Author's note: I got this idea from reading a couple ficcies where Kagome was a slave. I wasn't gonna write this to avoid flamage, but the idea keeps bothering me so I have to get it out of my head. Rest be assured that I am aware of the slave ficcies and this will not be a slave ficcie in any way. Or a concubine ficcie. And don't read this if you hate Kikyou 'cause I'm changing her character around to suit my needs. Poor Kikyou always gets the short end of the stick, especially in the anime where she's tons more evil than in the manga.... -_- Anyway, I'll continue this if I get reviews. I should have plenty for another chapter if you like this. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: The Set-Up
This author makes no claim towards Inuyasha or its characters.
The crowd was thick. People were jammed together all along the sidewalk as great anticipation hung in the air (along with the stench of sweat and body odor). The great hanyou prince of the land was passing through today! His procession should be nearing any moment, and the entire town had lined up in order to catch a glimpse of royalty. There was barely any room for anyone to breathe, let alone walk...unless, of course, you were Kagome Higurashi. If you were Kagome Higurashi, the crowds would magically split to allow you room to pass through. If you just happened to be Kagome Higurashi, you could enjoy a peaceful walk home from just about anywhere without being bumped, jostled, mugged, accosted, raped, or molested in any way. If, for some reason, you were lucky enough to be the one named Kagome Higurashi, you would in fact not be very lucky at all...because Kagome Higurashi is an untouchable. The lowest of the low. The scum of the earth. More vile than the underbelly of a basilisk.
And no one ever lets her forget it.
The caste system was still largely in effect in the world today, and this kingdom was by no means an exception. There was the highest rung - the royals, and then the nobles, and then the upper, middle, and lower working classes, and then the peasants, and then, beneath even the poorest of peasants, were the untouchables. Youkai and humans lived together peacefully enough among the classes, what with both races having representatives all along the social ladder. Youkai in general disliked humans of course, but strict laws that were set in place by the higher-ups kept both the humans and the youkai from becoming dominant. It had been decided long ago by the royal families on both sides that it was best if an agreement was made between them, thus merging the warring races into a peaceful era. As peaceful as a caste system can be, anyway.
Kagome was very much aware of her class, and it pained her. Not that people always told her flat out what she was, heavens no. They'd sooner die than speak to her. Which was pretty much the problem. People went out of their way to avoid her. She was never spoken to, not acknowledged in any way except perhaps when she was buying goods (and even then people took pains not to touch her). Even in crowds the people unconsciously made room for her as if she radiated foulness. Half the time they didn't even look before they moved; they just knew that one of THOSE people was nearby, and they didn't need such filth on their clothes. That was what hurt her the most. The isolation. The feeling that she didn't belong there. She didn't even get along well with the other untouchables, who seemed to enjoy wallowing in their nastiness.
Such as it was with Kagome avoiding others in her class and keeping to herself, she didn't get much by way of news. Every so often she was able to catch a snippet of information here and there while she was running her errands. Errands being limited to buying food, and every so often some clothing. She managed to get money by being reasonably clean - sometimes merciful shopkeepers would allow her to tally their stock, or even buy her wares - she was quite good at making pottery if she could get a hold of the supplies. Of course, if anyone ever knew they were hers they'd never be bought, but Kagome was content that, when mixed amongst the other pottery of the shop, her products sold just as well as the rest. Today she had been at one of these shops selling over a couple bowls that she had managed to bake when she had heard that the youkai prince Inuyasha would be coming into town shortly. She had exited the shop by sneaking through the back door so she wouldn't be seen (what self-respecting owner would allow an untouchable into their shop?) and was greeted with the sight of people lining up to greet the prince.
Reluctant to miss an event such as this even with all the people around, Kagome used her "untouchable aura" to navigate through the sea of citizens and managed to get right next to the road that their prince was to be traveling on. She even had elbow room, and no one seemed to mind her being there and taking up valuable space because they were excited over something. Kagome could feel it thick in the air. But what were they excited about? Royalty passed through often, and there wasn't normally such a clamor attached to such an event.
Focusing her ears on the conversations around her, the lowly girl managed to pick out enough to know what was going on. Apparently, the hanyou prince was to be walking on foot today, not riding in a carriage as per the local custom. Rumor had it that he had snapped. When the request to go out on foot was denied him, the prince had simply set off on his own without permission, and the guards hastened to follow him lest he come to harm or be touched by something less that desirable. Like me, Kagome throught wryly. No one knew why the young prince had gone to such lengths to wander the town on foot, though the shop owners were all convinced that the prince had heard of their wares and had come to sample them, and the women thought that he had come to find a wife, and some of the men were hoping that he was in need of people to do manual labor, which would pay well. Kagome personally thought that the poor guy was tired of being cooped up all the time and wanted to actually DO something for a change.
A loud chatter swept through the crowd as the prince and his royal guard began to march into view. It was hard to see him from afar, but no one could miss his long silvery hair that swept lazily around in the breeze. Kagome gazed at him in an almost hypnotic trance for a few moments before being jostled suddenly. Startled at the fact that anyone would dare to touch her, she looked down at the old woman who had bumped into her with confusion laced in her expression. From the appearence of this woman, it would seem that she was an untouchable as well...but she didn't FEEL like one.
The woman placed a hand on Kagome's arm before the girl could say a word. "What is your wish?" she murmered cryptically, staring deep into Kagome's puzzled brown eyes with a knowing expression.
"My...my wish?" Kagome stuttered, not really knowing what to say. After all, it isn't every day that someone pops up out of the blue, confronts an untouchable, and asks for their wish. At the old woman's nod, Kagome felt something welling up inside of her...something warm and safe. She stood straight and tall, and said, "I wish for eternal happiness." Immediately after saying that, Kagome felt incredibly stupid and blushed a deep crimson, expecting the woman to laugh at her. However, the woman only nodded solomnly.
"That is what I thought," she replied, and with those words shoved Kagome out into the street...and before her she saw the hanyou prince, none-the-wiser of the girl that was about to stumble onto his person. When had he gotten so close? She gasped and tried to stop herself, but the old woman had pushed her too hard and her momentum was too great to be overcome. She ran directly into the silver-haired prince and sent him crashing to the ground with her on top of him. She started to remove herself, but then realized her position and froze with shock; she noticed his fierce, amber eyes gazing into her own, and she was surprised that he made no move to throw her off of him.
She had no time to ponder, however, because a guard grabbed her roughly by her hair and drew her roughly aside, almost lifting her off of the ground. She squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her teeth to keep from crying out with pain, and then realized that the prince wouldn't touch her any more than necessary...he knew the guards would do the dirty work and remove her for him. She allowed herself to open her eyes only to find the prince's own golden irises still burning furiously at her. Shit, she thought just as she felt something hit the back of her head with a sickening crack and she fell unconscious.(To be continued...)