A1969: I know I made a promise to myself—I wouldn't bite off more than I could chew, when it came to my stories, but…urgh! I could not update a single story, because this idea wouldn't leave me alone, it's so irritating. Anyway, the customary words…can I have a volunteer? How about you, sir, with the dog ears?
Inuyasha: huh? What? You again?
Kagome: Inuyasha…be nice…
Inuyasha: you know, we should just persuade her to stop, Kagome. It'll be better for—
A1969: just say them already, so we can start! I have other stories to update, you know.
Inuyasha: fine. This idiot doesn't own me, or any of my characters—
Inuyasha: fine! The author doesn't own the show, the characters, the…everything cannon! It all belongs to Rumiko Takahashi, got it? Good.
Based on My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. Rin is taken in by monks after being briefly separated from Sesshoumaru and Jaken. What happens when curiosity gets the better of little Rin, and she sets lose a nine-tailed fox goddess? Well, apparently, more annoying gods, mischief, mayhem, a threatened Jaken, and…beef. Lots and lots of beef.
*When the Heavens Go Crazy*
In Which Curiosity Gets the Upper Hand
Jaken's day was not going well.
First off, his Sesshoumaru-sama had left him to babysit the annoying human, Rin, who—despite her sweet temperament—was just…annoying.
Second, the bump on his head—courtesy of his lord—was throbbing. Badly. However, faithful servant that he was, Jaken did not—could not—hold it against his lord. He was at fault for speaking out of turn. Heck, he was proud to say that he deserved the growing bump! His lord was just, after all!
Thirdly—and oh, his lord was going to kill him for this—he had, miraculously, managed to lose Rin. Again.
It wasn't his fault! He had told the girl to stay with Ah-Un, but did she listen? NO! The baka had kept on bragging about wanting to see that field of blossoms a little way off from their camp. She'd wanted to drag him, Jaken, servant to the great Sesshoumaru-sama, with her! And why? To pick flowers for their lord! As if their lord would have need of such frivolities!
Jaken had refused, and told Rin to stay put. Rin, being Rin, did not listen, and insisted that they go. "To brighten up Sesshoumaru-sama's day," the little girl had explained.
Really! It was the other way around! His Sesshoumaru-sama brightened the day, just by being alive! He had tried to explain so, and the little girl had agreed—naturally—but no! She wanted to do something for their lord!
Jaken had taken pause then. He was all too acquainted with the feeling of wanting to be useful to their lord, no matter how small. But really! Flowers! For their lord! The absurdity of it!
And so, Rin, being Rin, had taken hold of Ah-Un's reins and led him to the field of flowery nuisances. "I'm with Ah-Un, Jaken-sama, so it should be fine!" the little girl had said, with her customary smile.
Jaken had huffed, folded his arms, and sat on the ground, stubborn as an Ox demon (and, really they were very stubborn). Well, he felt that the little girl deserved the cold shoulder, anyway! Hmph!
No sooner had this thought occurred to Jaken, when the familiar shriek of a little girl pierced the air. Jaken had run as fast as his little legs would allow. He had burst into the clearing, just in time to see Rin mount Ah-Un and head towards the skies.
Five menacing snake demons, tall and hissing, venom dripping from their fangs, had reared their ugly heads towards the skies, jaws attempting to snap at Ah-Un and the human girl. Jaken, in a moment of sheer courage, had taken the Staff of Heads in hand and burned the nearest one.
That had been a mistake.
The remaining four had rounded on him, fangs dripping acidic venom. Black hoods flared simultaneously. Jaken had placed his hand over his head, expecting death. His last thought was of Sesshoumaru-sama, and all the years he had spent in the honorable dog demon's service. Ha! Pathetic snakes! To die while in Sesshoumaru-sama's service was the most honorable and noble of deaths!
But there was to be no honorable death for Jaken that day.
Jaken opened his eyes, just as Bakusaiga's destructive wave overcame the demons. He watched, awed—he was always awed—as bits and pieces of snake flesh fell all around him. Sesshoumaru-sama was indeed a force to be reckoned with!
"Sesshoumaru-sama!" Jaken had shouted, little stars dancing in his eyes.
The regal Sesshoumaru-sama stood amidst the falling flesh of the slaughtered snake demons, his powerful blade, Bakusaiga, held at his side. He flicked it, once, before sheathing it.
"Milord!" Jaken had squealed as he fell prostrate at his lord's feet.
"And where is Rin?"
Jaken flinched. He had nearly forgotten about the little human!
"Eh…the thing of it is, milord…"
A moment later, a loud thud! echoed throughout the forest. "Let's go," Sesshoumaru said, as he turned on his heel and walked off.
Jaken quickly ran after his lord, hoping that Rin and Ah-Un had not flown far, and that the little girl was alright. He shuddered to think at the size of his head, should another bump be unceremoniously added to the first.
Rin sighed as she sat beside Ah-Un, the warm grass tickling her bare feet. Beside her, the two-headed dragon grazed. He seemed hungry. She supposed that she, too, would be hungry if she had flown as fast and as far as Ah-Un to avoid danger.
"Do you think Jaken-sama is alright?" the little girl asked the dragon.
Ah snorted as he grazed. "I think he's fine, too," Rin said. "But I'm still worried. We should go back after you eat, Ah-Un. Jaken-sama must be wondering where we are. Sesshoumaru-sama might have come back, too!" Rin did not like making her lord worry about her. She had once learned that fathers were very appreciative of daughters who did as they were bid (her own human father had been an example).
Sighing, she looked up at the sky—it was heavy with dark, low-lying clouds. Rain clouds, she remembered. She wished Kohaku was with her—she wanted someone to talk to. As it was, the boy had been allowed by Sesshoumaru-sama to visit his sister Sango, who was currently traveling with Inuyasha's group.
Ah-Un suddenly lifted his head and stared at the trees. "What is it, Ah-Un?" the little girl asked.
Rin jumped up. A few yards away from them, the bushes started rustling. Ah-Un snorted, and Rin immediately grabbed hold of his saddle, ready to mount and take flight. To her surprise, a young man emerged from the bushes, slowly, as though afraid that he would frighten her off.
"Wait, little one!" the young man said, holding up his hands. Rin noted that he wore the garb of a monk, with a sugegasa covering his head. "Stay away from that demon!"
Rin gripped Ah-Un's saddle tighter. "Ah-Un won't hurt me," she said. This was not new to her—most people were afraid of demons. Truth be told, if it weren't for the fact that she had met Sesshoumaru-sama, she would still be afraid of them as well.
"Ah-Un?" the man said, tilting his head. He was puzzled as to why a young child would be here, in the middle of a forest, with a two-headed dragon. Monk that he was, he had a duty to do—he had to help the child.
"That's his name," Rin said. Un snorted in agreement. "This one is Ah"—she gestured to one of the heads—"and that one is Un. Ah-Un."
The monk tilted his head. "I am Kenji," he said, his eyes fixed on the dragon. Was it just him, or was the beast regarding him coolly, almost arrogantly? "Child, the skies are heavy with rain, and this forest is dangerous, even for you and your demon."
"I'll be fine," Rin said. The monk looked nice enough, but she had to find Sesshoumaru-sama and Jaken-sama. "Ah-Un is very strong!" She patted the dragon's flank, and he raised both heads a little proudly.
"Our temple is not far off, let me at least give you a meal," the monk said. "And shelter from the rain."
Rin took a hesitant step back. She remembered—it seemed so long ago—that a monk had once tried to take her away from Sesshoumaru-sama. Couldn't they understand that her lord was kind?
"I can manage on my own," Rin said. Ah snorted in agreement.
As though to contradict her, the rumble of thunder suddenly echoed in the distance and, sure enough, a light drizzle began to fall. Rin looked up, dismayed, as the rain grew stronger.
"Just until the rain passes," Monk Kenji offered, holding out a hand to her. He gave her a small smile.
Rin hesitated, and Un nudged her forward. The dragon—unlike Jaken—did not mind showing concern for the little girl's wellbeing, including her health.
"Can I take Ah-Un with me?" she asked, as the drizzle increased. Her clothes were getting damp.
The monk hesitated, eyes on the dragon, then nodded. The beast seemed harmless enough. "Yes, you may," he said, taking off his sugegasa and offering it to the child. "Where this, the rain is soaking you. Good. Now come, the monks will give you something warm while you pass the time."
Rin shivered as she drew the blanket tightly around her. She was sitting in one of the temple's rooms. The monks of the temple were kind enough to take her and, reluctantly, Ah-Un into their care. The dragon was tethered in a wooden shed, where the monks kept their wood.
They had given her a new yukata to wear. Her old one was drying on a wooden frame in the room. She sighed as she looked out the open shutters. She, Monk Kenji, and Ah-Un had barely made it to the temple when the rain began falling in earnest. The rain was falling harder now, and it was hard to make out much.
Sesshoumaru-sama and Jaken-sama were going to be worried. She felt a pang of guilt at the thought of causing them so much trouble. She hoped Sesshoumaru-sama would not be mad at her.
She lowered her eyes to the empty wooden bowl in front of her. As soon as she had arrived, a miko had given her warm food and clothing, and asked her questions—who she was, how she came to be with a two-headed dragon, where her parents were…
Rin gave a start, her eyes widening in surprise as she glanced around. That had been a voice. It had sounded cheerful, almost happy, yet urgent. Rin's chocolate brown eyes looked around the room, her heart hammering. She glanced from the brazier, burning cheerfully in a corner, to the tatami mats propped up against the wall. There was no one. She was alone.
Had she imagined it?
She must have.
Hello, there, little girl!
She stood up. There was no mistaking it—it had been a voice, a feminine, cheerful one. The words were whispered in her head, she knew. Rin glanced towards the closed door. She should call a monk, or the miko from earlier…
She made for the door.
No, don't! Stop, please!
Rin stopped, glancing around. "Who…who are you?" she asked aloud. She felt afraid.
I…need your help.
"I can't see you," Rin said simply, still looking around. "So, I can't help you."
Please? I'm desperate.
If there was one thing Rin knew, it was that you should never trust something that had a voice, but had no body. Lord Sesshoumaru would have expected it of her.
Oh, don't be silly, I'm not going to hurt you! The voice sounded so buoyant, so amused, it was as though its owner was laughing. I promise.
Rin hesitated. People—even demons, like Lord Sesshoumaru—did not make promises lightly. An honorable person always kept their word. Would this strange voice do the same? Rin could hear, beneath the blithe air, an almost desperate tone to the voice.
Lord Sesshoumaru would have told her 'no'. Besides…some demons, she had learned, liked to devour little children. The thought sent a shiver through her.
The voice actually laughed, bright, high, and sunny laughter. I've never eaten human before, the voice said. I don't want to, really. I like eating cow. More laughter. Please?
"Where are you?" Rin asked.
It was as though she could feel the owner of the voice smile in her head. Thank you! Go out onto the veranda, and head to the back of the temple. You will see a little shrine out back, near the trees. Make sure no one sees you.
Rin took a hesitant step towards the open shutters. Wait! the voice said, and Rin stopped. See the ink stone and ink brush in the corner? Take those with you.
Rin did as she was told, and took both ink stone and brush. She stepped out the shutters and onto the veranda. Outside, the rain was still falling in torrents, the sky overhead dark and menacing. It had been late afternoon, but it may as well have been night.
Okay, go, the voice said.
Rin glanced around. There was no one, the veranda was empty. Silent as a ghost, she made her way towards the back. The veranda led to an old shrine, near the trees. It was too dark to make out much.
Hurry, the voice urged.
Looking around and seeing no one, Rin quickly rushed towards the small shrine. The veranda, open on either side of her, was somewhat wet, the polished wood slippery beneath her bare feet.
Rin approached the closed doors of the shrine. Various sutras had been placed around it.
You needn't worry about those, the voice said. They don't actually work, the monks think they do. Bright laughter echoed throughout Rin's head again.
Rin hesitantly slid the door open, and stepped inside. She closed the door behind her, her eyes adjusting to the dimness. Two braziers were lit at the back wall of the shrine, on either side of an old painting. A single rope of shimenawa was tied along the braziers, in front of the painting.
More curious and less hesitant, Rin approached the painting. The shadows cast by the braziers danced across the wall. She looked up. It was a painting of a pure white fox standing underneath a wide tree. It was missing its tail. There were inscriptions written at the edge of the painting.
Rin stood on tiptoe to read them. During her travels with Lord Sesshoumaru, when he would retire to the palace in the west—just to see how things were—he had had Jaken teach her how to read and write. Jaken had not liked it, but he was a good teacher, nonetheless. The words, at first glance, almost resembled Kanji but, on closer inspection, were not at all familiar.
It is written in the language of the mainland, the voice said suddenly, blithely.
Rin gave a small start, and the voice laughed inside her head. "The mainland?" Rin asked aloud.
Yes, it replied. A pause. I can tell you about it, after you've freed me.
"Free?" Rin asked, looking around. "Where are you? How come you're trapped? Who trapped you? Why did they trap you?"
More laughter. You ask so many questions, for someone so small. Another pause. Look at the painting. Do you see the fox? I want you to use the ink brush to draw nine tails on it, the voice instructed.
Rin hesitated. "But…I don't know how to draw!" she protested innocently. This was no job for her. It was something more suited to a priestess.
Nothing fancy, the voice said. Just…squiggly lines will do. Is that alright?
Rin nodded, not sure if the voice could see the gesture or not. Dipping the ink brush into the ink stone, she stood on her toes as she looked up at the painting, at the white fox. She drew a curling line on where a fox's tail should have been. She painted another, and another…
The painting suddenly let out a soft, white glow, and Rin's eyes widened in surprise. Yes! the voice cheered. Rin had a sneaking suspicion that the owner had punched the air in triumph. Go on, keep going!
She drew the fourth, and the fifth tails. Outside, dogs began barking loudly, and Rin's heart sped. Hurry, the voice said desperately, as she drew the sixth tail.
"There's someone in the shrine!" a voice outside called, amidst the barking of dogs and the falling of rain.
Oh no! the voice said. Quick, faster!
The seventh tail, then the eight…
The door to the shrine suddenly slid open, and in the threshold stood Monk Kenji. His eyes widened in surprise the moment he caught sight of Rin. "What are you doing?!" he exclaimed. "Stop, get away from there!"
Then the ninth…
"No!" Kenji shouted.
The light emitted by the painting was suddenly blinding. Both Rin and the monk covered their eyes as the brightness only increased. Outside, the rain poured heavily, and the dogs barked loudly. Men from the temple were shouting, running towards the shrine.
And then the light subsided. Rin lowered her hand. Her eyes widened in surprise. A young woman stood in front of her, her back turned to her. For a moment, she was surrounded by the same white light from the painting, but it, too, slowly subsided. Her black hair was set with hair ornaments of white jade in an elaborate style that fell to her back. She wore the long, flowing, white robes of the mainland.
Monk Kenji stared at the young woman, his jaw hanging open. Rin couldn't tell if it was from fear or shock. The young woman paused, and then looked at her hands, hardly daring to believe that she was free (which, later, seemed silly to her, because she had orchestrated her freedom in the first place).
"You've done it!" the girl exclaimed happily, turning around to face Rin.
Rin's eyes widened in surprise. The young woman was beautiful, devastatingly so (which was probably the reason Monk Kenji's mouth was currently hanging open, Rin thought). Her skin was pale, with a slight flush to her cheeks. Her eyes were wide and—like hers—were chocolate brown. There was a depth to them that she couldn't quite comprehend.
The girl suddenly let out a giggle. "Don't gape, silly, it's rude," she said, tapping Rin's forehead with a slender finger.
Rin shook her head. "I didn't get your name," the young woman went on. Monk Kenji seemed to have been forgotten.
"Rin," the little girl said, still staring.
"Rin," the young woman repeated. She tilted her head, thoughtful. She glanced around her, taking in her surroundings. Her eyes landed on Monk Kenji, who was still staring at her, but she didn't seem to notice. "I have a feeling I am no longer in Zhonghua," she muttered to herself. "I thought as much when I heard the little girl speak. Hm…"
She turned back to Rin, a wide smile on her face. "Thank you!" she said happily, her hands together.
"She's free!" The miko from earlier was standing at the doorway, looking at the woman with eyes wide with shock. "Kenji, pull yourself together!" she ordered, entering the temple, and giving the monk a slap.
Kenji blinked. "The…the…she's free!" he yelped, staring at the young woman again.
The young woman laughed, and the monk and miko took two steps back. "I'm not evil!" she said, holding her hands up. "I'm laughing because you two look so funny!"
At that moment, the other monks burst into the shrine, beads and sutras held in their hands. The monks, on catching sight of her, stopped, their mouths hanging open in astonishment as they stared at her face. The situation may have been dire, but Rin couldn't help but hold back a giggle. Really, they looked silly with their mouths hanging open like that.
"Let's go, Rin," the young woman suddenly said, scooping Rin into her arms. She smiled cheerfully at the little girl as she held her close.
"What?" Rin said.
The young woman chuckled. "Hold on," she said, winking. She looked up at the ceiling, and, before anyone could make a move, she flew towards the ceiling, white robes trailing behind her. She covered Rin's head as they crashed through the ceiling, and into the rain-filled skies. Beneath them, the miko screamed, but they were now too high to hear her words.
Rin thought it strange that, despite the failing rain, she was not getting wet. She clung to the girl's neck as she sped through the air.
"Oh!" Rin exclaimed, eyes widening in realization. "Ah-Un!"
"What?" the young woman said, stopping in midair. The rain fell heavily around them, but the wind had abated.
"Ah-Un!" Rin shouted, eyes going back to the temple.
"What's an Ah-Un?" she asked, greatly intrigued.
At that moment, a low roar reached them as Ah-Un soared through the rain towards them. "Ah-Un!" Rin called out happily. "I'm sorry, I almost forgot you!"
The young woman stared at the dragon. "I have never seen a two-headed dragon before," she said, eyes wide with childlike curiosity.
Ah-Un regarded her. Then, assured that she posed no threat to Rin, flew closer, hovering beside them. "Let's get out of the rain, shall we?" the young woman said, as she flew on. "I'm not very fond of too much water." She shuddered.
The chirping of the birds woke Rin early the next morning. The rains of last night had blown itself away, and the morning was bright and sunny, birds chirping happily in the trees. Rin's eyes widened as she remembered the events of yesterday. She sat up. She was lying on a patch of soft grass in a cave. Ah-Un was curled up near the cave wall. He was already awake. Ah was looking at her, watching over her, while Un was looking towards the cave's entrance.
"Good morning, Ah-Un!" Rin said brightly. Then she remembered. "Have you seen the pretty lady from yesterday?"
Ah-Un pointed with his tail towards the cave entrance. Outside, the young woman was looking up at the trees, at the chirping birds. Her eyes were wide with the curiosity of a child. She looked as though she had never seen a sparrow before.
Rin left the cave, Ah-Un following closely behind her. The young woman turned to her, a bright smile on her face. "Rin!" she said, her white robes rustling as she approached the little girl. "Thank you for helping me yesterday!"
Rin looked up at her, wondering how she could have thought the young woman would eat her. "You're welcome…I don't know your name," Rin confessed sheepishly.
The young woman suddenly sat on the ground, her white robes billowing around her. She tilted her head, her hair ornaments making gentle tinkling noises. "My name…" she said, a finger on her chin. She looked as though she were trying to remember something, then shook her head. "I forgot," she admitted, cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
Rin's eyes widened in surprise. "You forgot your name?" she said, incredulous. How could someone just forget their name?
"I come from very far away," the young woman went on. "Very far away. I can tell you about it, sometime, if you want." She smiled as she stood.
"Are you a tenshi?" Rin blurted. She certainly looked like one.
The young woman shook her head. "No, I'm a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox," she explained. "That's why I asked you to draw nine tails on the fox yesterday." Rin had a feeling that there was something else she omitted, but didn't press, because a thought had just occurred to her.
"Miho!" she exclaimed, looking up at the young woman with a smile.
The young woman tilted her head. "What's that?" she asked.
"If you forgot your name, can I call you 'Miho'?" Rin asked, her tone hopeful. Beside her, Ah-Un snorted as he began to graze.
The young woman's smile broadened. "Miho…" she said slowly, letting each syllable dance across her tongue. This language was new, and quite foreign, but fairly interesting. She preferred it to the old language she had spoken, before she had been sealed away.
"Miho…" she said again. "I like it!" She grinned, clapping her hands once.
"Miho-chan!" Rin said, returning her grin. And then, another thought occurred to her, once that she should have paid attention to earlier. "Oh, no! Sesshoumaru-sama!"
Ah-Un raised both his heads, and Miho tilted hers. "What is a Sesshoumaru-sama?" she asked, eyes wide.
Rin paused. "Sesshoumaru-sama is my father!" she said happily, giving Miho a toothy smile. "But Ah-Un and I got separated from him and Jaken-sama yesterday, when the monk helped us out of the rain."
"I can help you find them," Miho offered. "You helped me yesterday, after all."
"Thank you, Miho-chan!" Rin said. She turned to Ah-Un. "Did you hear, Ah-Un? Miho-chan is going to—"
At that moment, Rin heard a low rumble. Surprised, she turned to the source of the noise—Miho. The young woman blushed violently. "I'm hungry," she admitted, sheepish. She smiled apologetically.
"Let's go find fish!" Rin suggested. Truth be told, she was a little hungry herself. Her meal the night before had been nothing more than the daikon and steamed noodles given to her by the miko at the temple, and it hadn't been much.
Miho blinked. "I want to eat beef," she admitted.
Rin tilted her head. "But…there is no beef anywhere near here," she pointed out.
Miho smiled, again clapping her hands together. "When we flew here last night, I saw a human village not very far off!" she said. She sounded excited, much like a child expecting a treat. "They had cows!" Her eager expression, hands clasped together close to her chin, was very much foxlike, Rin noted.
"But…" Rin began. "We don't have any money to pay for it."
Miho looked thoughtful. "Money…" she said slowly, tilting her head. "What is that?"
Rin's eyes widened in surprise…again. "It's coins that you use to pay for things," Rin explained. "I don't have any." When she was with Sesshoumaru-sama, there was no need for money. If she wanted to eat, Rin would usually fend for herself in the wild, and ate whatever edible thing was to be had.
Miho looked thoughtful for a moment. Then she reached into her sleeve and pulled out a beautiful comb. Like her hair ornaments, it was made of white jade in the shape of a lotus. The craftsmanship was intricate, the details fine.
"We can barter this!" Miho said happily, holding out the comb for Rin to touch.
Rin brushed her fingers against the smooth, white jade. "Miho-chan, it's very pretty," Rin said. "I don't think you should barter it."
A jade comb for beef?
"It's just a comb," Miho insisted as she tucked the comb back into her sleeve. She tugged on Rin's hand as she drew the little girl with her into the forest, towards the direction of the village. Ah-Un abandoned his grass to follow them.
"Hurry, hurry!" Miho said excitedly. "It's been five hundred years since I've eaten meat! Then I'll take you back to your father."
Jaken's day was—unfortunately—still not going well.
Though Sesshoumaru was not saying anything, Jaken had a feeling they were searching for Rin and Ah-Un. Yesterday, Sesshoumaru had picked up on Rin and Ah-Un's trail, and had begun to follow—only to have the gods interfere and send in a heavy downpour. Sesshoumaru had not been pleased, Jaken could tell from the way his lord stared daggers at him while they took shelter in a cave last night.
And now, the rain had washed away their scent.
Jaken sighed as he followed his lord. Surely, Rin could not have gotten far? She had most likely taken shelter in a cave, and overslept. Yes, that was it! The girl was somewhere, safe. They would find her, he was sure of it! Sesshoumaru-sama's nose was the sharpest and, sooner rather than later, he was certain they would stumble across Rin's scent again.
The imp looked up at his lord's regal back. He could still feel his lord's annoyance towards his irresponsibility, and he visibly flinched. Rubbing the sore spot on his head from yesterday, he prayed—for the first time in his life—that the gods had kept Rin safe.
"Um, Miho-chan?" Rin asked hesitantly as they approached the outskirts of the village. A short distance off, Rin could make out farmers busy tilling their plants. The other end of the field served as a pasture, where cows grazed contentedly (much to Miho's utter delight).
Miho looked down at Rin, who was walking beside her. "Yes?" she asked.
"Are you sure it's okay to bring Ah-Un with us? He might scare the villagers," Rin said. Ah-Un was trailing behind them, his two heads glancing around for any sign of danger.
Miho stopped in her tracks. She tilted her head, her expression thoughtful. "I guess we should leave him here," Miho mused, eyes darting around the trees. "We'll be back real quick!"
Rin led Ah-Un next to a thicket. "We'll be back soon, Ah-Un," the little girl reassured. "Then we'll find Sesshoumaru-sama and Jaken-sama!"
The dragon snorted in reply, and Rin quickly ran back to Miho. She was looking at the village, a look of intense excitement on her face. She took a deep breath. She could smell it! Fresh beef! Her stomach rumbled again.
Rin and Miho strode into the village. The village was busy, with people bustling about. Merchants sold their wares on stalls that rose on either side of the dusty road, their loud voices clamoring over the din. Farmers were pulling crop-filled wagons, their wooden wheels squealing. Children were running along the dusty road, their laughter adding to the noise.
Miho looked around, her eyes widening in curiosity. Her stay in Zhonghua had been brief, and she had not explored it much. This was the second time that she had been in a human village, and it greatly intrigued her.
Rin suddenly noticed that men were stopping to stare at them, or rather, at Miho. She could hardly blame them. Miho's clothing—the flowing white robes of the mainland, the jade ornaments in her hair—was sorely out of place amidst the rough clothing of the villagers. As if her clothes weren't enough, there was her face to consider.
"Miho-chan?" Rin asked as more men stopped to stare at the young lady walking beside her. Women stopped, and glared daggers at the young lady in white. The merchants stopped their calling, their eyes glued to the young woman in foreign clothing.
"Yes?" Miho asked, entirely oblivious. For now, her nose was preoccupied with the scent of beef. It was around here somewhere, there was just so many scents!
Before Rin could point it out, a young man suddenly rushed up to them, panting. "Miss!" he exclaimed to Miho. "Please, I must know your name!"
"Me as well!"
"Young miss, over here!"
Rin's eyes widened, and she ducked behind Miho as more men rushed up to them. Miho blinked. No! She could smell the beef, it was close! What were these humans doing?
"Miss, your name!" another young man begged.
"My name?" Miho asked. She glanced down at Rin, who was hiding behind her, then back to the young man. "Not now, I'm looking for something." She held Rin firmly by the hand, and pushed through the crowd. The men around her, fell—quite literally—out of her way as she passed.
"We'll help you find it!" another young man offered.
"We'll give you anything!"
Miho stopped in her tracks, her eyes widening, and a mischievous smile on her face. "Anything?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Anything!" the men chorused. It was safe for Rin to say that the human men were acting like idiots.
"Do you have any beef?" Miho asked, her tone eager.
"Beef! Quick, bring all the beef we have!"
"Young miss wants beef!"
"Here, the best beef in the village!"
"No, mine is! This is the freshest!"
"No, this one is!"
"Rin, look!" Miho enthused, looking down at the little girl as the men brought parcel after parcel to them. "We don't have to trade in my comb!"
"Wow, they sure gave us a lot of things," Rin commented as they left the village later. True enough, Ah-Un was carrying several bulky packs on his saddle, and it wasn't all beef—the villagers had given them fruits, ears of corn, rice, radishes, pheasants, bread, even sweets. They had been so preoccupied with the oblivious young lady, they didn't mind that they were loading their wares onto a two-headed dragon.
"They were very nice," Miho commented. She had an open parcel in one hand, and a piece of beef in the other. She was happily chewing on the beef strips, her expression fulfilled and happy. Rin herself had breakfasted on the fruits and bread.
"Oh!" Miho said, turning to Rin. "I'm sorry, where are my manners? Do you want one?" She held out the parcel to Rin, who shook her head. "Suit yourself," Miho said cheerfully, and returned to her chewing. Judging from the content expression on her face, it was as though she had achieved nirvana.
"By the way," Miho went on, after a moment's silence. "Where is your father and your mother? Where do you live? I'll take you to them."
Rin fidgeted slightly. "Um…Sesshoumaru-sama adopted me," she admitted. "After my real parents were killed."
Miho stopped, and looked down at her. "I'm sorry," she said. She was quiet for a moment, beef clutched between her fingers. "Sama," she muttered. "Is he a lord then? Is he nice to you?"
"Very!" Rin said, happy to speak of her lord. "Sesshoumaru-sama is the best!"
Miho smiled, and they resumed their walking. "Where do you think he is?"
"I'm not sure," Rin admitted. "We travel around."
"If I knew what he smelled like, I could find him," she muttered, chewing.
"What about you, Miho-chan?" Rin asked. "Where will you go? Will you go back to your family?"
"Um…I don't really know," Miho admitted, sheepish. Truth be told, she did not know what she was going to do after she returned Rin to her father.
Rin tilted her head, curious. "Where are they?"
"Well, my brothers and grandfather live very far away," Miho said, nibbling on her beef. "Very, very far away. I can't go back to them, actually."
Truth be told, she did not want to go back to where she had come from—what would be the point in running away? And through the Jieshu Gate, no less? Maybe she could do a bit of travelling herself. This land was new, and she had a feeling it would be different from the elaborate Zhonghua (which, truth be told, she hadn't even gotten around to exploring). Yeah, she could do that. Besides…the beef in this land was good (it was tender, juicy, and quite fresh! What more could she possibly ask for?).
She was about to start on her fourth piece of beef, when a loud voice blared through the air. "Riiiiin!" a shrill voice squawked.
Rin stopped, and a bright expression lit up her face. Beside her, the two-headed dragon (so different from Zhonghua's dragons), stopped in its tracks, its ears twitching.
"Jaken-sama!" Rin called out, delighted.
A moment later, a little green man emerged from the bushes beside them. Miho stopped, surprised. She had never seen anything like him before.
"Rin! Thank goodness! Sesshoumaru-sama and I were—" Jaken stopped abruptly, as his eyes landed on the young woman who stood next to Rin.
Miho, still chewing blissfully on her meat, regarded the strange creature in front of her. He was small, probably no taller than her knees, and he had big yellow eyes. His green skin alone announced—for all the world to see—that he was not human.
Miho found him cute, quite cuddly even.
Jaken, on the other hand, couldn't help but gape. Rin giggled as soon as she caught sight of Jaken's befuddled expression.
"Your name!" Jaken squawked as he fell prostrate at Miho's feet. "Please, I must know your name!"
Miho blinked, and stopped her chewing. She tilted her head, curious. "Why do people keep asking my name?" she mused. Really, it was quite embarrassing enough to admit that she had forgotten her name in the first place. That's what I get for passing through the Jieshu Gate, I suppose, she thought.
"Please!" Jaken begged, a red tinge on his green cheeks. Rin couldn't help it—she laughed.
"Rin calls me 'Miho'," Miho said, resuming her chewing.
"Mihooo," Jaken said, a dreamy look in his eyes.
"You don't look so good," Miho commented. "You look sick."
Jaken immediately snapped out of his stupor, while Rin automatically stopped laughing. Even Miho stopped her chewing, her eyes darting to the trees, where a figure emerged from the shadows.
"Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin said, delighted.
Sesshoumaru's eyes fell on Rin. She was safe, not in the least bit injured. Satisfied, he turned his attention to the young woman who stood before him.
Her apparel was that of the mainland—the long, flowing, white robe; the elaborate hairstyle; the ornaments of white jade in her hair. It was easy to see why Jaken had fallen prostrate at her feet. In all honesty—he was a man, after all—the girl was a fine specimen. He inwardly scoffed. Unlike weaker demons, however, he was quite immune to feminine charms. He narrowed his eyes at the girl, who tilted her head curiously at him. Her aura was strong.
Neither human nor demon, Sesshoumaru thought. A goddess. What kind, I am not certain. Certainly, not malevolent.
Something was off about the young woman, though. How could one who dwelt in the heavens have such an excessive look of curiosity about them? And what was that the girl was holding? Meat? Did gods even eat?
"What are you?" Sesshoumaru asked, tone apathetic.
Miho tilted her head, ignoring his question. She had never seen someone like this one. He was not human—that much was obvious. He was not a god. Demon? That ought to be it. Her eyes, instead of darting to the face which usually caught people's attention first, fell on his shoulder. Her eyes widened in surprise and interest.
Several strides brought her in front of the unflinching demon lord, her attention fixed on the fluffy object on his shoulder. "What is this?" she asked and, much to Jaken and Rin's surprise, she poked his fluffy pelt with one hand (it was to be noted that she did not let go of the parcel of beef in her other hand).
Sesshoumaru suppressed the urge to quirk an eyebrow (a habit he had inherited from his mother). "Ah!" the girl said, still poking. There was a look of pure relish on her face as she continued to poke. "It's so soft and fluffy," she muttered. "Not even brother Zhuque's feathers are this soft."
Sesshoumaru had enough. He took a step away from the girl, eyes narrowed in warning. "I will repeat my question—what are you?"
"Answer Sesshoumaru-sama's question, Miho-chan!" Jaken chided. His tone, Sesshoumaru noted, was not the loud, squalling tone he usually used. No, the demon lord couldn't help but notice that Jaken sounded mellow. Hn. The fool.
"I'm a gumiho!" the young woman said cheerfully, a broad grin on her face. If Sesshoumaru recalled correctly, those were nine-tailed foxes. This one, however, was a goddess. How?
"Rin calls me 'Miho'," the young woman went on.
"Calls?" Sesshoumaru asked.
To his surprise, the girl's cheeks flushed scarlet. She looked abashed. "I forgot my name," she said simply.
This time, Sesshoumaru did quirk an eyebrow. Who, in their right minds, would forget their name? Perhaps he had been mistaken in taking the girl for a goddess? She certainly did not act like one. But no—her aura made it clear. This one was a goddess (albeit a very improper one. How could one woman eat that much meat?).
"I can explain, Sesshoumaru-sama," Rin said quickly, and he turned his attention to her. "I helped Miho-chan yesterday."
"She did!" the girl, Miho, said. She smiled at Rin. "She helped set me free from the painting."
"Free?" Sesshoumaru's eyes fell on Rin, who, he noted, did not have the look of a guilty child who had just been told on.
"You would want to be free, too, if you'd been stuck in there for five hundred years," Miho said simply. She turned her attention to the parcel she held, took out a piece of beef, and began to chew happily. "Five hundred years without this, I couldn't stand it anymore!" And she ate on.
Sesshoumaru had enough. "Jaken, Rin, let's go." He turned, and began to walk away.
"Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin said, and ran to follow her lord. She stopped, and turned to Miho. "Miho-chan, come with us!"
"Rin, you can't let her come with us!" Jaken huffed. The moment his lord had said his name, he had snapped out of his mellow stupor. Admittedly, he was embarrassed at having been caught by Sesshoumaru groveling at the feet of a woman. Oh, what must his lord have thought! The indignity of it!
"But she's alone, Jaken-sama!" Rin persisted, tugging on Miho's sleeve. "Besides, it's because of Miho-chan we have so much food!" She gestured to the packs on Ah-Un, who snorted.
"Ah! Sesshoumaru-sama is leaving!" Jaken squalled, turning in the direction his lord had left. "Fine! Bring her along, but if she causes trouble, it's your fault, got it?" And without further ado, Jaken dashed after his lord.
Rin turned to Miho, a bright smile on her face. "Miho-chan, come with us!" she said.
Miho tilted her head. "I can?"
"Of course!" Rin said, tugging on Miho's sleeve and dragging her along.
Jaken looked back over his shoulder. Ah! Rin had grasped the girl by the sleeve, and was bringing her along! He quickly turned away from the young lady, lest he fall prey to her spell of indignity again. Really! How could Rin think to bring the troublemaker along! What his lord would say, he didn't know (either he wasn't aware that Rin was bringing the girl, or he simply didn't care. It was very much like Sesshoumaru-sama not to be troubled by annoying women! His lord was indeed awe-inspiring!).
Jaken hesitantly glanced over his shoulder, at Rin and Miho. He narrowed his bulbous yellow eyes as the latter gave him a cheery smile. She was, he noted, still holding onto that parcel of beef.
I have a bad feeling about this, the imp thought.
A1969: so, how was it? Yes, no, maybe? Anyway, I want to know if Miho is being Mary Sue-ish. From a lot of fanfiction I've read, god OCs usually end up being Mary Sue-ish. Please let me know if I am making the same mistake. Oh, and I've based Miho on the lead in 'My Girlfriend is a Gumiho'. You guys should watch it, it's just too adorable!
And a few notes:
Sugegasa – cone-shaped straw hats.
Shimenawa – straw rope used for purification in the Shinto religion.
Zhonghua/Mainland – old China
Gumiho – nine-tailed fox. This is actually Korean. I had wanted to use the Chinese huli jing, but, like the Japanese kitsune, the huli jing only has one tail. I've also heard that huli jing has come to be used in the same sense as 'home wrecker'.
Tenshi – Japanese for 'angel'
Jieshu – Chinese for 'End'
Zhuque – Google him—you'll be surprised (unless you know who this is already, that is!)
Inuyasha: geez, you talk a lot.
Kagome: be nice! How many times do I have to say it?
A1969: yeah, Inu, be nice! Anyway, please don't forget to review, and tell me what you guys think! Whew! With this off my chest, I can finally update in peace xD