Kawa no Nagare no Youni - Like a Flowing River
An Inuyasha Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
NOTE: This was written without previous knowledge of Inuyasha’s heritage.
Long ago, in a time before man felt the illumination of knowledge or the method of science, youkai [demons] roamed the Earth. Mortals feared and respected youkai, knowing that even just one could be infinitely more powerful than an entire army of humans. Only magic could effectively fight magical beings and humans had only a slight grasp of this power. A well-placed ward or talisman by a priest could mean the difference between peace and war.
Such was the case of a mortal warlord. In order to protect his lands and people from an encroaching Taiyoukai [High Demon], he elicited the help of an incredibly strong Miko [Priestess]. She placed a seal on a tree in the center of a river which bordered the lord’s manor and land to the north. He was beyond pleased when he saw youkai stop at the water’s edge and snarl. They could not cross. His land was safe.
For a hundred years or more, that seal would protect his family from becoming property of the Taiyoukai.
One sunny afternoon, the daughter of the house went down to the river’s edge with her entourage. By now, everyone knew how safe it was and there was no fuss made over it. The women spread out blankets and talked by the pleasantly burbling water. Presently, the girl noticed that a large, white dog had appeared on the opposite bank. When she made a comment about how beautiful he was, her handmaidens laughed at her.
“Why do you laugh?” she asked innocently.
“Do not be so foolish, My Lady, for surely that is a youkai-dog.”
“Oh!” She covered her face with a fan to hide her blushing cheeks, yet the maiden stole many more glances at him as the afternoon wore on. The dog remained, sitting calmly, staring back at her, almost as if he had come calling for her.
The following day, the young lady insisted they go back and sit by the river again. Her handmaids could not refuse her, but they mocked her playfully.
“We understand!” they giggled. “You do not want to marry next week, so you are falling in love instead with a youkai!”
“That’s not true!” She fanned herself and blushed furiously. To her delight, the dog was back as well. There was something about that pure, white fur and those deep, dark eyes. Even from nearly seventy feet away, she could see his yellow irises, almost unblinkingly staring at her.
That night, the young lady could not sleep. She sneaked out of her house and found her way to the riverbank by starlight. To her great joy the dog was there; his coat shining brightly like a beacon.
“Hello,” she said and curtseyed. The dog bowed his head respectfully. “I imagine my friends were right. You are a youkai, aren’t you?” Again he nodded. “Mother says that youkai are tricksters and thieves, killers and man-eaters. You don’t want to eat me, do you?” she asked, a bit nervously.
She was taken aback by his voice. It was so deep and human-sounding. “Mother also said that most youkai hide their true form from humans. Is that true?”
“Some do, yes.”
“Is that your true form?”
“Not really.” He stood up on all fours. Then, as he underwent his metamorphosis, he stood on two legs. He became a tall, silver haired man with striking features. His clothes were almost foreign in appearance and dark red. His hands were adorned with short claws and his ears were pointed.
“My...” the girl gasped. “You’re even more...” She stopped herself and blushed.
They stood and watched each other for a few moments.
“I have been unable to do anything other than think about you,” the Taiyoukai admitted. She blushed again. “And I know by the fact that you have come to me tonight that you have been thinking of me, as well.”
Too embarrassed to speak, she nodded.
“I would like to be with you, but I cannot cross the water.”
“I know. I could cross, but I am not dressed.”
“Tomorrow night, meet me here again. I shall have clothes for you to wear. I would very much like to show you my kingdom.”
“My Lady… One last thing. I must know your name.”
“I am called Misora.”
“And I am Inutaishou.”
The clouds moved in, dimming what little light they had. Misora let out a frightened gasp. Inutaishou produced a tiny ball of foxfire which bobbed its way across the stream. “Use this to safely light your way back. I shall count the moments till next we meet.”
Misora nodded again, turned and jogged back to her house.
The following evening Misora took the tiny ball of foxfire out from its hiding place and wove her way back down the riverbank. Inutaishou was waiting for her, as he promised. They walked downstream for a few hundred feet. She then crossed an ancient, wooden bridge. Misora stopped just before she set foot on the opposite side and looked into the Taiyoukai’s eyes. He certainly didn’t look like he had any plans to eat her, but stories she had heard about youkai brutality haunted her. Inutaishou held out his hand and she smiled.
He gave her a fine gown which she put on over her evening robes and gently lacing his arm around her, they took to the skies. His palace was deep in the forest where no man dared to tread. Its immensity was astonishing. Many hundreds of youkai in elegant dress were assembled in the main hall. Gongs and drums sounded in greeting. Inutaishou explained that this was his court: a legion of higher-youkai all in his service. Standing before all of them was a young man whose appearance was strikingly similar to Inutaishou. Misora shivered under his gaze.
Outside, she was treated to a spectacle of fireworks and pageantry as the youkai showed off their talents in a bizarre carnival. Misora’s eyes sparkled. Never in her life had she known that such amazing things existed. Always, she had been told, youkai were dirty, lowly creatures who existed only to torture humans, but here they were; entertaining her!
As the night came to an end and she had to go home, Inutaishou begged to see her again. She agreed.
As their visits became more frequent and private, Misora’s family began to take notice of her exhaustion and day-dreaming. Her marriage to a neighboring lord was moved up, in fear that she may be ill. If she were to die before she married the lord, then a lucrative agreement between the houses concerning the economies of both parties could not be made.
On the evening of the day she learned of this, Misora ran as quickly as she could to the riverbank. She called her lover’s name and he was there in an instant. When she told him of her plight, he begged her to marry him. Misora was unsure. She didn’t want to abandon her family. Inutaishou then said he had a perfect solution.
“Remove the seal which keeps me from your side of this river. I will then conquer your lands and make them and your family mine. We will be able to be together!”
She agreed, but before she could run up the riverbank to the great holy tree, they heard voices. With a whisper, Inutaishou was gone, and Misora was taken back to the house by her concerned handmaids.
The next day, the neighboring lord paid his future wife a visit. The two were allowed to spend some time together, supervised at a distance by her elders. Misora suggested they walk by the river. He joked about the beasts on the other side and how amusing it was that a simple talisman could keep these supposedly strong creatures at bay. Misora said she could show him the holy tree and he laughed, but followed her.
They stood on the bank and watched the river flow around the tree in its center. As the lord talked on and on about the benefits of marrying into his family, Misora counted the stones from the bank to the tree. When she was confident, she turned, hiked up her kimono and fled. In three long steps she reached the tree.
“You and your family are doomed!” she cried. “You will know the true strength of youkai and you will respect them, or you will surely die!” With all her might, she ripped the talisman free and slammed it down onto the rocks below where it smashed to pieces.
Almost instantly, youkai began to flood out of the forest, and unfettered, swarmed over her family’s land. Inutaishou found Misora easily and took her up onto his demonic steed with him. Within the hour, hundreds of acres on the other side of the river belonged to Inutaishou. He allowed Misora’s family to remain in charge of the humans, but made it perfectly clear that they now answered to him. Changes were on the way.
Most of her family avoided her after Misora returned to her palace. She was now married to a youkai. Her family and lands were property of the very Taiyoukai whom they had disrespected for a century. A small entourage of female youkai was assigned to care for Misora, but most of them wouldn’t speak to her. When she mentioned this to Inutaishou, he smoothly changed the subject.
One afternoon, Misora heard voices being raised around a corner of the courtyard. She listened at a safe distance. Inutaishou was arguing with someone. Misora thought this odd, since he was in such a position of power. The other man was growing angrier by the moment.
“This was not part of the plan. It is a disgrace to us!”
“How dare you…?” Inutaishou growled.
“You’ve fallen in love with the filthy thing, haven’t you?!”
“That is none of your business.”
“That is disgusting!”
There was a loud crack of flesh meeting flesh then a long silence. The other man hissed, “You bring dishonor to our family. My mother would die of shame if she wasn’t already dead.”
“I loved your mother very much, Sesshou-maru…”
He snorted. “You’ve got a hell of a way of showing it.”
“What do you know of love, Son? How can you possibly know how I feel…”
“Are you listening to yourself?!”
Inutaishou snarled and strange sounds emanated from him. Misora became frightened for her love, so she peeked around the corner. The young youkai (who looked like Inutaishou, whom she know knew was Sesshou-maru, his son) was backing away. Inutaishou was turning into his dog form, but he was also growing immense. Soon he took up nearly the entire courtyard.
“If you speak to me like that again, Sesshou-maru…” the beast growled.
Sesshou-maru didn’t reply, but the look on his face was enough that to show that he got the message. Misora ran away before either of them found her. Her heart pounded harder than it had ever before. She sat in her room and stared at the floor for hours, contemplating what she had heard. It had been planned. He seduced her into breaking the seal and ruining her family. But he felt strongly enough about her to stand up to his only son…
As night came, a kitsune [fox] youkai woman stumbled into the room.
“There you are!” she cried. “Inutaishou has been worried!”
“Oh?” Misora asked as she stood up. Inutaishou appeared at the door with a look of relief on his face. He opened his arms. She ran into them.
A few years later, Misora produced Inutaishou a hanyou (half demon) son. He was named Inu Yasha and grew up in Misora’s family’s palace. There, he suffered the same isolation that Misora felt from the day after her wedding. Inutaishou doted on his second son, but he was often away.
One afternoon, when Inu Yasha was only three years old, Sesshou-maru paid the palace a visit. He wore a sword at his left, which he had never done before. Without a hint of remorse in his voice, he announced that his father was dead. Misora begged for an explanation, but never got one. She went into a deep morning from which she never recovered. Inu Yasha carried the memory of his mother’s sadness, and anger towards his older brother in his heart for the rest of his life.