to do with this matter, Sesshoumaru-sama?"
Enjoying enlightening the worthless scum as black rage and hatred welled up inside him for what the traitor had done to his mate and pup, he grunted scornfully. "Even the kami blessed this one's mating to the priestess Kagome – and you dared to lay a hand upon her in any way, let alone in violence. You will suffer greatly, Yori, before I grant you peace, this I promise you."
The already terrified inuyoukai whimpered again, and Sesshoumaru grinned ferally, lifting his nose to scent the cowards pain. "Then again, perhaps I will not be so kind. After all, my pup and mate's blood is on your hands... death would be a release for one such as you. There are, of course, fates much worse than death," he hissed sibilantly, enjoying it as the fool before him shivered in ever-rising terror. "Perhaps I will introduce you to some of them."
It had taken hours for him to regain enough control not to immediately attack the male and rip him to shreds, instead, he'd calmed his black blood with thoughts of long-drawn out torture through fear ridden days and nights. And he was starting out with the mental torture... this piece of offal would rue the day he had even considered laying hands on something that belonged to he, Sesshoumaru.
He sniffed again, enjoying the fear scent that hung so thickly in the air of the cell, his grin widening as he bared his fangs at the fool.
"I was only trying to serve you, my Lord," Yori cried out as Sesshoumaru's crests began to go jagged and his youki began to swirl dangerously around him. "I beg mercy!"
An enormous swell of pressure flared up in the cell at those words, Sesshoumaru's eyes first widening, then narrowing in enraged disdain. "You would dare beg mercy from me when you showed none to my mate and pup?" he snarled dangerously, his fingers beginning to glow as he cracked his knuckles, hardly able to believe the audacity of this male.
"I was wrong, Sesshoumaru-sama, I should never have done what I did, but I could not bear to see you fall to the same mistake as your great father!"
In the blink of an eye Sesshoumaru was standing over the cringing male, blood now tipping his claws as Yori howled in pain, the vivid claw marks across his chest glowing green as more Dokkasou was introduced into his system. This time, though, it wasn't a lethal dose... it was merely enough to make the inu feel as though he were burning from the inside out.
"My mate is no mistake, you fool," he growled, his voice going so deep he almost couldn't be understood. "The mistake was in allowing such a useless dog as you anywhere near her. It is a mistake I intend to purge in blood - copious amounts of it, and pain. For every second that she suffered because of your actions, you will suffer a minute in return - and her pain lasted hours, Yori... what does that tell you?" he asked.
There was a frightened silence for a moment, and then...
"You dared to look upon my mate in judgment," he continued, "for that insult, the first thing you will lose is an eye."
Even before the words were completely out, he'd plunged one long, dangerously clawed finger into the other's left eye, reveling in the screams as the bastard dog bucked beneath his hand. Sesshoumaru merely pressed his finger harder against the now destroyed eye, digging around inside the socket, destroying every last bit of the nerves and searing the wound with a tiny drop of poison. After a few seconds of that, he pulled his hand away and waited for the screams to die down to harsh gasps as the inu's vocal cords gave out.
"If I did not enjoy seeing the fear in at least one of your eyes so much, I would have taken the second one, as well. But I will leave you with it – because I want you to see me coming... I want to see the horror inside your soul when your eye lands on me," the daiyoukai stated icily, his crests smoothing out and his eyes fading back to gold as he finally regained his control. He cast one last glance at the ruined face of Yori, then turned and left the cell, an, "Enjoy your reprieve while you can," floating behind him as the lock turned on the cell and he disappeared up the steps into the upper floors of his home.
The only sounds left in the cold, dark room were the whimpers of fear and pain from Yori...
And the echoes of Sesshoumaru's satisfaction in spilling the blood and seeing the pain of his enemy.
Sesshoumaru sat at the foot of his bed, watching as his son and his mate slept deeply, both exhausted from the birthing. It had been two days now, and he was finally coming out of his worry for them both. They would both survive, though it had been close – at least, for Kagome. Her already badly injured body had not stood the whelping of his son very well, and the healers had warned him that it would take quite a while for her strength to return.
For now, when the pup woke, he was attended by nursemaids, and Kagome was only woken to feed him, and nothing else. Still, he was proud of her – the healers had told him that as badly injured as she had been, most humans would not have survived.
She had broken ribs, a broken arm, and a broken leg, all on the side that had impacted the wall. The most dangerous injury had been the ribs, since she was in labor, that very well could have ended up killing her by the normal contractions of birthing - they could have moved her ribs and punctured her lung.
Fortunately for Yori, that had not happened... but there was something else that had. The healers had just informed him that there was a possibility that his little mate would never be able to conceive again – she had bled much more than she should have during the birthing of his son, and it looked as though there might be damage to her female organs.
His eyes fell on his sleeping pup, and something in him twisted that there might never be another one. The little male, as yet unnamed, was perfect. There was no mistaking his heritage – silver hair, gold eyes, and he even carried the markings of his sire. The crescent moon, the markings over his eyes, and the cheek stripes, though he only carried a single slash over each cheekbone, every mark denoted just whose son he was – they were the exact same colors as his own.
Though his scent gave away his hanyou status, in appearance, he was youkai – and his youki, even now, was strong. He would carry all the strength of the inuyoukai that lay in his blood.
There was, however, a notable difference to his own half brother. Whereas Inuyasha's blood had always scented as wild, his pup's did not, leading him to believe that his son would not need a seal for his youkai blood as did his brother. He could only attribute that to Kagome's powerful blood, as it was the only difference between he and his sire's choice in female. Izayoi had carried no power of her own... Kagome, of course, did.
It appeared that her reiki functioned as a most effective balance to the power within his own blood.
He was actually not very surprised by that, having suspected something like that would prove to be the case, and he was most pleased to find that he had been correct in his suspicions.
But his rage would not leave him, the thought of the bastard dog in the basement only stoking his rage higher. With his actions, Yori had proven himself a traitor – and Sesshoumaru suddenly couldn't help but wonder... had the devious male had anything to do with the events on the night of his father's demise?
It was a question that wouldn't leave him alone, and he was determined to find out – one way or another.
His attention was drawn back to his current circumstances as his son whimpered, then stretched as he began to wake – it was evidently feeding time once again, and he watched, enchanted, as his pup nuzzled his mother, letting out little cries of hunger.
But Kagome was still too injured to be woken so easily, and so he lifted his son and then nudged his wife gently. "It is time to wake, wife, and feed our son," he said quietly, knowing it would be enough to pull her from her healing sleep.
With a furrowed brow and a weary, pained sigh, Kagome's eyes fluttered open as she stared blankly at the ceiling for a moment. She blinked, and then her eyes cleared for the first time since the accident, and Sesshoumaru knew that she was fully aware again.
"Kagome," he murmured, to get her attention; she turned her head slowly to look at him, eyes widening as she took in the tiny fussing pup in his arms. "Come, wife, our son needs to be fed."
It was clear that she remembered nothing of the past two days, and he wasn't overly surprised by that. In her eyes, she was seeing her son for the first time.
"S-son?" she managed to get out through a dry throat, and Sesshoumaru set his son down near his mother and reached over to the low table lying near the bed to retrieve a small cup of water for his injured mate. Assisting her to sit up just a little, his anger swelled within him at her pained whimper as her mending bones shifted.
"Yes, Kagome, son. You have gifted me with a healthy, powerful son, and I could not be more pleased. But drink, and then you must feed him."
She nodded, wincing, then gratefully swallowed the water, greatly enjoying the cool, wet feel of it on her rather dry, sore throat. After a moment, she spoke again, and her voice was much clearer.
"Have you named him yet?" she asked, looking down at the child as Sesshoumaru set the cup aside and lifted him up towards his mother's chest after opening her yukata enough for her breasts to be revealed. The pup had quite the appetite, and would finish all the milk she could provide.
Knowing that she couldn't yet hold him, he adjusted himself to sit near her and hold his son in place, watching in fascination as the little male latched on and began suckling greedily. "No. I would not do that while you were yet unaware of the world around you, mate. There is no hurry..."
Kagome winced as her body tightened with pain, but then inhaled, and forced the pain away. Looking down, she examined her son for the first time, and was pleased to find nothing of herself in him. He looked exactly like his father, just as she'd hoped.
"I had hoped he would take after you," she sighed, then looked up at her mate, who was watching both she and his pup with an almost inscrutable expression on his face. "I'm glad he pleases you."
"How could he not?" he asked, his eyes flicking up to meet hers, then lowering again to watch their son. "He is all I could hope for."
She blinked tiredly, and then said, "Name him, Sesshoumaru. I want to go back to sleep with his name in my mind."
He nodded, and studied his son for a while, then said, "His name is Mattaki. Perfect, because that is what he is."
Looking down once more at the child that was ready for the next breast, she smiled, only a slight edge of pain marring her expression. "Yes... he's perfect just the way he is. Just like his father."
A silence fell for a time, then Kagome looked up at him, her eyes once more drooping with weariness. "Sesshoumaru?" she asked slowly, almost hesitantly, "what happened to Yori?"
His expression darkening, Sesshoumaru's face absolutely froze, startling Kagome with his ferocious appearance. "His fate is playing out, Kagome, and you will not interfere. He has much to answer for."
Saddened, she shook her head. "Adding more hatred to the amount he already carries does no good, Sesshoumaru. I wouldn't want him harmed for what he did to me. You know this."
Flaring his aura for the nursemaids to come in and take over the care of his son, who was now finished feeding, Sesshoumaru didn't answer immediately, instead waiting until they were all out of the room, and then he turned to look at his severely injured wife.
"I am youkai. It is not in me to simply forgive and forget his attack on me and mine. He harmed you, and nearly killed you and our son. Even now, the healers have said that they do not know if you will ever be able to conceive again. Because of that treasonous bastard, we may never be able to have any other pups." Agitated, he paced the room, his ever-present anger roiling through him. "His actions have affected our entire lives, mate, and for that, he will pay. I also suspect he had a hand in the events of my father's death, as well, and will be ascertaining the truth of that very shortly."
Tiring rapidly, Kagome still evinced shocked surprise at his words. "What do you mean?" she asked.
He glanced at her and took in her drooping eyes and weary demeanor, then said, "That is for another time, mate. When I know for certain, I will tell you. For now, you must sleep again. Your body needs it to heal so that you can take care of our son."
Barely able to keep her eyes open, Kagome had to agree with his demands, and within moments, had fallen back to sleep as her body desperately tried to heal itself.
And Sesshoumaru looked at his fragile wife, his eyes flashing red.
It was time for another visit to the dungeons.
Impassive mask firmly in place, Sesshoumaru stepped into Yori's cell and eyed the male still chained to the wall. After several long moments of silence, during which the scent of fear from the injured male became almost overwhelming, Sesshoumaru stepped closer.
"You will tell me about your involvement in the events surrounding my father's death."
To say that Yori was stunned would be an understatement, but with that came the scent of guilt, sharp and edged with resentment. It appeared that Sesshoumaru's suspicions were correct.
Resigned, Yori slumped, knowing he was buying himself even more suffering, but unable to lie to the daiyoukai that could easily tell if he did.
"It was at my instigation that Takemaru killed the human and her whelp. I was simply trying to purge the disgrace – I had no idea that your father would go from his battle, severely injured as he was, to save her and the child, and then battle the human straight into hell," he said wearily.
"Hn." The Inu Lord blurred; before Yori even knew he'd moved, agony settled through his body as almost every bone he had was shattered. He was too stunned by the pain to even make a sound.
"That is for the bones you broke on my mate. She will take longer than you to heal – that is why I broke most of your bones, as compensation. When you've had the chance to heal, I will return."
Yori barely heard the promise-laden words of his former master as his mind shut down, unable to cope with the agonizing pain.
Several weeks went by as Kagome slowly healed, taking over her duties as a mother once more as her injuries allowed. The first time Shippo, Inuyasha, and Rin were able to see her after the events of that horrible day was one not soon forgotten, as each child had desperately missed the little miko that had mothered them all so well.
Sesshoumaru watched over them all with pensive eyes, something that Kagome did not miss, and finally, on a bright, late winter's morning when she was just about completely healed, she confronted him about his seeming moodiness – and its source.
His words took her aback; when he'd told her before, she'd still been so injured, and he'd mentioned other things at the same time that had shocked her, thus leaving her with no real memory of what he'd said.
"I cannot get past my rage at what that traitor has done, Kagome," he said finally, after a few silent moments between them. "I watch you with the children, and with our son; you were born to be a mother. And because of Yori," he growled, "you may never get to be a mother again. I had wanted many pups with you, mate."
Eyes lowering to the covers of their bed, Kagome stared at her hands in shock as she took in his words. Never have another child?
She thought about that for a while, her eyes blank. It was a lot to take in.
But after a time...
"There's no point in worrying about it right now, Sesshoumaru. It's not as if I would be ready to have another now, or even soon. The four we have are definitely enough," she smiled. "And the healers only said maybe – they are not certain. When we decide that we're ready to try again, then we can worry about it."
He said nothing for a time, then nodded once in response, though Kagome was glad to see that something in his eyes had lightened a little at her words. With a small smile in his direction, she slid to the side of the low bed, determined to get up and move around a little more than she'd been allowed so far.
She'd been bedridden for weeks already, and one thing about Kagome – she hated being stuck in bed all the time. She was more than ready to get out and about again.
Within a fraction of a second, her rather overprotective mate was by her side in case she needed steadying, though he didn't immediately grab her, wanting her to come to him only if she needed his aid. A warm light in her eyes, she glanced up at him affectionately – he really was the perfect husband.
"Thank you – I was about to go crazy if I was forced to stay in that bed for one more second," she chuckled. Even so, she was still fairly weak, and couldn't walk too far yet, and so, once she'd been bathed and dressed by her attendants, she was brought out into what had become the family room, and spent a happy afternoon with her family – and cuddling on her rapidly growing son.
Sesshoumaru was extremely pleased with his son, as anyone with eyes could see, and it warmed something inside her to watch how he interacted with not only Mattaki, but the others, as well.
Kagome had told him of Inuyasha's attempt to stay and protect her against Yori, though, of course, at his age, he could really have done nothing to help her. But Sesshoumaru had seemed impressed by that; when she asked, he quietly informed her that it showed he had good instincts and the normal inuyoukai protective nature.
The very same nature he'd tried so hard to be rid of... once upon a time.
It was apparent his wife was thinking along the same lines if the ironic look she shot him then was any indication.
He tilted his head in gentle acknowledgment, however, surprising her – despite his dark, vicious rage at Yori, he had still lightened considerably, and that was most obvious in how he dealt with his family.
He had already begun basic training with Shippo, as well as Inuyasha, which was proving to be a good decision – both boys proved to be excellent sparring partners for each other, and, to Kagome's surprise, even at Inuyasha's age he showed a very marked talent for swordplay.
Sesshoumaru enlightened her when he noticed her surprise.
"When you gave Inuyasha the Tessaiga, he had no experience with a sword at all – yet within a few short months, he had developed great skill with it. My father's blood speaks strongly in him – all of us have shown great affinity for blades from early ages. He will be far more skilled by the time he reaches his maturity this time around, with several hundred years of training under his belt."
Kagome blinked at his rather offhand praise of Inuyasha's former skills with a blade, which he had always before insulted him over – and at that reminder that indeed, Inuyasha hadn't ever had any training with a sword before Tessaiga had been literally dropped into his lap.
"You, know, you're right," she mused thoughtfully. "I'd never really thought about it before. That is pretty amazing that he could pick such a thing up so quickly. He did give you a run for your money a few times."
Her mate eyed her askance for a moment, then proceeded to ignore her, to her amusement.
The one disharmony in their home in those weeks of her recovery was her unease over Yori's fate.
While she honestly didn't expect Sesshoumaru to let the male off the hook for what he'd done, still, she feared what he might possibly be doing to him. But despite her concerns, Sesshoumaru never spoke of anything to do with Yori's fate – leaving her to imagine far too many horrors.
The sad thing was, she was pretty sure she couldn't even begin to imagine what he was doing to his former servant.
She would have been correct.
What was left of Yori was barely even recognizable after so many weeks, and he was now just waiting to die. Sesshoumaru had not actually been down to the holding cells in some time – he was still so very angry about his little mate's possible infertility that he couldn't decide how he wanted the insolent dog to die.
His caviling on the matter would, in the end, change everything.
For all the weeks of her recovery, Kagome had been trying to ignore the feeling that she was getting from something in the palace.
She kept getting such a horrible miasma of emotions and agonizing physical pain that it didn't take her long to realize that what she was feeling was Yori's suffering. The thought made her ill... though funnily enough, she couldn't bring herself to feel any disgust for her mate for that.
Kagome had never been under any illusions – Sesshoumaru was youkai, and darkness was an intrinsic part of youkai. So was the urge to defend... and the urge to torture and kill anyone who harmed those they cared for. She couldn't ask him to just forget what Yori had done – she knew he couldn't.
But... in the end, she couldn't ignore someone who was suffering – and especially as badly as Yori's aura told her he was. She was a creature made for comforting, loving, and healing those around her, a creature of nature – a mother.
Sesshoumaru would have to come to understand that, and accept her nature as she'd accepted his.
Finally, one morning when Sesshoumaru was out of the palace and the children were all busy with other things, and her son sleeping peacefully, Kagome found herself unable to hold out anymore – a soul in serious need of release was calling her, and she couldn't do anything but answer its call.
Not a single servant even noticed her quiet passage as she followed the feel of the pleading and begging aura, and it didn't really take too long for Kagome to find herself under the palace in the holding cells...
And the locked door keeping her from the soul in need of her didn't pose much of a problem to her as she swelled her aura and broke the wooden door asunder.
Despite what the male had done to her, there was not an ounce of hate or anger in her when she looked on the ruined remains of the once proud inuyoukai servant, only pained sadness.
Moving forward on almost silent feet, she knelt next to the male and said sadly, "This is what hate brings us to, Yori..."
Yori stirred at the sound of her voice, his head raising just enough to peer at her with his one remaining eye. After a moment, he rasped, "Have you come to finish me, Lady?" his tone oddly respectful, and also, to Kagome's even deeper sadness, hopeful. "I would truly welcome such mercy if you could find it in yourself to show such to me, as I did not to you."
Just at that moment, an icy, deadly cold aura battered both people in the cell, and Sesshoumaru stepped around the door, his eyes taking in what was happening in one frozen glance.
His gaze met Kagome's. "Stand and leave this room, wife, now," he said, his voice colder than it had been to her in a very long time.
But Kagome was unphased; surrounded by a soul in such need of release, she could never remain apart and ignore it. It wasn't possible.
"I can't, Sesshoumaru." She put her head down, looking at Yori as she spoke. "I can't go against what I am – and asking me to ignore such agony in someone would be asking me to become someone else. I must free him," she replied.
"He brought his agony on himself for his actions against you and our son – this is his fate, that he bought with your blood and pain. I will not free him!" he growled back, becoming angry.
Reaching out with one hand, she placed it on Yori's chest gently, then reached with the other one and grabbed Sesshoumaru's hand, shocking him for a moment...
And then he collapsed to his knees as he, for those moments, became Yori, and he was simply overwhelmed, his body failing to respond to him. His mind burned with white light as the agonizing pain the former servant was in burst across his consciousness, and he lived the events with his father, and with his mate, through the male's eyes. He felt his disdain, and his hatred for humans...
He didn't miss the fact that Yori's belief's echoed his own former ones almost identically. That one thing made him stop and think – could he really hate the inu for beliefs he'd shared, and even encouraged for so many, many years? Certainly, the male should never have acted against Kagome, despite his beliefs, but he really had thought he was serving his master.
A great deal of the hatred inside him for Yori faded, though not all of it, his rage also fading and leaving behind only one anger – her possible infertility because of the male's actions.
That was the one thing he couldn't get past, and honestly, Kagome understood. But at least now...
Sesshoumaru pulled his hand from his mate's, then looked at her pleading eyes. "For the harm he has done your ability to bear more pups, I cannot forgive him. But for the rest... he has paid for his actions with blood enough to atone for them. You may release him," he finished curtly, standing up again and moving back as Kagome beamed at him in gratitude.
"Thank you, Sesshoumaru," she breathed, before looking down at the stunned inu. "Are you ready to pass?" she asked gently, and at his bare nod, she sighed, then closed her eyes. "Then go, and find peace, Yori."
With that, she placed both hands on his chest and with gentle pulses of her aura, shut down his dying body and encouraged his weary soul to move on, leaving behind mistaken hatreds and every bit of pain he'd suffered in the last weeks, so that his soul would not be tainted, leaving him free to start his next life with a clean slate.
Sesshoumaru watched as Yori's body faded away, turning to a rain of sparkles under his wife's power, and sighed inwardly. With that one stunt, she had given him so much to think about.
Still, he couldn't bring himself to regret what he'd done to Yori. He would never have allowed Kagome to release the dog back in the beginning – before he'd suffered for what he'd done to her. It was only the fact that he had paid such a price for his actions that allowed Sesshoumaru to let him go in peace at this point.
It was quiet in the cell for a moment, and then Kagome sighed and climbed to her feet, turning to look at her mate. Solemnly, she looked at him, her eyes knowing. "I know... that you're probably angry. And I understand, Sesshoumaru."
"Do you?" he asked, holding her gaze. "I do not regret what I did to Yori," he said baldly. "Do I now disgust you?"
She shook her head. "No. You are what you are, Sesshoumaru. Youkai. I accept that. But... can you accept me equally? I am not youkai. While I understand why you feel as you do, I can't feel the same. I am simply Kagome... is it within you to understand me, in return?"
Her question left him feeling oddly unsettled, and he eyed her sharply as he took her arm to guide her from the now empty dungeons. Can I? Can I bring myself to accept her compassion, as she accepts my vengeful nature?
He knew the answer. He could accept her – he already had. It didn't mean he would always like it. Her compassion for all, even those that harmed and hurt her, infuriated him when he really thought about it... but it was something that he could deal with, because it was who she was, and it was that light, that incandescence of soul that had attracted his attention in the first place.
It had addicted him even then, and now he was even more so – he could never let go of her.
"I may not always like what your nature causes you to do, Kagome, but I can accept it," he finally said as he led her out of the dark holes under the palace and back into the light and airy palace proper.
"But if I feel that your compassion is leading you into danger, I will put a stop to it, little mate, make no mistake. I will not allow even your nature to take you away from me."
Kagome said nothing, simply letting his words settle into her heart and lighten her soul.
She knew he felt that way because he cared, and that was enough for her.
Kagome never knew just how much those few seconds when she showed him Yori's soul and suffering in the dungeon that day affected him. He brooded on that small sliver of seeming eternity many times over the years – and it didn't fail to effect him.
It showed in his teaching of the children.
He trained the boys well, teaching them combat skills and the ins and outs of ruling with equal facility. When Kagome asked why he was teaching them to rule as though they would maintain control of the West, he responded that it did not matter how much or how little a person had to rule – intelligent thinking applied in any situation.
She shrugged, knowing he was right.
And on the flip side, Kagome was well aware that though Sesshoumaru may lose the visible title of Western Lord, at least in the eyes of the world, he would always retain control of his realm – one way or another.
Winter inevitably moved into spring, and spring mellowed into early summer, and finally, Sesshoumaru gathered his family and took them to Edo to see their friends once more, and check on how the village was doing under the care of the monk and taijiya boy who'd been through so much.
The timing, it turned out, couldn't have been better; when they arrived, Sango was deep in the later stages of labor, and Kagome hurried to help with the final hour of the birthing. She was thrilled when it turned out her best friend was birthing twin girls.
They stayed in the vicinity of the village for several days, giving her friends a chance to see her new son, and Sesshoumaru a chance to see how the monk and young slayer were handling matters.
He was pleased – everything appeared to be running smoothly.
That visit was repeated every year for as long as Miroku, Sango, and Kohaku lived, though Sesshoumaru kept an eye on the village even years afterward to watch over their descendents. And all the while, he was training and teaching the children. He was a very good father...
Rin grew up and married, lived her life, and passed, and though Sesshoumaru grieved, he never regretted. The children she left behind also benefited from his oversight, though they never knew just how protected they really were.
It was in the spring after Rin finally passed on that Kagome realized that her previous thoughts on Sesshoumaru retaining control of his lands one way or another were correct when she found out just what he was up to.
He had tracked down Hosenki's nephew, and now that the younger pearl-maker was almost his famous uncles equal, set a task before him – one that if he could pull off, would allow him to surpass Hosenki.
What he wanted was to hide his realm away inside a pearl – in essence creating a secret realm of his own that would not fall to human predation.
Years passed in a fairly peaceful manner as they waited for Hosenki's nephew to finish his commission, Kagome watching the children grow, and she paid close attention to how Inuyasha's personality formed this time around. While there were still glimpses of the excitable hanyou he had been the first time, this time, he was much more like his elder brother.
Less brash, and much better trained, he was a great deal more collected, and took more time to think things through. But he was still much more hot-headed than his older brother, though he'd learned to temper that somewhat with deeper thought.
He never showed, by word or deed, that he had any memories of his first life, and Kagome was inclined to believe that he didn't, just as the kami had said he would not. But she was happy with the thought that the kami would be pleased with his upbringing – his sense of honor, this time, was not in question.
It took the pearl-master about a hundred years, but he finally succeeded in his quest to create a separate realm, and Sesshoumaru was greatly pleased. But Kagome was a bit confused...
"How is that going to work? I mean, all those other pearls had to be hidden somewhere, ne? So where can you hide this pearl that will hold the Western Lands?"
Sesshoumaru studied the large, luminescent gray pearl he was holding for a while, then answered. "It will be hidden in plain sight. When I am ready, I will cast the pearl into the air, and it will warp reality around us, rendering the Western Lands invisible to those still in the mortal realm." He glanced at her, taking in her expression. "This pearl basically allows me to form the West as a youkai enclave in a world of humans. They can come here for refuge, leaving the other realm to mankind."
"Oh," she said dubiously. "But for how long will such an enchantment last?"
He cocked a brow at her. "Forever. Do you think I would be satisfied with something that held the potential for anything less? These lands are mine. I spent much time thinking over the dilemma I faced with your time fast approaching, and I determined that I would not lose my lands. So I spent years pondering on a way to retain them. This is what I came up with."
Kagome's brow furrowed then. "But... I thought – I mean, you said that you didn't have to worry about a full-blooded heir since you would one day lose the title. But now..." she trailed off, suddenly worried, and Sesshoumaru quickly ascertained her fear.
"Mattaki is my heir. Do you know of any youkai save myself that could defeat him? This is my realm, and he is my son. Who is there that will naysay my choice of who will inherit it?"
That discussion brought up another that both had avoided for all the years since Mattaki's birth – her possible inability to conceive again. And suddenly...
"I wish to try for another pup, mate." He watched her carefully for her reaction. "Are you willing?"
Her eyes turned to the sparring match taking place before them between Mattaki and Inuyasha, while Shippo watched on, and thought about it. It had been years since she had held a baby in her arms...
It didn't take much thought to decide. She turned her gaze back to her husband with a light blush kissing her cheeks. "Yes... I'm willing to try," she said, her fear of her possible infertility easy to read in her eyes. But there was hope – her female cycle had returned to normal about a year after Mattaki's birth. The healers had said it was a good sign...
With the virility of the daiyoukai in question, it was hardly a surprise when Kagome conceived within weeks of their decision to try again, and Sesshoumaru, relieved and highly pleased, hosted a celebration. At that celebration, he announced his plans for the Western Lands, and ordered that the word go out – any and all youkai and hanyou were welcome to come to the West to live in peace in their own realm, separate from humanity in general. To that end, he chose to wait for ten years to form the new realm, so that word could spread and all that wished to could join them.
This time, their child being conceived in fall meant a late spring/early summer birth, and there was a wild celebration when a daughter was born. Kagome was surprised to find that female inuyoukai were rare, and as such, their new daughter would be highly sought after when she reached maturity.
"She will have her pick of males," Sesshoumaru told her, and she sighed, at least happy to know that her daughter wouldn't be traded off as part of an alliance. She didn't want any child of hers to end up in such a forced relationship.
"And what of Mattaki? Will he also be free to choose?" she asked hesitantly, not certain of this answer. After all, he was the heir, and Sesshoumaru may choose to control that particular mating himself.
Turning to eye her as she sat, beautifully disheveled and glowing on their bed, he considered her words for a moment before speaking slowly. "He will be free to choose, within reason. I will have to approve of his choice beforehand, but I do not anticipate a problem. He is intelligent, and not easily led astray. I believe he will choose wisely."
Kagome nodded reluctantly after a moment, knowing that was as good an assurance as she was going to get. She only hoped Sesshoumaru was correct and that he would approve Mattaki's choice. She didn't want her son to lose out on love.
She was very curious to see, however, who Inuyasha would choose this time around. Obviously, Kikyou was not in play, but she wondered if he would once again be attracted to a human, or if this time, he would choose a hanyou or a youkai – provided he could find one willing to take him, as most youkai did not care for hanyou.
It did seem as though things were changing in that regard, however, as there were many young females in the castle proper that had shown appreciation for both her son, and Inuyasha. She supposed that only time would tell...
As much as she would have liked it otherwise, Sesshoumaru's plans for the West didn't go through completely peacefully – he was challenged twice for his rule of them. Once, by an Inu, and the second time, by a dragon, who, with a total lack of honor, brought a few friends along in an attempt to waylay the Western Lord.
The first battle, with the Inu, Kagome followed her mate's orders and stayed out of it, simply watching the titanic battle for dominance as Sesshoumaru proved why he was the Alpha, taking the other Inu down in a show of force that completely overwhelmed him. But Kagome, expecting her mate to kill the interloper for his daring, was surprised instead when he offered mercy once the other male submitted.
It was a testament to the illumination he'd been exposed to for so long.
Despite his offer of clemency to the inu male, who accepted and eventually became Sesshoumaru's right-hand man, the dragon received a different fate – he showed his back-handed and untrustworthy nature right off the bat, and that battle was much more fiercely fought for Sesshoumaru's anger at the deceit and lack of honor displayed.
The entire court of the West, as well as the heir, Mattaki, and Inuyasha and Shippo, were present for that battle, and it was a titanic one as they battled in their true forms. And if at first Kagome was inclined to stay out of the fight, when the dragon's henchmen suddenly appeared, attempting to overpower her mate, her anger quickly had them turned to dust, shocking the dragon so much that he lost track of his battle with Sesshoumaru – to his detriment.
After Sesshoumaru had bathed in the insolent creature's blood, he rather acidly declared him an unfit and boring opponent, and with a haughty sniff, proceeded back into his palace to bathe – accompanied by his mate, who was determined to fuss over any and all injuries he'd suffered.
She shouldn't have been surprised to find that there were only a few, and they were extremely minor.
Finally, the appointed day for the creation of the new youkai realm came, and with nervousness beating at her, Kagome asked something she'd only just thought of.
"Is this it? I mean... are we ever going to be able to go back to the real world?" she asked, brow furrowed.
"Yes... why would we not be able to? Are not the pearls portals? They go both ways," he replied calmly, trying to ease her obvious worries.
"Well, then why did we wait all this time to spread the word to other youkai? Couldn't they just come as they choose?"
"And how would they find us, let alone enter? The purpose of the pearl is to hide our realm, Kagome. After we do this, the only way any additional youkai will be able to enter is if they come to this area, and wait for us to come back out into this realm. Then they could petition for entry. But there is no guarantee how long between visits to this world we will take, meaning they would be vulnerable staying in one place waiting," came his surprising answer, and Kagome had to admit she hadn't thought about that. She nodded her understanding of his answer, and left it at that.
Everyone was ordered to follow the Western Lord from the palace and surrounding areas, and after the lands had emptied, and all those who had come to join them had obeyed, Sesshoumaru did what he'd been waiting to do for ten years.
He cast the pearl into the air, throwing it as high as he could, and with writhing energies suddenly visible in the skies above them, every being present watched in awe as the land was warped, and a large section of the landmass of Japan actually vanished, folding into the pearl and leaving the rest of the island untouched. When it was over, the missing land was gone as though it had never existed, and no one would ever be the wiser.
Once the magic was complete, Sesshoumaru took to the air with the Staff of Two Heads, and striking a spot only he seemed to see, he opened a portal into the new West, and kept it open as all his people entered their new home, safe from the ever-expanding human presence for all time.
And that gave Kagome the answer as to why there were no youkai in her time – because they were hidden away, kept safe from humanity's drive to conquer the planet.
Sesshoumaru was not blind to Kagome's reason for wanting to be able to pass back and forth between realms; one day, time would come full circle and she would once more be present in her birth era – and able to see her family. Though he never spoke of it to her, he had made plans to reunite her with them, since he was privy to the date she would be able to return – she'd told him herself in passing one day.
That time was fast approaching.
Mattaki did, indeed, choose a bride wisely, and with his father's approval, took the young female to mate – a wolf, one of Koga's tribe.
As the eras had passed, the wolf youkai had been hard pressed by the expansion of humans, and eventually, hurt pride or not, Koga was forced for the good of his people to petition Sesshoumaru for entrance into his Western realm. Terms were agreed on, and the wolf youkai became part of the West, settling peacefully in the wooded hills in the northernmost portions of the realm.
Inuyasha, now grown and a much more sober adult than he had been the last time around, ended up mating another hanyou. Surprisingly, she was an inuhanyou just like Inuyasha, and resembled him somewhat with her ears, though she was much more finely built and dainty. Kagome was quite happy with the outcome of Inuyasha's new life.
Shippo didn't bother mating, enjoying being a bachelor too much to tie himself down, to Kagome's disappointment. Sesshoumaru simply shrugged, saying that it was his choice.
Their daughter, however... she was another story altogether. Named in honor of Rin, the girl took after her father more than her mother; she had ebony hair with deep blue highlights but the golden eyes and markings of her sire. However, in temperament – she was a termagant. Fierce, strong and independent, she ran her father ragged, and in the end, the mate she chose...
Suddenly, the wolf prince found himself on the other end of the barrel, so to speak – instead of being the pursuer as he had been over her mother, she chased him until she caught him. Surprisingly, though Koga fought hard to get away at first, it didn't really take her long to wear him down... and when the dust had settled, the wolf tribe had a new leader...
And a much cleaner home.
Sesshoumaru, on the other hand, wasn't so thrilled to be so tied to the wolf clan...
"Perhaps the next pup should be a male. Daughters are too much trouble," he declared to his wife, who laughed at him.
"And Mattaki didn't give you headaches when he hit that rebellious stage when he was oh, what, a hundred and fifty or so? Every other day you were out in the dojo trying to pound sense into him. Would you have allowed your father to pick your mate?" she asked knowingly.
He scowled at that thought. There was no telling what horror his father would have stuck him with – for his own amusement. "No."
"Then how can you expect your children to let you?"
He growled at her and dropped the subject, to her high amusement.
Time passed slowly as it was wont to do, and eventually, her own era returned in the circle of time that she had been trapped in, and she began to pay more attention to the passing of days. But she was unaware of her mate's also marking the time, and finally, the last day arrived – the day she had last gone through the well before Naraku had trapped her and closed it.
She was completely stunned when her husband and mate of five centuries came to their bed that night with orders to prepare on the following morning to take a trip out of their realm into the real world, for it was time to reunite her with her family.
She'd had no idea he'd even known the dates – or cared.
"Do you think something that would affect you this deeply would be something this Sesshoumaru would overlook?" he asked incredulously, sincerely offended – she knew because that was the only time he spoke in third person with her any longer. She spent the night making it up to him – in the nicest of ways, and by the time morning came, he was once again calm – and, most importantly, unoffended.
More excited and nervous than she could ever remember being, Kagome readied herself to be reunited with her family. This first time seeing them again, it would only be her and Sesshoumaru – after all, her mother, grandfather, and Souta had memories of Inuyasha that he no longer did. They would need to be informed of what fate and the kami had done.
On top of that, Sesshoumaru felt that her family would have enough to take in with just her, and himself and their story, without being overwhelmed with their children and their mates as well.
She couldn't help but agree.
And that was how, on a bright sunny morning five hundred and two years after she'd last seen her family, Kagome was reunited with them.
As long as the wait had been, though, when asked by her mother if she regretted the well being closed, she shook her head.
"No. I'm sorry, mother, but as much as I love you all, I would never give Sesshoumaru up for anything," she said firmly, with a loving look in her husband's direction.
When her mother's gaze settled on him and he heard her question to him, he also shook his head.
"I will never regret the path I chose so long ago. Kagome is my light – she is the illumination that my dark soul craved. It will always crave her. Without her, the things that have come to pass... the creation of a separate realm for youkai would never have come into being. Instead, I believe our kind would have disappeared. Her light is what saved me... and every other youkai from extinction."
Kagome blushed. After a long, intense look at his wife, he finished...
"Were the sun to disappear tomorrow, I would not miss it, for her incandescent soul would light my way perfectly into eternity."
A/N: And Done! Another story finished, leaving me with only two – Windows on the West, and Ever the Lotus. Which means I can start work on one of the MANY other stories I have partially started in my files.
I hope everyone enjoyed Illumination...