Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread
They had been trying to track Naraku for quite some time now, but when he abandoned the castle, every trace of him disappeared, including his scent. It was different than before, when he used the barrier… it was like he had been wiped off the face of the planet. That was ridiculous, of course, so Sesshoumaru had been tracking Naraku by following Kohaku, once he picked up the boy's scent. Sesshoumaru was keeping his distance though, because he wanted the boy to lead him to Naraku, and he could not catch even a hint of that charlatan's scent yet.
"Say, Jaken-sama. What is Sesshoumaru-sama searching for?" Rin asked curiously as she rode on Ah-Un's back.
"Naraku, most likely." Katsumi said as she walked alongside Ah-Un and Rin.
After her accidental confession to Sesshoumaru, and his subsequent rejection, things had been a little awkward between them, but in order not to ruin the relationship they already had, Katsumi had been doing her best to act like everything was normal, and after awhile the awkwardness wasn't so bad. Now, they were sort of back to normal... sort of. She could faintly pick up on Kohaku's scent too, so she knew who they were following, and Katsumi hoped Sesshoumaru wouldn't hurt the boy. Rin had told her all about the time she spent with Kohaku, and she could tell he was a good kid who was just caught up in a bad situation. It sounded like Naraku had somehow managed to put Kohaku under some kind of mind-control.
"Rin, that incident when you got kidnapped, raised the wrath of Sesshoumaru-sama." Jaken said.
"For Rin's sake!?" Rin asked excitedly. Her eyes were shining with joy and admiration, and there were practically sparkles floating in the air around the radiantly happy child. Katsumi smiled at Rin. She was just too cute.
"Don't get conceited, fool." Jaken said. Katsumi gave him a look of warning not to say anything meaner than that. "Sesshoumaru-sama is a proud person, you see. He may appear to be calm, but after that folly, I'm sure he's furious…"
"You do realize he can hear you, right." Katsumi pointed out. Jaken glanced at Sesshoumaru to see that the daiyoukai had stopped walking and was staring at him. The imp flinched and sweated nervously.
"..." Sesshoumaru said as he stared down at Jaken for a few more minutes to psych him out. Then Sesshoumaru gave Jaken one very large lump on the head and kept going.
"Are you okay?" Rin asked.
"You're still alive, aren't you lucky?" Katsumi said, patting the imp on the back.
'I hit the bulls-eye, huh…' Jaken thought.
"Does it hurt, Sango-chan?" Kagome asked as she bandaged a wound on Sango's arm.
"I-I'm okay." Sango said. They had just had their first run in with a member of the Shichinin-tai, Jakotsu.
"That bastard Jakotsu shouldn't have gone too far." Inuyasha said.
"You going after him, Inuyasha?" Miroku asked.
"You bet I am. After all, we haven't got a single clue yet. You lot wait here." Inuyasha said.
"Inuyasha…" Kagome said.
"Sure, Sango is injured after all… However, Inuyasha… what did you think of that poisonous smoke? I felt that Jakotsu seemed to know something about it." Miroku said.
"Yeah… like Jakotsu, it might be another of the Shichinin-tai." Inuyasha said.
"Another revived corpse has come out, you mean…?" Sango asked.
"Miroku, you stay and protect Kagome and Sango." Inuyasha said.
"Very well." Miroku agreed.
"Gehehehe, so they've fucking split into two groups, eh. How convenient." The mysterious bug-eyed poison master said as he continued to mix more ingredients. Jakotsu came up behind him. "Hey, Jakotsu. Long time, no see, eh."
"You bastard." Jakotsu deadpanned as he brought his foot down on the man's head. "Mukotsu, you bastard, you tried to fucking melt me with the poison too, didn't you." Jakotsu said, irritated, as he grabbed Mukotsu's hand tightly, squeezing his skull.
"Gehehe, don't be so angry. It's just a greeting for our reunion. So, what'll you do, Jakotsu? I'll be going towards the girls." Mukotsu said.
"Huh? What!? Inuyasha is coming after me by himself!? Wai~!" Jakotsu said excitedly.
"Eh?" Katsumi said in confusion as she sniffed the air. Kohaku's scent had just disappeared. Poof. Gone, just like Naraku's. Sesshoumaru stopped. "Sesshoumaru-sama, can you not smell him anymore, either?" Katsumi asked.
"…" Sesshoumaru said. It was most perplexing. Now they had lost their way to track Naraku… how irritating. A breeze blew past them, and they caught a familiar scent, it wasn't Kohaku… it was Kagome… and poison. Katsumi suddenly got one of her feelings again. Kagome was in serious trouble. Since the last time she ignored her intuition hadn't worked out so well, she decided not to take any chances this time.
"I have to go… I think Kagome will die if I don't." Katsumi said, as she dashed off in the direction her friend's scent was coming from. "I'll catch up with you guys again later!" Katsumi yelled over her shoulder and disappeared from their sight as she ran through the woods.
"Hmph, you don't have to come back!" Jaken yelled. He, of course, was completely oblivious to what had passed between Sesshoumaru and Katsumi, so he was being just as spiteful as always, instead of being more tactful. Sesshoumaru gave Jaken a sharp look before leaving in the same direction Katsumi had. Jaken flinched.
'How scary…' Jaken thought nervously.
"Jaken, stay here with Rin." Sesshoumaru ordered.
Katsumi ran as fast as her feet could carry her. The closer she got, the more scents she could pick up. She could smell that the rest of the inu-tachi, minus Inuyasha, had gone to Kagome's aid, but the smell of poison had intensified. It was bad. She wasn't sure if even she would be able to handle such a strong poison if it was aimed directly at her, but she wasn't going to just abandon them. Katsumi rushed over to the wooden hut all the scents were coming from, and ran inside to see a strange man, who smelled of graveyard soil, strangling Kagome. The others were all unconscious, and Shippo seemed to have escaped because he wasn't there anymore.
"Girl… I won't forgive you. You hurt my fucking feelings…" Mukotsu said as he tightened his grip on Kagome's neck.
'Inuyasha!' Kagome cried in her mind.
* SLASH! *
Mukotsu's grip loosened on Kagome's neck and he fell limp against her, seemingly dead. Kagome looked up to see who her savior was. It was Katsumi. She had slashed Mukotsu's back with her sword.
"Are you alright, Kagome!?" Katsumi asked urgently as she shoved Mukotsu off of her. "Say something!" Katsumi knew Kagome and the other were still alive, because she could hear their heartbeats, but they were all extremely pale, and looked close to death. Kagome tried to speak, but she couldn't. She was still suffering the side-affects of Mukotsu's poison. Katsumi seemed to realize this, because she didn't ask her any more questions. "... Well, you're safe now. I won't let anyone else hurt you. Let's get you guys out of here." Katsumi said as she bent over to Pick Kagome up.
"!" Kagome gasped when Mukotsu stood up behind Katsumi, looming over them, with a sneer on his face. 'Look out!' Kagome screamed internally at Katsumi, but it was all in vein. Katsumi wasn't a mind reader, and she was too distracted by her worry for Kagome and the others to notice the walking corpse. Katsumi noticed the frightened look on Kagome's face.
"Kagome…What's wrong…?" Katsumi asked as Mukotsu inhaled one of his poisons and blew it at Katsumi. Katsumi smelled the poison just in time to grab Kagome and dodge most of it, but she still ended up inhaling a little of it. Katsumi fell to her knees, in a fit of violent coughing.
"Gehehe, you're even prettier than the last woman, with that golden hair of yours, like a tenshi… Surely a merciful tenshi wouldn't mind providing a man with a little bit of 'comfort'…" Mukotsu sneered. Katsumi tried to lash out at him with her claws, but Mukotsu opened another poison canister, and shot the poison at her. Katsumi feel down on the ground, still completely conscious, but paralyzed. She glared at Mukotsu. "Gehehe, you won't be able to move now, this poison can even paralyze a youkai. What a nice look you have in your eyes… I'm going to enjoy breaking you…" Mukotsu said as he began to untie her obi. Katsumi's eyes widened in fear when she realized his intentions. She'd rather die. Squeezed her eyes shut as she desperately tried to break out of her paralysis and move.
'No…No…!' Katsumi screamed in her mind. 'Sesshoumaruuu!' Katsumi heard the sound of something being sliced and smelled the scent of blood. She hesitantly opened her eyes to see that Mukotsu was now missing an arm.
"Eh..." Mukotsu said dumbly before he fell to the ground again beside Katsumi. Katsumi looked up, and saw that Sesshoumaru had been the one to save her.
'Ah… he really came…' Katsumi thought, relieved beyond words could express. Sesshoumaru stared down at Katsumi. She tried to speak, but she found that she still couldn't, so she simply gave Sesshoumaru a grateful and relived smile. Sesshoumaru furrowed his brow slightly in annoyance and frustration. How could she smile at him like that? He had seen the fear in her eyes only moments before. Her eyes had been filled with nothing but pure, unbridled terror and repulsion at the thought of what that bastard had tried to do to her. Sesshoumaru had never seen that look on her face before, and he didn't ever want to see it again.
'Sesshoumaru… saved us…?' Kagome thought. 'Did he... come for Katsumi-chan…?'
"Where is Inuyasha?" Sesshoumaru asked. Now that he was here, he might as well get information.
'Wh-What's going on…?' Mukotsu thought. Just looking at this man made him, a member of the blood thirsty Shichinin-tai… afraid. 'The opponents of the Shichinin-tai… aren't just the Inuyasha group, and Kouga of the Ookami-youkai tribe?' "Who… are you…?" Mukotsu asked. Sesshoumaru stared down at Mukotsu, his contempt for the poison master clearly written on his face.
"… And just what are you?" Sesshoumaru asked. The man looked human, but he smelled of graveyard soil… not to mention the man had been stabbed by his toxic claws, and most humans should've died from blood loss by now. The wound Katsumi had given him hadn't closed up yet.
"So, you bastard… without knowing who I am…" Mukotsu said as he struggled to sit up. "You're fucking taking me lightly…" Mukotsu pulled out another poison canister, and shot it at Sesshoumaru. "Take this!!"
'Poison!!' Kagome and Katsumi thought in alarm as the cloud of poisonous gas enveloped Sesshoumaru. It dissipated, revealing a completely unharmed Sesshoumaru, despit the fact that the poison had totally melted away the wooden walls of the hut around and behind him. The wood sizzled, as though it were being eaten away by acid.
"Wha…? He's not dissolving from the shower of poison!?" Mukotsu said, shocked. In the blink of an eye, Sesshoumaru drew Tokijin and sliced Mukotsu in half. "Eh!" Mukotsu said, stunned as he fell to the floor, cleaved in half.
"The poison of a mere human, won't affect I, Sesshoumaru." Sesshoumaru said.
"No way…" Mukotsu said in denial as they all watched Mukotsu's body begin to melt away, leaving behind the jewel shard.
"Kagomeee!" Inuyasha yelled as he ran onto the scene, Shippo perched on his shoulder. "!" He said in alarm when he saw Sesshoumaru standing there, cool as a cucumber, and the rest of the Inu-tachi and Katsumi, were lying on the ground, hurt.
"Inu…yasha…" Kagome said weakly.
"Kagome…" Inuyasha said. 'Did Sesshoumaru do this…!?' Inuyasha thought. Sesshoumaru glanced at him. Inuyasha jumped in front of Kagome, shielding her.
"Sesshoumaru, you bastard…" Inuyasha growled. "What're you doing here!? What the fuck did you do to Kagome and the others!?"
"…Y-You're… wrong…" Katsumi said, finally managing to force herself to speak.
"Sesshoumaru… saved us…" Kagome said.
"That was not my intention. I just put an end to him interrupting our conversation. That's all." Sesshoumaru said. Inuyasha finally noticed Mukotsu's bones on the floor of the hut.
"Conversation…?" Inuyasha said.
"Inuyasha, since you are in the area, that means you're after Naraku, right?" Sesshoumaru said.
"What…?" Inuyasha said. 'He came all this way, just to ask that…?' Inuyasha thought.
'Sheesh… that jerk Inuyasha…' Jakotsu thought as he hid behind a tree and watched the two brothers talk. 'He made me wait so long, and I thought he wasn't coming, so… Still, who is that snobbish jerk? I hadn't heard there was a pursuer like that. Furthermore, he killed Mukotsu like he was a fucking insect. This looks bad. I've stayed here long enough.' With that last thought, Jakotsu stealthily departed.
"Answer me, Inuyasha. Where is Naraku." Sesshoumaru demanded.
"We haven't found out where he is yet." Inuyasha said. "We heard Naraku's evil aura was heading towards Ushitora. As we came after him, we were attacked by a bunch influenced by Naraku, so he's definitely close by." Sesshoumaru turned to leave.
"… Hey." Inuyasha said, and Katsumi quickly tried to get up, but she was still almost completely paralyzed and could barely lift her head.
"That's all I needed to know." Sesshoumaru said, not bothering to look back. Sesshoumaru heard the thump Katsumi made when her arms gave out and she fell back onto the floor. He stopped.
"Oi, Katsumi… Don't push yourself… you've been poisoned too, haven't you? We'll take care of you, so…" Inuyasha said. He reached for Katsumi, but before he could touch her, Sesshoumaru had picked her up, and thrown Katsumi over his shoulder. Sesshoumaru left with Katsumi and without another word. '… What's his problem?' Inuyasha wondered.
They had been walking for a while now…. well, Sesshoumaru had been walking, and Katsumi was still slung over his shoulder. Katsumi was finally starting to get some feeling back in her legs, but she decided to be sneaky for once and try to drag out being close to Sesshoumaru for as long as she could. Sesshoumaru was too busy thinking about what had just happened, or he would've noticed how much time had passed.
'So, Naraku is near. Still, it's strange how he and that boy were able to hide their presence so completely… and this are is known for being unnaturally pure and holy because of that Mt. Hakurei. I wonder if it is possible Naraku has some how made use of that barrier…' Sesshoumaru thought. '…Furthermore, why did he go through the trouble to reanimate those corpses… That human that dared to attack me smelled of graveyard soil, and there was a Shikon jewel shard embedded in his body. I could smell another with the same scent close by as well… but why would Naraku waste jewel shards on humans? If it was to distract Inuyasha, then youkai would've been a better choice…'
"Jaken-sama, Sesshoumaru-sama and Katsumi-nee sure are late." Rin said as she sat on a log next to Jaken, kicking her feet, while Ah-Un was grazing nearby. "Rin should have gone too."
"Fool. Sesshoumaru-sama and that brat have gone to a place with poison around. If they brought someone like you, you'd be a goner for sure." Jaken said. Rin sighed heavily.
"I'm so booored…" Rin said as she stretched and looked around. She spotted someone walking through the woods a short distance away. It was Kohaku. 'Eh… Kohaku!?' Rin thought, surprised, as she watched Kohaku raise his hand and let a saimyosho that was holding a jewel shard perch on it. 'Why… is he in a place like this…?'
"What's up, Rin?" Jaken asked.
"Eh? … It's nothing." Rin said, not wanting to get Kohaku in trouble. She glanced back in Kohaku's direction again, to find that he was gone. 'Sesshoumaru-sama… next time they meet, I wonder if he'll kill Kohaku too…' Rin thought sadly. Rin had hoped she had finally made a friend when she met Kohaku, but their parting had been so strange… something had definitely been wrong with Kohaku, and Rin wanted to know what it was.
Shichinin-tai is the japanese name for the Band of Seven.
Ushitora means 'ox-tiger' and refers to the northeast direction on the compass, and is also known as an unlucky direction called the 'demon's gate.' Nice that Naraku, a lump of evil was heading that way, huh? ^_^