The Evil in Men's Hearts
Chapter 6 Meetings
Overcome anger with freedom from anger.
Overcome evil with good.
Overcome meanness with generosity,
and overcome a liar with truthfulness.
Kagome ran to the side of the unconscious Kitsune. He looked like a young man of about 25, with rain wet and straggly hair. His face, though, was too red. She felt his head. He was burning with fever.
"Help me, InuYasha!" she said as she worked to remove his bloodstained haori and shirt looking for injuries. He lifted the fox youkai up while she pulled off his clothes.. The injured man had a long serious gash still slightly bleeding on his left side, still slightly bleeding, and a number of smaller cuts and abrasions.
"He's been attacked with weapons from the looks of things, not claws or teeth, as far as I can tell." Kagome said. "Human or youkai?
"Can't tell for sure, he got so wet. But I smell poison." InuYasha said. "Smells like some of the shit that Sango uses sometimes." He dug into her bag, handed her the first aid kit she still carried.
"That might explain the fever," said Kagome. She poured clean water into a bowl. "Hand me a towel out of there, too."
InuYasha passed the towel over, watched her wash and dress the Kitsune's wounds, and bind them with bandages, occassionally moving the youkai as needed.
"He's youkai. He ought to be better by morning." InuYasha said. There was an unspoken "I don't like wasting my time this way" in his tone of voice.
"Ought to be. Sometimes with poisoning, though, even youkais slow down." she replied.
Handing him a blanket, she said, "Get him out of the rest of his wet things and wrap him in this. I'll make him something to help with the fever."
She turned her back while InuYasha did as she asked, but his impatience and unhappiness was growing.
There was a bright flash of lightning and a sizzle-pop-bang of a nearby lightning strike.
They both jumped at the suddenness of it.
"Okay, Inari, we're taking care of him," he said to the Kami who loved foxes, as he wrapped the kitsune in the blanket, and laid him down on the bedroll..
Kagome, making herbal tea, looked up at InuYasha and smiled.
His soft chanting was hard to hear above the rainfall:
Matsuo the monk huddled around another camp fire in a less comfortable location than the one InuYasha and Kagome found, waiting for the storm to be over. He sat in a small rock shelter that kept most of the rain and a lot of the wind off of his body, but it made caring for his fire tricky. He could not really rest well because of it. So he recited and meditated. Recited more than meditated so he wouldn't fall asleep.
"Happy indeed we live who are free from hatred among those who still hate.
In the midst of hate-filled men, we live free from hatred."
For the last few days he had been trailing the priest Jomei, carefully, always trying to stay out of his sensing range, but when the weather broke, Matsuo had to let his quarry be and seek shelter. He had hoped to connect with Hakuzo the Kitsune before the weather broke, but it didn't happen. Hakuzo was a kind, quiet fellow, who made the best fish stew, and Matsuo had been looking forward to a good night's sleep at his den. But the storm and the dark had come too early for him to reach it. He pulled his cloak about his shoulders a bit tighter.
"Happy indeed we live who are free from worry among those who are still worried.
In the midst of worried men, we live free from worry."
The rain, with occasional cracks of lightning, continued to pour down with brief breaks most of the night.
"There is no fire like desire.
There is no weakness like anger.
There is no suffering like the khandhas.
There is no happiness greater than peace"
About sunrise, even though the rain had not fully stopped, he wrapped his straw raincape around his shoulder, placed his hat over his head, and set out. As he walked, the weather improved considerably. By the time he had reached the home of the kitsune, the rain had fully stopped.
The road to the kitsune's den ran beneath a large oak tree, then down towards the hillside the den was in. Something, the scent, the quiet, wasn't right. The doorway to the small entrance was open. Matsuo could smell blood. And even though it had rained all night, he could smell the scent of human mixed into his friend's smell. The smell of Jomei.
He walked into the entrance way,. His nose and his senses told him no one was here. Going inside further, he could see there were signs of disruption. Hakuzo's library had been ransacked. Furniture was overturned, and the firepit had grown cold. Near the desk where his friend liked to read and ponder, there was the beginning of a blood trail. Not a lot, but enough to follow..
Sighing deeply, Matsuo decided to follow the trail of his friend rather than Jomei's. There were other guards along the way. But there was only one Hakuzo.
"You should lay down, Kagome." InuYasha said, as he knelt in front of her, his amber eyes lit with concern.
Kagome started awake, having dozed off sitting up next to the fox youkai. She pushed a strand of blue-black hair out of her face and behind her ear.
"I fell asleep, didn't I?' she said, sitting up and stretching. "How is he?"
"Asleep, I think. Not just passed out, but really asleep. That's what he sounds and smells like." InuYasha turned and stirred the fire. "You want some tea?" he asked, putting on the kettle.
She nodded yes. "I bet his fever's broke." She reached over to touch the kitsune's forehead. It was much cooler to the touch.
Suddenly, the fox's hand grabbed her wrist. His hazel eyes popped open, and he growled.
"Out to finish what the damned priest couldn't do, Miko?" he said
A large clawed hand grabbed his. 'No, but I might, if you keep this up." InuYasha said.
The fox stared for a moment and then let go, InuYasha pulled Kagome behind him.
"A dog. Anybody ever tell you foxes and dogs don't get along?" he said. "Inu Hanyou?"
"Keh." he replied.
"Travelling with a miko?" the kitsune sat up, shook his head, then cradled it in both his hands. "Damn, my head is pounding."
Kagome took a cup she had ready, handed it to him. "Drink this. It'll help with the pain."
The youkai took it, sniffed it, made a face. "Willowbark, eh?" He tossed it back, shuddered from the bitterness. "A miko and an inu hanyou. I think I might have heard about you....you must be InuYasha. Sesshoumaru-sama's brother."
"Half-brother," he growled. "And who are you?"
The door pulled open. A man dressed in the robes of a houshi, but silver haired and amber-eyed looked in.
"Hazuko!" he said.
"Why hello, Matsuo!" said the fox youkai. "What brings you to this part of the world?"
It had not rained near the castle. There was a small clearing nearby where Sesshoumaru would retreat to from time to time, surrounded by pines and a rocky outcropping. Maples grew low to hide the site from casual view, and from somewhere nearby was the sound, but not sight of a small waterfall. This place felt isolated and peaceful.
He sat there in a patch of sunlight in deep meditation. His perfect silver hair caught the light and stirred, not from any real breeze, but in the stirring of jyaki that swirled around him tightly, causing a certain tinting over his hair and wihte silks, a purplish tinge if one could see auras.
Quietly, calmly, Teijo walked near his nephew. The older Inu Youkai was dressed simply, in indigo blue hakama and haori. His long silver hair fell down his back in a single braid. He carried two wooden practice swords.
"My sensei always told me that there were four things that all warriors had to overcome and master their reactions to," he said. "Fear. Reacting on suspicion instead of knowledge. Being deluded instead of acting on the truth. Getting startled and reacting instead of acting."
"This Sesshoumaru knows of these things." said the Daiyoukai. "Did you leave your sanctuary in the mountains just to lurk around the castle grounds, dodging the guards and giving out beginner lessons?"
"We enter a time where suspicion, delusion and fear weave an interesting braid." Teijo said, sitting down next to his nephew. "Can we see through the deceipts and act accordingly, or will we be startled into reacting? Your brother will be here by this evening. He is a key part of that braid."
"My brother is a headstrong baka," Sesshoumaru said. "What plots he gets involved in are his business."
"Your brother is a fulcrum." Teijo answered, standing back up. He tossed one of the wooden swords to Sesshoumaru. "Now show me what you've learned since I taught you to fence."
Sesshoumaru caught the bokken with ease, looked at it for a moment, then stood up. His face retained its impassive, non-emotional look, but a touch of fire touched his golden eyes as he looked as his uncle. He slowly ran through the steps of a kata, his body graceful, fluid, powerful. "No," he said. "I will not spar with you." He dropped the practice sword. "Your agenda is not mine."
Teijo nodded once, as if this behavior answered some unasked question. "The ningen world readies to thrust itself upon us. That is not of my doing, but a reality thrust upon us. You may not be able to say no to it as easily as to me."
He picked up the dropped sword. "I will see you when your brother arrives," he said, then left.