Chapter 19: Veiled Discoveries
Youki flareups, Shippou finds a friend, and a prisoner awakes
The Evil in Men's Hearts
Chapter 19: Veiled Discoveries
I send down the rain of Dharma
Filling all the world
The Dharma of one taste is
Cultivated according to their power
Just like those forest groves
All the herbs and trees
According to their size
Grow and flourish well.
The Dharma of all the Buddhas
Is always of a single taste
It causes all the world
To attain perfection.
Through its gradual cultivation
All attain the fruits of the Way.
Lotus Sutra, 5
The air was charged with youki, Sesshoumaru's, and in response, Teijo's. A breeze not created by nature rose, stirring the hair of the Daiyoukai. Teijo walked up behind Matsuo, put a hand on his shoulder. "Mistake false for true, and name that which is true false -- miss the truth of life, Nephew." he said.
Sesshoumaru glanced awake from Matsuo, looked hard at Teijo, but lowered the fan in a flash of blue. It had left a small indentation at the base of the monk's chin. Matsuo, letting out a breath, but otherwise, keeping whatever thoughts he had under control, stepped back, rubbing his chin. Hakuzo pulled him back to stand next to InuYasha, blocked InuYasha's urge to step forward with an outstretched arm, leaving a wide space around the two InuYoukais.
"Wait," the kitsune said.
InuYasha looked at Hakuzo, as if weighing what he said, and raised an eyebrow, one hand clutching the hilt of tessaiga in a ready position. Matsuo grabbed his arm, nodded. "They have....issues, " he said, quietly.
"Have had for a long time," said Hakuzo.
Slowly, the surge of youki calmed down, although the air still felt tense. Matsuo shifted his feet, and stepped on a twig. The sound seemed very loud.
"I knew something brought you out of your hovel in the mountains, Teijo. You have never shown up without some purpose of your own," Sesshoumaru said, his face stony, eyes narrowing.
"I try not to mistake the false for the true." Teijo replied. "I am bound to a higher duty."
"Repeat that at the shrine of my father," Sesshoumaru said.
A shadow of pain briefly touched Teijo's eyes, and he tilted his head, almost a sign of submission, but not quite. "Nephew --"
"Your higher duties have always seemed more important that your duties to pack," Sesshoumaru said. "Why are you here this time?"
"Sometimes they coincide." the older youkai said."Jomei is something I have been required to deal with." He turned, and headed down the path
"What--" InuYasha said. He suddenly realized how tensely he had been standing, battle ready, and shifted his stance.
"Later," said Hakuzo. "It's a long story."
Miroku pushed through the weeds. They were dry, and crunched as he stepped through them. Seed heads stuck to his dark robes as he pushed through. He reached out with his spiritual sense, looking for the touch ot the little kitsune. Shippou's youkai signature was weak, being a young child, but he usually could find it. But his senses felt weak, as if there were something interfering, blanketing it. Not human ki, not youki, but something else.
'Like searching through a fog," he thought.
Sango and Kohaku followed behind him, making little effort to be quiet as their feet crunched through the dried weeds.
"If anything happens to Shippou," Sango said, "It would break Kagome's heart."
"Beautiful Sango, it would break all our hearts." Miroku replied. "Even InuYasha's. I would not want to break that piece of news."
"Shippou!" he called out.
"I can't believe we've lost two people in the same day," Sango said. "What is this place?"
They had reached a path once they got out of the weeds. The soft dirt was clearly marked with tracks which resembled the small, foxlike feet of the boy. Sango knelt down and looked at the prints.
"They are definitely foxy prints...looks like something went by on four legs, and another went by later on two...I think,." she said. "I'm not an expert tracker, though, by any means."
"Would he have followed something?" Miroku asked. "What would he have followed?"
The trail ran into the woods ahead.
"Well, let's go." Sango said, straightening up.
They didn't have to go much further. Miroku spotten him first, squatting beneath an oak tree, his red pony tail bobbing as if he were nodding to someone. He didn't act like he noticed them coming, totally involved with whatever he was doing.
"Shippou!" Sango yelled.
The little Kitsune stood up, looked over his shoulder, smiled with a broad grin. "Hi, guys! I knew you were coming!"
"Shippou, what are you doing doing?" Miroku asked.
"Come meet her! You'll like her!" he said, waving them on.
They grew closer, saw the russet eyes and white nose looking up at them over Shippou's shoulder.
"This is Tsukikage. She's a spirit fox. She told me where we can meet up with Kagome!"
The first thing Saicho noticed as he came to was the sight of a pair of bright eyes staring at him, the eyes of a child in a yellow kimono. She looked at him with a hesitant, curious smile. The second was that he lay straddled across the back of a large beast.
"Hello," said the child "Are you awake?"
Then he realized two other things. His head hurt terribly, and that he was bound.
"Yes," he replied.
The girl disappeared.
A moment later, he found the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. Looking up, painfully, he saw a man standing in front of him, dressed in white silk. No, not a man. Youkai. Cold yellow eyes looked down on him. Above the eyes was a blue crescent moon, and his face was adorned with stripes. Pale of skin and white haired. He could feel the touch of his youki.
His blood froze.
"Tell me, O monk, how you found yourself in the Western Lands?"
The next time he woke up, it was to hands dragging him off the beast he had been carried on. He was unceremoniously dumped on the ground, where he curled up, feet hobbled, hands bound. Someone in the robes of a Zen monk sat next to him, straw hat drawn over his face.
"I'm Matsuo. They've put me in charge of you."
"I was fighting with you." Saicho said. He put his hands up to his head, felt the bandage. His head throbbed.
"This is true. Since I saved your life, Sesshoumaru-sama has decided to make me responsible for you. He's not very happy with your presence here." Matsuo took off his hat, rubbed his head. "Now we have to decide what to do with you."
"You...you're Youki," Saicho said.
"Yes. Nearly everybody here is."
"Why are you wearing monk's robes?"
"I do because I follow the way of Buddha, Thus, you are still alive."
The throbbing in Saicho's head went up another notch.
"Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu, Nama Amida Butsu," Saicho murmured. "Since when are Youki followers of the way?"
"Ah...but are we not sentient beings? Don't we experience Dukka? Remember this from the Lotus Sutra: "If they must be saved by someone in the body of a heavenly dragon, yaksha, gandharva, asura, garuda, kinnara, mahoraga, human, or nonhuman, and so forth, he will manifest in such a body and speak Dharma for them."
"Begone, demon!" the human monk said.
Matsuo sighed. "I don't think so."
."Well, we can call this a campsite," Kagome said. "But it surely looks like we're three groups sharing the same clearing."
"As tense as Sesshoumaru was this afternoon, I really don't mind him and Jaken staying in their corner," InuYasha said.
"I thought he was going to attack Teijo earlier. Maybe it's a good thing we're inbetween." she said, feeding the small fire she had started with bits of wood. "Hand me the water, InuYasha, and I'll put on the kettle."
He passed the water bucket over to her, leaned back against her pack and sighed. "I wasn't sure he wasn't. I wish I knew what the fuck was going on."
Teijo and Matsuo had set up as far as possible from Sesshoumaru. They watched as Matsuo went and grabbed the monk off of Ah-Uhn's back, and plopped him on the ground..
"He doesn't seem too happy to be here," InuYasha said.
"Well, duh!" said Kagome. "I don't blame him. Waking up after being unconscious and getting hammered by Sesshoumaru's youki can't be a fun thing."
"I feel like I'm caught in between the jaws of a vise," Hakuzo said, joining them.
"Or between Toutousai's hammer and anvil." InuYasha said.
"At least then, you'd be getting beat into something useful, " Hakuzo said.
As Kagome prepared some tea, she looked up at the kitsune, and asked, "What is this between them?" She handed him a teacup.
"I damn well want to know before they really do go for each other's throat." InuYasha said.
Hakuzo took a sip of the tea. "The story's long, It goes back to before you were born, InuYasha-san. But the short version is this: They used to be close. Teijo was Sesshoumaru's arms instructor. But then he took some sort of religious vow, and left the castle to go to Riverstone monastery. Sesshoumaru resents Teijo's religious vows. He wanted him there after the death of his father, and Teijo wouldn't come and back him. He has never forgiven him for that. "
"Teijo's not a monk," InuYasha said.
"You're right. " he said.