People rejoiced at Naraku’s defeat. It was the end of his tyranny, his devious plots of deception and the murder of innocent demons and humans alike. For many years there seemed to be a peace that the feudal age had not seen in some time. Even the human Domain’s had seemed calmed. Sesshomaru left Rin with Kaede, visiting her through the years to offer gifts. Rin often missed traveling with her lord, but finally accepted that her place was to be with the humans. She was accepted in Kaede’s village, more so than she had been in any other human village.
It wasn’t long into her coming years of womanhood that she had suitors lined up. Sesshomaru distanced himself from the village for some time. Kaede explained that she had asked Sesshomaru to not interfere in the human traditions, and it would be bad for Rin’s image to be seen with the Great Dog Lord. It took quite some time for Rin to come to terms and forgive Kaede for her actions, but ultimately it was InuYasha that had convinced Rin it would be for the best.
For years Rin turned down numerous suitors, Kohaku was among them. Kohaku had tried tirelessly to gain Rin’s affection whenever he had been around, but he would leave eventually. Just as Sesshomaru had many times before. No, she had wanted someone that would stay by her side, get to know her, and eventually she did find it. She found the companionship she had longed for in a young lord of a neighboring region. The Ambassador’s procession had been passing through Kaede’s village when the caravan was ordered to stop. As the story goes the Ambassador commissioned many paintings of Rin and returned to his lordship with them.
A month past before the young lord, Ichiro, decided to visit the village. Rin was quite bashful in the beginning, but the young lord eventually won her over with numerous letters that was exchanged through out the following months. Rin was married to Ichiro in the Fall of the next year. It was two years later than Rin birthed a daughter named Ameki. The following years were blissful.
Ichiru died 3 weeks before Ameki turned 18. Ichiro had no sons, and as a result his own younger brother fought for power of his estate. Rin had no desire to run the palace and neither did Ameki. Yuudai was not as kind as his late brother, and he ruled the palace and region with an iron fist. Rin wanted to leave with Ameki, but soon found out that Yuudai had other plans for his princess niece. Having a princess around would make for a good bargaining chip if he wished to cozy up to any of the lords in neighboring regions. Yuudai was eventually convinced that Ameki was becoming an old maid. Women and girls were usually married off at 15, and sometimes even before that, especially princesses. This meant that she would less appealing to the many lords of other regions.
Rin and Yuudai were at odds, but Yuudai eventually accepted that his brother’s family would be left alone and let live in the palace, especially since rumors of war started to spread. Yuudai began meeting with his council regularly. Rin began hearing rumors of the Western lands burning, and demons terrorizing humans, and human’s rising up against demons. The worst part, was that it was coming close to home, and the Great Dog Lord had been mentioned numerous times. Run hadn't seen or heard from him since the day of her wedding, and all she remembered that day was the faint white orb that seemed to hover above the clouds.
Ameki thought it strange that her mother, Rin, kept searching the North Western sky at night. She would bring her mother tea and they would set on the balcony and reminisce of simpler days. Ameki glanced toward the south where her uncle's army was garrisoned and ready to move out at dawn. War was pushing the regions borders, and she knew her uncle Yudaai would not surrender to anyone or anything that wished it. Ameki watched as her mother’s eyes saddened at the reddened night sky.
“Yuudai will only hasten the fall of this region if he sends his army to invade. He should simply send them to the borders as a defense.” Rin turned her gaze toward Ameki who had spoken.
“I suppose so…” Rin trailed off.
“That is what you are worried about isn’t it?” Ameki asked, gaining another glance from Rin. Rin chuckled slightly in Response and sighed.
“Yes, partly. Maybe you should be the one giving the orders around here. You have your father’s wits about you that's for sure. Your uncle Yuudai is too foolhardy.” Rin was only partly kidding as she turned her gaze back to the North West. The red glow low in the sky was no doubt the war front. Another region, dominated by the rogue Demons who had allied with wicked men and bandits.
Rin recalled her childhood once more, the bandits who had killed her family, and there after the demons who had slaughtered the village that had taken her in as an orphan. Those thoughts led to more memories that Rin actually considered to be precious. They were memories that could have been considered diamonds in the rough. She thought of her many journey’s with Lord Sesshomaru. Lord Sesshomaru had been a God in her eyes. Deep down he still was, but Rin knew he had made his decision to protect her. She didn’t hold any ill will toward the great dog demon any longer. After years of watching her daughter Ameki grow up, she had come to appreciate the chance at life Sesshomaru had given her.
“You are always so quiet when you look to the Northwest, even before these rumors of war.” Ameki said softly. Rin swallowed.
“I grew up there. It was, for a long time, my home.” Rin smiled at the memories of living in Kaede’s village. Kagome, the strange woman who always shouted the incantation that sent InuYasha into a dirt filled obedience, Sango and Miroku with all of their children, and even Kohaku. Kohaku had been her best friend. That was until he had begun competing for her affections like all of the other young men in the village.
“You’ve never said much about your past. Father would always tell me stories of how you were the fairest maiden in all of the north, but never anything else.” Ameki smiled as she reflected in her own memories.
“Ichiro always was one for flattery.” Both of them giggled at Rin’s comment.
“In all honesty though dear…” Rin trailed off before continuing.
“I was orphaned in the most unusual way. I later grew up in a small village where a priestess shaped and molded my mind. I had so many bad habits for a lady. I didn’t start wearing shoes until I was well into my 10th year.” Rin smiled fondly at those memories, but it only puzzled Ameki.
“I’m sorry you had to live that way mother.” Ameki tried to amend something that wasn’t her fault in any way. Rin only shook her head.
“It wasn’t terrible child. These shoes can be so uncomfortable sometimes.” Rin playfully wiggled her foot for dramatics causing Ameki to giggle into her sleeve.
The rest of the evening was spent by Rin sharing stories of her life in the small village in the land of Musashi. Ameki seemed completely enthralled in her tales of the half dog demon, InuYasha and his miko wife, Kagome. She explained their journey’s as they had been told to her over evening meals and working in the fields. Rin never once mentioned the one person that meant most to her. The only person she had ever shared her memories of Sesshomaru with was Ameki’s father, Ichiro. A part of Rin didn’t want Ameki to know she had been partially raised by a demon. Ameki knew of demons, but with the rumors of the demon uprisings, Rin feared what reaction Ameki would have.
Rin tossed and turned that night while trying to sleep. The castle was eerily quiet considering the battle was almost upon them. There were moments where Rin wanted nothing more than to pack and take Ameki as far from the castle as possible, but that would be cowardly. She knew that her daughter belonged there with her friends and family. Yuudai did not have a wife, but his concubine had given him three children, all of which Ameki adored.
Rin’s dreams were filled with fire. Demon’s and men alike slaughtered people she knew, villagers that would visit the castle, people within the castle, Ameki’s family… her family. Then there was Yuudai, mad with power, and too prideful to retreat. He kept sending men to their deaths in a hopeless battle, a battle that was impossible to win. The castle was in flames, and Rin couldn’t find Ameki, but she could hear her screams. She pushed her way through the heavy smoke that filled the halls, nearly tripping over bodies that littered the floors. Ameki’s screams were getting closer, but everytime she would go near the room the hall would appear as if it had lengthened placing the door farther away. Rin began screaming, a fit of tears escaped her and she had to force herself not to choke on the smoke. She began calling out for someone to help her, anyone to help her. That was when he appeared before her. Like a fierce wind that pushed the smoke away, and a sight that appeared and diminished her fear. Lord Sesshomaru.
Ameki heard her mother’s night terror from down the hall. She was used to it by now. The last few nights had been filled with her mother’s cries. She waited at her mother’s door, preparing herself for the anguished sight she would see once she entered. She placed her hands on the thin panel but froze as she heard her mother’s voice in a serene tone.
“Lord Sesshomaru, you came for me.” Rin’s voice had softened from her previous wails.
A week passed and scouts scurried to and from the castle with reports of the armies progress into the Northern region. Yuudai was constantly one edge and Ameki knew to keep her distance when he was like that. He would pace the court yard and bark orders to anyone and everyone, Ameki was no exception. She steered clear of the courtyard, and even took the opportunity to visit the village that lay below the castle in the rolling prairie lands.
Rin had taught Ameki to be humble among the people in the village. She had taught her to respect the workers who provided sustenance to everyone around them, and Ameki had always had a soft spot for the orphans in the village, now she suspected she knew why. A part of her must have always felt that side of her mother. She hadn’t known, but Rin had always been kind to them, and so had Ameki. She didn’t wear her finery into the village. She sported a simple purple yukata, but people immediately recognized their princess and bowed in her passing.
Ameki made her way to the far side of the village where a small grove of wild flowers grew. It was a place that her and her mother had often visited when she was a child, and became a place where she could find Solitude after her father’s passing. It had been a little over a year since her father had died. They had recently celebrated her 19th birthday, and Yuudai had thought it comical to arrange a celebration that was themed as a sort of “auction” to dance with the old maid on her birthday. It was all in good humor, but deep down Ameki did feel a bit insulted at her uncle’s jokes. Afterall, it hadn’t been that long ago that he had tried to give her hand in marriage to an older lord in a southern region.
Ameki sat among the many wild flowers and listened to the sounds of the babbling brook near the pathway. Behind her was the dirt path she had tread through the village and fields to get there. The little area was semi secluded by shrubs and wild bushes. No one from the village could see her, but anyone approaching the village would, and it didn’t surprise her when a courier clad in armor appeared from the tree line and beaten path.
The man, no, the boy was much younger than Ameki. She could tell by the small amount of stubble that stuck out in patches on his chin that he wasn’t a seasoned veteran by no means. He approached her, breathless in demeanor. His legs were shaking as if he had ran all the way from wherever he was coming from.
“Princess…” He said breathlessly. Ameki stood and quickly nodded her head, giving him permission to continue.
“You need to get back to the castle as soon as possible. It’s not safe, they are coming.” The young boy took a step forward and collapsed onto one knee. The view of the arrow protruding from his shoulder came into Ameki’s sight, causing her to gasp loudly and drop down beside him to aid in any way possible.
“What has happened?” She gently touched the arrow which caused the young man to wince and inhale sharply.
“They pushed us back over the borders in a retreat. They don’t rest, they don’t need it. For men it would be a three day march, but for monsters it could be only one. Don’t worry about me princess…” He trailed off as he attempted to catch his breath again.
“Tell lord Yuudai that we tried our best, and most men stayed to fight and lost their lives.” He bent over and lost himself into a coughing fit. Ameki tried to steady his shoulders enough for him to catch his breath once more.
“The rumors never mentioned demons fighting other demons, but both sides are attacking humans if they interfere.” Ameki was completely confused by his words. Her uncle had sent his army to dispatch of the demon/human coalition, but demons fighting demons?
“I don’t know what to make of this information, I’m sorry.” Ameki tilted the young man’s head up to look into her eyes.
“Please, don’t try to move. I’m going to go find someone to help you. I’ll bring the physician and some guardsmen.” Ameki smiled slightly, trying to ease the tension of the situation.
She sped through the planting fields and straight into the village only coming to a halt when she approached the physician’s hut. Luck would have it a few guardsmen were already there having the physician tend to wounds that had been inflicted during training.
When Ameki was sure the young man would be taken care of she found her uncle, Lord Yuudai. He was in his usual area of the courtyard where a few guardsman soared their arrows into dummies fashioned from bags of rice. Ameki wasted no time, and spared formalities.
“My Lord, the demons are near.” Yuudai cocked a brow. Ameki had succeeded in drawing his attention away from the criticism he was clearly prepared to bestow upon the new guardsmen.
“Where did this information come from?” Yuudai turned his form toward her and stiffened his shoulders.
“I was in the grove-” Yuudai held his hand up and sighed.
“You shouldn’t wander too far in times of war. I’ll have to speak with your mother about this.” Ameki was almost astonished at his lack of attention to detail. She had valuable information that a young man had risked his life for to deliver and her uncle, the Lord Yuudai, was more concerned about her visiting a grove.
“I understand my lord, but I intercepted one of your scouts. He was badly injured.” Yuudai clicked his tongue and motioned for her to walk with him.
Ameki explained the events that unfolded in the grove, and told him all of the information that had been given to her by the young man. Yuudai soon left to have the scout moved to the palace healer instead of the town physician. Ameki took his departure as permission to make her own.
Rin watched from the balcony facing the courtyard, and listened to the echo of words that bounced off of the tall courtyard walls. There was no doubt in her mind who would be commanding one of the demon armies. Lord Sesshomaru was close. She turned on her heel and briskly walked back into the palace. The thrumming of blood in her ears was proof enough that she was not prepared to lay eyes on the man who had made it possible for her to have a life. No, he did not hand her every luxury she currently had, but he had been kind enough, even with as reputed as his reputation was toward humans, to take in an orphan and protect her. He had not been the best guardian for such a young child, but he ultimately remedied the situation after leaving her in the village with Kaede. Those actions alone had made it possible for her to find her husband, and bring her daughter into the world.
Rin sorted through the possibilities in her mind. Two demon armies fighting against each other more than likely meant someone had attempted to overthrow Sesshomaru’s rule. Meaning that particular demon must have been immensely powerful themself. Rin’s mind wandered to her old home village. Kaede had died a few years after Rin’s marriage, and Kagome had taken over the Miko duties that were left in her passing. War ravaged the Northern Regions, but Surely InuYasha and anyone else who held sympathy for the humans would have protected such villages.
Rin tried her best to put such worries out of her mind. The Yamato Castle was now in the direct path of the war it would seem. Rin hastened her steps to the maid quarters. She wasn’t sure what plans Yuudai had for the upcoming invasion, but she was going to make sure that everyone in the castle that did not have to stay for honor would be gone. She burst through the doors, surprising a few maids who sat at a small table in the center of the room. One maid had been sipping tea, which was now evident on the front of her Obi. Rin wasted no time on formalities.
“Please, do not panic there is still time. Though I do say this with utmost urgency. Find anyone who wishes to leave the castle and take them to the village. From there gather the villagers and move farther south.” Rin spoke without taking a breath causing her to feel a tad light headed. She gathered herself before answering the onslaught of questions directed toward her.
Ameki made her way to the village once more. She didn’t want to leave these people oblivious, as her uncle was surely to do. Appearance was everything to him, and if he warned them of the upcoming invasion it would make him appear weak. His armies were not able to hold off the intruders in his region, and now everything would fall back to the castle front. He would want every man, woman and child to pick up a weapon before he would so easily lose. Ameki knew deep down that it had not been Yuudai’s fault that he was this way. Her father, Ichiro, had often told her stories of her grandfather’s great feats in securing this castle long before he had been born. Ichiro had also mentioned that his younger brother Yuudai had been molded more into his father’s image than Ichiro had been. Ichiro took most of his qualities from his mother, who had been a merchant’s daughter, before becoming the wife to the Lord of the Region. Yuudai was battle hardened, but Ichiro had charisma.
Ameki did not want to draw attention to herself, doing so might have caught her uncle’s attention. Instead she walked from hut, to house, to shop and told people individually of the possibility of a battle. A few individuals didn’t even seem surprised. Most of the commoners and peasants had already migrated to this region to escape their war torn homes.
“At this rate there will be nowhere left to go…” Whispered an old man that sat in the corner of his market stall.
“We will just have to keep moving papa. We made a good bit of coin while we were here though.” Said a young woman about Ameki’s age. She smiled sadly at Ameki and motioned the old man to the hut nearest the stall. Ameki noticed a few more people in the village that she had seen many times at the castle. They were whispering hushed words. A maid she recognized rushed up to a guardsman and embraced him. Parents began ushering their children to the road headed South East with little more than what they could carry on their backs.
The sight before Ameki saddened her. Everything, everyone she knew would either be relocating or waiting out the battle to return. She sent a silent prayer to the sky in hopes that the ancestors of the many individuals leaving would hear and guide them to safety.
Rin wanted nothing more than for her daughter to leave the palace. She went over the idea of running away with her in her head numerous times, but knew that forcing her daughter to abandon her home, her domain, would be wrong. Even if Yuudai had known that Rin were at fault, he would still punish the princess, and ban her from these lands. Rin guided Ameki, and the remaining people who chose to remain at the castle to the lower quarters that were reinforced with stone. Rin remembered many battles that had involved demons from her days traveling with lord Sesshomaru. The stone walls wouldn’t hold for long if the demons decided to target the castle. Most of the upper floors were made of wood and would vanish quickly in the flaming battle that neared the castle walls.
Yuudai had gathered the remainder of his forces and every man that had decided to stay behind. All were equipped with weapons from the castle armory, and where there was a shortage, peasants armed with field shovels and hoes. Most of the women in the castle now accompanied Ameki and Rin in the stone Corridors. It wasn’t long until the booming sound of thunder could be heard, and a battle broke out from all sides of the castle. Ameki stayed rather calm, being trained as a princess gave her qualities to stay strong in the face of her people. Rin, though rather terrified, was in awe of her daughter’s bravery as the beams and floor above them shook, and the loud noises from beyond the stonework could be heard.
The battle raged on for what seemed like an eternity in Rin’s mind. She continued her silent prayers, and even did her best to soothe the cries of the women surrounding her. One woman, maybe a few years younger than Ameki, was swollen with the promise of life. Ameki held her smallest cousin in her arms. Rin could see the dire state of their situation waning her daughter’s composure. Her eyes were more frantic than they had been in the beginning of the battle. Yuudai’s mistress, Soaku, comforted her other two children as their soft wails continued into her Kimono.
Among the many noises that surrounded them, Rin heard a familiar screech on the other side of the barricaded door. It was a sound that made her heart race in leaps and bounds. A sound that almost brought joy into her defeated heart.
“Staff of two heads!” out of the corner of Rin's eye she caught sight of Ameki throwing herself in front of a group of women that were huddled in the corner. Ameki's littlest cousin was now in Soaku's arms. The once barricaded door sent debris all over the stone room as it exploded. Rin huddled behind a few weapon stands that sat bare, giving her little cover from the smaller debris, but deflecting the large splintered boards that sailed through the air.
A small silhouette stood in the doorway, Rin began making out his little green shriveled features as the dust settled. Most of the women shrieked at the sight of him, but Rin noticed that Ameki stood strong, shielding everyone behind her.
“Rin!!! I half expected to find something similar to the old hag we left you with, but this is more pleasing to the eyes!!!” Rin watched as Jaken clumsily navigated through the debris, and bounced up to Ameki. Without hesitation Ameki brought her foot up and shoved the shrieking imp to the floor where she pinned him down.
“Hey, What are you doing you insolent woman!!! This is no way to greet your master!” Jaken choked the last few words out as he took in Ameki’s features.
“Wait.... You aren’t-” Jaken’s words were cut short as Ameki applied pressure to the foot she had lodged against his chest. Rin took that as her que to make her presence known.
“That is my daughter master Jaken.” Rin stepped out from behind the armor stand.
“Let him go Ameki.” Rin said with a light tone, trying to reassure her daughter with her softened eyes. A few of the women squealed in displeasure at Rin’s request. Ameki glanced back down at the wiggling imp beneath her foot, unsure if letting him go would be wise. Eventually she released him, stepping back with caution. The little imp coughed and cleared his throat as he stood.
“It figures the blossom wouldn’t fall far from the tree. She’s just as disobedient as you were Rin.” Ameki took a step toward the imp and replied.
“Disobedience would mean you were still pinned to the floor, but if that is what you want…” Ameki slightly raised her leg as a threat. Jaken’s eyes widened as he scurried a few steps backwards.
“That’s enough, the both of you.” Rin said with a stern tone. This was no time to be quarrelling. If
Master Jaken had arrived, then no doubt Sesshomaru was somewhere nearby.
“How do you know this toad mother?” Ameki asked with a puzzled stare.
“It’s a long story my dear.” Rin replied, turning back to Jaken.
“Why are you here?” Rin asked, hoping that Jaken would keep it short and sweet, and not like most of the long winded lectures she remembered from childhood.
“Lord Sesshomaru was right. He knew you wouldn’t leave the castle. Such a foolish woman you are Rin. Though I’m glad to see you are nothing like that prune of a woman we left you with. That much is a relief.” Rin didn’t have time to reply before a large Ogre demon burst into the room through a wall. The only thing resembling clothing on the beast was animal and demon pelts it had wrapped around its waste. A few of the pelts looked fresh. Jaken stepped in front of Rin with his staff prepared.
“What are you all waiting for?” Jaken screeched.
“Run through the door, escape this place.” He opened a bout of flames toward the ogre, sending it off balance as it tried to shield itself from the flesh searing pain. The ogre stumbled into the area where most of the women had previously been huddled, slamming into the wall. The whole room seemed to shake as stone crumbled under his weight. A few beams fell, separating Rin from Ameki. Ameki turned back in the doorway, just in time to see the roof collapse onto the area of the room where the ogre, the little imp, and her mother had been.
“Mother!!!” Ameki screamed as tears sprang to her eyes. The screams of the women fleeing down the hall behind Ameki faded into the sounds of the ongoing battle around them. Ameki stood in absolute horror as she watched the debris settle. The whole area was covered in heavy wooden beams and everything that had occupied the floor above them. Tears soaked Ameki’s face as her breath halted, and her heart shattered.
In the distance the battle raged on. The Great Dog Demon continued his attacks, and elegantly maneuvered around oncoming blows. Attack after attack would not, and could not slow his stride. The one detail that did cause him to halt, was the smell of salt and flowers that wafted through the thick smell of blood that surrounded him.