One by ladybattousai

Transcending the Spider

Chapter 01: Transcending the Spider

Her dim, paper lantern bouncing, Kagome rushed down the twisting path worn between clusters of stalagmites.  Hampering her way were the scattered bones of demons and she kicked them hard as she ran.  Their ringing clatter as they skipped over stone though didn’t steal a single thought from her.  All that flooded her mind was dread, drowning her with the devastating fear that she might be too late.  Her fingers white from gripping it, the lacquered smoothness of a sheathed sword was tight against her breast.  She hoped that she wasn’t too late.

Dripping down her neck, sweat beaded, its saltiness itching her skin.  Keeping in step, Kagome shrugged, wiping up the droplets with her collar.  Heavy and thick, her priestess clothing felt stifling hot despite the cold of the autumn night.  Then his piercing yell ripped through the air and an icy chill shot down her spine, leaving a field of goose bumps in its wake.  Her run became a sprint.

Opening wide, the tunnel ended with a huge cavern, its vaulted ceiling high above her head.  The faceted walls glimmered with a surreal sheen, reflecting the firelight of the dozens of oil lamps set throughout the cave.  Sprawling from one end to the other was a spider’s web of crystal.  At the center, lay partially dissolved demons, their petrified bodies caught in the glasslike strands.  She recognized many of them.  The three-eyed cow and its rider.  The countless wolves and their prince.  The tiny flea who had long since turned into glittering dust and had blown away.  Her eyes however, avoided one small bundle.  With his small arms wrapped around the tiny cat demon, the terror on his frozen face was unforgettable, its image scarring her mind forever without the need to be reminded.  No one died peacefully anymore, especially children.


The priestess looked up, her racing steps softening as she searched for who called her.  Standing still amid the frantic bustle of other familiar faces was Miroku.  She ran up to him.

“Is it done?” he asked, exhaustion wrinkling his usually smooth voice.

“I did just as Bokuseno said,” she assured, remembering the withered magnolia’s final words. “The entire blade has been doused in Goshinboku’s sap.”


“Miroku!” another yelled.

Turning around, the monk looked for his wife, finding her bounding down the crystallized body of an enormous dog demon as if it were meant to be stepping stones.  Without compromising her agility, Sango barked orders as she leapt.

“Kohaku, check his binds again!  He’s weak, but he’s still dangerous.  We don’t want him getting loose.”

She jumped off the paw and landed on the back of a big wolf demon with a tinier demon beside it, still gripping its two-headed staff.

“Rin, keep fanning.  The fumes will dull his senses and the pain.”

With one final leap, the taijiya was beside them and a bit breathless.

“Houshi-sama, please check the seals one last time.  This is our last chance.  There’s no one left to save if we fail now.”

“Of course, Sango,” he said and then leaned in close and kissed her on the lips.  Light and fleeting, it was soon over and he left, walking toward the center of the cavern and the design of paper seals that formed a barrier around it.

Her eyes leaving the monk, Kagome’s sight found the drained taijiya standing before her.  Dark circles were heavy under Sango’s eyes with fine lines creeping out toward her temples.  The last year had easily aged her ten.  Despite her growing brood and the domesticated lifestyle that came with them, she was still a huntress to the core.  She was a warrior and so she fought the futility, too desperate to defeat it to grieve those who had been lost to it.

“You look miserable, Kagome-chan,” Sango remarked.

Surprise paled Kagome’s expression.

“I wonder if I look just as bad.  I think I feel just as bad,” the taijiya added, cracking a difficult smile.  “If not worse.”

The priestess tried to speak, to reassure her or at the very least, to return the smile, but nothing came.

“That bad, is it?” she said with a worn sigh and then gestured to the sword in Kagome’s arms.  “Is it done?”


Sango nodded.  “Take it to him.  He’s waiting.”

Swallowing down, the priestess walked away, venturing toward the center of the web.  As she neared, she passed a young woman kneeling on the floor.  Huddled over a small kettle, she was furiously fanning the sweet vapor that billowed from it.  Fresh tears streaked down her cheeks, following the stained paths of their predecessors.

Ahead, standing in a field of candlelight, she saw the heartening silhouette of firerat robes and an unruly mane of hair.  Her steps quickened.  She could hear his rough voice as he talked, its raspy edges steeling her nerves.  Then her heart slipped a notch as she neared and the light revealed more than just a silhouette.  His black hair still shocked her, reminding her that the white was long gone.  The smooth crown atop his head only further spoke of the humanity that just remained.

“Inuyasha,” she said his name softly.

His back remained to her.

“Inuyasha,” she called out louder.

He continued to talk, ignorant of her presence until a deeper voice interrupted him, struggling as it spoke.

Inuyasha spun around, surprised.

“Kagome!  I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”

The priestess shook her head, blinking back the tears that reddened her eyes.  “Don’t worry.  I was too quiet.”

Shame crept over Inuyasha and he reached up to touch his human ears.  “I’m sorry.”

“Please don’t be.  It’s all right.  Tenseiga is ready.”  Fingers aching as she opened them, she held the sword out for him to take.  Stalled by hesitancy and awe, he stared for a long moment at the dark, slender weapon before taking it.  Fear tightened in his chest as he felt its weight, imagining it to be twice as heavy than it truly was.  If they used this, there was no going back.  Any mistakes made could not be undone.  It would be the end.

The voice growls behind him again.  “Stop wasting time, you deplorable half-breed.”

Turning to the side, Inuyasha looked back and revealed its source.  Bound to a pillar was Sesshoumaru.  The chipped cylinder of stone served to hold him up just as much as it served to secure him and he stared at Inuyasha with gaunt cheeks and hollow eyes.  Bare-chested, he wore only his pants and boots, the rest of his clothing and armor strewn beside the twisted pile of crystal that was once his pelt.  Feathery veins discolored his porcelain skin, condensing over his heart to create the image of a spider.

“The seals are ready,” Miroku spoke up as he approached with Sango and Rin not far behind him.

Slipping down the crystal webbing behind the pillar, Kohaku landed softly near the daiyoukai’s bonds.  The young man tugged on the ropes decorated with paper streamers and adjusted them until he was pleased with their strength.  Then as quickly as he had descended, he climbed back up.  The attacks were sudden and unpredictable now and to be near the demon lord when they struck was to invite death.  Sidling along web until he was positioned behind Inuyasha, Kohaku jumped down and joined his sister and Rin.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Sesshoumaru growled; sweat drenching his skin and he shivered as he tried to keep his rioting blood in check.

“It might not work,” Inuyasha said.

“This is the only way left.  It doesn’t matter if it works or not.  If doing nothing means death then failure cannot be worse.”

The comforting feel of Kagome’s hand touched his shoulder and Inuyasha turned to find her close beside him.  Then her hands slid around him and she pulled him in for a tender hug.

“It’ll work,” she promised in whisper.  “I know it will.”

He looked down into her gray eyes, searching for hope.

She nodded.  “Go.”

Swallowing hard, Inuyasha summoned the unassailable courage that defined him and stepped away from her and toward Sesshoumaru.  Sliding it out, he unsheathed the sword and as he did, Rin collapsed to the ground.  Sobbing cries wracked her delicate frame and Kohaku picked her back up, steadying her against his chest.  Muffling her cries, she buried her face into him, unable to watch any longer.

Leaving the glossy sheen of the sap-slicked blade, Inuyasha’s dark brown eyes looked up at Sesshoumaru’s.  He watched as the fragile control the daiyoukai clung to began to crack and his shivering grew into convulsions.  Another attack was coming.  His eyes flickered red and the creases knotting his brow deepened as the first wave of pain struck.  Tightening hard, his muscles twitched as he strained with the pulsing veins that ran just under the surface of his skin threatening to burst.  Malignant, the spider on his chest swelled, its jagged legs growing longer to wrap around him.  Then they tightened, crushing his lungs to leave him gasping.

“Do it!” the youkai lord stuttered, and then the excruciating pain ripped into him like countless knives rending him from the inside out.  He roared, his howls of agony echoing. Loosening from the walls, shards of crystal fell, ringing as they shattered on the ground.

Inuyasha stood frozen as the screaming continued, hoping that they would subside like before, hoping that there was still time.  They didn’t and the spider grew.

“Do it!”

“Sesshoumaru, I…”

“Do it now… brother.”

Buried behind the pain and the force of his command, Inuyasha heard a plea.  The daiyoukai was begging.  That no matter what happened, he wanted it to end.  He wanted it to end now and he needed him to do it.

Raising the sword, he pointed the trembling tip toward Sesshoumaru.  Focused, Inuyasha’s eyes stayed on him and he readied himself to take one final step.

“I’m sorry, o-nii-san.”

Stepping forward, Inuyasha plunged the sword through Sesshoumaru’s chest until he felt the tip driving hard into the stone behind him.  Stunned, he let the sword go to find his hands shaking.  Impaled cleanly, he looked up to watch as the spider receded in size and he laughed in disbelief.  He hadn’t turned into crystal.  It had worked.

“Sesshoumaru,” he blurted out and his relief faded as he watched his half-brother’s gold eyes tarnish. 

The demon lord coughed, crimson spilling from his mouth while it slowly began to seep from the wound through his heart.  Tenseiga had truly cut him.  The unexpected irony combined with the numb tickling in his chest drew a strange smile on his lips.  Flexed muscles softening, he began to slump, held up now by the sword that pierced him.

“NO!” Inuyasha yelled and grabbed Tenseiga’s hilt, yanking hard on it.  Embedded deep into the rock, he couldn’t budge it and he cursed his human blood.

“Stop,” Sesshoumaru whispered, his strength vanishing.

“I have to save you.”

“I am saved, you half-breed.”  The daiyoukai coughed his twisted chuckle and his head dipped, too heavy to hold up anymore.

Inuyasha left the sword to support him.  “You can’t-”

“Goodbye, Inuyasha.”

In a long hiss, Sesshoumaru’s last breath left him and he went limp.  The pain was gone.