InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Uprising ( Chapter 73 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
“InuYasha!” Kagome reprimanded as InuYasha skidded to a stop before the old hovel. “That's not nice!”
InuYasha made a face. “You want `nice'? Didn't we just sprint all the way here, just to make sure she's still breathing? Keh!”
Kagome slipped off his back and shook her head. “You're a lost cause.”
Kagome peeked into the hovel with a frown. Old Seer was nowhere to be seen but a pot of thin vegetable broth still simmered on the fire. “Where do you think she is?”
“I don't know, but—” InuYasha cut himself off as he lifted his face as he drew in a deep breath. “Come on.”
As she stepped toward him, InuYasha caught her hand and swung her up into his arms, holding her cradled against his chest. He ran in the direction of Old Seer's scent as Kagome wrapped her arms around his neck. “Is she okay?”
“Dunno . . . I think so . . . but I can smell her, too. That bitch has been here, even if she ain't still here now.”
Kagome's reply was stifled as InuYasha crested a hill, and Old Seer came into view. Slowly making her way toward them leaning heavily on her cane, she lifted a hand to wave but did not quicken her pace.
“Where is she?” InuYasha demanded, eyes flashing as they darted around the meadow.
Old Seer stopped, raising her hooded eyes to stare at the hanyou. “You know she was here.”
InuYasha snorted. “Keh! Of course I know she was here! I can smell her! Where the hell did she go?”
InuYasha growled. “Damn it. Come on, Kagome.”
Kagome's eyes widened as he reached for her hand. “Wait, InuYasha! You don't mean to go after her now, do you? It's the middle of the night, and—”
“And she keeps getting further and further away, Kagome. Now move it!”
Old Seer coughed, and Kagome winced. Rattling with phlegm yet hacking and raspy at the same time, the old woman stumbled. Kagome caught her arm as InuYasha's head snapped up. “Get her to her hut, Kagome,” he ordered as he rested his hand on Tetsusaiga's hilt, his gaze narrowing as his ears twitched, as he cracked the knuckles in his left hand.
“Go, wench!” he growled.
Kagome slipped her arm around Old Seer's shoulders and hurried away.
InuYasha watched as a man staggered out of the trees. `A human . . . ? But I . . . I smell youkai . . .”
“Help . . . me . . .” the man said as he stumbled toward InuYasha. “Oni . . . oni . . . my wife . . .”
Wrinkling his nose against the smell of the blood that saturated the man's rough clothes, InuYasha caught him before he fell to the ground. “What do you mean, an oni?” InuYasha demanded as he pressed his hand over the man's bleeding shoulder.
“It came from the forest,” he replied, “came . . . from the . . . forest . . . My wife . . . help her!”
InuYasha flattened his ears as the man expelled a harsh breath, turning his face away as the stench of the tidal breath leaving his body infiltrated the hanyou's nose. `Damn!' InuYasha thought as he let go of the man's body. `It can't be an oni . . . it smells like youkai . . . and this guy reeks of it, too . . .'
Setting off at a sprint toward the trees, InuYasha followed the dead man's scent. A woman's scream pierced the night as trees melded into a passing blur, the haze of glowing red, burning yellow flickered and gamboled, engulfing the scenery before InuYasha like an eerie tableaux. Macabre shadows cavorting in light and blackness, and as he burst out of the trees, he slid as he saw the hut engulfed in flames.
A hulking form cast in unnatural glare stood on the far side of the hut. The scream came again, and InuYasha ground his teeth together when he saw the woman hanging from the beast's huge paws. Youkai, definitely, yet something seemed wrong. Something vague and untouchable, something sinister and foul . . .
“Put her down!” he bellowed.
The youkai growled, burbled in reply. Grip tightening on the woman, he swept aside the fiery remains of the hut with a sweep of his arm. The woman whimpered, moaned. Her terrified gaze seemed clouded, unsure. InuYasha wasn't sure if she could see him at all as he brought his arm up to cover his nose against the stench of the burning ruins.
`Don't interfere, weak hanyou.'
InuYasha narrowed his gaze as the youkai's voice echoed through his head. “What the hell do you think you're doing?” he snarled.
The youkai hesitated. While InuYasha didn't particularly wish to have a conversation with the foul beast, he also knew that he had to keep him occupied until he could figure out a way to save the woman.
She hung limply from the youkai's crushing grip. There wasn't much time. He could sense her resignation, the acceptance of what she believed to be her fate.
`I was stirred from my slumber by a malignant force. I awoke to hunger, to a desire to feed. I must destroy those humans who sought to subdue me, and if you try to stop me, I'll crush you, as well.'
“Keh!” InuYasha scoffed, “You're just as weak and pathetic as the youkai I've killed before. You're not special. You're not even tough. Why don't you put the woman down and try to beat me?”
A low rumble like a groan from deep in the earth rose into the air like a dense fog. `I sense a presence . . . ahh, Tetsusaiga. I know your sword, hanyou. You are the son of that treacherous Inu no Taisho.'
`How does he know my old man?' InuYasha snorted inwardly. What did it matter? “So what if I am?”
`He killed my kin . . . he left me to die . . . because of his meddlesome ways, I was sealed. Where is your father? I've a thirst for his blood.'
InuYasha drew Tetsusaiga in a flash of yellow light. “Hate to tell you, bastard. My old man's been dead for years, but if it's revenge you want, feel free to come get it . . . if you think you can.”
`So the son of a fool is also a fool.'
The woman yelped as InuYasha grimaced. The youkai's hand started to glow as a hazy, dusky light engulfed both the woman and the youkai. “Help me!” she called, stretching her hand out toward InuYasha.
Gritting his teeth, he watched as the youkai's energy shifted, flowed into the woman. As the youkai crumbled like he was melting away, the woman slowly descended until she stood on the ground. InuYasha stepped toward her. She threw her head back and laughed. “You have a love for humans, hanyou. I can smell them on you,” she said, her voice tinged with the echo of the youkai's rumbling tone.
“Hiding?” InuYasha challenged as he hefted his sword.
She laughed again. The ground trembled under his feet, groaned with the force of the unearthly vibration. The shrieking wail exploded in his ears, and InuYasha turned his head in time to see the wave of youkai streaking the skies from the east.
Shoving off the ground, InuYasha swung Tetsusaiga in a wide arc with a bellowed cry of, “Kaze no Kizu!”
The wave of the Wind Scar flashed out from the blade. It hit the youkai head-on in an explosion of yellowish-white light. The screams of the youkai faded away as InuYasha dropped to the ground.
“Is that the best you can do?” he demanded as he turned back to face the woman again.
With an angry cry, the woman raised her arms, stretched out her hands as white light exploded from her fingertips. InuYasha raised Tetsusaiga again as the wind twisted around the blade.
“Help . . . me . . .”
He hesitated as the woman's voice infiltrated his mind. `Damn it! She's still in there . . .'
Springing off the ground with a low grunt, InuYasha avoided the attack. The blast hit the trees behind him, shaking the earth and sending splinters of wood flying.
With an outraged cry, the woman flew toward InuYasha. Her screech pounded in InuYasha's ears. Through the wreckage of the burnt hut, she shot forward, her face contorted with her absolute rage.
He landed again as he adjusted his grip on Tetsusaiga. A pulse beat sounded in his hands, throbbed in time with his heart as the blade of the fang scaled over.
Her hands erupted once more in white light as she gathered energy to hurl at him. InuYasha raised his sword. She tried to side-step the blade but she was too slow. The blade came in contact with her, and InuYasha grimaced as Ryuurin no Tetsusaiga sucked the youkai out of the woman.
She crumpled to the ground as InuYasha slowly lowered his sword. The heat emanating from the blade still unnerved him, just as it had the first time he'd used the attack years before. He shook off the feeling as he sheathed Tetsusaiga and crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you all right?”
She sat up slowly, rubbing her face with shaking hands. “I . . . I think so . . .”
“Where's my husband?” she asked as she stood.
“He, uh . . .”
She swallowed hard and nodded, understanding what he didn't say. She didn't cry. “It's been so quiet around here, but lately the youkai . . .”
The woman sighed. “The last few weeks . . . they appear at night.”
“Come on. You can't stay here.”
“Where are you taking me?”
InuYasha shrugged as he turned back toward the forest. “The old woman.”
He led the way with a troubled frown as the youkai's words came back to him. `I was stirred from my slumber by a malignant force . . .'
`A malignant force . . . Hisadaicho? But she can't be powerful enough to release a seal . . . can she?'
His frown shifted into a glower. `What the hell is she trying to do?'
Kagome handed Old Seer a bowl of broth and knelt beside her. “Did Hisadaicho say why she'd come?”
Old Seer shook her head as she drank. “She insisted that she was simply passing through.”
“You sound like you don't believe her.”
“I have no idea what her motives may be,” Old Seer admitted. “Easier to count the stars in the sky, I think.”
Kagome gazed at the fire as she mulled over Old Seer's words. “Do you think it's possible . . . do you think she still has some good in her?”
She could feel the old woman's stare though she didn't look to confirm it. Old Seer sighed and set her bowl aside. “You wish to save her, do you?”
Kagome didn't answer. She still didn't know why it mattered. Maybe it was just knowing that Hisadaicho used to be human.
“I cannot say whether or not I believe she has anything left inside her heart worth saving, Kagome. I do know that she is not the same girl I knew. If you try to save her, understand that she has chosen her own path. If she cannot be swayed, then do not feel guilty for what you cannot change.”
“I understand,” she said slowly, “I wonder sometimes, if I'm just being overly optimistic. InuYasha thinks I am.”
Old Seer smiled. “Of course he does. His path in life has not been as simple as yours, has it?”
Kagome shook her head.
“Trust your heart, child. You have taught him much in your time together. Perhaps he can teach you some things, as well.”
“Do you really think Hisadaicho is strong enough to summon youkai?” Miroku asked with a marked frown.
InuYasha stretched out on his side with one knee bent, tapping his toes on the floor. “Dunno . . . it couldn't have been anything else.”
Sango shook her head slowly. “That would mean she's no ordinary youkai, let alone hanyou. If she has the power to awaken sealed youkai—”
InuYasha's abrupt snort cut her off as he added the strum of claws on wood to the rhythmic thumping of his foot. “Keh! As if that matters! I'll get rid of her. If she's causing all this trouble, then she's got to be stopped.”
Kagome cleared her throat. She'd been toying with the hem of her skirt the entire time, listening intently but not adding to the conversation. “And what she did to Kikyou.”
InuYasha's scowl darkened, and he stared at Kagome for a minute before replying. “That, too.”
“It makes no sense, though,” Miroku mused as his scowl darkened. “There has to be something that she wants.”
“It don't matter,” InuYasha insisted. “I'm going to stop her before she can destroy anything else.”
Miroku shook his head, eyebrows furrowed as he stared thoughtfully at the hanyou. “Do you honestly believe it will be as simple as that?”
“She's getting careless, monk. She's gotta know her toxin doesn't work anymore. There's nothing to keep her safe now.”
Kagome stood up and wandered over to her bed roll. Shippou was already asleep on it. She scooted him over carefully and lay down. She couldn't help but feel that Miroku was right. There had to be a reason Hisadaicho was doing the things she was doing. She had to have an objective. They had known what Naraku had wanted. It had helped them destroy him, in the end. What did she want? Somehow Kagome didn't believe it was quite as simple as obtaining the Shikon no Tama. If that was Hisadaicho's motivation, she would have come after it long ago.
The others kept talking around the fire as Kagome's thoughts tumbled around her head. There had to be a better explanation.
InuYasha rolled to his feet and sank down beside her, dragging Tetsusaiga out of his waist band and wrapping his arms around it. He didn't touch her but he shot her a fleeting look, an expression of contentment that warmed Kagome's heart as she closed her eyes.
Perhaps there was a deeper reason. Kagome just wished she knew what it could be . . .
Ryuurin no Tetsusaiga: Dragon Scaled Tetsusaiga.
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Final Thought fromKagome:
I hope InuYasha isn't planning anything drastic …
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Metamorphosis): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.