Whirlwind by Sereia

Chapter 2

The village to the north provided her with supplies and a comfortable futon, but Kagome was already on the road again by the time the sun had crested over the horizon.

It was always the same when she started travelling; there was an urge to keep moving, keep exploring, and it was one that she readily gave into. There was something about a journey without a destination that entranced her.

Maybe it was because she'd spent so much time focusing on the 'end' when they'd been fighting Naraku. The final battle, the final shard—everything had been finite once the dust had settled, to the point where staying in one place for too long made her skin crawl.

Sensing her discomfort, the wind blew through her hair, tousling it playfully.

"Hello again," Kagome said. "I thought you might've wandered off." Air swirled around her, giving her the distinct feeling it was put out.

"I didn't think you'd abandoned me, just gone to play somewhere."

The wind swirled again, collecting some leaves before dropping them on Kagome's head. Laughing, she shook her head, ridding her hair of the foliage. Out of all the elements she was able to communicate with, the wind was the most vocal.

At first, Kagome had been wary; a lot of youkai had come out of hiding after Naraku's death. Ones that had done their best to avoid the conflict the search for the Shikon had created.

The elation she'd felt when the well had reopened had only just outweighed the terror of someone finding out what had happened to the Shikon's power.

She'd even kept it from Inuyasha.

He knew she was different, that her power was different, but he'd chalked it up to the time spent in the modern era. It wasn't until a year had gone by without the village being attacked by a power-hungry youkai that she'd finally relaxed.

That was when she'd started spending more time away from the village. She'd needed to test out the limits of her powers without anyone discovering where the power was coming from. It also stopped the village from being a beacon to youkai looking to make a name for themselves.

Kagome checked the position of the sun; if she was lucky, she'd make it to the next village by nightfall. If not, the weather was nice enough that she wouldn't need to find shelter. The wind always woke her if there was any threat nearby anyway.

Like right now.

The wind whistled through the trees, dropping a charred branch on her shoulder. Kagome twirled it in her fingers but didn't change her speed, wanting to seem as composed as possible. The wood was still warm.

"Thanks for the warning," she whispered, tossing the stick over her shoulder. "They've been following for a while, but I thought they'd given up once we reached the forest."

Travelling by herself came with a myriad of dangers, most of which could be handled with a simple flare of reiki, but every so often Kagome came across bandits of the human variety—ones that couldn't be deterred by her power. And she was thankful that Sango had taken the time to train her in other kinds of combat before she'd left.

She almost sighed when an arrow landed in the tree next to her. Why did everyone resort to weapons first? Wasn't there enough fear in the world already?

"It's rude to shoot at someone when you haven't introduced yourself first," Kagome said, slowly turning around. The arrow had come from the trees, her attackers keeping themselves hidden between the branches.


"Give us all your money and valuables!" A voice called from another direction.

Well, at least it's just a simple robbery. 

"I don't suppose you'd believe me when I tell you I have none?" she said, sliding her bow off her shoulder and nocking one of her own arrows. There was a rustling of leaves, two of them giving away their position, and Kagome rolled her eyes. Either the group was very young or very stupid. Either way, she didn't have time to play.

"I don't have anything of value," she repeated, standing her ground. "I'm a travelling miko." The wind blew through the trees, revealing the locations of three others, though the low muttering had already given them away.

"There's no way you'd be travelling without money of some kind," the first one argued. "Leave it on the ground and—"


More mutters.

"You've attacked without provocation and tried to negotiate without even showing your face. Leave now, and I'll forget this ever happened." Kagome sidled closer to the tree nearest to her, using it to shield herself.

"Maybe she's telling the truth," another whispered.

At least one of them had a brain. Or enough sense to realize this was a bad idea.

"You fool," someone hissed, "she'll warn the village if you let her go."

Kagome's eyes narrowed; so it wasn't just about her. The last person to speak was different from the others—there was an odd vibration to their voice, an underlying malevolence that put her on edge. The wind swirled in warning, the scent of burnt wood assaulting her senses.

A youkai signature. 

Kagome barely had time to duck before flames erupted over her head, singeing the tips of her hair. Cries of victory and horror mingled together, and she waited a moment before sending an arrow into the trees, reiki exploding between the branches.

Her attackers scattered, some of them regrouping while others ran for shelter, and Kagome smirked when she felt youki building again.

This was a fight she would win.

She let another arrow fly, then ducked behind the tree, erecting a barrier as more flames erupted around her. The youkai was being careless; the aim of their attacks was erratic, almost as if—


Assuming they'd go for a direct attack, Kagome hadn't bothered worrying about the surrounding foliage, but it seemed her attackers were content with burning down the entire forest in order to secure her silence.

Swearing aloud this time, she left the shelter of the tree, managing to escape the ring of flames. She wished she'd thought of bringing one of Sango's gas masks with her, but in all her time travelling, this would've been the first time she ever required it.

She avoided a falling branch, but her gasp forced unwanted smoke into her lungs, and Kagome started coughing, giving away her position.

The cries were more exuberant than before, and Kagome sent out a flare of reiki, smirking as the youkai let out a string of curses. Hopefully it was enough to slow down the next attack.

The answering youki told her she'd failed.

Fire rained down on her, burning through her robes, but she managed not to scream, erecting another barrier as she danced around the flames. She just had to find the exit; if she could just clear the tree line, they wouldn't have any cover.

Kagome sent her reiki out again, trying to tap into any trees that weren't covered in charcoal, but all she found was death, screams of the burning forest echoing in her mind. Ignoring the pain on her back, she pushed herself forward, swallowing more smoke as she tried not to inhale.

The cries became taunts, mixing with the sound of crackling grass and falling branches. "You've got nowhere to go, miko. Give up now, and your death will be a quick one."

Kiss my ass, Kagome thought, sending three more arrows out, not caring if they actually hit something. Vision blurring, she took off, not caring about the direction, as long as it was away from them. Let them think she was on her last legs; their arrogance would prove their downfall.

Even if she couldn't find the edge of the forest, she needed to get away from the smoke—away from the heat nipping at her heels. A low branch caught her shoulder, digging into her skin as she pulled loose, and she winced as a chunk of her robes was left behind.

Kagome didn't allow herself time to breathe, trying to put as much distance between them as possible. Pushing herself further, she willed the trees to part, then cursed herself when they did.

Instead of flowing fields or a nearby village, Kagome was met with jagged rocks and terrifying heights, the forest giving way to a steep cliffside. Sucking in gulps of fresh air, she looked around for somewhere to hide, somewhere she'd have an advantage.

There was none.

The flames, and the one controlling them, loomed closer, the taunts that she'd left behind getting louder. Gripping her bow, Kagome planted her feet, then turned back to the treeline, her body pulsing with power.

Let them come. 

The wind howled, and she watched as the billows of smoke changed direction. Her attackers yelped in confusion, even the youkai pausing in their assault of the foliage, and Kagome lifted her face to the sky. In all her time spent with the element, the wind had never turned violent before; it had always been playful in its protectiveness, usually at the expense of people vying for her favour.

This was different—dangerous—and suddenly Kagome wasn't sure if she'd survive. Air churned around her, whipping hair and clothing, forcing her closer to the cliff's edge.

"What are you doing?" she hissed, struggling to keep her balance. The wind only pushed her back further, and Kagome grabbed for something to hold on to. Heat crept up her side, branches waving before the entire treeline was engulfed.

Dark eyes gleamed at her through the flames, and she took a willing step backwards.

"This has gone on long enough, miko." The voice was disembodied, weaving in and out of the inferno. "Accept your fate."

Blue eyes narrowed, and Kagome lifted her chin. "Never."

"You are a fool."

"Maybe," she said, shrugging with a nonchalance she didn't feel. "But at least my conscience will be clear. Can you say the same?"

The flames seemed to smirk. "I guess we'll find out."

Kagome felt the charge of power and braced herself, idly wondering if her barrier would protect her if she barrelled straight through the attack.

But the wind had other plans.

Before she could decide on a plan of action, Kagome was swept off the cliff face, the fire demon shrieking in fury. She'd seen how high up the cliff was, how there was nothing at the bottom to cushion her fall, but the air whipped around her like a tornado, swallowing her scream.

She couldn't even tell which way she was going, just that the youki was fading. The wind tossed her around, and Kagome struggled to stay conscious, the constant changes in altitude making her head spin.

She thought about giving in, letting the darkness consume her, but immediately squashed the idea. The wind had never caused her harm before, but Kagome still didn't fully understand the extent of her power—maybe the element was a cast-off of another youkai's power and had been lulling her into a false sense of security.

She wanted to believe otherwise; the wind had never felt malicious, but why else would it have pushed her off the edge—

If the ground had been any more solid, Kagome would've been nursing more than a few bruises. Rolling to a stop, she groaned softly, clenching her eyes shut until she knew which way was up. The landing had been jarring, though strangely so, and Kagome braced herself for wherever the wind had taken her.

Opening her eyes, she looked around, brow pinching in confusion. She wasn't dead, the burns on her skin and tears in her clothing were still present, but the sight before her was nothing she'd ever seen before.

The ground seemed to shift beneath her hands, giving Kagome the sensation of rolling waves, but there was no sound of water. The air was clear but charged, electricity skirting along her arms.

A barrier. 

There was no malice, just power, and she forced herself to breathe. If she was about to jump into another battle, she needed to replenish her strength as quickly as possible.

Glancing around, she tried to decide the best course of action. She seemed to be on the edge of another precipice, the only path being a long flight of stairs. If anything, she could ask for directions.

As long as whoever lives here isn't in league with the fire youkai. 

She got to her feet and moved forward, effortlessly passing through the barrier. Either the person who made it wasn't as powerful as she thought, or she hadn't been viewed as a threat. She stepped into the bottom stair, the ground rippling under her feet, and she winced.

Somewhere during her impromptu flight, she'd lost her shoes. Sighing, and resigning herself to begging for new footwear as well as directions, Kagome made her way up the stairs. From her initial assessment, she'd assumed it would take her a while to reach the top, but she found herself at the top in no time at all.

An illusion.

Maybe the person who lived here had more than one defence mechanism at their disposal—


Twin guards seemed to appear out of nowhere. They both held spears and were clad in shimmering armour, long golden hair pulled back into intricate braids.

"State your business, creature."

Kagome clutched her robes, trying for some semblance of modesty. "I have no business. I don't even know where I am. The wind—"

The blondes shoved the ends of their spears in Kagome's face, and her reiki flared, along with her temper. Energy crackled between them, and the guards took a step back, murmuring to each other before one fled.

"You will remain here until our mistress decides your fate," the second stated, her weapon still inches from Kagome's face.

"No one's going to decide anything for me. I just need directions. And a new pair of shoes," Kagome muttered.

"If you are deemed a friend, you have nothing to worry about."

Blue eyes narrowed. "And if I'm not?"

The guard's lips curled up into a smirk, flashing sharp fangs. "Then I will enjoy disposing of you."

Kagome met her smirk with one of her own. "Try it, and you won't have enough hair left to sew up your wounds."

The blonde took on a defensive stance, youki wrapping around her spear, the blade glowing. "I will not allow you to threaten my mistress."

Kagome let out an exasperated sigh. "I'm not threatening anyone! Let alone whoever your mistress is."

"Lies! No one approaches the great Inukimi-sama's palace without a reason!"

Kagome blinked in confusion, giving her a dumbfounded look. "Who?"


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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