InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Fireside Chats ❯ Part Thirty: Forward Motion ( Chapter 30 )
Author's Note: I'd like to apologize for the length of time between updates from the penultimate chapter and this chapter; real life reared its ugly head. Also, I've been working sporadically on my original fiction. But mostly it's been my new position at work; I'm more tired when I get home from work, so I don't seem to have as much energy for writing. Also, my interest in Inuyasha took a bit of a dip in the past few weeks... but recent developments in the manga have sparked my interest again!
This story has been an amazing journey for me. It's taken on so many different turns and twists I never expected. Thanks to everyone who reviewed and helped me out. An epilogue may or may not be forthcoming. Thanks again, everyone! This swan song is for you!
One more thing, that came up out of nowhere (damn characters and their popping up at stupid times!) As far as I can tell in my research, crossbows were not used in Sengoku Jidai Japan, but they were reportedly developed in China thousands of years ago, so it's not out of line for Enmaku, who is supposed to be from the mainland, to have learned how to use one. For more information on crossbows, go to Wikipedia and search for crossbow.
Disclaimer: Inuyasha does not, never has and sadly never will, belong to me. It belongs to the incomparable Rumiko Takahashi, Shonen Sunday and Sunrise. But I ruthlessly use it because Takahashi-sensei doesn't seem to give a crap what her fans do with the characters. XD If she did care, I would be very sad.
Soundtrack: (aka the stuff I listened to while writing this chapter) "I've Loved You Forever" by Laura Powers is what kept me on track with this chapter, weirdly enough. Go figure.
Part Thirty: Forward Motion
The first two things Kagome noticed upon awakening were that her bed was extremely lumpy, and that she smelled animal hair.
Aw, man, Buyo's been on my pillows again! I keep telling Sota to not let the cat in my room! She thought to herself as she opened her eyes --
-- and saw red.
As in, red cloth. Right across her face. In an automatic reaction, she pushed the fabric aside, revealing a view of the forest canopy that was altogether too close for comfort.
That explained the lumpy "bed." And the animal hair smell was undoubtedly the fibers of the fire-rat robe that she had had draped loosely across her face.
"Easy," Inuyasha said lazily as he cracked open an eye at her. "Don't move around so much." His left ear twitched languidly as an insect buzzed around it. "These trees are magnets for bugs. Good thing you're awake. Did you sleep okay?"
"I... what happened?"
"Miroku said you collapsed after you finished healing Ashita. The baka-uma says you just over-exerted yourself." Inuyasha gathered her up and hopped down from the tree limb he'd spent the night on. As he landed, he set her carefully down, and she got a good look at the family clearing.
The clearing was largely cleared of the dead bodies that had littered the place last night as a result of the attack by the local uma-youkai. There was no burning pyre nearby, nor any telltale mounds of mass graves. Kagome looked over and saw why: Koe stripped the dead of their weapons and armor, then Sango dragged each corpse over to one corner where Miroku stood. The monk would then briefly unbead the Wind Tunnel and dispose of the bodies.
Only the decapitated form of Hekigyoku, the leader of the attackers, remained untouched.
Hiuchimaru stood silently, stoically, in the center of the clearing, his arms folded almost meditatively, his eyes closed. A weary breeze wandered through his chin-length flaxen hair. He had changed his clothing, Kagome noted abstractly, donning drab earthen tones rather than the blues and grays he'd worn yesterday. He also looked very tired, from the drawn, pale cast of his complexion.
Over by the most protected corner, well guarded by trees and rock outcroppings, was the stone-nest, where Mimiko slept curled up with her older brother. Kagome noticed a slight shimmering over the nest. A barrier? she thought. I wonder why?
Then her attention was seized by the sight of Ashita, laying beside the stone-nest, appearing to be resting comfortably. Shippo sat beside her, nibbling on a snack. Kirara was in her kitten form and was curled up on a halo of Ashita's black hair.
"Good morning," Hiuchimaru said benignly without moving a muscle. "I trust you rested well, despite the caterwauling?"
"What?" Kagome blinked stupidly at the forest guardian, not realizing he was aware of them being there.
"That damned youba was raising hell all night long. I'm surprised either hanyou could sleep, with all the racket," Hiuchimaru smirked as he turned slightly, casting a long glance over his shoulder at his children. "Opaaru could sleep through an earthquake, I think, but Mimiko..."
Inuyasha indulged himself in a long, canine yawn. "I had Kagome wrapped in my fire-rat cloth. I think it blocked out the worst of the noise. And I smell a friction barrier over there," he gestured toward the nest. "Your little runt seems to be able to put up pretty good shields."
"Runt?" Hiuchimaru's left eyebrow arched in surprise. "You're calling him a runt? He's actually quite precocious, for being barely a teenager. But yes, he does put up very good shields. Friction barriers, however, are not soundproof."
"His might be."
"I'd be surprised if it is. It's rather detrimental to a prey animal to not be able to hear. Which reminds me..." He lifted his head and flared his nostrils, taking in the wind. "I don't smell the horses. Oi, kouma, wake up." He made a flick with his wrist, causing the barrier around the two youngsters to shimmer and dissolve slightly.
"I'm awake, Father." The colt sat up and stretched his arms, yawning hugely. "Did you need something?"
"Where are the horses? I haven't seen them for a couple of days."
"Mine is nearby," Opaaru said, standing up carefully so as not to disturb his sister. "He's rounding up the loose horses whose commanders died here."
"And the mares?"
"I dunno," the colt said lazily. Mimiko tipped her head and tilted her ears in inquiry at him. Opaaru nudged her with his foot in an affectionate big-brother sort of way.
Hiuchimaru physically turned around completely, doing so slowly and almost leisurely, but the effect was not lost on anyone. He eyed the colt sternly. "That," he said in a cool, distant voice, "is not an acceptable answer, kouma. Try again."
"Seriously, Father, I don't know. I think Mimi does, but she's not telling."
The hanyou in question perked up her ears and grinned mischievously.
They were interrupted from further bickering by a long, low moan issuing from underneath a dark brown woven blanket. Kagome briefly wondered who it could be, since she could account for everyone in her group, and everyone that she knew of in Hiuchimaru's family. But then the subject of scrutiny emerged, revealing a very pale-skinned female youkai. Her crystal-white hair tumbled down her shoulders and back in a messy array. It took a moment for Kagome to recognize this as the fleeting white demon she'd seen yesterday.
But closer inspection showed this creature was devastatingly injured. She wore a very loose kimono that was barely cinched at the waist, and there were four deep, grisly grooves across her torso. They almost looked like...
"Oh, look who's awake," Hiuchimaru said blandly. "I see you made it through the night, Himawari."
"Fuck you, Gray-eyes," the demon snarled, wincing as she stood. "Where's my horse?"
"I drove him out of the forest. He was raising hell all night long, making it hard for everyone to sleep."
Kagome started to approach the wounded youkai, but Inuyasha intercepted her, growling softly; "Don't even think about it. She'll kill you where you stand if you so much as try to touch her."
"Oi, Flint, what about this one?" Koe called from where she stood over the remains of Hekigyoku.
"Leave him. I want Ashita to see who led the attack against her. I think that that's the only way she'll really accept it."
"Fine then, the rest are taken care of. Might want to tell that monk to slack off a bit, I think he's going to wear himself out if he's not careful. That's one hell of a weapon he's got hiding in that glove on his hand, I might add. Looks like a black-hole."
Mimiko's ears twitched suddenly and she clawed at her brother's hakama in desperation. Hiuchimaru drew Kiribitou as he turned around, doing so in a very smooth, fluid motion, and just managed to block a swift barrage of steel-tipped bolts. Sango yelled in anger and sent Hiraikotsu flying at the attacker, who was mounted on a youba -- closer inspection revealed it to be Shunme himself -- and managed to knock one of the passengers off the youba.
The youkai hit the ground unceremoniously, dropping whatever weapon it -- he -- had carried. The weapon hit the ground and bounced, skittering along the dirt to slide to a stop at Kagome and Inuyasha's feet. Inuyasha picked it up and wrinkled his nose at it. "What the fuck is this weird thing?"
"It's a crossbow," Kagome said softly, recognizing its shape from studies she'd done in history classes.
"It's a Chinese weapon," she said. "I learned about those in class one year. My dad loved Chinese history, and after he died I always wanted to learn more, so I paid attention in those classes."
"Fascinating," the downed youkai growled in a deep, baritone voice. "Why are there humans here?"
"Why are you here, is the more pertinent question," Hiuchimaru said coldly. He glanced over his shoulder at the location of his family. Koe had moved with inhuman speed across the clearing at the moment the attack had begun, and was now crouched protectively over her unconscious sister. Opaaru had grabbed up his little sister and was standing in the center of the stone nest, shields up. They were as safe as they could be, given the circumstances. He returned his attention to the intruder, who was standing up and dusting off.
The intruder had skin that was a strange maize color, sort of a golden brown but dull in luminance. His hair was black streaked with that golden brown and some white, and was caught up in a traditional queue. His eyes were, by contrast, blazing red. Not the red of a maddened demon; more like the color of an albino's eyes. It was an unsettling combination at best. He was clad in sturdy leather armor and had a standard katana at his hip.
"Enmaku!" Koe said in disbelief as she recognized the intruder. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, look who's still alive! The little misbegotten mare. Enthralling reunion, I must say, but I'm only here for my mate."
"Took you long enough, Enmaku," Himawari said acridly, approaching jerkily, trying not to jar her injured torso. "Where's that runt filly?"
"She's with Shunme," Enmaku said as he pulled off a cloak and swung it around her. "I got knocked off by a giant flying something-or-other, but she's small enough that she ducked and it missed her." He got a good look at her, taking in the sight of her grievous injury with widening eyes. "What happened to you?"
"That hanyou over there unleashed something evil at me. I couldn't dodge it. Fascinating power, really. If I weren't so appalled by the very presence of a hanyou, I might try to learn from it how such a maneuver is executed. However, I can't stand the stink of dog-human."
"Who are you?" Hiuchimaru said coldly to the male, Enmaku. His eyes narrowed as he sized him up. "Koe recognizes you, but I do not."
"He's the sire of one of Ashita's earlier foals," Koe said bitterly. "He took Yume with him and left when the filly was still technically a suckling. He used Ashita as a broodmare and took her foal away from her when she produced."
Enmaku rolled his eyes. "So speaks the maiden mare. Removing a suckling from its dam is not fatal to either the foal or the dam, as you ought to know but clearly don't."
Koe's fists clenched in hatred, but she remained where she was.
"When was this?" Hiuchimaru persisted, interposing himself between Koe and the other two uma-youkai.
"This was right after Kuroshima died, which means you had probably just been called by the forest. Ashita was already reeling from the loss of her father when this idiot decided to take her infant foal from her."
"I did not wish my daughter to be raised by a pair of frauds," Enmaku said loftily.
"Frauds?" Hiuchimaru raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"I don't know you, so I am in no position to judge whether or not you are a fraud, but I do know that that misbegotten maiden over there, and her pretty half-sister are both frauds. One claims to be able to speak to the dead, and the other claims to see the future. Neither one is legitimate; if you actually believe them, you are blinded by your affections for them."
"Stop calling her a maiden like that," Hiuchimaru growled. "You make it sound like she's incompetent because she isn't a broodmare. Besides, she isn't a maiden mare. The term we use is barren, and you ought to know that."
"Maiden, barren, it's the same thing in the end. She's never produced her own foals. Why do you care anyway? Look at her -- she's hideous and badly impaired. She hears and smells no better than a human."
Hiuchimaru closed his eyes and composed himself. When he opened his eyes again, they flashed with red sparks. With some effort, he sheathed Kiribitou and crossed his arms in feigned diffidence. "I don't see why that is any concern of yours. She's not your mare, is she? I'll thank you to leave my mate's sister out of this; I think the issue is between my sister and I, not you, even if you happen to be my sister's current mate."
Enmaku's head tilted; "Oh, so you are the brother she's spoken about before." His expression was contemptuous. "You look like you have some strength to you. Pity you seem to want to let it go to waste. This is not, and will never be, a peaceful time. Judging by what I've been told by Shunme and from what I can see with my own eyes, your world is starting to crumble around you, too."
Himawari pressed her hand to her chest, flinching at a shooting pain, and then glared at her brother; "I've told you before that these mares would be the death of you. Look at you! Damn you, you uxorious bastard, you shame the memory of our mother with your weakness!"
"Go away, Himawari," Hiuchimaru said resignedly. "I've had it with arguing with you. I'm really not in the mood for this. Get out of here."
"Your wish is my command, O Great Guardian of the Forest of Eternity," Enmaku said mockingly as he gestured for Shunme. The youba descended to land right beside him, and he swung his injured mate up onto the horse's back. With a mocking salute, he swung himself up behind the other passenger, a black-haired teenager of a youkai. Before the horse took off, though, Enmaku produced a short whip and used it to wrestle his crossbow from Inuyasha's hands. "I'll be taking that back, thank you. I doubt you could figure out how it works anyway." Then he tapped the butt of the whip against the youba's flanks, and Shunme roared off into the brightening sunrise.
Inuyasha, pole axed by the speed of their departure, was still trying to work out Enmaku's insult in his head when a very soft, wet sob drew everyone's attention.
"He's still on about that, isn't he?" Ashita murmured weakly from where she rested. Her eyes brimmed with tears. "Enmaku hasn't changed a bit. He doesn't believe what he doesn't understand, and he calls it fraudulence."
"If anyone's a fraud, it's him!" Koe snarled. "Oh I wish I could have ripped those goddamn eyes out of his head! I'd wear them like beads in victory!"
"I hoped Enmaku and Flint wouldn't ever meet, for that reason. I just knew he'd never change," Ashita's eyes closed in resignation. "And I... I can't bring myself to hate him for what he did to me, for taking my little girl from me." She coughed violently, moaning piteously. "I can't hate him, even though I've tried. I want to forgive him. Himawari's right, I'm just a liability to you, Flint."
Hiuchimaru gently gathered her into his arms, cradling her against his chest. "The hell with what she said, Ashita; I wouldn't have you any other way. I need you to temper the rage I inherited from my mother. Contrary to popular belief, I do need you. Both of you. All of you. If I'm going to be anything like my father, I'll need your help. I can't do it alone."
Kagome silently cheered, thinking that the two of them were the cutest youkai couple she'd ever seen. (Not that she'd really seen too many youkai couples.) Seeing them this way made her inner fangirl squee with delight. She wanted to hug the both of them for finally figuring it out, too.
Inuyasha gave her a strange look and cocked an ear at her. "What's your problem, Kagome?"
"Nothing," she grinned. "I just think it's cute."
"Oh, nevermind. You wouldn't get it. You're too dense," she thumped him on the forehead affectionately. "You're just a stupid male."
"Hey, now, I resemble that remark!" Miroku protested.
"You would," Shippo quipped. "Speaking of stupid males."
"You're male too, Shippo," Sango pointed out. "A kid, yes, but a male one."
"I'm different, though!"
"That you are, runt! But not in the way you think!" Inuyasha mimed a swat at the kitsune. Kirara purred in feline laughter.
Ashita lifted her chin slightly and regarded Inuyasha for a long time with her liquid black-brown eyes; "I'm supposed to tell you about something. Nijimaru made me promise I'd tell you about it. I... I just can't remember it."
"Who made you promise?" Hiuchimaru's eyes dilated.
She glanced up at her mate; "Your father. He saved me. I think he helped the priestess in healing me... though from what I can't remember... and he guided me back from the land of the dead. He did it because he didn't want you to suffer too, he said. I'm supposed to relay a message to Inuyasha... I don't remember what it is though."
Kagome approached and knelt down beside Ashita. "You were shot with an arrow. A blue-fletched arrow with a flint head. Does that mean anything to you?"
"Blue fletching? Are you sure?"
Ashita looked up at her mate in inquiry, and found her answer in his sad expression. "Oh god... I... Hekigyoku... How did it come to this?"
"I think he finally let his jealousy overrule his logic," Hiuchimaru said sadly. "I told Koe to leave his remains where they are so that you can see for yourself who shot the arrow that nearly killed you."
"The blue fletchings were enough. He never let anyone touch his arrows. Who killed him?"
"Oh. Good. I don't want his blood on your hands, Flint. There's too much betrayal there. At least Koe never trusted him."
Koe shifted uncomfortably. "I only did it because he was a threat, Nee-chan. There's no way anyone could trust someone like that to not try something like that again. He had to die."
"I know, Koe, I know. I should have seen that coming. I should have known he was beginning to hate Flint. I should have seen it, and yet I didn't." She buried her face in her hands. "I really am a fraud!"
"Stop that, Ashita," Hiuchimaru said sternly. "Your ability to predict weather patterns is enough proof that you aren't a fraud. The future isn't cast in stone, after all -- no one can truly see the future in any given circumstance. Stop browbeating yourself over your Gift's limitations. Don't make me start listing my own downfalls. I really don't want to depress the hell out of everyone."
In spite of herself, Ashita giggled at that. Opaaru and Mimiko started crowding in on their parents, seeking affection from their mother.
Inuyasha crossed his arms in disgust. "Have you remembered what you're supposed to tell me, yet? This warm and fuzzy family reunion is cute and all, but my group and I have a rather important quest, and if you can help us at all in it, I'd appreciate it if you spit it out in a timely manner."
Miroku swore under his breath and smacked the hanyou with his staff. "Captain Insensitive strikes again," he hissed. "Cool it."
Ashita rubbed her hands over her face. "It's a vision I had. It's not like anything I've ever Seen before, and yet somehow it was real. I was stranded between the worlds of living and the dead. And this... this man, I'm sure he was a youkai, but he looked so human... he was speaking to another man, whom I'm sure was human, but he looked so much like..." she glanced at her son. "He looked like you, Opaaru. Except that you could tell that he was cruel and malicious. But the other man, he was... he was beautiful in the most terrible way. His eyes were red and hateful, and his hair was long and black. And now that I think of it, his voice reminded me of venomous spiders. So did his hair. It reminded me of spiders' legs and spiders in their webs. His voice was seductive but it made me feel violated and unclean... I couldn't understand what he said, though he said your name. And his body... in place of a body, he had an animal pelt. He looked directly at me, and I knew that he was playing with me, like a cat with a mouse. It's some form a game. He was taunting me somehow. And he said your name again. He knows you, somehow." She shuddered. "That's all I can remember. Is it enough? Does it help you at all?"
Inuyasha's jaw had fallen open, and even Sango and Miroku looked pole axed. Kagome blinked in disbelief at the description she'd just heard.
"Naraku!" Inuyasha hissed. "That fucking asshole, now what kind of game is he playing?"
"Who was this other person, is what I want to know," Sango said.
"Probably one of the Band of Seven," Miroku reasoned. "We haven't met all of them yet."
"Perhaps this was the leader of the Band of Seven," Hiuchimaru said pensively. "If I recall correctly, he's the one who would deal with the daimyos and shoguns, and delegate orders to the other six. I clashed with him and the snake-sword one last time they were around here, before they died. I seem to recall a rumor that the others were resurrected somehow recently, so that would fall in. I don't remember the leader's name, but I do remember that he's not very big, and he carries a giant halberd that's probably half again his own height. And he's very, very dangerous. He scared my father, as I recall. Father insisted that I not fight with that human again, that I stay safely protected by my forest. He said that that single human was far more dangerous than eight dozen uma-youkai on the warpath."
"Duly noted," Inuyasha said coolly. "That means that that Jakotsu bastard must be taking his orders from this leader. That's the one I'm going to take down first, then."
"Are you leaving us?" Opaaru asked, wide-eyed.
Inuyasha blinked in astonishment. Ever the eloquent one, Miroku came to his rescue.
"We have a demon to destroy. A very dangerous one. Ashita, your story tells us that we're on the right track and that all the things we've been speculating are indeed true."
Inuyasha snorted; "Yeah, and the fact that Renkotsu also said as much. Really, that story didn't tell us anything other than the fact that Naraku is watching us from wherever he is, which we already figured he probably was doing. And now he's fucking around with people we encounter. That means we'd better get out of here soon, or else he might do something worse."
The colt stood up, dusted off, approached them, and then bowed very deeply before them. "On behalf of my father and mother, I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude for all your assistance."
"I'm in your debt, Kagome," Ashita said softly. "I fear I'll never be able to repay the debt, either."
"I did what I had to because I could," Kagome said, shifting uncomfortably now that the focus was on her. "There's no need to... you know, proclaim a life-debt."
Hiuchimaru transferred Ashita to Koe's arms. "Take care of her and the foals. I'm going to escort these guests of ours to the borders. It seems that they've had enough of their sojourn and wish to continue their quest. It would be impolite of us to delay them." He looked pointedly at Inuyasha, who nodded firmly. He then looked at his son. "Kouma, I'm leaving them in your care. This time, Koe's with you, so no excuses. Keep your shields up."
Then, with a tremendous heave, he launched skyward and somersaulted into his transformation. With the giant spirit-horse hovering in the sky, Sango and Miroku hopped onto Kirara and rode up to land on the horse's shoulders. Inuyasha plucked Shippo up off the ground and swept Kagome up in his arms, then leapt up nimbly, landing on the wide back of the spirit-horse. Kagome and Sango waved down to the rest of the family, who waved back at them.
Opaaru cupped his hands around his mouth and called; "Good luck! I know you can do it! Oh, and don't drop them, Father!"
The spirit-horse snorted in good humor and started to weave his way amongst the trees, accelerating rapidly. This time he took them in a different direction from where they'd come from before, taking them northward. In about five minutes flat, they'd crossed most of the forest and had reached the northern border. The motions of slowing down were repeated as before, with the giant spirit-horse using the sky above the forest to circle in a wide arc, his momentum wicking away steadily.
After everyone had disembarked, the spirit-horse hurled itself into a somersault and emerged in his humanoid form again.
"This," he gestured, "is as far as I can take you. This is my boundary. Just beyond this hill, you'll see White Soul Mountain. Some call it a sacred mountain, but I don't think it's sacred at all. I don't know what kind of powers lurk beneath it, but I have a feeling it'll be important to you in some way. This mountain has been here for generations and has caused no shortage of grief for forest guardians. I wouldn't be surprised if your enemy knows about it too. I do recommend you at least investigate the mountain before you go on your way."
He bowed to them. "I thank you from the depths of my soul for everything you have done for my family. I only wish I could do more for you in repayment."
"You've given us the most solid lead on Naraku we've had since he disappeared on us," Kagome said optimistically. "That's more than anyone else has ever done for us."
"I hardly see it as a fair trade, a potential lead on an enemy in exchange for the lives of my family, but whatever suits you. And Inuyasha, I must thank you specifically."
"You give me hope for Mimiko. Seeing how strong you are, I cannot but hope that she will also be as strong someday."
Inuyasha shifted uncomfortably. "Er, yeah. Okay." He muttered something about becoming stronger through adversity, and Sango dutifully smacked him.
"You take care of that beautiful mate of yours," Miroku said. "Or else Kagome'll come back and give you the what-for!"
"Hey!" Kagome put her hands on her hips.
"I can see it now," Shippo teased.
"She's always meddling," Inuyasha snorted.
"OOH! YOU--YOU MONGREL!! SIT!"
Sango started choking on her laughter at the flabbergasted expression on Hiuchimaru's face after Inuyasha's faceplant into the dirt.
"Ow! Dammit, Kagome, did you have to do that now?! Geez, you haven't abused me enough, have you?!"
"Don't make me say it again!"
Sango approached the bewildered forest guardian, and bowed respectfully to him. "On behalf of my companions, I thank you for your hospitality and the trust you invested in us around your precious family."
He returned the bow. "Take care of yourself, Sango. And watch out for that monk. He's a crafty one."
"Oh, you have no idea!"
As the morning sun broke over the forest canopy, the team trekked forward toward the so-called White Soul Mountain, with the enigmatic Forest of Eternity and its charismatic guardian fading into the backdrop.
"That Ashita was certainly beautiful," Miroku said. "And she had an affinity for monks. Maybe I should try my..."
"--OW! Sango! I was just kidding!"
Nijimaru: (male) hogosha taiyoukai guardian of Niji no Mori. His true form is a large chestnut spirit-horse. Deceased (killed by Sesshomaru).
Saoirse: (female) uma-youkai leader of a herd patrolling the Niji no Mori. Deceased (killed by the taijiya).
Himawari (born Hanako): (female) daughter of Nijimaru and Saoirse. Transient uma-taiyoukai. She has an affinity with plants and nature, and often serves as a messenger of sorts.
Midoriko: (female) second daughter of Nijimaru and Saoirse. Presumed dead.
Hiuchimaru (born Hai'iro): (male) son of Nijimaru and Saoirse. Guardian of the Eien no Mori at the base of Mt Hakurei.
Kiniromaru (born Kiniroko): (female) daughter of Nijimaru and Saoirse; leader of a band of uma-youkai patrolling the Niji no Mori. Deceased (killed by Inuyasha).
Opaaru: (male) juvenile uma-youkai; son of Hiuchimaru and Ashita. The only offspring of Hiuchimaru.
Ashita (born Moriko): (female) hogosha/uma-youkai; ancestral ruler of the Eien no Mori, daughter of the previous guardian; formal mate of Hiuchimaru and mother of Opaaru; she is faintly precognizant and can see possible futures up to 48 hours in advance.
Koe (born Manatsu): (female) younger half-sister of Ashita; she has a particularly powerful voice and can sometimes speak to souls in other dimensions or time periods.
Mimiko: (female) hanyou daughter of Ashita and a human monk, formally adopted by Hiuchimaru.
Kuroshima: (male) previous guardian of the Eien no Mori; Ashita's sire. Deceased (cause of death undisclosed).
Meuma (birth name unknown): (female) once-dominant female uma-youkai in the Eien no Mori. Mother of Ashita and Koe. Current whereabouts unknown.
Rengoku: (male) a consort of Meuma. Sire of Koe. Current whereabouts unknown.
Enmaku: (male) a male uma-youkai from the mainland; current mate of Himawari; sire of Ashita's daughter Yume
Yume: (female) a juvenile uma-youkai; daughter of Ashita and Enmaku; still follows her father and his current mate because she hasn't learned how to protect herself.
Shunme: (male) Himawari's youba partner
Kiribitou: (no gender) Hiuchimaru's demonblade, made of flint and infused with the malevolent soul of a fire elemental