Chapter One

She had to get out. The walls around her felt like they were closing, threatening to swallow her whole. She looked around at all of the face of the ladies that were in training as well and she wanted to be sick as her teacher shouted to get her attention.

"Miho! What are you trying to do? Get back in line and show me that you know this dance!" The old woman was livid. "Stop gawking at everyone else and dance!" The old woman rammed her walking stick into the wood floor and made everyone around her jump.

Miho only stared, unsure if she even cared what everyone around her was thinking. It wasn't as if they couldn't practice without her. She was not the only one being forced to participate in this tedious act. "I am sorry. I am just not feeling myself today." Which was the truth. Something in the air that morning had made her feel uneasy, maybe even sick. A sharp pain in her stomach, which had started annoying her the moment she had dressed for her lessons, was still doing its best to implicate her performances later that afternoon. "My stomach is hurting me today."

The old woman sighed heavily and lowered her black, cold eyes. "Then you should have stayed in bed. Go, before I take my staff and strike you."

Grateful that she had escaped the rest of the afternoon's classes, she bowed in respect before leaving the room, then turned and walked away, feeling questioning eyes at the back of her head. Oh, mother…I doubt that this was the life you had envisioned for me before your death. She thought to herself as she wandered back to her room. Would you be upset with me if I left?

It was not the first time she had thought of running away. Becoming a maiko was supposed to be a way for a woman to live her own life, but right now, Miho felt like she was a prisoner to her intended profession. It was not like she had intended to become this beautiful creature of the night, nor had her family wanted it for her, but once her family had been killed; she was taken from the only home she knew and brought to this mysterious teahouse in the forest. Nobody asked her what she wanted, or bothered to inquire where she had come from once she was placed in her new 'mother's' care. They simply stuck her in those waist-synching kimonos and shoved her into training classes with no second thoughts.

Miho sighed heavily, feeling even more trapped as she stepped into the hallway to her room. The dark brown walls never seemed to welcome her. Despite the many oil lamps that lit the way, it always reminded her of her previous home…so full of blood and death.

She hated blood. The sight always filled her with a sense of doom, even before the death of her family. There were times where she had seen a few cuts and scrapes on the younger girls and she would seize up with terror and hyperventilate, and later into the night she would dream of screaming infants covered in the crimson liquid. Those dreams never made sense to her because she had never been around any infants or children younger than eight years old.

That was how old a girl had to be to be brought to this particular tea house. A girl had to start her training very young in order to become a successful geisha. Miho herself had been placed here at the age of eight. Now at the wonderful age of seventeen, she didn't feel so wonderful at the thought of becoming an object for men to gawk at while she pranced around a stage in restricted garments for their amusement along with several other maikos.

In just a few short weeks, she would be debuted with her friends, whether she liked it or not. And then she would really feel like she had joined a prison, for she would be showcased and sold for money to whichever gentleman desired her more. It was a demeaning task that a woman of her standing had to go through in order to become a mature geisha, and she was anything but prepared for it. I will find a way out of this, I swear on my life! Miho promised to herself as she walked down the hall to her room with her head held high.

As she opened her bedroom door, a glint caught her eye and she noticed her father's old weapons gleaming in the far corner as the afternoon sun broke through the barrier of her window. Now that seems more fun than dancing around in a room, swinging fans, and plucking stringed instruments for hours. She thought to herself as a wonderful idea struck her. I shall practice my sword fighting for a while! Father would be more proud to see me fight, than to see me prance!

Miho did not waste time as she stripped herself of her constricting kimono and hurriedly dressed in one of her burgundy kimonos. This will not get dirty so easily! Try as she might to keep from looking pretty, it was impossible as she studied herself in the mirror. Her chocolate brown eyes caught herself staring sadly into her reflection. It was not that she disliked being attractive…but she felt that was all anyone saw of her; beauty with no real talent other than dancing.

Her jet black hair was up in a loose bun with a few strands flying freely on either side of her fare face, and her lips were still stained with rouge from her lessons. Taking a free hand, she whipped them as clean as she could get them with a handkerchief she kept in her sleeve. Damn, still red. Oh well… She rolled her beautiful eyes at herself and then turned to grab for her father's old weapons. The first thing she grabbed for was the dagger. It was small compared to others she had seen but was lovely with its pure silver sheen and brown leather sheath. She took it delicately in her hand and tied it carefully at her ankle to keep it hidden.

The next weapon she grabbed was what seemed to be a dirty sword, but upon closer inspection, it was well cared for and smelled of olive cloves to keep the beautiful blade sharp and clean of the scent of old blood. Its sheath was made from charcoal black leather from the hide of demons. A demon hunter had to be prepared with any means of protection possible, and demon skin was next to impenetrable when made into leather.

Miho smiled at the memories of her father and brothers in the heat of battle, with her and her mother at their sides for back up protection. It was the perfect life for her because she loved fighting with the boys. Nothing felt wrong about protecting her family…until they were attacked.

A frown painted her face in sadness and Miho closed of her painful memories before they could do more damage. Enough of this. Time to practice! She took her father's sword and slipped it into her black obi before walking back out into the hallway.

The young woman slipped out of the teahouse with very little effort. No one worried if she escaped because there really was nowhere to go for miles outside of it. Miho would have to return eventually if she wanted to stay safe. She may have been trained as a demon slayer, but her training for that had ended once she was eight and after that, she knew no more other than how to fight with blades and bare hands.

The afternoon sun was hot against her back, but the air was cool as the first autumn wind whipped through and kissed her face until her cheeks were rosy. Miho slithered through the backdoor to the teahouse and made way for the thick forest that surrounded them.

The trees were turning. Shades of deep purple and yellow, reds and oranges made them come alive with the light of the glowing sun overhead. She young woman sighed, feeling free for the first time all day and felt herself becoming more and more comfortable with her surroundings. Ah! This is what I desire most…freedom. So close, I can taste it, but still so very far away.

Miho walked for no more than five minutes until she spotted a clearing up ahead. Perfect! She thought as she stepped into the circular opening. This is just perfect!

Feeling even more alive, she took hold of her father's sword and whipped it out like a pro. Time to fight!

The next few minutes passed without thought as she wielded the sword like a true fighter. Miho took her time in setting her stance just right and then thrust into the wind close to a nearby tree, then withdrew and swung downward. In the process of throwing her body into the move, she reached toward her ankle with her left hand and quickly withdrew her father's dagger and aimed it at the tree, close to her face for eyelevel. "Take that!" She cried as she thrust her left hand forward and jammed the dagger into the belly of the tree. Pulling back with all her might, she nearly stumbled backward and caught herself with her sword as she jabbed it into the ground.

"That was close." She said to herself as she regained her stance. Taking the sword, she withdrew it from the ground and steadied herself, and then she looked up.

What she saw was nothing short of amazing. "Who is that, I wonder?"

It was a man, there was no doubt…but he was beautiful. His hair was long and flowing with a silver glow, and his face was streaked with violet war paint. The clothing he was wearing struck her as odd too. His kimono was all white, and his obi was violet to match his streaks and also gold to match his striking amber eyes.

The man was walking through the trees, not paying her any bit of attention as if deep in thought.

Miho was transfixed by his handsomeness. Something about him stirred her memories like someone had placed a large spoon inside and begun to mix her thoughts around. With her mouth agape, she caught wind of a buried memory and gasped aloud.

His eyes watched her as she leaned against the pillar right outside of her mistress's quarters and was unable to move. It felt as if he had pinned her there with his amber eyes and her soles were glued to the floor. He was adamant about keeping her still, though for some unknown reason, he didn't frighten her. She was transfixed by his lean build, uncaring that he was a member of the demon race. She knew what she wanted, and her heart was aching for the man at the end of the clearing.

Those amber eyes…so far away but so close that she could feel them scanning over her body as if he knew how she looked beneath her soft pink silk kimono. It made her face redden at the thought. Oh…how could you know my skin? Why do you look at me as if you can see all of me? Why…?

This demon had invaded her dreams before, and for that, she wished that she could sleep forever. His face was so full of mystery if he did not see her first, but whenever his amber eyes found her, she could read him clearly. He was shocked, then sad at first as if he had lost the love of his life. But then he would study her face…searching. Looking for any sign of…what? But he would always end up watching like he knew her every secret thought. Who are you…?

She never knew what he looked for in her face, but she was always fascinated by his familiar looks and breathtaking figure. He was always dressed for battle, wearing a pearl white kimono with violet and gold obi. His sword hung proud by his side and his armor looked cold and strong. She had seen no one else like him. Every glance at his stunning eyes sent her heart soaring and she could not help but be confused by him. 'What do you want from me?' She would always ask him, but this demon never spoke a word, only stared.

Miho's sudden intake of breath grabbed the man's attention from only a few yards away. He turned his head in her direction as he stopped walking and stared.

The moment their eyes met, she blushed deeply and quickly returned to her attention to her weapons, desperate to get his image out of her mind. Get a hold of yourself, Miho. He is just a stranger going about his business. He is not the man from my dreams! He is not!

She turned her back to the man who was now coming toward her. Ignore him and he will disappear! Miho felt her heart pumping unusually fast within her chest with every footstep. Taking control of her body, she poised with her weapons ready and prepared to attack.

"You are in my way." A deep, smooth voice spoke from behind her, sending a fresh wave of goose bumps down her spine and making her skin tingle with recognition.

Author's Note: Hello everyone! To all of my new readers, can any of you tell who Miho is? If not, please read my other story "A Small Twist of Fate" because it is the first installment and explains what is going on.

For my other fans that have kept up with my other story almost religiously, you were all correct in your assumptions that Miss Rin was going to be reincarnated. But again I must mention to those of you who HATE the idea that that has become Rin's fate, let me say that her situation is NOTHING like the situation with Kagome/Kikyo. You will just have to read and find out!

OliviaAR