Murals of Time
Lady Shikyomi led them deep within the caverns, passing many rooms filled with treasures and scrolls of times long forgotten by men and yokai alike. There were many passages throughout, but she kept them steadily in the main hall, torches lighting on the walls as she approached for the sake of human eyes. Finely she led them into a large room, nearly the size of the main entrance.
From one end of the room to the other, wrapped around the walls were magnificent murals, blending one into another. She stood to the left, at the one closest to the entry way. It depicted a large brown snake yokai, fire and death scenes below the scaled body. “Once there was a horrid snake yokai who ruled the south. He killed many for the fun of hearing them scream and their family’s mournful cries.” Lady Shikyomi’s voice was as cold as ice upon the mountain, her face revealing no emotion what so ever. “He was obsessed with power and lust. After many years of living, he became bored. He wished for a son, one to surpass him in power and in deeds, together they would rule the whole of the land. Strong enough to kill those who kept him in check, the great inuyokai. We truly did not care what he did in his own lands and welcomed all those who fled from him, but greed consumed what little brain he had. He found a way to give himself what he wanted. His name was Kasshoku.”
She moved passed to the next. There were three young women, each wearing ancient priestess garb, the colors corresponding with the flowers they were painted onto. The petals appeared transparent as they fanned out behind them. The one to the left sat upon a vibrant pink azalea, her hands holding a scroll, playful smile on her lips. The one to the right sat upon a white orchid with a deep purple throat, a sword drawn and ready in her hands, her lovely face appearing cool and serious. The third sat in the middle upon a white lotus flower, a bow slung over her shoulders, vivid green eyes looked down on them.
Kagome walked to it, touching the middle woman’s flower. “The lotus.” She whispered.
“He mentioned her?” Lady Shi took her hand, patting it comfortingly. “I am surprised, he is not known to speak of her often.” She held on to her hand as she continued the story. “There was a mortal family in those days, full of spiritual power and special to the yokai in particular. Every few generations, they would produce a daughter of profound abilities. They would hide the girl away, because yokai would seek her out in great numbers. They called these women, brides. The secrets of the brides were the children they would bear would be full blooded yokai, taking the fathers blood. From their mothers, they took the ability to withstand purification and other such gifts.”
She looked up at the mural again. “The year Kasshoku made his attempt, there were three sisters. Tsutsuji, on the left, was the youngest and a competent priestess, specializing in knowledge and healing. Ranmi, on the right, was the middle sister, fierce in battle and purification. The eldest, Hasumi, was the strongest bride that family had ever produced. Many yokai came to court her, but she refused them all, having no desire to breed for any man of any kind. She claimed that she would only wed for love. Kasshoku was also turned down when he came to call. In his anger, he destroyed their home, killing most of the family, only a few escaping his wrath. The sisters were taken and imprisoned in the south.”
The next picture showed Hasumi bound in chains, looking out a barred window. Shikyomi continued on. “Kasshoku was no stranger to rape, having many of his own bastard children around him, but none the perfect heir he craved. Yet, he could not get close to the bride. The reason a yokai would have to have her willingly was because she could kill with a touch, her reki was so strong. So he took Tsutsuji first. She bare him a very strong half-blood he named Haiiro. She did not survive the birthing. Most human women do not without help.”
She paused a moment and smiled at Inuyasha, “you mother was quite strong to have you like she did. I wish we could have met as had been planned.” he blushed slightly without really knowing why.
“Then he took Ranmi, but lost several followers in the process. She fought long and hard, giving him several scars, but it was not enough. She too died bearing him a son. The babe remarkably did not have very much human to him and showed some resistance to reki. The testing his father put him through leaving a black scar through his right eye. He was named Shiro.”
She moved on. The next in line showed a bound Hasumi as well. This time she was chained flat to the floor, the blood from many wounds pooling around her. “Tired of waiting, for it had been nearly ten years since he had stolen her, he bid his minions to weaken her. She killed close to a hundred yokai and several depraved humans by the time they took her down. He came to her when she was nearly dead from blood loss. Still, she managed to injure him as well, but it was not enough. She soon found herself pregnant with his child.”
The next scene changed. It was of a forest glade where four young woman were bathing and one small inuyokai napped among the flowers, its white fur standing out amongst the greenery. “Kasshoku developed a fondness for torturing young inu women, his neighbors to the west who refused to fear him. Five princesses of the great houses were bathing and playing when he and his oldest son, along with a group of his followers, took four of them. The fifth, who refused to change from her true form was severely wounded. She drug herself towards home, despite only being ten in human years. Her family found her quickly and were led strait to the snake’s door. The five inu houses declared war. That night, Hasumi bore a son named Hisuihebi, the monster who would exceed his father in foulness. She was tossed out of the southern castle to die, her purpose fulfilled.”
The next showed her lying on the grass, pale. Her green eyes blazing as two inu’s approached. “The inu’s found her and watched as she slowly began to heal herself. Deciding that she would be useful, they helped her. In return, she showed them the way into the palace, helping them take back what had been stolen. It was too late for one of the girls but the rest came home, forever traumatized by their stay there. The war raged on.”
The group moved down slowly. This one depicted Hasumi meeting with a tall, white haired inu in human form. His resemblance to Sesshomaru was striking. Close by his side was a smaller inu woman with silver hair and eyes, reaching her hands out to Hasumi. The three were surrounded by the inuyokai in true form, of all sizes and colors ranging from black to the purest white. “Hasumi was welcomed by the five houses. Her help had not only allowed them to gain entrance into the southern palace and rescued the remaining girls before they perished, she slayed Haiiro who despite being young, was torturing them with great pleasure. She was greatly admired. In time, she joined her life to a mated pair, finding love in their embrace.” Shikyomi’s face brightened. “She had a daughter.”
Sesshomaru looked at his mother to see her smirking back at him. He had had no knowledge of these events. True, they had been at war for most of the time since he had matured, followed by him avoiding her for a long while after his father’s death and the war with the dragons finely ended. Still, these are things he should have been told. “Why?” He asked her simply, glaring.
“You were not ready to hear it. After all, you spent all that time putting your brother and father down for being connected to humans. How would you react to finding your great grandmother one, even if she did give birth to a pure blood? Did you really think your being able to withstand large blasts of reki a normal thing for an inuyokai, son of mine?” She winked at him, making him growl low. He had no argument to give her.
The next was a scene of war. In the center of the madness, Hasumi rode a white inu into battle, her bow drawn. A large brown snake charged at them, by his side, a younger Hisuihebi. Nearby was a tall man, albino in coloring, a long black scar on his face. Shikyomi called him Shiro. “The war raged on for many years. At last she caught Kasshoku on the battle field and ended his life, purifying him until not even dust remained.”
She moved down a little, showing them the large jade snake wrapped around the white inu, Hasumi falling to where her other mate lay bleeding into the ground. “Hisuihebi raged, changing suddenly and striking fast. After he tore her lovers apart, he turned back to a man, running a sword through her. He and his brother left the field as their family’s came to rescue them, the only two left in their fathers mighty army.”
They viewed the next mural of Hasumi and her mates, holding hands as the life left them on the bloody battlefield. A young girl with dark hair and green eyes held on to a cloth, words written in red on it. In the other hand she held fangs and teeth. “Their daughter came and recorded their final words. Her mother had had a vision as she fell, of the future if the jade snake was not stopped. The three bound themselves in death to the silk sutra made from her mother’s robes and the teeth they gave to make a special weapon. The sutra would bind him until another bride was born. The weapon could be used only by a bride bound to the inuyokai as Hasumi had been. Three bound in death, three bound in life, this is for the shattering of jade. This is the vow of my house, to subdue and to kill Hisuihebi. When the snake found out this, he became afraid. He stirred war against the inuyokai, killing off the strongest at their weakest moments. After a thousand years, the five houses dwindled to two.”
Shi looked on the portrait fondly. The two families stood side by side. On the left was an older man standing behind a woman who appeared to be in her twenties. Slightly to the front and left of her was a young man that could have been Inuyahsa now. Holding on to his hand was a young girl of maybe ten. All of them had silver hair and golden eyes. To the right was a man and two women all appearing to be in their late twenties. He had white hair and amber eyes. The woman to his left had long dark hair and soft green eyes, on the right had white hair with ice blue eyes. Both women had a hand on the shoulders of a teenaged Shikyomi, her amber eyes and slight smile appearing mischievous. “Hisuihebi made a pact with the dragons to the north, promising them the western land if they helped overthrow the inuyokai. To seal the pact between them, they kidnapped and killed the youngest of us.” Her fingers gently traced the little girls face. “She was delivered to our borders with the dragon’s declaration of war. My mother, father, Touga, and I decided to trap Hisuihebi with the sutra. It could only be sealed by one of Hasumi’s blood. The rest led the war against the dragons.”
She reluctantly moved on. The next image was of Shikyomi bound on the altar in the front room, the jade snake slowly creeping up on her. The image was so life like, Kagome and Sango shivered. She petted a frowning Inuyasha behind one twitching ear. “Your father had a lot of fun tying me up like that. He said it would be more convincing if I were truly pissed off. He was right. We sent a message from the dragons to Hisuihebi that they had captured the last inu princess and they were leaving her as a gift to him.”
The next scene showed her parents facing nearly a hundred yokai led by Shiro, in his hand he carried a very familiar sword. It was sounga. “He fatally wounded my mother. My father said she was magnificent. In her final moments, she released all her yoki. The poisonous vapor melted all who did not flee. Shiro also fled, but not before she scared the other side of his face. He left the sword behind. My father rushed to help me and Touga.”
They were most of the way around the room now. The next image was of Touga wielding a sword against Hisuihebi, Shi standing behind him holding the silk sutra that would bind him, both of them sustaining wounds. Her father in true form was charging forward. “Touga was bitten while freeing me and helping me unwind the sutra from my clothing. We just had to subdue him long enough to touch him with the binding and seal it with my blood. To be truthful, we were getting our asses kicked until my father came. Him and Touga pinned Hisuihebi and I bound him. There he lay, sealed until this day.”
“So the last of the great houses dwindled to three. My father died nearly a week later in the last battle against the snake’s allies, his venom still weakening him. It is very hard to treat, Touga was lucky in only receiving a small amount.” She moved on to reveal the white haired inu, her blue eyes sparkling, as she joined Touga and Shikyomi’s hands. They were all wearing white, Touga’s chest bare, revealing dark blue lines. “We mated, fought, loved and found joy in our son. Many years past until we caught wind of a bride.”
Kagome immediately recognized the next figure and the neko at her side. “Midoriko.” She whispered as Kirara rubbed against the painted wall.
Lady Shi petted the large cat. “Yes. I will not forget the first time I met this wild beast slumbering in the flowers like a kitten. We sent a missive to her explaining our need and she agreed to meet with us, but warned she would not mate with us for duty alone. I fell in love almost instantly. She was a lot like Touga, serious but kind. Those two danced around each other for months before she agreed to join with us. Unfortunately, Shiro also found Midoriko. Convinced that her blood would wake his brother, he sent hundreds of yokai at her. We were coming to her, but arrived too late, her and the jewel she was forced to create were gone.” The last image was of the moment she pushed the jewel from her chest, a hooded figure watching from the background.
Lady Shikyomi took Kagome’s hands, drawing her away from the wall. “I have waited and hoped for you for a long time.”
“Wait. Wasn’t Kikyo a bride then?” She asked.
“No. That priestess, though powerful, had a great rift in her heart, torn between the life she wanted and her responsibility. She was torn long before she held the shikon no toma. So much so, a piece of her soul clung to it and resided in you for a while. She did not have the power of a bride. You, however, do. Midoriko was stronger than my grandmother and you are stronger than she, definitely a bride.”
Sesshomaru came to them. He understood from the moment she told of the weapon and the conditions of its use why his mother became so excited, but he did not think the others had caught on yet. “You need to explain the rest to them.” Then, he did sense a rising tension in Kagome, maybe she had realized it too.
“Clever, clever boy.” She nodded. “Very well…”“I need just a moment.” Kagome said, rushing from the room. They surely could not mean for what she was thinking. The eyes of the departed in that room seemed to be pleading with her to understand and begging her for vengeance. She felt like she could not breathe in there any longer.