Disclaimer: I own none of the mentioned shows in this particular series.
Manga Used: Inuyasha
Main Character(s): Kagome, Kikyou (Somewhat)
Challenge One: The Cliché
Kagome huffed indignantly. Digging her heels into the soft earth, she attempted to heave the over sized backpack onto her shoulders once more. Normally her pack would be virtually empty on her return trips home to the modern era, but this time she hadn't even made it three steps out of the well before realizing that she left her bow and arrows at her home in the future.
"So stupid…" Kagome muttered under her breath. How could she have forgotten something so important? Inuyasha had thrown an hour-long fit when he found out and allowed her to return only for five minutes to retrieve the weapons.
She shook her head. This was just not her day. First she woke up three hours late, then she ended up missing breakfast since she had been so busy gathering all the materials she needed to return to the feudal era, and finally she forgot the most important items anyone could every need when travelling to a power-hungry demon infested time period. Could things get any worse from here?
After about the fifth time of miserably failing to lift the backpack, Kagome huffed and tossed it to the ground unceremoniously. She'd come back to pick it up later. But for now she'd just focus on one thing at a time. The miko took the rotting wood of the ladder into her hands and slowly made her way up the decrepit well.
"I swear how much worse can things get around here?" The teen mumbled to herself once more. She had already made it about half way up, but the next few panels of wood were even more decayed than the rest. Kagome sweat dropped. Of course she'd have to go and curse herself. "Damn Murphy's Law." The miko swore. She gently place her foot on the next step and lightly pressed down in a few different areas. The wood creaked beneath her weight for a moment but held fast. "Better now than never." The miko sighed. She put the full weight of her body onto it, and immediately regretted the action. The panel snapped in half, sending her falling back down to the bottom of the well. But before she landed the familiar blue light began to engulf her body.
"Aw c'mon! I just got back!" Kagome complained, but stopped short. Reaching up to her neck, she realized that the shards were not on her person. She turned back to her backpack-a soft glow emanating from one of the pockets. "Oh no…" the priestess whispered. Just as she reached out for her pack it suddenly sunk into the earth, taking the shards with them.
The miko wobbled onto her feet. The blue light of the well's portal still surrounding her. The Shikon shards had returned back to the feudal era. Yet she was still here. Stuck inside the well somewhere between the two time periods.
"This cannot be happening!" She yelled out in a panic. Kagome began to dig at the soft earth where her backpack had just disappeared into. The desperation getting the best of her, she slammed her hands roughly onto the earth. There was a loud rumble then the dirt gave way revealing a long tunnel of blue light like the one surrounding her. She stared at it in bewilderment. The well… went on further? The miko propelled herself forward and began to slowly fall through the tunnel. It felt like she was floating down on a feather.
Soft white spheres of energy glided past her head. She stretched out her arm to touch them. The orb lightly touched her fingers and bounced off of them. It was warm to the touch, but not hot. It also sent a small shock through her system. Like a small burst of miko ki being sent through her body. Kagome pulled her hand back and looked at the appendage. There were no marks left over from where she had made contact.
The miko looked back up to see that the roof to the shrine used to house the well was no longer visible. She looked below and found just an eternal tunnel of light. Her body slowly continued to fall with the currents of the light. Would she be stuck in here forever? Kagome shook her head. No, she couldn't remain here. She had to find her way out. With the determination steeled into her heart, she began looking around for anything that seemed off or out of place. Her crystal gaze turned towards what would've been the 'wall' of the well but were now covered with the blue radiance. It would sway from side to side and seemed to a have a more water-like appearance.
Kagome closed her eyes and gently pressed her hand against it. Much to her surprise, her hand went through the 'wall' and was now on the other side. She opened her eyes. Pressing the other hand through, she grabbed onto what felt like a sharp branch sticking out on the other side to pull herself through. The wall slowly moved over her body like a curtain of cool air. Leaving her skin chilled and goose bumps raised.
As she looked up once more, Kagome realized that she was no longer in the earth's realm. The trees were black and spindly, like they had been carved by someone whose mind was steeped in darkness. Her crystal gaze widened at the dark atmosphere that this entire world seemed to impress upon her. In the place of where the sun and moon should have been was a sky as black as death itself and the only decoration in its vast abyss was a small white dot that appeared to look like a single star. The dot shimmered in the blackness, wavered from side to side, then stilled completely. A deep sadness welled within the miko's chest. For some odd reason that star reminded her of someone, but she could not place her finger on who. She trekked through the mud-like soil towards the center of this small 'world'. A small but decaying Camellia flower sprouted from the ground. Its colors had long since faded, but there was an aura of determination that seemed to surround it. It was as if the little flower was fighting to survive in this cold and lonely world.
Kagome glanced back to the curtain of light that she had just passed through. Luckily it was still there and she managed to fight her way back inside of the never-ending well. Another chill washed over her skin as the light passed over her. The mud on her shoes disappeared yet the sadness of that world still gripped at her heart. Who could that small little realm have reminded her of? She racked her brain for the answer, but the face of the person remained a mystery to her.
As she floated down the well once more something seemed to stick out of the waves of energy. A small green object protruded through the film of blue and white. That was odd. She had never seen anything through the well before. Her gaze narrowed on the object in curiosity.
'Is that a… leaf?' She thought to herself. Her fingers grasped onto the plant-like substance. But unlike with the previous world where she had to pull herself through it by the weight of her own strength, the small leaf that seemed fragile enough to tear with two fingers yanked her entire body through the layer of lights. The landing was surprisingly soft Kagome noted with satisfaction. The teen briefly dusted off the dirt from her legs and began to stand on her feet.
'Where am I now?'
Unlike before this realm was covered in beautifully decorated flowers and trees. A bright sun shone above her head in a brilliant blue. 'That's odd. A blue sun.' The miko slowly moved away from the entrance once more-seeking something that she couldn't quite grasp. The heat from the sun radiated down on her like a wave of summer humidity. She hadn't even been around for five minutes and already beads of sweat were beginning to roll down the back of her neck.
At a small opening through the plants and brush an oversized flower towered over the rest. It was a brilliantly colored tiger lily. The reds of its petals contrasted greatly with the blue radiance of the sun and green shrubbery of the plants below. Kagome stare at it in awe and wonder. How could something so magnificent exist in such a humid and sweltering world?
Her gaze remained locked on the flower, unable to tear herself away from it. It seemed so….familiar. Almost like it was a part of her. She stretched her fingers to touch the flower, but before she made contact with it thorns burst from the stem aggressively. The little needle like structures tilted upwards, than forwards, following her moving finger like it had a target on it. The miko withdrew her hand and a shame crept over her. Rejected? By a plant no less? She shook her head. How could she be so foolish? With the threat of human touch gone, the thorns slowly retreated back into the flower's thick stem. It was almost as if they never even existed.
Without further provocation, the teen slowly turned on her heel and trekked back through the jungle like world. She stared at the wall of light sadly. This place seemed so happy yet there was something hidden here… a kind of anger and sadness that it was not willing to express. She reluctantly left the realm of wonders and imagination only to return to the abyss of that tunnel.
To Kagome, it seemed like an eternity before she attempted to move through the walls one last time. 'Might as well try one more time… what harm could it do?' the image of tiger lily flashed in her mind briefly before she shook the thought altogether. 'It's better than doing nothing…' The young woman quickly forced herself through the farce of a wall one more time. Only instead of tumbling through like the past couple of times, she was slowly placed onto the ground below.
Blades of grass poked at her exposed legs and she fought the urge to itch them in favor of taking in the new surroundings. The sky was a brilliant azure and the sun was out in full force, however just off to the other side the moon also rose with the day's progression. They both held their normal colorations, but something seemed rather 'off'. Plains of grass rolled as far as she could see and at the top of a one of the largest hills sat a carnation of many different colorations. It flashed from purple to green to blue to red than to pink and back to purple. The only constant was a black smudge at the center of its petals. Kagome made her way to the flower and attempted to remove the black from its petals but to no avail. The flower quivered beneath her fingers and moved slightly away, however it did not sprout thorns to attack her.
The miko released the stem and gently began to stroke the petals as an apology for the rough treatment. The carnation slowly stopped shivering and after a few minutes, even leaned into her fingers as if to attempt to get a little more attention from her like a pet would.
The teen smiled genuinely and her heart began to feel at peace. Seeing something so fragile trust her so openly made her feel as if all the bad things in the world couldn't harm her. The blackness at the center of the flower receded back into the stem. The dark spot traveled its way down into the grass below. It grew with the length of the hill top and the greens of the grass was tainted the black. Beside the flower weeds began to sprout. They curled around the plant trying to strangle the life out of it. The flower quivered and for an instant, Kagome swore she heard it cry out to her.
Thinking fast she ripped at the weeds viciously. Yanking them out of the ground and tossing them down the hillside. However the weeds would then extend their roots and plant themselves back into the ground. She tried over and over again to save the flower but no matter how much she fought, it became covered and overtaken by the black weeds.
Kagome wept at the sight of the Carnation withering under its vice-like grip. Imprisoned by the darkness it was trying to deny. She reached her hand up to help the flower once more but a bright blue light flashed behind her and before she knew it, she was back in the blue abyss of the well.
Tears cascaded down her cheeks. How could something so beautiful be attacked so horrifically? A softness touched her feet. It was warm and comforting for her soul.
"Higurashi Kagome…" A feminine voice called out from the darkness. Said girl lifted her gaze to find an outline of a person floating towards her.
"Who-Who are you?" She stuttered, trying to locate the person's movements.
"It is not who I am, but what I am that you must ask." The voice said calmly.
Kagome blinked, confused. What could that mean? Was there another demon in the well? She shook her head. No that couldn't be. She would've sensed its presence a long time ago if that were the case.
"Than what are you?"
A ghost of a smile spread across the figure's lips, "I am the guardian of this well. I am the spirit that the shrine was originally built for."
The miko's gaze widened. "Midoriko? But I thought your soul was sealed in the jewel…"
"No child. I am not the priestess of the four jewels. Rather, I am the priestess that started your line. The human name that I went by was Hanako. I am yours and Kikyou's ancestor." A woman stepped out of the darkness.
'She's beautiful…' Kagome thought taking in her appearance. Hanako wore the traditional robes of a priestess, however her dark hair flowed behind her gracefully and her crystal gaze bared down on her descendant kindly.
"You have gone through much pain my child, however before you can proceed with your journey you must first come to terms with yourself." Hanako stared at Kagome with an undecipherable expression, "Do you know what those worlds were that you visited on your journey here?"
"No." The teen shook her head.
"The first world seemed very foreign didn't it? Sad and full of despair. Yet you couldn't help but feel that it reminded you of someone? Tell me, can you guess who that person is?" Her tone became heavy with the burden of wisdom.
"Iie. I've been trying to think about it but I just… can't think of it…" She slowly paused and an image of a woman with haunted eyes flashed before her mind. "….Kikyou..?"
"Ah. What you saw was the personification of Kikyou's part of the soul you two share. That last star was her dwindling hope and the flower of her lost love had started to decay…" Hanako looked at her seriously, "Do you know why I'm telling you this?"
Kagome grew silent. That sad and decrepit realm was Kikyou's soul? So did that make the second world the personification of her own soul?
"I...I think. That tiger lily I saw in the second world… that was myself right?" She looked up at her ancestor. Hanako nodded at her.
"Yes. Although you love with all your heart, you are forced to put up extreme defenses because of the pain that causes you." The spirit answered.
"So that third world," The miko cringed at the memory of the Carnation being devoured by the blackness, "What was that then?"
"That is what will become of your soul should the two of you continue to battle each other. You both are one in the same." Hanako gently pulled Kagome to her feet, "As of now the bitter tension between you two is bridled and still in its early stages." The older miko locked her gaze onto her intensely, "It's not too late to change the path that has been set."
The teen nodded, "So how..?"
Hanako smiled, "Accept her. Accept Kikyou as a part of you. Accept Kikyou as your past and she shall accept you as her future. You two are the same person-just born into different time periods. Kagome, once you accept her as a part of yourself I shall pass all my powers onto you." Her form slowly glided over to the wall of sapphire lights. "As guardian of the well of time, it is my duty to see that every generation is protected. However from the confines of this realm I am unable to defeat the threat that Naraku and future demons pose against the world. You, Kikyou, and your own ancestors will have to fight these battles. However if you two continue to feud than the lines will cease and there will be no one left to protect the outside world."
"I understand." Kagome said, "but may I request one thing?"
Hanako glanced at her descendant curiously, "What may that be?"
"Send me back to Kikyou's realm."
The older miko's crystal gaze seemed to smile at her, "As you wish." The river like flow of the lights parted and the darkened world that she first visited appeared behind its curtains. No words were spoken as Kagome passed through the threshold and into the darkness of Kikyou's present soul.
The despair of the world made Kagome cringe. For so long she had been jealous of her relationship with Inuyasha that she didn't think about the pain that Kikyou had been put through when her life was cut short. At least she didn't think of it until Inuyasha brought the subject up during plans to take Naraku down. The young miko looked up at the star in the sky and reached for it. Surprising she was able to grasp the tiny marble like light and hold it between her fingers. It was warm to the touch and hummed rhythmically in her palm. It was as if it were singing a sad lullaby to soothe the chaos of this realm.
Kagome's crystal gaze softened as the marble rolled from side to side in her palm. Its light grew slightly with each touch it received. She gently carried the marble to the decaying Camellia flower and placed it at the base of its stem. The flower trembled slight at the warmth the marble produced, then its stem began to slowly straighten-forcing the flower to turn upwards towards the sky. The petals of the Camellia flower regained its colors and the leaves on its stem slowly returned to a vibrant green. Roots sprouted from the ground and grasped onto the marble. Before Kagome could blink the Camellia's roots had pulled the last bit of hope underneath and reabsorbed it back into its being.
A wave of sapphire light burst from the flower. It pulsated once, twice, three times. As the light faded the realm had transformed slightly. The mud beneath her feet had dried and the trees were starting to bloom once more. A solace had swept over Kikyou's soul and a kind of happiness began to spread over Kagome's own. So this was what Inuyasha had seen in her during their lifetime. Not the vengeful sprite she became in her afterlife, but the kind beauty that had cared only for his wellbeing.
A small opening of light appeared before her and Hanako held her hand out to her.
"Come my child. I have much to pass down to you…"
Kagome smiled at her, "Yes…"
Kikyou waited by the well, her gaze locked onto its rim intensely. The occupant was due to arrive soon. She was sure of it. A pink shard from the Shikon shimmered excitedly from the palm of her hand. A couple of months ago she had found it at the bottom of the well along with her reincarnation's pack. She never sensed the girl's return yet her items had made it back to the era. It was peculiar. A light flashed from the well and a small but dainty hand grasped at the lip. The shard in her hand buzzed even louder. It seemed almost…happy about Kagome's return.
The teen slowly pulled herself out of the well. It had taken quite a bit of time and practice, but Hanako had passed down her knowledge and power to control the well to her. It was the sole reason why she was able to return. Kagome's gaze snapped open as a shikon shard pulsated nearby.
At the edge of the clearing she could clearly see Kikyou hiding amongst the shadows. She smiled at the older woman. So she did sense the change…
"Kikyou…" the younger miko began but was interrupted.
"I've come to return this shard to you. That is all." The older woman's voice was curt and guarded. That fact alone made Kagome cringe but she did not falter in her decision.
"Thank you but…" she stopped and looked at her sadly, "I actually wanted to speak with you." If Kikyou had been shocked than she certainly didn't show it.
"Why is that?"
Kagome smiled kindly at the other miko, "Because, we're one in the same."
The incarnation looked at her in bewilderment.
"I've come to accept that." Kagome held up her hand for Kikyou to take it, "Would you please talk with me?"
The older woman looked at her in suspicion. She did not take her hand but instead opted to follow her down the pathway-where they began to mend their relationship and ultimately, form a friendship stronger than ever before….
Naruto Fan's Notes: Welp this is the first of seven planned self challenges. The first theme is to take the cliché of Kagome using the well to go to different worlds and turn it into something new-her gaining control over the well. Although since I thought it'd be a soul searching experience I added in the depth of Kagome and Kikyou at least coming to terms with one another's existence and their place in the search for the shards. :) Now's here's the part where I challenge you, the reader.
Challenge: Write a one-shot or full length story (your choice) where Kagome gains control over the well. What happens between the start and where Kagome achieves this goal is entirely up to you. You can have pairings or you can just leave it a journey for Kagome to take alone. It'll be interesting to see your takes on this.
Thank you all so much for reading this and all feedback is greatly appreciated!