THE MIRROR OF SOULS Silver Moon Inuyoukai
The Lord and the Captain
Sesshoumaru, Lord of the Western Lands, stood impassively upon the battlefield. His golden gaze sweeping the vista around him as his sensitive nose twitched a little at the smell swirling in the wind. It smelled of ozone, blood, gore and death. The ozone smell comes from the fading power released by his sword, Bakusaiga. Sesshoumaru slashed at the air to get rid of any blood and gore clinging to his sword and replaced the demon sword to his left side along with Tenseiga.
He was about to pulse his youkai when he felt the distinctive aura of his taisa (captain) as she broke through the clearing at a run. When she spotted her Lord near the other edge of the field she made a running beeline to where he was standing.
"Chichiue! (Father)" She gasped for breath when she stopped in front of him bowing her head.
"Rin, report." He commanded his taisa.
"Father, our soldiers have decimated the youkai attack at this village. The rest of the youkai that survived were retreating. Shall we follow and hunt them down?" Rin stood at attention as she waited his decision.
"It is not necessary. However, post some soldiers at the village to calm the people." Sesshoumaru began to walk towards the village.
Rin followed beside him. "It has been done, father, I have given the orders."
Sesshoumaru nodded. Pleased that his taisa has the presence of mind to anticipate his decisions correctly.
"Hn. Well done, Rin." He acknowledged her appellation of "chichiue" or father to him, as they are the only ones in the vicinity. Rin would call him "My Lord" or "Sire" in front of his men reinforcing the formality for appearances sake. The captain is never one to break convention even though his men and vassals know who she is - the daughter and right hand commander of the Lord of the Western Lands.
Rin felt warm at her father-guardian's praise. His words of praise, though reserved, hold a lot value to the young warrior. Sesshoumaru is not one to lavish praise when he feels it isn't warranted. The 16 year old is mature for her age and has an uncanny ability to seemingly read her father's mind. Sesshoumaru has oftentimes been taken by surprise at this skill of hers but later he felt proud of his daughter and rationalized that she has been with him in battle for a long time and perhaps has observed and learned how her father's tactical mind worked.
He has replaced numerous commanders due to their incompetence with painful death until he discovered the sharp mind within his ward. Rin has just finished her 5-year martial arts training with the head of the taiji-ya, Sango. Upon her return she immediately asked for his approval on various proposals that would benefit both the youkai and ningen (human) community.
The Western Lord was taken aback at some of her radical proposals since he knows it would raise the ire of the youkai society but saw the benefit of such action.
The incumbent taisa, Hoyo, met the proposal negatively. It wasn't a secret that Hoyo disliked the Lord of the West's human ward. He disliked humans, period. Hoyo was stunned when he learned that Sesshoumaru allowed his 8-year-old ward was to train in a demon exterminator village. It was unthinkable! It was preposterous!
Sesshoumaru leveled a cold gaze toward his general.
"Do you dare question the action of this Sesshoumaru?" His voice is deceptively silky smooth but edged with steel.
Hoyo's hair at the back of his neck stood in fear. Lord Sesshoumaru's legendary wrath is known throughout the land. Everyone knows how the great lord is extremely protective of the young girl, Rin. Hoyo doesn't want to lose his head for a mere human by angering his master.
The people of the Western Lands assumed that their Lord has become weak since he has lowered himself into becoming a guardian of a mere human girl. Tongues started wagging and speculating. Perhaps the Lord has taken a human mistress and Rin is his hanyou (half-youkai) offspring. But they couldn't see any hanyou qualities on Rin. The girl is human. Some postulated on even bizarre possibilities even some bordering on the ridiculous. Rin's a pet and a form of entertainment for the daiyoukai. She's just a curiosity for the master and soon he will discard her when he tires with her.
The Great Lord dismissed all of these with a shrug…apart from one incidence.
A wealthy youkai merchant was visiting the palace. Sesshoumaru and his family have traded with this merchant for centuries and he was welcomed whenever he's around the Western Lands. But Sesshoumaru doesn't care for the man since he has never stopped foisting his daughters on him.
The Lord of the West has been a bachelor for centuries and since he has assumed the title it is required of him to find a mate. Being a wealthy and powerful ruler and one of the handsomest eligible bachelors to boot made Sesshoumaru the prime target of acquisition for many high-ranking youkai families. Sesshoumaru has repeatedly turned down numerous proposals from families to marry their daughters.
And this man is not the exception. Sesshoumaru has prepared himself for another tiresome matrimonial pitch. The man has two daughters, the oldest was a beauty and Sesshoumaru has met this daughter on numerous occasions due to the machinations of her father but Sesshoumaru didn't feel any stirring of interest or desire for the demoness. Since Sesshoumaru has no parents to decide on an arranged marriage it has fallen on Sesshoumaru's discretion to approve or disapprove marriage proposals, hence his current unmarried status.
The dinner was going somewhat smoothly and Sesshoumaru has once more fielded another subtle proposal for the oldest daughter by the father when Jaken politely tapped the shoji screen to enter.
"Yes, Jaken, what is it?" The toad youkai bowed politely to his master.
"My Lord, Rin would like to see you before she goes to bed." Jaken was trembling. His Lord doesn't want to be interrupted when he's entertaining but the foolish child insisted that she won't sleep until she say's her customary goodnight and kiss to her "Sesshoumaru-sama." The child in question is actually just right behind the shoji screen impatiently squirming.
"Send her in, Jaken," and as soon as the youkai Lord said those words the screen was moved aside and a small bundle of unruly hair and boundless energy barged into the dining hall and straight to the Western Lord.
"Sesshoumaru-sama!" squealed the 6-year-old girl wearing a white sleeping yukata.
The girl stopped in front of the Western Lord and the astonished merchant.
"Sesshoumaru-sama, Rin wants to see you before Rin sleeps." Rin held out her arms for an embrace and a kiss.
Sesshoumaru nodded his consent and the little girl slammed into him with her arms around his neck almost strangling him with the force. Then she let go and planted a wet kiss (as kids are wont to do) on his cheek. Sesshoumaru felt a warm glow on his chest whenever he looked at his ward as he laid his hand on her head. His eyes momentarily lost their guarded expression and softened.
"Ah, this must be the girl you picked up from the ningen (human) village Sesshoumaru?" The merchant chose that moment to interrupt.
"Rin is my ward." The reckless merchant didn't notice the inflection on the word "ward" and the coldness that seeped into the voice of his host.
"Well, she's very pretty but unfortunately ningen's don't make good mates. Well, as concubines maybe. You need to wait a few more years to make that happen." The merchant slurred and chuckled due to too much sake.
Sesshoumaru heard Jaken squawk in indignation to defend his Lord but stopped him with a glare. "Jaken."
"Y-yes, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Jaken turned to the now still taiyoukai.
"Take Rin to her room." Sesshoumaru gently pushed Rin to Jaken's direction. "Rin, I will tuck you in later. Go with Jaken."
"Hai, Sesshoumaru-sama." And with a giggle the girl grabbed Jaken's hand and dragged the toad youkai out of the room.
Sesshoumaru waited until he heard his retainer and his ward has turned around the corner of the dining area before moving in a blur to slam the inebriated merchant on the wall of the dining area.
"She is my ward." Sesshoumaru growled. "I protect her. No, she's not my pet. No, she's not 'entertainment'." Sesshoumaru punctuated each sentence with a hard slam on the wall while choking the youkai merchant. "And no, she will not become my concubine!" He spat the last word in disgust. In his anger he let some of his poison seep out, the tips of his fingers glowing greenish yellow.
"Acckkk! It's just a…ackkk…joke! Sesshoumaru….ack! Can't you take a joke?" The merchant tried to remove the chokehold on him but it was like he was being held in grips of steel. When he smelled the acrid smell of poison from the taiyoukai's hands he started to panic a bit.
"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" Sesshoumaru roared in his face. The merchant was then thrown clear out of the dining room door. The servants and some palace guards rushed to see what the commotion about.
"Remove this trash from this house! NOW!" His voice reverberated in the room. The guards picked up the dazed merchant and dragged him away.
Jaken skidded to a halt outside the dining room door. His youkai ears heard what the Western Lord said to the merchant and then the sound of a body slamming on the floor. He stood there with his mouth hanging open at the red-eyed image of Lord Sesshoumaru who was visibly controlling himself from killing the merchant with his claws.
"Sesshoumaru-sama?" A small timid voice broke the red haze from the angry daiyoukai.
"Rin, you should be asleep." Sesshoumaru said in a voice so cool and controlled. His eyes lost its red haze the poison banished from his hands.
"Rin heard a noise and Jaken-sama ran here. Rin was alone." The girl inched her way inside the door.
"Come Rin. It's time for bed. I will tuck you in." Sesshoumaru held out his hand to the girl. The little girl promptly held his strong hand in hers not knowing that the same hands she hold almost ripped a youkai's neck apart.
"Sesshoumaru-sama? Why are you angry with the man?" Sesshoumaru held his breath. How much did she hear?
"He was rude." Sesshoumaru said simply.
He looked down to the tiny girl walking beside him. And for the second time that night his breath caught in his throat. Rin was looking up at him with wonder in her eyes. The kind of look people give a hero…with respect and love.
"Hn," was all Rin said and gave him a smile that lit up the night.
"Hn," Sesshoumaru nodded and felt another tug in his heart when his ward squeezed his hand.
"My ward has expressed her desire to learn martial arts and I agreed." The regal taiyoukai replied.
"But my Lord, why does she have to train in a taiji-ya village? We can train her here."
"Hoyo, are you afraid that her lethal battle skills will surpass yours when Rin comes back?" he asked with a smirk.
"Certainly not, my lord!" Hoyo blustered in indignation.
"Then this conversation is moot." The daiyoukai lord folded his arms inside his sleeve indicating the discussion is finished.
When the irritating captain has taken his leave Sesshoumaru stood up and opened the shoji door on the balcony. He stepped out to the enclosed garden inhaling the scent of the night. The light breeze stirred his long silver hair as the tall Inuyoukai walked to the cherry blossom tree near the koi pond. This is his favorite place to sit when he takes a break from the paperwork in his study.
His thoughts went back to the just concluded conversation with the captain. Rin will be leaving to train at the taiji-ya village in a fortnight. He sighed. He was happy that his ward told him she wanted to learn martial arts. But when she asked if he could teach her he declined.
"But why can't you teach me, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Sesshoumaru heard a tiny whine from his ward's voice.
"I am stronger than you and I might hurt you." He leaned back to the cherry tree and watched as fireflies flitted at the floating lotus flowers on the pond.
"It's okay, I am strong." The little girl smiled at him.
"No Rin. It would be better if humans teach you. You will study at the taiji-ya village."
"Oh, is that Kohaku's village, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin turned to face him fully from her spot beside him.
"Hn." Besides Sesshoumaru wanted his ward to be with other humans so she could grow up normally. Life in the fortress is safe but there aren't human children there for her to play or interact with.
"I will miss you Sesshoumaru-sama" He smelled salt from her unshed tears.
"Rin, you will not miss me. I will visit you often. When you are finished there then I will continue to teach you."
He saw his ward gasp. "Do you promise, Sesshoumaru-sama?"
"Do you doubt the word of your father?" He turned his golden gaze at her when he heard her gasp the second time. Rin was looking at him with eyes as big as saucers and he felt her joy in his words.
"No chichiue…" Sesshoumaru felt equal joy when she called him that name. Rin has always called him 'Sesshoumaru-sama' and though their bond is obviously filial in nature he has not alluded to the use of father ever in their conversations. He admitted that he has been taking care of Rin as a father would and he felt fatherly affection for the little girl. That incident with the idiotic merchant has made his eyes open to the fact that indeed Rin is his daughter, blood relation or no.
Rin put her arms around him and gave him a kiss (dry this time) on his cheek. Sesshoumaru laid his hand on his daughter's head and gave her a hug. Hn, he said to himself. Perhaps the life of a single parent isn't so bad after all.
"Sesshoumaru-sama! Rin-sama!" A youkai lieutenant wearing the distinct color of the Western Lands stopped and bowed to the father and daughter.
"Yes lieutenant, what is it?" Rin asked the agitated looking soldier.
"My Lord. Captain," The man addressed his superiors respectively bowing first to Sesshoumaru and then to Rin. "Our platoon has finished rounding up the troublemakers to the South and we were about to return to report to you when we encountered something on our way back."
"Explain." Sesshoumaru snapped.
The soldier visibly flinched at the cold-voiced command but continued nonetheless. "My Lord, I fear that it will be hard to explain. It would be better if you and the captain see it for yourselves."
The Lord and the captain briefly exchanged looks of consternation at his words.
"Take us to the place." Sesshoumaru formed his youkai cloud and Rin immediately took her place at her father's side on the cloud. They ascended quickly. The kitsune lieutenant took at a blazing run towards the far South side of the village. Sesshoumaru and Rin following above the trees on his cloud.
"What could it be, chichiue?" Rin turned towards the tall taiyoukai holding her protectively by the waist.
Even at 16 Rin still has to lean back a bit when talking to her father. He was just so tall! Even when she was 6 years old her father was a giant in her eyes. She would grab his legs then when she greets him and Sesshoumaru has to lean down a bit to place a claw-tipped hand on her head. How fondly she recalls those times. His golden eyes would always soften whenever he looks at her.
Those same golden eyes turned their attention to her but with a curious tinge to their depths.
"Hn." Was all he said as he turned his eyes back to the kitsune running through the trees below. Juro's enigmatic words piqued at his mind. But before the Western Lord could ponder more about those mysterious words his youkai senses spiked in alarm.
Rin didn't see any visible emotion pass though her father's calm countenance but she knew that he was disturbed by something from the subtle pulse of her father's youkai energy. Being near to him allowed her to feel the cascade of power. Sesshoumaru is never one to be disturbed about anything, even in a fierce battle but this is different.
"What is it, father?" Rin is now scanning the area below them. She noticed a battalion of soldiers on alert and facing at a point near the curve of the river. She also spotted Juro giving orders to hold their position.
Sesshoumaru descended quickly behind the soldiers to further assess the situation. Rin jumped ahead even before her father's cloud dispersed. Sesshoumaru landed without a sound.
Rin quickly left her father's side and was about to head towards the front when she felt his hand on her shoulder stay her action.
"Do not move." Rin was about to protest thinking that her father must have forgotten that she's now a formidable warrior and captain of his army and not a 6 year old kid when she felt the strange aura in the air.
She looked at Sesshoumaru as he pulsed his youkai toward the light to assess the strange aura. Since she isn't youkai or miko she could only feel the action through a slight vibration on her skin. She knows that Sesshoumaru could use his pulse to challenge or subdue other youkai or use it like a sensing tool to know friend or foe.
"What is that?" Rin felt goose bumps on her arms. She strained her eyes towards where her father and the soldiers are facing.
The thick copse of trees leading to the curve of the river is glowing and pulsing with a rainbow of colors.
She saw her general walk towards that light the soldiers parting the way for him.
"Rin, come but stay behind me." The inu daiyoukai said not breaking his stride.
"Yes, my Lord." Rin readied her katana on her side. She nodded a non-verbal command at Juro as she followed her father. Juro nodded back and as soon as their Lord and his commander in chief passed the soldiers held their former position of encircling the copse of trees. Juro did not remove his eyes from where his silver-haired master and his daughter entered.