InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ The Difference a Little Time Can Make ❯ Chapter 30 ( Chapter 30 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha. Rumiko Takahashi does. I am not making any money from this story.
Author's note: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed. Please continue to review and let me know what you think. The changes from canon will continue to ripple out, though some things will remain the same.
Okay. As I have previously stated, I am following the manga more than the anime. To that end, the manga has Inuyasha face Toukajin (the peach man) before meeting Sango. It is at this point that Miroku learns of the new moon. Now when I was outlining this chapter, I misremembered when exactly that occurred. This actually happens after they face Sesshomaru. But when I discovered that, I decided to leave it as is because I feel it fits my time-line better. I still wanted to use this to introduce Miroku to Inuyasha's time of weakness and based on the time-line I had set myself, a little less than two weeks wasn't, in my opinion, enough time for them to have faced Sesshomaru, healed, and then come across Toukajin. So please review and let me know what you think.
Oh, and FYI for those who follow the anime more than the manga, a key difference is that Toukajin was a cannibal. Just letting you know before you get confused in the chapter. You will learn how I was able to incorporate this part without the shards when you read, so enjoy. Oh, and SplendentGoddess, I hope you enjoy this since you did mention wishing I could incorporate it into the story.
Kagome sighed as she listened to Inuyasha grumble about how slow they were traveling. Miroku-sama had been traveling with them for nearly two weeks now and still there was no sign of Naraku. As time had gone on Inuyasha's mood had soured causing him to find reasons to complain. His current complaint was that the houshi was slowing them down because he was a pathetic human and couldn't move as fast as Inuyasha. Kagome smiled when she remembered his comment when she pointed out that she was a pathetic human as well.
“Yeah, but I carry you.”
She had glared at him. “Well you could carry Miroku-sama too if you think we're going so slow.”
“Feh. The only one I want to carry is you.” He blushed when he realized what he had said.
Shaking her head to clear away the warm feeling she got from his words, she sighed again. She found herself missing the time when it was just her and Inuyasha. Oh, she enjoyed Miroku's company and was glad to have someone to talk to as Inuyasha wasn't much for unnecessary conversation, but there were times when she wished it was just the two of them. Well, maybe once they finally found Naraku and defeated him things would go back to the way they were.
She looked up when she noticed that both of her companions had stopped. “What is it?” They were staring at something floating down the river. She gasped as she realized the shapes in the water were human heads.
Miroku bowed his head. “A battle upstream, no doubt.” He knelt down beside the water and reached for the heads. “We must put these poor souls to rest. What?!” He stared in shock at the head he had just lifted. “These heads...there are no marks, no cuts. Are they even human?”
Kagome moved closer to stare at them. “Is it possible that they are some kind of model or statue?”
Miroku shook his head. “I find that very hard to believe.”
Inuyasha leaned in close and sniffed. “No, they carry a human scent.”
Kagome stood up. “How horrible. Come on, let's go investigate.”
Inuyasha glared at her. “Oi! It's got nothing to do with us. We shouldn't get involved.”
“But Inuyasha, it has to be the work of a youkai. We can't let it just keep killing innocent people.”
“Keh!” He crossed his arms over his chest and continued to glare at her.
“Yes, I agree with Kagome-sama.” Miroku said as he too stood up. He had a glint in his eye as he replied to the hanyou. “Besides, this could be the work of Naraku.”
Inuyasha's eyes widened at that. He glanced at the sky, then at the other two waiting for his response. “Keh, fine! We'll check it out.” He continued to grumble as they walked upstream.
Kagome gave him glances every now and then. What was with his behavior? There had to be more to it than not wanting to get involved with someone else's problem. A thought began to niggle in the back of her mind but before she could concentrate on it her attention was drawn by voices up ahead.
“Oh!” she exclaimed as they came upon a tree beside the river. The voices were coming from it. “W-what is this?!” she cried, grabbing onto Inuyasha's arm as she spotted the human heads growing on the tree.
“Please...” “Help us...” The heads continued to plead for assistance.
“Something evil is at work here” Miroku said before approaching the tree. “Tell us, please, what has happened? Who are you?”
The disembodied heads relayed their tale. The trio learned that they were people who had come to the mountain to learn under a mysterious old master. They had thought the mountain was a paradise but soon learned different when they became food for the Peach Man. Inuyasha had snorted and called them fools for allowing themselves to be tricked, resulting in Miroku hitting him over the head with his staff and reprimanding him.
Kagome had been moved by their story, and both she and Miroku inquired if there was anything they could do to help them, only to be told it was too late for the ones already on the tree. But the disembodied heads pleaded for them to save those who had not yet been eaten.
As they contemplated their request, there came the sound of something banging against the rocks. They looked up to see some bones come falling down the mountain. Kagome gasped as she saw the bones land and the tree roots grab hold of and absorb them. “What?” Her attention was drawn back to the branches of the tree as a new head began to sprout.
“It is the head of the former owner of those bones.” “The head of enchanted fruit...” “The heart of the Peach Man's elixir of youth and longevity.”
“Keh! I don't care what you call him, this Peach Man sounds like a youkai to me. But it doesn't sound as if Naraku is involved, so why should we get involved?”
Kagome turned and gave him a pleading look. “But Inuyasha, we can't let whoever it is get away with this.”
He growled before turning his head away. “Keh! Fine.” He crouched down, preparing to leap. “You two wait here while I go deal with him.”
“Wait, Inuyasha. We should go together.” Miroku stated as he stepped forward.
“Feh. You'll just slow me down. If I go by myself I can deal with him and be back before sunset.” With that he leaped up and began bounding up the mountain. He called back “And you better keep your hands to yourself while I'm gone bouzu!”
Kagome frowned. Why was it so important to be finished by sunset? She gasped as her earlier suspicion sprouted in her mind. 'Oh, no. The new moon is tonight. Inuyasha will turn human. How could I have forgotten?' She glanced towards Miroku. 'I can't tell Miroku about that but what am I going to do if Inuyasha isn't back my sundown?'
Meanwhile Inuyasha had nearly reached the top of the mountain. “Damn it” he cursed as he saw how low the sun was. He had been hoping to find a good place to set up camp for the night. One where he and Kagome could go off by themselves. He didn't care what the bouzu thought they would have been up to, he wasn't ready to reveal his secret to anyone but Kagome and he didn't trust the bouzu if he left Kagome alone with him for the whole night. Now it looked like he would have no choice but to share his secret. He cursed again, his mood decidedly foul as he landed on a ledge with a door. He kicked in the door and stared at the fat being lounging inside and being attended to by low level animal youkai. Cracking his knuckles he thought 'At least I'll be able to work off some of my anger before the sun sets.'
The fat man forced himself to his feet. “Who are you?! How dare you barge in here like that!” He waved away his servants.
“Feh. You don't smell like a youkai, but you reek of dead humans.” Inuyasha grasped the hilt of the Tessaiga and drew it from its sheathe. “You look pretty well-fed. I guess it pays to pose as an ancient master and devour your students.” He glared and started forward, swinging the Tessaiga. “Prepare to die!”
He was startled when the sword bounced off the Peach Man's stomach. “What?! His flesh, it repelled the Tessaiga?!”
The Peach Man grabbed a nearby leaf covered staff. “I don't know who you are or where you came from, youkai, but you will regret coming here. You will see that I, Toukajin, do not pose as an ancient master!” He shook the staff causing flowers to fall and fill the air.
“Feh. Flowers? A cheap trick for a supposed master, don't you think?” Inuyasha taunted.
“Fool. Look carefully at the flowers.” There was a wicked glint in Toukajin's eye.
Inuyasha stared at the flowers as they suddenly appeared to grow. “What?! How can flowers grow so quickly?” Suddenly Tessaiga felt much heavier in his hand and he glanced down to see that it was much bigger than it had been. A moment later and it fell to the ground as he was no longer able to hold it.
“Baka! The flowers haven't grown. You've shrunk!”
Inuyasha stared in horror at the mountainous form of the Peach Man as he reached out a hand and grabbed him. Before he could react, he was tossed into his mouth and swallowed whole.
A few minutes after Inuyasha had left, Kagome had really begun to worry. She didn't know why but she had a really bad feeling that he was in danger and she didn't think that it was just because of the new moon. She began to search around the bottom of the cliff face.
Miroku spoke up from where he had sat. “Kagome-sama, please sit and relax. I am sure Inuyasha is fine. He can take care of himself.”
She shook her head. “I can't Miroku-sama. I've got a really bad feeling.”
He stood and approached her. “I'm sure it's nothing to worry about.” He placed his hand on her shoulder, intending to lead her away from the cliff. “Just come and sit down. Inuyasha will be back in no time. I don't know why you women have to worry over every little thing.”
Kagome stiffened at his words and glared at him. Then she felt his hand moving downward and she turned and slapped him. “How dare you?!”
Miroku rubbed his cheek from where he had fallen in the bushes. On second thought, perhaps that hadn't been such a great idea. He moved to stand and noticed a set of stairs hidden behind the bushes. It looked like they went all the way to the top. He became aware of Kagome advancing on him, her miko aura flaring as she prepared to lash into him with her tongue. He quickly drew her attention to the stairs. “My apologies Kagome-sama, I didn't mean it. I was merely trying to get your attention off of your worries when there was nothing that we could do about them. But look! We now have a way up.”
Kagome gave him one last glare before grabbing her weapons and starting up the stairs.
Miroku wiped the sweat from his brow and grabbed his staff before following her.
Kagome set a brutal pace, her worry fueling her feet. They made it to the top and found a door leading into a building. Kagome was really worried now. The sun was nearly completely set and there was still no sign of Inuyasha. Entering the building they saw no one. But there was a miniature garden set up in the middle of the room they found themselves in. Kagome stared at it as something about it drew her attention. She gasped as she realized that there were tiny humans inside of it. “What?!”
Miroku also peered into the garden. “Hmm. Imminent victims of the Peach Man, no doubt.” But as they continued to stare into the garden a strange sensation came over them.
“Is the garden growing?” Kagome asked before she felt her weapons and pack fall to the ground.
“No, we appear to be shrinking” Miroku replied as he too lost his grip on his staff. They soon found themselves standing in the middle of the garden. Exchanging a glance, they immediately set out to speak to one of the other occupants.
If they had happened to look up at that moment they would have seen the Peach Man as he stumbled into the room and looked curiously at the weapons. “Hmm? Now where did these come from?” Shrugging his shoulders, he tossed them to the side before retrieving a large jar and drinking its contents. “That youkai gave me indigestion.” Jar in hand he wandered out of the room.
Inuyasha groaned from the puddle he had landed in. Looking around he grimaced in disgust. For once he was glad his sense of smell had faded. He didn't want to know what he was standing in. He began trying to climb his way out of the stomach he found himself in, cursing the entire way. “Bastard! When I get out of here I'm going to take my time ripping him to shreds!”
He was about halfway up when some type of liquid came pouring down in a rush and he found himself back at the bottom in another puddle. To make matters worse, the liquid dislodged a bone that had been laying in the stomach, causing it rise up and hit him on the head. “Fuck!” he cursed, glaring at his surroundings. His nose wrinkled, despite his weakened sense of smell the place still reeked.
A hissing sound drew his attention and he looked to see the bone dissolving in the stomach acid. “Shit, I don't have a lot of time.” He glared at the stomach wall and cracked his knuckles. “Guess I'll just have to rip up from the inside. HYAH!” He swung his fist only to have it bounce back and send him back into the puddle of stomach contents.
“Damn it. His body's as rubbery inside as it is outside.” He clenched his fist to try again only to feel his body pulse. He stared in horror at his hand. “No! My claws...” He watched as they began to recede, turning into weak human nails. 'My powers are fading! The sun must have set.' He stared at his surroundings in horror. 'Once I've turned completely human, my body will dissolve! No, there has to be a way out of this.'
“Fuck, that hurts!” The acid was starting to eat at him. He moved to stomach wall and began punching it. “No! I refuse to go out like this!” Suddenly the sheathe at his side gave a pulse. He stared at it. “Maybe I can rip through his flesh with this.” He began striking the flesh with the sheathe to no effect.
Suddenly the flesh pushed in, knocking him off his feet and back in to the stomach acid. “Gah! It burns!” He noticed his clothing being eaten away. “Feh! Without my youki, even the fire-rat is no match for this acid. Is this the end?” he couldn't help but wonder.
The sheathe pulsed again in his hand and his eyes widened in understanding. “It's calling Tessaiga!” Standing, he pointed the opening of the sheathe at the stomach wall. “Tessaiga! Come to me!” he commanded. He watched as stomach wall bent in as if something was pressing against it. “Yes! That's it! Come!” But then it bounced back. “No! Damn it! It was repelled.” He groaned, all out of ideas.
He looked up as the contents around him began to swirl around. “What?!” Suddenly, he felt himself rising and then in a rush of liquid he was expelled from the stomach. He hit the ground and shook his head, eyes landing on the Tessaiga. “I'm back to my normal size” he realized as he snatched up his sword. His eyes landed on Toukajin and he charged, swinging the sword only to be repelled again.
He tried to lift himself up only to see a shadow falling over him. His eyes widened and then he groaned as he was crushed beneath the Peach Man's enormous girth. He was barely conscious as he felt himself being lifted. “Hmm. Could it be, that you are the same youkai that I swallowed earlier?” Consciousness left him as he felt himself being dragged through the building.
He awoke a short time later unable to move and covered in thorny vines. “W-what the hell?!”
“Hmm? Awake, are you?” Toukajin moved to stand in front of him. “You're a hanyou, aren't you?” He began to rummage in a large jar. “I don't get to taste hanyou flesh very often. I think I'll bleed you, pickle you and save you for later. Ha-ha.”
“Keh!” Inuyasha glared at him and lifted his arm, trying to swing at the Peach Man. “I like a monster with big ambitions but it's going to take better than you to kill me. Gah!” He cried out as the thorns sliced at his skin, preventing him from breaking free.
Toukajin continued to laugh. “Struggle all you like, it will only help the thorns suck your blood dry.” He turned to leave. “I'll be back later, once my plant has had an opportunity to drain more of your blood.”
Inuyasha could only glare at his back as he felt his strength leaving him with every drop of blood that left his body. 'At least Kagome's safe' was his only thought as he felt his eyes begin to droop closed again. He forced them open again, refusing to give up. Kagome might be safe for now but he knew that she would follow him if he didn't return. He had to get out of here before she did.
Meanwhile, Kagome and Miroku had explored the miniature garden they found themselves in and discovered that all of the people in it were spaced out, like they were drugged. Miroku had deduced that it was the fruit that caused this and they decided it was better if they didn't eat or drink anything. But they were no closer to discovering a way out of the garden, and none of the other people were able to respond to them.
Suddenly, they saw a large hand descend from the sky. Kagome's eyes widened. “That's it! We have to grab onto that hand.” She began to run toward it. In the back of her mind, she wondered if this was such a good idea. She could already hear Inuyasha yelling at her about her stupid ideas. 'It's the only way' she told herself.
She gasped as she felt the hand close around her and several of the zombie-like men. When it reopened she found herself staring into a gigantic, hideous face. “What's this? I don't remember catching something as delicious looking as you” he leered at her before flicking the others back into the garden. “Today must be my lucky day. I caught myself that hanyou and this delectable little treat. Ha-ha.”
Kagome's eyes widened. “Y-you caught Inuyasha?!”
Toukajin regarded her with curiosity. “Hmm? You two tasty creatures know each other?”
Kagome glared up at him, uncaring of the fact that he literally held her in the palm of his hand and could squash her at any time. “He better be alive and whole Peach Man. If he's not, I'll never forgive you! I'll make you pay, even if it's the last thing I do!” She gasped then groaned as his hand tightened around her.
From his place hidden on Toukajin's sleeve, Miroku could only shake his head. 'Kagome-sama, you really shouldn't make him angry right now.' He couldn't help but wonder at her nerve and bravery, foolish as it may be.
Toukajin, however, had begun to laugh at her words. “Ha-ha. You've got spunk” he told her before turning and moving to another room. “It would be a waste to eat you while you were tiny!” He squeezed again, until she passed out.
“Gah!” Inuyasha cried again before slumping against the vines holding him. More blood trickled down from his wounds. “Damn it, I'm losing to much blood.” He could feel himself weakening and his eyes were getting bloody but still he refused to give up. He needed to get out of here before Kagome got caught. He could only hope that Miroku would keep her from doing anything rash.
Toukajin reentered the room at that point. “Oh, still alive I see.” He tossed something onto the floor.
Inuyasha's eyes widened as he took in the sight of Kagome's green outfit, the one she had been wearing. 'No! Kagome's clothes! N-no, she can't be-' He felt his heart lurch in his chest.
“Oh? What a tragic expression on your face. Ha-ha” Toukajin taunted before gulping from his jar.
“K-Kagome. What did you do to her?!” Inuyasha demanded as he renewed his struggles against the vines now slick with his blood.
“Oh, don't worry about her. You'll see her again, soon enough. In my belly! Ha-ha!”
Inuyasha's heart lurched again as he fixed the Peach Man with a hateful stare. “You...ATE...her?!”
“What are else are mortals for?”
“BASTARD! GRR!” Inuyasha lunged forward with all of his might, uncaring of the vines that tore into him. He didn't care what happened to him, he was going to tear Toukajin to shreds.
Miroku looked up from his hiding spot. His eyes widened at the sight of Inuyasha. 'It's the same voice, the same clothing and definitely the same attitude and foul language but he appears to be human.' He stretched out his spiritual powers but could sense no youki from him. 'What could have caused this change?' He watched as the now human Inuyasha struggled with all of his might against the vines holding him. His eyes widened as he saw the vines pull slightly away from the ceiling. 'I don't know how much I can suck in with this now.' He regarded his hand as he moved to unseal it. 'But I'll give it my best shot.'
“It's useless for you to struggle. Those vines can not be severed. You are only hastening your own demise.” Toukajin took another drink before his eyes widened. “What?!”
The vines began to tear away from the ceiling, straight towards the Peach Man. Inuyasha gave a final burst of energy as he felt the vines loosen. “HYAH!” The entire plant tore away, burying Toukajin.
Inuyasha shook his head to clear it as he found himself free and able to move again. He stumbled to his feet and began moving towards the Peach Man. “Hold on Kagome” he panted. “I'll rip this monster's gut apart until I find you.” He refused to believe that he was too late.
He bent down in front of where Toukajin lay but paused as he heard a voice call his name. He turned his head and his eyes widened as he took in the miniature form of Miroku. “What?”
“There's no time. We must hurry and rescue Kagome-sama” Miroku told him as he climbed free of the vines and latched onto Inuyasha's clothing.
“Feh, what do you thing I'm trying to do” Inuyasha responded as he lifted Miroku up and started to turn back to the Peach Man.
“He didn't eat her.” At those words, Inuyasha finally began to listen to the houshi.
Kagome slowly began to wake up to a pleasant sensation. 'Hmm? Did I fall asleep in the bath? The water feels wonderful.' She basked in the warm feeling of the water, not ready to open her eyes just yet. Her mind was fuzzy and she tried to remember what had happened. A bad smell intruded on her thoughts causing her to wrinkle her nose and finally open her eyes. “EEK!” She cried as she looked around and realized that she wasn't in a bath after all. “W-what?!” She cried as she hastily tried to cover herself with her arms.
All around her, lower level animal youkai were running around and preparing food. They ignored her, and one took the opportunity to dump the contents of a jar into the basin she found herself sitting in. “I'm in the kitchen?” She gasped as she finally recalled the previous events of the day. “I don't want to be dinner!” she cried and made a move to dash out of the soup she found herself in.
But the youkai weren't about to let the main course escape and they blocked her path, knives at the ready. Kagome jumped backwards with a startled scream.
At the sound of her scream, the door exploded inwards. “Kagome!” Inuyasha stood panting in the doorway. The youkai took one look at his angry and fierce expression and bolted through another exit.
“Inuyasha!” Kagome completely forgot her present state of dress as she saw the state of the currently human Inuyasha. Standing, she rushed out of the vat in a hurry to examine the multiple wounds she could see. She paused as she caught sight of the gobsmacked look on his face right before he turned around. His actions and the sudden breeze she felt reminded her of her state of dress, and with a shriek she wrapped her arms around her body again.
For his part, Inuyasha had found it nearly impossible to tear his eyes away from the sight that had met him upon entering the kitchen. He placed a hand on the wall to steady himself from the wave of dizziness that resulted from the little blood remaining in his body trying to rush to one part of his body. Miroku's grumbling from the confines of Inuyasha's haori, where he had fallen when the door was kicked down, broke the spell and Inuyasha whirled around with a blush. The dizziness increased and he sat down before glaring at the spot he felt Miroku moving around at. 'Feh, no way is that bouzu gonna see that!' he thought as he shoved him into his kosode with a harsh “Don't even think about trying to peek, bouzu!” Satisfied that the houshi would obey, he pulled off his haori and thrust it out behind him. “Here.”
Kagome could only stare in horror, her embarrassment forgotten, as Inuyasha removed his haori and she got a better look at his wounds. Her arms dropped to her sides as she quickly approached him, her worry overriding her embarrassment. She was startled when the haori was thrust at her before she could reach him. She gasped as she took in how much blood stained it.
Inuyasha heard her gasp. “Put it on. Even if your disgusted by the blood, it's better than nothing” he told her.
Her head shot up as she grabbed the haori out of his hands and held it in front of her. Feeling that it was decent enough cover for the moment, she knelt by his side and hesitantly put her hand on his shoulder to get his attention. “I'm not disgusted by your blood” she told him. “I'm just worried about you.”
He covered her hand with his and squeezed it gently. “Feh, they're just scratches. Don't worry, I'll be fine once the sun rises. Now hurry up and get dressed.”
Kagome complied by pulling the haori on and tying it so that it covered her like a short dress or kimono. Then she returned to his side and took his arm, draping it over her shoulder to help support him before they quickly headed out of the room.
They traveled through the building for what seemed like hours. It was much bigger than it appeared from the outside and was designed like a labyrinth. Despite Inuyasha's grumbling, they repeatedly stopped to rest. As time went on, Kagome only grew more worried about Inuyasha's condition. She wasn't sure that it was a good idea to move him, something that Miroku agreed with her on. But Inuyasha had made the valid point that Toukajin had likely freed himself by now and it wasn't safe to stay in one spot for too long.
Finally, they came to a room with a balcony. “Look Inuyasha! Maybe we can climb out of here.”
Inuyasha let out a groan as she gently eased him to the ground before running to inspect the doorway. “Is it morning yet?” he asked as she returned to his side.
She shook her head. “No, it's still too dark out. And I don't think we can get out this way, not with how badly injured you are.”
Inuyasha forced himself to his feet. “Show me.”
Kagome sighed but helped him over to the balcony. “See? It's a long way down a cliff. We'll never make it.”
Inuyasha gave the cliff a contemplative look before switching his gaze to Kagome. She caught his look and realized his intentions. “No, you can just forget that idea. I am not leaving you here alone! Either we all get out or none of us do.”
Inuyasha glared at her and opened his mouth to argue but was stopped as another voice spoke up. “Hello, is someone there?”
They looked and discovered a plant with a single human head. They learned that the owner was the actual ancient master, and had once been the Peach Man's mentor until Toukajin turned to the dark arts and killed him. His head had been kept alive so that Toukajin could learn the recipe for an elixir that would bestow youth and longevity.
But during the explanation, Toukajin burst into the room. “There you are! Clever little things managed to get all the way up here, did you? This is the end of the line for you!” He charged forward, swinging his staff which extended itself.
Inuyasha grabbed Kagome and tried to leap away, only to take the brunt of the attack on his back. “Gah!” he cried as they crashed to the ground.
“Inuyasha!” Kagome tried to rouse him from where he had fallen on top of her. He groaned and struggled to push himself up before collapsing against her again.
“See how weak you are? Humans are such weak creatures, you must admit. They are born helpless, spend their lives doing someone else's work in the mud, and then they die! I swore to myself that I would never let that happen to me. That's why I apprenticed myself to that ridiculous Hermit Master. But he wouldn't teach me any real spells, only basic things. So when he wasn't around I peeked at his scrolls and learned that the fastest way to master the magic is to devour the flesh of one who has already mastered it. But still, he defies me and refuses to share the final secret of the elixir of youth and longevity!” Toukajin smashed his staff into the ground to emphasize his rage.
“What a monster” Miroku spoke up from Kagome's shoulder, “that the evil inside him would turn him into this.” He shook his head sadly at the wasted life.
Kagome heard his words but remained focused on Toukajin. “How horrible. How could you kill all of those people, and for something as pathetic as that?! You've been eating the flesh of humans, and yet you are human! How could you?!”
Toukajin laughed. “What's wrong with the strong eating the weak? It's no different from a snake swallowing a frog or a mouse.”
“You're a cannibal, a monster!” She quieted when she felt Inuyasha move against her and glanced down in time to see him push himself up with a groan. “Inuyasha, you shouldn't move, you're badly hurt.”
“Feh, it's no use arguing with the likes of him, you won't get anywhere.” He forced himself to his feet, brushing off her worried attempts to keep him still. He glared at Toukajin. “I'm a hanyou. For so long I've hated the frailty of my human half, so I can sympathize with you wanting to be stronger.” He wobbled on his feet and grasped the side of a large jar to steady himself. His dark violet eyes flashed as he fixed Toukajin with an intense stare. “But your depravity only proves your weakness!”
“Ha! Who are you to lecture me about weakness, when you stand there bleeding and crippled?!” Toukajin lifted his staff again.
Inuyasha grasped the jar more firmly. “You will never know half the strength that I do!” he yelled as he hurled the jar at the Peach Man's head, stunning him. Moving as fast as his injured body allowed, he ran at Toukajin, hand outstretched. 'If I can just get that staff away from him, it will even things out enough that I'll have a chance of surviving until the sun rises.'
But just as his fingers brushed the staff, a massive fist slammed into his body, and hurled him backwards into a wall. He slid down it, overturning several jars and causing heads and liquid to spill out on the ground.
“INUYASHA!” Kagome cried as she saw him hit the wall and then the ground. She made to go to him but the Peach Man now stood between them and she hesitated. Her eyes landed on the heads rolling around on the floor. 'Heads? Of those that were devoured?' She brought her hand to her mouth in horror.
Inuyasha groaned from where he laid. He stared in disgust at the liquid that covered him.
“Take a sip of that” the voice of the disembodied old hermit said.
Inuyasha turned to stare at him. “What?”
The hermit stared at the liquid in disgust. “That is the sham elixir of youth and longevity that Toukajin has distilled using the heads of those he devoured. It is a mockery, but it possesses the power to at least heal your wounds. If you want to be saved, then drink it.”
“Ha-ha!” Toukajin's deranged laughter drew their attention. “Yes, drink it. I don't mind. It'll be more fun if you fight back a little. Ha-ha!”
Inuyasha growled and he kicked the remains of the jar away from him. “Feh. As if I'd drink anything that you made.” He forced himself to his feet again. “No way I'd do anything that would make me more like you!”
“Ha-ha! Then you choose death hanyou? You would choose to die rather than to drink an elixir made from human heads?”
“Keh! Who said anything about dying?! I just meant that I don't need to drink your slop to defeat you!” With that Inuyasha charged forward again.
But Toukajin just laughed again and swung his staff, causing large, thorn-covered vines to shoot out at Inuyasha.
Kagome bit her lip in worry as she watched Inuyasha dodge the vines to the best of his ability, wincing with each one that managed to hit him. Frantically, she looked around for a way to help and her eyes landed on the Tessaiga laying against the far wall. Her bow and arrows and Miroku's staff were also laying nearby, along with a number of other weapons. She hurried over to them and snatched the Tessaiga up. Turning around, she saw that Inuyasha had managed to evade the remaining vines and was grappling with Toukajin for the staff. She winced as she saw him get knocked back again, then as Toukajin raised his staff to deliver a blow she called “Inuyasha!” and tossed the sword.
Inuyasha glanced in her direction then caught his sword. Pulling it from his sheathe, he used the rusted blade to block the staff. He cursed himself again that the sword was unable to transform in this form before trying to launch another strike against Toukajin. But the sword just continued to bounce off of the Peach Man's body.
Kagome stared. 'It's like his body is made of rubber.' She winced as Toukajin's staff landed a glancing blow against Inuyasha, knocking him back a few feet. More vines lashed out at the hanyou. “Inuyasha! Get out of there! You can't beat him, not without your powers!”
“Keh!” Inuyasha continued to evade the vines to the best of his ability. “I won't give up. I refuse to let someone like him beat me.” He threw himself forward again.
Kagome saw more vines streak toward him. “There has to be something I can do to help.” Her eyes landed on her bow and she snatched it up. She was vaguely aware of Miroku trying to use his Kazaana to suck up the vines but it was ineffectual in its shrunken form. She notched an arrow and aimed carefully. “No!” she cried as she saw Toukajin slam Inuyasha to the ground, one large hand wrapped around his throat. She pulled back on the arrow, only to have her bow snap in her hands. “Gah!” she cried as the string snapped back, cutting her cheek. “No..” she stared at the broken weapon in her hands.
Toukajin merely laughed. “Oh, too bad. Not that it would have helped you anyway. I'm invincible.” He began to turn his attention back to strangling Inuyasha but paused and called back “Don't worry, I'll deal with you as soon as I'm finished with the hanyou.”
Inuyasha's eyes snapped open from their half-closed state at the threat. 'Kagome' he thought. He still clutched Tessaiga in one hand, and with effort managed to lift it and stab it forward for the only weak spot he could see; Toukajin's eye. “Don't take me for granted” he gasped out.
“ARGH!” Toukajin lashed out, snapping Inuyasha's arm like a twig.
Kagome flinched at the sound. “Inuyasha” she cried, clutching the remains of her weapon.
“You, girl” a voice called to her and she turned to see the old hermit. “You must stop him. You must avenge me and the others.”
She shook her head. “I can't. I'm too weak.”
“Bah! Too strong is more like it. Just look at your bow.” At her confused look he continued. “You are a miko, girl. I could sense the spiritual energy you channeled a moment ago. You focused too much, which is what caused your weapon to break. It was not meant to handle that kind of stress.”
Kagome shook her head again. “Even still, I am untrained. Without a bow I am useless.”
“I can give you a bow.” Her head shot up at the hermit's words. “A bow that is suited for you, that won't break when you channel your powers. All I ask is that you avenge us.” With that, the hermit was surrounded by a glow, which faded to reveal a bow where he had been.
“He sacrificed himself, to become a bow?!” A determined look came over her face as she reached for it. “I won't let your sacrifice be in vain” she promised. Notching an arrow, she took careful aim and let it fly. She was amazed by the brightness of the pink light surrounding the arrow. She had never released that amount of spiritual energy with an arrow before.
The arrow shot forward and struck Toukajin, who howled in pain as the energy burned him. He flung Inuyasha away and turned to face Kagome, fury etched on his face. Burns covered his body.
Kagome stared at the burns. The energy shouldn't have hurt him if he was human, but it should have hurt him a lot more if he was youkai. But she didn't have long to contemplate it as he started to charge her. “You little! How dare you?! I'm gonna make you pay!” She tried to dodge, only to find herself standing in front of the balcony with no where to go.
Inuyasha's heart gave a lurch as he saw Toukajin go after Kagome and he forced his body to move. Racing after the Peach Man, he yelled “Kagome! DUCK!” As she did, he slammed himself forward into Toukajin's back, pushing them both over the balcony railing and down the cliff. As he fell he could hear Kagome screaming his name. His eyes began to drift closed as the rest of his strength left him. 'Kagome' he thought. 'At least I was able to keep you safe.' As his eyes slowly closed he thought about trying to wedge Tessaiga into the cliff to halt his fall but found that he had no energy left.
“You weak fool! I told you you would die!” Toukajin ranted from slightly below Inuyasha who ignored him. As long as Kagome was safe, it didn't matter what happened to him. He was distantly aware that things seemed to be getting brighter, then his eyes closed and everything was dark.
“NOOO! Inuyasha! INUYASHA!” Kagome yelled for another moment before she turned and ran toward the door. He couldn't be dead. She had seen the sun come up a few moments after he fell. He would have transformed back to his hanyou form. Surely he could survive in that form, right? She found the exit and raced down the steps, vaguely aware of Miroku calling after her. She ignored him and kept running. She had to get to the bottom, had to find Inuyasha.
Halfway down the steps, she stumbled and would have fallen the rest of the way had a hand not shot out and grabbed her by the arm. Startled, she whirled to face Miroku, who had somehow been restored to normal size.
“Kagome-sama, you must slow down before you end up hurting yourself.” His eyes bore into hers as he continued. “Injuring yourself won't help the situation any. Inuyasha wouldn't have wanted you to get hurt.”
“Stop! Don't talk about him like he's dead! He's not! He can't be!” Tears leaked out of eyes as she tried to wrench her arm free but Miroku held firm.
“Stop! Don't talk about him like he's dead! He's not! He can't be!” Tears leaked out of eyes as she tried to wrench her arm free but Miroku held firm.
He sighed. “Kagome-sama, you must face the facts. The spell that shrunk me has been broken, most likely with the death of the Peach Man. Much as I hate to admit it, Inuyasha likely didn't survive the fall either. He was badly injured to begin with and human.”
“No! He's not dead! The sun came up and he would have changed back! No way he would let a fall like that kill him!” This time she succeeded in pulling free and began to race down the stairs again.
Miroku sighed and followed her. “I hope you are right, Kagome-sama.”
Once they reached the bottom of the cliff they quickly located Toukajin's body, but Inuyasha was nowhere in sight. “Inuyasha! Inuyasha! INUYASHA!” Kagome called as she frantically looked around for a sign of the hanyou. “I don't understand. Toukajin's here but where is Inuyasha?” A sob escaped her.
Miroku sighed and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “I'm afraid he is underneath him” he gestured to Toukajin. “I am sorry.”
“No!” Kagome began to trying to push the body out of the way but it was too heavy. “No, he's not dead, he's not!” Sobs wracked her body as she was unable to budge the enormous weight of the Peach Man.
A short distance away, Inuyasha stirred in the tree he had landed in. “Ugh” he muttered as he took notice of the pain coursing through his body from his various wounds. He opened his eyes and discovered that it was morning. “Feh, sun couldn't have risen just a little earlier?” he groused as he slowly sat up. His ears twitched on top of his head as nearby shouts caught his attention. “Kagome?” he murmured then stiffened as he detected the scent of her tears. He began to climb out of the tree as he heard Miroku speak.
“Come Kagome-sama. Let us pray for his soul. I doubt he died with any regrets, for even as he sacrificed his life, he knew that he was saving yours.”
Kagome stiffened and pulled away from Miroku. “But I didn't want that. I didn't want him to...to...” she couldn't finish the sentence. “He didn't even have his powers and he kept fighting...”
“Yes, he was extremely brave” Miroku agreed.
Kagome whirled around and fixed him with a glare. “That wasn't bravery, it was stupidity! Baka Inuyasha! Baka, baka, BAKA!”
Her words froze Inuyasha in his tracks from where he was about to emerge from behind the tree. 'What?! This is the thanks I get for saving her life?!' A scowl began to form on his face as he listened to her until he saw the tears streaming down her face.
“Baka Inuyasha” she sobbed, “how could you leave me?”
Inuyasha moved towards her, his movement drawing Miroku's attention from where he was just about to embrace the distraught girl in order to 'comfort' her. At his glare, Miroku easily took a step back and gestured for the hanyou to proceed. “Keh! Who are you calling a baka?!”
Kagome's head shot up and she stared at the hanyou in front of her. “What? You didn't really think a little fall like that could hurt me, did you?” Her eyes lit up and she lunged forward to embrace him.
Inuyasha flinched a little when she wrapped herself around him before sighing and hesitantly placing his own arms around her body and holding her close as she sobbed into his shoulder.
“I-I thought you were d-dead.” She cried for a few moments longer as she struggled to get her emotions under control. Happiness, relief, and anger warred within her. “Don't scare me like that again!” she ordered as she slapped his chest.
Inuyasha sighed and hugged her a little tighter as he dropped his chin to rest on the top of her head. He ignored Miroku's staring as he breathed in her sweet scent. He'd never admit it, but he had thought he was going to die as well. His nose wrinkled as he detected the scent of her blood. He grasped her chin and tilted it up, peering at the cut on her cheek before he ignored her blush and gently licked it, healing it.
When they finally separated they saw that Toukajin's body was dissolving and the heads on tree had transformed into normal fruit. Miroku explained that with the death of the Peach Man, his spell had been broken and their spirits released, and that those trapped in the miniature garden had probably been returned to normal as he was. Kagome then fussed over his wounds before he grumbled that they would heal. She argued that they had to be treated and reached for her pack only to remember that it and their other supplies were still in Toukajin's lair.
And so they began the climb back up the stairs in order to retrieve their supplies so that they could leave. Kagome wondered aloud as she inspected her new bow “Why was I able to injure him with my arrow? It was the spiritual energy not the arrow that hurt him. But why, if he was human?”
Miroku explained. “I think he was no longer entirely human. He had performed such evil actions that he sacrificed his humanity. I believe that he was slowly turning into a youkai himself.”
His words caused Inuyasha to wonder 'If a human could change into a youkai, was it possible for him to turn full youkai as well?' He couldn't help but feel that it was his human weakness that had led him to be so badly injured. But as he looked at Kagome, he was unsure if he really wanted to change after all. Would she still stay with him if he was a full youkai? He was drawn from his deep thoughts when Miroku turned to face him and asked “Just how did you become a hanyou again, anyway? And why were you human?”
Inuyasha cursed as he realized that another person had learned of his secret as Kagome began to explain. The only thing preventing him from sinking into a foul temper was the feeling of Kagome's hand in his and the relief from the buzzing noise that had been irritating him for so long. It took him a moment to realize that he hadn't heard the sound since shortly before they discovered the heads in the river. As he listened to Kagome speak, he wondered briefly about where the insects had gone before pushing the thought out of his mind.
Now you may be wondering why I decided to include this arc when I didn't really change too many things, even though I did gloss over some parts. There are a number of reasons. One, it is one of my favorites. Two, as I said before, I wanted to keep it as the way that Miroku learned about the new moon. Now I could have just glossed over it and did a summary, but I felt that you deserved to see the characterization and how the relationships differ from canon. Three, has to do with the bow. If you recall from a previous chapter, I had shown that Kagome was different from other miko because her arrows work without a spell already set into them. In this chapter, I showed that she was overloading her weapon, which caused it to snap. She has now gained a new bow which is better able to withstand her magic. Now that I have answered any questions you might have had, please let me know what you think. Sorry it took so long to get out.