I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi

Chapter 278

Yoshimi walked slowly towards the glow that was coming from the fire that the lockup watchmen had made earlier. The moon was not up, and it was quite dark, and no lights showed from the windows of the main house or Kinjiro's smaller one. A dog barked somewhere, but there was almost no other sound but the sound of Yoshimi's feet walking lightly on the earth.

"Everybody's gone to the wedding?" he said softly, almost as if making a sound would bring some disaster on him. "That would be a stroke of good luck."

Behind him, Kazuo said, "Good luck would be you doing what I think you'll do."

Fortunately for Yoshimi, he could neither see nor sense the audience that his walk to the headman's compound had attracted.

The only female of the group, the land kami Shimame, who was responsible for the fertility of the land of the village and its general well being, stopped and held her arms out for a moment, blocking the others' movement. She had pulled herself tall, and her long scarlet sleeves swayed gently in a breeze only she could feel. For a moment, Yoshio, the family kami of Tsuneo's (and Seiji's) family stepped back, surprised.

Shimame turned around to face the three male kami, and her eyes focused on Kazuo. "What have you done here, Kazuo-no-kami? I can feel your fingerprints all over the grounds. Is this also part of the play you are giving us tonight?"

"That's not surprising you feel him here," Yoshio said, his tone just a slight bit confused. "This is the heart of his influence. His shrine's behind the main building. And look at all he's done lately - all that with the yamabushi and the young miko - it's not surprising you would feel his power."

"It's more than that," Shimame said, gesturing with her fan. "Something right there . . . " She pointed to the lockup. "Is this part of your show?"

"A necessary step," Kazuo said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Think of it as the setting for the play. Without that . . . "

"Without that," Daikoku said, "all the luck in the world wouldn't matter."

"So you approve?" the land kami said, looking at the luck god. "Kazuo is given to overt manifestations of kami power. I'm not always sure if this is wise. Humans and their reactions . . . surprise me often."

"Anything that lets the luck flow for good . . . " he replied, smiling. "This family needs as much luck as possible. They have a bad tendency to chase it all away."

"That they have," Sadayori said. He sighed. "Maybe I started it all . . . "

"Don't blame yourself, old man," Kazuo said, patting the ghost on his back. "Everybody has to make choices."

"Even family kami," Yoshio said, nodding. "Even we. If only the heavens would give us the wisdom that goes with it."

At Daitaro's house, Masayo had picked up his drum again.

"There are fools that dance,
there are fools who watch,
yoi, yoi, yoi."

Sitting nearby, Kinjiro, Tameo's younger son, drained his sake cup.

"There are fools that sing,
there are fools that listen,
yoi, yoi, yoi," he sang.

"Which type are you?" Masayo asked, grinning.

Matsume, Kinjiro's wife, handed her husband a chimaki. "Maybe some of both," she said.

The usually dour man gave his wife a smile. "Maybe so."

"Aren't we all?" Masayo said, good naturedly. "But here's my next verse:"

"There are fools who eat,
there are fools who watch,
yoi, yoi, yoi."

He gave the drum an extra tap. "That's not an everyday thing."

Across the room, Genjo, currently trying to see if he could out eat InuYasha, picked up his pickle dish. "I know which one I would rather be."

"Me, too," InuYasha said, taking the last slice of pickle out of the dish in his hand. "I had to watch one time too many when I was small."

"Ho," Daitaro said, eating a bit of pickled plum, "with the way you eat, I'm surprised you ever were small."

Chime laughed, and refilled her husband's sake cup. "The way you eat, husband, is much the same."

He picked up his cup. "You have me there, wife," he said, smiling at her. "But then, I have a wife who makes the best food."

"May we continue to have an abundance enough to keep eating this way," Tameo said. "I'd rather this than the lean years."

"True, true," Takeshi said, taking a bite out of a chimaki.

InuYasha put his bowl down. "I...I...I think I have eaten enough."

This made Kagome laugh. "Enough pickles? I didn't think it was possible."

"We did it, Chime-okaasan!" Mariko said. She, like her mother-in-law, was moving around the room, refilling people's sake cups.

"Lightweight," Genjo said, reaching for another slice.

"Hey, I had a head start," the hanyou replied. "You sound like your otousan. Let's see if you can eat as many as I did."

"Don't push him too hard," Mariko said. "I'll be the one who has to treat his stomachache tomorrow."

The group laughed.

"You owe me, Susumu," Hisa said, looking at her son. "I told you Chime-chan could fill our cousin up."

Susumu bowed to his mother. "I do indeed. Like Kagome-chan, I didn't think it was possible, either. I'll pay you in the morning."

InuYasha's ear flicked as he looked at Tameo's wife, and then at Susumu, his face hovering between surprise, irritation, and amusement "You had a bet on how much I could eat?"

"Oh, everybody knows how much you like pickles, dear boy," Chime said. "And we all have heard tell of much you can eat. Kaede-sama used to tell us stories about how much she had to cook when you first started staying with her during your quest." She gave a glance to where Susumu sat next to his brother. "And some people in our village – well, they'll bet on anything."

Kinjiro gave his brother a nudge with his elbow. "Some people will."

"Feh," the hanyou said, not exactly sure of how to respond to that one. Kagome, though, was amused. She reached over and gave his hand a squeeze.

"You did eat a lot," she said. "You and Shippou were always fighting over the scraps."

He shrugged. "I was used to eating a lot when it was there. I never knew when I was going to get my next meal."

"I think, at least for now, you won't have to worry about that," Hisa noted. "If it didn't please us to see you so well fed, you'd be the first to know."

"Here's to days where we don't have to chase the big eaters away!" Daitaro said, taking a drink out of his cup.

That brought a round of cheers from the assembled crowd.

Eiji stood up. "May we all be so blessed. But for now, I probably should continue my rounds."

"So soon?" Chime said, turning to look at the village guard.

"Alas, yes," he said. "I need to make sure all is well at Tameo-sama's house."

"You don't think - " the headman said.

"Not really," Eiji said. "It's just I didn't stop there before coming here."

"Good man," Daitaro said. "Go give Koichi a nudge for me. I heard he was talking bad about my sake the other day." He looked at Tameo. "Or maybe it was just that Tameo's was better."

Eiji laughed. "I will indeed." After a few more words, and relighting his lamp, he headed out into the night.

At the headman's house, Yoshimi walked around to the little fire that Koichi had lit earlier, now mostly burned out. The cat sleeping next to the men opened its eyes and flicked its ears. Deciding that the young man wasn't anything it needed to worry about, it pounded the ground twice with its tail, than went back to sleep.

Yoshimi examined the scene in front of him. "Well, what do you know," he said. Koichi had rolled on his back and was snoring lightly, and Jun was curled into a ball. "Fast asleep. At least I won't have to put up with them poking their noses into my business. What brought this bit of luck my way?"

His foot tapped the empty sake jug, and watched it roll. "Looks like these two have been celebrating Shinjiro-sama's wedding on their own." He bent down by the fire, and threw a few sticks in, and then relit his lamp. "I wonder if Ani-ue is sleeping, too? If so, I could just go home . . . "

"About time you showed up," a voice from within the lockup croaked.

"We might need some luck here," Kazuo said. "Listen to him - even after everything that's gone on today, he's still roaring angry. If he pushes his brother away . . . "

"I don't know if there is any luck for that," Daikoku said. "He tends to turn all the good I sprinkle him with into bad." The luck kami shook his head. "You don't see that every day. Rather sad."

Kazuo sighed.

"I was worried about you, you know," Yoshimi replied, lifting his lamp high enough to get a glimpse of his brother through the barred window.

"Fuck Susumu, and fuck Tameo," Seiji said. His eyes glittered in the lamplight. "Why didn't you get over here to tell me about that bitch Maeme?" His voice was aggrieved, and made Yoshimi wince.

"I tried to get here earlier, but a mob almost beat me up." Yoshimi dropped his lamp lower, not liking the look on his brother's face. "You should have seen it." He held up an arm where the sleeve had gotten torn. It had been torn by the family rooster, but Yoshimi didn't mention that. "They ripped my clothes. I got a bruise on my face. Susumu made the guards take me home."

"You just don't . . . " Seiji said. He began coughing. "I heard them talking. Hisako went after you with her stick. Scared of an old woman, are you?"

"I wouldn't be so cocky if I were you." The younger man took a deep breath. "Tomorrow, they're going to have a full council meeting. Some the people who tried to beat me up are trying to get everybody whoever got mad at you there. You've made a lot of people mad. And what happened today . . . "

"Bah," Seiji said. "A bunch of cowards, the lot of them. What are they going to do?"

"I...I hear Tsuneo-sama may not be so willing to back you up this time." Yoshimi rubbed his nose. "You . . . you pushed the hanyou's wife down. Some are calling for him to . . . to . . . "

"To do what?" Seiji said.

"To take your head, Ani-ue." Yoshimi rested the lamp on the ground and rested his head against the wall of the lockup. "Eiji-sama thinks that's what they'll do tomorrow."

"It seems," Daikoku said, "that maybe our luck is holding."

Seiji was quiet for a moment. He threw something against the wall, and Yoshimi could hear it break. "Damn them all," he said at last. "Take my woman and then cut my head off. Damn them all."

"You . . . you could act repentant," Yoshimi suggested. "Maybe if they thought . . . "

"Fuck that," Seiji said. "They lock me up because I was going after my own son. Stupid boy knew I didn't want him to work in the garden. He disobeyed me. Stupid woman got in the way when I was going after him, too. And now Maeme . . . " His hands wrapped around the window bars.

"I...I was just trying to help," Yoshimi said. "That's the only thing I could think of."

The kami, unseen, gathered as close as they could.

"You want to help, little brother?" Seiji asked. "You said that those fools out there are asleep?"

Yoshimi looked back at the unconscious guards. "Asleep, and drunk, from the smell of it."

"Let me out," Seiji said. "Let me out, and we'll get away from this rat's nest."

"Let you out?" Yoshimi said, his voice trembling.

"You're my brother. It's your duty," Seiji replied. "Let me out, and I'll live to see another day. Otherwise my blood is on your hands. Do it!"

"Yes! The play begins," Kazuo said, his voice barely above a whisper, even though neither man would have been able to hear him.

Sadayori rubbed the back of his neck. "But will he do it?"