The afternoon slowly slipped into the evening hours as Ameki lazily gazed across the flower filled meadow. She leaned against Ah-Un who rested. The two headed beast had moved closer to Ameki in an attempt to protect her as Jaken scoured the area. After no threats had been detected they had all been left stumped at what could have possibly happened. Ameki had let Jaken investigate the wounds more closely. They were already beginning to heal. The blood hardened into a thick scab that was already flaking and becoming tender pink scar tissue around the edges. Ameki was truly confused and even Jaken had seemed baffled.
Rin’s stomach growled once more, the food she had prepared that morning was gone and Jaken was the one to blame. Jaken still stood guard, pacing a few feet away from where Ameki sat with Ah-Un.
“I do hope Lord Sesshomaru returns soon, but not too soon.” Jaken said anxiously. Ameki turned her attention to the small imp.
“How does that make any sense Jaken?” She asked with a hint of humor entering her voice. Jaken turned swiftly and pointed a small brittle finger at her.
“It doesn’t have to now pipe down.” Ameki raised an eyebrow and tilted her head in a playful manner as if to challenge him.
“The sooner Lord Sesshomaru returns, the sooner we can get rid of you.” He quipped. A bead of sweat rolled down the green imps wrinkly forehead as his gaze settled on the bloody shoulder of Ameki’s yukata.
“You better heal up by then girl, now be quiet and rest.” With that Jaken turned back around and resumed his pacing.
Ameki shook her head and turned her gaze to the evening sky. How did she end up in this mess? Her thoughts there after consisted of worry. She wasn’t sure where she would go, or what she would do with her life. Part of her wanted to return to her home, and find anyone that might still be alive, but deep down she just wanted to imagine that everyone else had made it out safely. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to know the truth. The thought of going back terrified her in more ways than one.
Ameki started to drift. Her tired and aching body welcomed the slumber that her mind promised. She tried her best to keep her thoughts happy as she fell asleep, afraid that nightmares would take over if she didn't. Ameki sighed in content as images of her mother and father crossed her mind. She imagined that their reunion in the afterlife would be beautiful, and one day she would join them too if she were permitted. For now, they had catching up to do. Ameki could feel the small smile peak at the corner of her mouth, her face muscles had taken on a mind of their own. She remembered times when she had been little and her mother had sung to her. She had voiced tales of heroics, and battles that were won, hearts that yearned for return, and goodbyes that were forever. One of her mother’s songs echoed in her memories.
Take on this journey with me by your side
When you are around I don’t have to hide
We traversed the land, I’ll sing of your stories
A white clad celestial, Or a demon full of worries?
Fate brought me to you,
Fate took you away,
Remember me kindly for thats what I pray.
Lord of the land, God of my heart
You saved me eternal from the very start
The clouds hung low in the western sky
I waited for you, but you never said goodbye
Fate brought me to you,
Fate took you away,
Remember me kindly for thats what I pray.
Amber, the color, that makes my heart whole
Far above the land, dominion, your role
A battle readied hand, a reckoned force to be
A warrior of the land, but a God to me
Fate brought me to you,
Fate took you away,
Remember me kindly for thats what I pray.
The crescent, the center, of the beautiful silver crown
The thought of you chases away all of my frowns
A guardian true, a protector for me
I will forever be grateful, eternally
Fate brought me to you,
Fate took you away,
Remember me kindly for that's what I pray.
Ameki opened her eyes to gaze into amber orbs. No doubt the same amber that her mother had spoken of in her songs. Ameki swallowed hard as Sesshomaru's eyes scanned her cheek and then her shoulder. Their first bit of eye contact had made her slightly self conscious. Ameki knew she was a mess. Her hair was unkempt, her clothes tattered and bloody. Somewhere along the way she had even lost a shoe. That was no way for a princess to be presented, even if her title didn't mean anything anymore. She was in the presence of The Great Lord Sesshomaru. Demon or not, he had saved her life and done right by her mother.
Sesshomaru stood from his kneeling position, the oblivious Jaken still searched the skies for his Lord in the near distance. Sesshomaru had made his appearance in absolute silence.
“Jaken.” Sesshomaru's voice was low. The green imp’s anxious frame froze for a few moments. Ameki saw the tremble creep into his movements as he slowly turned around to face them.
“Lord Sesshomaru… You've returned!” Jaken's voiced mirrored the tremble of his posture.
“Please hear me out my lord. We didn't see what attacked her, and it never came-”
“Your services are required.” Sesshomaru replied, cutting Jaken's rushed explanation off. Sesshomaru began walking and Jaken followed. Ameki turned her attention to the last few rays of sun that blanketed the nearby meadow. She could feel the familiar tug of sleep pulling her under.
When Ameki awoke the rays of sun were on the opposite side of the sky, and the birds were singing. Many different bird sounds, among other small animal sounds came from the forest. Ah-Un still lay beside her, the two headed beast had stayed by her side the entirety of the night it had seemed. She couldn’t help but to smile up at the hulking beast. How could something that looked so intimidating be so gentle? Ameki stretched her limbs, taking in the many different aches that had dulled, but new ones were in place, more subtle ones.
She blinked a few moments curiously, and stretched her right arm out once more. She didn’t feel the slight pain that should have been accompanied to the action. She quickly lowered the collar of her yukata and found the area where the mysterious gashes had appeared the day before, but all she found was slightly raised flesh that held a pinkish hue against the contrast of her pale skin. Puzzled she reached for her cheek. Instead of tender flesh, she felt a small tingle and a slightly smoothed raised surface where the other scratch had been. Jaken had mentioned in his hasty observations of the wounds that they had been healing quickly, but she had thought he simply meant that the bleeding had stopped.
Her mind raced, looking for any and everything that could serve as an explanation as to how the wounds had mended so quickly and so well without proper treatment. Had she been attacked by some kind of demon that didn’t leave marks for very long? She felt foolish, almost as if she had made up the possibility on the spot, which in reality she had. In either case, she was happy that she wouldn’t have to deal with the possibility of infection, or simply even the mild discomfort they had caused in her movements.
Sesshomaru was waiting for her. He had perched himself upon a boulder that faced the large meadow. He seemed almost lost in thought, but Ameki knew that he was probably aware of her. He was a demon after all, and Jaken had gone to great lengths in describing his lords abilities. Some Ameki had even brushed off as exaggerated in an attempt for the little imp to boast his master’s image. Ameki did wonder though how much of it had been true. The sight before her was beautiful, if beautiful was the right word to describe such a dark creature. Sesshomaru was a full blooded Yokai, and they often presented themselves in much more pleasing manners than the simple Oni did. Ameki half wondered who it was that the Youkai were trying to impress, and did appearance really matter that much?
Ameki cringed as she remembered the current state she herself was currently in. She needed to return to the stream and at least try to wash some of the dirt from her limbs and face. Her sudden motions to stand caught Sesshomaru’s attention. Ameki didn’t know whether or not she should state her intentions, but she did know that Sesshomaru’s gaze wasn’t leaving the pitiful state she was in. She settled her mind with a small reply to his gaze.
“I would like to try and freshen up in the stream a bit.” She stood awkwardly, almost as if she were waiting for permission. Did she have to have his permission? It wasn’t like she was a prisoner, was she?
“Very well.” Sesshomaru replied as he stood. At first Ameki was terrified that Sesshomaru had intended on following her, but she soon settled those thoughts as he nudged something from the other side of the boulder with his boot.
“Another minute…” She heard the sleepy groan billow out from behind the stone. Sesshomaru just stared down at what Ameki had realized was probably Jaken’s sleeping form. He was going to send the imp with her. This made Ameki cringe even more than when she had though Sesshomaru was going to accompany her.
“Now.” Sesshomaru’s voice was a bit lower this time, and something about it made the light splay of hair on Ameki’s arms stand on end.
She caught sight of a small form that jumped straight up and stiffened.
“Yes my lord!” Replied Jaken in an all too eager tone. He bent back down out of Ameki’s sight and soon appeared from around the boulder carrying something that was neatly wrapped in decorated rice paper. It was apparent that Jaken struggled to balance the package while he tried to walk. It was easily one third of his size. Jaken stumbled up to Ameki, and handed her the rather light bundle. Ameki surmised that it had not been a weight issue that had thrown Jaken off of balance, but rather the bulky shape of the package had been odd for him to try and carry with his small frame.
“What is this?” Ameki asked as she gazed down at the intriquiet designs that had been hand scribed onto the decorative paper. It looked rather fancy, as if it had come from an expensive shopping district meant for nobles.
“A present from Lord Sesshomaru!!!” Jaken bellowed.
“But don’t get used to it girl. You should feel honored. Lord Sesshomaru rarely presents anyone with gifts of such value… or any gifts at all.” Jaken whispered the last part more to himself. Ameki glanced back up at Sesshomaru who had turned away from them and was staring at something she couldn’t guess at in the distance. She wanted to thank him, because that seemed most proper. A part of her didn’t want to disturb him though, or approach and disrupt his thoughts in that moment. Instead she turned her attention back to Jaken.
“I am most humbled by these gifts, whatever it is that they may be.” She frowned realizing she had no idea what could be hidden by the beautiful wrapping. Jaken motioned to her as if to open it.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Ameki crouched back down onto her knees and let the package rest on her lap. She untied the package which was adorned with a purple silk ribbon.
Upon opening the present she was presented with something that made the beating heart within her chest skip. She grabbed the neatly folded item and pulled it out, letting all of the other neatly wrapped clutters fall back into the indentation of the packaging. The design was beautiful, and she was in awe as she unfolded the Yukata. The Silken white material was decorated with pink blossoms down the left side. Each blossom was outlined with a darker, almost magenta colored thread that gave each flower a bold design that would no doubt stand out against the white base color. The obi that dropped from the bundle matched with the smaller more intricate blossoms that were much more darker against the pale pink base color.
Shock entered Ameki’s features, and Jaken beamed at her with a wide smile that proved he was pleased with her reaction. Ameki didn’t want to let the yukata out of her sight. She had lived in a castle her whole life, and had never seen such fine craftsmanship or taste in design in her nineteen years. Ameki turned her attention to the other items, among them that were not wrapped were a comb, and a small bamboo container that smelled awfully fragrant. Ameki soon realized that Sesshomaru had gifted her with all the items she needed to keep up her appearance. A part of her was absolutely ecstatic, but another much more dampened side of Ameki wondered if her current appearance really did bother him. How could it not? It had obviously bothered her. Maybe he was simply trying to lift her spirits considering all that had happened to her. Could it be that simple?
Ameki grabbed the last wrapped item, and instantly knew what it was. She opened the package to reveal the Geta sandals. The thick wooden base was a light color, and the threaded thong was made of the same silky white material as the Yukata. Ameki’s breath caught. She looked up and stared straight through the imp that was still beaming, her gaze settling on the form in the distance. She didn't know what to say or do, but she quickly hid the tears that were forming, and cleared the lump from her throat with a small cough. When she was certain that her emotions were under control she spoke in a whisper, knowing that Sesshomaru would hear her.
“Thank you my lord.”
He knew the whisper had come from Ameki, but the familiar sense engulfed him sending a wave of invisible chills down his back. In that moment she had sounded much like the child he remembered her mother to be. He did not turn around, instead slightly turned his head glancing sideways and nodded in silence. He listened as her footsteps moved farther away and into the forest. A smaller set of footsteps approached him. He glanced sideways once more and saw the two headed beast take off into the sky where it lingered just above the treetops. Ah-Un would watch over the girl.
“My lord, I think she was pleased with your gifts.” Sesshomaru nodded in Jaken’s directions. Sesshomaru had sent Jaken to pick out the finest clothing in the nearest market district.
“You did well in choosing Jaken.” Jaken’s smile grew even wider, and his eyes doubled in size as his master’s approval washed over him. It was rare that Sesshomaru ever acknowledged Jaken’s constant effort to impress his lord, but if Ameki was happy, then Sesshomaru was content and feeling rather generous.
They were currently in a northern region, one that had been missed by Yakunan’s game of war. Sesshomaru had kept track of the regions affected by the many battles, and would make sure that his foothold in those regions did not waver. As for the humans he had no say. They simply ruled themselves, but he was assured that if a certain princess was to arrive in the region, an unwed princess with stories of her clans decimation, she would be taken in hastefully.
Sesshomaru was not keen on the idea. Jaken had suggested the possibility to him the previous night. Sesshomaru had wanted Ameki to be farther away from Yakunan’s clutches, but he wasn’t sure if that was possible now. He was not familiar with the sorcery that Yakunan had delved into when he had seemingly marked Ameki. The extent his powers had on her were still unknown, and Sesshomaru had preferred to keep her close until he could figure out how to dispatch of Yakunan without hurting Ameki. One thing that Sesshomaru was in fact certain of, was that any injury that was inflicted onto Yakunan, manifested onto Ameki. Sesshomaru would have to rethink his strategy concerning Yakunan, because a simple wound to a demon could easily be a mortal wound for a human. Sesshomaru inwardly growled at the idea. Yakunan was playing on a weakness that Sesshomaru himself found quite distasteful, or at least he once had. A lifetime ago Sesshomaru would have simply sneered at the thought of protecting a human as his father had done. To fall for such a weak vessel, and put its safety above one's own had been an incomprehensible idea, and had caused great strain on Sesshomaru’s relationship with his father.
Sesshomaru had watched as his father’s legacy and life spiraled out of control. It had all been because of the human woman and the half demon spawn, InuYasha. InuYasha… the named rolled in his thoughts as tastelessly as it would have off of his tongue. The thought of his half brother hadn’t crossed his mind in some time. Though, there had not been a reason to since Rin had been married and moved away from his village. Sesshomaru’s pride had been too strong to ask the half demon for help after Yakunan’s uprising. Though his talents, though half wit as they might have been, could be used in this situation. Sesshomaru pondered the these new elements for a bit longer. Ameki would be a stranger to everyone in these villages and castles, but if he were to return her to his brother’s village, she would at least be around people that had known her mother. Human’s were very sentimental when it came to such things. In his last dealings with them he had been assured that Rin would be protected, and she had been. They had kept their promise. That is until she was married, and moved away from the people who had made those promises. Rin had become her own person though, and that couldn’t be helped. He would stew on the idea later, turning his thoughts back to Yakunan.
Sesshomaru heard the weighted landing of the two headed dragon, and soft footsteps approached from the forest soon after. He couldn’t recall how long he had been lost in thought, he had done that a lot lately. There was so much to reflect on, he glanced down the hill at where the flower covered stone was erected. The light footsteps came to a halt, causing Jaken to gasp near him. The imp had been oddly quiet as well, staring into the meadow.
Sesshomaru glanced to see where Jaken’s attention had been drawn to. He turned slowly and caught sight of Ameki. The Yukata fit her well, hugging her to expose the perfect swell of her hips on each side. The obi varnished her midsection properly holding the yukata in place while supporting her weighted chest… Sesshomaru halted his thoughts not letting them venture into despicable territory. His gaze rested on her face, framed by long locks of dark hair that cascaded well below her waist. Her bangs shaded the eyes that reminded him so much of Rin’s, but exposed the rest of her features that were moderately foreign to him. She carried her mother’s likeness in her eyes, and in the brown tint that was illuminated by the sunlight in her black hair, but the physical comparisons ended there.
Ameki’s scent drifted on the breeze so carelessly, finding a host that was Sesshomaru. The fragrant aroma was not so much different from the field of flowers that spread vastly down into the meadow. Sesshomaru stood unmoving as he usually did, but deep down he was quelling his demon which gave a low content growl. She was not Rin, but she was all that he had left of her, and he would not lose it. The familiar territorial side of Sesshomaru tried to surface, but he simply masked all emotion with a stoney expression.
Ameki was slightly smiling as she looked to Sesshomaru and then Jaken. Jaken was still staring at the girl with wide eyes.
“Now you look like a princess. Who would've thought that Rin’s daughter would be a princess?” Jaken blurted with a small chuckle.
“It’s a strange world knowing that someone found her constant banter to be enjoyable, especially knowing that person was a lord. You mortals are strange.” Jaken said with a quizzical look. Ameki’s smile broadened.
“You are quite the talker yourself Jaken.” Ameki replied.
“That’s master Jaken from now on Missy.” Jaken blurted shaking his staff in her direction.
“Oh forgive me. If that’s what you wish master.” Ameki’s playful tone eased the atmosphere around them, leading Sesshomaru into a more comfortable state of mind compared to where his thoughts had previously been. Sesshomaru would never admit it, but he had missed the constant bickering that Jaken seemingly enjoyed. At first it had been rather irritating, but Sesshomaru was often one to lose himself to his brooding nature. The constant bickering between Rin and Jaken had often kept him level headed, and allowed him to focus on what was ahead of him, and not so much about the past. It was much like a breath of fresh air to hear the witty quips Ameki threw back at Jaken.
Ameki turned her attention to Sesshomaru, her face turning serious.
“I want to thank you for these gifts, though I would like to compensate you in any way that I can.” Her words trailed off and her pale cheeks gained a hue of pink that matched the blossoms that were embroidered into her yukata.
“What I mean is, that I know they are gifts, but I don’t want to accept them without being able to do something in return. I could pay you, or…” Her voice trailed off as her eyes found the ground. Sesshomaru knew full well that she could not pay him, and she was currently realizing this as well.
“I could enlist myself into your services.” She looked back up and tried to mirror the stone faced Sesshomaru. Jaken laughed at her reply, not a small chuckle, but a full hearty laughter that rang off of the nearby forest, making the complacent Sesshomaru want to instinctively cover his sensitive ears. He stood still and waited for the imp to end his bout of laughter. Ameki narrowed her eyes at the small imp accusingly.
“What could a mortal girl possibly do for The Great Lord Sesshomaru?” Jaken straightened his back, as if to challenge her. He waited for an answer. Sesshomaru could see that Ameki was slightly flustered at his question. Sesshomaru knew that she had nothing to offer, and he hadn’t expected anything in return.
“I could...I…” Ameki trailed off, but didn’t have to continue. Sesshomaru would settle this here and now.
“The things that were given to you were a gift. That is final.” Ameki and Jaken looked at Sesshomaru.
Sesshomaru’s used an even toned voice to state his decision. It would be bellow him to accept a gift from a human. His thoughts flashed back to a young Rin that offered the wounded Sesshomaru food. He had not accepted then, and he would not accept now.
“So what happens now?” Ameki’s voice washed through his mind, sending a ripple over the images of Rin that had snuck up on him. Sesshomaru didn’t know how to answer, because he had not decided what to do yet. It was Jaken who answered her.
“Now, we find you a new home. Surely one of the mortals around these parts will take you in.” Ameki looked questioningly at Jaken.
“Can I have a choice in what I do?” Jaken huffed and stomped his foot, not giving nearly the impact he had wished.
“Lord Sesshomaru didn’t save you to just let you walk blindly back into the world. We need to make sure you are in good hands.” Ameki frowned.
“I’m a grown woman, and am completely capable of finding somewhere suitable if I wish too.” Ameki replied. Sesshomaru’s curiosity peaked at this new side Ameki presented.
“I’m grateful that you helped me, but if any decisions are going to be made on my well being than I would like to be a part of that decision making.” Ameki turned her hardened gaze that was directed towards Jaken to Sesshomaru, letting her features instantly lose the edge of authority she had tried to maintain while addressing Jaken. Her eyes took on a hint of pleading, eyes so similar to Rin’s.
“What is it that you propose?” Sesshomaru asked, gaining a shocked side glance from Jaken. Ameki sighed and closed her eyes.
“If it's not too much to ask…” She paused, opening her eyes and steadying her gaze.
“My mother mentioned a village she had lived in before marrying my father, I think I would like to go there. That is if the war hasn’t destroyed it.” Ameki let her gaze fall to her clasped hands that rested below her obi. Sesshomaru could see that with each moment that past, she became more nervous of the answer that he would give.
“Very well.” Ameki’s gaze shot up, and a gleam entered her eyes. His answer had made her happy, and knowing that tugged at something within Sesshomaru. Something he would not dare address.
“But that’s so far away…” Jaken groaned. Sesshomaru did not care what Jaken thought on the situation. Jaken had simply wanted to leave her in a random village, and play on the odds that someone would take pity on her. Sesshomaru could accept the terms of Ameki’s wishes, because he knew that without a doubt InuYasha’s village would shelter the daughter of his past ward. InuYasha’s friends had taken a liking to Rin, and he hoped that they could extend those feelings toward Ameki.
Sesshomaru was not very fond of his brother, but he could respect that the half breed had surpassed Sesshomaru’s expectations where strength was involved. He had, after all, mastered Tessaiga and ensured that the sword grew in power, even exceeding their late father’s usage of the sword. The Tessaiga grew with the power of its master, which meant that Ameki would be in capable hands.
Sesshomaru was certain that Yakunan would need time to regroup his men, and build back up his numbers. This would give them the time they needed to take Ameki where she wished. Sesshomaru knew this plan was the best they had at the moment.