DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Inu-Yasha - A Feudal Fairytale and all related characters are the creations of Rumiko Takahashi.
"B...but... Lord Sesshoumaru!" Jaken whimpered pitifully as he instinctively took a step closer to his master. "Surely you will have some need of me, my Lord."
Sesshoumaru frowned ever so slightly at the pathetic whining creature. He had already told his minion once that he had business to attend to and did not need him that day. He would not tell him a second time. He turned and began to walk away, leading Ah-Un.
Jaken began to follow, but Sesshoumaru made the slightest sound of impatience and the smaller demon immediately froze in his tracks. As he watched the tall figure of his glorious Lord leave him behind again, Jaken sighed heavily.
It was hardly the first time Sesshoumaru had left him behind, but normally he at least left Rin in Jaken's care. The little girl had gone to a nearby human village earlier, though, and was going to be gone all day. Jaken had been looking forward to being alone with his Lord, just the two of them, as they had been before that girl came along, but to then be told that he was not needed...!
Really, it was almost too much for a loyal minion to bear.
Dejected, Jaken moved over to the side of the road and sat down beside a small roadside shrine. He pouted and sniffed sadly. "My Lord Sesshoumaru no longer needs his Jaken. Fine! Then I no longer need my Lord Sesshoumaru, either!" He sniffed again before looking anxiously in the direction that his Lord had gone.
"I hope my Lord Sesshoumaru remembers to come back for me."
Sesshoumaru's first stop was at the home and workshop of the demon weaponsmith, Totousai. The smell of the place had not improved since he had last been there, and was possibly even worse due to the socks that were airing on a line strung off to one side of the workshop, but Sesshoumaru ignored his instinctive urge to wrinkle his nose in distaste and continued inside.
He was the great Lord Sesshoumaru. His nose never wrinkled.
"I have a job for you."
The old demon blinked and looked up from where he was hammering the blade of a knife into shape. He started to say something and a small spurt of fire erupted from his mouth. Totousai quickly swallowed his flame and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry about that. I forgot I had it there." He peered more closely at his visitor and seemed to be eyeing something behind him. "Is that you, Sesshoumaru?"
One of the demon lord's eyebrows arched almost imperceptibly, but he resisted the urge to ask the senile old man who else he looked like. "I have a job for you." He hated repeating himself.
"I heard you the first time. I don't do jobs for just anyone. You may be able to fool others with that costume, but not me! I may be old but I'm not senile! You are not Sesshoumaru! Ha! Try to fool me, will you? Well it takes more than a bit of white fabric and some cheap imitation fur. You don't even look like him! Not at all!" Totousai finished his declaration with a snort and then started to turn back to his work.
For just a moment, Sesshoumaru was rendered speechless with shock. Then he looked down at himself for a moment before glaring at Totousai.
"Ow! Owowow! Well what did you go and do that for?" Totousai held his head in pain and pouted at the demon standing over him. He gingerly poked the hurting area and winced. "I have a big lump there now. Well really... I suppose you must be Sesshoumaru. Only he and that brother of his would treat an old man so brutally." He cringed slightly as Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed at the mention of Inuyasha. "I mean... what can I do for you today, Sesshoumaru? I've already told you, I won't make you another sword." He gave the younger demon his trademark stubborn look.
Sesshoumaru ignored the older demon's standard denial. For once, he had no interest in forcing the issue. "I wish you to make a small knife or dagger. Something appropriate for hunting that could be used as a weapon if necessary."
Totousai blinked. "You came to me, the most famous demon weaponsmith in the land, to make... a hunting knife?" He blinked again and then shook his head before tilting it and tapping his ear. "My hearing must be playing up again."
A sound that bore a strong resemblance to a sigh came from Sesshoumaru's direction. He was not even remotely the cause of it, of course, as powerful demon lords do not sigh.
"If you are incapable of making such a thing, I will go elsewhere." He turned to leave.
"Now wait just a minute! First you barge in here, hitting elderly demons and making odd demands and then you just turn and leave? Well really, young demons today have no manners." Totousai's gaze was suddenly as sharp as one of his blades. "This knife you wish me to make... is it for you or that little human girl traveling with you?" At Sesshoumaru's slight frown, the weaponsmith shrugged. "I can't make something suitable if I don't know who I'm making it for, now can I?"
Sesshoumaru refused to admit that was a good point. "It is for Rin."
"Hmm... then I'd better make it of normal metal. If I made it from one of your fangs, it would be as if your strength were protecting her. That's a powerful charm in its own right." Totousai started to stand, then blinked at the hand that was suddenly right in front of his face.
Or rather, he blinked at the small object in the palm of the hand that was suddenly right in front of his face.
Totousai carefully took the fang from Sesshoumaru's hand and looked at him thoughtfully. "I'll do the usual. Anti-theft charm, sharpness for cutting everything but the bearer, a blade that will rarely need sharpening... hmmm... what else? Let me think..."
"Protection from wild beasts."
Sesshoumaru's voice was very quiet and earned him a sharp look from the older demon before Totousai nodded. "I can do that. I'll have it ready by tomorrow evening."
"That will do." Sesshoumaru nodded once and turned to go, then paused. A part of him didn't want to know, but the rest of him was rather curious. "Why did you not believe it was me earlier?"
"Hmm? What's that? Ah... yes... well... It was just that, normally, you have that little green fellow standing somewhere behind you. Without him, you just don't look quite right."
The fool was more senile than not and his opinion was not at all important, but as Sesshoumaru rode Ah-Un off to his next stop, he realised that somehow Totousai's words had made him rather annoyed.
"Is that you, Sesshoumaru-sama?" The soft, rustling voice of the ancient demon tree that he had come to speak with made Sesshoumaru pause as he entered the small glade.
It was the second time that day that he'd been asked that question. He found himself wondering if it was for the same reason and immediately pushed the wayward thought out of his mind. What did it matter if it was?
"I have a request." His voice was softer than usual and held more respect as well. This was Bokusen'on, after all. One of his father's old friends. He had given Sesshoumaru valuable advice and information in the past and the scabbards of both Sesshoumaru's sword and that of his younger half-brother had been carved from the old tree's branches.
"Oh? What is it that Sesshoumaru wishes from an old tree, hmm?" There was no sarcasm there. Just the gentle familiarity that only an old family friend would dare use with him.
"I am having a hunting knife made for a girl travelling with me. It will need a sheath."
The weathered and wrinkled face of the tree demon looked at Sesshoumaru and blinked. "You are travelling with a girl? You are giving her a... Oh my dear boy. While I am overjoyed that you have finally found someone, a knife is hardly a fitting gift for your lady. Whatever did your father teach you?" He tutted softly. "I would suggest flowers. Or ribbons. Females like ribbons."
"You misunderstand. She is not my 'lady'. She is..." Before he could go on, Sesshoumaru had to jerk back slightly to avoid getting poked in the chest by a branch.
"Sesshoumaru! I thought you knew better than that? It does not matter what a female's birth is or if they travel willingly with someone before marriage. At least, I hope that is it before marriage, because I did not get an invitation and if you forgot about me for that then I would be most upset. But that is beside the point. Whatever her birth or... activities... She is still a lady."
As Bokusen'on finally paused to draw breath, Sesshoumaru grabbed his chance. "Rin is six years old."
"Well that still does not... Wait... Did you just say..." Bokusen'on stared at Sesshoumaru in shock. "You mean that you like... that sort of thing? Oh. Oh my."
Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed. "Rin aided me when I was injured. I assisted her in return when she was attacked by wolves." Not for all the knife sheaths in the world would he admit that he had restored the child's life with Tensiega, his sword of life. "She has followed me since. We are not together in the way that you apparently believe we are."
"Ah! I see." Bokusen'on looked relieved. "A demon child following the great Sesshoumaru. Well now, that is most unusual."
"Human." The word didn't sound as if it was being dragged, kicking and screaming, from him. But the irritated look on his face suggested it was so.
Bokusen'on blinked again. "The child is... human?" He stared at Sesshoumaru. "Let me see if I have this straight... You have taken a six year old female human child as your... minion? Rather like that little green fellow you have?"
For some reason, Sesshoumaru found it rather irritating that Bokusen'on knew about Jaken when he had never actually brought Jaken there. Of course, being the great Demon Lord that he was, none of that irritation actually showed on his face. "Yes."
"Er... Why?" Bokusen'on was clearly genuinely curious and, like most older demons, unafraid to admit to such curiosity.
Sesshoumaru started to answer, then paused to consider. How did one go about admitting that he had no real reason for something when it was a well known fact that he never did anything without a reason?
Answer: he didn't.
"She is useful to me. She looks after Ah-Un."
"That is his name? I thought it was Jerky or Gherkin or something like that."
It sounded like something Toutousai would say.
Sesshoumaru had the sudden feeling that he knew where Bokusen'on was getting his information.
"My servant's name is Jaken. Ah-Un is..." He gestured vaguely to the entrance of the clearing where both of Ah-Un's heads were peering in curiously and mentally thanked the creature for providing him with an excuse for not saying what he was.
The mighty and powerful Lord Sesshoumaru admitting that he didn't know if he was riding a two headed scaled demon horse or a two headed small dragon... That was never going to happen.
"Ah!" Bokusen'on peered at the creature and looked at Sesshoumaru. "Make sure you clean up after it. I hate the smell of horse dung but dragon dung is even worse and I suspect that creature has both in its parentage."
Before Sesshoumaru could say a word in response, if he hadn't been startled into speechlessness, Bokusen'on nodded. "So, you need a sheath for a knife. Do you have the blade in question?"
Sesshoumaru was beginning to remember why he disliked dealing with elderly demons. Keeping track of the conversation was very difficult with them. "Toutousai is making it. I will have it tomorrow evening."
"Hmm... pick it up from here the following morning, then. I will have him bring it here when it is done and he can then make the sheath for it from one of my branches."
Sesshoumaru nods. "Very well. You have my thanks." It was not something he said often, but Bokusen'on didn't react as if he'd said anything particularly special. He just smiled and nodded.
"When you come for it, bring the girl. I would like to meet this human child of yours."
Another nod and Sesshoumaru turned to go. As tempting as it was to refute the 'of yours' part, it would just prolong the conversation.
He was almost at the entrance to the clearing when Bokusen'on called out to him again.
"Oh, and bring that servant of yours, also. Jaken, you said his name was? I hear that you rarely go anywhere without him, which is why I was not sure it was you, at first."
Sesshoumaru's step paused for less than a heartbeat as the words caused a wave of annoyance to wash over him.
Since when had the sight of Jaken behind him become so familiar to everyone?
After his reception from Toutousai and Bokusen'on, he wasn't very surprised when the old woman in the human village peered at him suspiciously with her sole good eye. "Sesshoumaru, is it? Now why would InuYasha's brother be coming to see an old woman like me?"
He was actually not as annoyed by her suspicion as he might have been. He knew that she had good reason to be wary of someone coming here who would normally remain away.
Naraku had a bad habit of disguising himself as familiar people.
"It's him. I'd know his scent anywhere." The grumpy voice of his younger half-brother came through the doorway of the small house they were standing in front of. "Although... it is a bit different today. Missing something. Jaken not with him?"
There was a soft growling sort of sound that could not possibly have come from Sesshoumaru as powerful demon Lords of the Western Lands didn't lower themselves to growling when annoyed.
"Ah! That is what it is. I knew there was something wrong, but I could not quite put my finger on it. So... Sesshoumaru... why have you come to see this old woman? Or is it your brother...?"
"I need a ward. A strong one. I am aware that you and the monk have one you use on occasion."
"Aye, we do. But it takes both of us to keep it going." Kaede looked sharply at him, as if she was scrutinising more than his appearance. "Is it for an item or a person?"
"Rin." Sesshoumaru spoke the name softly. "She has... become a target." The last admission was not one he'd planned on making, but his earlier conversations with Toutousai and Bokusen'on had shown him that some specific information was needed at such times as this.
"I see." Kaede frowned and thought for a moment, then turned and headed for the door to her house. "You had best come in. This will take a little time. Monk! I need your assistance."
"Of course, Kaede." Miroku nodded and joined her in the corner of the room where they began muttering in low voices, pounding herbs in bowls and measuring out various liquids and powders.
Sesshoumaru hesitated for a moment before stepping inside the house. He glanced around and frowned slightly when he noticed that his half-brother was sprawled on the floor nearby. He was bare chested except for a bandage that was wrapped around his upper body and left arm. The smell of blood was on the air, but there was also a strange sharp scent that made Sesshoumaru's nose twitch more than a demon lord's nose was supposed to ever twitch. He took two steps closer and confirmed that the smell was indeed coming from his half-brother.
"What is that abominable odour?" The words were out of his mouth before he realised it.
Inuyasha shrugged slightly. "Medicine from Kagome's time. She calls it 'anti-sep-tic'. It's like those herbs that you put on wounds to stop them festering, only it stings more and smells a lot worse." He wrinkled his nose. "For once, I'm glad my nose isn't as good as yours."
Sesshoumaru ignored that last bit. "Naraku?" There was a sharpness to his tone that he wasn't entirely happy to hear there.
Inuyasha looked up at his brother and shook his head slightly. "Not exactly. Although he probably got the demon who did this all riled up against us in the first place." He rolled his eyes. "The usual story. Getting someone else to do his dirty work for him"
He looked curiously at Sesshoumaru again. "So what's with the sudden need for a ward? Hasn't Naraku always targetted that kid?"
A very slight inclination of his head was all that Sesshoumaru would grant that question. "He has been sending someone to kidnap her, daily. Not serious attempts. Just..."
"Letting you know that he could if he really wanted to. Ouch." Inuyasha winced. "Does he have a death wish or something, taunting you like that?"
"I suspect he is attempting to draw me out. To make me seek him. Or possibly he merely wishes me to become so annoyed that I act rashly the next time we meet."
Inuyasha smirked. "He really can be incredibly stupid about people, sometimes. You're too proud to ever let that happen."
Sesshoumaru did not respond. He did give his younger half-brother a wary look, however.
There was something off with all this. Here he was, Lord Sesshoumaru, in the house of an old human woman talking mildly with the same half-brother who had once cut off his arm in a fight. InuYasha wasn't acting like himself, but then again, neither was he.
Kaede spoke up from the corner. "Sesshoumaru. Do you want this to be a one-time ward, a multiple use ward or something that will just permanently protect her once it is put in place?"
Sesshoumaru didn't even have to think about it. "Permanent. She will only be vulnerable when I am not with her and Jaken is usually unable to stop them. I do not believe he would have any better luck with setting a ward in time."
"Good point." Kaede nodded and turned back to the work for a few moments. "There. Done."
Sesshoumaru blinked before he managed to school his features again to hide his surprise. It seemed that human women and monks worked faster than demon swordsmiths. "What do I owe for it?"
Kaede shook her head. "If it was for you, it would be another story, but this is for the child." She looked suddenly fierce and Sesshoumaru had no doubt that the wards she and the just-as-serious monk behind her could make were every bit as powerful as he had heard rumours of. "Naraku has caused enough pain, misery and suffering. If this keeps one child safe from him, that is payment enough."
She saw him to the door, giving him the instructions on how to set it up as they went. When she was done, he stopped her before she could turn and head back inside. "What is wrong with him?"
Kaede smiled wryly, knowing who he meant with no more than that. "Ah, you noticed how quietly he was lying today, I take it? Well, he was causing such a commotion before that Kagome said that if he did not stay lying down quietly so he could heal, then she would tell him to sit so much that he would not be able to walk for at least a week. He knows that she meant it."
A part of Sesshoumaru was horrified that his younger half-brother was so tamed by that human girl that he would allow her to speak to him in that way.
The rest of him was just amused that someone had actually managed to find a way to keep the yapping little pup quiet for longer than five minutes.
It wasn't until he had left the village that he remembered how the old woman and his irritating brother had both brought Jaken into the conversation.
Honestly, did everyone believe that he and Jaken were joined at the hip or something?
Sesshoumaru's annoyance lasted until he realised that he had walked back to where he had left Jaken that morning. It was now early evening. Past the time he had told Rin he would collect her from the human village.
Glancing around, he realised that Jaken was nowhere in sight. For some reason that he really didn't care to examine too closely, that made him even more annoyed than he had already been.
He had no time to dwell on such things, though. Rin was waiting for him.
Sesshoumaru had taken barely three steps when he heard the sound of light footsteps running his way. He looked up.
"Lord Sesshoumaru!" Rin was doing her 'arms straight out from her sides' run, her face shining with the bright happy smile that he could never seem to dislike at all.
But even as he started towards the little girl, Sesshoumaru frowned slightly. Rin was supposed to be in the village, waiting until he came for her. Why had she disobeyed? Had something happened?"
"My Lord Sesshoumaru! You came back! I knew you would not forget your faithful Jaken." The small green demon was hurrying along behind Rin.
Sesshoumaru immediately understood why Rin was not waiting for him in the village.
When he hadn't returned at the right time to fetch her, Jaken had taken it upon himself to go and get her instead. It was just another occasion when the servant had anticipated his master's needs... and thoroughly annoyed him by doing so.
By the time Sesshoumaru reached that realisation, Rin had joined him and was smiling up at him happily. He looked at her. "Did you get what you needed?"
"Yes!" Rin pointed to the small bundle of cloth that Jaken was carrying. "It is very pretty." She looked adoringly up at the demon lord. "Thank you for letting Rin buy such a pretty kimono."
"It is becoming too cold for what you wear now. It would be troublesome if you were to get ill."
There was something about this child... How was it that such a small thing as a new winter kimono could make her so very happy?
Jaken finally caught up with them and stood there, puffing, panting and wheezing. The sight of him reminded Sesshoumaru of all the times that day when he had been annoyed because of Jaken. He moved closer to his small servant. Jaken looked up, his expression just as adoring as Rin's.
On Rin, the look was not one that Sesshoumaru minded at all.
On Jaken, it was almost enough to make the Great Demon Lord of the Western Lands shudder.
"Ow! My Lord Sesshoumaru? What did your humble Jaken do to deserve getting hit so hard?" Jaken pouted as he rubbed his sore head.
Sesshoumaru frowned ever so slightly at him. "I told you to wait here. I did not tell you to go and collect Rin from the human village." As Jaken pouted more, Sesshoumaru's frown deepened. "I also dislike that I had to endure three people asking me if I was really Sesshoumaru, all because of you."
He turned and strode off without another word.
Rin happily skipped behind him, Ah-Un's lead in her hand.
Jaken blinked in confusion. "Why would anyone not know that Lord Sesshoumaru was Lord Sesshoumaru and how could I possibly be blamed for it?" He shook his head and realised that while he'd been sitting on the ground muttering to himself, his Lord was getting away.
"Ah!" He scrambled to his feet and hurried after the others. "My Lord Sesshou...! Ow! Who put that rock there? My Lord Sesshoumaru! Wait for me!"