First of all, this is a very old legend, which comes from the island of Crete in the Mediterranean sea...
It began when Poseidon, the god of the sea, gave the king of Crete a magnificent white bull. People say it was the size of a house, strong and muscular, with a pure white hide and sharp, elegant horns protruding from the top of it's head. It was indeed a marvelous creature to behold, what a shame that is was to be used as a sacrifice.
That was the very reason Poseidon had given the bull to the king. It was to be sacrificed in honor of the god of the sea, for it was custom then, that only the finest of beasts could be given to the gods. However, when the time came for the ceremony to be held, the greedy king decided to keep the bull, and sacrificed a lesser animal instead.
This greatly angered Poseidon, however, it is strictly forbidden, even for a god, to revoke a gift given of one's free will. Instead, Poseidon used a different method to extract his revenge, and bring shame upon the whole house of the king. It is said that he placed a spell on the king's wife, the queen, which made her fall madly in love with the bull.
Several months later, she gave birth to a horrid child. A half beast with the head and legs of a bull and the torso of a man. The king was in disgrace. How would he ever live down the shame of having such a freak in the royal family. However, he didn't dare kill the child, as it was part holy beast, and such an act would anger the gods even more. Instead, he had a large labyrinth built under his castle, which was so intricate and complex, it would take any man years to find his way back to the entrance. The construction took many years, however the moment it was completed, the king took the young boy, and cast him down into the labyrinth, sealing the exit so that the labyrinth and the boy might never see the light of day again.
In the years that followed, the king used the labyrinth as a punishment to all those who might dare stand against him and his law. Those who did were cast into the pit at the start of the labyrinth, and never seen again.
Now then, in the above story, if you change the word "Bull" into "Dog," you have an idea of how this story began...
How long had she been walking? Hours? Days? She couldn't guess. Down here in the dank, eternal darkness of the labyrinth, moonlight could have been seen as sunshine, and time was simply infinite. Infinitely long, for every infinitely small second that crept by.
By the dim light of her last candle, Kagome missed the rut in the stone floor and stumbled forward on her weary feet. What on earth am I doing down here?, was her thought as she caught herself again. Oh yeah, she had chosen to be down here.
Well, at least that was partially true. Kagome had been the princess of a small island, not too far from the nation of Crete which she was now in, or under might be the more appropriate term. They had always been a small, but proud nation, good seafarers and allies with the Cretins. That was until they had one day decided to attack her unprepared kingdom, capturing her and a great number of peasants before they could even think of defence. Even now, she could only pray that the rest of her family had escaped to safety and managed to hide somewhere out of the Cretins reach.
In the mean time, however, Kagome took her place at the head of her fellow captives as they were led out before the king and prince of Crete. That had been one of the most trying moments of her life. It wasn't just the king's over swollen head that made things difficult, but also the way the prince stared at her throughout the whole ordeal. It made her feel as if her clothes were crawling on her skin, ready to run away and leave her naked before his thirsting eyes.
In the end, through all her pleading and reasoning, the king decided that he would make them all low level citizens of his kingdom, and made them swear allegiance to him and his country. All that is, accept Kagome. She alone refused the pledge, choosing instead to take her chances in the fabled labyrinth of the castle. Her people had begged and pleaded for her to change her mind, and some even offered to revoke their pledge in order to go with her, but she would here none of it. They could move on and find new lives here, with endless possibilities. Kagome knew, however, that taking the oath would mean becoming the whore of that lust crazed prince which sat before her. She wouldn't do that, not now, not ever. She would rather be physically dead, than have her soul killed to become an empty shell of her former self.
So, on the appointed day, Kagome, as well as several other criminals, traitors, and those who had chosen to go against the king's will, were brought before the entrance to the labyrinth and lowered into the pit. Each one carried only a few candles for supplies, and some flint and steel to light them with. Then the massive trap doors had been shut once again, leaving the unfortunate to their fate.
The meagre few had moved forwards, or at least what they thought was forwards, clustered together for protection and comfort. They were soon utterly lost in the heart, or what they thought must be the heart, of the labyrinth. However, there was no way to tell anymore. East or west, north or south, night or day no longer existed. There was only the constant, hopeless maze, where each part seemed equally familiar and foreign at the same time.
They were together for a long time, until Kagome suddenly tripped over a stone and fell down a hidden embankment. Her candle extinguishing as it hit the ground, and she had spent what seemed like hours if not days, fumbling around in the unyielding darkness trying to get it lighted again. She had dropped her flint, and for a time it seemed so hopeless she thought she would go mad. Then she cried for a long, long time, and finally when her tears had run dry, she began her search again.
Now walking alone the endless mocking corridors, she was barely aware that she was absolutely filthy. Dirt streaked and tear stained, she trudged along, her throat swollen in thirst and her stomach years beyond empty. She almost hoped the feared half-beast would show up and finally put an end to her misery. Surely all the others had met their fate by now. Stories said that the dog-man was terrible to behold, with the head, feet and arms of a wild wolf, yet standing like a human. As well, he was also said to have sharp claws and pointed teeth, perfect for tearing flesh, and yellow eyes with slits, like a cat's, only more wild and enraged. He was supposed to be blood thirsty and ruthless, driven mad by the combination of human and demon blood within him. He feasted regularly on human flesh and loved the taste of young and tender girls...
A distant sound brought Kagome back to reality. Distant, yes, but real, and the second she recognised it, her body began to move forward, motivated by a new found hope in that sound. She couldn't believe it, and even as she jogged along, she knew it was probably some disgusting joke meant to get her hopes up, but it was getting closer! She came to a crossways in the endless halls. Yes, it was stronger in this direction. She quickly turned down another corridor, then around a bend, then another, and another and just when Kagome thought it would never be over, she hit a dead end.
And there is was, flowing out of a small crack in the wall, down into a small depression in the floor, pooling there, crystal clear and delicious in every possible way...water!
Kagome lunged forward, staggering like a woman possessed in her disbelief and joy. She dipped both hands into the small pool and drank greedily, sucking up the cold liquid like there was no tomorrow. She repeated this again and again, until her head began to ache from the wonderful coldness of the water, and still she drank.
Slowly, she began to relax her pace, going from fanatics, to regular drinking, and finally, to slow, savouring sips, allowing the water just to dance over her tongue and inside her mouth. She stayed like this for a long while, just savouring, breathing, sitting, until she finally woke from her reverie and, leaving her candle from where she had stuck it between a crack in the floor, she began to look around.
This room was different from the others, not so much in architecture or style, no, no. It had the same stone blocks for walls and ceilings, all of uniform shape or size. In fact, structurally the room was exactly like all the others in the labyrinth, save for the fact that this one was inhabited.
A small pile of filthy rags had been stuffed and scrunched into a corner, forming a type of primitive bed. Along the edge of the floor, next to the walls, lay several objects of crude and undefined shape, like poorly made toys of stone and wood. Among some of the objects, there were also several small knives, arrow heads, and the like, obviously weapons which had been concealed by prisoners and taken from them upon their defeat. If Kagome had looked, she would have noticed that the area was surprisingly very tidy, an obvious effort being made to keep it so.
Kagome, however, didn't notice much of this, her eyes shot instantly to the one thing in the room which so plainly suggested humanity that it made her gasp out loud the second she realised what it was. There, crudely scratched out on the stones in the wall, was a mural. It was formed of many child like shapes, rough and simple, but nonetheless Kagome picked out a sun and a moon, several stars, a few clouds. All things that the artist would never again gaze upon from his prison below the earth. It tore at Kagome's heart to look upon, but not nearly as much as what she saw next.
It was in the corner, a little off to the side. A rather grotesquely misshapen form that the artist had obviously tried desperately to perfect, and she knew why. There were writings below the drawing, or rather, simply a word, unfinished, but still legible. Stick letters, wobbly, just like a beginner's would be, spelled out like this: MOTHE...
It ended there, but the suggestion was clear, "Mother." This crude figure was a rendition of the artist's mother. No wonder they had tried so hard to make it perfect. Hours spent lovingly trying to carve out the face of one who brought comfort in times of darkness. It made Kagome think of her own mother, how she wished she could see her...
It was unfinished though, the drawing. At some point, the artist had decided that his work was not good enough, and had sought to destroy it, but not completely. Kagome ran her hands along the marks which suggested this. Five of them, evenly spaced, wrought deep with agony and contempt for life. How awful, she thought. This person must have been down here for a really long time.
And suddenly, it struck her. These deep gashes, marked in hatred and loathing, had not been made by any tool. They were made by claws, harder and sharper than steel, belonging to the only resident prisoner of this place, the man-beast, the half-human, the feared monster of Crete.
Kagome sat there, dumbstruck. He was human, at least in some respect. He could remember, think, spell, create and most of all, love. What a horrible fate for anyone, doomed to roam these light-less halls, alone and feared by all. Gods only knew if he even realised why he had been locked down here in the first place, or was there even a reason? Sure, he may have looked different, but it was always the inside which mattered most after all. Had anyone even bothered to look at him as a human, and not some stupid, primal circus freak? Perhaps his mother, but anyone else? No, she thought, probably never...
A yawn escaped her lips before she even realised it was welling up inside of her. She was tired, dead tired. Who knows how many days it had been, locked in this prison without light.
"Either way," she thought aloud with another yawn, "it can't be nearly as long as he's been down here..."
A sudden thought struck her, she didn't want to leave this place, this room, to begin once again wandering the endless halls without purpose or direction. Here at least, there was water, signs of human life, and a soft place to rest which, at the moment, was not being used by anyone...
That did it. Too tired for another thought, she sank down on the dank makeshift bed, which smelt of dirt, sweat and something else, something not quite human, but not unfamiliar...
"That's right, dog." she thought with a smile. After all, he was half dog demon, right? Why shouldn't he smell like it, just a bit. She giggled, despite her half dozed state. Somehow, she couldn't wait to meet him now. What will he be like, she wondered, but even then she knew she'd find out. This was his home, and she was intruding on it. Dangerous or not, she didn't care. It was the only way she would be sure to meet him. Whether he killed her or not was up to him then, but it was better than dying of starvation, alone, in those endless halls, and somehow, she didn't think he'd kill her. Somehow, she just knew he wouldn't...
Finally, they were gone!
"Damn noisy bastards!" he said to no-one in particular.
This lot had been exceptionally dumb, and he had needed to use extra noise and persuasion just to herd them in the right direction, towards the secret exit that only he knew about. If they had been any dumber he would have gone and attacked them, just to see if they had anything of value that he could take.
"Probably not, would have smelt it." he muttered.
He wasn't quite sure when he had picked up this particular habit of thinking out loud, however it had seemed necessary to fill the space with something other than just air, so he did it. Now, as he walked purposefully back towards his own den, he shuffled his feet just a little more against the stone floor, just to get a better sense of that "filled" sound he liked so much.
He didn't have a torch, fire, or light of any kind on him, nor did he ever. His keen eyesight was sharper than most, well adjusted, and picked up on any small amount of light that one of his unknown neighbours, creepy crawlies and the like, might be creating. He also used his ears a lot when moving, the sounds echoing off the walls told him if he was in a hall or crossways, and the texturing of the stone was also familiar to him by now. Truly, he was the only master to this, his domain, and anyone that strayed onto his turf was completely vulnerable to the sway of his will.
Not that Inuyasha had any hatred towards the humans that were placed in his lair, they were just annoying. He didn't particularly like the taste of human flesh, and even more disturbing was the smell of their decaying corpses. So, after a few years, he had come upon a plan for chasing them, like cat and mouse, through the tunnels and out his secret exit. It had started simply as a game at first, a way to pass the time, and he still enjoyed some of the chase. However, now it seemed like more of a duty, a chore that he had to put up with. It was either that, or spend weeks smelling their rotting bodies when they finally collapsed from hunger or thirst. He really hated that, better to get them out as soon as possible.
He was almost back to his favourite den by now, and he would go through his regular routine. Take a nap, have a drink, catch a few rats, and wait until the next batch of useless morons came around. It was always like that, nothing ever changed down here.
Or did it?
Inuyasha suddenly stopped, sniffing the air. There was a scent in it, a distinctly human scent.
"Damn, I missed one." he thought with contempt. Inuyasha had thought he had his little game down to an art by now, and it always ticked him off when he let one get past him. On top of that, this one had managed to find it's way to his lair. No one entered there, no one was allowed to pass, that was strictly his space, and his space alone! He would show them, show that bastard that he wasn't allowed to wander just anywhere in his, Inuyasha's, domain.
"I'll show him!"
With that he sprinted forward, tracing the familiar path in as many leaps and bounds as the low ceiling would allow. He stopped suddenly as he rounded the second last corner, squinting at the sudden light that met his eyes. So they really were right in his lair huh? How dare they! Eyelids partially lowered, he stormed into the room, ready to severely pummel whoever his unfortunate victim might be.
"Hey!" he called, making his voice as loud as it could go. He walked out into the light and took up a defensive stance, ready for whatever might come at him. However, there was nothing. No attack, no running away in fear, no movement at all for that matter. For a moment, Inuyasha thought he might have finally lost it, and then, through his squinted vision, he spotted a figure, curled up in the corner, sleeping peacefully in his bed.
Inuyasha stood there a moment, waiting for his vision to clear, questions racing through his head. Who is it? How dare they sleep in MY bed? Aren't they afraid? Maybe something's wrong with them? What'll happen if they wake up? All these questions, and they only became more confusing when he could finally see again.
"It's a... a...girl!" he said, incredulous. Yes he knew what they were, but why and how one had ended up down here was beyond him, especially one like this! She wasn't old or maimed, but young and fresh, a slightly sweet scent still escaping her from under the layers of dirt and grime. Her features were proud and well defined, and she looked healthy, from what he could tell, like one of those prissy noble bitches...only not.
He stared at her, sleeping peacefully like she was, as a well of strange emotions fought their way up from his stomach. Someone was there. Someone. Not no one, someone...
"And she's sleeping in MY bed!" He growled. How dare she! This was his domain! He was master, and she should be cowering in fear before him!
"HEY! WAKE UP!!" His loudest voice echoed off the walls and reverberated down the stone hallway. She stirred, looked uncomfortable a moment, rolled over to face the wall, and lay still again...
Dammit! Was this girl deaf? That yell had been loud enough to hurt his own ears, and he had expected an immediate response. He wanted to scare her when she woke up, to put her back in her place, he had to!
"I said HEY!! WAKE UP!!!"
This time the yell was deafening. No one could ever possibly sleep through that! But still there was no reaction. He waited, and waited, and then...
His ears twitched, picking up a light sound. Her breathing was uneven, maybe even a little shallow. She was faking it.
Kagome lay there, unsure of what to do. She knew she should turn around and say something, but that yell had sounded so monstrous it had taken all the courage out of her. She only hoped she could feign sleep until her brain got back into working order.
No such luck.
"I know your awake." The voice was a low and thick growl, the words detached and almost clumsy from lack of use. Still, it sent shivers down her spine. She wasn't feeling nearly so morbid now that she wasn't tired. She didn't want to die, so what could she do?
She decided not making him any angrier would be a start. Slowly, but surly she stood up, instincts telling her not to make any sudden movements in front of a predator like this. She knew she should turn around, but she didn't. She stared at the wall, afraid of what she might see. What if he truly was horrid and terrible? She didn't want to know how he would react if he caught her staring at him. THAT would defiantly make him angry.
"I'm sorry." It seemed like the best way to break the silence. It filled the room and threatened to swallow her whole. She suddenly decided she didn't like this view, this wall. She couldn't see what was coming, what was there. It was so quiet, maybe he wasn't even there?
Slowly, slowly, she began to turn around, telling herself over and over again not to react to the sight of him. She couldn't react, no matter how terrible he looked. That would only anger him further. Almost there now, she only had to tilt her head to look up. Slowly, slowly.
She had been prepared to see a monster of unimaginable size, with fangs and claws and drool sliding out of a gaping mouth. What she got instead was so much the opposite she instantly dropped her caution.
It was a boy, a regular human boy, almost. He had a dog's ears, yes, and silver hair down the length of his back that hadn't been looked after for years. His body, though muscled, was unbelievably thin and seemed starved for so much more than just a good meal. His skin was stark white, his yellow eyes dilated and squinting, even in the dim candle light. The only thing he was wearing were a pair of baggy red pants. Kagome also took note of the small claws coming from his hands and bare feet, but they didn't worry her anymore. She was too busy wondering how he survived down here for all these years, all alone.
Suddenly, a growl escaped his throat. She had been staring, he was angry, not that she blamed him. It was rude to stare.
"Sorry." She said for a second time. She directed her gaze to the floor instead, rather ashamed. "It's just...I wasn't expecting..." She trailed off, maybe trying to explain herself wasn't such a good idea.
"You weren't expecting a monster?" he snarled with menace in his voice. Kagome's eyes shot up at him.
"No, that's exactly what I was expecting...but you're not..." She trailed off again and looked at the ground. This was not going well, but what could she do to make it batter? Oh well, at least nothing could make it any worse, right?
Because even as she was thinking, her last candle shivered, dimmed, and went out.
He watched the girl across from him freeze in shock as the candle went out, her expression equally matched by his own. What she had said, just now, had he understood right? She had been expecting to see a monster, and hadn't? No, that must be wrong, she must have meant to call him a monster, right?
A small sniffling sound brought him back to his senses. Even though Kagome had tried desperately hard not to start crying, when her last candle had gone out, she couldn't help it. Memories flooded her of happy, bright people and places she would never see again, of sunshine and starlight, warm cosy fires and romantic moon beams. The tears leaked out as a lump caught the sob in her throat. It was hopeless now, hopeless, she was gone, lost, already dead...
"Oi! What are you doing?" Asked a thick voice from across the room, Kagome didn't answer.
"Hey! I said, why are you crying?" Inuyasha asked again. The scene was really starting to disturb him. Sure he had seen people cry, but they had been full grown men. Weak men, with weak hearts, who had given up all hope, being lost in the long, tunnelled abyss. The last time he had seen a woman cry had been a long time ago, right before the darkness...
"Stop it! Stop it right now!" He yelled. He didn't want to remember that! Why was she making him think about that day? It was all her fault...
"I can't..." Came the sobbed reply. "I'll never see them again, any of my family, o-or flowers, or even sunshine." the last word just barely managed to explode out of her mouth, mixed with a terrible sob, the sound of someone who was dying of strangulation. Worst than that, she had said those words. He didn't want to here those words, things that reminded him of his former life. He had spent too much time trying to forget that, and now she was ruining it for him, she was still crying.
"I'LL GET YOU OUT SO JUST SHUT UP!!!"
There was a catching of breath, a few more gasps. A long pause formed between them as she slowly regained some of her composure. She was still crying, but there was hope in her voice when she spoke. "G-get out? You know how?"
Inuyasha nodded in the dark, before realising she couldn't see him.
"I said so, didn't I? Come on." There was a frightened yelp as he grabbed her wrist and started to pull her forward. They got about three feet at that pace before she tripped over an unseen edge in the floor and stumbled into him. He stiffened as he felt her weight, and something in him snapped.
"Don't Touch me!" he roared. In an instant he had whirled around, grabbed her under her upper arm, and yanked her to her own feel. He shouted in her face, so close she could feel his breath. "Don't you ever, TOUCH me, AGAIN!!"
Kagome winced and leaned back as much as she could manage, ready to cry again. There was a long silence as she let herself be held there, dangling painfully in his grasp. "I....I'm sorry..." came the shaky reply.
He dropped her arm as she began using her legs again, and stood on her own. With a loud "Keh", he spun around and once again began walking. However he was slower this time, and he made more noise. Therefore Kagome followed him in silence, listening to the shuffling of his feet, and the frantic pounding of her heart.
"Um, can I ask you something?"
Kagome listened to the reverberation of her own voice in the black stone halls. The darkness seemed to be consuming her, and she needed to hear something other than the shuffling of feet, no matter how unsociable her companion was.
"You just did, didn't you?" Came the gruff reply.
"I guess so."
"So can I?"
"Ask you a question?" She repeated. There was an exasperated sigh from ahead.
"Fine!" He snapped.
"Good." a breath, "What's your name?"
Real silence, because Inuyasha stopped dead in his tracks the second the words registered in his ears. She wanted to know his name? Why? She didn't need it, nobody had called him by it in years. In fact, he hardly remembered it himself, how did it go?
"Inuyasha..." He mumbled, mostly to himself. Yeah, that sounded about right. Dog-demon, the perfect example of how much his step-father had hated him.
"It's Inuyasha." He said flatly, and started walking again, just a bit faster. Too many memories, he hadn't been ready for this, any of it, and he wanted it to end now. It was starting to do more than just make him angry now.
"Inuyasha..." She repeated to herself nodding, then smiled. "Nice to meet you, I'm Kagome by the way."
She heard a huff in reply. They walked along in silence a few more minutes before they reached the dead end where Inuyasha's secret escape passage began. He almost smiled in relief.
"There." He stated, " Just crawl through that hole and follow the cave out to the shore. Now go." He turned to leave but was soon stopped.
"Inuyasha...I can't see a hole..."
He almost smacked himself in the forehead. She couldn't see, of course, stupid humans!
"Come on!" He pushed her head down and hauled her through the low tunnel, dragging her by one arm. They continued this way until the tunnel began to open up into a natural cave and the amount of light became uncomfortable for Inuyasha's eyes. He also noticed that the human wasn't having quite as much trouble as before.
"There." He stopped. The opening was just around the corner and the light that came in was easily visible. He threw her hand down and stormed back into the darkness.
"Inuyasha?" Came the surprised voice, "Inuyasha wait!"
Dammit! What could she possibly want now? "What?"
There was a pause, and in the dim light, he could easily make out her features. Why did she seem so nervous?
"Umm, Inuyasha..." She played with the folds of her robes nervously before looking up at him.
"Do you want to come with me?"
He blinked at her, not quite registering what she had said.
"Do you want to come with me?" She repeated plainly.
She was serious?! She wanted him to go with her, out there? Why? Didn't she hate him? Wasn't she afraid, and he repulsive and ugly? He felt his stomach tighten.
"N-no." he stammered, almost a whisper. That was the decision he had made when he had first found this exit. There was no place for him out there. People hated him, ran away from him, chased him with swords and arrows and who knows what other weapons. If not, they did everything possible to make his life miserable. Tricking him, setting traps to damage his body or his pride. No, this was the only place he could stay, this was the only place he could ever belong. People always hurt him. Maybe this too, was just a trap.
"Inuyasha..." her voice was sad. Why was she sad? She was getting out of here, she should be happy. She could go out into the world and be accepted, be loved. He could never do that.
"You'll never know unless you try." said a voice in his head, "You don't need to jump off a cliff to know it'll hurt," said another. "You can always come back here. It's not like it will run away on you..."
Kagome watched him. He seemed to be fighting himself, struggling. He had said no, but he wanted to. She knew he wanted to leave this place, to be free, but how to convince him...how...!
She sighed, "I see," she said at last, beaten, "I understand if you're too scared..."
She had won!
"I'm not afraid of anything! Keh! Stupid girl! I'll show you how NOT afraid I am!" Defiantly, he stomped past her and around the bend in the cave.
It took all Kagome's will power to hide her smile.