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

Chapter 282

"Where did you bring us to?" Yoshio, the family kami of Tsuneo's ko asked. He looked around. The supernatural beings were standing near an old, abandoned house. It was not too far from Momoe's house.

"This is the start of the next scene," Kazuo said, looking at Shimame-no-kami who smiled at him before hiding her smirk behind her fan. "Behold, Yoshio, what that son of your ko is doing."

The group drifted around to the door of the old house, and peered inside. Seiji stood there, heaping straw against one wall. Turning, he looked around and saw baskets filled with hemp fiber, partially prepared for spinning.

"Damn, that'll burn good," he said.

Shimame looked around the old building. "What is he doing?"

"You'll see," Kazuo said as Seiji began to empty out some of the baskets and add their content to the straw. After that, he poured oil on some of the materials.

"This is what he tried to do to Michio's house when they announced his marriage to Chiya," Sadayori said.

"He is rather predictable, isn't he?" Daikoku said.

Kazuo nodded. "If he wasn't, I wouldn't have dared this . . . We're just lucky he picked this as his distraction, and not Tameo's."

"Luck, I believe, is on our side," the luck kami said.

Shimame tittered.

"We can't . . . can't let him . . . " Yoshio said, lifting his hand. "Momoe's family . . . they're mine, too."

Kazuo grabbed his wrist. "Yes we can. You should have thought of that earlier, when Sadayori first came looking for some help."

Yoshio began to jerk his wrist free, but Kazuo was stronger.

"Enough," Shimame said, resting her fan on the place where Kazuo had grabbed his fellow kami. There was a small puff of light, and Kazuo was thrown slightly back, freeing Yoshio, who gave the other kami a dark look as he rubbed his wrist.

"It is enough, Yoshio. I have given Kazuo permission to continue. You may help, but not hinder."

The old farmer kami smiled, and bowed.

"But what about . . . " Yoshio said.

"We will take care of them later," Shimame said. Looking up at Daikoku, she smiled, then dropped her eyes coquettishly. "Perhaps someone would grant them a boon to make amends?"

Daikoku laughed.

While the kami interacted, Seiji looked at his work with a pleased bit of concentration. "Haven't forgot the old tricks," he said. "I still know how to bring them down, house or fortress."

"Emma-O is going to have fun with him when he shows up in hell," Daikoku said, shaking his head. "Such a twisted soul."

"He's handled worse," Shimame replied.

"You better have it worked out well," Yoshio said. "He's got what it takes to turn into a youkai."

Seiji took his lamp, and set the fuel on fire, and watched with a satisfied smirk as it caught flame, then headed out of the building. Nearby was a cart that had contained straw, but now, only held his old armor and sword. He grabbed the cuirass and began putting it on.

"Oy, that's been getting a little moth-eaten," Yoshio said. "Look at it."

"It wouldn't matter to him if it was made out of paper," Kazuo said. "He's an actor in a play of his own making." He rubbed his hat against his skull. "Don't you feel what he's thinking? He's the avenger out to correct the wrongs. A hero?"

"Some hero," Daikoku said.

As if to prove Kazuo correct, Seiji began to rant. "Think they can just take my wife and head, do they?" he said, fastening the tabs on one side. "Get rid of me like I was nothing?" He snugged a strap taunt. "Who do they think they are, stealing a man's life? They thought that in Odawara, too, but it didn't do that officer of mine any good, now did it?"

"A dark play he lives in," Shimame said. "A villain who thinks he's a wronged hero."

Seiji and the kami looked back at the building. It was impossible to see through the flame as the straw and hemp and oil and wood burned. Some flames lapped through the open window, casting hellish highlights on the man and his armor. The fire lapped up the side of the building and began to catch the roof, which was thatched.

He laughed while he armed. "Let'em all come chase the fire. Everybody who might stop me is at that old fool Daitaro's." He strapped on his helmet, then reached for his sword. "And while they're here, I'll get what's mine."

The dog barked again at Momoe's house, and he could hear shouts. For some reason, that made him laugh again. "Shouldn't have said what you said to me last week, bitch. I'll get back at all of you tonight."

Securing his sword in his obi, he picked up the lantern and ran into the darkness.

"On to the next scene," Kazuo said, and the supernatural witnesses were gone.

InuYasha and Kagome began to head back to Daitaro's front door, when the hanyou stopped. His nostrils flared and he turned towards the river.

"Is something wrong?" Kagome asked, immediately going on alert herself.

The kami appeared.

"We have to be careful around these two," Kazuo said. "My little granddaughter who is not my granddaughter here, she is very gifted with spiritual sight." He looked at Sadayori. "She's most likely to sense you. Stay close."

"This is the one who is Kikyou's reincarnation?" Yoshio asked, looking at Kagome with some interest. "Tsuneo and his daughter-in-law think highly of her."

"Yes, yes," Kazuo said.

"It's interesting how someone so slight could defeat the Shikon no Tama," Daikoku said. "And I wasn't even there when it happened."

"Something . . . something doesn't smell right," InuYasha said.

"And the hanyou . . . " Shimame said. "People have always underestimated him. I remember seeing his otousan a few times." She gave a wistful sigh. "So much power, such a heart. Alas, I never did get a chance to . . . entertain him the way I wanted to."

Kazuo started to laugh, but hid it with a cough. Straightening his face, he said, "And the hanyou is probably the only person in the village that frightens Seiji."

"He's warded his house enough," Sadayori. "It even keeps me out."

"I'm not so sure if it's the wards or his own darkness that does that," Shimame said. "He . . . well, he attracts the midnight more than the noon."

"They don't help," Daikoku said.

"Something smells wrong? It can't be a youkai. I would feel it," Kagome said.

"Not a youkai," InuYasha said, shaking his head. He scented the air again. "Damn wind, teasing me. I thought I smelled too much smoke . . . " He sniffed again. "It's gone. Would someone be burning something tonight?"

"Burning?" Kagome asked. "Everybody in the village has fires going."

"Not that. Something bigger than that. Sometimes people burn off their fields," he said. "If a house burns, they sound the gong. They smell different. I didn't get a good enough whiff to be sure what it was or even if it was." He turned and looked at his wife. "Maybe I should go tell Tameo."

"We could go look," Kagome said. "At least to the main road. If it's nothing . . . "

InuYasha nodded, and the two of them started down the path. A bobbing light moved toward them. It was coming at a much faster rate than a typical strolling person walking at night, much quicker than their own lantern would have looked to someone walking.

"Who's that?" Kagome asked.

"Fire!" Eiji's voice yelled the word. "Tell Tameo. There's a fire by Momoe's house!"

"Now we have to time everything just right," Kazuo said, as Eiji caught up with InuYasha and Kagome. "Seiji can't get too far up the mountain too early." He looked at Yoshio. "If you want to help, old man, and make up for what's gone wrong, you'll find a way to delay him."

"Me?" the kami asked. "You want me to keep him from getting to the monk's house?"

The group watched as Eiji, still holding Chika, recounted what he had seen, then all three hurried to Daitaro's.

"We do indeed," Daikoku said. "If he gets there too early, there'll be a big nasty brawl." He closed his eyes, considering the possibilities. "Why should the monk or his lovely wife or the smith or even Sukeo-kun have to deal with the blood guilt on their karma? Besides, his children are traumatized enough, and it's time they had some good luck."

"I agree," Shimame said. "I've seen Nakao in the fields. He has the green touch. Growing things like him." She waved her fan. "I hate to lose those people. Kinjiro has it, especially in this generation. But besides the girl that the miko cares for, few besides Nakao have it in his generation. The girl . . . she has a different fate." Shimame sighed. "I have no claim on her. But I need that boy."

Yoshio sighed, and bowed as he gave in. "If you want this, I will do it, Dono," he said. "But how will I know when it's time?"

The door to Daitaro's spilled open, and a group of people led by InuYasha and Eiji headed out of doors. Daitaro and Genjo ran to the tool shed, followed quickly by Susumu and Kinjiro. Kagome, now holding Sango's cat, stood on the verandah next to Chime and Mariko, obviously irritated that she had been told to stay behind.

"One of us will come for you, obviously," Shimame replied.

"Or the hanyou will find him first," Kazuo said.

Yoshio nodded, and bowing once more, disappeared.

"I think it's time I check up on my grandsons," Sadayori said.

"I think you're right," Kazuo said, and clapping his hands, the entire group vanished.

At Miroku's house, the knock was repeated, harder this time. "Houshi-sama! Houshi-sama!" a man's voice said. "Please, please, let me in." The voice was filled with panic. "Kwannon have mercy. I didn't mean . . . please."

The group of kami appeared, and took places on the rafters of the monk's house.

"You know," Daikoku said, "I think we might owe that boy at least a little boon by the time today is over," he said. "You have used Yoshimi rather hard today."

"Bah," Kazuo said. "He deserves it. Maybe after all of this, and he's married to that woman, he'll learn to appreciate the right way."

"There is always hope," Sadayori said.

He knocked again. "Please, Houshi-sama."

"Now what?" Fujime said.

"Isn't that Yoshimi?" Fumio said, looking towards the door. He reached for his hammer. "What in the hells would bring him out here tonight. Unless . . . "

"Fumio always was a perceptive person," Shimame said.

Miroku, glancing at the smith, bounced up.

"The monk is not a slouch, either," Daikoku said, nodding in approval.

"Please, Houshi-sama. I..." the voice shook. "I..."

"I don't like the sound of this," the monk said. He grabbed his staff and headed for the door. Sliding the door open, he revealed the dirty, bruised and panicked form of Seiji's younger brother.

Yoshimi bowed. "I...I..." he started, then swallowed.

Kaede roused from her drowsiness and looked at the young man. "You look injured, Yoshimi. Did something happen?"

"Spit it out, man," Fumio said. He tensed, and gripped his hammer more tightly. Fujime reached over and touched his arm.

Yoshimi took a deep breath. "Seiji is out of the lockup."

"What?" Sango asked, standing up. She moved towards the weapons rack.

The young man kept his head bowed. His voice did more than shiver, it cracked. "He's coming here, I think, to kill you all." Having used his last ounce of courage, he collapsed on the threshold.

"I thought you healed him," Shimame said, leaning towards the farmer kami.

"Just enough to get him here," Kazuo said.

"Kuso," Fumio said. "I should have known we needed to lock the both of them up."

"Kuso indeed," Miroku said. He tapped his staff on the ground, next to Yoshimi's head. Yoshimi, unconscious, did not even flinch. He turned to the others. "Time to get ready."