The rest of their journey was uneventful, even peaceful, something that was very unusual for them. Even when they had just been searching for shards of the shikon no toma, they had been attacked constantly by yokai in search of it. Though the jewel still rested around Kagome’s neck, they had not once been challenged for it since they had been mated. The group enjoyed the easy time, resting up and repairing weaponry when they stopped for meals and at night to camp.
Lady Shi and Katsumi kept that uneasy feeling, certain that they were being watched. They had felt strange eyes upon them in several instances. However, they never found a trace of evidence, the uneasiness only supported by their instincts. Katsumi had broken from them a few days before just to scout around, as a precaution.
Kagome continued to work on her bonds with Inuyasha and Sesshomaru, even managing to surprise them once while they were walking. She had done it so well, it had caused Inuyasha to jump a little, making her grin and hide behind Sesshomaru as the younger inu pretended to threaten her. Sango and Miroku gave her funny looks for the rest of the day when she would laugh for no reason, the inu’s trying their best to catch her off guard.
They had now passed through Sesshomaru’s barrier that circled his lands and stood before the massive metal and stone gates, intimidatingly carved in the shape of snarling inuyokai. Just behind them, all you could make out was the blue of the very top roof of his palace in the distance.
“I cannot imagine why you are not overrun with visitors.” Miroku commented, looking up at a stone mouth that could have swallowed him whole.
“Gorgeous, are they not?” Lady Shi said, flinging an arm around his shoulders.
“Are they your work?” He asked, sliding an arm around her waist, ignoring the western lord’s slight glare. They were kindred souls, while his main target was usually Inuyasha, Shikyomi loved to annoy her son. Miroku was ever willing to help her in her endeavors, especially when he got to hold a beautiful woman in the process.
“No. Touga designed these and had yokai and human artisans work on them. It took nearly two years to finish.” She smiled fondly at those snarling statues. They actually reminded her of her grandparents in battle. She had often wondered if her mate had done it on purpose to bring her comfort while they had lived in the western palace.
A shout went up from above them. “The lord has returned!” echoed in many voices. Within moments, the white stone began to separate, allowing them entry. Kagome sighed, listening. She still felt a little unease at meeting the noble people she was now the lady of. It helped to look toward Inuyasha who stood uncaringly even though he had spent a life time of bigotry from those very people.
“Has much been changed?” Shi asked her son.
“Not very much in the last two hundred years since you have visited, okaasan.” Sesshomaru answered as he led them through the ever widening gates.
Kagome was stunned. She had thought that the sky palace was unmatched in beauty, but Sesshomaru’s home was even more breathtaking. Waterfalls raged around it, large tree covered cliffs rising from behind and to the side of the fortress’s many levels. Stone bridges and pathways connected several separate buildings that seemed to hover over the large lake to the left of them. The main edifice rose several lengths into the sky, the whitish stone walls and dark blue tile curved gables seeming to appear out of the mists like fairy tales of old. So captivated by the sight, she failed to notice when Sesshomaru stood beside her.
“Are you pleased?” he asked. He did want her to be content in their home. Inuyasha was quiet, but he could feel his awe.
“How could I not be?” She quietly replied. A little sprit of wickedness worked its way into her. Smiling playfully, she said, “it is most wondrous, my lord Sesshomaru.” Kagome nuzzled his neck, a common endearment between inuyokai. She felt more than saw him smirk, his pleasure trickling down her slightly open bond. She had been managing to keep it that way for several hours, much to her relief.
When they drew closer, people began to gather along the edges of the pathways. There were many different types of yokai and even a few humans among them. Sesshomaru continued to walk passed, even when the gasps began, first by Inuyasha and her following slightly behind him, then by the presence of lady death, who had not been among them in so long. Her sharp eyes went out over the group, taking in all those who stared balefully at her son, Inuyasha.
There were more as the inu clans began to join the crowd, making her feel sorrow. They had come far from what they had been, these so called remnants of the great inuyokai. Some even carried the blood in small amounts, but they had aped humans so long, humans that they claimed to hate, that they had lost their way. With a hard glare, she vowed to remind them. They would remember exactly why they were quaking in their boots at her presence. Sesshomaru, in his own way, was a diplomat listing to their every squabble, she had never been. A collective shiver went up when she grinned, making them lower their eyes. There was one thing that would always stand with inuyokai, if you have neither the will nor strength to lead, then follow, leave, or die.
Three yokai awaited them, lined up beside the massive, blue, intricately carved door that led inside the palace. They bowed as Sesshomaru approached, then stepped behind lady Shi as he turned to addressed the crowd. Beckoning his lovers to his side, he spoke. “This is lady Kagome and lord Inuyasha, my mates. Understand,” Even though his tone retained its usual coldness, menace dripped from every word, “We are one in all things, any order from them is this one’s order and any challenge presented to them is this one’s challenge.” With that, he turned and entered the palace, the three yokai following behind them. When the massive doors closed behind them, they lined up to the right of Sesshomaru.
A tall male inu stepped forward, his violet eyes meeting the western lord’s. “It has been relatively calm, my lord. The same old dog has been barking, but the howling is mostly tuned out. The palace and grounds are secure.” He stepped back, bowing slightly, his deep red hair shining like spun copper as the light hit it.
Next, a much smaller kitsune stepped forward, her hair was white and her eyes a sparkling green. She smiled up at them. “The children are well and your house is in order, my lord Sesshomaru. Jakan has taken a small trip for some special supplies at lady Rin’s request and should return tomorrow.” She winked at Shikyomi before resuming her stance between her two colleagues, also with a slight bow.
A beautiful inu with long black hair and enchanting white eyes, the irises outlined in a pale grey, stepped forward. She was fully armored in blue. “Your men are war ready, my lord. We only await your command.” She stepped back into place. Her bow had been the deepest, making lady Shi smirk a little. The girl had always been a little uptight, like her son. It made her fun to aggravate.
Grinning she stepped beside the monk and slayer, motioning them on. “I will take you to your rooms.” The smile spread as Sango watched her warily, such a shy woman, easily set off. Shikyomi could not help but anticipate her time in the western palace in a way she had not since Touga had left her. She did not fail to miss the astonished look on Miroku’s face when he had spotted the inu woman, filing the information away.
Sesshomaru led Kagome and Inuyasha closer to them. “These are our most trusted advisers. It is important that you only trust them with anything vital. This is Hokoru, he is head of palace affairs and security. If you need advice on how to deal with the council and its members, he is the one to speak to if this one is not here.”
The red head bowed once more, his violet eyes somewhat suspicious of them, though his tone was respectful. “My lord, my lady.”
“This is Kogirei, she is head of the palace staff. She also has been caring for Rin and Shippo.” Sesshomaru continued. They could feel that he was fond of her.
“My lord, my lady. I have heard much about you. Shippo and Rin speak of you often and can’t wait to see you.” The woman’s bright smile made them feel instantly welcome, putting them at ease.
“This is Tsuyoi, my general. She trains my army and guards. Tsuyoi was handpicked by my mother before she left and is the closest in the blood to us, Inuyasha.” Kagome could see it, she seemed to almost be a little sister to Sesshomaru, and her expression was so serious.
“My lord, my lady, it is an honor to serve you.” She said sincerely.
“Great! Now that that is done,” Kogirei bounced forward as if she could not contain herself any longer, “You off with old stuffy, or will you meet with the children?” Hokoru’s face tightened for a moment, leaving little doubt who old stuffy might be.
“This one will greet Rin and Shippo first. Hokoru, Tsuyoi, we will meet in the council room in an hour. Set a meeting with them for tomorrow morning, there is much to discuss.”
“Okaasan!” two harmonious voices echoed down the large wooden stair case that graced the opening hall. To the right of it, a large portrait hung of Touga, Shikyomi, and a much younger Sesshomaru. Kagome took Inuyasha’s hand, squeezing it slightly to help ease the slight pain he had felt upon seeing it. Two energetic bodies came flying towards her, only to be caught by Sesshomaru. He too had felt the sharp sting of pain from his brother, his mind already working on a way to sooth his mate.
“What have I told you two about running in here,” Kogirei fussed at them, “I promise you, my lady, they have been taught their manners.” She huffed.
“We’re sorry, Miss Kei, we just got excited.” Rin said in a sweet voice with an adorable smile, instantly winning forgiveness. “My lord Sesshomaru, Rin is happy you are home!” she hugged him.
He lowered both of them to the floor. “You must be easy with your Okaasan right now.” He told them, sternly.
“Are you ok, Okaasan?” Shippo asked, instantly terrified that Kagome might be sick. He had already lost one mother and could not bear to lose her too. Getting close to her, he could tell her scent had changed, but did not understand why.
She smiled softly, taking both their hands into hers. They had grown so much in the time that they had been away from the group, appearing closer to young teens, though she knew Shippo was slightly older than Rin. “I am fine, I promise. Things are just a little different now.” Kagome struggled to find a way to explain things to them.
“We are mated and Kagome is carrying our pups.” Inuyasha said plainly.
“So you must be careful with her.” Sesshomaru added, placing his hands on her shoulders.
Rin and Kogirei beamed, almost as if flowers danced around their heads. Kagome watched them, worried they would squeal at any moment. Shippo, however, looked to be in deep thought. “Shippo?” She asked, hoping that he would take it well.
He looked up at them, his fist hitting his open palm. “I have got it,” he said smartly, “Sesshomaru will be Otousan and Inuyasha will be Oyaji!”
“Perfect!” Rin said clapping as she bounced around.
“Come now, my lady must rest a little.” Kogirei began leading them up the stairs, starting to fire off questions about her pregnancy, barely a breath between them.
Inuyasha was trying not to laugh at Kagome’s startled look. “Does she stop?” she asked.
“No” Sesshomaru replied, lifting her into his arms. “Be prepared, she is my mother’s oldest and dearest friend. They are much alike.” He was also worried that she was beginning to tire. She grew more as each day passed. Yokai pregnancies were hard for humans, even for a bride. He replayed Hasumi’s tale over in his mind often, focusing on the part where she nearly died having the snake yokai. Even though Kagome’s circumstances were nowhere near the same, it rested uneasily in his mind.
“I can walk you know,” she told him, not even attempting to struggle.
“Get used to it.” Inuyasha told her, following beside them. Sesshomaru took them to his chambers, leaving the children with promises to see them before bed. Surprisingly, she lay down without much of a fight and was soon asleep. “I am worried, Ani.” Inuyasha placed his hand over her ever expanding stomach, feeling the babies beneath as their movements rippled across her skin. “She is progressing faster than Shikyomi thought.”
“It is better that we are here. Kogirei is a great healer and midwife, she will give Kagome the best of care,” he told him, hoping to ease both of their fears. “Come, we will let her rest tonight, tomorrow will be a lot to take in for her.”
“Like I want to go deal with those assholes either.” Inuyasha muttered, rising from the bed.“I am sure that you will be greatly amused when Okaasan begins tossing them about,” Sesshomaru paused beside him, “and Otouto” he wrapped a strong arm around him, pulling him tightly against his body while tipping his head back slightly with his free hand. Enjoying the flush that covered his skin, he whispered, “welcome home,” before taking his mouth in a long lingering kiss. Grinning wickedly at him, he released him, walking toward the door, leaving a blushing Inuyasha muttering under his breath as he slowly followed behind him.