Noise of Rain | Chapter Nine
Strange Complex Thing of My Love
Kikyo stared at the pale cloth that covered the body. Contour of face and chest, she knew them so well. Their hut seemed so quiet without the carry of his voice and she loathed the fact that it was absent—that silent lay as heavy and stagnant as her pregnancy. Every moment she waited for him to stir, his body to creak and groan back to life. But it never did.
Coming off the battlefield had been surreal, like just waking and finding herself on the teetering edge or both sleep and life.
After the body had hit the ground, Kagome’s Ghost General—that was what Kikyo had dubbed the accompanying dead boy—had fled, Kagome slung over his shoulder. They had disappeared into the mountain. Kikyo at that point had been tempted to leave the corpse there, face first in the muck and gore as it had been dropped. But something tugged at her chest and she found herself wandering towards it. Bow and arrows had been dropped. The horse she then guided with the reins towards the mangled body.
Golden eyes gazed unwavering and lifeless out at the massacre.
It took a lot of maneuvering, and she almost gave up, pain in her belly telling her to just leave it. But something refused to let her hands stay. So after what felt like hours, she managed to cross it over the back of her mount.
Now here they were, four days passed, and Kikyo had yet to burn the corpse. It was fine, she’d cremate it.
Swallowing thickly, the thatch flap to the hut fluttered and she forced herself to regain her composure. A messenger peered in.
“Lady Kikyo, the first sacrifice was burned and his ashes are properly sealed for your use. The second sacrifice is restrained and sedated.”
She nodded and waved them off.
Before she could visit the sacrifices, she’d assigned a meeting for herself and the shogun. As much as she despised having to put on an act and beg for aid—again—this next move was necessary. Perhaps initially she’d not expected the need to attack Kagome directly. The girl who housed Kikyo’s soul was a minor inconvenience at best. But the body beneath the sheet haunted her, and the idea of putting the soul to rest with Kagome’s blood sewn through the ground dearly eased her conscience. There was a rabid and ravenous ire that was only sated at the thought of the Edo Matriarch’s end. All things would be righted at that moment, the world would have been corrected. Inuyasha’s death before she could cause it herself would be avenged. Her soul would be properly contained within her own body again. And all of this demonic cultivation, which seemed to unite the demons and hanyou and the humans alike, would finally disappear with the quashing of the Burial Mounds village.
The boundaries set by the world which once separated the three would finally be restored.
She pulled herself away from the hut and entered the frozen and cold world. Snow piled in drifts and mounds, and hoofprints lined every which way—clear paths long forgotten.
A warm outer layer made of thatching was left hanging on the outside of her hut. She drew it over her shoulders and shivered when she realized the lingering scent of Inuyasha remained on it. The desire to pitch it was overwhelming and nauseating, but it was too cold to forgo the extra winter protection.
Carrying a brazier in both his hands, the village messenger from earlier waddled over to Kikyo. Wrapping some of the less-hot coals in a thick cloth, she pocketed some of them, enjoying the warming sensation they left against her skin through the material of her garb. With one more breath of relief, she took the brazier and returned into the hut just long enough to dump the coals and embers of fire onto the corpse’s cloth.
Almost immediately the white sheet caught flame.
She hurried from the hut back outside. “I will be staying with the shogun for at least the next day. When I return, I expect the hut Kaede had stayed in to be cleared and prepared for me.”
“Yes Lady Kikyo,” the messenger bowed respectfully.
Again she hated clambering onto her horse with the swell of her belly. But now more than ever did she need this child. It would help emass the Edo Matriarch’s downfall.
“Ensure the fire does not catch the rest of the village,” Kikyo commanded, nose wrinkling when she caught the distinct stench of burning rot.
The messenger assured her he would keep watch.
Riding to the shogun’s stronghold did not take long. Or maybe it did. Everything felt automatic, as if she were merely doing things from muscle memory. To her the scenery faded and appeared in a blink, only existing in a blur of emerald and opal watercolor until they arrived at the red gates that signalled the fort.
Gatekeepers called her arrival and she was admitted in.
Her audience with the shogun was immediate, and they saw her in seemingly before she could shake the snow and sleet from her outer layer. The meeting hall was warm, lit by sconces and a central fire. She made her way over to the lord her watched her with intrigue.
“You are the Shikon Miko.” It wasn’t a question, just a simple fact.
Kikyo inclined her head and slowly knelt before him, keeping her back rigid despite the pain that pulled at her lower spine. Gritting her teeth, she kept her eyes trained on him—intent evaluate his intentions. He seemed more curious than anything, and that made her scoff. A boy at heart it seemed. Fine, boys were emotional and she could use that to her advantage.
“I’m here to seek your assistance,” Kikyo said. “I’d sought a weaker militia and failed to take down the Burial Mounds or the Edo Matriarch. I need help.”
His posture shifted and his eyes widened with his gaze. “You wish to destroy the Edo Matriarch? That’s madness. Anyone across the state would know that she is not something to be trifled with. Rumor and tell have risen very quickly in the wake of her nefarious reputation.”
“Exactly why we must work together,” making a show of it, Kiko balled her fists and dipped her head downwards. “That demonic cultivator killed the father of my child. I want things righted.”
There was a moment of silence, and as tempted as it was to see the warring expressions wage on the man’s face, she knew to remain still and demure. He had to believe her pain. He didn’t know.
He couldn’t know the pain of being separated from half of your soul.
His voice shook a bit, as if outraged. “The partner of the Shikon Miko must have been a great man indeed. Such a crime should not have happened against such an esteemed person like yourself. We will see these wrongs corrected.”
Kikyo had to force her lips not to upturn as she gave a delicate bow.
The wind blowing snowflakes and ice into the flare of his bangs surprised him.
When Sesshomaru landed on the border of the Western lands, he found he couldn’t recollect if snow had permeated the grounds. Time flowed differently for him, and probably more akin to not at all, it seemed like just yesterday he’d delivered lotus pods to the miko for her growing village. Whom had been the main reason for his departure.
Traveling to the mainland had been arduous and taxing, not that someone such as himself would quiver at the journey. But it had taken more time than he’d preferred investigating.
On the mainland, there were more people aware of cultivation. He’d been hoping to find out more about the cultivators who relied on resentful energy rather than qi. Much to his disdain, the few records he found were neither helpful—and the few people who did have information did not carry much.
“Most demonic cultivators are quelled and their disciples diminished before they can spread,” one weary passerby had hissed. “I’d cut ties with anyone like that if I were you.”
The information from his trip had been dry and useless. Either being non-pertinent or things he’d discovered from his own observations. Only one sure-fire thing had been confirmed.
If Kagome did not cease her practices, the resentful energy being stored in both the Phoenix Amulet and drawn-in whenever she used Kangaimuryo, her mental state and her physicality would continue to deteriorate until there was nothing left of her. The unorthodox path did not leave its users unscathed.
He turned his direction towards the mountains that housed the Burial Mounds. Nostrils flared. Teeth clenched. Jaw pulled taut. Ill boding pulled at every direction of his instincts and something told him that if he did not fight now—it would be too late to even flee. Snarling and clenching sharp claws into the palms of his hands, Sesshomaru began his return trek towards Kagome.
The scent of blood loomed faint and stale on the wind.