She wasn't doing this, not really. She wasn't stupid enough to just walk off in the middle of the night, with no supplies, no money, and barely any decent clothes. Kagome shivered as the wind picked up around her. She should go back now.
She paused at a crossroads near the outskirts of town. Above the nearby mountains, the moon, only a tiny sliver in the sky, was beginning to set. She set her feet towards it, and continued walking.
In her mind, her own reasoning that this was stupid fell on deaf ears, drowned out by some train of thought that Kagome knew wasn't reasonable, wasn't common sense, but was impossible to ignore. Why go back, when she'd already walked all this way? When, tomorrow, or maybe the day after, she'd have to come this way again, leave the city again, and take up her quest to find her family again. The others weren't going to follow her, not tonight, not tomorrow. Her mission was not their mission, her goals not theirs. Really, she should be happy for them. They were going to be kings and royalty and live happily ever after.
And she knew they'd help her. Saddle her up with horses and supplies and guards to escort her and she would reach Delphi in no time that way, ask her question and find her family. Why was she doing this now? In the middle of the night? Why?
Because the truth was, she didn't know if she would be able to leave any other way. She wouldn't be able to mount some horse and slowly ride out of the city leaving her current companions behind forever. She'd lose her nerve, break down, cry. Leaving them that way would hurt, and she didn't know if she'd be able to stand it. She thought that, maybe, if she turned back now, she'd lose her nerve forever and then she'd never get to Delphi, and never find her family. No, this way was easier. She'd walk until she collapsed, in this surreal landscape of mountains and a starlit road, and tell herself that she wasn't doing this, not really. She wasn't stupid enough to just walk off in the middle of the night.
The wind picked up again and Kagome stopped, finding herself on a low plateau, one of the first foothills of the mountain range. She hadn't realized she had walked so far. Below, the city slept in darkness, the distant horizon glowing ever so slightly, suggesting the approach of dawn. Kagome shivered in the thin dress, clenching her teeth to keep them from chattering. One more step. One more step either way and her mind would be made up. She would either go forward or back. Instead she sat down on a nearby rock. She told herself that she was going to think now, and decide which way she was going to go, but her mind seemed intent on wandering, her eyes never leaving that thin line of light in the distance, growing slowly brighter with every passing minute.
And that was how Inuyasha found her. After spending hours with his nose in the dirt sniffing at nearly every crossroad in Thebes, there she was, a white statue on grey rock surrounded by a dark, rugged landscape, eyes gazing solemnly on some distant point of time and space. She hadn't even noticed him land on her little plateau, not twenty steps from where she sat. With a deepening frown he stood, brushed some imagined dirt from the front of his overcoat, and, still failing to get her attention, cleared his throat.
She blinked, straightening a little, turning her head just slightly so that she stared right at him, and then right through out to the other side. She said his name as if she were in a dream. "Inu-ya-sha."
His frown deepened into a full blown snarl. "Idiot! What in Hades are you doing out here!" He stepped towards her, her eyes increasingly alert as he turned his back and crouched down. "Come on, we're going back."
When there was no motion behind him, Inuyasha craned his head to find Kagome now staring at the ground, her hands fiddling with her skirt. A growl rose up in his throat but he smothered it back down. Kagome wasn't acting like herself, and it was starting to worry him. He wanted to get her back safely to the castle, make sure she was okay, and then he'd blow up at her and make her regret coming out here in the middle of the night. Impatient he stood, reaching for her hand, ready to toss her over his shoulder kicking and screaming if he needed to. He stopped short as Kagome pulled her hands back and leaned away from him, still not meeting his gaze.
Fine, if that was how she wanted to be, fuck being nice and fuck worrying about her. He drew in a deep breath to let her have it when-
Inuyasha stopped short, confused. Kagome was looking right at him. "Why what, wench?"
A sigh. Shaking her head she stood, forcing Inuyasha to either move back or have his personal space severely invaded. She stretching a little, nonchalantly walked around the rock, turned her back to the city and headed straight for the path that continued up the mountains.
Inuyasha blinked, "O-oi!"
With another sigh she turned her head so she could look at him, without moving her body to face him as well. "Thank you, Inuyasha, but I'm not going back."
Inuyasha blinked. Kagome was smiling. A small, sad smile.
"Thank you, for traveling with me. If you ever get the chance, come visit me on my Island, you'll always be welcome."
Inuyasha's eyebrows slowly skewed in confusion.
"Take care of Shippo for me, and yourself. I'm sure you'll be an excellent bodyguard for Miroku."
Huh? Oh. Shit! "Wait."
Kagome was still walking.
"Oi! Wait! Damnit!" and now he was moving "I said Wait!"
He slid in front of her, arms out, barring her way. Kagome stopped.
"Fucking wench would you just wait!"
Her mouth in a tight frown. Inuyasha set his jaw to match. "Where the hell do you think you're going? And who said anything about me guarding that stupid jackass of a priest."
Obviously angry now, she marched up to him, stopping only when she was as close as she could possibly get to his face. "I'm going to find my family." She said, "And don't lie to me. Shippo and I heard you talking to Miroku. You're going to defeat the sphinx and become Miroku's bodyguard while he becomes King. Good luck, Inuyasha. Enjoy the rest of your life."
She went to move around him but Inuyasha grabbed her by her uninjured arm and held her, growling. "Idiot. I only said that shit because I KNEW you were listening. Dumb ass!"
Kagome's eyes flashed confusion, then anger. "Then why did you say it in the first place?"
"Because you deserved it."
"Oh? And just how did I manage to do that, huh?"
"Because you've been treating me like some kind of fucking servant since the second we got into this castle, Your Fucking Highness."
Kagome gaped at him. Indignant, "I was NOT treating you like anything Inuyasha. If you had just stopped acting like a child for five minutes…"
"So I'm a child now, huh? I'm good enough to save your fucking life from a demon but the second your inside some stupid castle its 'Inuyasha let me talk' and 'Inuyasha go fetch our leader,' and 'Inuyasha don't hurt that old man" even though he ordered a bunch of soldiers to cut you into Fucking pieces!' Sorry if I'm not as good as that stupid priest. Sorry if I'm just some pain in the ass monster compared to your royal bitchiness."
Kagome frowned. "I never said you were a monster."
"Keh. Yes you did."
"No." she corrected carefully, "I'm certain I have never called you a monster, Inuyasha."
"But you fucking meant i…"
"No I have never called you a monster, Inuyasha," she interrupted, "because I have never thought of you as one. Why are you even thinking about that?" and she shook her head in confusion.
Inuyasha, for once, was silent.
"Keh, never mind, wench."
"No, I am going to mind. Why did you call yourself a monster?"
"I didn't say that. They did?"
"And who's they?"
"Look, forget about it."
But the look on Kagome's face told him she wouldn't.
"The people at the castle wench." He told her, as if it was obvious.
"Who? that ass of an advisor?" she waited for an answer. Inuyasha finally shook his head. No.
"Damnit wench it was the other castle, alright?"
Kagome blinked, "Other castle?"
"Fuck," he grabbed her wrist, "lets just go back."
And that was when a low, sensual feminine voice broke through the silence, "Oh," it said, "but it was just getting good."
At precisely the crack of dawn a gong rang out, summoning all citizens of Thebes to the large open market place at the centre of the city. There the head advisor, Queen Jacosta, Miroku, Shippo, and a handful of guards awaited to address the coming crowd. They did not have to wait long, most citizens having waken early already by pangs of hunger, or the cries of hungry loved ones. Soon the market was filled with hungry, living skeletons.
Miroku watched them arrive, eyes darting warily around, stopping every so often on a head of gray hair, or a tunic of brilliant red. Where was Inuyasha? "Dammit!" Miroku swore under his breath, covering it up quickly with a smile and a cough as he was eyed by the nearest guard. Spotting Shippo cradled in the arms of a tired, puffy eyed Queen Jacosta, Miroku called his name to get his attention, and motioned the kit over to him. Shippo waited long enough to tell the Queen where he was going before bounding out of her arms. The second he was within hearing range, Miroku addressed him.
"Shippo!" he hissed in an undertone, "Have you seen Inuyasha or Kagome?"
Much to Miroku's distress, the kit's lower lip suddenly began to tremble.
"I, I…last night I went loo-looking for food for Kagome, an then she wasn't there when I got back to the room s-so I went and looked for her bu-but I didn't find her so I found Inuyasha and I yelled at him for-for making Kagome sad and then he said he d-didn't know where she was so he went looking for her an…an…"
Seeing that Shippo was about to break out in wailing sobs Miroku quickly cut in. "It's okay Shippo, I'm sure they're alright, probably just caught up in the crowd is all, ahahahahaha." He rubbed the back of his head in a nervous gesture and suggested that Shippo go back to comforting the Queen, who was looking at the assembling crowd with a growing look of sorrow and loss. Cursing under his breath again, he had almost resolved to go look for the half-god-beast and princess himself, when the old advisor stepped forward, and in a booming voice, completely contradictory of his old appearance, addressed the crowd.
"My people," he began, and the crowd began to hush, "My people, a great sorrow has fallen upon our city." There was a moment of murmuring, but the advisor held up his hand. "My people, not only has our proud city been laid nearly waste by the plague of the Sphinx, but alas, our dear King Laius has now departed us through death." And now the murmur rose to a full our roar. It took several minutes before the crowd became calm again, the advisor shouting for order the whole time.
"It has come down to this," he continued at last, "given the position our city now finds itself in, plagued and now kingless, we, the elders of the city, are prepared to make an offer." And here the crowd grew deadly silent, "Who so ever can defeat the sphinx, will be allowed to marry the Queen Jacosta, and thus rightfully wear the crown as King of Thebes. And… wait…" But there was no silence for several minutes and finally the advisor ordered that the bugles be blown to settle the crowd. In the mean time, Miroku found himself being pinned by the stare of the advisor, and motioned forward. The priest swallowed a mouthful of air, hoping to discover that his stomach had not fallen down into his feet as he had felt it do a minute earlier.
"This man," and here the advisor thrust Miroku forward by a firm shove to his shoulders, "This man has offered to be the first to challenge to sphinx, claiming that he, and no other, shall win the crown of our fair City. We shall now, all as one, go out into the mountains and face this horrid curse which has been placed…
Miroku, of course, all too willing to wait, turning his full attention to which-ever voice had rung out over the crowd of people. He was sweating as it is, praying to Dionysus for time, and that Inuyasha would arrive at any moment so they could complete their plan as promised.
"Your Excellency," Miroku watched as the skinny crowd parted to let a skinny man through, only to have him blocked by the ring of surrounding guards. "You-your Excellency," and here the man paused to catch his breath, staring at the advisor all the while. Eventually, after a few gulps of air, the young man managed to spit out, "Some-someone," breath, breath, breath…
"Someone is fighting the Sphinx!"
"HRAAAAAAAAA!" The battle cry rang out in the still morning air, followed quickly by the clash of swords, the sound of metal on metal ringing though the air. Inuyasha and she Sphinx were deadlocked in the middle of the clearing, Inuyasha wielding Tetsusaiga, the Sphinx holding her own with a small curved blade of the kind used by the Egyptians to the south. Inuyasha grunted as the Spinx let out a hiss, and the two broke apart.
"Hmmmmprrrrrr. Not bad for a halfling. You arrrre turrrrning out to be much more…interrressting than I had thought…"
"Keh," and Inuyasha wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve. "Oi, Kagome, how's that riddle coming along? You'd better hurry up if you want to kill this bitch before I do." His eyes never left the Sphinx though, and the part lady, part cat, part bird only laughed.
"Oh, hohohohoho. You think you can hurt me Hanyou, I think not." And she launched herself again at him. "Though you are prrroving to be a most amusing dinner to play with, meow."
Inuyasha leapt in the air, meeting the blade of the sphinx with his own once again, driving her downwards with his body weight. They held there for a moment before Inuyasha suddenly smirked and, fast as lightning, kicked the blade out of the Sphinx's hand. It flew into the air, landing somewhere among the rocks and bushes of the mountain side, and Inuyasha wasted no time in bringing his sword down, slicing flesh and bone, quickly severing his opponent's right arm. He smiled and leapt backwards with a triumphant grin.
"Ha! Take that, bitch." He landed upon the same boulder Kagome had previously been sitting on, ready to gloat over his fallen adversary. He was ready for the screams and curses which would be music to his ears. He was not expecting his opponent to begin laughing.
"Ho ho ho ho…" He watched as the Sphinx slowly stood on her two cat feet, and then let his jaw fall open as her arm flew up on its own, instantly re-attaching itself to what had once been a bloody stub of a shoulder. "You are a stupid one, aren't you, Dog. First of all, I cannot be killed unless someone finally guesses my riddle. Second, that blade was a mere toy I picked up, hoping it would make my hunting a little more interesting, and Finally," Inuyasha watched as five, three inch long talons surfaced from the tips of his adversary's paws, "Finally, I'm a cat, not a dog. I hate dogs, and you will pay for addressing me as 'bitch'."
Inuyasha barely had time to dodge as the rock he had been standing on was sliced vertically into six perfect thin slabs. Kagome let out a warning shout and Inuyasha was forced to drop his sword in order to defend against the feline's deadly two handed attack. The pair dropped to the ground, Inuyasha on the bottom, feeling sharp rocks press against his spine and dig into his sides. Kagome yelled his name from a ways away and Inuyasha retaliated by telling her to "Concentrate on the fucking riddle, wench."
Distracted as he was, he didn't see the sphinx move until it was too late. In one motion, his enemy lunged forward and sunk her fangs deep into the flesh between his shoulder and neck. Inuyasha screamed as the sphinx made a wrenching motion with her head and moved away, taking a mouthful of bloody, warm muscle. Inuyasha rolled and jumped to his feet, whirling to face his opponents next attack. The sphinx, however, was taking her time across the clearing, making gagging noises and repeatedly spitting out mouthfuls of bloody saliva.
"Awe, grosssss, dogflesh, nasssty, phtoo." She shook her head and turned again to face Inuyasha. "I was hoping, since you were half human, (ptoo) that you would have a human's taste instead of a damned (blech) disgusting (cough) dog's." Inuyasha stood there, watching while his opponent horked and coughed. He felt blood seep from his shoulder wound and flow down his chest and arm, even with his opposite arm putting pressure on the burning gab in his flesh.
"Shit Kagome, you had better answer this damned thing soon."
And he charged again.
Across the plateau, camped safely behind some boulders Kagome watched Inuyasha swipe his arm, turning arcs of his own blood into flying projectiles. They hit the sphinx almost dead on, only to have her regenerate herself and within seconds begin attacking Inuyasha again. If the fight went on like this she knew what the outcome would be. She had to solve the riddle, that was their only hope. Solve the riddle, and then the Sphinx would die. "Look out Inuyasha!"
Her friend shot her a pointed glare and then returned back to battle. Oh yeah, the riddle. Got to solve the riddle, got to solve...what was it again? Kagome closed her eyes and covered her ears.
"What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?"
Instantly her mind was void of all possibilities. Feeling the ground shake beneath her Kagome grit her teeth and forced herself to think of comparisons. A broken cart? A lame horse? The sun? Um, ah, a ship? No silly, a ship doesn't have legs. Damnit!
Kagome shrieked as something landed on her shoulder, believing all at once that Inuyasha had died and now the sphinx had come for her.
She whirled around, focusing on the voice, determined to hold her own even for just a few seconds more.
"Kagome what's going on?"
The ground shook and there was a collective gasp and groan from a crowd of people that had suddenly surrounded the battlefield of the plateau.
"Shippo, what are all these people doing here?"
"They came to see Inuyasha fight the sphinx. Hey Kagome, do you think that, yesterday, when Inuyasha and Miroku were talking about sinks, that they were actually talking about-"
"Quiet Shippo I need to concentrate."
And with that she closed her eyes and covered her ears again. One glance at Inuyasha had told her that his condition was rapidly going from bad to worse, and if she didn't get this riddle done soon, then Inuyasha would die. He would die and it would all be her fault. He would die. Try not to think of it, you have to focus on the riddle or he'll die, he'll die, I can't do this, no think positive, you have to. He won't die, he won't die, what was that fucking riddle again…
By now Kagome was almost at the point of tears, her inability to focus quickly winding her into a frustrated panic. She was just at the point of screaming when…
"Excuse me miss, are you alright?"
Kagome blinked, alarmed at the proximity of the voice. She found herself staring at someone's feet, three of them. Two belonged to a person, and one belonged to a rather funny cane that had been intricately carved with a miniature foot on the bottom.
Three feet, three legs. She saw Shippo sitting on all fours in front of her, just like a baby…Morning, noon, and evening.
And she wasted no time standing up, turning around to face the battlefield.
"INUYASHA IT'S MAN! THE ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE IS MAN!"
And suddenly, all motion on the battlefield stopped. For a very short moment, all was silent, and then there arose the most horrible wail as the sphinx burst into flames and was consumed in mere seconds. The second silence was shattered by a joyous roar as the people of the city celebrated their new found freedom. Kagome ignored it in favor of running across the plateau to make sure Inuyasha was alright. She barely managed to kneel beside him before the air was split with the sounding of bugles and a voice rose up.
"Silence, my people, silence!" the advisor stood at the head of the crowd, ready to make a public address when all of a sudden…
"WOW! KAGOME!" Shippo yelled, running up to them, "You're gonna be King!"
In the vacuum of silence before the advisor's speech, every ear in the town had heard the fox kit's words. No one spoke.
"Silence Brat! There is no way that a woman could become king! Know your place!"
"But you said that whoever answered the riddle would be king, and Kagome answered the riddle, so she's king."
"brat these matters are far beyond…"
"I'm not a brat! I'm a god-beast of Demeter, and if you don't let Kagome be king, you're a liar."
"Would you all just SHUT the FUCK UP!"
All eyes turned to Inuyasha who was slowly sitting up, one hand raised to support his obviously sore head. It was the noise, Kagome realized, it was hurting him.
Shaking her head, she let out a sigh and said, "It's all right, Shippo, I don't really want to be king anyway. I have something more important I need to do." She stood and dusted herself off, drawing herself to her full height, shoulders back, chin forward, looking every bit the royal maiden that she was. She turned to address the advisor, who looked torn between being both overjoyed and insulted at her refusal to take the throne. "To be perfectly honest, I would never have figured out the answer to the riddle if I hadn't seen that man over there." And she pointed, across the way, to where that same man stood in confusion, still leaning against his intricately carved staff. Kagome was surprised to see that he was actually a young man, rather attractive, with light brown hair a fairly strong build, save for his slight limp.
The advisor of course jumped at the chance he had been given. "You there, young man, what's your name?"
"Er," the stranger replied, "It's Hojo, but most people call me Oedipus. Tell me, what's going on-"
The advisor cut him off. "Three cheers for King Oedipus! Hip, Hip, Hooray! Hip, Hip, Hooray!"
"Mother, fucking." But no one was paying attention to Inuyasha over the roar of cheers. "Dammit Kagome, we're leaving!" And with that he grabbed her wrist and all but dragged her up the mountain path, with Shippo following behind."
Meanwhile, not too far down the road, a loan figure could be seen leading his horse up the mountain path, away from the city. He paused to look back, hearing the cheers rise up to the new king.
"Oh well," Miroku shrugged, "I guess it was not meant to be..."
He picked up the nearest stone he could find and launched it back in the direction he had come. "Jackasses."
It hadn't taken Miroku long to realize what had happened. Inuyasha had obviously decided to implement Miroku's plan on his own, making the half-god-beast the ruler of the city, without having any need of Miroku himself. Miroku was sure then, the halfling planned to take Kagome as his wife and Shippo as his son and they'd all live happily ever after like one big fucking family. The family that SHOULD have been his, Miroku's. The priest launched another rock up the hill, wishing a curse on the new king, and all his so called family.
"Oi! Dammit priest, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
Miroku stopped. That voice sounded an aweful lot like…
"Miroku, oh thank the gods. Hang on Inuyasha, I'm going to go get the medical supplies"
"Keh! I'm fine wench. These are fucking scratches."
"Really Inuyasha? Wow, I've never seen scratches that big."
"Ouch, hey brat. Lay off!"
"WAAAAAHHH, Kagome, Inuyasha's hurting meeeee."
It took a while for everything to get sorted out in the end, or at least, mostly sorted out. Kagome never really bothered to explain why she had run off in the middle of the night, and Miroku didn't elaborate on how all their previous food had suddenly been replaced with rice and pickled vegetables. Shippo told everyone about how he had spent the night talking to the Queen to cheer her up, and Kagome had gushed and commended him on doing a good deed. Inuyasha had said "Keh" a lot, and then tried very hard not to say anything as Kagome applied that herb on his wounds again, even though he looked as though he wanted to scream. All in all though, it was business as usual, as the little group traveled up the mountains, leaving the city of Thebes behind.
"I thought you were going to leave me, you know?"
Inuyasha paused in his step, twisting his head to look at the girl on his back as best he could, wincing as it pulled his still wounded shoulder. It was the day after, they were back on the trail again, slowly climbing up the mountains, heading on towards Delphi.
"Keh," Inuyasha brushed her off and continued walking.
"I'm serious. I really thought you were going to forget about me. I was really sad."
Again, Inuyasha paused. She was sad? Because she thought he was leaving? "Keh."
"And you're not a monster. Monsters are evil, you're not evil. You're my friend."
He felt Kagome wrap her arms around him in a gentle hug, still careful to avoid his wounds. His face suddenly felt too hot…
My first bit of writing in a long time. I know it's not as good as some of the stuff used to be, I'm severely out of practice. I know I left out a lot of detail at the end, but then again, between people knowing the story of Oedipus, and knowing the Inuyasha characters, I was worried that if I put in too much detail, it might get boring and redundant. Plus it's hard to write a good action scene without sounding repetitive.
Anyway, tell me if I messed up. I think I'll need all the help I can get.