InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Fireside Chats ❯ Part Twelve: Taiyoukai Heritage ( Chapter 12 )
Update: A few clarifications added, adjusted some grammatical inconsistencies and streamlined the punctuation.
Part Twelve: Taiyoukai Heritage
A frigid breeze combed through the argent tresses of the demon lord poised on a grassy slope overlooking an old battlefield.
It feels like winter is coming, Sesshomaru contemplated. But it's closer than it should be. Winter shouldn't be approaching this quickly. This isn't natural.
Sesshomaru ground his back teeth in aggravation. Jaken was a very loyal servant, but there were times when his nasal-pitched voice was most unwelcome.
"What is it Jaken? If you must interrupt me, make it worth my time."
"Well, it's just, my lord, that Rin seems terribly cold. Perhaps there's something you could do?"
Sesshomaru glanced over his shoulder. Aun was grazing contentedly. Rin was perched on its shoulders, huddling close to its short manes. She was terribly cold, her posture said as much. She wasn't complaining, though. She knew better than to trouble her lord with her trifles.
Sesshomaru flicked his eyes toward Jaken momentarily. The toad-like demon was also watching the dragon and the little girl. It was strange, really, how Jaken had recently grown protective of the child as well. He'd been a superior pest when that abominable Naraku had her kidnapped as bait and a shield. The little pest had kept hounding Sesshomaru about rescuing the girl, as if Sesshomaru would let an idiot like Naraku have his way with a ward Sesshomaru himself had taken into his care. Besides, the girl's loyalty and obedience were like that of a dog, and Sesshomaru's canine nature could appreciate it. She was not a heavy burden. It was a slight inconvenience to stop frequently so she could forage or sleep, but he was not in any kind of hurry, so it remained manageable inconvenience.
Father... is this why you became so fond of humans? Did you encounter some with the canine qualities we are most proud of, the loyalty and obedience?
Sesshomaru returned his gaze to the horizon, bristling at the icy wind. The temperature didn't bother him. It was the concept of a slow poisoning of his land that made him want to shudder.
I must uncover the source of this taint. I will not allow this domain given me by Father to be sullied. This land may not yet recognize me as its master, but I will rule it no less. I have no choice but to commune with the earth, to learn what it knows.
Communion with the earth was bloody hard. It was one of the last things the Inu no Taisho had taught his heir. Shortly after he'd taught the technique to Sesshomaru, the great Dog General had joined combat with the dragon Ryukotsusei, receiving a wound that later claimed his life.
Off and on through the long decades following the Inu no Taisho's death, Sesshomaru had tried to establish a rapport with the land, to little avail. It did not recognize him as its master. He had hoped possession of Tetsusaiga would remedy that, but it was now clear that that wasn't going to be. He had to destroy Tetsusaiga and its wielder in order to gain supremacy. The land didn't recognize Inuyasha as its master either, but as long as the hanyou lived and thrived, the land would not acknowledge Sesshomaru as its liege.
Tenseiga probed his mind, its presence colored with annoyance.
Damn sword. Of course I get the one with its own conscience.
"Yes, my lord?" Her response was groggy but prompt.
As Rin climbed down from Aun, Sesshomaru took a seat in the grass, carefully arranging his clothing so as to avoid any unsightly grass stains. Rin presented herself before him, her wide eyes utterly trusting. He could do anything to her and she wouldn't protest, wouldn't even question it. For a moment he was reminded of the stink of fear that had cloaked her when he'd found her being assaulted by that undead boy controlled by Naraku. She had been afraid for her life, having found new reason to live, and had feared that she did not mean enough to him for him to come to her rescue. She had questioned her own worth.
Sesshomaru did not willingly betray trust invested in him. Leaving Rin to that possessed lad would have been as much of a betrayal of trust as if he'd swung the weapon at her himself. By using Tenseiga to revive her when the wolves had killed her, he had made a vow to protect her. Tenseiga would not allow him to let her suffer. In using the blade, he'd bonded with it, and it would not let him neglect Rin.
"Sit down," Sesshomaru commanded of Rin, indicating a spot to his immediate right. She obeyed without question, gallantly trying not to show how miserable she was in the cold air. Tenseiga prickled at the back of his mind with peevish insistence.
He loosened the long white fur stole that circled his right shoulder and draped his back. With a flick of his wrist, he cast a length of it around the girl's body, curling it around her gently. The uncharacteristic altruism caused her to momentarily forget her manners and stare at him, wide-eyed in surprise. She regained her manners and looked down submissively.
"Thank you very much, Lord Sesshomaru. I was very cold." She hugged the fur close and snuggled into its warmth.
Tenseiga stopped pestering him.
A smile threatened to tug at his mouth. The sword was like a mother, really. Sometimes he wondered if Tenseiga was being overly protective of the girl, afraid he would actually let her freeze to death.
He liked the girl. She wasn't useful like Jaken was, but she was pleasant to have around nonetheless. And she obeyed his orders.
Not to mention that she was a nice boost to the ego at times when frustration got the better of him...
A particularly strong gust whipped his left sleeve up off the grass, drawing his attention back to the subject at hand.
He put his hand on the ground, flexing his claws.
I am Sesshomaru, son of the Dog General. I am your liege and master.
You are not.
I am Sesshomaru. I am your master.
No master have I.
I will be your master. You will acknowledge me in time.
What do you want?
Your cooperation. Something sinister blows in the wind.
I am not responsible for the wind.
Something taints the seasons, hastens winter. You know how important balance is; Winter cannot come so soon, or the balance of nature is entirely disrupted.
The seasons are not out of balance. Winter is no closer than it should be now.
That was the last thing he'd expected.
The air is cold.
I do not know the air.
There... there is a taint in the land. I can feel it. Direct me to it and I will exterminate it. I am the lord of this land, and I will protect it.
There was a long pause.
The winter you sense is demonic in nature. It is not true winter. You are a dog-demon. Use your nose.
Demonic in nature?
Sesshomaru let out a soft string of obscene curses, keeping his voice low. There was nothing so infuriating as an arrogant vassal who refused to acknowledge its master!
"These damn bugs," Inuyasha snarled, cocking his claws with a crack of his knuckles. "What the hell are they doing?"
"I think they're... restraining us," Sango murmured. The saimyosho had formed a dome around them and loomed threateningly, but not aggressively.
"They're to make sure you foolish idiots don't interfere," Kiniromaru growled as she grasped her pike. "I'll fight you one-on-one, Inuyasha. If they so much as draw a weapon, the insects will swoop in and sting."
"Be very careful, Inuyasha," Miroku warned. "She might not be able to throw the pike with precision, but she's probably deadly with that thing in her hands. If she pierces your heart, you're a goner."
"I know," Inuyasha said. "I know better than anyone what happens when the heart of a demon is struck. I still have a scar, you know. Kiniromaru, I have a different idea."
"You're in no position to bargain!"
"Hear me out. I'll put aside my sword. You put aside your weapons. Then we fight with what weapons we were born with. You're a demon, you've got fangs and claws. We'll settle it fairly that way."
Kiniromaru hesitated. Inuyasha sheathed Tetsusaiga, pulling the sheath out of his belt and holding it up, as if in offering.
"You're dying, Kiniromaru. The harder you fight, the faster the poison will circulate, shard or no shard. Your honor is all you have left."
The horse demon sighed and stabbed the pike into the ground. "You're on. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to rip you to pieces the same way your brother did my father."
Inuyasha chuckled darkly; "We'll see about that. I know my way around a fang-and-claw fight. You can't possibly be as fast as Sesshomaru or Koga."
"Your underestimations will prove fatal," Kiniromaru retorted as she unstrapped the katana from her waist.
Inuyasha turned to Kagome. "Here." He handed her Tetsusaiga. "If something weird happens, you know what to do with this." His gaze was hard and precise. Kagome stared back, suddenly unable to comprehend what he was trying to say.
Inuyasha exited the circle created by the saimyosho. Kiniromaru crossed her arms in disgust. "All your weapons, hanyou."
"I carry only Tetsusaiga, unless you consider my claws -- "
Kiniromaru stepped up in heartbeat and tapped at the rosary around his neck. "This! Take this off too!"
Inuyasha stared at her in disbelief. "You think this is a weapon?"
"It has spiritual powers. I can feel them."
Inuyasha shrugged; "Fine then." He grasped the beads and tried to pull the necklace off. The beads glowed bright pink and contracted, resisting removal. He gave it a few hefty tugs and gave up. "You see? I can't remove them. The only one who can remove them is the woman who put them on me, and she's back at the village a day's travel that direction. She's an elderly priestess."
"Oh, whatever. If it doesn't come off, then I guess I can't be harmed by it."
What in the world? Doesn't he want that off? Kagome racked her brain for an explanation. It's like he wants that to stay on...
"What the hell is he thinking?" Miroku gaped as the two demons squared off. "She's desperate. If she backs him into a corner, she could very easily trigger..." he trailed off as an idea struck him. "Is that what he's thinking, the idiot?"
"I'm pretty sure he is," Sango said. "He said last night while we were sparring that he was more comfortable fighting with his claws, but that that carried the risk of a demon transformation. I think he's counting on that possibility. That's why he gave Tetsusaiga to Kagome rather than just set it down. If Kiniromaru gets him at a disadvantage and he transforms, I think Tetsusaiga will protect us from him."
Hindered as he was by his gut wound, Inuyasha soon learned that Kiniromaru was indeed very fast and ruthless. She was probably every bit as fast as Koga, and she was focused on the kill, unlike Koga, who fought him as a pastime, for the pure entertainment of the fight. His demon blood struggled to heal the wound as fast as it could, but in the meantime he wasn't quite up to speed. Of course, Kiniromaru was practically dead herself, so her coordination was off. He got a few good blows on her, but she didn't seem to notice..
Her eyes started to smolder with rage as her speed increased and she started targeting his chest with her claws.
Damn, she's good! he wrenched himself sideways, just barely escaping getting his chest ripped open. And she looks like she isn't the least bit fatigued! Damn, how am I going to do this? With a wound like this, I can't move very fast, and she's getting too close for comfort...
His vision pulsed red.
Oh no... this is happening way too fast!
In desperation he lunged at her, intent on grabbing her by the throat.
She pulled a move he'd only seen Koga execute. She flipped forward and kicked out with both feet, striking him solidly in the chest and sending him flying.
The demon blood in his veins roared to life.
Kiniromaru moved in for the kill, when the wind shifted and she caught an altered scent.
What the hell...?
Inuyasha stood up, his eyes having gone blood red. His fangs and claws had both doubled in length. His cheeks were adorned with jagged purple stripes that were sickeningly reminiscent of Sesshomaru's facial markings.
But most frightening of all was the complete lack of humanity, the complete madness and bloodlust in those red eyes. This wasn't the hanyou she had been fighting. He'd become something else entirely. A monster.
Despite his gut wound, he launched at her as though he were uninjured, and struck her with those lengthened claws. As he raked across her face with them, she silently screamed within her heart for deliverance.
Blood flowed into her eyes, blurring her vision. Another blow, and then another horrific scoring by those claws again...
Her heart skipped a beat, and then another... the shards were failing her. The poison was reaching her vitals...
Her vision darkened. It felt like every bone in her body was being broken simultaneously. As she crashed into the ground after a slashing blow, she marveled that she could even feel the earth beneath her...
A bolt of agony seared through her from her forehead down her spine. In desperation, she threw her head back, baring her throat for the kill. Just let it be over with!
Her consciousness altered in that instant...
"Holy hell, what the hell is going on now?!" Miroku gripped his staff, cursing the saimyosho even as he spoke and observed.
Kiniromaru was engulfed in a reddish-gold aura. Her eyes had gone red and her skin was rippling like it had melted and liquefied. But instead of her dropping dead, she began to shapeshift...
Inuyasha, even in his full demon form, halted in uncertainty as she writhed. The wind changed course again, and a part of his mind -- the rational part that clung to existence within this monster body of his -- recognized it for what it was a split second before it was confirmed by sight.
Instead of Kiniromaru, his opponent was a giant golden horse.
It was no surprise, really. She was a full demon with a taiyoukai sire. Nijimaru's true form had been a spirit-horse.
With her life in dire jeopardy, Kiniromaru had just forced a transformation into a spirit-horse.
last updated: August 28, 2005