This short story was written for the Forum topic Be Prepared Me Hearties! about National Talk Like a Pirate Day. Many thanks to phishbon3s for the nudge to my muse! This could be considered an interlude or a filler chapters for my Encounters With Obakemono collection, since it’s set in the Feudal Era, and makes references to the Encounters compilation.
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 characters, Shun, Maya and Jack, are my intellectual property. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
‘Italics’ = thoughts
Pirates of the Sengoku Jidai
Chapter 1 - Insubordination
Sesshoumaru stood on top of the cliff staring out over the calm water and rocky stretch of sand below. Stars were twinkling in the sky and the moon was well on its path towards ending the night. The rest of the tachi was asleep since it was still a few hours before dawn. It was calm and quiet; this was his favorite time for developing a plan for the following day, as well as contemplating on his miko and the future.
The jewel shards that Inuyasha’s tachi was seeking were becoming scarcer, smaller, and more widely spread across the countryside. The last one they found was a tiny sliver that Kagome picked out of the remains of a weak lizard youkai several days ago after a rather feeble fight. Sesshoumaru was not interested in the shards themselves, only the knowledge that once they were all collected and the final battle with Naraku was won, Kagome’s quest to complete the jewel would be fulfilled. Then she would be returning with him to his fortress and become his mate.
They were roughly at the southernmost border of his lands and would cross into the southern lord’s territory sometime late this afternoon. He had already sent a missive and received a reply from Lord Fujitagawa. Sesshoumaru’s brow creased as he frowned, his eyebrows pulling down to almost meet at the bridge of his nose. He was well aware the southern lord was an alarmist, but the most disturbing part of the reply was the reports of pirate raids along the southwestern coast which, if they kept on their current track heading north, would reach his western lands before long. Yesterday they had crossed paths with one of his small groups of soldiers patrolling the local area. The captain had also mentioned receiving a report of pirate activity in the southern lands and had forwarded the accounting back to the fortress.
The news of the pirates was somewhat unsettling. He knew that Inuyasha wanted to head south towards the rumor of another jewel shard, but Sesshoumaru was debating about heading in a different direction. He didn’t want to put his miko in harms way unnecessarily; she was already in enough danger from Naraku and his minions. If the pirates were all human it would not be a problem, but if they were rouge youkai, the danger to the humans in the tachi would be increased exponentially, depending on how many and what breed of youkai were involved.
His ears picked up the first stirrings of the beings behind him as they began to awaken with the dawning of the new day. Returning to his resting place beside the miko, Sesshoumaru ran his claws gently through her hair. Watching Kagome wake from her slumber, he smirked as she stretched, then cuddled closer to him. Leaning down, he kissed her on the temple, whispering, “Good morning, my Kagome.”
Slowly blinking her eyes, Kagome awakened from her warm cocoon of dreams to see Sesshoumaru bending towards her. “Good morning, Sesshoumaru.” Blushing at the close proximity of the demon lord, Kagome sat up and pulled the sleeping bag up to her shoulders to keep the cool morning air away from her sleep warmed body. It was only the middle of September, but the nights and early mornings were getting quite cool.
She still hadn’t gotten entirely used to having Sesshoumaru sit right next to her while she slept, though it did make her feel completely safe, knowing that nothing would dare to attack her with the demon lord right there. Especially since Inuyasha had recently acquired the bad habit of disappearing for the night once everyone had fallen asleep.
Glancing around the campsite, she noted Sango and Miroku were getting up and stirring the fire to start breakfast, while Rin and Shippo were still sound asleep, nestled up to Ah-Un. Blue eyes searched further; Kirara was stalking off to hunt for her breakfast and, as usual lately, Inuyasha was nowhere in sight. From the sound of the ragged snoring, Jaken was still asleep on the other side of the dragon.
After a quick breakfast, cleaning up the campsite and saddling the tenbaryu, the tachi was on their way south. Sesshoumaru was in the lead with Kagome, Rin and Shippo close behind him. Sango and Miroku were also in the middle with Kirara, and Jaken was bringing up the rear, leading the disgruntled dragon by his reins. Ah-Un kept swinging his heads from side to side, grabbing mouthfuls of any palatable vegetation they passed, almost yanking Jaken off his feet.
The morning passed uneventfully with Inuyasha catching up to them as they were about to stop for the midday meal. The land had been gradually sloping towards the coast, the soil becoming quite sandy. As Inuyasha dropped out of the trees onto the path, he skidded across the ground and almost fell.
“Tough night, Inuyasha?” Miroku waggled his eyebrows at him then chuckled at the blush that rose in the hanyou’s cheeks.
Sesshoumaru managed to keep his face impassive; it was disgusting, the little cretin smelled like death warmed over. Though when he thought about it, that was, in actuality, exactly what the hanyou had been rolling in. ‘What is it with lower class inu’s and domestic dogs that makes them want to roll in the most putrid, offensive smelling objects they can possibly find?’
Shippo, who was currently riding on Kagome’s shoulder, wrinkled up his nose and sneezed. “Inuyasha, you stink! You need a bath!”
“Can it you brat!” Inuyasha balled up a fist and lunged trying to knock Shippo on the head, causing Kagome to ‘sit’ him.
“Inuyahsa, why don’t you ever learn? Stop picking on Shippo! He’s only telling the truth. You do stink.” Kagome looked down at the hanyou in the matching body shaped crater, waving her hand in front of her face.
“Keh, since everybody has such sensitive noses, I’ll go find a place to get washed.” Inuyasha finally got himself out of the hole he created, and took the soap that Kagome retreived from her backpack. “When you’re going to stop for lunch, you better save me a big bowl of ramen!” After a quick sniff to locate some water he was off, running between the trees.
Miroku rubbed at his watering eyes, breathing a sigh of relief. “Well, that was easier than I thought it would be. I was afraid I was going to have to drag him off to the nearest stream again, like last time.”
The hanyou’s voice could be heard screaming from a short distance away. “I heard that monk!”
Kagome and Sango giggled, remembering the fight Miroku had on his hands that morning until Sesshoumaru had stepped in and literally threw Inuyasha into the chilly water, all the while smirking at the girlish screams emanating from the hanyou’s mouth.
A short time later they came to a small clearing, where they set up to have a quick midday meal. Wood was swiftly gathered and a small fire started to boil water for ramen and tea. Kagome dug into her backpack and realized that there was probably only enough ramen for two or three more meals after this one, then began to try and remember when the last time was she had been home.
She promptly lost track, but was sure it had been not too many weeks before the fight with Naraku near Mount Mitsumine, when she fell off Kagura’s feather. They hadn’t been too far out from Edo, heading in a westerly direction, when the ‘accident’ happened.
She wasn’t about to bring that up though, it was an extremely touchy subject with Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha and, surprisingly enough, Miroku. Any mention of the Mitsumine Shrine or the O’Kami would start a verbal fight between Inuyasha and Miroku that continued for hours until she was sick and tired of listening to them. Sesshoumaru, on the other hand, would become enraged and disappear for quite a while before returning, externally at least, somewhat calmer. So the subject was taboo, however much Kagome would like to know what had occurred on the mountain. All she had were some very hazy memories that she couldn’t even be sure were not actually dreams. She shrugged her shoulders, maybe some day she would find the answers to the questions she had.
Inuyasha slunk into the clearing, deposited the soap into the container waiting on top of Kagome’s backpack, and quietly motioned for Sesshoumaru to follow him. Raising an eyebrow, Sesshoumaru allowed the hanyou to lead him towards the treeline at the far edge of the clearing. Everyone sitting around the cooking fire watched, curious, since this was not Inuyasha’s normal brash behavior.
Kagome was more than interested especially since, try as hard as she could, she was unable to hear anything that was being said. She kept a close eye on them as Inuyasha leaned in and appeared to be whispering, which was highly suspicious for the usually loud and uncouth hanyou. Sesshoumaru disappeared in a flash as Inuyasha turned to stride over to the fire, demanding his share of the ramen.
“Uh, uh, Inuyasha! Not until you tell us what’s going on!” Kagome withheld the bowl of ramen, insisting on an answer.
“Give me my share of the ramen right now, wench!” Inuyasha grabbed for the bowl when Kagome looked like she was going to tip the contents out onto the ground.
“Tell us first, then I’ll give you the ramen!” Tilting the bowl further, Kagome narrowed her eyes at him. “Or do you want me to use the ‘_it’ word?”
Growling, Inuyasha backed off while eyeing the steaming bowl of ramen. “Okay, bitch, I told Sesshoumaru that there was a boat anchored off shore, and it looked like the pirates we’d been hearing about. Now give me my fuckin’ ramen!”
Kagome handed over the bowl, watching the treeline for Sesshoumaru to return. She knew there had been pirates almost since travel by boat had first begun, and that even in her modern times there were still reports of ruthless pirates preying on hapless boaters in the South Pacific and the Straits of MalIaca. To have them so close, however, was… exciting.
Sesshoumaru walked out of the treeline several minutes later and returned to the group waiting by the fire.
“Well, what’s going on?” Inuyasha managed to get out in between slurping up mouthfuls of the ramen.
“It appears that the pirates have invaded this Sesshoumaru’s lands. This is unacceptable, and will be dealt with accordingly.”
Inuyasha cocked his head to the side. “What do you plan on doing about it?”
“I shall pay them a short visit after observing them to see what their possible strengths may be. They appear, so far, to all be human, and a crapulous lot at that.” Sesshoumaru was disgusted for the second time that day as he recalled several of the men on the shore staggering around with jugs of some type of alcohol, probably cheap sake from the smell of it.
Kagome’s eyes lit up. “Can I see the pirates? I’ve never seen real pirates before! Please?”
“No. Everyone will stay here, while I deal with these scoundrels.” Sesshoumaru commanded, glaring menacingly, first at Kagome, then at the rest of the tachi to enforce his authority regarding the situation. “Inuyasha you will remain here to safeguard the women and pups.” With that announcement he again quickly disappeared through the treeline across the clearing.
Kagome slowly rinsed out the bowls and cups with the remaining water from the battered pot, before splashing it on the fire to douse the flames. “Inuyasha, how far is it to the beach?” Kagome tried to be as nonchalant as possible, she was not about to miss out on perhaps the only time she may get to see real live pirates.
“Keh, not that far, wench, but you heard Sesshoumaru! You are to stay here and not get into any trouble.” Inuyasha’s ears began twitching as he very faintly heard a swordfight begin. As the clashing of swords continued, he became restless, then with a quick tensing of muscles, took off in the direction of the fight. ‘Hell, I’m not going to miss out on a fight, just because his royal pain in the ass doesn’t want the rest of the tachi involved.’
Kagome quickly finished dousing the fire, shoved the rinsed off bowls and utinsels into her bag, then tied it onto Ah-Un’s saddle. “Come on guys! I’ve got to see what’s going on.”
“Kagome-chan, you heard Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha, they want us to stay here, away from the possibility of any harm.” Sango put a hand on Kagome’s arm to keep her from following after the demon lord and hanyou. She wasn’t about to deliberately get on Sesshoumaru’s bad side, it was easy enough to do so inadvertantly.
Miroku joined her in trying to dissuade Kagome from following Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha. Besides, he had seen enough bandits in his day, he didn’t think these pirates would be any different from the rough, crude men that preyed on unsuspecting travelers across the countryside.
“Sango, don’t you want to see what’s happening? It’s probably exciting to watch.” Kagome was thinking of sword fights from her favorite pirate movies with booming cannons and men swinging between the rigging of the ships. “Come on Miroku, I know you want to find out what’s going on.” Kagome grabbed up her bow and quiver of arrows then took off after Inuyasha with Sango and Miroku hot on her heels to try and stop her.
Jaken, after having Rin and Shippo mount up on Ah-Un, waited at the edge of the clearing under the shade of the trees, on high alert, holding the dragon demon’s reins in one hand and his staff of two skulls at the ready in the other. He shook his head and grumbled as he watched the humans disappear through the trees. ‘At least I know better than to disobey a direct order from Sesshoumaru-sama!’
By the time Kagome was finally able to see anything between the trees, the clashing of swords had long since stopped. She was behind a huge bush of some sort, peeking through the leaves towards the beach. The first thing she saw was a large three masted Chinese junk, which was anchored just off shore, beyond the small waves lapping at the sand. There were half a dozen or so wooden casks over by where the stream exited the trees and flowed into the sea; they must have been going to refill their water supply.
Quickly looking around, Kagome next spotted Sesshoumaru, flinging blood off his Tokijin and resheathing it. On the sand between him and Inuyasha were several bodies and a wooden coffer. ‘A treasure chest?’ Inuyasha was pointing his Tessaiga at two men who were laying in the sand. There was an odd looking bamboo raft of some sort pulled up on the beach.
Kagome frowned, ‘Well, this certainly doesn’t look like any Errol Flynn movie I’ve ever seen! Or the Pirates of the Caribbean either! And where’s the skull and crossbones?’ Miroku and Sango were trying desperately to pull Kagome away from the treeline and back through the woods towards the clearing.
Sesshoumaru turned and glared directly at all three of them, as Kagome finally began to slowly back away. “Miko, I told you and the others to stay at the clearing!”
“Keh, Sesshoumaru, did you really expect her to listen to you?” Inuyasha took a quick glance at the three human members of his tachi, before turning his attention back to the men on the sand, who had been relieved of their weapons. “What do you want me to do with these two?”
Sesshoumaru strode over, and pointed at them, before motioning to the bloody, lifeless bodies in the sand. “You will bury the bodies of your comrades, while this Sesshoumaru decides your fate, unless you desire to join them directly.”
The older of the two men looked between Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha. He had heard tales of the inu youkai, but if that is what these two beings were, it was the first time he had ever seen one. “We can bury the bodies. Those were the captain, his 1st mate, and the navigator. The other two were shanghaied sailors, like the rest of us.” They had slowly started to get up and were now kneeling in the sand, fearfully waiting for the one with the biggest sword they had ever seen to chop them to pieces.
“Indeed.” Sesshoumaru cocked his head at them. He could smell the fear rolling off them, and was able to scent that they were not lieing. “Bury the bodies inside the treeline, then I shall have answers to my questions. Inuyasha, you will keep guard over them.”
Scrambling to their feet, the men hurriedly dragged the bodies in the direction Sesshoumaru had pointed, and grabbing the shovels from the sand beside the red lacquered chest began digging graves. The younger of the two rummaged through the pockets of the dead, making a small pile of their personal belongings to give to the imposing creature dressed in white silk, who he assumed was to be their new Captain.
Sesshoumaru was striding towards his miko and her companions, trying to comprehend why she rarely listened to his direct orders, and often did the exact opposite of what she was told. “Miko, explain.”
Miroku broke in before Kagome could answer. “Sesshoumaru-sama, we tried to keep her from following you and Inuyasha, but…” he trailed off, glancing towards the ground as Sesshoumaru glared at him.
The two men digging the graves picked up their heads at the title the monk used, and looked at each other. ‘A Lord and a youkai.’ They quickly returned to their assigned task when Inuyasha growled at them and put his hand on the grip of his now sheathed sword.
Sesshoumaru stood, waiting, while Kagome squirmed under his steady gaze, which was slowly fading from red to its more normal golden hue. “Miko, I will not repeat myself.”
“Sesshoumaru, I just wanted to see what was happening. I was also worried about you and Inuyasha.” Kagome finally squeaked out. “And I wanted to see the ship and the pirates.”
“Miko, your disobedience will be dealt with later. Once the bodies have been buried, you will collect the rest of the tachi. We will camp here overnight, while I decide the fate of the pirates.” Sesshoumaru kept his emotionless façade while he stared at her. Internally he was smirking, there were very, very few beings that defied him and managed to live to tell the tale. Her fiery temper and ability to stand up to him and Inuyasha was one of the many of her personality traits that had slowly drawn him to her over the past several years.
Directing his attention to the slayer and monk, he ordered them to begin collecting firewood, then, when Kagome returned with the rest of the tachi, they were to help set up camp on the shoreline for the night.
Striding down to the edge of the water, Sesshoumaru stood with his arms crossed on his chest as he observed what little activity there was to be seen on the deck of the pirate ship. He had been so furious that his first thought was to destroy the ship; he could either melt it with his dokkasou or cut it to pieces with his acid whip then burn it. While he was debating between these two courses of action another idea began to form. ‘After all, to the victor belongs the spoils. These pirates trespassed on the Western Lands and as Lord of these lands, I can do whatsoever I desire in order obtain retribution for the threat against what is mine as well as for the unjustified attack upon this Sesshoumaru.’
By the time Kagome returned with Rin and Shippo skipping alongside her, followed by Jaken leading Ah-Un, the two sailors were sitting across from Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha answering their questions and telling what they knew of the rest of the crew.
Sesshoumaru was intrigued. Apparently these two were the only ones of the crew that spoke fluent Japanese. The rest of the crew was a polyglot from many far flung places. There were several who spoke different dialects of Chinese, but very few were able to speak directly to each other without the aid of another person. Then there was the curiousity of the assistant navigator, who, they said, was very tall with unusual light colored hair and supposedly spoke a strange language no one else understood. They told a tale of sailing from their islands to Fu-Nan and Nam Viet then to Nippon, raiding coastal villages and attacking other ships along the way.
They had suffered many casualties and quite a few deaths recently; the Captain had decided to stop at this rather distinctive area of the coastline to bury his greatest treasures so they wouldn’t fall into anyone elses hands during a raid.
Sesshoumaru glanced at the large key that lay amid the pile of belongings the men had brought to him. There were several pipes with their cases, along with tobacco pouches and flints, a collapsable cylindrical telescope in a leather case, a yatate, two inros with their netsukes, and a couple other items that he wasn’t quite sure what they were. He would have to see if his miko recognized any of them, once he stopped being annoyed with her and had formulated some type of fitting punishment for her reckless behavior.
He looked up to see the miko returning with his retainer and ward as well as her fox kit. The slayer and monk exited the treeline with what appeared to be the third or fourth load of firewood and kindling. Sesshoumaru smirked as he observed the tachi working together to set up camp for the night, Kagome giving everybody one chore or another to complete the preparations for the evening meal.
Digging into her bulky yellow backpack, Kagome pulled out her large first aid kit and rather meekly approached Sesshoumaru. “Does anyone have any wounds that need to be taken care of?”
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes suspiciously as the miko drew near. He knew from many previous experiences that she was anything but meek or mild. This unusual behavior required closer observation. He nodded towards the men seated across from him, and Kagome cautiously moved towards them. ‘So, she is leary of the strangers, that is odd. She is always the first to insist on helping anyone in need.’
While cleaning, stitching and bandaging their wounds, Kagome began to relax. Asking questions, she learned that the men were actually father and son, their names were Shu and Shuichi, they had originally lived on the islands far to the south and had been shanghaied into the crew of the pirate ship during a raid on their village. By the time she was done tending their wounds, she had lost most of her fear of them, and dinner was almost ready.
After Inuyasha had finished eating, Sesshoumaru sent him to catch up with the group of his soldiers they had crossed paths with yesterday and have them send a message to the Fortress requesting anyone with knowledge of ships and sailing to report to him here at the shoreline. The patrol was to return with Inuyasha to stand guard until reinforcements arrived.
After several bedtime stories, Kagome put Rin and Shippo to bed in their sleeping bags beside Ah-Un for the night. Giving it some thought she arranged her sleeping bag next to them. She wasn’t sure if Sesshoumaru would be awake all night keeping an eye on the pirates, or whether he would sit and rest next to her like he normally did. She was suddenly extremely tired, and fell into a deep sleep shortly after snuggling down into her sleeping bag.
Author’s Notes – Chapter 1:
Crapulous – sick from, or marked by, excessive drinking.
Fu-Nan and Nam Viet – old names of Cambodia and Vietnam, respectively.
Tenbaryu – Fenikkusuken’s clever name for Ah-Un translates as celestial horse-dragon. From her tale The Phoenix Blade: Time Lapse.
Yatate - a Japanese portable writing set. The yatate has been around since the Kamakura period (1185-1333). It contains a traditional Japanese bamboo brush and an ink pot filled with cotton or silk which holds liquid sumi ink. To see pictures, or for more information on yatate, follow this link: http://www.stutler.cc/pens/yatate/
One additional note – I do not own, nor do I have any financial interest in, Errol Flynn, his estate, Walt Disney Studio Entertainment or the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise.
To be continued…