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Duty, Choice and Honor

Chapter Text

It was done. With one last wish, the spider hanyo and the Jewel which InuYasha had so wished to use to become a full yoki were no more. The Miko slumped on the ground before him, tired from the fight they had just fought and the emotional toll it had on her. She cried out at the sadness she had witnessed at the end and the history she had lived thru. For once, the dog eared boy simply stood behind her, arms folded within his sleeves. He understood her reaction. The fate they had almost lost her to. The last battle had been hard on everyone, even more so on Kagome.

InuYasha was relieved he did not lose the girl from the future to a prison of stone. Hell, he was still in awe that none of his friends had died. It all seemed so surreal to the hanyo. Despite the ache he still felt in his heart for the final loss of Kikio, he was truly content at this moment. Life could finally move forward.

He could see his brother in the distance clearly checking over the human child he had taken to traveling with. It warmed his heart some to see the bastard caring that deeply towards someone for once. Maybe he couldn't be a part of his brothers life, but it comforted him to realize that the DeYokai did indeed have a heart.

To the side of him he noticed as the taja and monk shed tears of joy at the curse which threatened Miroku's hand being lifted and he smiled lightly, but the time to simply watch was over. Slowly inuYasha leaned over, placing his hands gently on the girl from the futures shoulders before speaking in a soft and caring voice. "Oi, you gonna to be alright Kagome?"

He noticed as his brother looked over to him, eyes showing a hint of loathing, but no words were spoken as the lord stood, beckoning his ward to follow him back to the human village as Kagome turned to the hanyo, wrapping her arms around him. She buried her head into him as she cried quietly. That was fine, he did not need his brothers kindness, it was enough that the demon no longer yearned for his death. He could be content with this.

When Kagome was finally well enough to stand, InuYasha helped her to her feet. As he started his way back to the village, the rest of his group filed in behind him without a word. They were all tired from the fight; now was a time for rest and healing.

Within their first few steps back to Edo, InuYasha felt a tug at his sleeve. Looking down he met eyes with the tired miko. "Take me home, please. I'll come visit in a few days I just..."
InuYasha wrapped his arm around her back as he took her hand in his other. He understood, it had been a lot for the girl. "It's alright Kagome, I'll take you home, I'm sure your family will be happy to know it's all over now and you're safe."

She nodded her head as he offered his back for her to crawl onto. "Oi, You guys go on ahead, I'll meet up once I drop Kagome off." Once Kagome was holding tightly, he was off, bounding to the well to see her home. Unfortunately, that was not to be. As the two of them jumped into the well there was no magic to greet them. This time, as the Miko broke down in tears, InuYasha found he did not know how to handle it, a rock forming in the pit of his stomach.

 




It had been quite a change that the group of shard hunters went through after the death of Naraku. InuYasha watched on as the young girl from the future mourned and fought against the closing off the well to no avail, and finally accepted her fate, choosing to train with the Miko Kaede. It had taken her two months to move forward, but he supposed it was not that long at all considering what all the girl lost.

With Kagome's will to move forward put in place, InuYasha watched the kit move on himself, choosing to travel to the Katsune school to train. Shippo had always tried to put too much on his own shoulders, and it was likely that he was unwilling to move on before he was sure Kagome had left most of her sadness behind.

Four months ago, the hanyo watched his friend Moroku and Sango marry and the joy that came with it. Now though, seven months since the destruction of the Shikon Jewel, the winds seemed to be shifting once again, and InuYasha was fairly sure it was not for the better.

InuYasha and Moroku were traveling down the dirt road, traveling back to their village from freeing yet another town from the influence of some minor no-name demon. InuYasha hefted the sack he was carrying higher onto his shoulder as the Monk watched the path ahead, clearly deep in his own troubled contemplations.

The hanyo's voice rings out across the silence between them, slightly cracking "What? That's been the seventh one this month, hasn't it?"

"You are correct my friend... and I had been under the impression that the four we dealt with last month was an unusually large number."

"So, I'm not the only one who thinks things are getting bad again?"

"Indeed InuYasha. Though with the destruction of the sacred jewel, I am not sure what is bringing them all out in these sorts of numbers?"

The boy huffs as he halls their parcel higher onto his shoulder "beets me." his eyes clearly displaying his worry for a moment.

Moroku chuckles a bit, patting the large bag on InuYasha's shoulder; "I cannot complain to much, now can I. What ever it is happens to be very good for busniss!"

InuYasha mumbles under his breath "damn greedy hoshi... next time I should make you carry the reward home."


That night. InuYasha wakes from a dead sleep, a chill going up his spine. At first he is unaware of what caused it but in a moment he picks up a soft scent like turned over earth, old fire wood and the soft muck of river moss all covered in the smell of wet.

InuYasha stands up on the branch he had been sleeping on, careful not to make a sound before beginning to jump from branch to branch in search of whatever disturbed him tonight.  He stops once he is nearly on top of the scent, dropping down into the underbrush bellow determined to get a good look at whatever disturbed him from slumber and gave him this uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.

He only has to shift the bushes lightly to get a view of what woke him. before him was a procession of beings far too peculiar to be humans. there before him where small lights in the night no bigger than his fists, darting and weaving like koi as they flew forward, with them were what appeared to be a small procession of beautiful women all dressed in white and covering their faces with their sleeves as they wailed and cried softly into the night, their hair dripping water as they passed. Behind that was the fairly typical procession of different sized disembodied heads floating in mass as they followed the women, hair becoming like smoke behind them as the silently followed. interspersed between them seemed to be plant like yoki. small and knobby and sprouting bits of vegetation here and there as they oddly shuffled along. What ever this was, It was no war party. No where in there mists could he find a single weapon and any men he did find in the group were clearly lacking any strength and definition one would associate with a fighter or even a raider. The only intent he could get off of the group was a sense of sorrow, an aimlessness and the tart scent of dread and worry.

Slowly, InuYasha backed farther away from the travelers, wanting nothing more than to get away. His curiosity being squelched had managed to leave him with a greater sense of dread than he had when he had first awoken.

Chapter Text

The morning Sun peaked out from the trees on the outskirts of the village, prompting her inhabitants to wake and begin their daily chores. This was no different for the once-Shikon warriors; all but one that is. It was not unusual for InuYasha to be away from the village in the early morning hours, as he preferred to scout the forests surrounding the village for any threats over the mundane tasks of food preparation and animal husbandry the humans generally took part in during these early hours. Once the general tasks were completed and the group had finished preparing their meal however, they began to worry over the hanyo's tardiness.

Kagome gave out a humph, shaking her head as her arms crossed, "what do you think is taking him so long this time Miroku. I swear, If he keeps us so long that breakfast gets cold again, I'm going to sit him so hard..."

Miroku smiled gently as he stood from his spot on the floor, placing his hand on the girls shoulder reassuringly "Don't let your frustration over him taking his time to ask for your hand ruin your morning, our friend is likely waiting for the right time. I will go see what is taking him so long."

Kagome looked away blushing at being seen through as the monk stood.  "Well, I wish he would stop pussyfooting around and just ask already."

Sango spoke up from her seat by the hearth as Miroku exited. "To be fair, Kagome, I'm pretty sure InuYasha thinks more deeply about things than he lets on. Give him some time to work through whatever is bothering him. I am certain it will make your marriage a stronger one."

The young girl sighed as she looked down dejectedly "Fine, I'll take your word for it, But if he takes forever on this" at this she looked up with a spark of agitation in her eyes as she shook her fist.
The other woman simply chuckled "I know, I know. I'm sure you won't have to wait to long Kagome, he clearly cares deeply for you, even if he can be suborn."

 

 

It did not take long for the monk to find his half demon friend, though it did leave him slightly worried. He had expected to find InuYasha gallivanting around the forest or scenting out some possible threat. Instead he found the hanyo up in his tree, sun at his back staring off into the distance as if troubled by something.

"You are late for breakfast my friend so I came to look for you. The girls seem a bit worried by your absence."

InuYasha snorted, barely shifting in his spot. " Don't worry Hoshi, I'm just keeping an eye out for any more of the demons I saw last night."

The monk shifted uncomfortably, bringing his free hand up to sit on his staff. "I don't sense any demons near by InuYasha."

"Nah, You probably wouldn't, they didn't seem to be the type you'd find wandering around in the daylight. probably found some holes or cracks to disappear into... whatever their kind do when you lose track of em."

"I see... is it something we should be worried about?"

"Nah, It's nothing for you to worry about hoshi. They aren't the kind who willingly get close to human settlements, let alone the kind who would attack."

The Monk visibly relaxed in his spot, "In that case, what would bring them this close to The Village?"

InuYasha nods off in the direction he is facing. "Something's got them riled up and is forcing them out of their own territories, so they're coming this way."


His eyes followed the direction intently "So that is the thing we should be Concerned with?"

"Like I said Hoshi, it's not for you to worry about."

"Well, if they are not something to worry about, perhaps you would like to come eat before breakfast gets cold."

InuYasha jumped down in one swift motion, his face unknowingly belying a bit of worry. "Yah, yah. I'm commin."

 

Upon entering Miroku's home, Kagome turned to look at the hanyo, smiling sweetly as she clasped her hands together. "InuYasha! We were so worried about you. when you didn't show up on time! What happened?"

The monk took his seat next to his wife, looking to Sango before beginning to fill bowls for everyone. "It would seem that a group of demons had passed by close to the village In the night. InuYasha was simply keeping a look out for anything else out of the ordinary."

At this, the Taja shifted in her seat, giving more attention to her husbands words, but it was the girl from the future who spoke up "That sounds bad, what if they are scouting the area?"

InuYasha snorted audibly, clearly annoyed by the conversation as a whole, but the hoshi continued  "from our conversation, it would seem they are no threat. It's highly possible that it and the greater number of yoki attacks are linked however."

The group fell in to a relative silence as they ate, clearly contemplating the situation as it stands. Slowly, Sango looked to her husband in all seriousness "We may have to postpone starting our family."

Miroku opened his mouth to say something, but it was InuYasha who cut in first;" Look, it's not going to come to that okay. Whatever it is, it's not your problem, and I'll be damned if you get dragged into it."

There was a moment of silence before InuYasha slapped his face harshly, removing it to reveal the flattened form of the flea Mioga. "Damn it Gigi, What are you doing here?" agitation clearly lacing his voice.

"Oh Master InuYasha it's terrible!" the diminutive flea spoke as he wrung his tiny hands together. "Just terrible!"

"What is it Mioga what's goin on!?"

"A civil war has broken out in the Western Lands InuYasha. Several of the lesser houses have risen against your brother and seem to be gaining allies from other lands!"

InuYasha's face contorted with the news as he bit on his thumb "Damn it!"

"To make matters worse InuYasha, it is likely that they are planing on sending assassins here to kill you during the commotion."

"The Hell they are!" He stands abruptly, fire burning in his golden eyes as he turned to the door; "If they think I'm just gonna sit here and wait for them to try and kill me as they tear the west apart, they have another thing coming." The look he gives to flea as he jumps onto his shoulder giving away a hint of sadness at the news. "Whether the bastards want's my help or not, I'm not setting this out."

Kagome stood, calling out to InuYasha "wait!, why would they be trying to kill you?"

InuYasha looked over his shoulder to the girl, an odd look of displeasure in his eyes "Because I'm the heir to the Western Lands if Sesshomaru dies."

Chapter Text

Everyone in the room sat in shock, staring at the hanyo with dropped jaws at this bit of information.

"What... what are you talking about InuYasha?" Kagome managed to stammer out after a long pause.

The hanyo simply snorted, turning on his heals to stair properly at the inhabitants of the room, arms crossed and one brow raised in annoyance. "Isn't obvious? Sesshomaru has no mate or children of his own, which leaves me as the only one who can rightfully take over if those idiots manage to kill him." He looks away to the side, clearly mumbling to himself under his breath, "Not like it's ever going to come to that...

Everyone else in the room, simply sat their and blinked clearly still trying to process this new information, except for Kagome who shot to her feet, shoulders forward and fists held back in her agitation. "InuYasha! Why did you never tell me about something this big before now!?"

"I didn't tell you because it's not important."

"What do you mean it's not important InuYasha!"

InuYasha sighed, rolling his eyes at the miko's antics. "Look Kagome, it doesn't matter because there is no way in hell that that bastard is going to die any time soon. Hell, if anything, I'll likely die before he does."

Kagome blinks at the hanyo a moment before glaring at him. "That's not the point InuYasha!"

Throwing his hands down, he finally yells back, fed up with the annoyance the girl is causing him when there are better things he could be doing "Of course it is!!'

Apparently, this was the wrong move. As soon as those words were past his lips, a resounding "SIT BOY!!" was heard through most of the village as the puppy eared hanyo went plowing into the ground.

It took a moment for the boy to crawl out of the hanyo sized hole left from his fall, but it only took a moment for the boy to yell back at the miko, clearly just as mad as the girl "What the Hell did you do that for!?"

Kagome turned away from him, crossing her arms as she tilted her head and humphed indignantly "That should be obvious InuYasha."

"fine... whatever. I don't have time for this. I need to get going."

"The least you could do is wait until everyone is done eating InuYasha" the boy looked back at her slowly, eyebrow rising in disbelief. as Kagome sat down pompously, taking her bowl into her hands. "After that I can gather some travel supplies and THEN we can go."

"Whadda ya mean, then we can go?"

Kagome's agitation was clearly growing at his statement if the tick in her brow was anything to go by. "It means exactly what it sound like InuYasha... It's not like you expect me to travel with just the close on my back do you?"

Inuyasha tilted his head a little to the flea on his shoulder, mumbling underhis breath something that sounded like "Yah, I know" before raising his voice at the girl from the future; "I'm EXPECTING you to stay here."

"What do you mean!?"

"I mean exactly what I said. This isn't your problem and I can handle it myself."

At his words the young miko looked as if she were about to boil over, but it was the monk stood up before speaking to the agitated hanyo. "I hope you don't mind me interrupting, but I think I speak for everyone here when I tell you this: There is absolutely no way we are going to let you leave by yourself after everything we've been through InuYasha."

Sango nodded at her husbands words, choosing to speak up as well "After everything we've been through InuYasha, were family. How do you think we'd feel with you in the West, not knowing how you are doing or being there to help when you need us?"

"Look, This is my duty and responsibility, not yours. It's not your place to do this."

Moroku spoke up again, a hint of a smile on his face and determination in his eyes. "I believe we all understand Duty InuYasha, but I think it's time you learned a thing or two about Loyalty."
At this the boys ear twitch, causing the room to break out in laughter, starting with the miko from the future. She tried to speak past her laughter "He's half dog demon, you'd think it wouldn't be that hard!"

The hanyo narrowed his eyes for a moment, before Turning and heading through the door, clearly upset "Fine, do whatever the hell you want, I'll be in my tree."

 


 

Hours... It had been hours sense InuYasha settled into the branches of his tree. Hours, and still he sits, waiting for his companions to show up. He sighs, mumbling to himself "I should have just left without them." He wonders idly to himself "What could be taking them so long?" but he doesn't have an answer. He shifts in his spot, anxious to leave. The quicker he gets to the west, the quicker he can asses how bad the situation is; the quicker he can help bring it to an end. In his head this is his responsibility, though he doubts his friends understand. He's sure they think he's just trying to do what he thinks is right, but it's so much more than that. He can't settle, as his heart sinks even further into the pit of his stomach.

The wind rustles through the branches, bringing the scent of his group to his nose just a moment before the sound of their voices can be heard in the distance. "finally" he thinks to himself.
It feels like an eternity, yet it's a matter of moments before the group is nearly to his tree. Voices to loud for his ears at the moment; tone too upbeat for his mood. He jumps down, back turned to the others. Huffing, he speaks in a voice even he would categorize as obnoxious "took you long enough." He turns to look at his friends, not even trying to hide the displeasure on his face.
Kagome shoots him a reprimanding look, before tilting her nose up at him and continuing in her lecturing voice. "Well I'm sorry InuYasha, but you can't expect us to leave without the proper supplies, now can you?

The boy rolls his eyes; he's REALLY not in the mood for this. "No, but I expected you to at least hurry up. Your already going to be slowing me down WITHOUT you taking forever to get your shit together!"

That's it, He went to far, if the tick in her brow was anything to go by. Her face continued to twitch a bit before a resounding "SIT BOY!" was heard across the forest, causing InuYasha to crash into the ground. She humphed before continuing to walk past the Hanyo and the tree he took to resting in.

InuYasha pulls himself out of the hole made from the impact, glaring at his friends backs before getting up and dusting himself off. He's pissed to say the least, but at least they're on the move, so he holds his tongue as he follows behind the others.

Chapter Text

It had been fourteen days sense the group set off. fourteen, days where InuYasha's agitation continued in an unending cycle. They were moving far to slow in the Hanyo's opinion. Stopping here and there so the humans could rest. Really, he should be used to this by now. Unfortunately, this was far to important for the boy to care.

He listened to the idle chit chat of his friends, far to light hearted for his liking. He's not even sure why they decided to come, as they clearly didn't seem to give a damn about the seriousness of the situation. The fact that he would nearly be to the western border by now if he had just left on his own ate at his mind yet again. He bites his lip, almost painfully as he quietly continues behind the others. He should have just left without a word, off and out on his own. Unfortunately, he wanted to still have friends to go back to after all this. He continued to worry his lip between his teeth; Thinking of how his choices were continuing to bring death to those he had a responsibility towards.

As his stress mounted, it was the cat, Kirara who noticed his growing despair taking the time to jump off the slayers shoulder to set herself on the dog eared boy, mewing softly as she boped his face in support. He ruffled her fur a bit as Sango looked back for a moment in concern before setting her sights back on the road ahead. I guess someone noticed at least was the next passing thought that came to the boys mind.

Suddenly the group came to a halt as they made a turn on the mountain path they were walking. Kagome sat in the lead, clearly peering at something in the distance. "There's a village over there!" she spoke excitedly as she pointed out the rooftops she could make out past the trees to the rest of the group.

It only took a moment for the rest of the group to reach her, proceeding to peer in the direction she was pointing. It was Miroku who spoke first, a smile on his face "I think it would do us some good to take a break."

InuYasha glared a bit at his companions despite the obvious fatigue written on their faces. before pointing with his thumb in the general direction of the village. "That's going to take us almost half a day travel in the wrong direction, and will end up costing us at least a days worth of travel."

The girl from the future ended up glaring at him for a moment with her arms folded, clearly displeased at his complaint. "It's only a day InuYasha, it's not going to kill you..."

InuYasha folded his arms over his chest, glaring at the girl through his bangs in a no nonsense manner "No, It's not going to kill ME and that's not the damn point!"

She unfolded her arms, placing her hands on her hips as she glared back "come on InuYasha! You don't expect us to keep going at this pace!? I'm hot; I'm sweaty and my feet feel like they're going to fall off!"

"I REALLY DON'T CARE..." he didn't get to finish his comment before his face met with the ground due to the dreaded "Sit".

It was Miroku who surprisingly helped him up from his hole, an apologetic look on his face. The monks voice was soft and understanding as he spoke "I know that it's important for you to get to the west as soon as possible, but we have been traveling for quite some time and I'm sure the girls are tired. With any luck, a good meal and a decent nights rest should get us back to traveling at a decent pace." at this the monk put his hand on his friends shoulder, his smile taking up his whole face " Besides, I think you could use a bath about as much as the rest of us!"

"Why you damn Hoshi..." the hanyo replies, fist shaking a bit as he raises his eyebrow. He sighs a bit, letting his shoulders drop a little in defeat. "Fine, if it will speed you people up, we can take the damn detour... but it better be worth it." He looks around at the rest of the crew, who look rather relieved at his concession.

Kagome smiled back at the hanyo, anger forgotten for the moment "Thank you InuYasha. that's all that I'm asking for."

"Yah, Yah." the boy answered back, waiving his hand in dismissal. "Let's just get going. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can leave."

 


 


As they entered the village, there was no hiding the hostility in the eyes of the inhabitants. Cold looks, and questioning glances; there was no question that they did not trust these strangers, and even less of a question as to why.

They continued forward, Miroku confidently in the lead until they were stopped by a fairly large group of men. The man standing in the front of the group eyed the hanyo wearily before looking to the monk "What business do you have in our village." It was clear by his dress that he was of higher status than the rest of the men present. Likely a representative of the palace that sits overlooking the smaller homes they had been passing.

Moroku tapped his staff on the ground, making the rings clank together. He bowed a little in respect before speaking to the man before him. "My good man, we just so happened to be passing by when I sensed an evil presence within this village. Being the kindly monk that I am, I could not simply pass you by without offering our aid." his hand was placed upon his heart.

At this, the mans brows rose before he looked over the group one more time; settling his eyes back on the monk "If that is the case monk, follow me." With that, he turned as the group he lead parted, allowing he and the newcomers to pass.

It didn't take long for the group to reach the palace and find themselves seated within as the man (who as of yet, has still not given his name) disappears. It was clear by the fine paintings on the shoji, the quality of the tatami mats and the fine print on the cushions they rested on that the lord of this place was rather wealthy to say the least.

The group eyeballed each other as they waited, not wanting to talk much with the guards standing outside the rice-paper doors. It was Kagome who cleared her voice, speaking barely above a whisper as she leaned towards the others uncomfortably "They seem a little paranoid, don't they?"

InuYasha rolled his eyes at the girl, as he leaned back some in his spot. "Yah. Obviously these people have something going on, and we just happened to get ourselves tied up in this." he looked at Miroku accusingly.

The Monk at least had the decency to blush lightly, tilting his head in apology "gomen'nasai, I did not realize."

InuYasha snorted at this; "yah, no shit. With any luck, we can get done with this quickly and be on our way."

InuYasha looked to the door, signaling everyone to be quiet before the screen was pushed open, revealing an older man wearing the black robes and hat that identified him as a higher level servant within the household. The look of stress and worry was palpable on the mans face as he stepped into the room, allowing the young boy sitting on the other side of the door to close it behind him.

He Inclined his head at the group before speaking. "I am Yamoto, It is my responsibility to run the Palace when the lord is not present."

The monk stood, bowing some to the man before him "I am known as the Monk Miroku. My companions and I were passing by on or travels, when I could not help but sense a terrible evil hovering over this place. Tell me, what evil has befallen your Lords house?"

Yamoto sighed heavily, his brow knitting in worry. His voice took on a dejected tone as he spoke, "Come, it would be easier if I showed you."

Miroku nodded as the rest of the group got to their feet, following the man out the door. They traveled into the servants wing before stopping in front of a set of shoji screens being guarded by two young men. Yomoto nodded at the guards solemnly, prompting them to pull open the rice screens. In his sadness, yomoto removed his hat, holding it close to his heart as he walked into the room, revealing what lay within to the group of onlookers.

There on the floor lay bedroll after bedroll, each with a young woman in repose, eyes closed in slumber, skin a sickly pale. If it were merely one or two, there would have been little to be surprised about, but peering around the large room, there were nearly 100 girls in all. It seemed as if none but the oldest and youngest had been spared as the fine silks worn by those at the far end of the room clearly marked them as the wife and daughters of the absent lord.

Kagome gasped a bit, as Miroku nelt down placing his hand on the nearest girls forhead as he looked her and the naboring sleepers over. His voice was serious as he spoke "How long have they been like this?"

Yomoto cleared his voice before speaking, "This had all started nearly three months ago, and it was several days ago that the last of them fell to the same fate as the first."
Miroku stood, looking at the older man in surprise. "oh? So they did not come down with this at the same time?"

"No honorable monk, It had started with two of our young servant girls. They had began to become lethargic at work and soon had problems staying awake throughout the day. Of course we punished them, but it was not long before they refused to wake at all in the mornings. It was a little after the second set of girls fell under the same fate that one of the other servants caught them sleepwalking to the families shrine room in the middle of the night. We have neither been able to stop their nightly travel, nor approach the room after nightfall sense this all started. If this were not enough, it would seem that our food stocks have been dwindling down night by night with no signs of the culprit."

Yomoto looked absolutely dejected at his tale causing Miroku to give him a sympathetic look. "You need not worry so much. You are no longer alone in this. Have confidence; In no time, you should be able to put these troubles behind you."

"Thank you monk, you presence during this time is truly a blessing."

Miroku nods at the man. "now, if you could leave us alone so we can properly assess the situation, it would be much appreciated."

Yomoto nods at him; "Of course, I leave this in your hands Monk." With this he turns and exits the room, leaving the four alone with the girls.

InuYasha folded his arms, "Great, I guess there goes that 'rest and relaxation' you were looking for."
Miroku sighs a bit. "Not necessarily. We can still bathe and eat before we take care of this. There's really little we can do before nightfall" The monk spoke as he joined his wife looking over the girls for anything suspicious they could use to determine the cause of their ailment.

"From what I can tell, there are no marks that are easily seen, and their temperatures seem to be normal." The Slayer spoke as she examined one of the girls. "If you two stand outside, Kagome and I can make sure their are no marks hidden beneath their clothing."

It was Kagome who spoke up next as she peered over at the slayer "what are you thinking it is Sango?"

She cleared her voice a bit, before sitting back on her legs to look the priestess in the eyes as she spoke "At first I thought it may be cause by any number of demon species who grow their larva inside humans, but we have none of the marks on the face or neck that would be present if that were the case. we also do not have any of the markings on the hands and feet that would signify that their life force were being drained by a dream leech."

At this, she found herself interrupted by InuYasha "Besides, that wouldn't explain the sleep walking, or why it is only the women who are being targeted."

Sango nodded. "you're correct InuYasha; although dream larva do sometimes prefer one sex over the other, it does not explain the sleepwalking. That's why we need to check them over more thoroughly to see if there are any hidden sores, or marks that would identify a curse."

"Why do I have the feeling there's something there not telling us." The young hanyo spoke out.

"Unfortunately, I have the same feeling about this my friend" Miroku spoke "after all, what could it be that they are doing withing the shrine throughtout the night."

InuYasha's ears twitched and he sniffed a bit "don't get any funny ideas monk."

Miroku's fact took on a look of overexagerated false shock as he held his hand over his hart "What ever are you insinuating InuYasha! I will have you know that I am a happily married man!"

"Whatever you say, ya damn Henti." the Hanyo spoke as he put his hand on the monks shoulder, beginning to usher him towards the door. "Lets go check out that shrine, and see if we can find anything else suspicious around this place while the girls finish looking them over."

Miroku smiled, laughing a bit as he rubbed the back of his head "Of course, of course! Whatever you say my good friend." At this, the two departed, leaving the girls to their work.

Chapter Text

It didn't take long before Miroku and InuYahsa found themselves standing within the shrine room, Staring at a rather large Buddha statue. The room behind them appeared as if no one had been in to clean in quite some time, with cushions scattered haphazardly around the room, several toppled oil lamps and thin wisps of gossamer hanging off random objects, floating in the slight breeze coming in through the slits in the window.

Miroku spoke as he leaned on his staff "It would appear that our absent host is quite well off."

InuYasha simply huffed at the monks observation as he slouched a bit further into his crossed arms. He watched the monk who turned, stepping further into the room before flipping a cushion over with his staff, deep in his own thoughts and observations.

"Tell me InuYasha, Is there anything you happen to be picking up on?"

The hanyo sighed, walking over to the Buddha before running his fingertips over the bronze, bringing them to his nose with a sniff. "I'd say the one responsible seems to be away from home. Probably raiding the kitchens and store room as we speak."

The monk nodded at his friends words. "I was under the same impression. " Miroku looks over in the hanyo's direction "There was definitely something here, but I am surprised that it's lingering essence does not seem nearly as malicious as I would have expected given the Circumstances."

"Heh, don't seem so surprised."

Miroku raised his brow in question, but the boy did not elucidate any further.

InuYasha sighed, heading to the open door "Come on, there's not much we can do in here when the demon's away."

Miroku followed behind, nearly bumping into InuYasha as the boy stopped in his tracks, tilting his head to the side as he sniffed the air.
"What is it InuYasha?"

The Hanyo glared back at him over his shoulder with a huff, "Hold on a second, I don't know yet!" His voice was hushed yet agitated at the monk and he soon turned forward, beckoning his friend to follow as he headed down a different hall cautiously.

When the two stopped, they found themselves in front of a sliding wood door and in a moment InuYasha had it slid open displaying a small storage room about six feet wide and four feet deep. The room itself was not that interesting, however within the small space were stacks upon stacks of the finest silks Miroku had ever seen; far to exceptional for some minor lord of a small Provence in the middle of the countryside.

Miroku simply whistled at the mother load as InuYasha eyed the material suspiciously taking several steps closer. "I did not realize you had a nose for the finer things in life my friend."
The hanyo shot him a look before going back to his find, rubbing the material within his hands before leaning close and sniffing it. He gave it two sturdy tugs as he eyed it over meticulously before laying it down and returning his hands to his sleeves, seeming as if he settled something in his own mind.

As the boy turned back around, he noticed the monk staring at him with one brow raised in question.

"Don't worry about it Hoshi, I'll tell you about it later."

"Whatever you say my friend." and with that they headed back to the girls.\

The sun had set leaving the boys resting in the hall on either side of the soji screen leading to the temple. It had been decided over dinner that the two males would wait for the demon to appear while the girls would watch over the women of the household. No one was certain if the demon would beckon the girls to him. or sneak off to their quarters in order to lead them to the temple for their nightly rituals.

It was a long and boring wait as the two needed to be silent to ensure that the demon would show, but InuYasha had been through worse in his long life.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a light within the temple glowing with an unearthly pulse, setting the Hanyo on his feet at a moments notice. He slammed the door open, the Monk following fast behind his as they pushed forward before the compulsion to avoid the room could fully take effect. Miroku noted the glint of anger in InuYasha's eyes as he barreled through the barrier landing a punch square to the jaw of, what appeared to be, a small elderly fox demon.

The fox cried out as he was knocked off his feet, only to be grabbed by the boys other hand, shaking him by his kimono. "Please, Stop! There is nothing I have done to deserve such treatment! I'm nothing but an old demon, looking for a safe place to rest my bones!" The fox wailed as he held his hand over his jaw.

"What the hell is that silk made of you old fox!" the boy said in between gritted teeth, his voice aggressive but marred with an edge of desperation as the boy slightly shook, his complexion pale.
Miroku took a moment to scan the room, making sure there were no surprise attackers before settling his eyes back on the two.

The fox looked back at the boy in shock "You can not expect me to give you that information!? It is a family secret passed on for generations!"

At this he Shook him more vigorously in agitation; "Look, you can tell me now, or I can beat it out of you."

"Gah... fine! Fine!! it... it's Moon silk!!"

InuYasha stopped shaking the fox, raising an eyebrow. "Moon silk?"

"Yes! Or family holds the secret to turning the light of the moon into silk! It is the finest demon silk one could possibly find!"

InuYasha eyed the demon suspiciously before speaking "And why should I believe you?"

"Please, just look at me! I am too soft to lie at a time like this."

InuYasha visibly relax, eyeing the fox before looking around the room. Slowly, he set the fox down who quickly scurried up the steps to sit in front of the Buddha. The old fox placed his face in his hands, shaking like a leaf mumbling to himself, the fear of death still strong with him.

InuYasha sighed as he looked back to the fox, crossing his arms. "Then what the hell's wrong with the girls?"

The Fox looked up to InuYasha wearily, looking to the monk and then back at the boy. "They are simply exhausted; The requirements the lord has put on my stay are so high that I cannot possibly finish the work without help!"

At this, Kagome's voice cut in as her and Sango enter the room looking less then happy "Help? Then why are they all passed out!?"

The fox blinked at the two girls, looking to the hanyo before rubbing his eyes and looking back to the girls. "Working throught the night under my cumpulsioun has taken it's toll... they are fine, despite the fatigue."

"That is quite a case of fatigue, absolutely nothing will stir them from their slumber." Sango spoke as Kagome nodded along.

The fox sighed as he slumped, "I wish I could do less, but the lords demands are great."

"Then leave here old man." came InuYasha's gruff voice.

"Excuse me."

"I said, leave then and stay away from humans." at this the boy folded his arms. "Look, if you deal with humans, Most of them will either try to kill you or use you, and it's obvious which one is happening here."

The fox looks him over, stopping to stare a bit longer at the beads around his neck before looking around the room at the others. When his gaze lands back on the boy, there was sadness in his gaze "It seems you are speaking from experience."

The boy stiffened at his words. "Look, it's not what it looks like. These are my friends, they're not like most people." he heard a muffle from behind him, looking back to see Sango's hand over the miko's mouth; InuYasha shot her a thankful look as he turned back to the elder.

The fox simply huffed at him, folding his leg over his knee. "Fine, I will indulge you pup, but now that we have come to an understanding, I believe it is time we talk about you." he takes a moment to look around the room at the humans "Oh and forgive me, I have not had a moment to introduce myself, they call me Zairyō."

One by one InuYasha's group introduced themselves as InuYasha continued to stare at Zairyō. "But why the hell do you want to talk about me." His voice sounded surprisingly hushed.

The fox relaxed further into himself smiling slightly, his eyes began to twinkle before he looked around the room a bit "It appears you yourself are rather far from home young dog." his tone was soft and full of kindness.

The boy continued to look at his foot as he drew circles over the ground with his toes "What's it to ya old man?"

The foxes tone was quite soft as he continued to speak "Pups should be at home, under the care of their elders... especially with times the way they are now."

It was Miroku's turn to speak up "Forgive me for saying this, but he has little choice in the matter. The relationship he has with his remaining family is rather strained to say the least."

The old fox settles down "Well, that's a pity, a tragedy really. Perhaps if you made amends, you could find solace in your brothers presence."

"How could you even say that! Sesshomaru is horrible to him! Always starting fights and trying to kill him!" Kagome's angry voice cut in.

"You speak of things you do not truly understand. Dog's are familial by nature. I can say for certain his brother feels slighted, as I can say with certainty that reprimands would change his demeanor." with this the fox looked back to the dog eared boy speaking with confidence "I'm sure you still have a place in your brothers home if you were to make amends."

InuYasha looks away "You act as if I want that place."

"You would be a fool to denounce your rightful place. Your natural birth right may come with obligations, but they are not empty. The path one walks alone is frivolous and inconsequential, it can only lead to bitter loneliness."

InuYasha opened his mouth to speak, only to be cut off by Kagome in her anger "He's not alone; he has me!"

Zairyō is clearly annoyed by the girl, his brow twitching in disdain, his voice taking an edge of anger "And how long will that last girl? No more than a paltry Century at best... and then what? You will be dead in the ground long before he has even reached his full maturity. You will be gone, and yet you still have the voice to tell me he is not alone? He might as well be and in the end, you will leave him as such; alone with a long life ahead of himself."

Kagome's eyes went wide before trying to speak, a stream of nonsense coming out of her mouth. She could not say that everything would be alright because they loved each other, because InuYasha had never admited it to her. She stopped and breathed a bit before she spoke in a soft voice "But I actually care about him; I can make him happy." Her voice wavered as she spoke.

The fox demon just scoffed letting his eyes slide from the girl to stare intently at the subjugation beads. "And I'm sure you truly believe that."

"I..."

Her voice was cut of by Sango "Kagome," her look was intense as she watched the elder fox "Sense there is no fight here, maybe we should head back to care for the girls. I would not be surprised if some of the men in this palace are less than untrustworthy given the situation."

The miko looked to her friend nodding a bit with a questioning look in her eyes "I guess so..."

As Sango turned to leave, Kagome followed behind looking a bit bewildered. The silence was thick between them until the miko was certain they were far enough not to be heard by either InuYasha or the fox "What was that all about Sango?"

The Slayer raised her brow as she looked to the other girl.

"You know, the hand over my mouth and you having me leave like this?"

She looked back to the path ahead of herself. "There is no fight here, and nothing you say will change his mind. You saw how he kept looking at the beads Kagome."

Kagome threw her hands out, exasperated "But it's true! The beads are just there for when InuYasha acts out, he can be such an ass sometimes!"

"I know how you feel Kagome, but it won't change how Zairyō views your intentions." she sighs a bit "And besides, I think he is an acquaintance of InuYasha's. It would only make you look worse if you kept yelling at him like that."

"What do you mean an acquaintance?"

Sango side glances at Kagome "In any other situation, the demon would either be dead already or have a few lumps for his trouble."

"and?"

"And I don't think InuYasha's brother was mentioned before we entered that room."

Kagome fell silent in thought as they reached the room, entering to sit in silence. She wondered about Sango's theory before drifting off to sleep.

 


 

 


In the morning, all was set right. Zairyō left with the possibility of returning to seek protection at his previous lords palace, and Miroku and the others left the human palace with a horse and carriage, loaded with the silks InuYasha had found stashed away. Miroku would have grabbed more, but there was no distraction he could think of to lure the men out from the building. It was to his great relief that none of the others protest his act of thievery this time. Of course, considering how the lord had come about the acquisition, it is likely that no one pitied the mans loss.

The sun was shining bright, the breeze was blowing and above all else, there were no sights or sounds of the war they were marching into. Miroku smiled before talking in a chipper voice. "If nothing else, we will have funds for the journey when we sell these silks, and the horses should make the trip quicker.

InuYasha simply snorted as the girls looked to the monk incredulously; some things would never change.