InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Fireside Chats ❯ Part Twenty: Valley of Regret ( Chapter 20 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Author's Note: This chapter takes some serious artistic/creative license. Up until now I've been trying to stick closely to canon, but now an idea has come into my thoughts and I'm taking the idea and running with it as far as I can. There is no canon information that I know of about Sesshomaru's mother, so I decided to create my own version (it's not like no one else has tried this or anything.) And because I don't usually do flashbacks, I feel a little awkward with how I've set up the segue to the one you see in the middle of the story (currently, it's just italicized to indicate a change in narration). If you have suggestions as to how I can improve the transition, I'd love to hear it! XD

Disclaimer: Because this story is based mostly on anime canon, I'm chosing to completely disregard the movies. All the movies. That includes the third one, Tenka Hadou no Ken (Swords of World Conquest // Swords of an Honorable Ruler). Therefore the Inu no Taisho did not die in a burning building, because canon states that it was the wound from Ryukostusei that caused his death. Also, I'm not sure exactly what that red-and-white outer layer of Sesshomaru's clothing is called, so I called it a haori out of sheer habit. I think a kimono is a woman's garment (full length, like what Rin wears), so I chose not to call it a kimono.

Update: A few clarifications added, adjusted some grammatical inconsistencies and streamlined the punctuation.


  Fireside Chats
Part Twenty: Valley of Regret


He was an idiot.

A first-class, impulsive, barbaric, baka-brained idiot.

To think that he'd let Sesshomaru get a rise out of him again.

Inuyasha ground his jaws together, parrying Sesshomaru's blows and trying to keep the fight centered around the campfire. He knew his companions were hiding behind a large tree, and as long as he kept his brother away from their location, Sesshomaru would pay them no mind. They didn't interest him in the least. They were only in danger if they either interfered deliberately or got in the way accidentally.

Sesshomaru was furious, that much was obvious. In fact, he was irrationally furious. His facial stripes were more pronounced and his eyes had a slight red glow. He was not only fighting Inuyasha sword-to-sword; he was also fighting an urge to transform, which was an idiotic idea in this small space.

Inuyasha couldn't figure out what had him so angry -- the last time he'd seen Sesshomaru this angry at him had been in their father's tomb, when Kagome had given him Tetsusaiga, an act that caused the demon lord to transform fully in his rage.

What did I do to piss him off like this? I don't understand! I mean, even if he's mad about the demon tree, it was an accident! He should have realized that! His nose is twice as sensitive as mine!

Sesshomaru was starting to make small mistakes in his attacks. A small miscalculation here, a slight slip there... he was losing his usually steel-clad touch with Tokijin.

Inuyasha brought Tetsusaiga up and blocked a strike, but Sesshomaru twisted around somewhat and sent the blade flying. Tetsusaiga impaled itself in the trunk of the tree that the others were hiding behind. Quick as a cat, the demon lord pivoted and Tokijin scored a blow on Inuyasha's right hand, ripping it open along the palm -- how he managed to do it was beyond Inuyasha's ability to comprehend at the time... had he had his hand out...?

Shit! Inuyasha shook his abused hand and dodged another blow, feeling anger course through him. Not the demonic rage that being parted from Tetsusaiga usually brought, just a searing irritation. I've fucking had it with his high-and-mightiness!

He snarled savagely and threw a quick Blades of Blood at Sesshomaru, distracting the demon lord just enough. With a savage swipe of his left hand claws, he knocked Tokijin out of Sesshomaru's hand, then with his right hand he clawed at Sesshomaru's white-and-red haori, leaving several long tears in the fabric. He even managed to damage the white shirt underneath, though he failed to actually draw blood on the skin beneath it all.

All hell broke loose. Sesshomaru, forcibly parted from Tokijin and clawed by someone he considered beneath him, was on the verge of a full transformation. He was fighting it with all his rationality, but the scorching rage he'd inherited from his father was threatening to overwhelm his senses. His eyes were now fully red, his irises having gone from lush gold to obsidian black. His facial stripes had tripled in size and his face was starting to elongate. He was fighting it, but he was losing it as the blistering heat from his internal fury burned through his veins.

Inuyasha leaped up and used a tree to push off of, launching himself at Sesshomaru. With a quick one-two slash of both hands, he shattered the breastplate and sent the armor off in pieces. Now the white-and-red haori was really getting ripped apart.

How dare that hanyou claw this Sesshomaru! How dare he!

Inuyasha flexed his claws and grinned ferally at his older half-brother. "I always did like a good fist-and-claw fight, and I've got you at a disadvantage, Sesshomaru. You only have one fist and set of claws. I have two."

"SILENCE, YOU WORTHLESS, USELESS HALFBREED!" As Sesshomaru roared his challenge, Inuyasha felt his blood go cold suddenly as he spied a familiar pinkish light out of the corner of his eye. He was hard-wired to recognize and react to that light...

Thunk! An arrow buried itself in the tree beside Sesshomaru. A few white-silver hairs stuck out from where the arrowhead was impaled.

Not Kikyo -- not now of all times! Inuyasha turned to the source of the arrow, prepared to lambasted the archer.... only to find not Kikyo but Kagome standing at the edge of the camp, another arrow nocked in her bow. She had the arrow aimed directly for Sesshomaru's heart, which was conveniently accessible to the arrow thanks to the shattered armor.

"Inuyasha," she commanded. "Move another muscle and I'll yell the word. Sesshomaru, if you move an inch, I'll fire this arrow. I'm a much better shot than I was the last time you faced me like this."

Sesshomaru seemed to ignore her as he brought his hand up to his right temple, feeling along it and looking at the arrow nearby. His expression was one of mild, masked confusion and some disbelief. Something had happened that had never happened before and had caught him off guard.

So that's what happened. It grazed through his hair. She deliberately missed, catching only his hair with the arrow's head. It was a warning.

Damn but she's a good shot. By the time this whole thing with Naraku is over, she may be better than Kikyo!

"Get out of my forest, you filthy barbaric halfbreed," Sesshomaru turned his angry eyes -- they had returned to their usual gold -- to Inuyasha. "Get out now. You've done enough damage. You have killed Eimaimatsu, for whatever reason. Get. Out. You are no longer ever welcome in my forest."

"Eimaimatsu?" Miroku rolled the name across his tongue, trying to figure out what the demon lord was saying. The name meant, roughly, "great and wise old pine tree."

Sesshomaru turned hateful eyes to the monk, and Miroku instantly regretted speaking, as the full force of the demon lord's smoldering fury hit him. "You," the inu-taiyoukai snarled, "are not worthy of saying that name."

"Too bad you can't use Tenseiga, Sesshomaru," Inuyasha taunted. "A cold-hearted bastard like you could never master such a sword. Too bad, too, cuz I bet it could save this Eimaimatsu."

Sesshomaru closed his eyes and slowed his breathing as a flame of killing fury swirled up in his heart. Tenseiga cannot save Eimaimatsu. The idiot doesn't know what he's talking about. Tenseiga is not capable of saving demon trees. Their deaths are too quick and final. He reminded himself that Inuyasha didn't know that he had already mastered Tenseiga. He'd used it more than once, and had tried to use it on Eimaimatsu, but for the first time since the blade had first lent him its otherworldly sight, he had been unable to save the slain demon tree.

Tenseiga pulsed in the back of his mind, a soothing hum of condolences. In the light of its comforting waves, his fury and grief wicked away like smoke escaping a fire. The Sword of Healing couldn't heal injuries, but it could calm a wounded and angry soul, to some degree...

Sesshomaru opened his eyes slowly and regarded his half-brother apathetically. "You are a fool and an idiot, Inuyasha. You know nothing about Tenseiga; you barely know anything about Tetsusaiga. You never knew our great and glorious father, and yet you act like you know his heirlooms." His voice was resigned. He reached over and plucked Tokijin from where it had landed, effortlessly sliding it into place beside Tenseiga at his hip. "I mean it, Inuyasha. Leave this forest. You have until sunrise. You are not welcome here anymore." With a final disgusted look at his half-brother, he turned and left, determined to keep his cool as long as he could.

As he faded into the forest, Inuyasha retrieved Tetsusaiga and sheathed it, staring after his brother. "What the hell was his problem?"

"I've never seen him so angry," Sango said. "It's like he was going mad with anger or grief. It's like you did something unforgiveable to him. What happened?"

"I don't know," Inuyasha said. "I... I guess that tree that the shard took out was a demon tree, but I didn't sense any youkai power from it. It wasn't like Bokuseno. Bokuseno had a demonic presence -- it was faint, but I could still sense it. This other tree didn't even have that."

"Why did his eyes go red?" Shippo asked. "It kinda reminded me of when you transform into a full demon... what was happening?"

"He was trying to transform, or trying to not. It looked like part of him wanted to, and part of him didn't."

"Do you mean," Kagome said slowly, "that he was losing control of himself?"

"That's what it seemed to me."

"Do you suppose the full moon affects him?" Miroku ventured.

"Doubt it," Inuyasha waved that off. "I don't think the moon has anything to do with anything with Sesshomaru."

"Even though his forehead is marked with crescent moon?"

"Kirara has a black diamond on her forehead," the hanyou replied hotly. "So what? It's just a marking. It doesn't mean anything."

Miroku raised an eyebrow but chose to stay silent. He doubted that the crescent moon on Sesshomaru's forehead was a mere marking.

Inuyasha flinched suddenly and slapped his cheek. As he pulled his hand away, his face dropped into a "well-look-what-I-found" expression. "Well, well, well, if it isn't the old flea?"

Myoga snapped himself back into shape and bounded up and down on Inuyasha's palm; "What in the world have you been doing, Master Inuyasha?"

"Protecting my hide from Sesshomaru, who got his hakama in a knot, I think. I notice you waited until he left to make your appearance."

The flea gallantly ignored the jibe. "What'd you do to anger him?"

"I dunno. He says I killed someone named Eimaimatsu."

Myoga gasped audibly; "You didn't!"

"I dunno if I did or not!"

"Myoga, who is Eimaimatsu?" Kagome asked.

"Eimaimatsu is the ruling demon tree of this forest. He's a fifteen-hundred-year-old pine tree. He also was the most trusted advisor of Her Royal Highness, the Inu no Kisaki, Kuukoku no Kiraboshi."


Myoga looked annoyed; "None other than Sesshomaru's mother, of course."

"His mother?"

"She was the ruler of a very, very powerful tribe of inu-taiyoukai in the Northern Province. She commanded a vast army of soldiers, and was well loved and respected by her people. She and the Inu no Taisho were joined in a political union -- an alliance, if you will -- that was fulfilled once their son reached maturity. They weren't very close, I recall. Your father," Myoga pointed at Inuyasha, "didn't think too highly of her, as a matter of fact."

"Interesting," Miroku said contemplatively. "Her name means Lonely Valley of Glittering Stars, doesn't it?"

"Kuukoku was her family name," Myoga explained. "The Northern Province was once a mighty realm, before the Inu no Kisaki died. Most of the region was a series of valleys and ravines. I suppose it's rather tragically ironic, too, that her surname means Lonely Valley, given how she died..."

Sesshomaru ran his hand along the bark of Eimaimatsu's trunk. His heart welled with turmoil and grief. Tenseiga remained silent, unable to help him right now. There was nothing it could do to help Eimaimatsu. Demon trees weren't like normal creatures. When they died, their souls were transported instantly to the other side. The imp-like pallbearers never appeared because they weren't needed.

As powerful as it was, Tenseiga was helpless when faced with the death of a demon tree. And of all demon trees to be cut down senselessly, it had to be the one living creature Sesshomaru regarded with such high esteem and reverence. The one link to his long-dead mother, and a sweet but brief childhood he barely remembered, that he had left, and it was gone without warning.

He closed his eyes and fisted his claws in frustration. It was like that day, decades ago, when he'd watched helplessly as Ryukotsusei scored a chance blow on his honored father, fatally wounding him. While the Inu no Taisho had been able to neutralize the dragon and render it powerless with a claw to the heart, the dragon's attack had so weakened him that the mighty Dog General had been unable to levy a finishing blow, and had shortly thereafter collapsed and bled to death.

All because I was a fool and overestimated my own abilities. Father died to save me, just as Mother died to save me centuries before.

Sesshomaru still remembered it as if it was just yesterday. Ryukotsusei had intruded on the territory of the Inu no Kisaki, and had challenged her to try and force him out. At first she'd tried sending troops in to drive the dragon out, but Ryukotsusei was a dominant young adult dragon and had easily thwarted the troops. Eventually, Kiraboshi had sent for her erstwhile "husband," the Inu no Taisho, to come help her. He'd flat refused, his reply being that her territory was her own business to protect, and that he had other threats to his own domain to deal with at the time.

Sesshomaru had been prepubescent then, unable to take care of himself in the dangerous countryside. He had followed his mother around everywhere, including to the valley she called Aitou no Tani (which would take on new meaning to him later in life) despite her stern orders to the contrary. Eventually, she relented and let him accompany her to the Valley of Sorrows. He was fascinated with her kingdom and wanted to learn everything she could teach him, and she tended to spend long hours in this valley, contemplating.

Part of the agreement between the Kisaki and the Taisho had been that their son would be reared by his mother, and when he was of an age -- once he'd reached puberty -- he would go to live with his father and learn the ways of a General. In that way, they would both educate their son to be the ruler of both of their realms when both were gone. At the time of his mother's death, Sesshomaru hadn't yet been old enough to be sent to his father. He hadn't been old enough to control his periodic spirit-dog tranformations, and until his could harness the transformation energies and employ them at will -- which would come with full maturation -- Kiraboshi did not want him leaving the protection of her lands.

The Inu no Kisaki had been young, only a few centuries old, and had not bothered to secure a Regent should something happen to her before her son was old enough to succeed her. She herself was the only surviving child of the late Inu no Mikado, and her son was the only rightful heir to follow her rule. She hadn't expected anything to disrupt the lineage.

And then the dragon came into the picture, taunting the Dog Empress relentlessly, threatening to eat her son and to take over her realms. Because Ryukotsusei took up residence in the Aitou no Tani, where she often let her son explore, the risk to Sesshomaru was far too great for the Kisaki to ignore. Kiraboshi had been infuriated by Ryukotsusei's threats to steal her territories, but his threats toward her son were what sparked her to action. After sending in several units to try and drive out the dragon, to no avail, the Inu no Kisaki finally went in herself. Her spirit-dog form was spectacular in its size and power, second only to that of the sire of her only child. She was a battle-wise fighter and had fought dragons before, but Ryukotsusei proved to be more than even she could handle.

Sesshomaru had been with the vanguard of the legion, watched over by his mother's seneschal, and got a front-row view of when the dragon sliced through the Inu no Kisaki's chest, rending her heart and hurling her toward the ground, mortally wounded and bleeding. Ryukotsusei then delivered the fatal blow, snapping her neck with one powerful swipe of his claws.

Sesshomaru had few memories of the aftermath of his mother's death. He only remembered watching her die, and knew vaguely that his mother's armies had swarmed in, overwhelming the battle-wearied dragon and managing to drive him out of the valley for the time being. But with the Dog Empress dead, it was only a matter of time before the dragons came back and made good on their threats.

Eimaimatsu had advised that Sesshomaru be sent to his father's protection. It was imperative, the tree said, that the heir to the realm be protected from the dragons. And though he did not care for his one-time "wife," there was no doubting that the Inu no Taisho would love and protect his son with his own life. The court nobles had scoffed at the idea and said that the father need not interfere. Eimaimatsu, concerned for Sesshomaru's safety, sent word that very same evening to the Western Provinces.

The forest was cold and wet. Eimaimatsu was singing very softly, a soothing chant, trying to calm the young prince, who had sobbed himself into exhaustion several hours ago and now just lay curled up at the tree's base, looking for all the world like a little lost puppy. The poor thing had lost the most important person in his very young life, and with the court nobles embroiled in custody battles, trying to decide who would take over Regency of the realm until Sesshomaru was fully matured, he was ignored and alone. Eimaimatsu was certain that no matter who took control of the realm, the new Regent would contrive to have the young prince killed somehow. Thus, he had sent word through the demon trees to Bokuseno, a powerful magnolia demon-tree allied to the Inu no Taisho. Bokuseno would relay the message quickly to the prince's father.

Sesshomaru was huddling against Eimaimatsu's bark when he heard the tree interrupt his chant to say, respectfully, "Well met, my lord. I am glad you came with all speed." Looking up, he saw a forbidding figure decked out in magnificent armor emerge from the shadows of the forest. The figure was vaguely familiar... he'd seen this man before, but it had been a very long time ago.

The inu-taiyoukai that stood mere feet away was a dominant adult male, that was obvious. Across his back he had a greatsword, and both of his shoulders were draped in a lush fur stole that reminded Sesshomaru of the cape his mother had always worn. The fur was a status symbol.

He radiated power and strength, and the wind wandering through the trees danced with his long silver hair. Unlike Sesshomaru, his cheeks were decorated with only one set of stripes, but they were formidable in size. And also unlike Sesshomaru, his forehead bore no celestial markings. Nevertheless, he was clearly extremely strong. He deserved his title of Inu no Taisho.

"F-f-father?" Sesshomaru wiped his eyes and looked up.

The Taisho took three steps toward the boy and knelt before him, placing a hand on his shoulder; "I've come to take you with me, Sesshomaru. You will be safe with me."

"M-mother's dead..."

"I know that, my son."

"My lord," Eimaimatsu interjected, "why did you refuse to aid Her Highness when she asked you?"

"I had a little problem from the continent invading my provinces, and she did not inform me of what kind of dragon she was having problems with. Had I known it was a young dominant male dragon that was threatening Kiraboshi, I'd have told her to wait until I could aid her. The two of us together could have overpowered it." The Taisho looked down at his young son. "I'm sorry I couldn't help your mother, son. I wish I could have spared you that trauma."

"Will you avenge her?" Sesshomaru asked, startling his father with the maturity of his question.

"A dragon that has killed a ruling inu-taiyoukai is not something to be taken lightly, Sesshomaru. I do not have the energy or the resources to combat that dragon at this time. Perhaps someday I will avenge her, but not right now, and neither will you. You have too much to learn to worry yourself with vengeance. When you have reached your full strength, then we will track the dragon down -- if it is still alive -- and destroy it. But not until then. You will have to wait, my son. Now come, we have a long distance to travel."

Because the Dog Empress had not had the foresight to name a Regent or a Steward to look after the realm until Sesshomaru was old enough to rule it, chaos followed her sudden death. When Sesshomaru disappeared from the region as well, all hell broke loose. Eimaimatsu closed off his forest, calling upon the services of a nearby hogosha-taiyoukai to maintain a ward around his forest until the dangers had passed.

With Sesshomaru absent from the Northern Province, the court nobles seized the Province in their collective jaws and proceeded into a feeding frenzy. As a result, the once-glorious Northern Province fell into ruin with internal fighting and civil war between court nobles. Eimaimatsu's forest was the only portion of the Kisaki's realm that was unharmed and unspoiled.

It was never far from his mind how he would avenge his mother's death, even as he followed his father and learned all that the Inu no Taisho could teach him. As puberty set in and he learned to master his transformation energies, he'd started pestering his father about pursuing the dragon, to which the Taisho had responded with flat refusal. He still had more to learn, the Taisho insisted.

Finally, in resignation, Sesshomaru stopped asking and simply followed his father's instruction, all the while contemplating how he'd avenge his mother's death once he reached his potential.

So it had been for two and a half centuries. Sesshomaru followed his father's examples and at one point ventured out on his own to travel the lands, to see what strength he had and what abilities he needed to hone. While he was on one of his treks, the unthinkable happened: the Inu no Taisho took a human woman as his mate. And not only did he take her as his mate, he bred with her. Not just mated with her -- bred with her, creating a half-demon, half-human freak of nature.

Up until that time, Sesshomaru had held his father in the highest respects. But when the Dog General lowered himself to breed with a human, that infuriated him. To him, it was bad enough that the Inu no Kisaki was still unavenged, but for the Taisho to breed with a human.... The Taisho knew perfectly well how other youkai treated a hanyou -- why had he gone to the trouble to create one from his own bloodlines?

That was the first time Sesshomaru realized that his father didn't trust him. After two hundred and fifty years of following his father like a good student, to learn that his father did not trust him to be a competent heir to his realm came as a terrible, humiliating blow. Unable to turn his anger on his father, he centered the humiliated anger on the unborn hanyou, swearing that one day he'd prove himself to the Taisho, prove that he, not this half-breed freak, was the dutiful son and heir.

And in his anger and frustration, he decided to finally hunt down the dragon that had killed his mother twenty-five decades before. A strange flea-demon retainer of his father tried to talk him out of it, but he refused and swatted the creature away, insisting that it was long overdue for his mother's death to be avenged. Myoga had begged him to at least take his father with him, to not overestimate his own abilities. Sesshomaru had angrily refused, certain that he was powerful enough to take on a dragon.

That was the single most costly mistake he ever made, choosing to go it alone. From the moment he entered the Aitou no Tani, he'd had a feeling that he'd made a mistake. Ryukotsusei was far from geriatric, was nimble and cunning, and most importantly, he knew the usual tactics of an inu-taiyoukai.

Relatively early into the battle, Sesshomaru received a staggering blow to the forehead that scrambled his wits and later caused him to be unable to remember much about the battle in detail.  All he knew was that when he transformed, he realized just how much larger than him the dragon really was, and how much smaller than the Kisaki's form had been he still was.

And Ryukotsusei knew it too.

The dragon sent him around the valley a few times, chasing him leisurely and blocking every strike. His thick hide was so impenetrable that none of Sesshomaru's venom attacks were making the slightest difference. And because he was the one doing the chasing, he was able to conserve his energy, ensuring that his prey tired himself out quickly.

In the end, Sesshomaru had gotten backed into a corner, and had resigned himself to his doom when another spirit-dog attacked the dragon. The Inu no Taisho had come to his son's rescue.

Exactly how the Dog General found out about Sesshomaru's plans regarding the dragon, he never did find out, though he suspected that Myoga had a hand in it.

His memories of the Taisho's battle with Ryukotsusei were terribly inconsistent and spotty, unlike his memories of the Kisaki's fight with the dragon. He only remembered clearly the moment the Taisho speared the dragon in the heart with a claw, rendering him dormant. In that moment, the Taisho reverted his transformation to his human-form, and it had been then that Sesshomaru realized that Ryukotsusei had inflicted a mortal wound on the Dog General... and that his honored and beloved father wasn't wearing either of his famed swords Tetsusaiga and Tenseiga. Tetsusaiga could have finished off the dragon without such a prolonged battle, and Tenseiga would have protected him from receiving a fatal wound.

The question was, why did the Taisho take them off and leave them behind? Had he known he was going to his death? Had he feared his son would rob him of the swords before his body was even cold? The implications of the Taisho's decision cut Sesshomaru to the quick.

"I told you not to take him on, Sesshomaru," the Taisho scolded even as he slumped wearily to the ground, bleeding profusely. "That dragon is smarter than most dragons. I wish you'd listened to me, son. There is more to life than vengeance. You still have so much to learn, and I'm afraid I won't be able to teach you myself anymore."

"Father, don't talk like that. Where is Tenseiga? I'll go get it for you and -- "

"Forget about me, Sesshomaru. And forget about Ryukotsusei. One inu-taiyoukai cannot defeat him alone." Sesshomaru caught the Taisho as he collapsed, feeling the life-force draining from him like blood from a severed vein.

"But you did, Father."

"No, I only immobilized him. Nevermind that. It doesn't matter. My time is finished. But you, my son, you still have a lot of growing to do, and I only wish I could have instructed you further. You must forget about this valley. There is nothing here but sorrow and regret and death." 

Sesshomaru had watched his father die, just as he had watched his mother die two and a half centuries before. After the Taisho's death, he had retreated to the Forest of Sorrows, as he had begun to think of Eimaimatsu's forest. Just as he'd sought the tree's support after the Kisaki died, so did he seek out the tree when the Taisho died. The wise pine tree had consoled him as best it could, but in the end, even Eimaimatsu had been unable to ease the guilty ache that plagued him.

If I hadn't been so damned proud and so sure of myself, Father would still be alive. He died because I was a fool. How can I live that down? I was trying to prove myself worthy of his attention, and instead I ended up costing him his life.

Sesshomaru blinked his eyes as he emerged from the forest to find Jaken and Rin waiting for him, right where he'd expected them to be.

How did I...?

Silently he cursed himself for being so wrapped up in those awful memories that he didn't even recall leaving Eimaimatsu's fallen form, nor did he recall walking through the forest to this point.

Once again, I let down my guard. I really need to focus myself. I can't always be this lucky. I know how dragons are, and they wouldn't hesitate to attack me again, if they though they could get me at a disadvantage.

Ryukotsusei had taught him a valuable lesson about his own limits. He would not ever underestimate a dragon again. Any species capable of destroying someone like his father, or his mother, was a species to be taken very seriously. He hadn't even ever returned to the Aitou no Tani until Tenseiga one day pulsed at him and in one way or another informed him that Tetsusaiga had conquered Ryukotsusei. He had obeyed his father's last orders. And in doing so, that damned half-breed had gotten the jump on him and had destroyed Ryukotsusei in his place.

And now Eimaimatsu was dead because of Inuyasha. It made his blood boil with rage and grief.

Tenseiga pulsed gently, soothingly.

It's not enough, Tenseiga. I don't care if it was an accident. Inuyasha caused the death of the one demon I considered to be my friend. I can't forgive that, any more than I can forgive myself for causing the death of my revered father.

"Unbelieveable," Miroku said finally as Myoga fell silent. "Ryukotsusei killed both of Sesshomaru's parents?"

"That he did. He was extremely knowledgeable in inu-taiyoukai tactics and used that against both the Kisaki and the Taisho." Myoga looked up at Inuyasha. "I imagine your killing Ryukotsusei didn't go over very well with him; he always did want to be the one to exact vengeance on the dragon."

"So why didn't he?" Inuyasha asked. "Sesshomaru has no problems fighting dirty. He probably would have delivered the killing blow without removing the claw, just to be sure that the dragon was dead."

"The Inu no Taisho forbade him to return to the valley," Myoga said, "and whatever you might think of your brother, he does keep his word."

"So Eimaimatsu was the last link Sesshomaru had to his mother," Sango said softly, her eyes misty with unformed tears. "No wonder he was so angry. He thought you killed Eimaimatsu."

"But I didn't!" Inuyasha snorted. "It was the shard's doing."

"Be that as it may," Miroku said, "you were involved, and he could smell you. Therefore it stands to reason that he'd blame you. He doesn't care about the Shards, we've already established that. I wonder if he even realizes just how powerful they are. He called it a useless bauble, which leads me to believe he doesn't realize just how dangerous even a shard of the Shikon no Tama is."

"That reminds me," Inuyasha said, reaching into his haori and pulling out the Shard in question. He held it out to Kagome. "Here. I guess it's best if you hang onto it. With my temper, I'd probably just make the whole thing more tainted and end up getting us all killed out of sheer stupidity."

Kagome gaped at him, flabberghasted not only by his offering the Shard, but also by his self-depracating way of doing so. Sango and Miroku both stared at him as well, and Shippo hopped up onto his shoulder, prodding him experimentally.

"Hachi, is that you?"

Inuyasha swatted the kitsune off his shoulder; "Of course not, shrimp! Here, take the jewel, Kagome, before I change my mind!"

Author's afterword: Here's how I came up with the names.

aitou (n) condolence; regret; sorrow; sympathy; lament
eimai (adj-na,n) wise and great
(n) glittering stars
kisaki (n) empress; queen
(n) lonely or uninhabited valley
matsu (n) (1) pine tree; (2) highest (of a three-tier ranking system)
tani (n) valley

And I stylized the Inu no Taisho's death based on a fanart done by Patches

last updated: August 28, 2005