Chapter 3: Intelligent

Lady Karei became more worried about Rin as the time progressed. The kids were not getting along with her; she had not made a single friend among her age. Every single time they took trip into the village, the children would be calling her names, talking among themselves, saying horrible things about her. Only the adults had warmed up to Rin after a while, not all of them though. Rin seemed to get along better with the adults, asking questions about anything in general, making the adults feels that she was of intelligent status among them.

Often, she would find Rin almost attached to her kimono every time they enter the village. Rin had became rather attached to her almost anywhere since she finally opened up to her, trusting her more. The look on Rin's face informed her that the girl doesn't trust any one and the whole world could see it on her face as well.

Lady Karei patted Rin's head one day, "Rin, we are here." The girl let go of her kimono and followed her into the store, still keeping close on her heels.

"Look at that! Such a common chambermaid in silk, it's not right." One of the older girls huddled together, whispering and giggling to one another in the store, watching as they passed by.

"Not a chambermaid, she's a dog." Another said cruelly, mock whispering. "She go back where she came from."

The first nodded, laughing, "Yeah, a dog girl."

Lady Karei had heard it and shot a glare at the girls, "Shame on you! Saying those horrible things! It's improper for girls like you to talk such things." She scolded them.

The older girl gasped and hurriedly left the store with her friends in tow in flurries of colorful silks.

Lady Karei turned to Rin, "Do not listen or accept anything they say about you. You know very well it's not true. You're a wonderful girl." She stroked Rin's hair and sighed.

Rin blinked and said, "Lady Karei, what they say is true. I was once a commoner before I stared my life with Lord SesshoMaru. He is a inuyoukai, isn't he?"

Lady Karei frowned at Rin, unsure where the girl was going at. "Yes, he is, a great one at that. He rule the land we live on, these girls has no idea."

"Then, I am a dog girl as he is the inuyoukai." Rin said with finality and gestured to the store, "Shall we?"

Lady Karei knew there was no arguing with Rin and sighed, taking the girl's shoulder, she continued on in the shop, searching and buying supplies. "Come on, let's get what we needed and get back to the mansion."

Rin helped Lady Karei shopping, taking things and placing them in the basket as she followed the woman around. As they paid for their things, they left the shop. Rin saw someone she knew from the village; she parted from Lady Karei and went to greet the blacksmith, "Hello!"

He waved to her from his stall and she came up to him, smiling shyly, watching him pound at the metal, creating horseshoes.

"Hello yourself, girl. What's got you curious as a cat today?" The blacksmith asked, smiling through his thick-sooted moustache.

Rin leaned onto the counter that separated the blacksmith area from the road of the village. "What are you making today? What is it for? Have you ever made anything like an armor?" She asked all in one breath.

The man laughed as he tossed the horseshoe into the bucket of water, causing the water to hiss. "Just horseshoes today. Business's slow and yes, I've made armors before. They're rather strong."

Lady Karei came up to them, smiling. "Good day, Karou-san." She bowed and the man returned the bow. "Rin," She turned to the girl. "I'll be in the store for a bit." She gestured to the store across the street. Rin nodded and waved to her and turned back to the blacksmith.

"Why don't you make something different, how about weapons? You never know if the bad youkai would come around? I've seen some." Rin said as she grinned.

The man peered down at the girl over the anvil. "You think so? It has been rather quiet around here… you are giving me ideas." He smirked, his moustache quirked.

"I don't think it'll be quiet much longer soon." Rin rocked back and forth on her heels, watching Karou-san pull out a glowing red hot horseshoe from the coal and began to pound on it. "Since SesshoMaru-sama's not around, the others will come." Rin said, sadness tinged as she said SesshoMaru's name.

The man stopped his hammer-pounding and looked up to Rin. "True. Even I had nothing much else other than the horseshoes today, maybe I might work on my designs of arrowheads. I've been thinking about it for a while." He placed his hammer down and wiped his hands on the aprons and moved around in his shop.

"Really? You made some designs?" Rin asked eagerly as she watched him search for something and found a stack of parchments.

Karou-san brought the parchments in his hand over to Rin and started to lay them out on the countertop between him and the girl. "Here it is. The designs I came up, mightily vicious. I'll need to make them and see if they work." Rin glanced at the papers and saw several charcoal sketched images of arrowheads, all different shapes. Some had barbs on it, some were long and narrow while some were small and star shaped.

She exclaimed, "They're good!" She pointed to some, "This one should take down some smaller ones while these would take care of the bigger ones!"

"Rin! It's time to go!" Rin looked back to hear Lady Karei calling for her. She gave an apologetic look to the blacksmith and beamed widely at him. She bowed to him and ran out to find Lady Karei. The older woman smiled as Rin met up with her, "One more stop and we can head home."

Rin looked up to her foster mother, wondering something else. There had been a thought that had plagued her mind for a while. She decided it was time to ask, "Why doesn't SesshoMaru-sama like you?"

Lady Karei stopped, looking down to Rin, "What made you say that?"

Rin shrugged, "SesshoMaru doesn't like you, I can tell."

The older woman sighed, looking up to the sky. True, the taiyoukai didn't like human, with some exception for some. However, there were none she knew except for Rin. Though the question was direct, why did SesshoMaru dislike her? She was one of the fewest human that he was willing to talk to direcctily with respect.

Then it hit her, she nearly laughed. "He doesn't like me because he doesn't like human treating themselves as equal to him. He is the taiyoukai and it is in his mind that he is above all. Human are generally dirt on the under sole of his shoes."

Rin frowned, "So, that's SesshoMaru-sama."

Lady Karei chuckled as she patted Rin's head. "Ah, yes. I am afraid he doesn't like me because I do not fear him and see eye to eye with him and he dislikes that."

Rin grinned and followed Lady Karei into a large building in the village. The building was the meeting hall where the village gathered to meet. They entered and found several head men from the village gathered together, discussing various issues.

"Haken, what is it you called me here for?" Lady Karei asked as she bowed and walked up to the man who looked important. He was the head of the village, the next wealthy family to Lady Karei and his family ran the village for many generations, protecting the village and serving Lord SesshoMaru.

"Ah, Lady Karei." He bowed. "No troubles yet. Just needed to check on the inventory for the village, you are the last household."

Lady Karei nodded, adjusting hold on her basket and taking Rin's shoulder, holding the girl to her side, "Everything is good in my household. My inventory should last me for next two months."

"Two months? I thought it would be through the winter." Haken asked as he frowned.

Lady Karei smiled, "Rin here is the addition to the family, and she has been living with me in past month and will be for a long while. Didn't you forget?"

Haken looked down to Rin and smiled, "ah, that child. I heard from my son about you." He patted Rin's head.

"Lady Karei's face darkened, "Your son." She nearly spat.

The man sighed, "I know. He did say cruel things. But, let's not worry about that now. The reason why I am checking the inventory around the village is because we are going to have a little problem for the next supply feed. The farm is not producing enough because smaller youkais had been seen invading, eating the crops and stealing lately."

Little they knew that Rin was listening in and ideas were churning in her mind. Haken went into descript details on which kind of youkai were spotted, rats, crows and other critters from the youkai forest. It was almost as if they were being slowly pushed out of the forest into their village, also invading some houses. Rin frowned, remembering how Lord SesshoMaru had disliked those kind of pests invading his palace and remembered how he had done something to establish some kind of barrier to prevent them from invading any more.

"So, our next crop season will be smaller?" Lady Karei asked.

"Yes. We are trying to protect the crops. But I don't know what else we can do to get rid of them. We are dividing and rationing what we have for the village. We won't be able to sell and make profit this year."

Rin looked up to Haken and smiled. She had an idea and she would have to do it herself because she knew SesshoMaru had mentioned to her a long time ago that humans were not supposed to obtain or use youkai things because it would give them too much power. If she succeeded in helping to save the farm, maybe, maybe they would accept her somehow.

Lady Karei bowed and bade farewell, leaving the grand hall with Rin. Haken frowned as he watched the young girl following the woman. It had struck him odd that Rin had smiled at him as if she had something on her mind. Perhaps he should keep an eye on her and see what the girl will do. After all, he wasn't inclined to believe his son's cruel words. Rin may be different, that's granted she is a unique girl.

Later that night, Rin rose from her futon and silently dressed. She grabbed a bag and carefully slipped out of her window into the garden and made her way through the garden and through the back gate of the mansion. She had very little time and her task would take most of the night, she wanted to return before dawn. The moon was nearly full and she was able to find her way through the forest.

The forest behind the mansion was vast, but after two miles away from the village, the Youkai Forest begun from there. If she would walk several days, she would find herself deep in the heart of the Nishinihon and would be very close to SesshoMaru's hidden palace. But it wasn't necessary for her to go that far for she knew SesshoMaru wasn't there. She was glad she knew her way around the territory and made a quick travel toward where she wanted to go.

Though, where she wanted to go was a half day walk, so she ran. She dodged every obstacle easily with several years of traveling under her belt. It was very quiet this night and unafraid of any youkai attacking her since lately, they had been withdrawing from her when she was around. For that, she has no idea why and would like to know someday.

The moon started to dip lower in the sky, reaching the horizon. It was near morning and she finally reached where she wanted to be. She stopped before a foothill close to the mountain that bordered the western land. No smaller youkai treaded the foothill because of the rocks. These rocks proved to be some kind of warding to the youkais. She looked up and smiled, she had found what she was looking for.

Walking around, searching and remembering in the past, she was sent here with Jaken to gather the rocks to set up some kind of wards around SesshoMaru's domain. The rocks were unique and it was what she needed, though she needed the right sizes.

Smiling as she picked up rocks that were the size of her hands. She turned them over to see if they were strong or weak. The stronger one emitted low buzzing sound, inaudiable for the human ears, but somehow she was able to hear them. She placed several in her bag, filling it up. Morning was already approaching fast and she has to get back.

To youkai eyes and ears, the rocks were different. The rocks glowed yellowish and buzzed. The small critters hated the rocks, the buzz irritates their hearing and the glow stings their eyes as well the faint odor that irrigates their noses.

Running along the way back home, she ran hard and ignoring the heavy pack on her back. She had gotten home just before Lady Karei woke up. Slipping through the window, she froze as the servant passed by her door. She sighed as the servant were out of earshot and slipped back in and scrambled to shrug off her outer kimono and throwing it in the corner along with the other dirty ones she wore the day before. She crawled into her futon and pulled the cover to her chin. She slept for a bit until the servant came to wake her up.

She had hidden the bag of rocks behind the house in the bushes near her window. She knew no one would find the bag of rocks since it was hidden well, though if anyone would find it; it would appear to be a bag of plain rocks. The servants around the palace knew Rin has a hobby of gathering things from the forest.

She smiled happily, knowing she would be able to help the village. After she was roused, she washed and dressed and joined Lady Karei in the dining hall for breakfast. She went about eating as fast as she could.

"Rin, Rin-chan! What in the world is wrong with you today?" Lady Karei asked as she sipped her tea, watching the child eating at breakneck speed, behaving so unlady-like.

"Gomen ne, I want to go outside today. May I?" She asked as she slowed her eating pace, looking up to the older woman.

Lady Karei chuckled as she nodded, "Very well if you are so eagar. At least be a proper lady and eat slowly. I do not want to see that again."

Rin bowed, "Gomen, gomen ne. May I go out now?"

"Yes, you may, but come back for lunch. You have calligraphy lesson this afternoon."

"Arigato!" Rin said as she sprinted out of the dining hall and made her way out of the mansion. She went around and grabbed the bag and made her way out of the mansion ground toward the farm. She reached the farm deftly as she could, avoiding other children and adults, she didn't want anyone to stop her on her mission.

As she reached the village's large farm, it spread several miles out across the field outside the village. It was divided in several sections for different crops, the nearest section to the village was for smaller vegetations, and she would begin there. Hiding in the bushes nearby, she watched the farmer go about, waiting for the right opportune moment to plant the rocks. She would only plant them near the crops, but not too near knowing the farmers would dig them out and toss them away.

She left the bushes and went to the corner of the section and started to plant the rocks. She did not bury them completely; they needed to be sticking out of the ground in order to work. She worked most morning around one section; it would take her time to complete the entire farm. But she knew it would be worth it. She watched as a small youkai critter come out of the forest, heading to the crops and saw it squeal and scramble away, the rocks barrier worked. She smiled and went back home to get ready for lunch.

Haken stood before the farm near the village with several other farmers; it was near the end of the season, almost time to harvest. "You're telling me this now? The crops are thriving and not a single bite from the vermins?"

One of the farmer nodded, baffled. "Yes, Haken-sama. It started sometime early in the season, they just stopped coming around. We have not seen hide or hair of those vermin anymore. Look like we will have plentiful supply this year, perhaps more than ever."

Haken rubbed his chin, thinking. "Good. Something must have been done to ward off the vermin. At least the gods are on our side."

Rin looked up from the flower garden near the farm. It had taken her a long time to plant the rocks around the farm and she was finished. Smiling proud at herself for helping the farm, even if no one would ever know. She stood up and walked away with basket full of flower to give to Lady Karei.

Haken turned his head, spotting Rin in the garden; she was walking away, smiling. He frowned, he had been keeping close eye on her in the past season, hearing from others that she had been spotted around the farm every day in the past season. Many farmers had assumed she was helping out, they had reported that she was taking rocks from the farms for them, having seen her filling her bags with rocks and leaving. But in fact, Rin was taking just plain rocks.

He suspected she had done something to help the farm after all. His son had called her 'Demon Child' out of cruelty. But he knew it was partly true since he was told by Lady Karei that she was left by a youkai, but not just any youkai, the taiyoukai who ruled the land they lived on. Rin had shown that she was intelligent and very curious child, always asking questions that no children should be concerned about. Sometime, she had offered suggestions and ideas that no one had ever thought of, most of the time, the others had ignored her and turned her away until nothing else worked.

He had his suspicions about Rin. She had done something to the farm, seeing she has more knowledge about the youkai world. The village has never been so peaceful like this in the past and less youkai came around than ever. Their farm was thriving and it was guaranteed that the village would make triple profit this season since they had more than enough food to last through the winter.

Haken knew the girl hang around with the blacksmith every so often, offering the old man companion. He had found the blacksmith Auren had already made an entire armory full of weapons, armors and many other things for warfare. The weapons and armors were better than the old designs, promising to hold better against the youkai.

Auren-san had reported that he has been more inspired than ever, creating wonderful things with metals and said it was because of Rin. Auren-san had also mentioned that Rin believe the youkai would come around someday soon and the village need to be ready for them. Rin's wild tale had inspired Auren to create those wonderful and powerful new weapons and armors. Indeed, Auren had sold the weapons and armors to other villages and made huge profit for himself.


Two years later, Haken went up to Lady Karei. "Lady Karei, have you noticed that in the past couple years, the village's finance had been improved and the farm thrived?"

"Yes." The woman poured tea for her old friend. "Why do you ask that?"

The man leaned against the table, sipping the tea, "I think Rin is responsible for everything."

Rin, having passed by the dining hall, she swallowed hard as she listened in.

Lady Karei looked curious and placed her cup down. "Rin?"

Haken smiled, looking at the woman whom he knew since childhood. "I don't know. Ever since she came here, things have improved from better to best. The weapons, Auren-san says it was Rin who inspired him. As for the other supplies, I checked, every time, somewhere, Rin was always mentioned."

Lady Karei smiled, "I don't know much. Rin go out as she please as long she does not cause trouble. Has she?"

Haken shook his head. "No, in fact, I appreciate it. But I do want to know how and why she does it."

"Rin keeps things to herself most of the time. She is very smart girl, very special. I enjoy having her around so much that…" She frowned as she looked down to her tea, her voice becoming almost a whisper. "That SesshoMaru-sama would not come back for her."

Rin gasped as she heard, despite being a low whisper, she could hear it clear as bell. She turned and ran off, searching for solace, a place where she enjoyed her time and peace alone the most, the Youkai Forest.


AN:

Sorry for the long wait. I got bad case of writer's block and I'm having difficult time getting around to writing. I'd like to finish Water and Fire and start on A Night with Daiyoukai soon, I'd like to get few chapters for ANwD before I start posting it in Feb. Things has been crazy for me lately and this week, I'm experiencing the worse period ever, cramps every day, it's not fun.

Thank you for your support and I'm glad you like the rewrite of the story. I'll get chapter 4 around soon, not sure when. Hugs!