InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Fireside Chats ❯ Part Seven: Demon Forest ( Chapter 7 )
Update: A few clarifications added, fixed some nonsequitur moments, adjusted some grammatical inconsistencies and streamlined the punctuation.
Part Seven: Demon Forest
Kiniromaru pulled a face at being told to escort the group. Nijimaru glanced sideways at her, his eyes hardening. "Something the matter, Kiniroko?"
"N-nothing, Lord Nijimaru."
Nijimaru eyed her sternly and turned to the group. "You," he pointed at Koga, his eyes growing cold and hard, "get out of my forest. You have the power of Shikon fragments. I will not allow you to stay within the boundaries of my domain. The Shikon no Tama is pure evil, and I do not allow fragments within my borders."
Koga shrugged; "Fine by me. I was just passing through. C'mon guys," he motioned to Ginta and Hakkaku. "See you guys later. Mutt-face, be careful with my Kagome! If anything happens to her, I'll rip you limb from limb and feed you to my wolves, not that they'd eat that kind of thing." With a wave to Kagome, the three wolf demons and their wolf underlings set off again.
"Cocky bastard," Inuyasha seethed. "Good riddance."
Nijimaru turned as if to leave but froze midturn. He eyed Kagome. Inuyasha tensed, raising Tetsusaiga menacingly. Nijimaru looked -- didn't glare, looked -- at him stoically, and instantly Inuyasha's blood turned to ice. His gaze was that of a demon lord, there was no doubt. His eyes contained the same cold indifference that Sesshomaru's eyes had. Beyond the depths of his iridescent eyes lay a power as old as time itself. As Inuyasha continued to stare into those prismatic eyes, he felt rather than saw an aura surrounding the demon lord, an aura shot through with distant echos of an ancient race. This was a very old and very powerful being, or at least he was in command of very old and very potent powers.
"You, woman, you possess shards of this jewel as well, don't you?" Nijimaru said as he let his eyes slide away from Inuyasha, back to Kagome. "I didn't sense it at first because of the wolf, because he synthesizes the energy of them, but now that he's gone, I can still feel the presence of Shikon fragments, dormant though they are."
"Purified," Inuyasha growled, "not dormant. Not that it's any of your business. Now, who are you? I can see you really are a taiyoukai. Who are you?"
"Do not presume to question me," Nijimaru said coolly. "It is none of your concern who or what I am. And I was not speaking to you."
"Damn," Inuyasha muttered, "you're just as arrogant as Sesshomaru, I'll give you that."
Nijimaru ignored him, approaching Kagome at a calculated stroll. Kagome shrank away from him, leaning closer to Inuyasha. Inuyasha growled deep in his throat and moved a step sideways to block the way. Nijimaru again looked at him coldly, freezing him and arresting all movement.
What's happening? How is he able to do this to me? Even Sesshomaru can't do that!
Nijimaru neatly sidestepped Inuyasha and stood before Kagome, looking down at her with those hypnotic eyes.
"Get away from me!" Kagome shrilled, throwing her hands out in front of her and pushing the demon lord away.
"You may not enter my forest carrying Shikon fragments," Nijimaru said calmly. "I will allow you to stay in this clearing simply because it is on the very boundaries, but I will not suffer you to take those evil things into my domain. The same goes for you too, Monk. I know you have at least one."
Miroku nearly sweatdropped.
"Kagome, let me hold onto the shards," Sango suggested. "I think the safest place for you is with Inuyasha, and we can't pass up this chance for him to speak with Bokuseno. You know I won't make off with them," she added with a sly wink.
Kagome looked at Inuyasha, who was still shaking off the effects of Nijimaru's hypnotic stare. "What do you think, Inuyasha?"
"I suppose it's for the best," he grumbled. "Sesshomaru doesn't offer advice often, and I'll be damned if that wasn't advice that he gave me regarding Bokuseno. Shippo, you stay here too. I can't be watching out for you too, and this forest gives me the creeps."
Shippo pouted but really had no other response. Kagome pulled her bottle out of her pocket and handed it to Sango while Miroku set about setting up camp all over again.
"We'll be waiting here for you," Miroku said. "Of course, if we're not, you can just follow the jewel fragments. I'm not stupid either, Inuyasha. I can see you still don't trust me with those shards."
"Damned right I don't."
Miroku grinned; "I'm not a complete moron. I know that if I tried to make off with them, you'd hunt me down, and you've got a perfect tracking device with you."
"Don't you forget it, either, Monk. I do all the dirty work collecting them, so you ain't getting them." He looked over at Kagome, who was still apprehensive. "Let's go, Kagome. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can get it over with and be on our way."
Nijimaru fixed the monk with a firm stare; "If you should venture into my forest carrying those things, I will not be responsible for what happens." Then he turned around, walked over to his chestnut stallion, mounted, and with a mighty lunge, the stallion and his demon lord master were both gone.
Kagome clambered up onto Inuyasha's back. With a hitch of his shoulder, the hanyou settled her into place on his back and turned his gaze to Kiniromaru, his ears perked up alertly. "Lead the way, Kiniromaru."
The female horse demon narrowed her eyes at him; "I will warn you, hanyou, that I am acting under direct orders of my demon lord. You will fend for yourself."
"Naturally," Inuyasha retorted. "I'm under no false pretenses."
Kiniromaru remounted her horse, gave it a silent command and turned it around. Then, with another silent command, she sent the horse galloping into the forest. Inuyasha lunged forward, getting his momentum in stride. Kagome sucked in a breath in startlement as he leaped up to a tree limb, hopping along the canopy like a panther.
"Don't you drop me!" she yelled into his ear.
"Don't yell like that! I can hear you just fine!" he retorted. "And I'm not going to drop you, at least not intentionally. Stop worrying about it and just hang on!"
"No fires," Kiniromaru said coldly as they pulled to a stop. The sun was staining the sky brilliant crimson as it sank in the west. "Fires are forbidden in the forest. All uma-youkai are keenly aware of smoke and will converge on its source if they detect it."
"You have got to be kidding!" Kagome's jaw unhinged. "We'll freeze out here!"
"Naah," Inuyasha said, "you'll be fine. It's not that cold out. Here." He shrugged off his red haori and wrapped it around her shoulders. "This'll keep you warm. And no, I won't get cold. I'm tougher than you, you know."
"And where am I supposed to sleep? I didn't realize it was going to take this long or I would have brought my sleeping bag at least!"
Inuyasha stared at her blankly.
"I'm not going to just curl up on the ground!"
"In that case, I think you'd be safer if you stay with me tonight." Inuyasha hooked an arm around Kagome's waist and launched skyward. Kagome yelped in surprise.
"What are you doing!"
Inuyasha grabbed onto a branch and swung himself and Kagome up onto a nearby one, a thick, sturdy branch.
"You can't be serious! What makes you think I can sleep in a tree?"
Inuyasha scowled; "Well, make up your damned mind! You don't want to sleep on the ground, you don't want to sleep in a tree -- your options are very limited."
Kagome looked down dubiously, then turned back to Inuyasha. "You... won't let me fall, will you?"
Inuyasha raised an eyebrow at her. "Are you kidding? Of course not. Now just settle down and don't move around so much. It may not be the most comfortable place to sleep, but I won't let you fall, and I won't let you freeze. What more can you ask for?"
Kagome smiled sheepishly. "Thank you. I do appreciate your attentions, even if it doesn't always seem like it."
"Keh," he said mildly. "You're just so damned fragile."
She leaned against his chest, taking the opportunity to snuggle close to him. She laid her head just over his heart, folding her hands together against her chest as she did. He drew his arms around her, steadying her on the branch. The steady double-thump of his heart lulled her into a state of relaxation.
"Inuyasha?" she queried after close to an hour of silence.
"For everything. For being a friend to me. I'm glad I met you."
She felt a hand come to her forehead. "Are you getting sick on me? What's with all the sentimental crap?"
She gently swatted his hand away. "I'm not sick. I just thought I should take this opportunity to tell you how much your friendship means to me. There really isn't anything that I'd change about our time together."
"Oh, I can think of a few," he grumbled. "A certain priestess named Tsubaki comes immediately to mind. But that doesn't matter. It's all done and over with. Get some sleep, Kagome."
"One more thing," she said with a yawn. "I just wanted to tell you that you're my best friend. I never really got the chance to say so before."
"I'll assume that's a compliment?"
"Of course it's a compliment. Good night, Inuyasha, and thank you again."
"Woman, you've got to stop thanking me for so many inane things."
Kagome felt the sunbeams as the morning broke, but she was too lazy to wake up. The steady thumping of Inuyasha's heartbeat had lulled her into a deep and restful sleep, and his strong arms around her kept her steady and safe. She was content to stay where she was as long as possible.
Then, without warning, she felt herself being rolled sideways, and suddenly she was in freefall. But before she could scream, Inuyasha caught her and landed cat-like on the ground.
"What the fuck was that for?!" he snarled. Kagome craned her neck around to see Kiniromaru standing at the base of the tree, a bow in her hands. The string of the bow was singing. Kagome looked up to the branch she and Inuyasha had spent the night on. An arrow quivered in the trunk next to where they'd been.
The uma-youkai looked amused as she slung the bow across her back and retrieved her pike from where she'd leaned it against the tree.
"The sun is up; it's time to keep moving. I told you, I am only guiding you as my lord wishes; I have no desire to see you exit this forest alive. I will not waste any more of my time. Now let's get going." She mounted her horse and started forward at a swift trot. Inuyasha grumbled as he shifted position so that Kagome could get onto his back, and then the two of them were off and moving again as well.
"How much further do you think it'll be?"
"This forest is getting denser and smells less and less like a regular forest," Inuyasha replied. "I think we must be close."
"Good. Maybe there'll be something edible nearby where Bokuseno is. I'm starving."
"Humans," the hanyou said mildly.
"I wonder what Kiniromaru's problem is."
"Uh, she doesn't like us? Seems like a logical 'problem' if you ask me. Horses don't like predators."
"Well, I mean, for one thing, she's got a man's name. And I distinctly heard Nijimaru call her Kiniroko earlier."
"I dunno. Maybe we can ask Bokuseno. I wouldn't put much thought into it, Kagome. It's not exactly important."
"I know. I'm just curious."
The golden horse zigged and zagged through the forest, at times seeming to double back on the trail. Inuyasha was getting surly with all the twists and turns when suddenly the horse stopped short and the uma-youkai planted the butt of her pike into the leaf-litter. "This is where I leave you. This is the boundary of Bokuseno's territory. He is somewhere within. You'll have to find him on your own. Now if you'll excuse me, I will go back to my tribe and give Nijimaru a piece of my mind. Fare thee well." She heeled her horse and galloped off back the way they'd come.
Inuyasha set Kagome down. Kagome took that opportunity to return his fire-rat haori to him.
"Stay close to me, Kagome," he said as he arranged the clothing into place and surveyed the surroundings. "This place gives me bad vibes."
"No arguments here," Kagome said as she stepped closer to him.
"Not that close, idiot!" he said peevishly. "I need room to move!"
A wind wandered through the canopy of the forest.
*Who goes?* the wind of the forest inquired.
Author's note: if you're wondering where I came up with the names...
kin'iro = "golden (referring to something gold in color)"
niji = "rainbow"
last updated: August 28, 2005