InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ A Battle of the Heart ( Chapter 79 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~A Battle of the Heart~
A low rumble, a high-pitched wail goaded InuYasha faster as he hurtled down the corridor toward the flashing lights. His senses were in overdrive. He had a feeling what he would find but he didn't want to believe what he knew to be true. `Thousands of youkai . . . at least . . . what the hell is going on? Kagome . . .'
Another eruption of light cast eerie shadows up and down the corridor as InuYasha sprinted faster, feeling Kagome's presence growing stronger and stronger with every step he took and feeling the surges in her unmistakable power with every flash.
InuYasha burst into the cavernous chamber and stopped short as Aki stepped in front of him to block his path. Tightening his grip on Tetsusaiga, the hanyou ground his teeth together as Shippou squealed beneath the heavy hand that stifled his nose and mouth. “Hiding behind the kit won't save you, you bastard,” InuYasha snarled as he raised his sword. “Kagome!”
If she heard him, she didn't answer. Hisadaicho laughed from the darkened shadows behind Aki. “You're too late, InuYasha. A pity you didn't arrive sooner. I've won, you see? It's all a matter of time.”
“The only thing you've won is an early death, bitch,” InuYasha growled. “Kagome!”
“Let him pass, Aki,” Hisadaicho commanded. The human stepped aside. InuYasha's glower locked with Shippou's. The kitsune was terrified. He could smell his fear. Whether he was more afraid for himself or for Kagome, InuYasha couldn't tell.
The human had the same vacant look about him that InuYasha had noticed in Kouga's expression, too. The only other difference was that this human didn't smell half-dead. He smelled far, far worse, as though he was nothing more than the living dead and yet not resurrected like the samurais InuYasha had left to Sesshoumaru. `He'll kill Shippou if I do anything, damn it . . .'
“She's weakening,” Hisadaicho mused, more to herself than to InuYasha. “Why don't you watch?”
Against his better judgment, InuYasha stepped closer to the edge and looked down. In the glow of the youkai that circled around her, Kagome stood with her hands out, eyes closed, body bathed in a soft pinkish light. “Kagome!” he screamed, his voice breaking as he started to jump off the side.
“Do it and the kitsune dies,” Hisadaicho said before InuYasha could move.
“No!” Kagome screamed as a flash of light shot off her fingertips, engulfing a youkai that descended on her as it exploded. Parts of the youkai rained down around Kagome, and InuYasha winced. The bodies of slain youkai lay around Kagome's feet, buried her up to her knees, and still they came at her, and still she fought.
`She . . . she won't stop fighting so long as Hisadaicho has Shippou,' InuYasha thought with a grimace. `Damn it!' He could sense her exhaustion, her body pushed beyond its limits as her mind—her will—made her fight.
“Why are you doing this?” InuYasha growled as he cracked his knuckles in unsatisfied anger.
“To bring back my koishii,” Hisadaicho scoffed. “You took my koishii . . . it's only fitting that yours will bring him back.”
Hisadaicho's eyes narrowed as she finally turned her glare on InuYasha, lavender eyes glowing with a malignant light. “Does the name Kagewaki mean anything to you?”
InuYasha's eyes flared. “Kagewa—we didn't kill him! Naraku did!”
“You lie!” Hisadaicho spat. “You killed him! You and that bitch! She will fix it, and you . . . I'll let him deal with you!”
Kagewaki . . . Hitomi-sama . . . Naraku had killed him long ago, had adopted Kagewaki's face, had taken over his castle . . . Onigumo had no face because of the burns he'd suffered. Naraku . . .
“You can't bring him back,” InuYasha growled. “That bastard destroyed people's lives! He didn't give a damn about anyone or anything . . . do you really think you're any different? Naraku will use you then he'll throw you away, but maybe that's just what you fucking deserve!”
“You know nothing!” she spat, her grip tightening around the urn in one hand, the Shikon no Tama in the other. “There is no `Naraku! My koishii—my Kagewaki—he will not abandon me!”
InuYasha's retort was cut off by a flash of green that whipped through the air. He saw it out of the corner of his eye as Shippou squealed. Moments later, the kitsune was on InuYasha's shoulder, quivering as he struggled to breathe.
Hisadaicho shrieked in fury as the rich scent of blood hit InuYasha's nose as he brought Tetsusaiga up level with the butterfly hanyou's chest. “Don't fucking move or I'll gut you.”
“Retrieve your mate, InuYasha,” Sesshoumaru ordered calmly. “Let me deal with her.”
InuYasha opened his mouth to argue. Another explosion of light cut him off. “Kagome!” he yelled, brushing Shippou off his shoulder as he leapt off the ledge, landing neatly between Kagome and a vicious-looking dragon youkai.
Kagome had her eyes squeezed closed as the gentle light of her miko's aura surrounded her and extended to him. He could feel her exhaustion radiating from her body, and he winced. “InuYasha?” she mumbled as she slowly opened her eyes. “You . . . came . . . for me.”
“Keh! Don't be stupid, wench. You knew I would.”
She managed a very weak smile as she collapsed against his back. “So glad.”
“Hang on, Kagome.”
“. . . Okay.”
Her trust, her unshakable belief in him was enough, lending him strength, heart, as he faced the waves of youkai that closed in on them. “Kaze no Kizu!” he hollered as he brought the blade down. The earth trembled under them, groaned with the impact of the Wind Scar. Kagome's miko energy surrounded them both, exploded in a flash of light. The screams of the youkai rang out in the cavern, echoed to the heights above. The air was full of the acrid stench of the shattering youkai; their dusty remains floating down on them like ashes on the wind.
With a soft exhalation, Kagome's grip on InuYasha's haori loosened. She crumpled to the ground as a flash of green light snapped on the ledge high above. InuYasha whipped around and grimaced. Lying amidst the horrific parts of countless youkai, her ashen skin glowed despite the darkness. “Kagome,” he rasped out as he dropped to his knees. She didn't belong here. She never should have been forced to fight.
Hands shaking as he impatiently shoved Tetsusaiga into the scabbard, InuYasha gently scooped Kagome up, cradled her against his chest as he shook her. “Come on, Kagome . . . wake up.”
InuYasha winced. `No, baka . . . not here. Don't let her wake up here . . .'
“Get her out of here, InuYasha,” Sesshoumaru's voice rang out in the cave. “The jyaki is too thick in here, and she is but a mortal.”
For once, InuYasha didn't argue with his half-brother. As much as he wanted to deal with Hisadaicho himself, Kagome had to be his first priority. Grunting as he pushed off the ground, he paused long enough to yank Shippou up where he cowered near the corridor entrance before shooting Sesshoumaru one last look before he sprinted into the length of the hallway. `Come on, wench . . . you're stronger than this, remember? Come on . . .'
“InuYasha?” Shippou's voice was timid, scared, shaky. “Will she be okay?”
InuYasha bit back the lump that tried to choke him. “Keh!” he scoffed as he picked up speed. “'Course she will. She's Kagome, ain't she?”
Shippou shivered. “She wanted Kagome to . . . to make another Shikon no Tama . . . she wanted Kagome to—”
“Shut up!” InuYasha interrupted with a snarl. “That ain't fucking happening.”
Bursting through the broken wall into the pale grayish glow that filled the castle, InuYasha turned enough to ram his shoulder against the doors as he broke free of the castle into the dismal light of the overcast dawn.
He dropped to his knees in the middle of the skeleton-ridden courtyard as Shippou hopped down, wringing his hands as he blinked back tears, staring at Kagome's pale face.
“Wake up,” InuYasha murmured as he gently tapped Kagome's cheek. “Come on, wench . . . yell at me for taking too long . . . I'm sorry, Kagome . . . I'm sorry . . .”
She didn't stir.
Sesshoumaru stepped over the decapitated body of Hisadaicho's servant as he slowly stalked toward her.
“You allowed her to escape!” Hisadaicho hissed. “I need her!”
“You have meddled with too many lives to count. This Sesshoumaru has had enough.”
“You're no match for me,” she scoffed as she started to reach into her kimono. “You were brought to your knees by a ghost from your past! Do you wish to see her again? I could arrange it . . .”
Sesshoumaru flicked out his energy whip again, catching Hisadaicho's wrist and dragging it away. The whip caught the chain of the Shikon no Tama, sending the jewel flying through the air. With a furious screech, Hisadaicho lunged for it. Sesshoumaru shoved her back. She hit the wall hard. He reached out, caught the jewel, stared at it for a long moment before he shoved it into his armor. “I don't think you will be needing this,” he remarked as he watched Hisadaicho straighten her back.
“You fool! I won't be defeated by the likes of you! I am Hisadaicho! I am eternal!”
“I grow weary of your rambling,” Sesshoumaru commented. “You are nothing but an abomination, a vile perversion of youkai.” Flicking out his whip once more, he caught the hand that held the urn. With a quick jerk, the urn slipped from her fingers, shattering on the dirty stone floor. She shrieked in anger, in pain as the purple mist spread. Sesshoumaru's eyes flared in recognition as his lip curled slightly in complete abhorrence. “Naraku.”
Hisadaicho growled as her fingers curled into claws at her sides. “There is no Naraku! He was Kagewaki, and you—you and your filthy brother—all of you who destroyed him!”
“I know nothing of Kagewaki,” Sesshoumaru bit out coldly. “That miasma that taints you . . . that is Naraku.”
With an unearthly shriek, Hisadaicho lunged at the tai-youkai, her hands outstretched as she raked, clawed the air, tried to reach him.
Sesshoumaru shoved her back again. She stumbled back off the ledge, and with another screech, she fell.
The purple smoke crawled across the floor, seeped into the crevices, the cracks in the ground. A tremor rumbled through the cavern. Sesshoumaru spared a glance around as the first bits of rock and dirt crumbled down the walls.
“You can't destroy me,” Hisadaicho called from the crevasse below. “Now prepare to die!”
The flash of energy was easily avoided. Sesshoumaru sidestepped the ball of light just before it struck him. It flew past him, smashing into the wall with a trembling thud.
Hisadaicho fired off two more blasts. Sesshoumaru ducked as the second one sailed over his head. The double impact rumbled through the air, an ominous groan emanating from the walls. The tiny scurry of the pebbles cascading from high above nearly drew a smile from Sesshoumaru. “Are you frustrated?” he taunted without raising his voice. “I thought you said I should prepare to die.”
He hid his grim amusement as Hisadaicho gathered a massive ball of energy. Another low groan emanated from the walls. Whether Hisadaicho didn't hear it or didn't understand what it meant didn't matter. Sesshoumaru knew. His eyes glowed in the half-light as he shot to the side to avoid the huge humming ball of light whizzed past him. The groaning escalated as larger rocks shook free, tumbling down the walls in a sinister landslide.
Sesshoumaru drew Tokijin, held it by his side as the butterfly hanyou collected more energy. She unleashed the blast as Sesshoumaru flew forward, down the side of the ravine, closing in on Hisadaicho as he neatly avoided that attack, as well. His eyes flashed with irate fire as he let her see the consuming hatred that he had masked so well.
Tokijin flashed in a blur of movement, the glint of the blade. Hisadaicho opened her mouth to cry out, tried to stumble back out of the path of the sword. The sound of her scream was muffled by the shock of her attack striking the wall. The groan surged into a moan; the moan rose into a howl. Blood sprayed from the deep gash, flew through the air to mist Sesshoumaru's arm.
Her body evaporated in an explosion of ash and dust.
Sesshoumaru blinked in surprise as he lifted his gaze to the slowly falling debris. He thought her death would satisfy him, that he would be pleased with the satisfaction of revenge. Killing Hisadaicho didn't bring back Kagura. He knew now that she never should have been returned to a living body. It didn't serve to quell the ferocious tide of pain that ripped through him. He felt empty instead, emotionless and cold, and as he turned back to leap out of the pit, the creak, the groan, the rumbling walls snapped, broke free with a deafening rumble of earth and stone and darkness with the pulse of a heartbeat.
Shippou scurried back with a wet rag in his little hands and held it out to InuYasha. The hanyou's hands were still shaking as he gently wiped Kagome's face, as he smoothed back her hair. Her color was returning to normal. If only she would open her eyes . . .
The kitsune danced from one foot to the other as he wrung his hands and gnawed on his bottom lip. Time and again, he opened his mouth but didn't speak, thinking better of it when he saw InuYasha's worried expression.
“Kagome,” InuYasha mumbled in a tone that stopped Shippou's nervous movements, the sound of his voice was one that the kitsune had heard before, but only once. Raw, thick, choked, it brought to mind the time when InuYasha had thought they were dead so long ago. “Please, Kagome . . .”
“She'll be okay, InuYasha? Right? She'll wake up soon and . . . and then we can go home . . .”
InuYasha didn't answer. Dropping the rag, he pulled Kagome into his arms, cradling her against his chest as he bent his head. His bangs hid his face. Shippou flinched when he smelled it—the sting of tears.
A soft moan, almost an exhalation, made InuYasha sit up straighter. Kagome stirred slightly, wincing as her eyes fluttered a few times.
“Kagome!” Shippou exclaimed as his own tears finally spilled over.
She slowly opened her eyes, blinking slowly as she gazed up into InuYasha's face. “You're . . . don't . . .” she trailed off, slipping her hand up to gently wipe his cheeks. “Is it over?”
InuYasha shook his head as he heaved a sigh of relief. “Sesshoumaru's still in there . . . I had to get you out.”
Shippou wanted to hug her. He wanted her to hug him. He settled for patting her arm, contenting himself with just being able to touch her. Kagome stared at InuYasha for a few more moments before she turned her head to gaze at Shippou. Her contented expression suddenly dissolved as tears filled her own eyes, as she struggled to sit up. “Shippou! Oh, Shippou! I'm sorry! This is all my fault, and—”
Shippou threw himself against Kagome's chest, tried his best to wrap his arms around her neck as her tears fell in his hair. To his amazement, InuYasha wrapped his arms around them both, and for several minutes, they sat there together. Words seemed unnecessary in the stillness as the first droplets of rain fell. It was enough that they were all alive, that they were together.
A low rumble broke the silence, drifting up from the ground like the roll of thunder. InuYasha's arms fell away as he gently moved Kagome aside and stood as he pulled off his haori and dropped it over her shoulders. “Stay here,” he commanded.
The ground shook under them as InuYasha turned back to the castle. Breaking into a sprint as he dragged Tetsusaiga out of the scabbard, he was almost at the doors when the jarring crash quaked through the very foundation.
“InuYasha!” Kagome shrieked as he fell back, away from the structure. Moments later, the castle collapsed. Burying Shippou's face against her chest to block the debris that flew from the pile of falling wreckage, Kagome screamed InuYasha's name once more. A thick cloud of dust obscured her view. It took several minutes for it to clear enough for her to see.
InuYasha sat up slowly, staring at the destroyed castle. He stood stiffly, shook his head as he gaped. Kagome's relief was short-lived as InuYasha stumbled forward, dropped to his knees as he started digging at the debris frantically, as though he'd lost something that he desperately had to find.
“Sesshoumaru!” he bellowed, his voice thickened by the dust that still hung in the air as the rain started to fall in earnest. “Damn it, you bastard! Answer me!”
InuYasha's voice echoed in the eerie quiet.
Sesshoumaru didn't answer.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from Kagome:
Surely Sesshoumaru didn't . . . ?
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.