EIMH, Chapter 13
Of Meditation, Alpha Males, and a Strange Valley
The Evil in Men's Hearts
Chapter 13: Morning Rituals
Like a person surrounded by water
who cries out in thirst --
Like a child of a wealthy home
who is lost among the poor.
going down dark paths of ignorance,
We wander through the Six Worlds,
From dark path to dark path--
When shall we be freed from birth and death?
O meditation, o zazen of the great wheel!
To this be the highest praise.
---Haikun (slightly adapted)
The sky was just graying. InuYasha, stepped out on the porch of Hakuzo's house, stretching the sleep from his body when noticed a lone figure on the lawn. His uncle was kneeling on the ground, with his katana in front of him. InuYasha watched as the older youkai bowed, then sat back up, replacing the sword in his obi.
Teijo softly chanted: "Where is it that you can set your mind, O Warrior?
"If you set your mind
on the enemy's actions
your mind is taken
by the enemy's actions.
"If you set your mind
on the enemy's weapon
your mind is taken
by th enemy's weapon
"If you set your mind
on the sword in your own hand,
your mind is taken
by the sword in your own hand.
"Nowhere put the mind,
mind will be everywhere."
Teijo began a kata, rising first to one knee, smoothly unsheathing the sword as he turned a half circle, striking horizontally at an invisible enemy, then returning to the kneeling position. He continued, working through several variations. He moved with the fluidity of one who had much practice, a graceful union of man and sword. InuYasha, who was mostly a self-taught but effective warrior, unorthodox in approach, never with any time to learn the niceties of swordsmanship, watched his moves with some admiration.
Eventually, Teijo returned to the kneeling position, sat quietly in meditation. After a time, he stood up. "InuYasha," he said, turning towards the porch. "You are up early."
"Keh," InuYasha replied, standing up from where he had been seated. "it's normal for me." He walked down the step to join the youkai.
The two men looked remarkably alike, although Teijo bore the cheek crests of a Inu Youkai and seemed mature to InuYasha's youth. They could have easily passed as father and son. Teijo's silver hair was pulled back into a pony tail bound at the base of his neck, though, and his dark clothing contrasted soberly with the red of InuYasha's.
They stood there, looking at each other. One of Inuyasha's ears twitched at a distant sound.
"I make you uneasy, nephew," Teijo said.
InuYasha was about to say something rude to cover his feelings, but for some reason, held back. "Youkai, for the most part, have given me grief." he said. "I don't know you. Sesshoumaru doesn't like you. Why should I be at ease?"
"An honest answer." Teijo said. "But you should know that I harbor no ill will towards you or yours."
The hanyou crossed his arms in front of his chest. "I want to know why you suddenly show up when all this is starting to --"
He turned back to look at the house, and saw Kagome walking towards them. She was dressed in a simple blue and white farmwife's kimono, still sleepy-eyed, but smiling.
"Everybody's inside, getting ready for breakfast. Hakuzo-san would like to know if you want to join us." she said.
"She seems to be a remarkable woman." Teijo said.
"Yeah. She'd have to be to put up with me," InuYasha replied.
He hurried up to Kagome, took her by the hand. "Sooner we eat, sooner we can leave," he said, then led her back to the house.
Miroku woke from a dream where he saw a large fox just looking at him. In the dream, the fox was trying to explain something important to him, but when he woke up, he couldn't remember what.
He woke up to the quiet room. Sitting up, he saw Koku in the corner where he was sleeping, snoring slightly. He turned over, and saw Sango next to him, with Kirara laying by her head. Kohaku and Shippou slept next to each other, not far from the door. Miroku stood up, then walked quietly, trying not to wake anyone else up, and stepped out of the hut, stretching to shake the sleep out of his head,
The sky was perfectly clear with early morning light. The sun had not yet crested the mountains. He wandered down to the stream, where he splashed water on his face to shake the last of the sleep out. Sitting down, he recited:
"All the evil karma,
ever created by me since of old;
on account of my beginningless greed, hatred and ignorance;
born of my conduct, speech and thought;
I now confess openly and fully.
"I venerate the Sacred One, the Great Sage, the Truly Enlightened One.
"I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the Dharma
I take refuge in the Sangha."
Then he began his morning meditation as the sun rose clear above the mountains.
A bit later, he became aware of someone who sat down next to him.
"Good morning Koku-san." he said, standing up to stretch. "You are as quiet as a fox."
He older man chuckled. He looked at the sky overhead, closed his eyes and breathed deeply. "It's going to be a good day for travelling, I think. Rinji is a pretty place. I'm glad you're coming to help us get rid of our problem."
Miroku smiled. In some ways, Koku reminded him of his foster father Mushin, and he felt very comfortable in his presence. "How long do you think it' might take us to get there?"
"Tomorrow, I think," Koku said.
"Good. Was Sango up yet?" Miroku asked.
"Yes, she sent me for some more water." Koku got a bucket of water, and the two of them walked back to the hut.
Shippou ran out of the door as they neared, looked up at Koku, and said, "Will you tell us some more stories today?"
It was an uneasy group who gathered in Hakuzo's house.
They sat around the fire pit after breakfast. To the left and near the shoji doors, InuYasha protectively held an arm around Kagome. In the center, Sesshoumaru and the girl Rin. Not far from them, the little green youkai Jaken. On the right, close to the fire so he could attend the pots on it, Hakuzo, with Matsuo a respectful distance nearby. Not far from Matsuo, but far enough from the others, Teijo had taken his position.
Hakuzo was mildly amused by the subcurrents among the inu youkai. He suspected if they weren't blood related, that Teijo and his nephews would have been fighting already.
"Ah, this reminds me of the days when I took in students, having a houseful of people." he said. "Although, as a whole, in those days, they were usually a good bit noiser in the morning."
Kagome smiled. Matsuo sighed. The air grew quiet once again..
"His trail's headed towards Rinji," Teijo said, after a few minutes. "I tracked it for awhile yesterday."
Sesshoumaru lifted an eyebrow. "Rinji? Fitting." he said.
"If he went that way, he's had enough time to reach it by now," said Matsuo. He fingered the beads of his rosary while watching the exchange.
"Doesn't mean he ended up there." said Hakuzo.
"Doesn't mean he didn't end up there, either." said Teijo. "The question is, do we want to go there? Will the Kami let us pass?"
"My hunt is not over," said Sesshoumaru.
Kagome looked at InuYasha, who shrugged. "What's Rinji?" she asked.
"There's a valley not far from here under the control of a powerful Kami. Strange things happen to people who wander into that valley." Hakuzo explained.
"Keh," said InuYasha, standing up. "The day's not getting any younger. I'm ready to go."
Sunlight filtered through the trees near where he rested, dappling the ground with dark and light across the sleeping form. Jomei after a long and restless night, had finally succumbed to the need for sleep. He lay there, curled up, but uneasy in his rest.
A white fox sat near his head, watching. From time to time, when the man's sleep got too restless, the fox would flick its tail, and the monk would settle back down..
"Well, Yuki, you've been doing a good job," a woman's voice said. The fox looked up, saw the woman, twitched his ears.
She was dressed in a 12 layer kimono, the top which was a shimmering white, and fastened with a blue obi. Her head was veiled with a pale blue kimono. Her eyes, though, were as black as night. "I wonder, though, if this one is yet learning what he needs? Do you think it will make a difference?'
The fox nodded once.
"Enjoy yourself today, Yuki. It's going to get busy soon."
Benzaiten turned and walked off.