Crossover Fan Fiction / InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ The Journey to the City of Endless Night ❯ Chapter Eighty-Nine ( Chapter 89 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Disclaimer: I do not own either Inuyasha or the Belgariad/Malloreon series. Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi/VIZ and the Belgariad/Malloreon belongs to David Eddings/DEL Rey. There is absolutely no profit being made from this story. It merely fulfills a curiosity of mine---and a desire to keep some really old friends around for as long as possible. Please do not sue.

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Chapter Eighty-Nine

A strong but soothing cadence skittered across Kagome's awareness. It thrummed in her ears, keeping her in the span between sleep and consciousness. Kagome felt as if she could float in its rhythm forever. Its familiarity made her feel safe and loved. The gentle thump-thump under her ear lulled her, making her lips upturn in a small smile.

Strong arms held her, adding to the security she felt. Legs wrapped around her own, cocooning Kagome from the world. Through the fabric of her dress, rough hands gently rubbed circles on her back. Fingers threaded through her hair, the action tender. A soft kiss, almost imperceptible, brushed her temple.

The scent of the wild forest filled Kagome's nose. It smelled pure and clean. She took a deep, contented breath, drinking it in. Underlying the earthy smell, she noted the soft floral scent so imprinted upon her memory. The Sacred Tree blossoms subtly blended with the musky and spicy scent. Shifting her head, Kagome brushed her nose against bare skin.

She left an open-mouthed kiss on Inuyasha's pulse point and complimented sleepily, “You smell good.”

Inuyasha shifted, exposing more of his throat. He growled huskily, his clawed fingers tangling into her hair. “So you've said, wench.”

Opening her eyes, Kagome looked up towards Inuyasha. She nuzzled her nose under his chin, inhaling more of his untamed scent. The tent interior seemed dim, casting shadows on her mate's face. She yawned and looped her arms around his neck. She asked softly, “What time is it?”

“Late afternoon,” Inuyasha replied. “You slept the whole day away, wench.”

“I did?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn't you wake me?”

“And risk dealing with a cranky you? I don't think so.” His voice reverberated in her ears.

“But we're on a deadline to reach that Ashaba place.”

“We are, but we're still waiting on Sango and Miroku.”

The battle came back to Kagome. She gasped, “What about Shippo?”

“He's fine. Polgara has him scrubbing every pot in her packs.” Inuyasha laughed softly. “It kept him busy---and it let you sleep.”

“But isn't he supposed to be under Sesshomaru's care?” Kagome asked, idly drawing designs with her finger on Inuyasha's shoulder.

“Yes, but I think it'd be best to keep the whelp occupied for now. Sesshomaru doesn't need him underfoot, trust me.” Inuyasha hugged her close. “You just relax, Kagome. Everybody's fine.”

Kagome lifted her head, her eyes meeting Inuyasha's burnished gold. Her brows furrowed as she noticed the strange blue halo crowning his head. She pushed herself to sit up, stunned that this aura surrounded her mate. It fluctuated around him, flares arcing towards her. The color deepened to a rich sapphire. Tentatively, Kagome outstretched a hand, yearning to touch it.

Inuyasha sat up, his ears erect in worry. “Kagome?”

Transfixed, Kagome watched the blue light ripple around Inuyasha. It cast his silver mane in a cerulean shadow. It danced and flickered around him, enchanting her. The brilliance of her hanyou's demonic aura only made him all the more beautiful. Its strength belied the power she knew his firm body possessed. Staring intently at its radiance, she couldn't help but feel safe.

Kagome brushed the aura with a finger before resting her open palm over Inuyasha's. A soft rose light flared to life around her own, leaving her awestruck. Captivated, she watched as the two auras seethed, pushing against one another. They swirled, dueling for dominance. Kagome interlaced their fingers, watching pink and blue twist together.

The longer their hands clasped, the more their auras blended together. With a sigh, Kagome saw the instant they melded together into one. Their hands took on a brilliant violet. As their auras united, a wondrous peace settled over her. Kagome gasped, a jolt of electricity shooting down her spine as  Inuyasha's power melded with hers. Everything took on a vibrant amethyst hue. Kagome realized that their combined auras had blanketed them both.

Kagome's eyes fell shut as she allowed herself to bask. It felt right---pure---as if they should have mingled their auras together ages ago. A soft chime cascaded in her ears, enhancing the joy Kagome felt as their power converged and became one. Absently, she realized that their auras had intertwined like this once before---the first time she and Inuyasha had made love. This time, however, was longer. It allowed Kagome to feel intimately connected to her mate on a spiritual level.

A rough palm cupped her cheek and a clawed thumb gently brushed her ear. “Kagome? Are you alright?”

Kagome opened her eyes, her gaze meeting Inuyasha's. She still saw him through a violet haze, indicating that their auras still merged. She saw concern etch across Inuyasha's face, a tight frown gracing his lips. She leaned into his hand, smiling to reassure him.

Inuyasha gasped, and his eyes went wide. He whispered, “Kagome, your eyes---,”

“My eyes? What about them?” Kagome's nose crinkled.

Inuyasha let go of her hand, cupping her face in both palms. He said, his voice full of wonder, “They're gold---like mine.”

Kagome gasped. “They are?”

With their hands unlaced, their auras dissolved. It left Kagome feeling cut off from Inuyasha---like a barrier had been placed between them. She sighed, the sound petulant.

Inuyasha's ears twitched and his brows furrowed in concern. “Now they're not. What happened?”

“Didn't---didn't you see our auras just now?” Kagome asked softly.

“No.” He brushed hair away from her face, tucking it behind an ear. Inuyasha asked gently, “Are you alright, Kagome?”

Kagome gently brushed her fingertips across one of his cheeks. She petted one of his ears and whispered, “It was beautiful, Inuyasha. You had a blue aura crowning your head, and mine was rose. They became violet once they merged. I felt so safe and loved.”

“You don't make any sense, woman.” Inuyasha's eyes searched her face, their gold depths swirling with worry. “You're scaring me, Kagome.”

Kagome gently cupped Inuyasha's face in her hands. She kissed him, the action sweet and tender. Leaning her forehead onto his, she whispered, “I'm fine, Inuyasha.”

Guilt dulled his golden eyes as he averted them. A tight frown crossed his lips. Inuyasha whispered, “Kagome, I'm sorry---,”

Kagome put a finger to his lips, refusing to hear him berate himself. She said firmly, “I'm fine, Inuyasha. Those Grolims got exactly what they deserved---and I'd do it again if it meant saving you. We're mates, and that means we look out for each other. Always. Got it?”

A small smile crossed his face, and he meekly replied, “Yes, Kagome.”

Before she could question his demure reaction, a slight prick stung her cheek. She instinctively slapped it, finding a squished Myoga in her palm. The flea complained, “Such is the life of a flea.”

“Myoga, just what do you think you're doing? You can't feed on my mate, you little parasite,” Inuyasha growled.

“Inuyasha-sama!” Myoga protested. “It was all with good reason, I assure you.”

“Right.” Inuyasha's ears twitched in irritation. “Explain just why you're intruding on us---and make it a good reason or I'll flatten you.”

“Inuyasha, be nice,” Kagome chided her hanyou half-heartedly.

“Inuyasha-sama, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't important.” The flea turned towards Kagome, bowing. “Forgive me, Kagome-sama, but I had to taste your blood to confirm something.”

“My blood?” Kagome asked, frowning. “What about it?”

“Yes. It's stronger,” Myoga replied. “Just like your aura. It's what drew me here, actually.”

“Her aura?” Inuyasha asked, his ears perking up. “You saw it just now?”

“Yes, Inuyasha-sama.” Myoga nodded. “It's stronger than any other miko's I've ever met.”

“It is?” Kagome asked nervously. She gasped. “Wait. You saw it? I did, too.”

“Yes, Kagome-sama.” The flea peered up at her. “I'm not surprised that you could.”

“But I also saw Inuyasha's---and our auras mingled,” Kagome said softly. “Inuyasha didn't see it. Why?”

“It's all rather simple, Kagome-sama. Your power just grew, and you're highly sensitive now. If he had been concentrating, Inuyasha-sama would have seen it, too.” Myoga turned towards Inuyasha. “Remember, Inuyasha-sama, what I told you after your last transformation?”

“What about it?” Inuyasha asked, his expression confused. He scratched an ear. “Thought this had to do with Kagome, not me.”

“Remember how I told you that your demon side would no longer devour your human heart?” Myoga asked, his many arms crossed over his chest.

“Inuyasha?” Kagome asked, wonder in her voice. “Is this true? Why didn't you tell me?”

Inuyasha rubbed the back of his neck. “I meant to, honestly. But then I got distracted, and well---,”

“Distracted by what exactly?” Kagome asked warily.

A deep blush colored Inuyasha's cheeks, and he averted his eyes. “Not in front of the flea, woman!”

Kagome blushed. She remembered how he had transformed again after smelling Koga on her skirt. It had been a lust-filled blur after that. She whispered, “Oh.”

“Yeah. Oh,” Inuyasha replied. He leaned slightly forward to be eye level with Myoga. “You were saying, flea?”

“Ah, yes. Where were we? I told you that your demon self would no longer devour your human heart because of your mating to Kagome-sama.” The flea looked between them. He pointed at Inuyasha. “I also told you that she would gain, too. It would seem, Kagome-sama, that your miko powers have grown stronger after becoming Inuyasha-sama's mate.”

“Okay. I kinda understand Inuyasha's demon not being able to consume his heart,” Kagome said, her eyes trained on the tiny flea. “But why would my power get stronger? I don't get it.”

“Simple, Kagome-sama.” Myoga struck a tiny fist into one of his palms. “Your miko powers had to be equal to the strength of Inuyasha-sama's demon side for the two of you to balance. I believe they were prior to your mating, but in the aftermath, it means your power will unlock more and more. The more you bond with Inuyasha-sama, the more likely that you can tap into recesses of it than ever before. Last night's display proved that.”

Inuyasha asked, “Is this because we accepted each other, Myoga? You said if either of us hadn't, one of us would become an ordinary human.”

“Precisely, Inuyasha-sama.” Myoga jumped onto Inuyasha's finger. He peered up at him, a serious expression on his tiny face. “Your demon blood is impressively strong. You inherited it from your majestic father, the Inu no Tashio. To find a miko that could match that strength---and accept it---is rare.”

Kagome's eyes met Inuyasha's. She said, “Of course I accept Inuyasha---just as he is. I wouldn't want him any other way. He's my hanyou.” She leaned forward, giving him a gentle kiss. Pulling away, the young woman looked down at Myoga. “I get that we balance, and I understand that we had to have equal strength, but I don't understand something. Why now? We've been mates for awhile now. Why didn't my power strengthen sooner?”

“That's hard to say, Kagome-sama,” Myoga replied. “My guess, is much like Inuyasha-sama's demon half, it needed time and a push. When Koga threatened his claim, his two sides agreed, giving him far more control and awareness while transformed. I think protecting him last night gave your powers the justification to increase.”

The tent flap lifted and Polgara peeked inside. She had her black medical bag in her hands. “I see that you're awake, Kagome. I heard voices and thought I'd check on you. You gave us quite the scare last night, dear.”

Kagome bit her lip. “I don't mean to, Lady Polgara.”

“I know you didn't, dear.” Polgara opened her bag. “Any more fatigue? Do you feel stretched too thin or anything?”

“No.” Kagome shook her head. “I feel just fine.”

“Her spiritual power should be restored and stabilized, Polgara-sama,” Myoga interjected. “Now that she's used that level of sacred power, Kagome-sama should be able to use it without fatigue. She needed to rest so her body could adjust.”

Polgara blinked, looking down at the flea. An amused expression crossed her face. “I see. Speaking of this sacred power, perhaps you can explain it to me.”

The sorceress mixed two different liquids together into a small glass. It fizzled a moment. She offered it to Kagome, her expression brokering no argument. “Drink, dear. I want to be certain that your vitality is truly restored.”

It smelled foul, and Inuyasha held a sleeve to his nose. “Why does it smell so fucking bad?”

“Medicine always does.”

Kagome sucked in air before guzzling it down quickly. Some of the putrid tonic lodged in her throat. Swallowing, she managed to down all the medicine, even if it seemed to coat her tongue in a gross film. “Awful.”

“Now, Myoga, you were going to explain things?” Polgara asked, a satisfied smile on her face.

“Remind me to never get sick, Kagome,” Inuyasha whispered in her ear. “Polgara's cure seems worse.”

Kagome giggled softly. “Inuyasha---,”

“Certainly, Polgara-sama.” The flea jumped to one of Polgara's fingers. “A miko, simply put, is a Shinto priestess. She protects a village, a shrine, or object from evil or demonic forces. She does this by drawing upon spiritual power. In Kagome-sama's case, she protects or is the rightful guardian of the Sacred Jewel. To be able to do that, her power must be immense in order to keep it pure.”

“Yes. I understand. How does she use it, however?” Polgara asked. “She must learn how to draw upon it with better control after last night.”

“I agree, Polgara-sama.” Myoga cleared his throat. “Kagome-sama happens to have great abilities to purify---all in relation to her duty to protect the Sacred Jewel. That power is directly tied to her kind soul. Take for example her ability to accept Inuyasha-sama as a hanyou. This is the foundation for her power. Others may call upon righteousness or justice or an inner calm to achieve the same result. It is in acceptance and love that allows Kagome-sama to purify tainted objects and other threats to the jewel. Note that not all demons are evil---and yet her power is effective on all of them.”

“I see.” Polgara's eyes became slate with concentration. “So this power, much like the Will and the Word, is constantly there, waiting for intent and focus.”

“Yes.” Myoga nodded. “Kagome-sama is capable of purifying without much effort. A mere touch can restore one shard of the Jewel, for instance. For Kagome-sama, her power is strongest when those she loves are in danger. She is the equal to or far more formidable than even the strongest of demons. She has to be in order to protect the Jewel from darkness.”

Kagome blushed and bit her lip. “I'm not sure I'm all that you say, Myoga. I'm not all that.”

“Nonsense, Kagome-sama.” The flea glanced towards her. “You've proven your strength several times. You've just never tried to use it when not facing a crisis or highly emotional moment. Most miko with any spiritual power train from an early age, ready to assist with any ritual necessary to counter evil.”

“I guess I like being unconventional, then?” Kagome laughed weakly.

Polgara looked towards Kagome. “Dear, when you use that power, what does it feel like? How do you know you're drawing upon it?”

Inuyasha shifted behind her, wrapping his arms and legs around her in a supportive hug. She leaned her head onto his shoulder and closed her eyes. “It---it feels like I'm pouring all of this energy into my arrow---as if all the evil a demon or evil person is doing can be countered by some good. I guess I've never really thought about it before. There's usually this feeling of it building inside, and it all flows out into that one point. Depending on how angry I am at the moment, it'll determine just how much impact it'll have.”

“Interesting.” The dark-haired sorceress furrowed her brows. “Does it feel like you're tingling or anything?”

“No.” Kagome pursed her lips. “I guess when I prepare my arrow, it feels sort of cold. Maybe it's purifying energy or something, but it seems to concentrate all of its focus on my arrow and flows out. Usually, it's so fast that I don't really notice it, you know?”

“I see.” Polgara tucked her white lock of hair behind her left ear. “I think practicing archery will make it easier to call upon that power no matter your emotions. The goal should be to make it automatic---a muscle memory, if you will. It'll also help with how much power you use. Perhaps we can set up some butts to help you in the coming days.”

“You think so?” Kagome asked. “I don't want to delay our progress, knowing we have a deadline. Belgarath---,”

“Never you mind handling the Old Wolf. I'll take care of him. You need to learn this power so we'll make time,” Polgara said, a slight smile crossing her face. “It'll all work out, dear.”

“Belgarath!” A gruff voice shouted. “We're back!”

Polgara stood, peeking outside. “Uncle. You're late.”

“Don't take that tone with me, Polgara,” the gruff voice growled teasingly. “You have supper on the fire or have you been sitting on your fat behind the whole time we were gone?”

“Be civil, uncle.” A fondness colored her rich voice. “What was the delay?

“We had a side adventure after ol' piebald and his Demon Lord left Mal Yaska in a hurry.” He laughed, the sound like a sharp bark. “It's a shame they couldn't have stayed longer. Urvon and I were having a lively debate about the pros and cons of white-hot hooks. Upside? Mal Yaska's been destroyed. Now, where is Belgarath? My brother better not drink all the ale without me.”

Kagome glanced back towards Inuyasha. She whispered, “I wonder what side trip he's talking about. Who is that?”

A sour expression crossed Inuyasha's face. His nose wrinkled and his ears pinned to his head. “I think I know.”

“Who?”

“Remember that smelly dwarf?” Inuyasha sucked in some air, holding his breath. He held a sleeve under his nose. “He hasn't bathed, and I can smell him just like he's in this tent. Disgusting.”

“Oh.” She bit a thumbnail. “Wait. Where did Feldegast go?”

Inuyasha sneezed loudly. “I think---I think he is Feldegast.”

“Define side adventure, uncle,” Polgara said crisply. She stepped fully outside, the tent flap falling behind her. “The Old Wolf is busy. Now, what's with the wagon?”

“Oh, yes. The wagon.” The dwarf cleared his throat. “Our monk had a slight mishap. He decided to experiment with demons and that hole in his hand. The results are spectacularly bad. I don't recommend that he do it again. Ever.”

Kagome gasped. She slipped from Inuyasha's grip and burst through the tent flap. In the waning afternoon sun, she spotted the wagon. Orange light shrouded the figures sitting on the bench in eerie shadows. The back of the wagon was obscured. Kagome stepped closer, the wagon coming fully into view. The dwarf sat next to the haggard looking spy and his wife. Behind them, Sango and Miroku huddled under a blanket.

Inuyasha came out behind her, his rough hand grasping hers in reassurance. “He'll be alright. He always is.”

Kagome glanced up, her eyes meeting his. Worry flickered in their gold depths. A tight frown pulled his lips into a pout. She whispered softly, “You're a terrible liar, Inuyasha.”

They approached the wagon hand in hand. Kagome was not prepared for how incapacitated Miroku looked. Green veins pulsated across his face like tangled vines. Sweat beaded on his upper lip. His loose hair hung limp, snarled in knots. The monk shivered, moaning softly. Pain etched across his face, his brows furrowed. His teeth sunk deep into his lower lip. His glassy eyes frantically roved his surroundings.

“Get him into the tent immediately,” Polgara commanded. “Durnik, please get some water and build me a small fire inside the tent.”

“Yes, Pol.” The dependable smith grabbed a bucket from one of the pack horses.

Kagome lifted her eyes from Miroku's face to Sango's. Their eyes met---Sango's were hard like flint. A stoic mask hid nothing. Fear chased across her pale face. The demon slayer cradled the monk close, holding him to her shoulder. Her chin rested on top of his head and she gently stroked his hair with one hand. Her expression looked weary but determined---as if all that held Miroku together was her.

“Oi. You sure know how to find trouble, monk,” Inuyasha said softly. He approached the wagon. Gently, he put a hand on Sango's shoulder. “Help me lift him, Sango. We'll get him to the tent. On the count of three?”

Sango startled. She blinked back tears, staring up at Inuyasha. “Oh. Yes. Thank you, Inuyasha.” She said softly to the dwarf, “Thank you for keeping your promise, Beldin.”

“T'was nothing, little girl. You just take care of your monk,” the hunchbacked sorcerer said. “Kheldar, you and Liselle ought to take care of the wagon after they get the monk out. I'm going to find out what's keeping Belgarath.”

Silk roused from his doze. “Oh---oh yes. Come along, Liselle.”

The small blonde slid down to the ground. “And then, Kheldar, baths. We need baths.”

The half-demon and demon slayer lifted the ill monk gingerly. Slowly, they carried him towards one of the tents. Sango kept her arms locked under Miroku's armpits while Inuyasha kept his legs level. The dwarf sorcerer lifted the tent flap, making the path clear. They lowered Miroku to a bed roll, tucking a blanket around him.

During this precarious process, Kagome stood transfixed. A bright and rich violet aura surrounded Miroku. It flickered to a deep onyx, cloaking him. She watched it swirl and pulsate around the monk as he valiantly struggled against the demonic poison coursing through him. The violet hue retreated to form a strange halo around Miroku's head.

The longer Kagome stared at his aura, the more she could see it sputter. The war inside the monk was a losing one. The demon that Miroku had absorbed had been formidable. Time was running out.

Beldin tied the flap open, allowing Durnik to enter and kneel next to the monk. The smith carefully set the water bucket nearby and offered a rag to his wife. Polgara dunked it into the water, squeezing out the excess. She folded it in half.

“Sango, dear, hold this to his forehead,” Polgara instructed softly.

Sango shakily accepted the rag. She put it on his forehead, smoothing it. The demon slayer kissed his temple. “Please. Help him.”

“We will, dear. Just keep that in place.” The sorceress dug into her bag. She took out a bottle. “It may not be the answer, but it could buy us some time. Durnik, I need that fire to be very small. It should only burn this.”

In the bottle was a strange flower. Its lavender blossoms looked lopsided, almost as if they might fall off. The sorceress used some tweezers, fishing it out carefully. She put it into a bowl. “Kagome, dear, come inside and help me prepare this.”

Kagome stared at Miroku's aura, watching it shrink, the violet swallowed by black. The violet crown shrank more. She couldn't help but be struck by its beauty. Despite the inkiness threatening to consume the brilliant amethyst, the young woman found it mesmerizing.

Inuyasha nudged her gently. “Kagome? You alright?”

“Oh. Yes.” Kagome blinked, seeing the auras flicker and disappear. She nodded woodenly. “Yes, Lady Polgara.”

Sango asked, “What is that and how will it help the monk?”

“This is Adara's Rose. It's very potent against poisons. I don't know that it'll cure Miroku, but hopefully, it'll ease some of his pain.”

Inuyasha followed, sitting bonelessly behind Kagome. “It smells nice enough for a flower. Isn't that the same one Garion showed the pup at that Stronghold?”

“Yes. Yes, it is,” Polgara said. She held a pestle in her hand. “Kagome, dear, use this to crush the flower for me.”

Kagome hesitated a moment, not wanting to destroy this odd but beautiful flower. Miroku groaned, the sound agonized. She shoved the petals down in the bowl, pulverizing them. The scent of summer and honey became pungent. It left Kagome peaceful as she inhaled deeply.

“Okay, Kagome. I want you to put the bowl over the fire and allow it to cook down. We want the petals to smoke so the fragrance will reach his lungs.”

Kagome did as told. Slowly, the crushed petals curled on themselves, releasing their oils. The longer the bowl sat over the flames, the more it smoked. The white tendrils wafted up, and Polgara took a small fan to coax the smoke towards Miroku's face. It curled through the tent, making it hazy.

Inuyasha sneezed loudly.

“Maybe you should wait outside, dear,” Polgara said gently.

“No way.” Inuyasha crossed his arms over his chest, his face scrunched up as he fought another sneeze. “I'm not going anywhere until the monk's fine.”

“Stubborn hanyou,” Kagome chided softly. She took the fan from Polgara, mimicking the action.

Adara's Rose burned slowly, the clean scent soothing Kagome. The repetitive action lulled her as she stared at Miroku without really seeing him. The soft flowery aroma curled in her nostrils. It made her heart light. Its freshness and purity acted as a salve to her soul. Kagome took several deep breaths, pulling it into her lungs.

The monk whimpered softly, his expression pained. It seemed that beautiful aroma had little effect on his suffering. His head turned away from the bowl as his whole body shuddered. The lines on his face seemed darker, pulsing more the longer the flower smoked.

Polgara frowned. “I'm not quite sure that's a good sign. Keep fanning, Kagome.”

Inuyasha coughed, ducking his face into his sleeves. He said, his voice muffled, “I'm fine. Keep helping Miroku.”

Again, Kagome saw an aura engulf Miroku. The violet looked sickly pale before being eclipsed by black. It sputtered and curled around the monk. He moaned loudly, the sound agonized. Either the flower was doing more harm than good or the monk was simply failing under the demonic poisoning. His black aura waned, tattering around the edges as if it would dissolve.

Once it did, Miroku's life would snuff like a doused candle.

A strange duality settled over the monk's face. As if a mask had been placed over it, Kagome saw a ghastly visage emerge. His skin turned a dark green, and strange horns protruded from his temples. Clearly, Miroku was more than poisoned. He fought against possession.

Oddly, none of the others reacted to this change in the monk. Did they not see the demon threatening to break through?

Kagome hesitated in her fanning. The floral scent hypnotized her, leaving her calm and detached from the emotionally charged scene. She mused upon Myoga and Polgara's words. They both thought she had immense power to purify and save. In the past, those powers had come so naturally, driven by her own heightened emotions. Now, however, she had to call upon that same power while feeling so adrift and cut off from the world around her.

Kagome kept her eyes locked on the black crown around Miroku's head. She knew, deep down, that she could counter its evil. Somehow, her spiritual gift---the same that could balance the Sacred Jewel---could combat this demon. It could purge Miroku of its poison. All she had to do was reach deep down inside and find that vast energy.

She frowned when she didn't feel its tell-tale coolness. It eluded her. Kagome took deep breaths, Adara's Rose giving her a boost in concentration. She focused on her right hand, feeling it finally become cooler, evidence that her power had surfaced. Her rosy aura ignited around it, and she let it flare, increasing in strength.

It would take more than her simple touch. It would take more than just a sliver of her power. Kagome allowed the energy to build, knowing a vast well of sacred power just waited to be tapped. Everything took on a rosy hue again, and she knew her power had finally reached full strength.

Without thinking, Kagome grasped Miroku's hand in hers. It felt clammy and cold. The moment their fingers interlaced, Kagome allowed her power to flow into the monk. Instantly, Miroku shot up and screamed. His eyes flew open, pitch black. He snarled, his face twisted into rage. The green lines spread, making his skin turn dark green. This was the demon surfacing. It was her true opponent. Its black eyes locked onto her, hatred boiling in their depths.

It hissed, making Miroku's voice guttural, “Thy power may be strong, wench, but this monk is mine now.”

Kagome tightened her hold on Miroku's hand, feeding more purifying energy into his body. She would not give into its taunts. The demon tried to break their connection, howling in rage. It snarled, and Miroku's body convulsed. Little by little, Kagome felt her power burn the demon trapped inside Miroku.

“Thy power canst not defeat me! I will not let him go!” The demon growled, lunging forward. It stopped short as Inuyasha shoved Miroku down, pinning him by the shoulders. The demon thrashed, nearly breaking Kagome's physical contact. “Thy flesh will be ripped from thy bones! I will present thee to the King of Hell! Thou canst not stop me!”

Kagome's power surged more, flooding into the monk's body. It howled in agony, convulsing. Inuyasha held him down while Sango wrapped her arms tighter around Miroku's chest. The demon, pinned, glared directly at Kagome.

“Nahaz will destroy you, priestess. He will devour your soul,” the demon snarled.

“Your Nahaz won't hurt my mate, fucker,” Inuyasha snarled. “And let Miroku go, you bastard!”

“Never! Thou canst not stop him, half-demon. Thy power hast not the strength to defeat him.” The demon laughed, the sound chilling. “Once I possess this monk completely, I will slay thee---and none shall stand against me and live.”

Kagome poured more power into her connection with Miroku. She watched, fascinated as her aura fought with the monk's. At first, the onyx aura danced around her rose, almost engulfing it. The longer she released her power, the more it overcame the blackness.

The demon screamed, this time in fear. It threw its head back, crying out, “Nahaz! Magrash Klat Grichak! Nahaz!”

Miroku's body fell limp, his black eyes fazed. Little by little, the monk's aura turned violet again. It flared around him and became a rich amethyst. Her aura twirled with his---and yet they did not mix. They brushed one another, clashing again and again.

Miroku snarled, his head thrashing. The only vestige of the demon resided in his eerie black eyes. With a cry, his body tensed. His face returned to normal. Like a film being wiped away, his violet eyes emerged.

A strange voice chimed exultantly, “Done! And Done!”

Once Miroku collapsed back into Sango's lap, Kagome let go. She felt her power recede, her aura diminish, and the world flood back into focus. Silence filled the tent---and she looked at everyone as they stared at her.

“You healed him, Kagome,” Inuyasha whispered. “How did you do that? Your aura was blinding---wait, your eyes! They're gold again!”

“They are?” Kagome asked, blinking.

A puzzled expression crossed Inuyasha's face. “Now they're not.”

Polgara doused the fire. “I think I see what you truly mean by sacred power, now. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Adara's Rose may not have helped Miroku---but it sure did you, Kagome.”

“It---it wasn't anything really.” Kagome blushed. “He'd do the same for me if the roles were reversed. I just thought about what you said, Lady Polgara. It worked.”

Miroku's form went lax as the monk fell asleep. He looked peaceful, his expression boyish. The lines on his face had disappeared---as if they had never been there. His head rested in Sango's lap. She bent down and kissed his forehead.

“No, Kagome. It was something,” Sango whispered, her voice vibrating with awe and relief. “It might have been everything.”

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Chapter 88
Chapter 90
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