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Encounters with Obakemono by tenchi no mai

Aka-Shita

This was written in response to MontiK's challenge.

Theme:  Aka-Shita

Due:  July 11, 2009

Required Word Count: Minimum 700

Actual Word Count:  1790, story only

Universe:  Canon

Rating:  M

Warnings:  Inuyasha's language 

Disclaimer: The characters of InuYasha are not mine, they are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Yomiuri TV, Sunrise, and Viz Media.   Only the plot to this story and my original character, Shun, are my intellectual property.  I do not make any money from the writing of this story. 

'Italics' = thoughts

Aka-Shita

This hairy beast, whose name means "red tongue", appears leering out of a black cloud over a floodgate in the third volume of Sekien Toriyama's Gazu Hyakki Yakō.  It appears to have been based on the akakuchi  (red mouth), a monster from a Kano school picture scroll.

This creature's name may have been taken from one of the six auspicious labels of the Japanese calendar, shakkō (also red mouth), which indicates a day of terrible luck and atrocity.  Sekien's creature, with its lolling tongue, may have itself been based on the Shakuzetsu-jin (red-tongue deity) of Onmyōdō, a name that indicates a god who guards the Western gate of Jupiter, or else one of the Indian Rakshasha.  (From the Obakemono Project webpage)

Aka-Shita

Sesshoumaru had been aware of the presence of the Aka-Shita before he opened his eyes.  With his hand on the hilt of his Tokijin he was prepared to slay the youkai if it threatened any of the beings currently asleep in the clearing. 

Kagome slowly awoke to the feeling of a hot breeze ruffling her hair.  It felt like someone was breathing down her neck, and she put a hand out to shove whoever it was away.

"Miko do not move."  Sesshoumaru's voice whispered to her on the humid breeze.

She opened her eyes to see a roiling dark grey cloud hovering over a good half of the small clearing.  A large, hairy demon was leering at her with its bright beady eyes from within the cloud.  The creatures long red tongue was curling out of its mouth, and its panting breaths was the cause of the humid breeze assaulting her. 

This was not something to have to face the first thing upon awakening.  It was bad enough when Inuyasha woke her up yelling for breakfast.  To have a strange youkai leering at her while she slept was too much.  Just as she was about to give it a piece of her mind, it reached down towards her with its clawed hand from within the cloud.

Sesshoumaru had not been aware the miko could inhale that much air in one breath.  However he was well aware of the volume she was able to obtain when she screamed.  "Miko do not..."  The warning was issued a second too late.

Kagome screamed for all she was worth, and instantly the rest of the inhabitants of the encampment were awake and grabbing their weapons.

"What the hell is that thing!"  Inuyasha screamed, jumping down from the tree he had claimed as his sleeping place, and running to help Sesshoumaru defend Kagome.  He unsheathed Tessaiga and it instantly transformed into the huge fang.

"Great Buddha, an Aka-Shita!"  Miroku breathed.  "Inuyasha, do not kill it!  That will bring even more bad luck!"

Upon hearing this Sango relaxed her grip on her Hiraikotsu, lowering the giant boomerang to sit upright on the ground.  "Are you sure, Miroku?  I have never seen one before.  My father saw an Aka-Shita once.  He said it is always an omen of terrible luck and great atrocity."

While the commotion on the ground increased, the Aka-Shita receeded into its cloud and with a loud swooshing sound disappeared from sight towards the quickly lightening eastern horizon.

Once ascertaining that it was really gone, Inuyasha demanded they have a quick breakfast and get on their way before the thing decided to return.

Kagome was digging into her backpack looking for the breakfast bars that she knew were there.  They could have them with some water and get moving quickly.  Unfortunately, in order to find them she had to unpack more than half of the contents of the backpack.

Sesshoumaru was sitting near the miko, watching while she tried to stuff everything back into her atrocious yellow bag.  The hanyou was prowling around the campsite impatiently growling at everyone to get packed up and on the road.

Kagome had stopped shoving items into her backpack when her journal and calendar slipped out of the stack of clothes and other items. 

"What is this?"  Using his demon speed, Sesshoumaru had the calendar in his hand before she realized it was no longer inside her journal.

"That is my calendar,  I cross off the days to keep track of when it is time to go home."  Kagome put out her hand to take it back.

He had never taken notice of it before.  It appeared to be on some kind of smooth burnished parchment similar to her text books, only thicker, with an unusual binding at the side.  "Where did you get this calendar?"  Sesshoumaru asked.

Kagome looked at him like he had lost his mind.  "I got it at the stationery store.  Why?"

"Who has the authority in your time to ascertain the calendar and print it?"  Sesshoumaru was flipping through the pages, and made note of the paintings.  'I will ask her about these later.'

"I don't know what you mean Sesshoumaru-sama."  Kagome stuttered as her brain tried to make some sense of his question.

"Who are the onmyoji in your era?  The ones with the court responsibilities of keeping track of the calendar."  Sesshoumaru couldn't believe she didn't know the answer to a simple question.  Everyone knew that the Abe and Kamo families had dominated this art for many centuries.

"Perhaps I can help..." Miroku began to speak, when Sesshoumaru shut him up with a single baleful glare.

"Everyone knows it is considered bad luck if the first person you meet for the day is a Buddhist monk.  We have enough bad luck today with the sighting of the Aka-Shita.  Sit and remain quiet, the miko will answer my questions without your help or hinderance."  This was a very old superstition and Sesshoumaru planned to exclude him from the conversation, hopefully  without a fight.

"But... I think Kagome-chan needs some history of what you seek before she can give you an answer."  Miroku braved Sesshoumaru's displeasure when he realized Kagome was at a total loss. 

"Monk you have been warned!  Unless you desire to be relieved of your tongue you will remain silent!"  Sesshoumaru spat at him.  "We need to determine if today is Butsumetsu or Shakko and whether it is more auspicious to remain here or which direction to travel if we are to do so."

"What do you mean, if we are to travel?  We're leaving and getting as far as we can before that thing returns!"  Inuyasha screamed at Sesshoumaru.  "I don't care what the fuck you say!"

"Inuyasha we are not leaving until a divination has been made."  Sesshoumaru stated with finality.

"Then let the houshi help, he knows how to do that kinda shit.  He does it all the time when we need stuff.  Kagome don't know what the fuck you're talking about!"   Inuyasha grumbled as he very reluctantly sat back down.

"Miko, what day does your calendar say today is."  Sesshoumaru was tapping a claw on the next uncrossed off day.  'This is the most unusual 'calendar' I have ever seen.  There are two languages that I have never seen before printed along with the odd style kanji.'

"Today is Thursday, the 9th."  Kagome answered.  "The day is supposed to be Shakko.  And don't tell me you believe in those old superstitions."

Miroku was ignoring the conversations going on around him.  He had retrieved his calendar and was involved in the somewhat convoluted reckoning to arrive at todays day and date.  He then set about calculating the rokyuo for the good or bad fortune for today.

Sesshoumaru was keeping a close eye on the monk, while he listened to Kagome's answer.  "Monk, what does your calendar say about today?"

"I agree with Kagome, today is Mokuyobi, but my calendar says it is the 4th day of the month.  And very unlucky, it is  Butsumetsu."  Miroku looked between Sesshoumaru, Kagome and Inuyasha.

"Miko why does your calendar say one thing and the monks calendar another?"  Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow at her.

"Well... this is the Gregorian calendar, it came into use after 1873.  Miroku's calendar is the old style lunisolar calendar.  I suppose that is where the difference comes in."  Kagome shrugged her shoulders.  She was still trying to understand why this was so important to Sesshoumaru.

"Hn."  'Neither one is a good omen.  Four is unlucky and often alludes to death.  Nine is not much better, referring to pain and suffering.  A Butsumetsu is the most unlucky day.  With Shakko only the hour of the horse is lucky, the rest is bad luck.  And the slayer is correct, an Aka-Shita is an omen of terrible luck and great atrocity.'

"We shall remain here for at least the morning."  Sesshoumaru made himself comfortable, keeping an eye on the rest of the combined tachis.  His senses were still on high alert, waiting for something to happen.

Since they were staying for at least a few hours, Kagome decided they would make a regular breakfast.  Inuyasha went to catch some ayu in the stream, Miroku to find some firewood, and Sango along with Shippo and Rin took the water containers to refill them. 

Kagome started the fire with the kindling and small amount of firewood left over from the night, while Jaken foraged for any berries and fruit he could find.

After eating, they sat around drinking tea, while Miroku tried to answer Kagomes questions about the onmyoji that Sesshoumaru had spoken of.

"The onmyoji are the professional practitioners of the onmyodo.  They are specialists in magic and divination.  Their court responsibilities include tasks such as reckoning the calendar, divination, keeping track of time, astronomy, astrology, and the dispelling of evil spirits.  They are also able to summon and control shikigami."

The conversation then turned to basic concepts and the history of onmyodo.  Sesshoumaru listened intently and corrected Miroku or added his knowledge when Miroku got stuck.

Kagome was becoming confused.  "So this includes the priciples of yin-yang, the Chinese Five Element theory, Confucianism, esoteric Buddhism, Shinto, fortune telling, Taoism, feng shui, Chinese medicine, altered states of conciousness, as well as some more stuff?"

"Yes, Kagome-chan.  It also includes the process of judging auspicious or harmful signs in the natural world, and predicts good or bad fortune.  This is what Sesshoumaru-sama alluded to with the lucky and unlucky directions of travel.  Depending on the season, time of day, and other circumstances, a particular direction might be bad luck for an individual, and you would not dare go in a forbidden direction."  Miroku was beginning to become confused himself.  

Just as Miroku stopped speaking, everything went quiet.  There was not a sound to be heard.  No singing birds, no chirping crickets, no rustling leaves.  The breeze died down, even the bubbling stream seemed to be holding its breath. 

Sesshoumaru suddenly sprung into action.  Scooping up Rin and Shippo, he literally threw them onto Ah-Un's back along with Jaken, then sent the tenbaryu skyward. 

The ground began to heave and roll.  Inuyasha fell out of the tree he was resting in as everyone else tried to stay as low to the ground as possible.  The earthquake continued on for what seemed an interminable amount of time.

Sesshoumaru was just getting ready to pick up the miko and take to the sky himself when it finally stopped.

"Wow, that was a big one!"  Kagome exclaimed.  "Is everybody okay?"

Sesshoumaru watched as they all began to gather up their scattered belongings.  'The circumstance of the Aka-Shita's omen was certainly an event of great atrocity and terrible luck.'

 ~*~

Autors Notes:

Butsumetsu - Symbolizes the day Buddha died.  This is considered the most unlucky day.  Some Shinto shrines close their offices on this day.

Shakko - The hour of the horse (11am - 1pm) is lucky.  The rest of the day is bad luck.

Rokuyo - A series of six days that supposedly predict whether there will be good or bad fortune during that day.  The rokuyo are still commonly found on Japanese calendars and are often used to plan weddings and funerals, although most people ignore them in ordinary life.

Tenbaryu - translates as celestial horse dragon.  Borrowed from Fenikkusuken's tale "The Phoenix Blade: Time Lapse".

 ~*~

Fin

 

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