The scent of death permeated the air. It hung thick, suffocating anyone who dared to take a breath. Villagers ran from the flames that threatened to consume them, mothers ran with their screaming children, fathers tried to put on a brave face.
In the middle of the chaos a young man looked on. He stood still staring out into the disaster. He could feel the heat from the intense flames, but he couldn't bring himself to move. He could hear the screams of the people unable to get away in time, but he could not bring himself to help them.
'Find her.' Whispered a voice.
'Find who?' The young man thought.
'Find her. Protect her.' The strange voice whispered again.
'Protect whom?!' he thought exasperated by his own mind.
"Inuyasha!" the blood curdling scream was loud enough to make his ears ring. It was enough to get his feet moving, he ran in the direction of the screaming girl.
'I know that voice!' He thought. "Where are you?" He yelled out into the night
"Help me! Please help me Inuyasha!" The girl sobbed and Inuyasha kept running. He wasn't sure where he was going but he had to get to her. He had to find her, whoever she was, she sounded familiar...and terrified.
He pushed himself even harder running faster than he ever had in his life. He sprinted out of the forest and into an open field. There was a girl lying in the field, bloody and broken.
He approached her slowly. Her face was turned away from him so he kneeled down and placed the girl in his arms. She looked up at him. Her big doe eyes filled with pain, sorrow, and love.
"Inuyasha...you came." Her voice hoarse from the pain.
"Kagome?" It was the girl from the Aomori castle.
"Inuyasha." Everything started to go black. Her voice began to fade as her eyes slowly started to close. He had a feeling if she closed her eyes they wouldn't open again.
"Kagome!" he shook her hard to try and get her to keep those pretty brown eyes open.
"Inuyasha..." Her voice was no more than whisper and the world around them grew darker by the minute.
"Kagome!" He tried to cling to her, but soon the scene in front of him faded to black and the young girl in Inuyasha's arms disappeared.
With a loud gasp a disoriented young man sat up in bed. Taking deep breathes, he tried his best calm his racing heart. Looking outside he sighed, realizing the sun had barely begun to rise.
"That dream was worse then the last one." Inuyasha sluggishly climbed out of his bed and walked onto his balcony. The air was crisp from the morning chill and the sky was a mixture of light blues and pinks. It was beautiful.
It had been a week since the dinner at Aomori castle. A week since he'd seen Kagome.
"Inuyasha are you awake?"
"Yeah out here." Inuyasha replied.
Miroku walked in and took up the space beside his cousin."What's up? You look like you didn't get a wink of sleep."
"Cause I didn't. It was those dreams again...this one was pretty bad." Inuyasha said still watching the sunrise.
"Maybe it'll get better with time. I mean they’re only dreams right?" Miroku told him.
"Maybe. It's so real though, and I remember them vividly afterwards. And that voice...I just don't know what to think." Inuyasha said with a sigh.
"Well maybe you can get some answers today, because apparently we're going back to Aomori castle." Miroku said.
"Really? What for?" Inuyasha asked slightly interested.
"I don't know. Just for lunch or something. Your mom thinks you and Kikyou hit it off pretty well and wants to keep the 'connection' you've created strong." Miroku explained.
"Pft, what connection? Kikyou is the last of my worries, it’s the other girl that I really need to talk to.” Leaving his cousin on the balcony Inuyasha re-entered his room to begin getting dressed for the day.
Sango watched as her friend distractedly folded her bedding. Concern skirted across her face as she thought about Kagome’s behavior for the last few days, and how the girl seemed to be having trouble focusing on anything, constantly lost in her own head.
“Kagome I think your sheets are folded enough.” Sango said, stopping Kagome from turning her sheets into origami.
"Oh, uh right." Kagome chuckled halfheartedly and set her bedding to the side.
"What are you thinking about Kagome? Is about Prince Inuyasha?" Kagome let her head drop with a sigh. Ever since she meet him nothing seemed right anymore.
There's just something about him that draws me in.
"I can't stop thinking about him, and the dreams I've been having are getting more and more intense." Kagome said to Sango.
Sango looked at her friend sadly, wishing there was more she could for her. “I’m sorry there isn’t more I can do for you.”
Kagome looked to her friend with a grateful smile. “It’s okay, lending me your ear is more than enough. I think I’d go crazy trying to keep all this to myself.”
"Kagome?" Momentarily startled from their conversation, a young servant named Hamako entered their room and gave them both girls a polite smile.
"Hi Hamako." Kagome greeted.
"How do you do Kagome? I was sent by Lady Keade to fetch you."
"Sure, Sango are you coming with?" Kagome asked.
"No, I have things to finish up here. I’ll see you both later." Nodding in response Kagome followed Hamako to find Keade
"Lady Keade, are you in here? I’ve brought Kagome." Kagome and Hamako walked through the kitchen looking for the elderly woman.
"Aye child I am here. Morning Kagome, I need ye to go into town today. Lord Hiroshi has requested a special lunch be made for his guests and I'll be needing some more ingredients." Keade explained.
"Who's coming for lunch?" Kagome asked.
"The Takahashi Clan." If Kagome had been drinking something she surely would have spit it out. He was coming back? Would he remember her? Would it matter if he didn't? Had he been feeling all the things she was?
'I need answers.' Kagome thought.
"I'll head out right away. I wouldn't want to keep them waiting on their meal." Taking the money Keade was given by the lord Kagome left the castle and headed to town.
"Mother why are we leaving so early? It doesn't take that long to get to the Aomori’s." Inuyasha questioned. He already didn't want to go, and he sure as hell didn't want to have to sit there for any longer than necessary.
"Well I thought you could get to know Princess Kikyou better while we waited. Doesn't that sound nice?" Lady Izayoi beamed.
"No." Inuyasha said under his breathe as he turned to look out the window.
"Well if Miroku doesn't mind I could drop you guys off in town? You could walk around if you'd like, but make sure you're back in time for lunch." Izayoi said trying to compromise with her ill-tempered son.
"I don't mind if that's what Inuyasha would like to do." Miroku said not trying to get caught in the cross fire of Inuyasha's foul mood.
"Keh, whatever." Inuyasha said trying to be nonchalant about the situation, even though he was inwardly relieved to have gotten out of entertaining Kikyou for longer than necessary.
The carriage pulled over and Miroku and Inuyasha both stepped out and into the busy town. There were shops and food stands on every corner. Inuyasha had never been in a town like this. Sure there was a small village like this that resided close to his home, but he was never allowed to go. It was frowned upon for royalty to mingle with the commoners.
It was decently nice day, and since they were in no rush Inuyasha and Miroku slowly continued to weave their way through the throng of people. Politely dodging the many shopkeepers and beggars trying to sell them things.
Inuyasha felt the hairs stand on the back of his neck, as a small voice whispered across his conscious. 'Find her. Protect her.'
They both came to an abrupt stop when they heard an ear-piercing scream.
Kagome walked throughout the town collecting the various items Lady Keade had requested of her. As she made her way down the path taking her back to the castle she decided to take the shortcut through the woods. She needed to beat the Takahashi Clan to the castle if she wanted to talk to Prince Inuyasha alone.
"Where you going beautiful?" said a manly voice. Kagome jumped in fright and turned around to see a group of three men slowly advancing on her.
"W-what do you want? I don’t have any money." Kagome said, her voice shaking and giving way to her fear.
"No problem, it ain’t money we’re after. No need to be afraid precious, we'll take real good care of you." Said another man stepping out from behind the other two. Kagome didn't take the time to dwell on their words before she turned and ran. If she could make it to the castle she would be fine, but it seemed luck was not on her side.
She felt rough fingers rack across her scalp and tug on her hair. She screamed in pain as she fell to the ground. Kicking and flinging her arms wildly Kagome tried to get the bandit to release his grip on her hair but it was no use.
"Be still you stupid bitch!" One screamed, he backhanded her hard across the face and she tasted the coppery flavor of her blood. One of them kicked her in the stomach and the air was forced from her lungs. She could feel their filthy hands tugging and gripping at her clothes as the welcomed darkness began blurring her vision. The last thing she saw was a streak of red cutting across her vision before falling into unconsciousness.
Inuyasha and Miroku ran as fast as they could into the forest where they heard the screams coming from.
"Be still you stupid bitch!" Inuyasha heard a male voice say. He ran faster.
'Find her. She needs you.' Something whispered in the back of his mind. He didn’t have to time to wonder about the voice, because his next steps took him out of the trees and into a small clearing. Three burly men surrounded a young girl, and from the looks she wasn’t in great shape.
"Get the fuck away from her!" Inuyasha said to them.
"Hey we found her first! Go get your own whore!" one of them screamed.
Inuyasha charged at them and punched one of them in the face. He almost missed one of them trying to sneak behind him. He turned in time to see Miroku deliver a swift kick to the man's side. They stood together ready to face the third man, but he was already gone. Inuyasha went to give his attention to the body curled up in the middle of the path as Miroku set about gathering the discarded vegetables and spices.
Inuyasha bent down to turn her over and inspect her injuries, and gasped when he was met with the bruised face of Kagome.
"Inuyasha that's her is it not? The one you wished to speak with?"
"Yeah." Inuyasha answered, though more out of habit than understanding of what he’d been asked. Was it merely a coincidence that the voice had spoken to him at the same time Kagome had been in trouble? Had the voice been leading him to her? His thoughts were running a mile a minute.
"Come on Miroku we should get going." Supporting her neck and softly cupping her knees, Inuyasha gently lifted Kagome from the ground and headed towards the castle with Miroku in tow.
'My head is pounding.' WasKagome’s first thought when she came to. Slowly she opened her eyes only to shut them again as even the softest light in the room intensified her headache.
"Oh thank God you’re finally awake! I was so worried when Prince Inuyasha brought you in. You were unconscious and bleeding." Sango said quickly barely breathing between sentences.
"I'm okay, just a bit of a headache. Did you say Prince Inuyasha brought me here?"
"Yeah he carried you all way here from the forest right outside the castle. He sat in here for awhile waiting for you to wake up. He might still be here if his mother hadn't dragged him away." Sango finished.
"That was so nice of him." Kagome was definitely surprised to hear that. A sudden knock pulled her attention towards the door, as the boy they had just been speaking of walked in.
Prince Inuyasha? She thought. What’s he doing back here?
Their eyes met as he entered the room and Kagome thought she might pass out again from lack of oxygen. The dark haired boy looked away from her to say a few words to Sango.
"Would excuse us please, I'd like to speak with her alone." he said in a clam tone. Kagome placed a gentle hand on her friend’s shoulder, letting the other girl know that she would be fine for a few minutes.
"Wait outside for me?" With one last apprehensive look at Inuyasha Sango took her leave. Inuyasha took a spot on the floor by Kagome's cot.
"How are you feeling?" He asked her, genuinely sounding concerned.
"I, uh, I'm alright. Sango told me that you brought me back here. I don’t remember much, but I do know that I would’ve been a lot worse off if you hadn’t shown up. Thank you for saving me." Kagome said a small blush staining her cheeks.
"Oh that, uh it was nothing.” He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, turning his face away to hide the redness pooling on the apples of his cheeks. Clearing his throat Inuyasha nervously flicked a lock of hair over his shoulder, and started to steer the conversation back to his original topic.
“Kagome I have to ask you something and it's important that you tell me truth."
"Yes?" she said waiting for his question.
"Do you dream about me?" He asked. She gasped and the blush on her face grew 10 fold. "No wait, that came out wrong! I meant have you ever had a dream that seemed so real you thought it might be reality? I know this might sound...strange, but I've had dreams about you, a lot of them actually. Sometimes you’re fine, but other times..." he looked down into his lap unable to complete his last sentence. He only glanced up when he felt small hand on his larger one.
"Yes, I do and I have." She whispered. "When I saw you in the hallway that day I ran because I was afraid. I didn't think you were real. I've been debating with myself if I was crazy or not ever since. Even in the dining room I still couldn't believe it. I'm glad I can finally talk to someone about this. Someone who understands." She said with a smile.
She jumped a little when his other hand came up to caress her bruised cheek.
"I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?" Inuyasha asked, his tone apologetic.
"It's just a little sore, don't worry about it." A few moments of strained silence passed and she spoke again. "I think I should go speak to Lord Hiroshi. I’m sure he’d like to know where I’ve been all afternoon." She tried to stand and winced as pain shot up her side. She tenderly touched her abs and obliques and realized she’d probably bruised some of her ribs.
"Here let me help you." Inuyasha helped Kagome off the small cot and to the door.
"Thank you Prince Inuyasha." Kagome said with a big smile.
"Um, just Inuyasha is fine." he said scratching the back of his head and blushing.
Kagome giggled at him and they both continued to walk down the hallway. Neither of them noticed that their hands had become interlocked during their walk to see Lord Hiroshi, or the pair of ominous eyes that watched them from the shadows.