Fragile, Pt. 2
It was cool in the hut, eve with the fire burning. The old miko sat near the fire pit, a low table in front of her, spread with various herbs and her mortar.
Kaede sighed as she prepared her herbs. “Ryuukouseikanbou. That’s a mouthful. Ryuukan for short. Akisuke got sick before you were gone two days. Now maybe 10 or 12 people here are in their beds. Fever, cough, pain. I’ll suspect there will be more soon.”
The old miko looked tired, but continued with her work. “Astragalus, angelica, ginseng,” she muttered, and reached for another herb. “There’s the ginger.”
She stopped her grinding for a moment, turned to look at her young assistant laying on the futon, under brightly colored covers, sleeping fitfully. The girl’s silver-haired husband sat next to her, checking on the cool compress on her forehead. “Most people who get it get better,” said the miko. “But I’m not sure Tomeo’s mother’s going to make it.”
“People die from this?” InuYasha asked, his amber eyes focused on the woman he was tending.
“Aye,” said Kaede. “The old and the very young, mostly likely, but,” she said, sighing, looking back at the sleeping woman, “sometimes those women who are carrying have a difficult time, too.”
He swallowed hard, and looked up at the older woman.
“Kagome is strong, InuYasha. We have to trust the Kami.” Kaede added the last of the herbs into the mix, and gave it all a final grind. InuYasha watched her as she mixed and measured. “You make this into a tea,” she said, emptying the herb mix onto a white piece of paper. “Use this to measure it,” she said, handing him a small scoop. “At least three cups of this herb tea a day. Then all the regular tea she wants, or water. Feed her broth and rice porridge.”
The hanyou nodded, looking overwhelmed, and a bit dazed. Kaede felt his forehead, but it felt normal. “You’re still all right. Remember what I told you about using cool water to help with her fever.”
He nodded again. The old woman lay a hand softly on his shoulder. “I’ll send Rin up in a bit.”
InuYasha’s right ear twitched, a nervous habit of his when he felt stressed. He stared into space for a moment, then looked up at the old miko. “Will you . . . will you say a prayer for her?” he asked.
“Of course, InuYasha,” she said. “Stay near her. I think the touch of your aura strengthens her.”
He nodded, and watched the old woman leave. Grabbing the kettle, he filled it with water and put it on to heat, poking at the fire to get it right for boiling water. “Kagome,” he whispered, and buried his face in his hands.
NOTE: Ryuukouseikanbou and Ryuukan are Japanese words for flu, which was a problem during this time era. The herbs mentioned are part of a Kampo formula that actually has some properties against the flu.