Devour Prometheus by ladybattousai


Chapter One: Missing

Piercing her with a sinister edge, an ominous blade intruded into the haze of Kagome's mind as she slept.  Shapeless and heavy with nameless anguish, it punctured through her dreams and tore desperate whimpers from her lips.  Her pleas however, went unheeded as it sunk in deeper, its malevolent intent focusing into a once welcoming image.  Dyed in familiar red and white, a vision of Inuyasha appeared in her thoughts, soothing her anxiety with the warmth of his presence. 

"Inuyasha," she spoke his name softly as the edges that defined him solidified, burning away the creeping darkness that surrounded him.

"Feh," the half demon answered with a fang clipping his lip as he smirked at her needless concern.  Amber irises glittering with the knives of his pupils nearly splitting them in half, he embraced the miko with his spirited gaze.  Easy breaths of relief filled her lungs as she soaked up the sight of him and the indomitable confidence that colored his voice.  "Are you worried, Kagome?"

"I'm sorry," she apologized with a light laugh, embarrassed over the fear that had rooted so deeply a moment ago.  "I know I shouldn't be, but-"

"But you should be."


"You should be afraid," he finished darkly.  Then suddenly, his body shuddered and the self-assured smile she relied upon faded.  Once brimming with life, his now confused eyes swiftly dulled behind a milky film.  Stark against his paling skin, blood trickled from the corners of his mouth and then down through his thick locks of hair as it poured from his ears.  With a sickening thump, his forearm fell to the ground, severed at the elbow.  His other arm soon followed, splattering red when it struck.  Knees buckled next as his gradually dismembering body collapsed into a heap of blood-drenched clothes and disjointed parts.  Briefly lolling to the side, his head then toppled from his neck and tumbled down the lumps.  Across the ground it bounced and rolled until it came to a stop before her.  Staring up with vacant eyes and with blood smeared across his face, the hanyou rasped her name. "Kagome."

"Inuyasha!" the priestess cried out breathlessly as she woke up with a start.  Searing her neck and forehead, stinging sweat beaded on her flush skin while her pounding heart raced in her chest.  A torrent of heavy breaths tore at her raw throat and she lowered her weary head into her palms.  It was all a dream.  It had to be.  None of it was real.  Hunched over as she cradled her head, the smoky scent of burning embers wafted into Kagome's nostrils.  As familiar as it was a source of comfort, the odor slowed both her breaths and her straining pulse.  This was real.  That she knew.

Then she brushed away her bangs sticky with sweat from her forehead and looked around the small campsite.  Dwindled to a gentle, orange glow, the last glimmers of the fire in the shallow hearth met her sight before her eyes finally rose.  Surrounding her were the tall pillars of conifers that stood as sentries around her, protecting her as she slept from the elements.  Crinkling as her body still trembled, a thick mat of pine needles lay piled under her thin futon.  She had swept them up in the early evening when she needed to use a few as kindling and discovered that the rest proved comfortable enough as a cushion. 

The cool, night air then brushed against her moist skin and the miko pulled her disheveled, priestess clothing closer.  With the heat brought by her terrifying nightmare cooling, the frigid touch of autumn had found her once more.  Returning from an emergency, youkai extermination, she and Inuyasha were heading home after their success.  Even with him carrying her nearly the entire way, it was still two days of traveling across the rugged terrain of feudal Japan.  Then, her breath seized as a thought struck her, sending her anxious sight to search again over the simple camp.  Where was Inuyasha?

"Inuyasha!" she yelled, blindly finding her footing as her eyes darted back and forth between the intertwined branches of the looming trees.  Silhouetted in black against the trickling moonlight that penetrated their boughs, no hanyous sat cradled in their limbs.  "Inuyasha!"

An unnatural silence answered her calls with even the harmonious tunes of the crickets strangely absent in the dead air.  Kagome bent down, hastily gathering up her quiver and bow.  Slinging the long, arrow-filled pouch onto her back, she scanned the site one last time for a hopeful glimpse of red.  Finding what she expected and not what she wanted, she took a deep breath and stepped into the dark forest.

Filtered moonlight lit her way as she wove through the undergrowth, its rays dappling the winding path in a gray-blue.  From the low lying foliage to the reaching canopy high above, she poured over every shadow for him until a warm sensation stirred in her body.  Sharpening with every step, the tingle of electricity coursed down her spine and she knew instantly where to go.  The memorable prickle of purification magic slowly swelled the air and somewhere beyond the curtain of trees before her was its source.

The jagged tips of bony branches clawed and ripped at her clothing as she pressed through the brush, forging her own trail as she followed the magic.  The pale hues of unhindered moonlight peeked through the final trees, promising an end to the dense forest.  Her pace quickening with her urgency, the miko stumbled through the last of it and out onto a rutted, dirt road.

Needles and twigs protruding from her unruly hair and from her sap-stained robes, she walked across the dusty earth and into a large clearing that lay on the other side.  Ahead, she could feel a tingling warmth.  Rife with tall grass, Kagome waded through the field, the silvery blades brushing against her as they parted.  The intensity of the magic grew with every step until she unexpectedly found a boulder hidden in the deep grass with her foot.  Catching herself before she could trip, she turned to examine the perfectly round rock.  Looped around its girth was a large, hemp rope, its two dangling ends trailing off at a curve in opposing directions.  Taking one in her hand, she traced its path.  The thick cord slid through her grasp until she felt a hanging piece of paper tickle her fingertips.  Lifting the rope up higher, she spied the carefully folded streamer and her heart sank with a foreboding realization.  A powerful seal had been constructed in this clearing.  Then her eyes rose to find proof in disrupted soil and bent shafts of grass that shaped the unmistakable circle of the barrier.

Letting the rope fall back into place, the miko took a deep breath before gingerly stepping over the line and into the seal.  Weaker than she anticipated, the barrier felt weirdly broken to her senses as she walked across the overturned earth.  Its strangeness was not alone in capturing her curiosity when she knelt down to tug at a few shreds of bruised and ripped grass.  In her brief yet intensive experience, even the most powerful seals didn't disturb the land they were cast upon.  A struggle must have happened here.  As she continued to sort through the trampled field in her quest to understand it, a strange shape stole her attention next.  Out of place, it was a length of smooth wood and she leaned forward to pick it up.

"The Staff of Heads?" she whispered her confusion as she retrieved the ornately crafted staff topped with the carved heads of an old man and a young woman.  Lighter than it looked, she noticed a spattering of dots across its odd beauty as she turned it over.  Smearing when she touched them, the droplets dyed her fingers in their dark color.  She rubbed the strange liquid between her fingertips and then put it up to her nose to sniff.  A metallic tone permeated its odor and she knew before she tasted it what it could only be.  Sharp on her tongue and completely inimitable, it was blood.

Rising to her feet, she saw the clearing with new eyes.  Across the trodden grass and clumps of soil, generous sprays of blood clung, glowing eerily red when the moonlight struck them just right.  The heavy pounding of her heartbeat returned, throbbing harder as a wet wave of dread washed over her.  More than a simple, unfriendly skirmish, a brutal battle had happened here in the night and as she stepped back, the scarred earth took shape.  Disguising the perfect lines of its features, shredded grass laid heavily over the thick, straight grooves that dug deeply into the ground, the furrows growing more pronounced as they fanned away from her.

"Kaze no Kizu," Kagome whispered the technique that only Tessaiga wrought.  "Inuyasha!"  Swallowing down her rising fear as the air carried his name into the night without reply; the miko hastily trampled around the circle and continued to call out for the missing hanyou.  In her unchecked worry, she nearly missed a pair of dark stains leading away through the otherwise pristine sea of lush green.  A short distance from where she made her own entrance into the barrier, two trails snaked toward the dirt road not far away.  One was massive, as if a creature not much larger than a horse had been dragged through the clearing.  Beside it, a smaller figure had been pulled in the same fashion.  A figure the size of a man.

Doggedly chasing her only clue, Kagome chose the distinctly smaller path and made her way down it. Muddled with the moist soil, smears of blood lined the bottom of the trail and she did her best to keep the worst from her mind as she searched for the distinct red of firerat fur.  An unexpected sigh of relief escaped her as the path ended emptily with the dust of the lonely road.  Combining together with the generous pools spilling from the adjacent path, the blood trail clotted into thick blobs as it mixed with the dirt and then ended in a few short steps.  Ahead were the fine impressions of wooden wheels surrounded by sandaled footprints.  Kneeling down, the miko examined the crisp lines that weather had yet to dull.  A wagon had been the destination for what had been dragged through the clearing, its trail remarkably clear even to her untrained eye.  Rising to stand once she was sure of her conclusion, her sharp sight caught a tangled bit of white conspicuously cradled in the grip of a low-hanging branch.  Freeing a few fingers from the staff she still held, she reached out and plucked it from its rest. Undoing the knotted mass with her fingers, the long lengths of thick, white hair were speckled with red and a fresh urgency gripped Kagome's heart.

"Inuyasha," she whispered again, tears stinging her eyes while her clutching hand tightened around the hair.  "I'm coming." 

A sudden rustle of leaves and snapping twigs startled the young miko before she could take her first step to his hopeful rescue.  Spinning swiftly on her heel, she turned to face a lonely copse of trees that stood like a solitary island amid the soft waves of grass.  Beyond the circle of the broken barrier, the unsettling crinkling died quickly to leave the night air in its awkward silence yet again.

Motionless and wide-eyed, Kagome stared at the distant clump of trees.  Her sight poured over each shadow, spying unnatural and terrifying figures looming in the darkness.  Biting her lower lip nervously, she willfully discounted them as figments of her overly excited imagination, denying them the chance to falter her resolve.  Then as if anticipating her determination, another abrupt crunching of leaves gouged away at her courage and a gasp of fear escaped her. 

Fingers tightening around the supple wood of her bow, the miko turned her head away to face the disappearing end of the road as it wound out of sight into the woods.  Fear aside, a choice had found her.  One was the path to Inuyasha and undoubtedly the quicker she took it, the sooner she would be able to save him.  Rubbing his lock of stained hair between her fingers, she then returned her gaze to the mysterious copse.  She could not ignore the possible clues it held for her along with the unnamed danger that awaited her there as well.  Finally with a nod, she made her decision.

A/N: My new story has begun.  I will warn all who read this that from this chapter on out the story gets very dark and psychological with characters doing things that they might not do under other circumstances.  I really want to stretch what it means to be human and what it means to be a demon and how the two overlap in unexpected and terrifying ways.


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