Tsuyoi opened her eyes, momentarily stunned by the impact of a large tree that slammed into her, pinning her right arm against another that had been uprooted and a heavy bolder that jutted out of the ground. Calmly, she took mental stock of herself, noting that the arm and shoulder were likely broken, but otherwise, she had no life threatening injuries. She was still upright, which was something to be grateful for, it left her less vulnerable than if she had been stuck laying down. From the stirring she heard from around her, others would soon be recovering. With certainty, she knew that meant the enemy as well.
Bracing herself as best she could against the cold stone behind her, she used her left arm to try to raise the tree that restrained her just enough to get loose. It did move, but not enough. The other tree was laying across the top of it, making it difficult for even a yokai of her strength. Getting a better grip, she tried again, managing to just slip from between them.
Examining her wound, the upper humerus was snapped and her shoulder was dislocated. Once it was set, it would only take a day or so to heal. With a little quiet searching, she was able to find her sword where it had been torn from her right hand. She slid the weapon back in its sheath.
Tsuyoi’s eyes took on a teal sheen as she looked out in the darkness. Scent was nearly useless right now with all the dust and debris still floating in the air, everything smelled like wet dirt and moss. Outlines of figures lit up in her vision, the details of their faces revealing the scaly masks worn by their adversaries, none of her own men were close. The claws on her left hand began to lengthen.
Though she was nowhere near the size and age of Shikyomi, she felt that another inu jumping around in true form might cause more harm than good at that moment, leaving her only with basic defenses, her strength and her claws. A few of the detailed outlines flicked out a short forked tongue, tasting the air. She began to move, fast and silent as their heads turned in her direction.
They picked up pace even as she did. The first struck to the right of her, her weakness clear to them. Even so, they were no match for an inuyokai’s speed. She twisted below its strike and came back around, catching the monstrosity in the throat with her elongated claws. Her feet never ceased moving.
These were desperate beings, having lost their numbers. Tsuyoi was uncertain what kept them coming when it would have been wiser to regroup. It seemed that they were just out to kill for their leader and nothing else, even their own lives, mattered beyond that. How pitiful they were.
Two more caught up, making it difficult to maneuver the fallen timber and fend them off. Step siding and using a surviving tree for momentum, she kicked off of it, catching one around the neck. Just as she snapped it, three more joined. There were still several others in the vicinity as well. Tsuyoi was quickly getting outnumbered, the brown husks covering their faces become an annoying sight.
Raising her left hand, a vibrant teal glow formed in her palm. Releasing the yoki, the two who blocked her path imploded, clearing her way. It was not the cleanest method, which she preferred, but it was effective. Three more fell before she found herself walled in again, sharp cliffs and a lake to the left and behind her, battling goliaths to the right, and rows of snake men before her. She nearly sighed, irritated with her choices.
Before Tsuyoi could pick which route she wanted to take, a line of fire took out several of the obstacles in front of her. Dropping down from the sky, Sango and Miroku stood on either side of her while Kirara landed a short distance away, flames burning from her paws.
Looking at the remnants of Hisuhebi’s followers, the monk grinned. “If you were that bored, lady Tsuyoi, I am sure we could have come up with better entertainment,” Miroku told her.
“Coming from you, that is a troubling thought.” She replied, relieved that they were both unhurt. Tsuyoi had come to like and respect them in a very short time. She was still taking measure of the monk, but she could find no real fault with him.
Sango snickered, deeply amused as Miroku pouted. “The women in my life are so cruel,” he sighed heavily. Then the play faded away as his dark purple eyes surveyed those before them. The soldiers of the west moved in behind the masked figures, completely blocking them in. “Shall we finish this?” he asked them, the rings of his staff chiming together as he held it battle ready. Kirara roared and they charged forward, only taking a few moments to completely decimate the remains of Hisuhebi’s throw away army.
Inuyasha pursued Kikyo relentlessly, driving her farther and farther from her targets. Before him, soul collectors weaved themselves together in an effort to stall him. Their iridescent bodies blocked the hall from floor to ceiling, making a wall of writhing ghost like limbs. Without hesitation, he cut through them, following the scent of the cursed priestess.
Kikyo was trying to leave the palace, hoping to make it to her new ally, realizing that they would have to regroup and try again. Laughter spilled from her lips as she began to plan anew. She would not be merciful next time, planning to kill Kagome and her first born without playing as she had this time. She would take the boys that should have been hers and Inuyasha would not doubt follow, then he would be all hers. The girl child was her fee owed to Hisuhebi for his gift of power.
Whatever she might have been presently, Kikyo once was human. Even with her new gifts and soul collectors, there was no way for her to outrun him. Inuyasha leapt in front of her blocking her path with his Tetsusaiga. “Inuyasha, does that woman really mean more to you than I do?” she whimpered pitifully as she drew her wicked looking dagger once more.
“Yes,” he told her firmly, blocking her first advance.
“You feel nothing for me, for the anguish and loneliness you have brought upon me?” Hatred and madness make her faster and stronger, her flashing blade gaining speed as she attacked him, “so much so not a word of comfort to me would you give?”
His eyes narrowed, recalling his words to Kagome at the spring. “How long have you been spying on me?” he asked, knocking her back with enough force that she crashed into the floor, sliding away him.
“From the moment you refused my summons.” She stood up, panting faintly. “I knew who he was when Hisuhebi approached me with his bargain. Had you come to me, been with me as you should have, I would have not given him the means to breach the western barrier.” In her hands formed another orb of power, the smell of it sickeningly sweet to him. “All of their suffering lies on you.” Kikyo threw the ball at his feet, the ground softening and liquefying where he once stood.
Over and over, she aimed at him, trying to catch him off guard enough to lose his footing. Her white minions joined in the game, attempting to ram him into one of the wet pools created by her energy attacks. “She will die, you are aware of that. When she is gone, your brother will abandon you again to scorn and ridicule. All you will have left is me,” she ranted on, “and then you will come to me!”
Ignoring her taunts, he concentrated on ridding the room of the soul collectors. There had to be a limit on how many she could raise, a limit to how many time she called upon a borrowed force. Just when he thought he had succeeded, she distracted him by flinging one directly at him at the same time one of her soul collectors struck him from behind, catching him in one of the pools of liquid stone. “Why would I come to you?” he asked contempt clear in his tone.
“Am I not the one that you have loved, the one you vowed to give your life to? I only want what is mine, Inuyasha.” She crept up to him, her smiling face soft and tender in appearance.
“No, you aren’t,” he said, pulling himself slowly up out of the mire, “the person that I loved was Kikyo, who died a long time ago. The woman that I love is Kagome. She and Sesshomaru are the ones I have given my heart and my life to.” He stood, sword at the ready, “I will never come to your call.”
She charged at him in her rage, her face contorted and fearful. “I am Kikyo!” she shouted, her long blade somehow biting into his left calf muscle, leaving a long bloody wound behind.
“No,” he said with very little pity as he avoided another blow, “you are nothing but a memory of her bitter sorrow that she left behind.” He drove her back against the wall, her black eyes welling in tears as she tried to deny his words, looking less and less like the Kikyo that had been. Finally, he drove his sword into her empty chest, her body breaking apart like a clay pot shattered upon a stone. Sighing heavily, he watched as the last of the soul collectors faded away. “I hope you have found peace now, Kikyo,” he said before limping away, headed back to where his family awaited him.
Hisuhebi approached the fallen inuyokai slowly, pleased with himself. Out of all of the beasts, she was the one he most wanted to torment and mutilate. Without her, he never would have been sealed, the blood of that cursed woman would have been gone. She had kept him hidden and had stopped his brothers attempts to free him many, many times.
How he would love to take the time to torcher her properly until nothing was left by that pretty white fur. He would have it made into a blanket for him and his bride to sleep under every night. His dark thoughts stimulated him, slowing his movements so she could enjoy every moment of his victory over her. Still, it angered him slightly how no fear showed in her eyes.
Before he could reach her, a woman appeared between him and his goal. With a savage grin, her face began to change and elongate. Her eyes of piercing blue became purple, then the darkest of blood reds. Her body grew, white fur covering her until a colossal inuyokai stood before him. Her smile remained the same, the large, razor sharp fangs filling her mouth clearly visible. To challenge him in size she would have to be an ancient, however he had never seen her, nor did his brother give any sign that one such as she yet lived. “Who are you?” he asked, puzzled.
Katsumi said nothing. She had no words for one such as him. Though by blood he was half-brother to her mate, he had caused nothing but despair to her, to their daughter, and the whole of their people for nothing more than greed and selfish desires. His worth was lower than the maggots on the ground of the killing field, to be reaped by the crows. She was glad to have a chance to sink her fangs into him. Katsumi had been on another battlefield facing his allies as this contemptuous being had stolen both of her mates away from her. Today she would see rivers of his blood fall at her feet, satisfying the only regret she had ever had in this life time.
A brilliant light flew towards them, vividly outlining the scenery as it homed in on him. The arrow narrowed and struck, thrusting him backwards as it enveloped his body. Pain vibrated throughout him as its brightness faded. He could feel a vacuum within him, siphoning away his most cherished ability. Fury burned within him. That was the second time he had been struck with the lotus’s bow. When he gained his bride, she would be punished for it. There was nothing he hated more than his mother’s power, the only thing he was vulnerable to.
Katsumi’s smile widened, the effect terrifying in her true form. Kagome had given her a chance to cause lasting damage to the beast and she intended to relish every moment of it. He was distracted, glaring at the palace where the arrow had come from. Katsumi shot forward, ripping a mouthful of meat from his underside, gaining his undivided attention. She watched him, amused as she spat the fleshy ball at her feet.
Rage blind, the snake charged at her. The inu dodged him, making him slam into the tree line as she bit into him again. Tauntingly, she spit the mouthful next to the first bloody mound. Again and again he struck at her, only to miss and have more of him torn away as she continually provoked him with her gory prizes. It was inconceivable that some mutt bitch could injure him so, blood pouring down his body as it refused to heal. This time when she moved, he pulled back as well, spraying venom in her face before she could sink those vicious teeth into him again.
Katsumi backed away, her massive head steaming as she tried to shake some of the burning liquid off. In her moment of weakness, he launched himself at her, fangs sinking deeply into her back. Intending to torment her as she had him, he flung her away, almost sending her in to Shikyomi where she looked on anxiously, worried for her den mother as she had not been for herself.
Growling, Katsumi caught him as he attacked again, flipping the startled reptile, tearing yet another mouthful of his flesh away. Quickly, he retreated from her. Her eyes remained on him, though one orb was now blind, milky white in color. Small drops of blood welled beside it, oddly making a unique pattern as it faded back across her temple. Her back burned, the deadly venom slowly working its way into her veins. She remembered the feeling, her mate had suffered so before his death. The memory fed her desire to rend this serpent to pieces. Her time to do so was fading, she knew that Kagome’s arrow had not been full strength. The wounds that she had given him still bled, but not as freely as before. He would heal, but she would leave him with as many scars as possible in the remaining time.
The leviathans faced off again. Yellow veins of electric charge began to run over Hisuhebi’s battered form, finally taking her threat seriously. He had been injured badly before, had been nearly taken apart by packs of inuyokai in their attempts to kill him, but never had one being done as much damage. She had to die for the insult of marking him so. The yoki struck out from him like lightening, the yellow flash singeing the ground where she once stood.
Katsumi continued to out maneuver his attacks, but could not keep up the pace for long. She was tiring, her wounds burning. She vanished from his sight, using her speed to soar into the sky, hovering high above him for a spit second of time. Using all of her strength, she charged downward, crashing into his twisting form. Even though the electric field around him seared, his spine gave a satisfying snap beneath her. The impact also stunned her somewhat, making her too slow to avoid him when he bit her again, pumping more poison into her shoulder. Shaking him off, she backed away stumbling until she fell near where her daughter lay. Resting, her good eye tracked him as she gathered the energy to continue her assault.
A figure darted out in front of the two fallen inuyokai, the white fox only a fourth of the size of the snake she now faced. Green flames billowed out from nine tails that shook in vengeful wrath.
Hisuhebi looked over this newest enemy. He stretched, his fragmented spine popping back in place enough that he could move, though it was agony to do so. Had he not been so wounded, he would have found it vastly amusing that a snack was attempting to fend him off. “You know that you cannot harm me, so get out of my way,” he hissed at her.
Kogirei’s eyes glowed a bright, vivid green that far outshone his, matching the flames around her which continued to rise, reaching out toward him in ghost like hands. “So prophecy says,” her voice had an eerie high pitched whine to it, “let us test it, shall we?” Her thin lips turned up into a malicious grin, “Come into my flames and see if they cannot burn one such as you.” She appeared ethereal and unearthly, the very fire surrounding her seeming to chant her taunt like many souls trapped within, calling for him to join them.
Before he could take her up on her offer, a great howling from the north halted time for them. Hisuhebi looked to the palace. Seeing none of the dark priestess’s soul collectors and none of his followers, he made the decision to slip away until the bows effects had worn completely off. The priestess had been a great play toy and their planning had been perfect, but there was always another day. He would have what he desired and see the end of the inuyokai and he would have it soon.
Kogirei did not let her fire die until she could not sense his aura any longer. Turning to the beasts behind her, she felt her anger stir anew, until she heard a wheezing laugh from her oldest and dearest friend. “My tiny hero,” she teased quietly.
Kogirei rolled her eyes, looking toward the eldest. Scanning her, she quickly blew a white cloud of magic over her, the healing vapor seeping into her wounds, the pain died down to a manageable ache. “Lady Katsumi…” she started
The inu’s one good eye settled on her. “It is alright, little one. Please see to my daughter while this one rests.” Katsumi lay her head down on her paws, intending to nap until she had the strength to assume her human form.
Closing her eyes, Kogirei turned away and walked up to the still chuckling Shikyomi. Blowing the numbing cloud over her as well, she set about pulling the large slivers of wood from the inuyokai’s side with her teeth. “Oh do be quiet already.” She fussed at her, which made lady Shi all the more amused.
Kagome held firm until she saw the arrow strike. After it hit, she seemed to have no more strength and her legs began to quake, a warm trickle of blood finding its way down both of them.
Trembling, she made her way to the outside wall and allowed her weary body to slide down its surface. She was drained beyond anything she had ever experienced before, breathing even seemed tiring. Her eyes began to close as a small puddle began to form beneath her, the images before her fuzzy and dream like in appearance.
A warm wind washed over her, seeming to even pass through her. Kagome felt strange. The ground under her seeming to change, the stone softening and damping. Under her searching fingers, grass and dirt were where there had once been hard rock.
She opened her eyes to see the world had changed, though the time of night seemed the same, just as cold and just as dark. In the distance before her, she could see a large manor, dense greenery and vines making it almost appear choked. Fires dotted the land beside it, music and shrieks could be heard even from where she lay.
Kagome looked to her left, her head moving without her consent, as if she knew what she would see. In a clearing, the edges burnt and glowing, lay mounds of bodies. They were a variety of ages, some human and several different types of yokai. Only one thing joined them together other than death, they were all women.
Tears tracked down Kagome’s cheeks even as pain such as she had never know wracked her body. She wanted to scream and run away, but could not move at all. Words spilled from her lips that she did not understand just as a warm hand enveloped her own chilly one.
She looked up into the most beautiful bright green eyes she had ever seen. Their lips moved with the same time and speed, the verses sinking into her, easing the pain. In the background, two inu looked on, one of the purest white and the other silver, their somber eyes holding so much sorrow. The woman smiled, the words never ceasing as she helped Kagome up, her body no longer heavy or hurt.
In the next instant, she found herself back against the wall, still drained, cold, and aching. However, the mantra still resounded within her. “Arigotou, Hasumi,” Kagome whispered before resuming the chant on her own. She felt the agony ease and the blood stop, her body beginning to slowly heal the damage it had sustained.
Sesshomaru jerked back, severing the head of the dragon as his people effectively finished off the pitiful army he had sought to challenge him with. Tossing the grisly trophy away, he reared back a spine-chilling howl filling the night. The very next instant, he was gone, a flash of white light raced across the sky toward the west.
Moments later, he surveyed the western palace and the carnage that was wreaked there. Dead, dying, and wounded were everywhere, most of which were not his people. A glance at the forest showed what he had already sensed, the damn cowardly snake had fled again. He also was aware that his mother and grandmother were injured from the smell of blood in the air, but Kogirei was there as well. The one he was most concerned for was Kagome. Her scream still echoed through his head and had made the dragon’s demise more brutal and quick. He alighted on the balcony to the room where he had left most of those precious to him.
Kagome lie against the wall. Though the smell of her blood permeated the small area, he could not sense that her life was in danger. The link between them was open, but not active, as though she slumbered deeply. Lifting her, he frowned at the small pool of red beneath her. Taking her into the room, his eyes were drawn to the bright purple dome that surrounded his children. Sesshomaru laid her on her bed, pulling the fur coverings up over her. “Is she alright?” Inuyasha asked, limping through the doorway.
“We will have Kogirei check over her,” he told him, turning to where their children waited behind their mothers barrier, “and you as well.” He touched the dome and it fell away before him, his mate sighing from where she slept on the bed. Inuyasha relayed to him everything that had happened from his end of things as Sesshomaru checked the children over, their girl and second son both voicing their anger in loud cries.
“That bastard got away again didn’t he?” Inuyasha asked as he sat on the bed next to Kagome, his injured left leg stretched out as he looked over the wound Kikyo had gave him. It was just torn muscle and would heal in no time.
“Yes.” Sesshomaru looked at him, his eyes red and voice cold and dark. “When she recovers, this pack will hunt.” Inuyasha nodded in agreement. There would be no more waiting. They would hunt him like prey through the wilderness until he had no more followers, no place to run to. They would not stop until he became dust beneath their feet, the suffering of millions of lives ending with his blackened corpse, his cold blood shed in payment for his malevolent deeds.