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To Be His Lady by Nariko

Retracing Steps

Wind whipped against the work-toughened skin and hardened blue eyes of a weary traveler, who was seated precariously on the railing of a junk ship returning to Northern Japan. It had been a long time since that particular traveler had seen the small island nation, and a feeling of uncertainty tainted the very edges of the woman’s psyche.

 

Regret, however, had no place there. It had been too long since the feeling of comfort that comes with a home had permeated the nomad’s heart and soul.  Seeing the world was not as imminent to her as it had once been, though it was true that it was possible to learn much abroad that one could not with a family and family pressures.

 

Drifting had led the perpetual traveler to many places, though not so far as the lands of the white Europeans. The Middle East, Africa, China, India…these places had been conquered; she had taken them in a storm of almond-shaped eyes and unexpected powers, learning all she could along the way and no longer caring how she affected the history books.

 

The itinerant knew cultures, languages, fighting styles, and dynamics that she never would have imagined to know, just ten years in the past. At 28, she was proud to say she had become a woman to be admired.

 

So why was it that now, with the Japanese coast looming in her vision, Kagome Higurashi began to doubt herself again?

 

 

Inuyasha relaxed against a tree, enjoying the view of the night that was available from the top of the Goshinboku. It was a rarity that the hanyou allowed himself such a respite, but in commemoration of the upcoming celebration – the anniversary of Naraku’s defeat – he spared himself a moment to think of what had once been.

 

Thoughts of the evil they had faced were of course front and center in the stream of memories, but then the edges softened as he viewed Sango, Miroku, and their three children participating in the festival preparations. His mind drifted to Shippo, who had left them not three years ago in search of a master or at least an older demon to train him. The white-haired half-demon recalled the kit’s leaving with sharp clarity.

 

The little fox had said words that hit home inside Inuyasha’s own heart, and of course the older male could not then refuse him.

 

And then there was the inevitable thoughts of Kagome. Her soft, silky hair, satiny skin and vibrant blue eyes that had haunted him since her departure nearly a decade ago. The way she had used to laugh at his jokes because she actually thought they were funny – even though he had to admit his humor was lacking in the early days – how she had comforted him and never blamed him despite all that Inuyasha had put her through.

 

Her words of departure hung over him just as Shippo’s had.

 

“I wondered if I ever meant anything to you more than being a jewel detector, Inuyasha. But I will not wonder any longer. You want to know why? Because what you think of me never really mattered. In the end, all that matters is what I think of myself. When I get back, I don’t ever want to doubt my own value again.”

 

Sighing, the hanyou realized that he couldn’t afford to waste any more time in reminiscing, especially not if the humans of the village wanted to be done in time to celebrate.

 

“Complete idiots.” Were the last words he muttered before making his way down the hill.

 

 

The Shikon Miko took her first tentative steps onto land at the rising of the sun on the eastern horizon. Now, ten years past the high school years that had led to the journeys of the Sengoku Jidai, she could see why it was called the land of the rising sun. A gloriously warm ray of sunshine hit a silky cheek and Kagome could not help but sigh in contentment.

 

The ship had unloaded in Aomori, past the Tsugaru Straits and through Aomori Bay of Northern Japan. The fresh smell of the clean ocean waters combined with the scent of tilled earth and ancient trees grew heady and filled one’s senses completely, replenishing and fulfilling the holes left by the peoples of the earth.

 

Despite such a sensation, Kagome was fighting the feeling of oppressiveness consuming her, beginning when her foot had touched Japanese soil. It made her uncertain about whether she was ready for this, and if there was one thing she had learned, it was that uncertainty was the biggest opponent in the battle with one’s self; it was a battle the priestess had fought long and hard to win.

 

After several deep, cleansing breaths of the moist air, the Miko knew she was ready to continue. With surety back inside of her well-toned muscles, Kagome took her first steps in Japan as the strongest holy woman of the land.

 

The people were just as friendly as memory dictated, and the cities larger and more organized. Much had changed from the previous years, surprisingly. It had been such a short period of time, it seemed as if it was all happening a bit too fast. However, human beings were much like ants, in that way; united against a common cause, their parasitic powers were strongest. If there was a goal or a foe upon which all had their sights, such as the apparent technological advancement surrounding her, then it would be conquered or completed, quickly.

 

Kagome thought back onto the history lessons she had learned in her textbooks. Truly, they were nothing like experiencing it first hand; however, in estimates of time the woman finally found them to be accurate. Things really had moved at a faster pace. This was ironic, considering all the time-saving advancements of the twenty-first century in comparison.

 

But everything in the present day was choked up in argument and diplomatic discussion. When it boiled right down to it, a fight would settle things real quick in comparison. Looking back in history now didn’t seem as repulsive an idea as it had in high school. Maybe there was something to be said for the way of the samurai after all.

 

With a start, the warrior-priestess realized that she’d reached the unofficial boundaries of the city of Aomori whilst caught up in her musings. Her feet carried her out into the Japanese wilderness, and a sigh left her as the drifter entered her element once more.

 

 

“Jaken.”

 

With the barest shift of his head to the side, the toad youkai snapped to attention for his lord.

 

“Yes, milord? What can this lowly Jaken do to serve?”

 

Sesshomaru reviewed his mental list to ensure himself that he had covered every invitation required.

 

“Have these emissaries delivered to the addresses which have been printed on them promptly. Report back to me on this matter by the end of the week. Understood?”

 

Jaken repeated his lord’s message back perfectly before being dismissed.

 

Ugly though he may be, the Lord of the West had made absolutely certain that the toad youkai was perfect in his capacity as retainer, which included dealing with finished messages, as well as organizing the paperwork.

 

The large wooden desk – finished with a red stain – that sat before him was littered with pile upon pile of paperwork that never seemed to end. Sesshomaru was not one to shirk duty, but even for him the work was substantially time-consuming and…tedious. The temptation to indulge Rin and spend a day with nature was just that, tempting. However, if he was able to complete the invitations for the young woman’s initiation ceremonies, than it was possible for him to also finish the trade reports of the last month.

 

That was his primary goal for the day, though the idea of giving his Rin, the woman-child whom he thought of as a daughter, up for marriage was irritating and had distracted him from that point several times.

 

The thought of giving her up to a human, who would likely not appreciate her beauty appropriately, was even more appalling. However the time had come. At 21 years of age, she was far past the age which he should have initiated the courting of her, however the Demon Lord had decided to be selfish and keep her to himself until he absolute had to, or until he risked her growing feelings of discontent; feelings which she was starting to show.

 

With a sigh, the Lord of the Western Lands gently placed his brush on the edge of a ceramic ink dish painted white. The liquid inside showed the barest ripple in the early morning light, a testament to his less than perfect control at the moment.

 

Outside, his view of the palace of the moon’s gardens was momentarily inhibited by the passage of a small blue-breasted bird. The sharp eyes of the pure demon caught the shifts in wind currents due to the wing movements, and he reflected that they reminded him of the swish of Rin’s hair upon their first instance of traveling together; she had ridden Ah-Un in an attempt to save time; Sesshomaru now realized that he wished to revert back to those early times and walk at every opportunity, relishing the light and jovial flavor of the girl’s company.

 

Certainly, Rin was still that light and joyful creature, however now it was overcast with a hint of wisdom that he knew would grow great with age. She was dignified, his daughter, to the highest level. Sesshomaru was nearly certain that not even demons had reached a higher pedigree.

 

Rin, as an overall creature, was one of grace, humility, dignity, honor, and nobility even one of bluer blood could not have produced. He was proud to recall how she had progressed; from the uncivilized ningen that had showed him kindness in the forest, to being a lady of social prominence and high stature among her peers.

 

Ah, but that was not getting the trade reports recorded in his monetary annals, nor was it producing anything but a hidden melancholy.

 

Perhaps he would revisit his thoughts in his nightly meditation. For he could not tell another of how proud he was or how severely he would miss his ningen daughter.

 

The blow to his pride, dealt by himself, would be a killing shot.

 

 

Kagome’s feet tapped a sure and steady rhythm on the dirt path she traveled, steadying the rushing cadence of her heart and the pulsing blood running as a herd of wild horses would in her veins.

 

Memories, buried so deeply they would no longer pop up even in her dreams came rushing back to the surface, placing a distinctive hue upon how the now unfamiliar sights hit her optical nerves.

 

The grass…there was the oddest sensation that it was greener, the sun…brighter somehow. With the wisdom of one well-versed in the fighting arts, she was able to distinguish what was enhanced by adrenaline, all she was running on at the moment, and what was realistic.

 

Kagome understood that she needed to find a place to stay, but knew she was a long way from home, in a land no longer familiar with the Shikon Miko or the rights conveyed therein. As she had no more money – the damned sailors had pirated her out of nearly everything except her weapons and clothes – Kagome knew she would either have to find viable shelter or a place to work.

 

No towns were even close to her location that she knew of, so the former was looking slightly more forthcoming than the latter. Just ahead, sitting high on a cliff was a cave with a perfect view of the countryside. It would allow her to watch, but the downside was that it would also allow her to be watched. And if it were already inhabited, what then? If it were connected to a warren in the earth danger could come from either side. No fire would be safe, and the Miko desperately needed to fill her body with fuel on which to operate.

 

No, something at ground level would be easier to access and thus to escape, as well as maybe providing suitable shelter for a fire, away from the prying eyes of demons that thought they might take a piece out of a small, seemingly defenseless Miko. Kagome was by no means a picky fighter when it came to honing her skills, but she was not fond of killing, and such a thing would be necessary in Japan.

 

“The harshness of reality just…sucks.”

 

With her comment ringing in the air, Kagome started again in the mid-morning air, this time searching for rest and food instead of landmarks from a time long-gone.

 

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