I'm truly sorry for taking so long to update this story. I suffered from a terrible WB in this fic for a while. But, now I'm back with some excellent ideas! I've also rewritten parts of the previous chapters, but nothing that changes the plot, so feel free to skip rereading the whole story.
A huge 'thank you' to my lovely Beta, "Beloved Stranger", for her tremendous assistance. I'm dedicating this chapter to her because I couldn't have overcome my horrible writer's block without her help ^^
"Kagome-sama, you should stay here and recover. I'll go and inform Inuyasha-sama of your location," the old flea youkai suggested as he finally shrunk back to his regular size.
"Thank you, Myouga-jiichan," Kagome said grateful to the tiny youkai while still lying down, feeling exhausted from her recent ordeal.
After the old flea had left, silence filled the clearing, and Kagome took the chance to study the male standing tall beside her.
"Sesshoumaru, I know this is probably trivial to you, but did you by any chance retrieve the Shikon fragment from that disgusting corpse?" she asked softly in a careful tone.
"Miko, you were almost defiled again and you worry for a cursed jewel? Either your sense of duty is remarkable or you have suffered a head injury," the daiyoukai remarked tilting his head to the side to pin her with a quizzical stare.
"I'll take that as a compliment. Coming from you, I guess this is as close to praise as anyone has ever gotten," she replied dryly, closing her eyes tired.
"A head injury then," he surmised from her wry reply, making her open her eyes abruptly to look at him incredulously.
"I was aware from our previous encounters that you might have a sense of humor, albeit a very dry one, but it never ceases to surprise me every single time you crack a joke," the miko commented with wide eyes.
"Your manner of speech is more peculiar than this one's supposed attempts at humor, miko," he countered smoothly in his usual rich baritone.
"Oh, don't try to wiggle your away out of this. Even a pathetic human woman can understand when she's being made fun of," she shot back mimicking his eyebrow raising signature.
"It was a mere observation, miko. Should this one revert back into silence?" he answered her raising an elegant, arched eyebrow in turn.
"No! I, uh, quite enjoy hearing you talk. I mean you talk on such rare occasions and I like hearing your voice; even if you're insulting me," she explained turning bright crimson, afraid he would make true on his suggestion.
'God, can you be more lame, Kagome? Seriously, that was the best I could come up with? Now he'll think I'm one of these stalker girls! Damn his sensual, enthralling voice!' she thought furiously appalled by her growing addiction to him.
He simply regarded her through narrowed eyes for a moment then turned his whole attention to the serene sky.
"You, uh, you don't have to stick around you know. I mean, Inuyasha will be here any moment now, and I'm sure you have better things to do than standing guard for a helpless, stupid miko," she blurted out fidgeting with the hem of her blouse.
"This one is reluctant to leave until your protector arrives. You seem to be prone to attracting unexpected attacks, miko," he answered in a serious tone.
"I think I can survive on my own for a few minutes. Besides, why would you even bother protecting me? Rin-chan is your charge. You should be worrying about her. Where is Rin-chan?" Kagome asked worried about the bubbly little girl. She usually never left her lord's side.
"Rin is safe away from here. This mountain is dangerous for humans as you have already learned, miko. One would be considered foolish to allow his ward to be placed in such danger," he commented with a disapproving glance towards her.
"I may be human, Sesshoumaru, but I am the protector of the Shikon jewel and a grown woman," she shot back feeling a bit insulted.
"This Sesshoumaru is aware of that, miko," the daiyoukai confessed in a low rumbling voice, pinning her with an intense stare that left her speechless.
'I-is he saying what I think he's saying? This is bad, this is very bad…' Kagome wondered flushed, suddenly feeling a tingling, warm sensation in her chest.
"KAGOME!" a loud yell broke through her musings as the familiar crimson clothed hanyou came into sight.
"Inuyasha…" the miko murmured relieved to see him uninjured, but feeling a pang of regret as her much desired time alone with Sesshoumaru had come to an abrupt end.
"What happened, Kagome? Are you alright?" the silver haired hanyou fussed anxiously when he saw her pitiful state.
"I'm a little worse for wear, but nothing I won't get over after a few hours of rest. Did you manage to catch that effeminate guy? He is a guy, right?" Kagome replied with a reassuring smile, wisely omitting what exactly had transpired as she didn't wish to worry her friend needlessly.
However, her vague answer evidently had the opposite result as the daiyoukai intervened with a harsh comment, taking it upon himself to inform his half brother of the terrible situation she had gotten herself involved.
"You have no right to question her well being, hanyou. You left your pack unprotected in enemy territory to foolishly pursue an elusive target. Are you truly a son of our great Father? He may have been lacking in other areas; however, he always considered the pack's safety and protection foremost," Sesshoumaru admonished with obvious disapproval coating his seemingly impassive tone.
"Stay out of my pack's problems, asshole! You have denied any relation to me countless times before. What gives you the right to interfere now?" the dog eared hanyou accused the stoic inuyoukai angrily.
"Inuyasha! Sesshoumaru was kind enough to offer me help and protection. The least you could do is thank him, not throw insults thoughtlessly," Kagome interrupted their staring contest with righteous indignation burning strongly in the depths of her sapphire gaze.
"He…saved you? That's it! Tell me what happened right NOW!" Inuyasha demanded thoroughly enraged at her cryptic replies.
"Hn. Is it not obvious, hanyou? They are not called the Band of Seven without a reason. While you pursued an enemy, another one of their entourage attacked your pack," the daiyoukai clarified with contempt before Kagome had a chance to explain more smoothly, causing the hanyou to lower his troubled eyes with shame.
"This Sesshoumaru is warning you for the last time, Inuyasha. Act in a manner befitting the alpha of your pack or this one will be forced to assume that role for you. No son of Inu no Taishou will disgrace his name in my presence; even a bastard," the regal demon threatened in a deep growl, displeasure leaking through his previously stoic expression.
'Alpha!? Great, this has turned into a frat paternity contest now…' Kagome stifled a laugh at the weird pack mechanics the daiyoukai evoked to chastise his brother.
"It's alright, Sesshoumaru. Look, I'm fine and nothing really happened. It's not Inuyasha's fault I seem to find myself in these precarious situations all the time," the miko laughed nervously, trying to smooth things out as she saw the hanyou hang his head lower in regret.
"It was fortunate this Sesshoumaru arrived in time, miko. Contemplate on what would have happened if this one had not offered assistance," he replied in a softer timbre lacing his rich baritone as he gave her an elegant nod before turning to leave, and Kagome shivered as she recalled chubby, filthy fingers bruising her skin.
"Sesshoumaru!" the hanyou hollered, albeit more subdued now, "I'll pay you back this debt sometime."
"Hn. This one holds no high expectations of you, hanyou. Do not forget this Sesshoumaru's warning; protect your pack. I will not be as lenient next time if you do not adhere to this rule," the daiyoukai replied in his usual dispassionate manner without even turning to acknowledge his brother as he took to the skies gracefully.
"He is right this time…" the hanyou muttered dejectedly as he looked at Kagome with apologetic pleading eyes.
"Your brother overreacted like he's known to do on occasion. Everything has to be so freaking intense where he's concerned, Inuyasha. I know you wouldn't leave me alone to fend for myself if you knew the danger," Kagome tried to comfort him, but the hurt in his citrine eyes intensified after her kind words.
"I'm sorry…I'll never leave you alone while we are on this mountain again," he promised in a stronger voice as he came closer and helped her to his back.
"I let my guard down, baka! It's not your fault this happened. I'll be more alert next time," the priestess returned as she huffed, wincing silently when his rough hands squeezed her abused thighs.
"Keh…I'm telling you, you don't have to, wench! I'll protect you," the dog eared hanyou vowed with utter conviction, trying not to jostle the woman as he made his way back to the others.
They were almost halfway through when Inuyasha noticed the slight trembling of the miko as she clutched his shoulders a little harder than usual. He immediately stopped, worried she might be feigning strength when, in reality, she had been injured badly. Placing her softly on the ground, he kneeled in front of her with an inquiring stare, checking her all over for evident injuries. His amber eyes darkened with fury when he spotted the purplish bruises high on her thighs while she squirmed uncomfortably under his close scrutiny.
"Kagome…I think it's time you told me the truth. What happened to you? What did that jerk save you from?" he asked in an unyielding tone, pinning her with a hard stare.
"I was attacked by a member of the band of seven. I didn't lie, Inuyasha. He was a bit rough on me…that's all," the miko confessed with averted eyes, suppressing tears as he examined her legs intently, reminding her of other hands assaulting her helpless form.
'Do not think of it, do not think of it, do not think of it…' she repeated the mantra frantically inside her mind, hoping to erase the vile sensations from resurfacing.
"He was rough while trying to do what exactly? These are finger marks on your legs, woman!" Inuyasha exploded feeling his blood boil by the implications her injuries attested.
'Think of happy thoughts…yes, nice thoughts…like…like...' she prayed silently with all her might, trying to come up with a distraction.
"You already know the answer to that. Don't make me say it aloud. It's bad enough that it happened…" she whispered still avoiding making eye contact with him.
Then she felt a gentle pressure on her jaw forcing her to turn towards him, and found herself looking at liquid gold orbs, full of emotion; sadness, regret, shame, outrage.
Another pair of deep aureate eyes came to her mind as she stared enthralled; different in shape and depth. Captivating eyes slanted elegantly with long thick eyelashes, black slit pupils encased in dark gold as it lightened spreading around the edges, accentuated with eyelids painted in alluring magenta single stripes. Amongst perfect features etched in a perpetual stoic expression, these eyes alone shone with intensity as they revealed a glimpse of the raging storm or the soothing calm hidden underneath the apathetic exterior.
"-ry…I'm so sorry…" Inuyasha's broken voice sneaked through her musings, and she shook her head, clearing the desirable images of those unreal eyes.
"I don't blame you, Inuyasha. It's okay, it's okay…" she murmured again and again as she stroked his silver mane while he pressed his face in her soft stomach, clutching desperately her waist, seeking her forgiveness.
They remained like that for a short time until his back stopped shaking and he released her with an unreadable expression. She quietly allowed him to carry her again, but this time she noticed the slight tremor in his hands as they pressed far more softly against her thighs.
With the Shichinintai
"Mukotsu is dead? Who killed him?" Bankotsu demanded to know when Kohaku brought the news of his band mate's recent death.
"It was Inuyasha's older brother, Sesshoumaru," the dispassionate boy replied with a blank expression.
"Another hanyou?" Renkotsu inquired curiously, narrowing his eyes at the teenage boy.
"No, a full blooded daiyoukai with tremendous power. It would be wise not to engage him in combat thoughtlessly," the young slayer advised and Renkotsu left, mumbling something about new plans and improvements on Ginkotsu.
"This was not our agreement, boy. Who else are we going up against here? You better tell the whole truth this time," Bankotsu threatened the boy, grabbing the hilt of his great sword, Banryuu as a warning.
"Ne, ne, Kohaku-chan, forget about the brother! Tell me of my cute Inuyasha some more!" Jakotsu interrupted excitedly as Bankotsu scowled slightly then laughed dismissing the boy completely. He would take care of whoever came at them; no need to worry with the added power of the Shikon jewels.
"What do you wish to know, Jakotsu-san?" the taijiya complied, focusing empty eyes at the flamboyant man.
"We~ll, tell me about his love life! Do I have a rival for his heart?" Jakotsu exclaimed with an expectant look upon his face.
"Yes, she is a miko by the name of Kikyou. She also has a vendetta against Naraku for killing her, and has been brought back to life much like you. Her life is not tied to a Shikon jewel, but she might be carrying fragments of it. If you chance upon her, you are to take them from her, but not kill her. Those are Naraku's express orders," Kohaku explained in detail as the mercenary fumed in outrage.
"He loves a woman!? How dare he betray my pure feelings like that? Didn't our swords resonate when we touched tips? I thought we had a connection! Don't worry Kohaku-chan. Naraku will get his shards soon enough because I will personally seek this bitch out!" Jakotsu promised with vehemence as his pretty face distorted in an evil mask.
In the abandoned hut
"Kagome!" a blur of auburn hair and caramel fur rushed towards the miko and the hanyou as they entered the old hut.
"Keep it down, brat! She's injured and we don't want to alert anyone to our presence here," Inuyasha scolded the fox child whose eyes watered at the pitiful sight Kagome presented.
"A-are you alright, Kagome?" Shippou whispered between sniffs, taking the hanyou's advice to heart.
"I'm fine, Shippou-chan. The bad guy didn't hurt me," the miko reassured the distressed kitsune with a gentle smile as Inuyasha placed her beside Sango's reclining form on the soft hay bed.
"I'm glad Inuyasha made it in time, Kagome-chan. When Shippou-chan told us of your ambush by the shichinintai, we wanted to come and help; however, in my condition and with the poison fumes all around, we'd have only been a burden," the slayer commented in an apologetic tone, inching forward to hug her friend in a loose embrace.
"You'd have endangered yourselves needlessly, Sango-chan. As you can see, I wasn't severely injured and Inuyasha came to retrieve me," the priestess replied, secretly agreeing with the monk's logic, knowing for sure it was his idea. Her beloved sister would have fought tooth and nail before Miroku must have convinced her to sit tight and entrust her rescue to Inuyasha, the miko thought smiling warmly at the man. He merely inclined his head towards her in understanding of the silent exchange.
"Keh, you don't have to sugarcoat it, woman. I wasn't the one who saved you…" the hanyou intervened his words coated in self loathing.
"Then who assisted in Kagome-sama's rescue?" Miroku asked curiously with a perplexed expression.
"Sesshoumaru…" the fox child whispered in awe as he delicately sniffed his surrogate mother.
"Yeah, Sesshoumaru appeared out of a sudden and literally extinguished that walking corpse," Kagome confirmed in disgust, ruffling her kit's copper locks.
"Well, in any case, I'm happy you're alright," Sango exhaled a long sigh at the news of the daiyoukai's timely appearance, but graced her friend with a look that promised this would not be the end of the discussion.
'I'll give you the details later, you curious cat," Kagome communicated through a pointed stare at the slayer who nodded in agreement.
"What is the plan of action now? Sango and Kagome-sama are injured. Surely, it would be dangerous to move in their fragile condition," Miroku explained their difficult situation in short.
"You'll stay here and guard the women, monk. I'll search the area for possible threats. I'll be back after I make sure no one is spying on us again," Inuyasha ordered with a tone that left no room for rebuttal, and turned to walk outside.
"Be careful!" the miko shouted with worry lacing her voice.
"Keh, just stay put until I get back," the hanyou returned with a snort, leaving the hut.
At Mt. Hakurei's foothills
"Well, well, well…so you are the dead miko? The woman who stole my Inuyasha's heart?" Jakotsu spat with a sickeningly sweet voice as he faced off with the rigid priestess.
"Who are you? You do not seem to be one of Naraku's incarnations," Kikyou guessed correctly, staring at the strange man with cool eyes.
"Would you look at that! She's smart, too. Didn't anyone ever tell you women should act coy instead of smart if they wish to keep a man's interest? Tsk, tsk, tsk…I can't believe Inuyasha would fall for the intellectual type. You must have bewitched him with a spell," Jakotsu accused the stoic woman, licking the sharp blade of his sword while smirking playfully.
"I do not have time for your games. Whoever you are, stand down or I will exterminate you," the miko warned coldly, tightening her grasp on the wooden bow as she slowly notched an arrow and aimed straight at his heart with focused dark orbs.
"Who's playing games here, Kikyou-chan? I can tell the holy aura of this mountain weakens you greatly. Don't act tough…I can see right through your bluff!" Jakotsu roared with a maniacal laugh as he charged towards the dead miko in a fluid movement.
Kikyou watched carefully his various feints, slightly repositioning her aim, trying to predict his next move accordingly. She recognized her chance when he suddenly jumped into the air at her left, raising his hand to release an attack with his strange sword. With great precision, the arrow whistled through the air, heading straight at his heart, but was swiftly split in half when he lowered his arm in a fast motion. Kikyou winced when she felt the bite of steel on her right shoulder. The thin blade had slashed through her arrow easily, and continued its course as it ended up embedding at the edge of her right shoulder. With a sadistic grin, he flicked his wrist, summoning the sword back while it sliced through her flesh, deepening the wound and her agony.
"Aw, you didn't think it would be that easy, right? I thought you were smart…" he taunted her in a sing song voice when he landed gracefully, and started circling her with a bloodthirsty expression.
"It was that sword you wield. I could barely see it, but it extended and cut through my arrow and shoulder," she concluded calmly, erecting a barrier to give her time to prepare for her next attack since her movement would now be slower due to her severe injury. She could barely hold her bow straight anymore. She only had strength for another shot, so she had to make it count; otherwise, this was the end for her.
"Correct. You get a prize for guessing that! What should I give you? Hm…Ooh, I know! I'll let you borrow my red paste! Your deathly lips look like they could use some color…of course, if they bled, it would be even more beautiful!" he yelled snapping his wrist to extend the snake like sword, which stretched for a distance behind the barrier then curved as it quickly retracted. He then began running towards her tall form, trapping her in an attack from both sides; front and back.
"Fool, you cannot penetrate my barrier," Kikyou remarked with certainty in her strong voice as she aimed another arrow at his chest, but was slightly wavering from the blood loss.
"Hee, we shall see about that, Kikyou-chan," he shot back in a mocking tone with a calculative glint in his dark gaze as he easily dodged the arrow with a sprint to the left, and flipped his wrist in a fast motion.
"Why did you not destr-" the miko tried to ask with a puzzled expression, but she abruptly found herself unable to move, trapped inside a metallic cage comprised of his sword's numerous blades as they cut throughout her whole body viciously, creating small bleeding lacerations and shredding her miko garb to expose her wounded flesh.
"How?" she inquired with slightly wide eyes, staring at the grinning man approaching her leisurely.
"It's not that hard to guess when your barrier would be vulnerable, Kikyou-chan. It's a basic battle tactic. When one is on the attack, the defense loosens and vice versa. You weakened your barrier all on your own for me. I only had to wait for the opportune moment to strike!" he explained with a sardonic smirk as hit the back of her neck, knocking her out.
Back at the village
"This scent…Show yourself, coward! I know you're here!" Inuyasha yelled angrily, drawing his demonic sword which instantly transformed.
"What a cruel greeting. And here I thought you'd be happy to see me; considering you went through the trouble of chasing after me before. Aaaa, boys always treat their crushes like that. I guess that means you must really like me!" Jakotsu giggled blushing as he appeared in front of the hanyou with a slight sway.
"Don't bullshit with me, freak! The only thing I'd like to do to you is send you back to the hole from whence you crawled out! Fucking corpse…I can barely stand your disgusting smell!" the dog eared hanyou spat with disdain etched on his features as he wrinkled his nose.
"Now, now…I don't believe my scent offends you. Quite the contrary, you must loooove this smell. After all, your beloved clay miko should have the same scent as I do; graveyard soil. You are a terrible liar, Inuyasha…" Jakotsu laughed delighted, egging him on.
"Y-you…how do you know about Kikyou? What have you done to her? If you've hurt even a single hair on her head, I swear I'll-" Inuyasha threatened furiously only to stop immediately when he took notice of the familiar hair tie on the human's wrist.
"Aahh, you finally noticed, huh? Guess to whom this little ornament belongs…I'll give you a hint! Obviously it's a woman; though, I can't understand what you see in her...even corpses have more warmth than her. Oops, I forgot! She is the walking dead!" Jakotsu erupted in a loud fit of hysterical laughter, holding his stomach as he wiped tears from his eyes.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP! Where is she!?" The silver haired hanyou finally snapped, releasing a menacing growl that amused the other man further.
"You reaaally want to know? Hm, what should I do? Should I tell you? Oh, alright, I'll tell you on one condition. BE MINE!" the effeminate male exclaimed with passion glazed eyes as he rushed towards the hanyou, raising his long sword with a battle cry in a straight forward attack that caught the hanyou by surprise.
"What's your trick now, bastard? I know you are a long range fighter," Inuyasha asked confused as he parried the attack with a powerful block that shook through him, and he nearly lost his balance.
"Aww, you have been watching me fight…I do prefer long range combat, but isn't this more intimate? You are definitely worth the risk of a few cuts here and there. Hm…now that I think of it, cutting you up and close makes it all the more worth it!" Jakotsu licked his upper crimson lip suggestively while he began a fast barrage of slashes, forcing the hanyou to defend as he reluctantly took a few steps back.
"You're crazy! Fucking asshole, tell me where Kikyou is! I'm done playing games with you!" Inuyasha roared enraged, pushing the human back violently with a sudden burst of force, as he put some distance between them, and raised Tetsusaiga to release a Wind Scar.
"Kaze no Kizu!" he yelled as he swung his sword fast, delivering the wind attack, and a bright yellow glow covered the field. Long gashes marred the charred ground in the aftermath of his attack and he panted slightly, trying to regain his battle posture.
"Shame, you were so close! I do love seeing you swing your big sword around; though, if only you weren't so impatient…" a loud voice caused him to look up with an alarmed expression, realizing a bit too late the implications of opting for such a large scale attack. It left him completely open should it fail, which is exactly what had happened now.
Jakotsu swiftly lowered his gleaming blade in a precise strike, slashing deeply across the hanyou's chest as he landed on his knee in front of Inuyasha's feet elegantly, reveling in the rain of blood gushing out of the large wound, and coating his face. He tilted his head back, parting his lips to let his tongue get soaked at the sweet metallic taste of his prey's lifeblood.
"Mmm…you taste so divine, Inuyasha…" he murmured breathlessly with an insane glint in the depths of his darkened gaze as he dragged his tongue over his lips, licking the remaining crimson liquid.
"B-bastard...w-where is K-Kikyou?" Inuyasha sputtered, experiencing difficulty breathing while blood clogged his throat, thin rivulets leaking from the corners of his mouth as he gagged and coughed harshly. The slash must have reached his lungs, causing severe internal wounds.
"You're still spewing such nonsense? Look at yourself! You're half dead yet all you can think of is Kikyou! I'll kill that bitch right now and make you see there's no one better than me!" Jakotsu hissed furiously, all signs of joy erased from his previously ecstatic face as he turned, walking towards a large bush with measured steps.
Inuyasha surrendered to his knees, not able to support his body weight on his unsteady feet anymore as he watched helplessly Jakotsu dragging an unconscious, bloodied Kikyou towards him.
"W-what have you d-done to her?" the silver haired hanyou croaked in a hoarse whisper upon witnessing her listless form getting mauled through the dirt.
"Oh, nothing much. Just roughed her up a little bit since she was being uncooperative," the devilish human replied as he kicked Kikyou in her ribcage hard, and the sound of bones breaking echoed brutally, sending her sprawling right into the hanyou's open arms.
"K-Kikyou…" Inuyasha murmured softly, cradling her broken body as he caressed her ashen cheek gently, but she neither moved nor acknowledged his touch in any way. Tetsusaiga slipped from his loose hold as he shook her lightly, trying desperately to elicit a response from her rigid form.
Vermillion started to bleed through his hazy amber orbs as an ear splitting roar echoed in his ears at the sight of her abused state. Jagged stripes appeared on his cheeks as a gust of wind enveloped him, causing his silver strands to flail wildly all around his battered form. Faint smoke sizzled from his deep wound while it began regenerating slowly, filling his exhausted body with newfound strength. His vision blurred, erasing anything from his optic field but his gaping opponent as all reason disappeared within his mind. Placing the limp miko on the blood soaked ground in a rare gentle manner while ruled by his inner beast, he snarled in outrage at the man who was responsible for wounding her.
"I-Inuyasha…is that you? I thought you were only a hanyou, darling. Why did you keep this lovely secret from me? Mmm…your feral side is turning me on more…Come at me!" Jakotsu provoked in a sultry, hoarse voice while the hanyou, who was completely ruled by his demon instincts now, charged wildly at the beckoning mortal.
Jakotsu flicked his wrist in a fluid movement, stretching his sword far to attack the hanyou from the flank, deciding to keep his distance for the time being until he ascertained how strong his opponent had become. Inuyasha's enhanced senses quickly caught the sneak attack, and he jumped high forward, avoiding the dangerous blade as he was propelled right before Jakotsu in a low crouch. Releasing a guttural growl, he swiped his claws at the shocked human's neck, who had no time to react or call his sword back as he sliced at the tender skin, tearing at the human's windpipe viciously. Jakotsu's eyes widened in surprise as he swayed unsteadily on his feet.
"I..nu..ya..sha…" he gasped weakly as he started to fall back whilst disintegrating into misty dust.
A couple of Naraku's poison insects appeared suddenly, hovering above the pile of ashes that used to be the fallen member of the shichinintai. Inuyasha snarled furiously as he vaguely recognized the cursed insects even through his bloody haze. They quickly flew away from the feral hanyou, carrying the gleaming shikon fragment back to their master.
Inuyasha started to follow the Saimyoushou, relying heavily on instincts, but was held back by a strange resonance deep in his blood, calling for his dormant human side to awaken. His heart skipped a beat, and he turned looking around frantically for the source of this strong pull. As if by an invisible force, his feet began moving involuntarily towards the fallen miko's form, beckoning him to come closer. When he reached her side, his pulse accelerated as his heart beat increased, threatening to burst from his chest. Reluctantly, his hand tremblingly reached lower and lower until his fingers touched the familiar metal of his father's fang. The pull intensified, forcing him to clutch the hilt strongly as the red tint started to recede from his vision and he shook his head, trying to clear the bloodlust that had possessed him. Then his red rimmed golden orbs focused on the injured miko, and a grief laden scream escaped his throat.
"Kikyou! Kikyou! Open your eyes…please!" he pleaded now in complete control of his instincts as he rocked her blood soaked form back and forth while shimmering tears fell from his eyes. She couldn't have died again. No, this couldn't happen now.
"K-Kagome…" he whispered then suddenly as the thought of the young miko broke through his pain. Maybe she could help his former love like she had done countless times before.
"Hang on, Kikyou. I'll get you help. You will not leave me again, woman! Just hang on…" he commanded hoarsely as he pushed his battered body to the limits, carrying the unconscious miko in his arms while heading back to the hut.
Meanwhile in the hut
"Aaah, two lovely ladies laid on the soft hay for my delight; indeed a sight for sore eyes…If only I was not burdened with keeping vigilance and could join you…" Miroku exhaled a long sigh while he gazed longingly towards the scowling women.
"If you don't stop with your delusional fantasies, I will grant your wish, monk! You will not be getting up for a long time either…" Sango hissed through gritted teeth, wincing slightly when she jolted her injured side.
"Sango-chan, don't move around too much! Your wound has barely started healing. We don't want it to start bleeding again," Kagome admonished, as she fussed over the pouting slayer, while Miroku looked repentant for having caused pain to his beloved inadvertently. Kirara mewled weakly, nuzzling the slayer's side affectionately.
"I'm sorry for making you worry, Kirara. The poison must still be causing you pain," Sango petted the tiny youkai.
Abruptly, the ground began shaking slightly, causing everyone to look around in alarm.
"What is this? An earthquake?" Kagome wondered with a perplexed expression, but before she had a chance to ascertain her guess, a metallic claw broke through the hut's thin wall, heading straight towards her. The steely appendage circled her waist, biting painfully into her sides as she was dragged violently outside while it retracted quickly.
"Kagome!" Shippou screamed frightened as he ran frantically after his surrogate mother.
"I will rescue Kagome-sama, my dear Sango. Please stay here where you will be safe. We must not increase the number of hostages," Miroku stated seriously, appealing to the taijiya's battle sense pleadingly as he, too, followed after the panicked kit, clenching his staff tightly.
His indigo gaze widened when he caught sight of his opponent. It was a strange mix of human and metal with various artillery equipped on his large body. The 'human' laughed evilly while shaking the miko up and down without care for her injuries, bashing in satisfaction for his feat.
"Hehehe…I've got the Shikon Miko! The shards are now mine!" he exclaimed gleefully, while Kagome moaned in agony when the claws ripped her delicate skin, thin trails of blood seeping through her clothes to drip down her legs.
"Release Kagome-sama immediately, fiend!" the houshi demanded in a strong voice as he slowly unwrapped the beads, which sealed his wind tunnel. However, he faltered slightly when he spotted the familiar poison insects surrounding the metal giant, ready to pounce at the first sign of his Kazaana. Shippou saw the monk's hesitation as well, and became more worried now.
"M-Miroku?" he questioned, his small frame shaking in fear, torn between the desire to help the miko, but not wanting to be in the way.
"It will be alright, Shippou. Inuyasha will return shortly. We will simply have to hold on until he comes," the houshi smiled reassuringly at the fox child, who gained a sliver of confidence in turn.
"Let me down, you metal junk!" Kagome screeched, flailing around helplessly, and trying to blast the damn thing with some reiki balls in hopes of blinding him, but kept missing as he shook her around like a rugged puppet.
"I am Ginkotsu of the Band of Seven," the bizarre creature revealed, unperturbed by the priestess's weak attempts to get free.
"Do you have lead in your brain as well? We figured that out ages ago!" Kagome taunted him in a desperate attempt to anger the corpse, hoping he would release his hold on her if she riled him up enough.
"Shut up, woman!" Ginkotsu yelled offended, smashing her to the ground forcefully. Kagome hit her head hard, causing a wave of dizziness to overcome her as she fought to stay conscious.
"Kagome-chan!" Sango shouted as she appeared at the hut's entrance, leaning heavily on her hiraikotsu for balance.
"Sango! I told you to stay inside!" Miroku chastised her while running to her side with a worried expression on his handsome features.
"My friend is in danger, monk! I will not stand by idly and watch her get injured again if I can help it! Kirara is in no position to assist, but I'll help in any way I can!" the slayer countered stubbornly, and the monk sighed, recognizing there was no way to convince her to stand down willingly.
"Very well. Promise me you will not act reckless and attack thoughtlessly though," the houshi pleaded with the slayer as he pinned her with a beseeching look.
"The same applies for you, too," Sango conceded with a sweet smile, steeling herself as she wielded her giant boomerang and prepared to attack.
Before she was given a chance to perform her attack though, a hissing sound came from Ginkotsu, and her eyes widened as she watched in horror a barrage of razor-edged disks flying towards their direction.
"Disperse!" Miroku yelled, pushing the slayer out of the way as he dove to the ground while Shippou ran amok right and left, trying to avoid the deadly objects.
"What in the name of all that is holy is that thing!?" Sango asked appalled, crawling on the ground towards the monk a few feet away, waiting for Ginkotsu's ammunition to end.
"I am not sure, but I do not wish to be a sitting target. We need to move around, give him more targets to aim at and confuse him. I will act as the decoy since my Kazaana is not usable in this fight and try to distract him. Attack him from a blind spot when you see an opening," Miroku hastily explained their fighting plan, pinning the slayer with an intense, blazing stare which stole her breath away.
"Don't hesitate. Take your chance even if it will get me involved as well," the houshi ordered heatedly in an unwavering voice before crashing his lips against hers in a brief, scorching kiss.
"You damn monk! You better survive to receive your just punishment for this or I'll hunt you even to the afterlife!" Sango yelled after him astonished, gluing her chocolate eyes at his advancing form as she tried to compose herself after his bold move.
"Kagome-sama, can you keep throwing reiki orbs at him?" Miroku shouted while dodging an oncoming razor disk to the left with a quick jump.
"You can count on it! I'll do you one better, too!" Kagome replied in deep focus while forcing pure blinding energy to surround her form, creating a brilliant glow that swallowed them both.
"What have you done, woman!?" Ginkotsu accused enraged at the miko, blinking wildly as his retinas were nearly destroyed by the intense sudden light.
"This is a fight, moron! Did you expect me to take it easy and sip some tea or something?" Kagome snorted, wincing in pain as her sides protested from the excruciating pain, but she still managed to raise her leg and a deliver a kick to his face, taking him by surprise. He took a step back disoriented from the unexpected attack still trying to regain his foggy sight.
"Very good, Kagome-sama," the houshi commended her quick thinking under the grave circumstances, twisting his long staff expertly while he sprinted forward and landed a mighty hit on the claw that held the miko prisoner, succeeding in moving it away from Ginkotsu's body.
"Now, Sango!" he urged the taijiya to commence her offense, now that the miko was not in danger of getting tangled up in the attack.
"I'm way ahead of you!" the taijiya hollered, already having thrown the huge boomerang with precision towards her target as she collapsed to her knees, panting from overexertion.
The weapon found its target, landing an excellent hit on the back of his neck, and forced Ginkotsu to fall forward, dragging the miko with him to the ground as it was flung a few feet away, losing aptitude to crash loudly on the dirt.
The mercenary lay unmoving on the ground while Kagome struggled to get free in vain until Miroku came to help.
"You were magnificent, Kagome-sama," he commented smiling widely as he tried to disentangle her from the claw.
"Save your compliments, monk. I saw what you did earlier," Kagome laughed breathlessly, starting to shiver uncontrollably from the blood loss now that the adrenaline receded, and she felt each wound hurting magnified by tenfold.
"This will be tricky. I'm afraid the tips of the claws are embedded too deep. We need to try a different approach," Miroku mused aloud, gracing the miko with a sympathetic glance as it was obvious this was going to hurt her more.
"Do what you have to." Kagome steeled herself for the oncoming agonizing pain, nodding her agreement for the houshi to proceed.
"KAGOME!" a loud voice interrupted their conversation as the red clad hanyou barged right in while carrying Kikyou protectively in his arms.
"Inuyasha! What happened to you!?" the miko exclaimed with shock filled eyes when she caught sight of his bloodied, haggard appearance.
"Forget about me, woman! Damn, where the hell did all these enemies come from?" the hanyou cursed furiously as he disappeared inside the hut momentarily to place Kikyou upon the hay bed before running back towards his pack mates.
"Was that Kikyou-sama?" Miroku asked aghast, forgetting the miko's serious predicament for a second as Inuyasha came closer to inspect the wounded woman carefully.
"Yeah, that freak we met earlier attacked me and tried to use her as a hostage, but I already took care of him. It seems the same thing happened here. Fucking hell! Kagome, hang on a bit more. I'll get you out now," the silver haired hanyou replied as he raised his clawed hand in an attempt to smash the metal obstruction and free the trapped woman.
Before he had the chance to perform his strike though, the cyborg twitched then spun around in the ground forcing them back in a cloud of dust, while Kagome cried out in pain when the claws sunk deeper into her flesh. Ginkotsu leapt back laughing hoarsely as he twisted his metallic arm, crushing Kagome to the ground again with more force now, rendering her unconscious.
"There! Now you can't use that nasty trick again, wench!" he roared in triumph while laughing maniacally.
"You fucking corpse! KAGOME!" Inuyasha hollered with a mix of wrath and worry on his tired face while Sango cried out when she saw her friend going limp and Miroku rushed to her side, trying to restrain her.
"You will pay for this, bastard!" the hanyou yelled, charging towards the dead man in a desperate attack, fighting to keep his sword raised for a strong blow. Unfortunately, his previous battle had exhausted his demonic reserves and the injuries he had suffered had not yet healed, throbbing painfully throughout his whole body. He lacked the energy to perform one of his more powerful attacks like Kaze no Kizu even if he wanted to. He would have to rely on speed and agility for now until he recuperated and try his damnedest to avoid additional injuries.
Ginkotsu, despite his enormous size, easily sidestepped the advancing hanyou who lost his balance abruptly, the heavy sword weighing him down, and crushed to the ground panting heavily. Miroku watched the fight intently with a calculative gaze, but he could not see a way out of this. They were doomed to fail and be defeated at this rate.
"Houshi-sama…" Sango whispered brokenly, clutching his robe's sleeve as her eyes filled with unshed tears.
"Take Shippou and leave, my dear Sango. If Inuyasha falls, I'll try to stall him until you have reached a safe distance. If we emerge victorious, we will seek you out immediately," the monk commanded in a no nonsense tone as he motioned for the crying kit to transform and carry the slayer away.
"No! I will not leave you or Kagome-chan to die here!" the taijiya protested weakly with wide eyes, shaking her head in a firm refusal.
"I am not giving you a choice, my love," Miroku whispered against her soft lips, distracting her briefly as he knocked her out with a quick blow to her stomach, and she fell over into his strong arms.
"Shippou, take her and go now!" he then ordered the fox child who nodded reluctantly, and transformed to his pink globe as the monk placed Sango on top of him gently.
"Be safe…" he prayed with all his heart as he pressed a soft kiss on the slayer's forehead and the kitsune took off quickly.
"Where am I supposed to go now? Kagome! Inuyasha!" the little kit cried between sniffs, floating through the air slowly, careful not to drop the sleeping woman he carried.
"I-I have to be strong! I will protect Sango and wait for the others. They will win for sure!" Shippou mumbled to himself, trying to find a safe place to land and hide for the time being.
Abruptly, a glimpse of silver caught his attention below, causing him to narrow his eyes at what he was seeing. He let out a loud squeal, heading straight towards the familiar elegant figure on the ground with renewed hope.
"S-Sesshoumaru-sama!" he exclaimed frantically, opting to use the honorific title in respect. Chances were the daiyoukai would not appreciate an informal greeting, and the kit wasn't about to ruin this rare opportunity by being rude to the inuyoukai.
"Pup," Sesshoumaru addressed the distressed kitsune as he hovered before him, bouncing up and down slightly, tired from his heavy burden.
"Y-You have to help us! Please, a strange man attacked us! Everyone is injured and can't fight! K-Kagome is hurt, too…please!" Shippou begged with watery round eyes, appealing to his sense of honor. Now that he was aware of the situation, he would surely help them, right? Kagome had said he was not heartless…
The youkai lord was silent for a miniscule moment, his face taking on a rigidly frozen expression, and Shippou despaired, thinking he might refuse to offer assistance.
"Revert to your original form, pup," the daiyoukai ordered in a deep, commanding tone and Shippou obliged immediately. Then he gently hoisted the unconscious slayer over his shoulder, careful of the spikes in his armor as he motioned for the kit to grab onto his luxurious pelt, leaving no room for discussion.
"Tell this Sesshoumaru of your enemy, pup," the daiyoukai requested in a softer voice to the shaking fox child as he soared through the sky gracefully, heading towards the direction Shippou pointed at.
"He said he is one of the Band of Seven. He has all these strange metal parts built on his body. He really didn't look much human…He has a claw and he…he grabbed Kagome with that. Sango and Inuyasha are seriously injured and Miroku can't use his Kazaana because of the poison insects. He sent me away to hide with Sango. W-will you really help us?" Shippou explained in a trembling voice, sniffing slightly as he fought to hold onto the pelt while the daiyoukai sped through the air.
"Fool of a brother…" Sesshoumaru bit out with irritation leaking through his stoic expression, as he dismissed the kit entirely after he learned the severity of the situation at hand.
"Kagome!" the kit exclaimed terrified when he spotted the familiar old hut below, watching in horror the miko's limp form.
Sesshoumaru landed inaudibly beside the shocked monk, surrendering Sango to his welcome embrace as the human male regained his composure, and thanked the regal inuyoukai with a deep bow of his head. Shippou, also, jumped down, latching himself onto Miroku's arm while fixing his emerald eyes on his surrogate mother.
"S-Sesshoumaru…" Inuyasha panted, staring incredulously at his older brother's tall figure as he coughed up blood, and collapsed to the ground.
"Hanyou. I will converse with you later," the daiyoukai replied in a chillingly cold voice, focusing harsh golden orbs towards the mechanic creature a few feet away.
"Ghesh…You must be that Sesshoumaru demon Kohaku told us about. You don't look much to me…" Ginkotsu taunted the elegant inuyoukai as he laughed in his face.
"Silence, vile specter," Sesshoumaru demanded in a sovereign tone, narrowing his amber gaze at the dangling female, trapped within the cyborg's grabbing claw.
Ginkotsu snorted as he shot several arrow tipped wires towards the daiyoukai, aiming to trap him in an inescapable clutch while injuring him as well. Sesshoumaru merely flicked his clawed hand as a vibrant light green energy whip appeared, shredding the metal wires with ease. He leveled the arrogant mercenary with a mocking glare, silently asking if this was all he could do after his pompous words.
"Don't think this is over!" Ginkotsu yelled enraged now, as he repositioned the cannon attached to his left shoulder, and pulled the cord on his chest activating it. A large object was shot directly at the inuyoukai, who hadn't moved an inch from his original position or batted an eyelash at the human's pitiful attacks. Suddenly, the object released a large number of missiles that landed all around Sesshoumaru in strategic places. A huge explosion erupted a few seconds later, bathing the scenery in grey smoke, and Ginkotsu grinned in victory. However, his smile faltered when a crimson tornado shook the ground, clearing all traces of the foggy smoke, and revealing an unscathed Sesshoumaru surrounded by demonic energy.
"Y-You…What are you? Just die!" Ginkotsu shrieked, firing his canon again only, this time, a single explosive cannonball was shot towards the youkai.
"This one will deliver death at your request," Sesshoumaru simply replied while he drew Tokijin, slashing the cannonball in two halves as it exploded in a deafening sound behind him, and charged at an impossible speed towards the metal man. He severed the claw, holding the miko prisoner deftly in a clean cut, and swiftly decapitated the surprised human. Before Ginkotsu's head touched the ground, his face etched in a mask of horror, Sesshoumaru had already sheathed Tokijin, and freed the miko from her shackle. He gently secured her over his knee, his strong arm embracing her shoulders tightly as she lay limp and unmoving bathed in crimson blood.
Ginkotsu's giant body clattered to the ground beside his severed head, slowly disintegrating into pale ashes. The Saimiyoushou rushed forward to claim the Shikon fragment, but Sesshoumaru released a powerful youki blast, exterminating the pests, leaving no trace of their existence.
"K-Kagome…" Inuyasha whispered hoarsely, drawing his elder bother's attention as he fought to stand upright.
"This Sesshoumaru warned you once already, hanyou. Protect your pack. Yet you dared defy my command. This happened due to your inadequacies as this one predicted. What have you to say in your defense, Inuyasha? Depending on your answer this one might be convinced to show mercy," Sesshoumaru addressed the battered hanyou in a fiery glare full of contempt and disdain.
"I-It was my fault…I left to patrol…I swear I didn't know they were going to be attacked! I did it to protect them!" Inuyasha confessed with shame filled eyes and a rough voice laden with regret.
"Do not assume to fool this Sesshoumaru, hanyou. This one is aware of the dead miko within the hut. You chose to protect her, leaving your pack in the mercy of your enemy. You are to bear the consequences of your actions. This one will allow the miko to choose whom she follows after she awakens," the daiyoukai decreed in an unwavering, deep baritone as all eyes glued on his declaration incredulously.
"W-why would you want to take Kagome as a member of your pack? She is a human; she's nothing to you! She is mine to protect!" Inuyasha exclaimed angrily, arguing back with fervor now.
"A duty you have failed to perform countless times. She will be cared for under this one's protection should she wish it," the aristocratic inuyoukai proclaimed, ending the discussion.
See you in a month :)