InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Unbridled ❯ Fangs of Steel, Story #2 ( One-Shot )
Last updated: March 3, 2006: Fixed grammar and technical consistency errors.
Rating: all ages
Setting: Takes place during the events of episodes 44-45
Summary: Newly-forged Toukijin is running rampant in its blinded pain, and Sesshoumaru must subdue the blade in order to master it.
Disclaimer: Alongside the usual disclaimers (I don't own Inuyasha, blah blah), I'm also disclaiming that I've chosen to use the Viz spelling of Tetsusaiga, because I feel that it helps to differentiate visually between the two swords. Tessaiga and Tenseiga can be easily confused, in my opinion, so I chose to go with the spelling Tetsusaiga. However, that is the only Viz spelling translation I have chosen to go with. The others (Sesshoumaru, Toukijin, Kaijinbou, Toutousai, etc) I chose to keep the way I have out of habit.
I also take some creative and artistic license on the dialogue of the story. Not much -- I try to follow the episodes very closely -- but I do tweak things a little.
Author's note: This story is dedicated to two people: Patriot1776 on fanfiction(dot)net, for inspiring me to continue this story idea; and to my dear friend and cyber-sis DarklessVasion, for being a sounding board, a beta and a whip-cracking slave-driver, forcing me to work on the story when I really just wanted to browse the internet and look at horse pictures. This is for you, Nee-chan! And for everyone else, remember... Reviews make me want to write more!
The wolf never stood a chance. Big as it was, it was no match for a hungry inu-daiyoukai with some frustration to vent. Before it even had a chance to know what had hit it, it had been efficiently slaughtered and its blood and vital organs consumed. Now it lay at the demon lord's feet, an empty husk that needed disposing.
I'd feed this to Aun, if it'd eat it, but the damned thing can't decide whether it wants to eat grass or meat. Feh, I'll just leave this carcass. There are enough scavengers around.
Sesshoumaru flicked the blood from his claws irritably. Feeding was such an inconvenience. But until he reached his father's level, feeding regularly on mammals was a necessity. And to keep the balance of nature in check, he generally hunted large predators. He preferred the forest bears, simply because they had not developed a taste for human flesh. Creatures that preyed on humans, like these wolves did, generally left a foul taste in his mouth afterwards.
He also preferred the large bears because a single adult could provide him with enough nourishment to last him almost a fortnight. But the forest bears in the area were scarce and hard to hunt because they were aware that he hunted them and generally avoided him. It would take too much concentration and effort to bring one of them down; he didn't want to have to transform into his true form - a white dog the size of a mansion - because it was a form that required energy to maintain, and was impractical for hunting.
For once, Sesshoumaru was rather glad he'd sent Jaken ahead to see if Kaijinbou was finished with the sword he'd been commissioned to make. Having the imp around when it came time for the inu-daiyoukai to feed was rather annoying. Jaken tended to spoil a hunt inadvertently with his loudly-voiced, empty praises. Sesshoumaru was quite well aware of his own prowess at hunting. He didn't need Jaken to remind him, not when he was trying to concentrate.
Kaijinbou was famous as a swordmaker, both for his unceremonious dismissal by Toutousai and for his skill at making powerful youkai swords. He was in fact rather more famous than Toutousai himself. The old codger was picky about his clients and ridiculously reclusive. Kaijinbou was much more open to new clients, and if anyone could turn an oni's fangs into a sword worthy of a son of the Inutaishou, it was probably Kaijinbou.
He dipped his hand into the nearby stream to rinse the wolf blood off his claws. He cursed silently as the tip of his right sleeve dipped into the water as well. Without his left hand, it'd be too awkward to wring the water out of the fabric by himself, and he certainly wasn't going to ask Jaken to do it; the damned creature would probably wet himself like a groveling puppy in his excitement. He'd just have to let the sleeve dry on its own.
He hadn't expected it to take him this long to get used to the lack of an arm. Ever since that incident with the human arm lent to him by a baboon-pelt-disguised demon who called himself Naraku, he had decided not to seek a permanent replacement arm. It was simply too much trouble and no replacement stayed intact for very long at all without ill effects afterwards. The dragon's claw he'd used two weeks ago, when he'd confronted his worthless half-brother again, had been a weapon in its own right, rather than a permanent replacement limb. He'd never intended to keep it for long. By that point he'd begun to get used to the absence of his left arm anyway. For the most part he was used to it, but every now and then something happened that served as a jaw-grindingly stark reminder of what underestimating that disgraceful half-breed had cost him.
And the mighty Tetsusaiga, the Steel-Cleaving Fang bequeathed unto Inuyasha by the will of their late mutual sire, chose that stupid half-breed as its master, no less. Sesshoumaru himself had been rejected multiple times by the Steel-Cleaving Fang, a fact which stung every bit as much as the thought that it allowed Inuyasha to touch it -- and now allowed him to see the Kaze no Kizu. The very thought of it made him want to gnash his teeth.
Chichi-ue wielded both blades while he lived. The Tetsusaiga does not reject me because I am a youkai, or it would have rejected Chichi-ue as well. But I do not understand why Tetsusaiga chose Inuyasha.
Tenseiga, the blade at his hip, was a legacy of his sire as well. It was erroneously called a "healing" sword, largely because it was a blade that prevented or reversed death. It did not really heal. His arm was testament to that. The blade of the Fang of Life was otherworldly, or so it claimed, and could not cut or harm any creature of the living world. Its powers lay in its connection with the afterlife. The only healing it was capable of was in the cases of mortal wounds. Flesh wounds and non-life-threatening injuries were beyond its capacities.
As Sesshoumaru walked back to the copse of trees where his little human companion waited, he contemplated the blade his father had left him. Tenseiga was willful, there was no denying it. It was imbued with a soul of its own and a conscience; and in exchange for near invincibility, its chosen master was at its mercy. Sesshoumaru had had no desire for a blade like that, but Chichi-ue had willed it to him, and out of respect and honor for his late sire, he had worn it at his side ever since Chichi-ue died all those decades ago.
He had despised the blade because he believed it was of no use to him. He had not known that the feeling was not mutual; Tenseiga had chosen him as its master. Sesshoumaru had wondered through the long decades following his father's death why Chichi-ue left this blade for him, but it was obvious now that Tenseiga wanted to be with him. Whatever the reasons the Inutaishou had had in giving the blade to his elder son, Tenseiga was content. Why, he did not know. But it was adamant that he was its chosen wielder. And in accepting its help when Tetsusaiga had shown Inuyasha the Kaze no Kizu, nearly destroying Sesshoumaru, he had inadvertently acknowledged Tenseiga's worth, and the sword had forced the bond upon him.
In the end, after a prolonged internal struggle with the blade's will, he'd accepted Tenseiga wholly, to some degree out of duty rather than out of resignation, and the blade, satisfied that he accepted it, had gone dormant. The last thing it had said to him had been "I will sleep now. You have mastered my secrets. The rest is up to you."
It hadn't spoken even once. It was strange, really. Considering how much it had spoken to him during the time he'd engaged battle with it in a battle of wills, its complete silence was puzzling. Perhaps it had lost its ability to communicate with him in words once he had accepted its bond without question. It remained dormant in its scabbard, content to let the world rage chaotically around it. He could feel its presence in the very back of his mind, he knew it was awake and aware of the world, but it remained silent, giving him no reason to think it had an opinion on anything.
Not even when he chose to have a slain oni's fangs made into a sword he hoped would be a rival for Tetsusaiga, had Tenseiga shown any opinion, which puzzled him, frankly. His father had always said the Fang of Life was a strong-willed sword who dictated when it was used. Tenseiga hadn't even protested to being used to temporarily revive the oni's head for the sake Kaijinbou extracting its living fangs.
On the other hand, he felt a prickle of apprehension at the thought of how Tenseiga might react once the new sword was completed. It most likely knew what he had in mind and that he desired a youkai blade to assist in his ascent to power. But once the new blade was completed, there was no guarantee that Sesshoumaru would not have an internal battle on his hands. Kaijinbou was a very skilled swordsmith, and could be trusted to make a sword with a power rivaling anything created by Toutousai. Therefore, the new blade would be powerful and probably would have to some degree a will of its own that would require mastering. Sesshoumaru did not want to have to try to master a new sword whilst fighting the one he had already allowed to bond to him.
Sesshoumaru glanced briefly down at his hip, at the katana hilt that bobbed serenely in time with his steps. Tenseiga was strong and had tried to control him. It had even compelled him to save a human life, insisting that the tiny girl was his "salvation." He didn't know what it meant by this, but Tenseiga brooked no argument on the issue. It was simply nonnegotiable where the girl was concerned, as far as Tenseiga cared.
So now he had a tiny human child to care for, in addition to that annoying toad-imp, and the half-brained dragon-creature that couldn't make up its mind if it was herbivorous, omnivorous or carnivorous. (Part of Sesshoumaru found the creature's inability to decide rather amusing. The rest of him found it aggravating.)
The girl said her name was Rin, and when questioned by Jaken about where she lived, she demurred and said she had nothing. Sesshoumaru had taken it in stride because it was Tenseiga's will, though he'd insisted she find something more decent to wear than the kimono she'd been wearing when she was attacked by the wolves. Since her village was destroyed by the wolves, it hadn't been hard to find something decent for her, without having to pay for anything, as well as without having to deal with humans who would know him for what he was and would either run in fear or foolishly try to kill him. He wasn't sure if Tenseiga would ever allow him to kill a human again, and he hadn't been up to testing the blade's limits right then. Even now he had no desire to see what Tenseiga would let him get away with and what it wouldn't.
"Sesshoumaru-sama! Sesshoumaru-sama!" His attention was wrenched to the here-and-now. Rin was scampering towards him, calling to him. Her voice indicated that she was upset or scared. Immediately his guard went up and he took a sniff of the air to see what the danger was. If his bastard brother found out he had a human in his entourage...
What he smelled puzzled him. It smelled like Aun.
"Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin dove at him. She was downright frightened. She clung to his long draping sleeve - amusingly, it was the sleeve that was wet - and panted at the exertion.
"What is the matter, Rin?" He said, using his calm voice to soothe the frightened girl.
"Aun has returned, my lord."
And this frightens you? Sesshoumaru bit back a snarl of frustration, and an instant later was glad he did, because a shift in the wind brought a new scent to his nose. The girl adored the two-headed dragon creature, so its return shouldn't have upset her. It should have made her happy, as a matter of fact. "Is that all?"
The girl was still catching her breath. "Aun has returned but Jaken-sama is not with him! And Aun won't let Rin get near!" The girl sounded thoroughly spooked. There was something else going on here. "Aun is bleeding too, my lord. I think something terrible has happened to Jaken-sama!"
Ah. So that is why she is scared. Hmm. Something smells out of place here, that is for certain. "Rin, you are to wait here. Do not leave this clearing. I will take care of whatever has happened. I intend to be back by nightfall, and I should be very displeased if you are not waiting here when I return."
That did the trick. His stepping in and taking the issue in hand calmed her instantly. She smarted to attention and rewarded him with that ridiculously addictive smile of hers. It was hard to understand why he found it so appealing to see her smile that way.
"Hai. I will be waiting right here for you, Sesshoumaru-sama. Please be careful."
Feh. Be careful? Like I need to.
The remains of his left arm itched slightly, a subtle reminder to the contrary. Underestimating a situation was foolish at best.
He resisted the urge to pat the girl on the head. She was so damned cute. He gnashed his teeth in frustration at his inner reaction. Human or not, this pup was like all other pups. Puppies were cute for a reason -- so the parents didn't kill them when they misbehaved.
You are a mere puppy in comparison to your father, Tenseiga had once said. That comparison still cut deep.
Sesshoumaru mentally shook the image from his head. This was getting him nowhere. He was still young; his father had been on the leeward side approaching a thousand years of age when he'd died, and the Inutaishou had not been exactly geriatric at the time of his death; middle-aged, perhaps, but not elderly. To be a puppy in comparison to him was no shame. It just meant he had a distance of ground yet to cover in terms of power.
Casting around for the two-headed dragon he'd tamed, Sesshoumaru caught the creature's scent and followed the scent trail to where the creature hunkered miserably just outside the copse of trees. Its left head was wild-eyed and frantic. The right head listed awkwardly. As Sesshoumaru approached the young animal, it caught his scent and lowed petulantly, reminding him of a frightened puppy.
What he saw next astonished him, so much so that his jaw unhinged for a moment.
Aun's right neck was ripped wide open and badly bleeding. The bridle on the right head was mangled and the eyes of the right head were glassy. It was dead. The left head was still alive and panicked.
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes, brushing his hand across Tenseiga's hilt. Tenseiga, lend me your sight. You must be able to heal this. This creature didn't deserve this.
Tenseiga didn't react at all, so he took the chance and drew the blade, holding it out and studying its slender edge. Tenseiga? Is this beyond your help? There was no response from Tenseiga itself but the world around Sesshoumaru grew dark and mysterious, and he saw the imp-like pallbearers of the afterlife. With a sweep of the Fang of Life across the dead portion of Aun's body, he dispelled the grotesque creatures, resisting the urge to flinch as they uttered an otherworldly, disembodied howl upon disappearing.
The right head stirred. Sesshoumaru pressed the flat of Tenseiga's blade against the gaping wounds, silently imploring for Tenseiga to escalate the dragonet's healing.
Tenseiga buzzed his hand a bit, sending an uncomfortably tingle up his fingers. It was refusing to help any more. Apparently Aun would be just fine. Well, it was a bit much to ask of the blade, he supposed.
Sheathing Tenseiga, he took a deep whiff of the air surrounding the dragonet. It smelled like Kaijinbou's swampy hovel. The weapon that had laid open such a ghastly wound on the dragonet had to have been a demon-blade. It fairly radiated the jyaki of a youkai-blade. And its jyaki must have been very strong, to have left this much damage from a single blow.
A sudden feeling of misgiving filled him. I think I may have overestimated Kaijinbou. He seized the bridle of the dragonet's left head and focused on its eyes. Tell me what happened!
Aun brayed in despair but obediently transmitted images of what it could understand had happened. Sesshoumaru caught stray images of the hut bathed in an ugly red light, and then unexplainable images of fear, followed by what looked like Kaijinbou himself, holding a broadsword in his hands, his eyes glowing red with maddened possession. And then the right head ceased to remember anything, and the left head only remembered that it desired to escape.
So Kaijinbou made a sword that could not be controlled? Is it the wrath of the demon that was slain by Inuyasha that drives the blade? I must see this for myself. You will take me there, Aun.
Aun warbled in fear but a quick jerk on the reins convinced it to behave itself, and it allowed its master to mount. Sesshoumaru jerked upward on the reins, signaling the creature to lift skyward. For a moment the dragonet resisted, but then it did as asked.
This place reeks of death and slaughter, more so than ever before. I cannot imagine any youkai with any intelligence wanting to live in such a rancid environment. This stench is at least three times worse than it was when I commissioned the sword of Kaijinbou three days ago.
Sesshoumaru shrugged aside the wrecked shoji door covering and stepped into the dark hut. The first thing to hit him was that the rank smell of the area quadrupled inside the hut.
The next thing he noticed was that Jaken was in two pieces on the floor. Drawn in half, on the diagonal from his left shoulder to his right hip. Eyes still open with a dazed, disbelieving, uncomprehending look. The death was fresh.
He killed my retainer in one swing. Jaken didn't even see what was coming. That bastard didn't want to sell the blade after all, eh?
Tenseiga tickled the back of Sesshoumaru's mind, as if to say "Remember me?"
Tenseiga, why won't you speak to me? You were so free to speak two weeks ago.
Sesshoumaru waited a few heartbeats to see if the blade would respond, but there was nothing. Finally, he put his hand to its hilt. Will you lend me your sight, Tenseiga?
The sword emitted a very faint but pleasant humming, not so unlike a tender caress, up his arm. Tenseiga was giving him permission to use it. For a moment, he thought he heard a voice in the back of his mind chuckle "You didn't ask to use me before."
He narrowed his eyes slightly as his vision altered; Tenseiga had taken over his eyes and lent him its otherworldly sight. There. A graceful arc through the air and the Fang of Life passed through the messengers of the afterlife, reducing them to nothing and returning them to their own world. His eyes silently screamed at the great scythe of blue light seared his inner lenses -- or did it? Was it merely illusion? -- as the otherworldly sweeping flame of the blade reached its maximum potency. Then, to his surprise, he found the momentum turning him physically. Perhaps he'd swung a little too hard? He found himself staring at the ruins of Kaijinbou's shoji doorway, instead of at the back wall.
Bizarrely, he felt the fur stole settle into place from the sudden motion, as if that was an important thing... why was he paying attention to what his clothing did?
Jaken stirred. Sesshoumaru dimly heard the imp recounting as if to himself -- perhaps he hadn't looked to see he wasn't alone in the hut? -- what had happened.
"We're going, Jaken," he said firmly, as Tenseiga tickled the muscles of his arm, reminding him that he still had it drawn, that he could sheathe it now. "Pull yourself together quickly."
Tenseiga seemed to chuckle in the back of his mind, and Sesshoumaru indulged himself in a mental groan of loathing for the tactless, tasteless and all-together unintended pun.
"Sesshoumaru-sama! Did you... did you save me with your Tenseiga?"
Annoyance. Pure annoyance. "Who else but me has such powers? Has Kaijinbou finished the sword?"
"Hai, Sesshoumaru-sama. Kaijinbou did finish the sword of the oni's fang, and it looked magnificent, what I saw of it. But his eyes... he was not himself. He seemed possessed of the oni's spirit."
"Hmph," Sesshoumaru blinked very slowly, digesting this information, and noting abstractly that the wolf-blood and -organs he'd consumed earlier seemed to have gone sour in his stomach. "As I suspected." He started toward the door, thinking to himself, You stupid imp, I won't tell you a second time to come along.
There was something different about the smell of the vicinity of the copse of trees where he'd left Rin. For a moment he wondered if he'd made a mistake, if he shouldn't have left her entirely alone. He couldn't take her with him to Kaijinbou's home, the shouki of the area would have killed her -- only youkai could withstand the shouki of the area -- but maybe he should have left Aun with her. Nevertheless, Tenseiga was quiet. Rin was likely still okay or the sword would have screamed at him.... at least, he thought it would, since it had insisted the girl was his saving grace.
Jaken was nattering on and on about how annoying it was that Kaijinbou had made off with the sword -- As if we hadn't already established that the sword was possessing him, you moron? Sesshoumaru thought idly, annoyed at the imp's ceaseless chatter -- and where could he have gone, when Rin noticed them approaching and jumped to her feet, running gleefully toward them.
As she left the light of the campfire, the feeling of foreboding reached breaking point, and Sesshoumaru halted. "Stop, Rin. Do not move."
There, in the trees behind her. Sesshoumaru gathered his energy for a leap, feeling the dragonet behind him react as well to the faint youki of the creature in the trees. He launched up and arced over the tiny camp, cocking his claws and sending a rush of poison-energy at the trees, slashing them down and revealing their secret stowaway...
"A woman?" he found himself musing aloud.
Jaken sniffed the air tentatively, and then nattered on about that incident with the human arm, as if Sesshoumaru honestly needed reminding. He also felt a stab of acute irritation that Jaken had thought he had seriously been in danger of being consumed by a mere human's arm.
"I recall this scent. It is the same as that coward Naraku who tried to trick and trap me." Blah. That was bland. Why did I say that?
The woman sized him up. She held a closed fan in her hands and her striped kimono was intriguing only because the colors seemed riotous. "Hmm? You must be Inuyasha's elder brother, Sesshoumaru, am I right? Such a handsome man."
She flatters me. I despise empty flattery.
He thought he could hear Tenseiga laughing at him.
"I am the wind-user, Kagura," the woman said coyly. "I am a bunshin of Naraku."
"Indeed. And the fangs you gave to the swordmaker, the fangs of the oni called Goshinki, came from another bunshin of Naraku."
Audacious wench. "So what? Did you come all this way to tell me this?" Did you think I give a damn about you or your connection to Naraku?
The woman, Kagura, smirked and clicked her fan open, coyly hiding her mouth behind it. "Do you not smell it? The sword Toukijin, born of the fangs and hatred of Goshinki, is very close."
Then suddenly, to accentuate her claim as a wind-user, she called up a whirlwind and soared into the air, riding on a huge feather. Glancing over her shoulder and down at him, the coy wench pertly added; "The sword Toukijin is yours, if you can claim it!"
She veered up out of sight, and he felt his blood warm with annoyance.
"What a show off! Such a suspicious woman!" Jaken said, scrambling to Sesshoumaru's side.
As an afterthought, Sesshoumaru looked over his shoulder to see Rin still frozen in place. She obeyed his commands quite well, he was pleased to note. "Rin. You may move now."
"Hai!" she said with a laugh and stretched her limbs joyously. Her antics were so like a puppy.
She is indeed very cute, Sesshoumaru indulged himself in the thought. Then he looked skyward, noticing that the wind had altered direction and now carried the scent that he suspected belonged to the sword he sought.
"Toukijin..." he rolled the name off his tongue, pleasantly surprised to find that its name pleased him.
Curiously, thunderclouds seemed to follow Aun all the way to where the sword seemed to be. It'd better not rain. I despise getting wet. And it makes this pelt stink.
Sesshoumaru glanced back over his shoulder where Rin and Jaken both balanced. Rin was chattering on to Jaken about something and the imp was annoyed by it. Sesshoumaru found the girl's voice nowhere near as irritating as Jaken's, and found Jaken's annoyance to be highly entertaining. Serves you right, pest. There are times I want to skin you out of sheer irritation.
Then on the wind he caught another scent. What? Why?
He frowned as Aun floated to a halt in the sky. The sword is rank. It is... it must be in pain. Aun, he directed of the dragonet with a telepathic spear, interrupt its raging. One head arched upwards, as if staving off the thunder around them. The other head belched out a stream of lighting down toward the sword, bathing the blade in hot-blue flames.
Sesshoumaru patted the dragonet's shoulder. The creature required reassurance occasionally or else it became fractious and difficult to control. Then, glancing over his shoulder to make sure that Jaken and Rin were stationary, he leaped off the dragonet and arced his way to the ground. He saw in front of him, about equidistant from the sword as he was, but on the other side, his deplorable half-brother and the humans who tagged along. Not only that, but there was also the old codger Toutousai. Toutousai freaked out and hid behind Inuyasha immediately.
"What the hell are you doing here, Sesshoumaru?" Inuyasha growled.
"Those are my lines, all I did was follow this sword."
Sesshoumaru took that moment to probe the blade telepathically. Immediately he was assailed by a searing bloodlust and anger, and an overwhelming desire to bathe in the blood of the half-demon who had slain "him".... So this is Goshinki? Quite the senseless murdering machine.
"It seems, Inuyasha, that the demon you recently slew was so vengeful that even after its remains were forged into a sword, it still seeks revenge."
Another telepathic probe into the mind of the blade brought a wave of anger and frustration.
Who are you?!
I am your master.
I have no master, I am your master!
Draw me and let me bathe in that hanyou's blood! Draw me now!
You can do nothing when no one touches you. Be careful who you order around. This Sesshoumaru does not take orders from a blade.
Sesshoumaru caught stray snatches of speech amongst the miserable half-breed's group. They were wondering how he knew what Toukijin was forged of.
"The one who commissioned the sword of Kaijinbou was me," he said imperiously, silently gloating at the pole-axed expressions on everyone's faces.
"Sesshoumaru, I implore you, do not touch that blade! If you touch it, it will overpower you! Not even you can handle its overwhelming jyaki!" Toutousai peeked out from behind the hanyou, too scared to face the inu-daiyoukai on his own. Foolish coward.
Sesshoumaru felt his mouth curl up in a sneer as he took three steps toward the blade. As he did, he fired a bolt of sheer telepathic power at the blade. Submit to me or I will turn you into dust.
He reached out and firmly clasped the rolled-leather grip, drawing the blade from the earth.
Toukijin screamed in his mind. A wordless, soundless, all-consuming scream of pure unbridled hostility, shot through with echoes of pain. It made his very bones resonate with its intensity. It was like a banshee, except that only Sesshoumaru could hear it.
Sesshoumaru blinked a moment, wondering idly who had spoken, even as he heard his own voice say, cockily, "Just who do you take me for?" to the group who stared in awe.
Toukijin screamed on, trying to overpower him with its youki, but he was having none of it. He'd faced dragons and oni before. A simple blade with a bad attitude was nothing.
Then he felt his left hip hum a little bit as Tenseiga roared to full awareness. Toukijin hesitated a moment, before turning its aggression on the older sword.
Silence, you inferior piece of scrap metal!
In the blink of an eye, Tenseiga had added its powers to his own, and had completely subdued Toukijin.
Sesshoumaru felt his brain falter. I still don't understand how it happened. But somehow...
"It appears that this sword has chosen its master. Inuyasha, draw your sword. I wish to ascertain something about you."
"About me?" Inuyasha asked suspiciously.
Sesshoumaru refrained from snorting; Your blood smelt pure when I found the oni. But you cannot have pure demon blood. I wish to see what it is that made the area smells as though you had become true demon.
He noted with detached amusement that Inuyasha's friends were trying to convince him to not fight. He took that moment to reinforce his dominance over Toukijin, sensing that the blade was not convinced.
Toukijin, I am your master now. Serve me well, and I will use you to slay that half-demon you hate so much. Defy me and I will reduce you to dust.
Tenseiga had become quiet in its sheath, but he could feel its presence, wrestling internally with Toukijin for supremacy. He briefly imagined the two swords as dogs, and Tenseiga had Toukijin flipped over on its back, with its throat in Tenseiga's jaws. Toukijin didn't want to submit, but had no choice.
You will have no chances for the revenge you seek unless you serve me.
Very well. Command me.
"Come at me, Inuyasha. Or if you will not, I will come for you."
What is your secret, Toukijin? What is your strength?
Without waiting for the blade's response, he launched himself at Inuyasha. Inuyasha drew Tetsusaiga, but with some apparent difficulty, and parried the blow. For a prolonged moment, it seemed that they were even; and then, Toukijin decided to accept the contract.
I will show you, Master, what I can do.
The world seemed to slow down into extremely slow-motion. Sesshoumaru became acutely aware of each moment as Toukijin grew incandescently bright and forceful.
I am born of the Mind-Reader Goshinki. I command telepathy and telekinesis.
The air around Toukijin suddenly streamlined and became knife-edged. The very pressure of the blade had become a weapon of its own. A hundred tiny lacerations appeared on Inuyasha's clothing and on his exposed skin. Then the sword's pressure-blades overwhelmed the weak hanyou, hurling him backwards.
Impressive. Sesshoumaru gave the sword a telepathic nod of approval as he watched Inuyasha stagger to his feet. But why does he behave this way? He acts as though it is a chore to wield Tetsusaiga.
Tetsusaiga was broken by the oni. It has been reforged and requires new mastery. That was clearly Tenseiga.
So, Tenseiga, you remembered how to talk to me?
I never lost the ability. I have simply had nothing to say until now.
Ah. How convenient for you, Sesshoumaru thought with a snort. Curious. I smell only a hanyou from the weakling; and yet, I'm certain that his blood changed when he fought Goshinki.
Toukijin seized his eyes in that moment and forced him to relive Goshinki's final moments. In the sword's memory, there was something alien about Inuyasha's mind. His scent had changed too. There was indeed something different about Inuyasha in the moment that he struck down Goshinki, but what had caused it?
Whatever it means, this change in blood, I must see for myself.
And why does he stand there staring at me? "What is the matter, Inuyasha? Have you changed your tactics? You usually dive in headfirst, swinging your sword around ridiculously. Have you grown weak?"
"Shut up! I'll kill you!" Inuyasha heaved the blade up -- Is it too heavy for him now? -- and lunged. Sesshoumaru blocked the strike, noticing how wearied Inuyasha looked. The two blades clashed with dramatic show of lights, and Sesshoumaru noticed that Inuyasha was breathing heavily.
"Oh? Has Tetsusaiga become a little heavy for you?"
"It's a lot heavier, you bastard, now shut up!"
"Humph," Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes marginally at his hated half-breed sibling. "If you cannot wield the blade, you are better off without it!" He left himself wide open for this move, the fool! He shoved sideways and threw all his power into the blow.
Tetsusaiga went wheeling through the air, and Inuyasha was knocked back by Toukijin's blade-pressure.
He should learn how to fight with a blade, but he refuses. He disgraces Chichi-ue's honorable memory. He insists on using the blade as though it is another fang or claw. The fool! Fang though it may be, Tetsusaiga is still a sword and must be treated as such!
The son of a great general can't even wield a sword properly. And the sword is so stupid it choses a half-witted halfbreed with no talent. There is no dearth of irony in the fates.
Inuyasha looked up at him, then over at his own sword, implanted into the ground, and back at Sesshoumaru. He radiated hatred.
I wonder what he plans to do? He cannot use the Kaze no Kizu if he cannot wield the blade properly.
To Sesshoumaru's complete disbelief, the hanyou charged him barehanded.
Is he serious?
The hanyou didn't stop to grab Tetsusaiga. He clearly fully intended to attack using claws alone.
Well, Toukijin, here is your chance. Show me your ougi.
Hold me level, Toukijin instructed. Aim me directly for him, for maximum effect. Make as if to run him through on me. Now, give me power.
Sesshoumaru fed the blade a tendril of his powers, and felt Toukijin seize it greedily. Then, sparks flashed from the flat of the blade as Toukijin surged forward with its telekinesis. Lightning erupted from the point and surrounded Inuyasha, and the pressure-blades pelted the hanyou relentlessly, throwing him back.
The attack wasn't bad at all, but it lacked the fatal blow he'd hoped for.
Beware, Sesshoumaru heard the Fang of Life say to him. That sword is not able to destroy him whose death you seek. If it is a question of which is greater, there is no question, for Tetsusaiga will always be greater than Toukijin. Use Toukijin if you must, but do not expect it to be Tetsusaiga's rival, nor its equal. Tetsusaiga has no equal.
"I understand. It is enough." He does not have Tetsusaiga now. If what you say is correct, Tenseiga, it does not matter now because he does not have Tetsusaiga.
He lunged forward, feeling Toukijin urge him on, seeking the hanyou's death. Still, he measured his strides, keeping his pace even and unhurried. I must see this transformation for myself.
Inuyasha crouched down suddenly, and the wind changed directions. A sense of foreboding caught Sesshoumaru by the collar.
And his heart stopped. For just a moment, his heart stopped beating.
And then Toutousai interfered. The old bastard belched forth a huge flame, effectively separating Sesshoumaru from his prey. Toukijin growled at the interruption, but Tenseiga gave it a mental slap to put it in its place.
His blood changed. What does it mean? He's a half-demon -- how can his blood smell so pure? And why.... why did my heart feel such...
He heard Jaken behind him, dimly wondering why the imp was on the ground instead of with Rin and Aun. He ignored the little pest and got his emotions under control.
That for an instant, this Sesshoumaru felt a twinge of fear, because of an unarmed hanyou....
Inuyasha, I won't forget that!
Author's Afterword: Vocabulary
bunshin is what Naraku creates, sometimes called "an incarnation" or "progeny" and indicates something created (presumably asexually) from something else. (I italicized this word to indicate its demonic nature)
jyaki is evil presence; often called a demonic aura or evil aura (Italics indicate its demonic nature)
ougi is a weapon's ultimate technique (at least that's what I heard...)
shoji is the bamboo-like door covering on fuedal era huts. Out of habit, I did not italicize this word.
shouki is demonic poison; often called "miasma" (I italicized this word to indicate its demonic nature)
youki is a demon's power aura (Italics indicate its demonic nature)