I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi
Back up on the hill where Sango's house was sitting in the afternoon sunshine, there was no sign of the actions going on down at Tameo's house. Instead, since the men left and Kaede had walked down to the village with Isao and his mother, the area had grown pleasantly quiet.
The doors to Sango's house were slid open, allowing fresh air and sunlight to enter the main room. The lunch dishes were put away and her daughters were in the back room taking their nap. Sango and Chime, Daitaro's wife who had stayed during all the morning craziness, sat around a small table, enjoying the view. They had been joined before lunch by Erime, the girl who was soon to be Chime's daughter-in-law. Chime held Sango's son Naoya while Sango made a pot of tea.
"Do the girls nap this time every day?" Erime asked.
"Yes, nearly every day. I hate to say it, but I look forward to it, just for a break." Sango set the teapot on a tray and rejoined the other women. "I was afraid, though, with all the excitement we had, that they wouldn't settle down. But they surprised me." She looked up at the woman holding her son. "Let me know when you get tired of Naoya, Chime-obasan. He's a good baby, but he likes a lot of attention, just like his father."
Chime chuckled at that. "We certainly had an interesting morning, Sango-chan," she said. "But this cute little boy is even more interesting." She waggled her fingers at him, which he followed with bright eyes. He gurgled in response, and smiled at her.
"Well, I think I've had enough excitement today," Sango said, resting the teapot on the table. "Maybe I'll get some of my sewing done after all."
"I wish I'd been here to see Haname get told to go home," Erime said. "That doesn't happen every day."
"I seem to remember there's something else coming up that doesn't happen every day," Chime said, looking up at the younger woman. "My son is getting rather excited, I think, even though he tries to hide it."
Sango began pouring the tea, but looked up in time to see Erime blush. "So Erime," she said to the younger woman, "are you ready for your wedding? What is it, five days from now?"
The younger woman blushed. "I...I guess so," she said. "That's the day Kaede and my father said would be most auspicious."
Chime, soon to be Erime's mother-in-law, smiled at the hesitation in the girl's voice. To Naoya's consternation, she moved the fingers that had been entertaining him and reached across to pat the girl's hand. "I wonder if any bride is really fully ready for their wedding day, Erime-chan," she said. "I know I wasn't."
Erime accepted a cup of tea from Sango. "No, don't tell me that, Okaa-san. I can't believe it. You always deal with everything so perfectly."
This made Chime laugh. "Oh, if you only knew, child. But it's true. I was so very nervous. I was leaving my family in the north, and I had never been this far south except twice, to visit a cousin who lives nearer the coast." She also took a cup of tea from Sango. "I had met Daitaro before, and thought him quite dashing, and wasn't unhappy about the match, but I was so afraid I was going to shame my family. I just knew they would turn around and send me back home before the first month was over." She sipped her tea and let Sango take her son out of her lap. "But as you can see, I've lasted a bit longer than a month."
Erime and Sango laughed. The younger woman poured tea for Sango. "How about you, Sango-chan? Were you nervous?"
"It was a bit different for me and Miroku," Sango said, bouncing her son in her lap. "We had been traveling almost a year fighting against Naraku, and we both almost died -"
She was interrupted when a large pink balloon drifted in front of the house. "What's Shippou doing here?" she said.
"That's the kitsune boy?" Erime asked.
As if in answer, the balloon form gave a loud woosh sound, and turned into a small, red-haired kitsune kit who landed on the ground and ran into the house.
"Sango!" Shippou yelled, running up next to her. "Sango, someone's trying to hurt Kagome!"
"Maybe the day's excitement isn't quite over," Chime said, sipping her tea.
"What?" Sango put down her teacup. "Don't yell, Shippou-chan. You'll wake up the twins."
"Sorry," he said, but he pulled on her sleeve. "I was just there, and I have to go tell InuYasha! Please go check on her."
Chime tilted her head, looking at the panic-stricken boy. "What are you talking about, Shippou-kun? I thought she was at Tameo's house. Tameo wouldn't let something like that happen there. And I know that Kaede just went there not an hour ago."
Naoya started to fuss. Sango sighed, and put her son over her shoulder, bouncing him. "What happened, Shippou?"
"It's . . . it's that weird guy staying with Joben." He tugged at her sleeve again. "Hurry!"
"The yamabushi?" Erime said. "He is weird. I saw how he was looking at me the other day."
Shippou nodded. "First Haname slapped Kagome, and that was bad enough. I wanted to go get InuYasha then but she wouldn't let me."
"Haname . . . slapped her?" Chime said, surprised. "What . . . that doesn't sound like her at all."
Shippou nodded at the older woman. "Right when Kaede got there. Susumu had to knock her to the ground. She was yelling all sorts of crazy things."
"Knocked her down?" Erime said. Her eyes went wide.
"With all the people there?" Sango said. "Did someone put a spell on her? She sounds possessed."
"I don't know," the kitsune said. "But it was a good thing I didn't leave for InuYasha yet, because then we went to the garden by their family shrine to get away from her, and then that Morio guy tried to grab Kagome." Shippou took a deep breath. "I was hiding in a tree, and saw it all. He called her a black miko! Kagome! I jumped on him, and Kagome got away, but I don't know what happened next. I'm going to go get InuYasha." He pulled on her again. "Please, please make sure she's okay. But if I don't tell InuYasha what happened, he'll have my tail for sure. I got to hurry. Please!"
Sango looked thoughtful, and ruffled the kitsune's head. "You're sure she got away."
"Yeah, she was running to where all the people were and I had yelled really loud, the yell my uncle taught me, so people in the houses there would hear me. It's supposed to scare people, and I saw some of'em come running. And some man got to her before I left. And I bit that guy hard, too. He was bleeding in his shoulder. But please, please. Make sure she's ok. I'll go as fast as I can, but it's still going to take some time to get there. Please."
"Sounds like you did a good job, Master Fox," Erime said. "InuYasha will be pleased."
"Hurry, Sango. I've really got to go." He moved toward the front of the house.
Sango bounced her son one more time. "Yes, of course. I'll go see what's happened."
"Good. I've got to run. Please, Inari no kami, don't have let anything happen to her," the kit said, pulling a leaf out of his vest. "Unless you want me to be turned into a fox rug. And I'm too small!"
He put the leaf on his head, and with a loud pop, instead of a kitsune boy, there was a large, awkward white bird standing there. "I'll get to InuYasha faster this way," he said, and then hobbling off, he flapped his wings and awkwardly took off, circled around once, and headed toward the direction of Kagemura.
"I'll never get used to how he can change his shape like that," Erime said.
"I can tell," Chime said, standing gracefully, "that the excitement of the day is definitely not over" She held her arms open. "Let me hold your son. You go see what's happened to Kagome-chan. Erime and I will watch and stay while your daughters are sleeping."
Sango nodded. "I really should go. Thank you," she said, handing the boy over to him. She walked over to the weapons stand and picked up her sword. "I don't know if I'll really need this, but . . . "
"Oh, InuYasha-sama's going to come running back here in a holy terror," Erime said.
"You're probably right. Miroku told me he wasn't too happy about leaving her here." Sango slipped her sword into her waistband.
"It may even be a good thing for you to be there when InuYasha-sama gets back," Chime said. "I suspect our little kitsune friend will have him in full panic mode."
Naoya frowned as he watched his mother get ready to leave. Sango picked him up and gave him a hug.
"You may be right," she said, handing a reluctant baby back to the older woman. "I'll probably be there until he gets back."
"If you see Shinjiro, tell him to come up here. We want to know all the news." Chime bounced Naoya on his hip. "It's going to be okay, baby. Mama's going to make sure nothing else goes crazy."
"If I can," she said. "I'm sure it'll be quite a story."
As Erime and Chime watched Sango hurry down the road, and Naoya began to wind himself up for a good cry, Erime told the older woman, "I suspect this is a day we'll be talking about for a long time."
She bounced the unhappy boy in her arms. "Exciting days are what stories are made from. Now my fine boy, what can we do to make you happy? It'll be exciting enough without your sisters crying, too."
As Sango headed down the hill, Tameo dropped his arms, and the people behind him quietly and slowly moved into the garden.
Emi, Susumu's wife, hurried over to Kagome's side and took her by the arms. "Are you hurt?"
Kagome looked at her hands and then brushed them over her face. "I...I don't think so." She looked up at Emi. "How do I explain this to InuYasha?"
Emi gave the miko a hug. "I'm sure we'll think of something. He's not supposed to get back until dark. You can stay here until then."
Hisa joined them. "Emi's right. Come into the house. There's tea, and you can lay down if you need to rest. Or talk."
"Shippou," Kagome said. "Kazuo-sama told me Shippou went to find InuYasha. He's going to be coming back in a panic, if I know Shippou."
Hisa took a deep breath, sighed, and gave Kagome a little smile. "Your husband, he has a temper, I know. But we'll deal with it. Once he knows you're all right, everything will work out fine."
Kagome nodded, and started to let them lead her away when she heard a loud groaning. She turned and saw Morio, or what was left of Morio, shaking all over. Still face down, he groaned.
"Okaasan," he said, in a small bewildered voice. "Okaasan, it hurts. Please make it not hurt."
She took a step forward, away from the other women.
Slowly the man lifted up his head. There was dust all over his face and blood smears from his shoulder. "What happened?" He spotted Kagome, but there was no look of recognition. " Do you know where Haha-ue is? Something happened and I don't know what to do." His voice was small, childlike, lost.
Kagome looked at him, uncertain of what to say. "Your mother?"
Morio slowly, painfully sat up. "You're pretty. I bet you're nice. Can you help me? Have you seen my Okaa? She's going to be sad if I don't find her soon." He brought his hand to his face, and bit his knuckle. "I...I don't know what's happened to me. Somebody hurt me." He rested his head in his hands, covering his face. "My head hurts so bad."
Kagome looked at the elders standing in a knot. They too looked unsure of how to respond. Tameo studied him, his brows bunched together.
"He's turned into a child?" he said. "Now we have three boys to take care of."
"Storytellers are going to remember this day a long time," Daitaro said. He offered Tameo his jug of sake. "Have a drink. It looks like you need one."
Tameo nodded and took the jug. "Kazuo-sama is a powerful kami. Now if he would just tell me what to do next."
A/N I noticed from the comments that I seem to be having two of my readers pm'ing each other about someone's comment. Please note, I am not responsible if someone wants to discuss, disapprove, or rant at someone in a PM. And especially, don't think I asked someone to attack someone that way. It's not how I behave. Thanks.