Landing in Hell
It was too late. That which she'd lived solely to prevent, had happened.
Kohaku was dead.
The fine threading that held Sango's sanity in place, fragmented. The battlefield before her eyes, faded. She was vaguely aware of her brother's corpse as she rose, but even that bled into the background as she homed in on her prey. Her sight narrowed until it only saw the bobbing humanoid head with a hundred youkai appendages.
An abomination. A mockery. The bane of her existence...
Her vision turned black.
Her hearing, defeaned.
Her touch, numbed….
…until the only thing she was aware of was her own blood as it roared in her ears. Every other sensation blurred into some unholy, demented oblivion as she was consumed by something utterly dark. Powerful. Destructive.
There was no explanation for her following surge of strength. There were no words to describe it. But her human reasoning, physical limitations, fear…all withered under the hot blaze of someone who'd snapped. Lost it. Gone berserk…
…and had the capacity to back it up.
The devil himself would have run from her attack, but Naraku wasn't half as bright. He stayed. In the chaos of her following rampage, she remembered with sick satisfaction the rubbery sound of Naraku's youkai flesh, as it was ripped in half by Hiraikotsu.
She remembered laughing at his pathetic rebound assault - lancing bolts of hatred that scorched the earth where they touched - easier to dodge than an angry kitten. She remembered a blur of ornate garb and shimmering white hair.
Hn. The dog demon, Sesshoumaru. Trying to steal her victory, no doubt. Lucky for him, he dislodged the Shikon no Tama from Naraku's abdomen, distracting her from his insolent intrusion. There was something about it. A dim remnant of her former self flickered, recalling that the ball needed to be retrieved. That something bigger, more important was going on here. Reflex made her step away from the assault to catch it.
And catch it she did.
There was a desperate cry not to touch it. A strong hand on her wrist. Claws that pierced her skin. But it was too late. The Shikon no Tama in her fist yanked her… No, them …out of this world, without adornment or apology.
Next thing she knew, everything was spinning. A booming hollow sound fell on her inner ear, more deafening than thunder, yet emptier than silence. Her skin, her bones liquefied, and she ebbed through a tunnel of swirling gray gases like spilled milk.
And through it all, that hand, still on her wrist... It was the only solid sensation she felt. And it burned. She tried to pull away, but it tightened, followed by words. Angry words, filled with loathing and bitterness that scorched her awareness.
You fool! If you break away, we both die!
He was panicked...urgent, and so she endured it. Moments later, they were unceremoniously dumped on top of something spongy. Porous. And when her eyes re-solidified, Sango saw that she was on a ledge of some never-ending cavern. A living nightmare.
If there was a ceiling, it was swallowed up by a black, roiling nothingness that swirled up above like an angry storm cloud. If there was a floor, it was buried underneath a gaping chasm. A bottomless pit.
But there was life. Apparition-like creatures blitzed about in the open space, hissing and spitting at each other like rabid felines. Sango tried to back up, but her body was sluggish. She looked down to notice that her skin had an opalescent hue to it. Almost a shimmer, as though she were still stuck somewhere between reality and dream.
Suddenly, she was jerked up by her one wrist, and dangled in the air like an insolent pup until she was brought face to face with the dog demon.
Rage still coursed through Sango's veins from Kohaku's death, only slightly alleviated by the confusion of this insane circumstance. Hence, she didn't see death incarnate when she looked at Sesshoumaru's unnaturally beautiful face. She didn't see someone to fear, or someone whose power demanded respect.
Instead, she saw the individual who had interfered. Who had tried to steal her victory. Who had somehow snatched her from her own realm and dropped her here. She met his scowl with an unwavering one of her own.
"You touched it," he seethed, and flung her back. "I told you not to!"
In her current state of mind, Sango's inevitable response to his aggression was to retaliate, and Hiraikotsu was unhitched and swinging before Sesshoumaru knew it was coming. The broadside of the boomerang caught him in the face, pitching him headlong over the ledge. Were it not for a desperate reach for the outcropping and tenacious hold, he would have fallen into oblivion.
"You twisted, enigmatic bastard!" Sango hissed as his claws dug into the ground for purchase. "You thwarted my chance to avenge my brother! And brought me HERE!"
He growled in response, a low baritone rumbling and flipped forward, landing in a crouch. Suddenly, the ever-composed youkai looked feral. The streaks on his face had darkened, and his eyes glowed crimson. His cheek was maroon with swelling from where she'd clobbered him, and his lip curled in a nasty snarl.
Subliminal alarms waved off in her head, and the next thing she knew, he'd caged her against the rough texture of the wall, his claws piercing the skin of her neck.
"YOU did this, human!" he spat, his weight smashing her. "You tainted a half-enchanted Shikon no Tama with your touch, sealing all its powers inside!" he yelled, his lips quivering over a hundred unvoiced threats. "Sealing us inside!"
Inside the Shikon no Tama? Sango would have struggled, but her righteous indignation chose this particular moment to let her fend for herself, and clarity returned in all its ruthless honesty. Her first impression, as her wits gathered, was wonderment that Sesshoumaru had more than one expression.
Her second impression was dread. Her third fear.
With a menacing huff, the dog demon slammed his fist into the wall next to her, imbedding it up to his wrist. The sound of crunching matter ricocheted all the way down to her toes, and she gulped against his palm on her throat.
"I'd kill you," he said lowly, and with obvious reluctance released her and took a step back. His expression reverted back into practiced reticence, and Sango couldn't tell which look unnerved her more - the angry one or the blank one.
"…but our combined presence locked this realm. It'll take both to open it back up again…if there is, in fact, a way out."
Sango rubbed her neck from where he'd grabbed her, more confused than relieved. "You're saying we locked ourselves inside the Shikon no Tama?" she choked. "Like a key?"
His eyes narrowed in what she assumed was great annoyance, and he spun his back to her. She took his silence as an affirmative. Besides, it had to be true. Why else would he let her live after clocking him like that with her weapon?
Sango suddenly felt very weak. Her worrying gaze looked over the vast expanse before them with its disturbing lifeforms, and moving shadows. Was there a trail they could take? A direction they could head? Without her rage to distract her, the effects of this ominous realm started to sap the strength from her legs.
She was abruptly swamped with a heady mix of claustrophobia and vertigo, and fell to all fours, closing her eyes against the sight. "It's hell," she panted between shuddering breaths. "We've landed in hell."
A brief pause. "I imagine it would be similar. Yes."
It took her a few more minutes to regain some composure, and accept not only where she was, and the missed opportunity to avenge her brother, but her immediate company as well.
Sesshoumaru... Someone who would delight in his own brother's bloodshed. Sango imagined that she'd feel justified in killing the heartless youkai for that reason alone. She peered up at his stoic form - some wayward breeze tugging at his clothes and hair. It made him look surreal...intangible...as though he already belonged here. It made her feel that much more alone. "What do you know of this place, demon?"
He said nothing, and she first thought he was choosing to ignore her. But something about the slight sag in his shoulders told her it was more than that.
Sango rose to her feet, trying to quell the rising panic. "We can't travel together unless there is some form of honesty between us," she insisted heatedly. "Now tell me, how much do you know about this realm?"
A distant screech wailed eerily in the distance, and Sesshoumaru turned his head slightly, barely giving her a shadowy profile of his face. His next words were hidden, almost inaudible.
"I know enough to fear it."