Sesshomaru's brush missed the ink entirely.
"What do you mean, he is dead?" he asked carefully, certain that he'd misheard, as he turned his gaze away from the scroll he'd been writing to his vassal before him.
Jaken remained fully prostrate on the ground, though his voice was shrill enough not to be muffled. "InuYasha has died, my lord."
The brush snapped in Sesshomaru's hand, though he scarcely noticed. "When?" He felt the pulse of Tenseiga even now, imploring him to see if it would be too late to use the late on his half-brother.
"A w-week ago," Jaken stammered and Sesshomaru could smell the waft of sweat beading on Jaken's body as he began to shake. "Forgive me, my lord. We only received word this morning."
Sesshomaru ignored the rest of Jaken's pleading. A week, he mused, glancing over at his two swords hanging in the study next to him. The pallbearers would have already taken his soul to the afterlife by now. Tenseiga would not be able to restore him.
Without another word, Sesshomaru rose from his cushion, tucking his swords into his obi before he left his shiro altogether to seek out the truth of Jaken's words for himself.
He arrived at the village within the hour, his feet touching the ground as his orb dissolved. It was not his preferred method of transport but he had been unwilling to delay further. Using his nose, he searched out the lingering scent of his half-brother's wife, confident that the priestess would have the answers he sought.
He found her but stopped short at the sight before him. The priestess, donned in his half-brother's firerat armor, had curled in on herself, crumpled against the wall as one of her human companions tried to convince her to eat. Rin was there too, he realized in surprise, helping to prepare some mixture to give the younger priestess, toiling away under the careful eye of the elder priestess.
"Lord Sesshomaru," the elder priestess called out, noticing his arrival. "We had wondered if ye received the message. We were unsure where ye lived."
It explained who had sent the message and why it had been delayed but he filed away that information without bothering to give it consideration now. He had come in search of answers.
"The village was attacked on his human night," the elder priestess continued as if she knew what he'd been about to ask. "Everyone rallied for a fight but it was InuYasha who drove them off." Her gaze softened as tears brimmed in her eyes, making him distinctly uncomfortable. "We didn't know how injured he was until after the bandits had left. He was bleeding from over half a dozen different wounds."
Then the village is no longer safe, he concluded, eying Rin and his half-brother's wife. Though the monk and slayer had once been formidable allies for his half-brother, they now had children and were no longer able to provide the same level of protection. He had been comfortable in the knowledge that his half-brother would safeguard the village for Rin to grow up safely with her own kind, but now he was unwilling to allow her to remain unless Rin insisted.
"If ye would like to pay your respects, he has been buried under Goshinboku." The elder priestess hobbled her way over to the doorway as if to show him the way.
He allowed her to do more because he wished to see InuYasha's grave. Though InuYasha had been brash and uncouth, he was still the son of their father and deserved to be buried with honor and dignity. Sesshomaru would allow the villagers to do no less for InuYasha.
The grave she led him to had a small shrine already built on top, though it was clear that it had quickly been put together with whatever supplies had been readily available.
"The villagers believe that he will continue to protect the village, even in death," the elder priestess said as if to explain the shrine's presence.
"Was he buried with Tessaiga?" It was the only question he had for the elder priestess.
"It was given to Kagome." The elder priestess sighed heavily as Sesshomaru recalled that the younger priestess had been curled around something. "We could not bear to remove it from her for the burial."
In a way, he decided that was just as fitting, if not more so, than if InuYasha had been buried with it. She had been the one to pull the sword out, after all, and he recalled that it had protected her on more than one occasion.
But whether she was protected by the sword or not, it would not discharge his duty to her. Now that his half-brother had died, she was his responsibility and though he liked it not, the priestess had, by default, become Sesshomaru's own wife. He suspected that she would be as displeased by the idea as he was, but he would not shirk his duty and honor simply because the idea was distasteful.
After all, the marriage could simply be in name only. He was under no further obligation than that. He had no need of heirs now and even if he had required them now, he was not required to sire them with her. He wouldn't even be prohibited from taking another wife if he so chose, though the priestess would be first amongst said wives.
Not that it would matter for long. The priestess was human, with the short lifespan that accompanied it, and he would soon be discharged of his duty soon enough.
He made his way back towards the priestess and Rin, unwilling to remain in the village any longer than necessary.
"Rin." He looked down at the young girl who used to accompany him as soon as he reached the hut. "Gather the priestess' things."
She was quick to act as he bent to take the priestess into his arms. If she had been well, he would never have dared to do so, but he could hardly expect the priestess to follow after him in her current condition.
"Stop!" the monk protested, rising to stand in front of him as his wife moved to do the same. "Where are you taking her? She needs rest, Lord Sesshomaru!"
He could find no fault in their possessiveness and for that alone, he inclined his head in acknowledgement. "She will be cared for," he said simply and continued on his way with the priestess slack in his arms.
They made no attempt to stop him, not that they would have succeeded. He stepped onto his cloud as Rin followed suit, her arms full of the priestess' possessions. Rin had brought nothing of her own with her, but that didn't worry Sesshomaru. Whatever either human was missing, he would replace.
With that thought, he made his way back home, uncaring of what the humans may have thought.