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Windows to the Soul

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Soft footfalls sounded through the forest. Gentle light from the waning moon filtered through the leaves of the forest, shining on beautiful silver-white hair. Behind the silent traveler trailed a toad demon and a two-headed dragon that bore a slumbering human girl on their back. It was well into the night, but the Inu Daiyōkai had no intention of stopping for the night.

Until the young girl began to shiver in her sleep.

Amber eyes glanced behind as the sound of her violent quivering reached his hypersensitive ears. The dragon stopped as well, both heads turning to look at their charge. The toad demon, who was practically asleep on his feet, continued walking until he hit the leg of his master. The impact woke him up. Upon realizing what he had done, he collapsed on the ground, apologizing profusely.

The Daiyōkai ignored him, instead giving him an order to start a fire. The tiny demon complied immediately, gathering sticks and dried brush while his master settled against a tree. The dragon gently lay down, careful to not jostle their precious rider. She slumbered on, though her knees were drawn to her chest.

Once the toad had gathered enough brush, he lit it with his staff. The fire quickly filled the small campsite with some much needed warmth. The silver-haired demon needed no such thing to keep warm, but the wellbeing of his young charge came first. The toad crouched close to the flame, relishing in the heat. Amber eyes resisted the urge to roll, instead looking away.

'Such feeble creatures, requiring the warmth of a fire to survive.' As his companions' breathing slowed, he allowed himself to relax slightly, his eyes closing. Though he was aloof by nature, it was difficult to keep up appearances day in and day out. The cover of darkness allowed him slight freedoms that he did not receive while the sun shone.

As he relaxed, the sounds of drums meet his ears. Amber eyes slowly cracked open, ears twitching as they triangulated the source. A quick glance told him his companions would not wake any time soon. If they did, it would not be the first time they awoke to his absence. Silently rising, he made his way towards the sounds.

He would deny being curious if questioned. No… it was not interest. He was simply assessing the threat level to his pack. Yes, that was the reason. He had no use for childish curiosity. It was useless, providing no function in his quest.

He came to the edge of a clearing, with no concern of being found. Not only was he a master of concealing his presence, as one of his standing should be, but none there were demons; only pathetic humans performing some sort of ritual. The threat assessed, he knew he had no reason to stay.

Still he lingered.

Several dozen men and women surrounded a fire. The men beat on drums in a steady rhythm. A woman was vocalizing, singing words unknown to the silent onlooker. Another female was out in the open. Unlike the singer, she was silent, her body speaking for her as she danced around the flames.

More and more women began to vocalize, singing the same language. A man began to play a flute. The dancer stepped in time to the beat, her hips swaying along with the flute. The hidden Daiyōkai focused his attention on her, knowing her dance symbolized something.

As she swayed around the flames, he allowed his amber eyes to travel over her form, taking her in. Her hair reflected the firelight perfectly, letting him know her real hair color was jet black. Her eyes were closed, but he did not particularly care about their color. Her body was thin, but not unhealthy.

Her muscles rippled and convulsed with her movements underneath her dancing garb: a strapless yukata with slits all the way up to her hips. While not modest in the least, the ornamentation and patterns in the fabric symbolized her standing, most likely the daughter or granddaughter of the chief of the village. Her feet were petite, like her hands. Even from this distance, he could see her fingers were thin and unmarred by callouses, common among human women from working in the fields.

However, he was not fooled into thinking they were not strong. Dancers were known to be extremely strong and agile, as their entire focus was devoted to making their body as strong and as flexible as possible without adding unnecessary body mass. He watched as she bent and bowed, dipped and dove, all in time to the music. Planting one foot in the ground, she spun in place as the chorus of human voices once more began to vocalize the language. More instruments were struck, the sounds filling the valley. The song and dance continued for several minutes. Though he had no legitimate reason to be there, the Daiyōkai found he was rooted to the spot as eight women surrounded the first.

They joined hands, creating a circle around her as she continued to dance. Four began to chant something, words he could not understand. As their dance ended, the dancer ended in a bow, her right leg crossed over the left, right arm across her waist as her left was lifted into the air, hand flat, palm up, fingers pointing back towards the right. The women surrounding her copied the movement, bowing behind her. Raising her head, the raven-haired female finally opened her eyes.

Instead of brown or blue, as was typical in humans, hers were an enchanting amethyst purple that shone with wisdom and yet youth at the same time. She rose from her bow, bending at the waist again. Scoffing to himself, the Daiyōkai melted into the shadows as the humans began to congratulate the young woman. A man's words reached his sensitive ears as he left the site.

"Any who chooses you as his wife shall be a lucky man indeed."

'So that was a coming of age ceremony, was it? Ridiculous.' The beast inside growled in contentment at the news. The demon scoffed again as he entered the campsite. Not one had stirred in his absence. Resting against the bark of the tree, the silver-haired demon closed his eyes once more.

"This Sesshōmaru has no use for a mate."