Chapter 23 Noting the Tempo
Tension at one camp, happiness at another. Jomei sees a story.
Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha or any characters created by Rumiko Takahashi
Chapter 23 Noting the Tempo
Whether it be dance,
or whether it be a song,
the tempo controls,
allowing the performance,
the rhythm controlling all.
And so with fighting,
feel the rhythm in conflict,
the way his sword moves,
the way his mind carries on,
the song and dance of combat.
As you see his way,
know his moves and manners well,
the way becomes free
the door will open widely
and you will see how to move.
--adapted from the Killing Sword, by Yagyu Munenori
Teijo smiled softly, yet took a deep breath. The shadows of the evening added a definition to his face which was both pleasant but brought out the youkai markers on his face. He looked like an kindly, otherworldly sage, standing there looking at his nephew.
"There's a kami involved," said Sesshoumaru. The gathering shadows seemed to heighten the clear power and threat of the TaiYoukai. Sesshoumaru's pale emotionless face went from cool to cold, the shadows deeping his eyes and helping them to glitter. The contrast with shadow made his lightness of his skin even more pallid, although his crests seemed to intensify in color. There was a ghostly aura surrounding him, just visible. Rin and Hakuzo stepped back at the tingle of youki rising sharply and quickly.
"You knew?" he said. The youki wind blew lightly about him, letting the long hair draping down towards his knees stir in the unnatural breeze.
"Not before it happened, Nephew. You think the kami keep me in their confidence?" Teijo stood his ground, his bangs moving lightly as his youki rose to match his nephew's in a controlled defensive response. His eyes, though, stayed calm, his stance non-threatening, his look patient.
"This Sesshoumaru knows that Teijo does not keep his family in his confidence." Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed in threat, and the amber flared with red, as his body hardened into a dominant challenge posture. "Nor in his priorities."
Teijo stood there quietly, with one hand on the hilt of his sword, the sword slightly open in the ready position, a fact not totally lost on the enraged Youkai. "Rinji has long been a cursed place, cursed otbefore you or I were born. Even you knew that strange things happen here. I know you blame me for not standing by my brother and you in your times of need. But this time, I was standing with you."
"Standing by or leading me on? This time with all I honor by the name of family?" The tips of Sesshoumaru's fingers glowed with a bright green light. "Tell me, Uncle," he said, nearly spitting out the word, "how did you know a kami was involved?"
"She told me."
Hakuzo grabbed the girl by her arm. "Go stand by Jaken and Ah-Uhn, Rin."
She nodded and went off to join the small green youkai. Hakuzo circled around to the place where Matsuo lay down, nudged him up. "Teijo and Sesshoumaru," he whispered. "Don't take sides."
Jomei listened to the soft voice of the fox that filled his head with bright images.
**Once there was a man who was particularly devoted to the Boddhisatva Kannon. One day as he was walking to the temple he saw a strange procession moving out in front of him...**
He closed his eyes and her words washed over him until he found himself in a dreamlike state, seeing what she whispered. Her words faded and the images grew much stronger. He opened his eyes and found himself looking down at the ground, watching a road pass by his feet as he walked in the light of a very bright full moon. Instead of the robes of a monk, he found himself in the garments of a poor farmer, robed in dark hempen linen, rubbing his skin. The road was deserted and passing through heavy forest, filled with the ghostly branches of winter trees. His steps sounded loudly in his ears as he kept walking. Looking up, he could see a small stone bridge, like a dark shape highlighted in silver, on the road ahead of him.
Suddenly, as he grew closer to the bridge, he could hear the sound of many feet walking at a fast pace, like that of a noble's escort, right behind him. He turned and saw torches bobbing in the night, and to avoid them, he ducked under the shelter of the bridge, standing closely to the stonework. Looking up, he realized quickly from the shapes outlined, that this was no procession of a noble or a daimyo, but it was an assembly of Youkai, escorting some great Youkai noble. He could make out fierce oni with their horns, clasping naginata. There were other creatures too, and between their shapes in the moonlight and the great cloud of youki they raised in their passing, he found himself quaking in fright.
"Kannon!" he called out to Kannon, in a voice just above a whisper. "At dawn my thoughts are on Kannon! At night my thoughts are on Kannon! Bodhisattva of mercy, help me!"
The procession of Youkai was nearly past, when suddenly it came to a halt. As he tried to melt further into the cold stonework of the bridge, he could feel hard hands grab him and pull him up to the road, and then push him once again into a kneeling position. His breath was ragged and his heart beat loudly in his ears, masking the soft footsteps that came and stopped right in front of him.
"Enough!" said a soft woman's voice, causing the harsh hands holding him prostrate to leave.
He looked up, slowly and carefully, to see a beautiful woman standing there. She was dressed in splendid pale robes embroidered with many flowers. Her hair was bright silver, reflectling the moonlight in a soft shimmer. Her eyes glowed in the darkness, an eerie red light that made his gave him shivers as they began to delve into his eyes. She looked at him intently for several minutes, and it felt to him as if she could peer inside his heart and mind.
"Once, my son," she said, "There were ten rasetsus, women you would call bakemono, youkai, oni, ugly. They presented themselves to the Buddha and said in unison "World Honored One, we, too, wish to protect those who read, recite, receive the Lotus Sutra and keep them from harm."
He looked at her, waiting and wondering.
"How, do you think, the World Honored One replied?' she asked.
"I do not know, Noble One." he said, trembling.
"He said, smiling, 'Good indeed!' she answered. "Will you say good with him, and lend us your help?"
Shippou turned in a red streak heading for Kagome. "Oh, I missed you!" he cried as he leaped into her arms.
She caught the small kitsune in her arms with a practiced skill. "Oooh, you're getting big, Shippou! I've missed you, too!" she said as he hugged her around the neck." She looked up to the welcoming faces of Miroku and Sango. "What a wonderful surprise! You don't know how glad I'm to see all of you, " she said.
InuYasha looked over at the kitsune, with a smirky smile. "Oi, Runt! Did you behave for Kaede?" he asked.
He nodded. "I helped her weed the garden, and she sent me off to gather herbs, too. She let me help, sometimes. But she let me go out and play a lot. "
InuYasha and Kagome exchanged knowing glances at that last bit.
"Kohaku showed me how to use a staff," Shippou said, "And I showed him how to catch fish."
Kohaku looked at the two shyly. "I taught him an easy Kata. He learned it fast. Much faster than I learned to catch fish by hand," he said.
Kagome smiled at him. "That was very nice of you, Kohaku, " she said. "But what I would like to know is how did you get out here. Miroku? Sango? I thought you were going to go to the Exterminator's village."
"Well, that's a long story, Kagome. We were getting ready to head out when..." Miroku began.
Tsukikage laid flat, crossing her arms in front of her.
“Tell us on the way.” InuYasha said.
“On the way where?” Sango asked.
“To our camp. If you had walked another half hour, you would have found us.” InuYasha replied