Chapter 7: Conflict and Recovery
Sentient beings are primarily all Buddhas:
It is like ice and water,
Apart from water no ice can exist;
Outside sentient beings, where do we find the Buddhas?
Not knowing how near the Truth is,
People seek it far away -- what a pity!
They are like him who, in the midst of water,
Cries in thirst so imploringly.
"Houshi-sama, would you come in?" Kagome said to the black robed priest standing in the doorway. Obviously youkai with his claws and his pointed ears, nevertheless, he bore the shaved head and staff of his calling. His youki was calm and non-threating. Amber eyes looked at his friend with concern, surprise at the two who were with him.
The small hut was beginning to feel crowded. InuYasha reacted to the pressure of being with two strange youkai, unknown and not pack, putting himself between Kagome and the fox and the doorway, his amber eyes flickering with red. Unhappy that the monk had blocked the door, his hand automatically went to the hilt of Tessaiga.
"Houshi? Smells Inu Youki to me." he growled he ears on his head flattened back, showing his discomfort. "Never heard of a Youkai houshi before."
"I am both, actually." Matsuo said. He came in, getting out of the doorway, his back to the wall, sitting under the kitsune's drying clothes. Feeling InuYasah's stress, he made himself as small as possible,looking down at his hands instead of at the hanyou, but kept his staff in his lap. "It's a long story, but true."
"Keh," Inuyasha said. "And you, Kitsune -- why would this one come looking for you? How did you get hurt like that? And how did you end up on my doorstep?"
Hazuko, sitting up, suddenly realized his state of undress and the bandages across his chest. "I...I..." he said, pulling the blanket more fully over himself.
"InuYasha," Kagome said, resting her hand on his shoulder. They exchanged a glance, a touch of auras. She gave him a small, reassuring smile. His youki calmed some at the touch. It was all over rather quickly, and easily missed, but Matsuo noticed it. He lifted an eyebrow, realizing something of what Kagome was.
"Please excuse him, Houshi-sama, Hazuko-san." she said, peaking behind the hanyou's shoulder. "We have been up most of the night, and we are both quite tired.
Matsuo gave a smile. "Please accept my apologies" he said "I began tracking Hazuko after passing by his house this morning, and didn't even consider anything more than finding him."
Hazuko sat up straighter, grimacing as he moved. "You always were a one-track mind, kit." he said.
"Thus my mother always told me." said the youkai monk. He sighed.
Kagome moved around InuYasha, sat next to the fox, touching his forehead to check for fever. He still felt cool to the touch. "How do you feel, Hazuko-san?"
"Tired. Achy. Thirsty.
His green eyes met her blue. "I have an adopted Kitsune son," Kagome said, "You remind me of him, all grown up. No more fever. That's a good sign. I suspect you are throwing off the poison in your wounds."
She reached over, poured some water into a cup. "Drink this now. We'll have soup and rice in a little bit."
Rin stood in a meadow. It was dappled with many yellow and pink flowers, but at this moment, though, she was not looking for flowers. Instead of her usual kimono, she wore dark blue hakama and haori. She carried a staff in her hand, and began the slow fluid motions of a kata..
Ready, step forward, thrust. Step back, lift the rear of the staff to block. Step back, thrust. step, block. Turn, shomen-uchi. She moved through her motions gracefully, but with a serious look on her face. Because she was small, she looked very much like a doll dancing in the meadow.
A small green youkai watched her as she went through her paces. He was sitting down on a large flat rock, holding a staff with two heads at the top, a staff much too large for his body.
"O Jaken-sama!" she said, talking to the small youkai after pausing in her routine. "I wish Kohaku was here. I bet he'd be proud how well I do this kata he taught me."
Although he too secretly missed the boy, Jaken grumbled, "One ningen less is a good thing! I don't know why Sesshoumaru-sama hasn't sent you to live with his brother's pack yet. Then maybe I would get to do the work I ought to!"
"O Jaken, you're so little." she said, teasing him. "Sesshoumaru-sama is too busy with important meetings to be with us today. But maybe he'll let us go and visit with Kohaku later. I miss him since he went to live with his sister."
"Hmph" said the little green youkai.
She sighed, thinking about her friend, and began her routine again.
Neither she nor Jaken noticed how they were being watched from the nearby woods.
Two warrior monks, one armed with katana, the other with naginata watched the girl. They both wore dark armour over their robes and tan cowls and hakama.
"What type of youkai is that?" the katana bearer asked. " I wonder if our knock out pills would work on him."
"Don't think so. Those work best on canine types. He looks like a toad."
The watchers were being watched themselves. Teijo dropped silently out of a tree behind the two sohei.
"" 'He is not righteous who judges a situation impulsively'," he quoted." 'But the righteous one is one who distinguishes between right and wrong.' May I ask what you are doing? Are you judging impulsively or are you distinguishing?"
They turned to face the man behind them, taking ready stances as they saw him. Silver haired, amber-eyed, and dressed in black, the figure behind them had a truly non-human presence. In his hands was a metal staff.
"Youkai monster, what are you doing quoting the Buddha?" said the one with the naginata..
"Following the Eightfold Path." he replied. "And you, why are you watching the child?"
"Hah!" said the other monk. "We will liberate any Youkai we find, and help those tainted by Youkai contact." He drew his sword.
Teijo took a ready posture with his staff.
" 'It is the very mind itself that leads the mind astray,' it is said. I think you may have judged impulsively."
"It was yesterday afternoon," Hazuko said, sipping his soup.
Everyone had chosen to leave the confines of the hut to eat their lunch in the sunshine where there was enough room to sit and relax. Hazuko sat with his back to the hut wall, looking tired, but able.
"A wandering monk came by, and asked to talk with me. That's not uncommon, by the way. I have a bit of a reputation, it seems as a person who likes to talk a lot and who has a good library."
"He does have an excellent library. Not just Buddhist texts, either. You would have to go a good ways away to find another one as nice, and Youkai aren't usually welcome in such places," Matsuo said. 'Unfortunately, your attacker seems to have really made a mess of your collection."
Hazuko sighed. "Another reason to hurry home. Anyway, I gave him some tea, and we had a talk about the Diamond Sutra. We were talking about this passage:
"All living creatures of whatever type,
born from eggs,
born from wombs,
formed from moisture,
or by transformation
whether with form or without form,
whether thinking or exempt from thought
-- all these are led by me to obtain Nirvana.
"It was a pleasant enough discussion, as we discussed what types of persons and beings can move towards Nirvana during their lifetime. He seemed to have some unusual ideas about ego and reincarnation..
"When I pointed that out, he seemed rather irritated with me. He threw something on the floor, and my head began to reel...some sort of drug that released in a cloud. I couldn't see straight. I couldn't think. I stood up, felt a horrid pain in my side...saw blood on my fingers.
"My sense of preservation wasn't totally gone. I struck out and hit someone, I think, ran out of the house, right into the rain. Somehow I ended up here."
InuYasha sat close to Kagome, his silver hair glinting in the midday light. His soup bowl empty, he rested one red clad arm around her shoulder, in a typical Inu Youkai marking of what belonged to him, but relaxed, and not nearly as tense as earlier. "Good thing for you," he said to the Kitsune. "You wouldn't be doing nearly as well today if you'd stayed out in the storm last night."
"You did seem rather out of it," Kagome said to Hazuko. She held InuYasha's other hand, a gesture she could tell he found soothing.. "You basically screamed 'Miko!' and passed out when you got here. We took care of you all night, and here you are."
The kitsune bowed towards Kagome. "Thank you very much, miko."
"No, please don't call me miko. I might have spiritual powers, but I am not really a miko. Call me Kagome." she said.
"Then thank you, Kagome-san."
"You are welcome, Hazuko-san." Kagome stood up, collected the lunch dishes, and put them in a pan to wash.
"Who was this monk, Hazuko?" Matsuo asked.
"He said his name was Jomei."
InuYasha and Kagome exchanged glances.