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All That Glitters Can Be Gold by Ko Torii

Solomon

 “Inuyasha, if we do not stop right now Miroku may bleed to death!”

Kagome was blowing steam out of her ears at this point.  It made no sense to keep moving in her mind since it would ultimately lead to Miroku bleeding to death.

“Keh.  The pervert’s too stubborn to die.  We’ll stop once we reach Edo.”

“Don’t make me say ‘it’!  You know I will!” 

With no warning a small hand shot out and covered Kagome’s shoulder.  The action only made her let out a large squeak in surprise.  Sango had descended from Kirara’s back to calm the impending storm brewing between Kagome and her hanyou companion.  Miroku was left strewn across the fire cat’s lower back. 

“Kagome, I know you are trying to help, but Miroku needs to return to the village to see Kaede, now.”

“But Sango!  This makes no sense!”

“No Kagome.  This is how it has to be.”

With a telling look toward Inuyasha indicating that they should keep moving, Sango stalked back toward her fire cat with no words of comfort for Kagome.  The unusual coldness in Sango’s face could be caused by the impending death of her dear friend and love, Miroku, but Kagome was beginning to suspect that there was something Sango and Inuyasha were not telling her.  Usually no one debated her modern knowledge of medicine, but today they had no patience for what she had to say.  Kagome was extremely close to throwing a fit.  The tears were building in her eyes, and she could feel the tingly sensation in her nose.  Her friends were sentencing the monk to death with this idiotic plan, and for nothing!

Inuyasha had once again begun leaping through the trees with Kagome on his back.  She was left to cling to his tough form while she cried and prayed to the heavens.  ‘Do not take Miroku from us, not like this.’

Inuyasha mumbled her name in order to take her attention away from her gut wrenching sobs.  However, her attention was diverted to a form off to her right.  The blur looked almost specter like, and it was shadowing their group in the trees.  Inuyasha eventually stopped calling her name after his third try.  It seemed as though she was shunning him for rejecting her plea to aid Miroku, but he couldn’t let his guilt get to him. 

Miroku’s life was in his hands and he was not going to let Kagome’s misguided attempts to stop the bleeding stop their movement.  Being behind schedule for even a moment could lead to a horrible ending to Miroku’s life.  This whole situation was inadvertently Kagome’s fault anyway.

After the brief stand off between the two women, Inuyasha could tell that Sango was steadfastly trying to not blame Kagome.  However, it was also apparent that this effort was failing.  Never had he seen Sango act so coldly to Kagome except at their very first meeting in which Sango attempted to kill them both.  He knew that Kagome would feel horrible when they stopped and he told her all about Miroku’s real condition, but he had no time to explain it to her now.  Time was ticking and he had a mission to finish.  Without the Monk the mission became exponentially harder, so Inuyasha unconsciously quickened his pace never noticing Kagome’s preoccupation.

‘What in the world is that, and why is it following us?’

This would be a smart thing to begin thinking when a ghostly shadow starts following you, but Kagome was never very normal.  She could not help but gasp at the speed of whatever it was that was following them.  It would hang back as the group continued on and then all of a sudden be in front again, as if their breakneck speed was a light jog. 

The being that was following Inuyasha’s group was once again stationary.  It was waiting calmly on a gravely outcropping deeper into the woods.  It would not be wise to seem a constant presence on the path to Edo.  The hanyou would begin to suspect something.  The being was aware of Kagome’s perusal, however, the woman was meant to notice.

When the overcast skies cleared slightly more light was shed on the shadowy creature.  It appeared to be a willowy looking demon that wore a simple dual colored kimono and contrasting obi.  His hair wisped behind him giving an unearthly air.  He carried no belongings except for his swords and had no one with him. As he stood observing the fleeing group he could not help rolling an ancient gold coin between his deadly fingers.  With a content look on his face the man bided his time.  The group could run all the way to hell and back for all he cared.  Nothing could keep him from accomplishing his goals.  The cruel intentions he had for the group were reflected in his cold eyes, but his statuesque appearance belied the true malice in his aura.  She may not be aware of it, but Kagome had brought his wrath upon her group herself.  If the priestess did not follow orders, she would soon find herself with fewer and fewer companions until she was utterly alone in the world.  The tactics may have seemed underhanded, but the specter was finished waiting and out of honorable options. 

“Grnghhh!….ssssmmmm……”

Mumblings of delirium had been spilling from Miroku’s bloodied mouth for the last mile or so.  Though the sign of life had at first been reassuring, it had become a sincere reason for concern.  Miroku’s companions began to wonder if his condition had dampened his capabilities permanently.  If he woke up, would he still be Miroku, or a man deep in his hallucinations of pain?  Kagome had become visibly tense as she fought the urge to launch of Inuyasha’s back in order to go to her injured friend.  The frosty glare Sango had been leveling at her the entire trip kept her firmly in place. 

The group finally stopped their grueling pace, set by Inuyasha, near the outskirts of Kaede’s village.  The sudden stop was due to the sputtering breath of Kirara’s injured cargo.  After quickly depositing Kagome onto the ground in a gruff manner, Inuyasha sped off to find Kaede herself.  In his mind Inuyasha had but one mantra.
‘There is no time.’ 

He found the old woman in her herb field instead of at her hearth as he had expected.  Growling in annoyance he stomped over to her kneeling form.  Kaede instantly reacted to his aura.

“Inuyasha, what is it ye seek from this old woman?”

“Kaede….it’s Miroku….he…well…”

“What has befallen our lecherous friend?”

“I can’t tell you!  Just get your tricks and come with me!”

Inuyasha had snapped in irritation.  There was no way to tell the priestess what had happened to their young friend.  It would only doom them both.

“Then lead on Inuyasha.”

“Keh, just climb on.”

Meanwhile, Sango had laid Miroku upon the hard earth and rested his head in her lap.  She had even grudgingly allowed Kagome to hold Miroku’s hand after repeating to herself that it was not truly the young woman’s fault.  Not everyone knew of such things, this was old magic.

The blood had once again gushed from Miroku’s mouth and even leaked from his left ear.  However, instead of the rich crimson tone of human blood it looked glassy and pale.  His small movements of pain seemed slow, almost stiff.  However, Kagome assumed it was due to the immense pain he was feeling.  Still in the dark as to the true nature of Miroku’s situation Kagome could only ponder to herself.  ‘What could be doing this?’

When Kaede arrived with Inuyasha she immediately lifted the monk’s arm to check for his pulse.  Where it was once pumping life through his body, now it seemed that it was only speeding up the arrival of his death.  The slow bump against her finger tips suddenly ceased altogether.  Kaede released Miroku’s wrist in order to push down his eyelids, but was shocked to find that the arm would not fall back to the ground.  Instead, it stayed poised in the air.  Looking to the deceased face of her friend, Kaede stared in abject horror at the sight that greeted her.  His eyes had turned to beads of gold, and the blood upon his lips had hardened to a gilded edge.  Now she knew why Inuyasha could not explain.  Miroku had been haunted, cursed and killed by an ancient evil.  Only those with knowledge of the dark arts that transcended her own spiritual teachings could do such a thing.  With a sad shake of her head Kaede stood once again.  The others were huddled in despondency around the body.

“Miroku…you are now one of the gods’ golden children.”

A short distance away the dark presence once again loomed over the group.  However, the specter did not appear.  There was only a small coin lying in the grass, sizzling as if made of inhuman acid.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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