It was the usual shtick.
A demon on the attack, the village in peril as youki and reiki clashed, Kagome's hands automatically notching and firing arrow after arrow. Unlike the usual, however, the priestess found herself fighting on her own.
"Over here!" She yelled, ducking low to avoid a blast of power, taking a knee and firing.
The oni sorceress grit splinter-thin teeth, slashing the arrow in half before it could embed itself into her ashen flesh. "For the last time, hand over the sacred jewel!"
"And for the last time: that's not been a thing for three years!" Kagome groaned with exasperation, getting to her feet and running in the opposite direction. "Get with the times, lady."
Leading the demon up the hill and away from Edo to prevent further damage to it, she headed into Inuyasha's Forest, getting a serious sense of déjà vu. With the wraith-like creature following her, it felt reminiscent of fleeing from mistress Centipede so long ago. Pity that her Hanyou friend happened to be running an errand far from the forest and Sango had left with Miroku to visit Kohaku with their three children.
Even Kaede was most likely tending to the terrified village folk that had fled shortly after the attack. She had to do this by herself.
Zig-zagging through the trees, Kagome panted, reaching behind her and brushing her fingers over the remaining fletchings in her quiver. Four left.
Skidding on her heel, she ducked behind a truck and nocked her bow. Trying to quiet her breath, Kagome stilled and listened.
Undergrowth kicked up, sending dirt scattering with a thunderous noise. The very earth seemed to shake. Kagome gasped and raised a shield of reiki to block the incoming blast that skittered in close, before she leapt out from behind the tree, firing at the sorceress.
The glowing pink arrow embedded itself in her shoulder, causing the woman to let out an ear-piercing wail that echoed throughout the forest. Kagome grit her teeth and put a hand over her ear, feeling the ground tremble under her feet. Her eyes watered and stung, forcing them shut.
"Curse you! I promise you shall pay for that, priestess!" Fell on deaf ears.
Disorientated, senses ringing, Kagome didn't notice the crackling beam of purple youki that shot through the air toward her. What she did notice- and feel, was the sensation of being bulldozed. A hard tackle knocked into her side, sending the priestess flailing away and landing like a rag doll on the ground, rolling a few times, limbs sprawled. Spitting dirt out of her mouth, Kagome coughed and raised her head, eyes widening.
Sesshoumaru of all demons stood in her place, body twitching. Aftershocks of purple static raced over pale skin. His lips were drawn back, exposing sharp fangs, a hiss escaping clenched teeth.
"Sesshoumaru?" Kagome croaked, picking herself up unsteadily and taking a step toward him. "What are you- why did you-?"
She didn't get an answer as the sorceress came sailing toward them, long fingers flexed wide as she wailed. Kagome lifted her bow, only to find it falling apart in her hands, broken.
Seeing no alternative the miko moved in front of the Daiyoukai, throwing her hands up and raising a shield, She grunted, feeling the impact of the creature hit it and subsequently burning with shrieks into nothingness, ash and flesh sizzling into the air. Kagome panted once everything became silent and the sorceress had completely disintegrated, wiping her brow.
Blue eyes then flicked to Sesshoumaru curiously. He'd saved her? She supposed it wasn't unheard of. He'd done it a few times in the past and they were technically still allies after Naraku's defeat. But 'taking the bullet' for her, so to speak? That was new and unexpected.
It was kind of...sweet? And that wasn't ever usually associated with the proud lord. Due to this, Kagome approached his oddly still figure from behind. "That got out of hand. I really should have dealt with her sooner but I guess I got all panicked and stuff so I led her in here. I'm not used to fighting on my own and it's been a little while," she babbled, laughing awkwardly. That awkward feeling doubled ten-fold when he didn't answer.
Instead of feeling insulted, Kagome blinked and noticed the tenseness of his limbs, the slight tremble. Lifting out her hand with the intent to touch, she stepped closer. "Sesshoumaru? Hey, are you alright?"
"Do not touch me!" He snarled a second too late.
Her hand rested on his arm before Kagome Higurashi disappeared.
Feeling came back into her hands, digits twitching, palms pushing against solid earth to lift herself up groggily. Her fingers noted the dust and small rocks biting into her skin as tired lashes peeled open, blinking.
"What the...what happened?" Kagome groaned, sitting back on her heels and glancing around. "Did I pass out?" She touched her head, feeling for a bump.
It looked as though she'd been moved from Inuyasha's forest, but where the heck she'd been taken remained a mystery. Light purple skies and thick puffy clouds stretched far above her head. The atmosphere felt strangely charged, like a humid summer day awaiting a distant storm despite there being no sun.
Kagome checked again, but as first thought, there wasn't a hint of it anywhere. Looking at the building before her, she tilted her head and stood.
It looked like a traditional Japanese mansion, tiled roofs a deep royal blue. One of the doors was slightly ajar- silver hair visible for a moment before the strands disappeared inside, a soft noise signalling the door sliding shut.
The path toward it that she was currently standing on stretched wide, but not infinite, stopping like it was a bridge suspended in the air. Curious, Kagome walked to the edge, eyes widening at the sheer drop awaiting her below. Clouds dipped beneath the path, which wasn't supported by any beams or structure that she could see, just solid earth. No matter how much she searched, the miko couldn't see land beneath the clouds.
"So...guessing I'm not in the feudal era," she murmured, before glancing at the mansion and walking towards it. The black pearl of Inuyasha's father's resting place briefly came to mind. "Or maybe I am but I'm in some kind of special place for demons?"
Glancing behind her confirmed nothing but an endless path stretching out into the horizon. She'd rather take her chances asking for directions at the mansion first.
I wonder where Sesshoumaru ran off to, she mused, assuming the glimpse of silver had been him. Only one demon owned hair so silky. Maybe this is his home?
Making to touch the wooden doors of the large entrance gate, Kagome started when they opened of their open accord, groaning and sliding slowly outwards. Inside the courtyard, countless little green imps hurried from the buildings in the mansion's compound, clutching bundles of scrolls towering high in their arms.
Blinking, Kagome watched them madly dash from building to building, their feet accompanied by little grunts of exertion. Was it just her, or did they all look like Jaken?
Ah, maybe that was being rude. Perhaps some of them were lady imps, but...
She squinted. They definitely looked and sounded like the grumpy retainer, dressed exactly like him. Why there were hundreds of Jakens running around remained to be seen.
Kagome hesitantly decided to make for the main building, which most of the Jakens seemed to be heading in and out of quickly. Trying to skirt out of their way, a few unlucky imps bumped into her legs.
"Ow! Watch where you're going!" Cried one in his usual grating voice.
Another looked up at her, groaning. "Oh no, not you again! Get out of here at once, you'll make him lose track!"
Kagome frowned and opened her mouth to ask what he meant, but the Jaken clones hurried on. Perplexed, she continued inching inside, hugging the walls to try and keep out of the imps way. Inside proved to be tastefully decorated, candles lighting the shadowed room the further in she crept. Swords hung on the walls, but mostly the space was taken up by countless cabinets and shelves towering high, filled to the brim with scrolls. Peering into the glass windows gave her a glimpse of what was being stored inside, and Kagome gaped at the sheer amount of scrolls stacked on top of each other, pressed close like sardines in a can. Obviously somebody hadn't organised their paperwork in a long time.
The candles eventually led her toward a large, high desk. And there the demon lord sat. He poured over scrolls, winter lashes lowered, golden eyes flicking over the words. She noted that he seemed to have changed clothes; the red and white silks having been replaced with a royal blue and white version of the same outfit, the honeycomb design appearing more regal than bloodthirsty without the red. The Jakens threw the scrolls they were holding onto the impossibly large pile towering high next to Sesshoumaru's desk, soon retreating to presumably get more.
"Um...Sesshoumaru?" Kagome tried, voice thin. "I feel like a filing system would-"
His head jerked up, surprise registering on his usually blank features, before he collected himself. He then continued reading.
Kagome bristled. "Hey, I'm talking to you. You're being kind of rude."
"Perhaps this one is ignoring you because your presence is a hindrance to my work, miko," he uttered eloquently. "Leave."
"I'd be happy to if you'd just take me back to Inuyasha's Forest," she seethed. "I don't know why you brought me here in the first place if I'm just in the way."
He tutted and discarded a scroll, flexing his fingers and leaking acid from his claws onto the paper as it fell, disintegrating into thin air. At that moment, the mansion walls seemed to shake, a bellowing roar sounding out in the distance.
The various imps squeaked and jumped, some dropping their scrolls as they scrambled over each other to bring forth yet more in a mini stampede. Kagome gaped and moved to the wall, clinging to it.
"What's going on!" She yelled.
Sesshoumaru frowned, picking up more scrolls and breaking the seals, reading quicker. "It appears the real miko has gone missing. She disappeared shortly after touching our shoulder-" he opened another. "Ideas so far; the sorceress must have put a spell on Kagome or teleported her elsewhere. The miko left no scent or clues as to where she went, therefore the best plan would be to find what spell was possibly used."
Kagome stared, mouth hanging open. "T-the real Kagome? But I'm...I'm Kagome?"
"Silence. You are but our host's fantasy who frolics from one emotion to the other," he dismissed, minding exquisite silver hair back from his shoulder.
The ground trembled again. Loud bangs sounded out, thunder and growling crashing in the sky above. "Look, what you're describing- I can remember touching your shoulder and I just defeated that sorceress you're talking about. I'm not sure what you mean by 'host,' but I'm me!"
Sesshoumaru's inhuman gaze lifted and pinned her in place. He then huffed quietly, steadying his quill and inkpot when it trembled on his desk, the snarling sounding closer. "A likely story. Make yourself useful and go calm that fool outside until repression comes. If you still have inane questions afterwards, I will be in more of a collected mind to answer."
"Uh...okay? What 'fool' are you talking about?"
He dismissed her with a wave of an elegant, deadly hand, before the scrolls tumbled onto his desk and hid him from view. "The angry one."
She didn't have much of a choice as the number of Jaken's increased, all jabbering worriedly and creating an agitated choir. Becoming claustrophobic, Kagome quickly stepped over them, squashing a few under her feet and dashing for the exit.
Making her way outside, Kagome took a few steadying breaths of fresh air, hearing another loud roar clearly above her head. Looking up, she found that the sky had dyed blood red, visible static crackling over the clouds.
A silvery-white inuyoukai leapt out from behind the powdery whisps in the sky, bellowing a crackling, enraged snarl. Its lips were peeled back, large teeth glistening with spittle. Kagome gulped, breath hitching.
I wonder if that's Sesshoumaru's cousin or something.
It proved difficult to think of a way to get the great beast's attention. He seemed happy to fly around and belt out roars of deep rage that curdled in her stomach, shaking the earth of the suspended mansion.
Kagome frowned, raising her arms and deciding the best course of action would be to seize attention boldly. Putting her palms out flat, reiki glowed upon her skin, spilling out as a large, consuming orb of pink light. The imps in the courtyard squeaked and scattered.
The inuyoukai stilled, interest zeroing in on her. It then shot down from the sky like someone had lit its fuse, paws slamming down onto the courtyard. With a short cry, Kagome lost her balance and rocked backwards on her heels, landing on her ass. Wincing, she felt her reiki die down just in time for a large wet nose to prod against her cheek. It moved to hover inches from her face, inhaling deeply.
Black hair lifted and tossed in the air from the action before Kagome pushed it aside and stood. Two red eyes stared down at her, a deep noise rumbling in the demon's chest and curling out of his teeth like a hiss of steam.
"H-hello," she cleared her throat and tried not to let herself show weakness. How the hell did she get into these situations? "It's nice to meet you, I'm-"
'You are missing,' the words hissed out, guttural and deep. 'Where is the miko? We lost her. How could we lose her!'
Kagome jolted and tried to hold still as the dog demon snarled, it's mouth unmoving despite the words she could hear.
She lifted her hands up, confused but keeping her voice gentle. "It's alright. I'm right here."
'It is her fault.'
Her brow twitched, gaze flattening. "Excuse me?"
More growls vibrated out into the air, sending her stomach into a flutter of frightened knots, but she held her ground. 'The miko touched us despite the hit of energy we endured! She is foolish!' He barked, tail swishing in agitation. 'Should have known better!'
Kagome felt her temper spike, glaring. She stepped, closer, heedless of her stomach bumping against his nose. "Well MAYBE if you'd just told me you were still struggling with the effects of the energy instead of getting quiet, I'd have backed off!" She snapped. "Instead, I wanted to see if you were okay, you know, like a friend!"
'We are not friends!'
"You took a blast of youki for me, stop being so stubborn!"
His jaws opened wide then and Kagome gasped, throwing her hands up defensively as his large teeth came within mere inches of her ear- before a whip of green light snapped out. It wrapped around his jaw several times, yanking with such a force the giant inuyoukai lost his footing, landing with a thud that shook the earth.
Kagome took a steadying breath once she'd caught her balance, eyes travelling from the whip to Sesshoumaru. This time, his honeycomb design was pale grey.
She opened her mouth to ask why he'd changed clothes, but nearly everything clicked the moment the inuyoukai on the ground snarled, fur releasing red mists that circled around him. Heat ruffled her clothes until the haze dispersed.
From within, another Sesshomaru sat with a foul expression, the whip wrapped around his midsection. His eyes remained burning red, markings jagged. His own white clothes bore the bright red honeycomb design of his clan. Only...for some reason, the crimson bloom seemed a different shade than what she was used to.
From the way he trembled with palpable rage, and from the complete and utter apathy rolling off the new Sesshoumaru, Kagome could only conclude one thing;
She was trapped somewhere with multiple versions of Sesshoumaru.
"Wrath, please calm yourself," uttered the Sesshoumaru in grey.
"Release me at once, you cannot stifle me!" The other snarled.
Kagome looked between the two, finally settling her gaze on the calm newcomer. Something the Sesshoumaru from earlier had said resounded in her mind. 'Make yourself useful and go calm that fool outside until repression comes.'
"Are you...repression?" She asked hesitantly.
"Hn," steady, lifeless eyes remained on 'Wrath.' "We must return you to your cage. Sadness has not displayed such childishness, you should know better than to act like an unruly pup."
Scratch that. She was most likely trapped in Sesshoumaru's mind and was currently conversing with his emotions.
Kagome put a hand to her head, feeling a migraine coming on. Why did these things always happen to her of all people?