Shadows Against the Shoji Screens
Some non-descript figure of the female form bowed low as she artfully poured the clear heated beverage into a small skillfully created ceramic cup. The scent mingled with the existing fragrance of fresh tatami mats, and together the grassy earthiness and the spicy, sweet scent of the Sake made a pleasant combination in the room.
The woman bowed quickly, her dark hair covering her features, and quickly, almost as soon as she had come, she scuttled away, however gracefully, out of the room closing the adorned shoji screens smoothly. He had watched her lazily as she did this little performance, this ritual—and now had taken up the drink that she had served. Scratching his neck absentmindedly, he listened, as his most trusted advisor began to try to convince him of the matter at hand. Actually, he thought, he couldn't care less about what happened in his abode. He had greater places to be, greater things to accomplish. Whatever his friend, his advisor was saying held no importance to him. No doubt, it was some new propaganda, which in the end would cause him wealth and followers, but bring him no closer to his goal.
All that mattered in his life, all that had mattered for some time, was this goal, shining and glistening in front of him. His lust was like forbidden jewel.
Scowling, he faced the man dressed in an awase of a deep blue and white.
"—That is to say, Inuyasha-sama, to make an alliance with the Higurashi family would be in our favor. Soon we will be going battle and to have such a weapons manufacture, such as the house, would be a great asset." The man paused to sip his own Sake that wet he throat, and for a time he waited for his lord to respond. Unfortunately, his lord seemed preoccupied as he watched the plum tree outside in the courtyard. Small tight buds were beginning to appear.
His lord was a man of action, and true, contemplation: yet few knew this fact. His lord did not grant people his trust easily. Yet, when trust was gained certain requirements were to be followed.
"My lord…" he began again.
"It's nearly spring," Inuyasha coughed as he hoisted himself up and walked about the room, his hands carefully put behind his back. "You know what spring means, of course Miroku?"
The advisor paused for a moment, gulped, and answered, "The local flower festival?" Then, thinking of an even better response, "Fertility?"
"No!" his lord barked angrily, "Spring means that soon he will begin attacking from his mountain fortress, and work his way down into the farmlands. If he gets into the farmlands the nobles will be ruined, and because of them, so will I. Rice is like gold, understand, Miroku? If he takes the rice, the farmers cannot pay the rent, the nobles will make no money, and I will lose the power my father worked so hard as a youkai to obtain. "
It was always there. The will to beat him, the will to prevail. The obsession, the desire…it always clouded his eyes as though an impenetrable fortress around his body was being constructed.
"Yes. If the nobles lose money you will no longer have the means to defeat him, and the nobles will change their alliance." He found himself repeating in an almost mechanical voice. Miroku sipped his Sake again; it was a fine brew, no doubt a gift from their allies in the Yamanashi prefecture.
Inuyasha anxiously flexed his clays as he murmured to himself, "Do what you please about the house. Whatever benefits us, I am in favor for."
"Is that your word, Inuyasha-sama?" Miroku began, mentally rubbing his hands together. The outcome would be glorious, despite the setback that his preoccupied lord seemed to be overlooking. An alliance meant marriage, this was no doubt, and he was glad that Inuyasha seemed unaware of this fact. His lord had much to contemplate, especially since now spring was nearly upon the countryside, and it was better in this way that Inuyasha was not informed until the last minute of the engagement. Before he could object the wedding it would be upon him, and there would be no escape. If Inuyasha refused, he would be disgraced. It was a well-known fact that his lord was against marriage since the early death of his mother. Hopefully an heir would be produced; at least, this was the goal…along with the possession of weapons. Nevertheless, this was a key move.
"Yes. It is my word!" the irritable one snarled. "Do you dare question my dignity?"
"Of course not, Inuyasha-sama." Miroku found himself grinning as he looked up at his lifelong friend. When in such a room as they were in now there were barriers and ranks; and both knew they wanted to escape the shoji screens decorated with pine trees.
There was a moment of silence, and then, as though the topic of conversation was cast aside, his lord dusted off the silks that he was dressed in and said, "Come, Miroku, let us have a match of Go. This winter snow has dulled my tactic. I need to be prepared when, no doubt, the ass sends his yearly letter."
Inuyasha chuckled to himself a most devious laugh. Yes, Miroku thought, it was evident the power of the youkai which swam through his blood. Yet, even more noticeable was the power of compassion that only his mother could have provided.
Miroku bowed deeply and followed his lord out to the snow-strewed garden where the first of the crocuses were beginning to bloom. Their colors were that of sunset freshly painted with the palest yellow of dawn. Their beauty was subtle against the pristine freshness of the snow. Yet, Miroku noted, his lord noticed none of this. His lord was not unaware of their beauty, but he overlooked it. He saw the trees, despite the forest.
"Lord Sesshoumaru…" the voice croaked from behind the Cyprus door. "I have news…"
There was the sound of shuffling parchment being placed into a shelf, and then the murmur of a soft voice, "Come in, Jaken."
The frog demon stumbled in on his stubby legs, his flesh puckered and wrinkled like the plums. In his small almost scaly hand, he held out a piece of rough and torn parchment speckled with mud and the like. No doubt, it came from his spies that he had situated in his land. The message, he mused, was an express. Reaching out for it, Lord Sesshoumaru placed it on top of a highly polished table and began the task of reading the matter at hand.
The frog demon waited nervously in his anxious attitude, scanning the walls for signs of life. Spiders or flies were always a welcome in this insanely clean mountainside retreat. Figures walking past cast shadows onto the ornamented shoji screens that were situated behind Sesshoumaru, and Jaken shivered slightly hoping that his master had not become lazy in the off-season for recreation. On the other hand, Jaken pondered, his master was a youkai…and rarely they allowed themselves the pleasure of laziness.
Jaken, turning his large beady eyes to where his master sat, stiffened as he saw the icy stare of one of the most feared youkai in the country become filled with annoyance.
"Are you done?"
"Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama." He found himself replying nervously as be bowed his head out of custom. There was a silence as the piece of thick paper was being carefully folded and then set to the edge of the table where a large chunk of amethyst was used for a paperweight.
"It would seem that Inuyasha has decided to make an attack soon…"
"I have heard nothing, Sesshoumaru-sama." Jaken mumbled to himself. During much of the autumn and all of the winter, there had been no news from the lands that his lord's brother rulled. Now that spring had begun to melt into existence, all had still been quiet. He had kept his eyes and ears open in hopes of pleasing his master. Yet, once again, no such luck would come to him.
"Of course you have heard nothing. You do not listen properly." Sesshoumaru scoffed in disgust as he poured himself a cup of steaming sesame tea a servant had brought him earlier. He sipped it cautiously, and then confided, "Inuyasha has decided to make an alliance with the most prestigious house of Higurashi."
The youkai lord waited a moment to see if such facts had pierced the frog's thick skull. Sighing, he continued, "I take it you do not know that the house of Higurashi makes much of it's wealth through weapons, particularly bows and arrows as well as swords of fine quality, suited for typical warfare."
"I was not aware of this fact, forgive me, Sesshoumaru-sama." Jaken chocked out a bit stoically as his fists clenched out of embarrassment. Yet, Jaken thought, why would there be an alliance between the house of Higurashi and the likes of Inuyasha?
"It seems," his master continued, "That the house of Higurashi has been cursed with a daughter. A most…" he paused, sipping the tea again and looking for a word in which he could describe the rumors, "…a most free-spirited one."
"Ah, they have indeed been cursed." Jaken nodded in agreement. Daughters were trouble to begin with, but free-spirited ones only added to discontent that was already so abundant through most noble women.
"Yes, indeed. Never the less, her dowry is a most handsome one. He will be able to have unlimited weapons to help control his reign of power in 'his' lands. That is…if he will marry such a girl." His lord's voice had now gone hard and he spat in contempt, "We must find an alliance with someone so as we can make a swift counter attack. I will make Inuyasha pay for stealing what is rightfully mine."
Jaken, from his bowed viewpoint, noticed his masters' claws clench notably. So much his knuckles had begun to turn white, and soon he would puncture his own skin. Mercilessly, his master calmed himself, and said smoothly, "Look into the possibilities of this marriage. His downfall in taking a bride might be of some use to us."
The shoji screen leading to the outside was smoothly opened and a typical Japanese woman (except for the fact that she was a demon who was possessing the body) said warmly, "It is time for dinner, Sesshoumaru-sama."
It was amazing, Sesshoumaru realized, how easily all these demons lost their nerves when one helped them from the brink of death. He was really astonished (as much as he could be) how so many of his kind were content living a life posing as a human. It disgusted him that anyone would want to be a human…or even fall in love with one.
Dismissing Jaken, he turned to the table and drew out a large map. He had to begin to put the pieces into place, yet they seemed to be falling together quite nicely.
AN: well, this is the first time I have ever attempted to write an IY fic which actually takes place in the time it was meant to. I don't know if I would classify this as an AU, because IY is a hanyou, Miroku is a past monk, Sango…I dunno…Sesshoumaru is a lord, and a youkai, and it takes place in feudal Japan. However…Kagome is not from the future, in case you couldn't have guessed, Kagome is the 'free spirited' daughter.
PS: an 'awase' is a lined kimono usually worn in cold weather. Be warned, I plan to use some clothing and food terminology, but I will always explain either at the beginning or end.
What would I classify this as? …hmm, a romance, mixed in with a backdrop of feudal warfare.