Chapter 16: As the Sun Rises
InuYasha and Kagome discuss some things. Miroku and Sango have strange dreams. Jomei meets someone.
The Evil In Men's Hearts
Chapter 16: As the Sun Rises
Make haste in doing good and restrain the mind from evil;
if one is slow in doing good, the mind finds delight in evil.
If a man commits evil let him not repeat it again and again;
let him not delight in it, for the accumulation of sin brings suffering.
If a man commits a meritorious deed, let him perform it again and again;
let him develop a longing for doing good;
happiness is the outcome of the accumulation of merit.
-----The Dhammapada, 9
Kagome stepped out of the shadows, from behind a large tree where she had been hiding. Even in the darkness, InuYasha could see the distress on her face as the moonlight touched her hair, her face. He walked up to her, wrapped his arms around her.
"It's over, Kagome. Everything's over," InuYasha said. "I'm sorry this has been such a hard night for you."
He kissed her lightly on the forehead. She pulled back, her body tense.
"Who were they? And why did you attack them?" she asked.
Teijo walked up the path and stepped up next to them. As Kagome watched him walk, she thought how threatening he could look, amber eyes glowing, silver hair catching the moonlight, an eerie, otherworldly force, barely reined in. His youki was still strongly aroused, as if it were scanning the area, and echoed the somber controlled violence of his person. Until this moment, she hadn't thought of the threat he and all the other youkai she was with contained, but there it was, that non-human magic pressing against her senses. She could feel her aura trying to flare, worked to keep it under control.
"Sohei were where warrior monks should not be," Teijo said. "They were looking for Jomei, I think. I ran across them by accident earlier tonight. They were talking about him. He had been supposed to meet up with them at Udo village."
Looking down at Kagome, InuYasha said, "We're lucky we didn't stumble across their camp by accident. We could have, the way we were going."
The implications of that were not pleasant. Kagome shuddered, still haunted by her nightmare. InuYasha pulled her closer, rested his chin on her head, trying to comfort her even as he felt his anger rising.
"I think they were following Sesshoumaru's trail, although I might be wrong," Teijo said. " These people know about Youkai traits. They would have wanted to stay out of sensing range. But it could have been just chance."
"I want to know is what are human warriors of any type doing this far into my brother's territory?" InuYasha said, looking at Teijo. "There aren't that many human villages this close to his castle. Udo village is only half a day away. Why should there be any monks like that here? How long has this been going on?"
"I don't know," Teijo said. "But it's time to find out."
Sango turned in her sleep where she lay near Miroku. Her body glimmered with the blue light that the kami Daikokutan touched her with, and as it wound its way across her body, she found herself slipping into a deep dream.
She was standing in an open field on a winter's day, under a slate gray sky. Suddenly, she heard a heart wrenching wailing.
Turning, she saw a woman in a red kimono. The bright red fabric had been stained even darker in places with blood. Tears streaked down her face, along with scratches. Her long black hair fell in unkempt disarray to the ground, like a black curtain behind her back. Scratches from her claws marred her perfect porcelain skin. She was weeping over the body of a dead man, stretched out in front of her.
She was youkai.
"Yashou!," she wept. "Why would they take you from me?"
The man had been severely gashed, and blood from his wounds was drying on his clothing. She rested his head in her lap, bending over him gently.
"What happened?" Sango asked, kneeling next to the woman.
She looked up, looked into Sango's eyes with anguished green eyes. "They killed my husband," said the Kitsune. "Yashou's not even a warrior. He's a healer. Why? What harm had he caused anyone?"
"Who did this?" Sango asked, placing a hand upon the grieving woman's shoulder.
"My uncle, my brothers. He told me he was removing the taint from our family."
Sango placed her arms around the woman, rocked her gently.
Suddenly, there was no woman, no body. Sango found herself holding a lotus blossom.
"Suffering has no boundaries." said a soft voice from nowhere. "A rock thrown into water has many ripples. You have felt its touch, too. Watch, learn"
The sky had begun to gray, an almost imperceptible shift in the sky.
Kagome lay next to InuYasha, snuggling under the cover of his haori, draped over the both of them. After leaving Teijo, they had come here, they had not returned to Sesshoumaru and the others. Instead, InuYasha had found this place, a rock shelter, almost a shallow cave, on a rise overlooking the valley they had been travelling in.
He had built a small fire for heat and for light then laid down next to her.
"Are you okay with us being here with Sesshoumaru, Kagome? We could go home." he told her. He breathed in her scent, smelling her fatigue and anxiety.
She had rested her head on his shoulder, and he made lazy circles with his hand on her back.
"I feel confused, InuYasha," she said, "It seemed easier to know who was good and bad when we were fighting Naraku. Now I feel afraid to be around humans I don't know, and safer around youkai, at least the ones I know."
He cupped her cheek in his hand. "I am so sorry. I knew it was going to be hard for you to be with me. This world does not approve of me, or humans who side with youkai and hanyou. I was such a selfish bastard asking you to stay instead of sending you home."
She lifted her head, looked into his saddened amber eyes, placed a finger over his lips. "Ssshh...don't talk that way. It's not you I'm confused about, InuYasha. You are where I am supposed to be. It's all those others..."
He took her hand, kissed the palm, surrounding it with his large and calloused hand, resting them over his heart. He kissed her gently, a soft touch that echoed his concerns.
"If you would have left, I think I would have grieved to death," he said.
Kagome nuzzled her head under his chin, sighed. The sky was growing lighter, and it would not be long before the sun was up. She sat there, quietly in his arms, watching the sun as it began to lift above the horizon.
"I don't want to go home yet." she said at last. "We need to be here, I think.
Sleeping near Sango, Miroku turned in his sleep. His hand, once cursed, touched her back. The blue light surrounding them sparked, settled. Miroku sighed in his sleep and began to dream.
Miroku seemed to be sitting under a tree, watching the sun rise.
It was quiet, still. Somewhere, one sole bird sang a greeting to the sun, but he heard no other sound. A very soft breeze touched his face. He sat in his meditation posture, feet on thighs, one hand wrapping the other. He held his thoughts in expectant mindfulness, feeling each breath as it entered his lungs and left.
"Can you not hear them?" a voice whispered in his ear.
Suddenly, he began to hear the soft sighing, turning into weeping, building into cries of despair and grief. Pain. Loss. Misery.
"The voice of Dukkha, Suffering," continued the voice, soft and feminine. "The first noble truth."
He turned his head, and looked at her. It was the fox who had talked to him the night before. Miroku did not know how he knew that, but he was sure it was true. The fox was an irridescent white, holding in its paws, a single lotus blossom.
"Be my helper, Miroku." she said. "There are souls here in need of mercy. I will guide you." The fox handed him the lotus.
He looked at the closed bud resting in his hand, and he watched it open, radiant. At its heart, he saw three figures, one woman, two men.
"You will meet them soon. Help me set them free." she said.
Jomei hobbled into the clearing.
Once, during the night, he had spotted something dash across the path. Startled, he had tripped, hitting his knees and hands, wrenching his ankle. During the fall, he had cut his robe at the knee, catching a rock. His knee had bled, and felt swollen as well.
He was in trouble and knew it. Hungry, exhausted and in pain, unable to really walk on his swollen foot, he felt ready to sit there, and let the darkness take him.
"No words of evil are in his land; " Jomei chanted.
"No fear of evil doers, nor evil paths;
With sincere heart all beings worship him.
Thus I prostrate myself before Amida Buddha.
"I take refuge in Buddha, I take refuge in Dharma, I take refuge in Sangha. Namo Amida Butsu. Namo Amida Butsu. Namo Amida Butsu."
He continued chanting the Nembutsu until he nodded off, for once a deep and dreamless rest..
Suddenly, he came awake.
A woman stood in front of him, bowing politely. She was dressed in a simple blue peasant's kimono, with an apron tied around her waist and her hair covered with a kerchief. The fact that she had green eyes and that reddish hair peeked out from beneath her kerchief, did not register on his befuddled brain. "Houshi-sama, let me help you. I have a hut just beyond those trees there. You've been injured. It would please me if you would let me take care of your hurts."
He tried to stand up, leaning on his staff. Pain lanced through his leg. His ankle had swollen while he had rested.
She wrapped a strong arm around him, helping him to stand up. Putting her shoulder under his free arm, she supported his weight, and began to help him walk.
"It's not far from here. I have some rice porridge waiting. And there's tea, and a futon you can rest on." she said.
Some deep part of his mind screamed out about fox magic.
The rest of him let himself be led away.