InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Fireside Chats ❯ Part Eighteen: Rainbow Circle ( Chapter 18 )
Author's Note: Nijimaru's speech is italicized to indicate that he is otherworldly now.
Disclaimer: This is probably going to seem like a rather lame chapter, because of all the build-up in the previous chapters, but I'm not copping out - for the most part, this is how I wanted this chapter to play out. The whole arc with Nijimaru and Kiniromaru has to serve a purpose in the Inu-tachi's quest, or else it's a pointless side-venture involving the main characters when they had no business being there. However, I can't screw around too much with canon. Thus, I have to try and reinvent the wheel without taking away from its patents. In other words, I'm trying to analyze what is not mentioned in the canon, but what can conceivably be interpreted that way.
Update: A few clarifications added, adjusted some grammatical inconsistencies and streamlined the punctuation.
Part Eighteen: Rainbow Circle
The light from the fragment flared and brightened. The light was iridescent, but Miroku was more concerned about this abnormal behavior. If he didn't know better, he'd think the shard was fighting with itself! He grabbed his staff and whacked Inuyasha upside the head; "You imbecile! What the hell have you done?!"
"How the hell should I know?!"
"God, Inuyasha, sometimes I think I ought to pound your skull in, you do such stupid things!"
"Fuck that! Get down!"
The shard exploded. Inuyasha sensed the explosion a split-second before it happened -- the air suddenly became very, very hot and charged with static, and his sixth sense screamed "DANGER!" -- and dived in front of the monk, covering both of their heads with the sleeves of his fire-rat haori.
The violence of the explosion took out a section of the tree's trunk about three feet thick. Miroku had only a few seconds to gape in disbelief at the straightness of the cut, before the tree began to topple.
"SHIT!" Inuyasha seized Miroku by the arm and hauled him up off the ground, away from the tree. Miroku managed to grab and hang on to Kirara, who squawked in alarm.
The tree was a very old one, and thus was extremely tall. Being tall and top-heavy, losing a portion of its lower trunk put into motion a domino-effect. The tree wobbled in the canopy, then began to plunge towards the ground, crashing into its neighboring trees, and sending the smaller, weaker ones, down in its wake. The forest roared with the sound of falling trees.
Inuyasha pinned Miroku against another large tree, determined to protect his friend from the fallout. However, there came no attack on the heels of the sudden blast and the falling trees. Once the trees had finished their ruckus, the forest fell silent again. Very silent now, because the little forest creatures had scattered.
"So much for a quiet talk," a disembodied voice said amusedly. "I suppose that such violence is to be expected, with the Shikon no Tama. It was quite a struggle, I can guarantee you that."
"Who's speaking?" Miroku pushed Inuyasha away, covertly assessing the hanyou's bodily damage. The blast from the shard had torn criss-crossing slashes into the fabric of the haori, and blood seeped out where it had scored flesh. But the two of them were for the most part unharmed. These injuries Inuyasha had sustained would heal by high noon at the latest, and by sunrise at the most likely.
A translucent human-like figure bathed in an incandescent, otherworldly light stood before them. The voice that spoke was masculine, so it could be assumed, if this was the source, that this creature was male. He was hard to make out, because his features seemed to swim in and out of focus, as if a cloud of mist were roiling around him, randomly obscuring and revealing his features.
"Who are you?" Miroku narrowed his eyes, trying to glimpse the creature's face clearly. There was something familiar about that voice.
"I suppose you wouldn't remember me," the figure said, his voice tinged with regret. "We met only briefly. I am the one called Nijimaru. Well, actually, I am all that remains of Nijimaru."
Inuyasha put a hand to Tetsusaiga's hilt, but the sword pulsed at him, sending uncomfortable waves through his fingers. Tetsusaiga did not wish to be drawn.
"If you're Nijimaru, what are you doing here? You're dead, aren't you? Aren't you supposed to be in the world beyond?"
"I could not pass the borderlands because I was not complete. The reason you see me, the reason I am here, is simple. You know about the fragment of the Shikon jewel that I had embedded in my heart." It was a statement, not a question. "You know that it began to crystallize my soul around itself."
"Your soul was trying to heal Kiniromaru, right?" Miroku mentally grabbed wildly at a fleeting thought. Perhaps Nijimaru had been -
"To some degree, yes. It had leeched my healing abilities, and was attempting to heed my selfish wish for her to survive. But more than that, before the shard ever left me, it began imprisoning me in itself. It was trying to absorb my own soul into itself. Made up as it is of youkai souls, it wanted mine as well, and because it happened to be lodged right in the core of my power and soul, it had no trouble.
"In short, part of me was imprisoned by the shard, even after Sesshomaru released me by tearing my heart out and releasing the shard. And try though I did, I could not break free, not even with the fragment being implanted in Kiniromaru's heart as well."
For a moment, the spiritual remains of the demon lord seemed to fade from existence, but then it returned.
"So, what now?"
"I am indebted to you, Inuyasha. I have no way of repaying you for all you have done for me, a debt that saddens me. Without you, I fear that Kiniromaru might not have been saved. She likely would have been devoured by her rage and by the evil of the Shikon no Tama. And I would have been powerless to help her. Indeed, you have saved not only Kiniromaru, but myself. I can only apologize profusely for dragging you and your companions into what was ultimately my own business." The spirit seemed very regretful.
"How did Inuyasha save you as well?" Miroku inquired. "I don't understand that. Was it intentional or accidental?"
Nijimaru chuckled; "I suppose it could be argued both ways. But I imagine it was accidental. What freed me from the shard was the force of your sword, Inuyasha. By striking the fragment with the Tetsusaiga - which was initially forged of the fang of one of the greatest taiyoukai to have ever lived - the force of the blade's youkai powers caused the fragment to lose its hold on me. Thus, the crystallized remains of my soul were released."
"So that blast -- "
" -- was me breaking away from the fragment," Nijimaru confirmed. "I'm sorry that it was so violent, but it was the only way I could escape."
"Tell me something, Nijimaru," Inuyasha said after a moment. "How did you come across that shard in the first place? Kiniromaru said that you always hated the Shikon no Tama, so how did you end up with a piece of it embedded within you?"
"That," Nijimaru gave a dry, sardonic chuckle, "is the most ironic of all. It was either coincidence, an accident, or the will of the shard itself, depending on how you look at it. I was standing on a hillside, overlooking a field, when I saw a bright flare of light in the sky, and curious fool that I was, I ignored my instincts, which told me to hide, and continued to watch.
"When the Shikon no Tama first broke, it shattered with a violent force that propelled the fragments in all directions, and with such velocity that even my demon eyes could not recognize them for what they were until it was too late. I was in the direct path of one of the fragments. I couldn't get out of its way, and it struck me directly in the chest. Before I could dig it out, it had wormed its way into my heart and had taken up residence.
"You were there, weren't you, Inuyasha? You saw how the Jewel broke. You know how fast and how far the fragments traveled in only a few heartbeats. The shard that ended up in my heart never even touched the ground, at least not until after I had died.
"I couldn't get it out. It had lodged itself too deep within me, and I couldn't dig it out, though I did try. It was only after I gave up trying to remove it that I began to feel the sinister presence of one who had the power to harness the Jewel's powers and channel them. I could feel him trying to reach out and taint the shard that had taken root in my heart. Through it, he sought to control me. I had only one choice: I had to shield the fragment, to keep it from being reached by the taint. It took all of my shielding capabilities to keep it masked from Naraku's gaze."
Inuyasha started; "Naraku? You've encountered Naraku?"
"Not directly; I could feel his taint. He used other shards to try and corrupt the one I carried." Nijimaru eyed him measuringly. "Your response to the name indicates that you know him." This was worded as a statement, but clearly was an invitation to speak, to explain.
"I'm hunting the bastard, as a matter of fact."
"You know about that?"
"Your posture says as much. I do recall hearing much about you. The Forest of Rainbows was full of demon trees, and demon trees love to gossip. I recall hearing that the Shikon no Tama possessed you in such a way that its protector was forced to seal you to a Great Tree."
Inuyasha snorted; "I was not possessed by the Jewel! Naraku played a dirty trick on the priestess who kept the Jewel, and on me as well."
"I deduced as much. Your father was among the greatest of the taiyoukai, and by virtue of your inheritance of his blood alone, you are too strong for the Jewel to possess blindly. Therefore I knew it could not be as the demon trees said. There had to be more to the story.
"Bokuseno provided the missing pieces of the puzzle. He is very much aware of your whereabouts at all times, and aware of what transpires with you. He says that you carry a piece of him with you, which is what enables him to know so much about your movements. However, I must admit that I was unaware that you are actively hunting Naraku. Even if he did wrong you, you are going to extraordinary lengths for revenge that cannot possibly be worth the effort."
"Keh! What the hell do you know? Revenge for what he did to me is only part of what drives me. Naraku must be destroyed. There is no alternative. Hell, even Sesshomaru is hunting him."
"He is very dangerous, Inuyasha. You must not underestimate Naraku." Nijimaru's form became suddenly very solid, as if to accentuate the severity of his warning. "You must keep this in mind, if you are so adamant to hunt him: Naraku is one who is capable of mastering the Shikon no Tama. Other youkai and humans can use the power of the Shikon fragments, but Naraku is capable of bending it to his will. He has the ability to overpower the innate will of the Shikon no Tama itself. Therefore, even a fragment of it is far more dangerous in his hands than it would be in anyone else's, for he can harness every ounce of its malevolent powers and turn them to his purpose."
Miroku felt as though he'd been doused with ice water; his blood chilled almost instantly at the very thought of Naraku being capable of mastering, not merely using, the Shikon no Tama.
"Do you know where Naraku has gone?" Inuyasha responded.
"Yeah. A few months ago, he lured Sesshomaru and I both to his castle, but he underestimated me -- "
"Inuyasha, I imagine that he underestimated Sesshomaru as well, if he thought he could absorb a taiyoukai so easily," Miroku interrupted.
"Bah! Fine! Naraku underestimated both of us, but especially me, and I kicked his ass damned good, but he ended up escaping before I could finish him off. Now we don't know where he's gotten to, there isn't a trace or a scent trail of him, but we know he's still alive. One demon we encountered said that Naraku has gone to a place where no one can find him."
"This happened before you died, Nijimaru," Miroku added. "When we first met you, we had only just learned that Naraku is hiding where he's certain no one can find him."
Nijimaru frowned contemplatively. "I see. I'm afraid I can't help you. I have no knowledge of where he could be. I was not even aware that he had relocated." The spirit of the demon lord looked deeply troubled. "As I said, I am deeply indebted to you and have no way of repaying my debt. If I could, I would give my healing powers to one of your companions, but it is not a talent that can be transferred. I cannot even offer you my assistance once you finally corner Naraku. And I am terribly sorry that I had to drag you and your companions into my affairs."
"Ultimately," Miroku reasoned sagely, "it was our business as well, since there was a fragment of the Shikon Jewel involved, and since you had some valuable knowledge to give us regarding Naraku. That's the first I'd ever heard of someone being able to master the Jewel. Now we know to be more careful around Naraku where the Jewel is concerned."
Nijimaru regarded the monk with an unreadable expression. Then he turned his iridescent eyes to Inuyasha. "The only thing I can offer you in payment of my debt is to commend you to your father's spirit once I have crossed over. Of course, if he is half the taiyoukai they say he was, he'll already know all about your courage and compassion, but I can pay my respects all the same. I'm afraid I have nothing else I can offer you. Even now my time is waning quickly. The call of the other side is becoming irresistible."
"One more thing," Inuyasha said quickly, before Nijimaru could leave. "Kiniromaru -- is she at peace? She was in so much pain for so long. Is she finally at peace?"
Nijimaru smiled at him. "She will be, once I have returned to her the piece of her soul that the shard had imprisoned. Like me, she has been barred from the world beyond, and she wanders the borderlands idly, waiting for her freedom. She thanks you for setting her free, as do I." The spirit demon lord looked up at the sky, as if gauging how much time he had left. "One more thing: I suggest you get that fragment purified. I did what I could while I was imprisoned by it to keep its taint shielded, but it is still badly corrupted and will require purification, or else it will become a magnet for other youkai."
He solidified temporarily and reached out, taking Miroku's sealed right hand in his own right hand, and Inuyasha's left hand in his own left. "I thank you. If ever I can somehow bridge the gap between worlds and come to your aid, I will. Fare you well." And with that, he simply dissipated, as if a gust of wind had puffed through an illusion of smoke.
Inuyasha's ears twitched wildly for a moment; "When did he -- ?"
"What?" Miroku looked at his hanyou friend, and noticed what had his attention.
Gleaming in his left hand, clearly left there by Nijimaru, was the Shikon fragment.
"When did he pick it up? I thought it was still laying in the dirt over there," Inuyasha squinted his eyes and looked sharply where the fragment had been prior to the explosion. It wasn't there now.
"Who knows? Are you going to give it to Kagome?"
"Yeah, I guess I should. Here, why don't you do it, monk?" Inuyasha made motions of dropping the fragment into Miroku's hand, but the monk jerked away.
"No way. That thing is badly tainted. I won't touch it. It's your burden, you said, so it's up to you to hand it over to Kagome."
"Bah, you chicken. C'mon, let's get back to the camp. But I warn you now, monk, you make any moves on Kagome, and I won't be responsible for what happens to you."
"I haven't forgotten." Miroku suppressed a shiver. "Lead the way."
Response to some reviews: This part of the story is set immediately prior to the Shichinintai arc, so these events take place around the time of episode 100 to 101. Therefore, Naraku, unbeknownst to the gang at present, is sequestered away in Hakureizan (Mt Hakurei) and is about to make their lives ridiculously complicated. Thus, I will not be bothering with having the gang find Naraku... that much is already canon. However, I think I have some ideas for chapter 19... it's chapter 20 and beyond that have me stumped. I don't know that I will be bringing Sesshomaru into the story much anymore, he made more appearances than I originally planned, but I can't say with any certainty on anything.
last updated: August 28, 2005