Chapter 51: A Pity, a Tête-à-tête, a Siege with a Glozing, a Murder,
and A Party
The warmth of the South, even in the darkness before dawn, was invigorating. Ryukostokken clenched and unclenched his hands, enjoying the pump of blood in his veins and the excitement that coursed under his skin. It has been too long. He raised his hand and then swiftly dropped it, signaling his soldiers.
The first wave of dragons scaled the wall before a cry of alarm was sounded. The lord joined them, bending his knees and leaping over the whitewashed stone in one bound. His roar was answered by the soldiers that brandished their weapons and attacked with fury. Ryukostokken did not wait for the contingent he led to catch up to him, but drew his sword and cut down two bears before they even had a chance to focus on him. Shianma sang a death-song that thrilled him. The blade drank the youki of those that died on its edge, and Ryukostokken shared in the sword’s surge of power. Another bear demon, larger than the first two in his true form, growled and barreled toward him, head down. The fool thought his great size and speed would work to his advantage.
With a smooth application of youki, the dragon lord sidestepped, leaving a breeze in his wake that tossed dirt into the air – blinding his opponent. It was a simple matter then to plunge Shianma point first through thick layers of fur and bone to sever the spine. With a mighty wrench, he turned the blade sideways and sliced through fat and ribs. Gore splattered two other soldiers that had followed their comrade’s charge. Ryukostokken flicked out his tongue, tasting their fear. His advance was too quick for them to avoid, and their whining screams were a music that blended into Shianma’s song.
Death to my enemies. Death to the weak. Death to those that stand in my way. Death to those beneath and above me. Death is my name.
Hours later, the blood and gore that lay thick on the floors of the Southern Palace stained his shoes and the hem of his kimono. Ryukostokken could have avoided it. His body hummed with power – stolen from those he had slain. It would have been a simple matter to jump across the sunken reception hall floor to the dais on the other side, but he did not. He enjoyed it, the sound of wet slapping against the soles of his feet as he walked. He reveled in the crunch of odd bits of bone or the smearing squish of meat and tissue as he ground them into the wood. He took his time crossing the floor, ignoring the bodies of his own soldiers that lay where they had been felled by the powerful bear before him. Four of his strongest held the female down on her knees, her face pressed into the cushion that was intended for the Southern Lord. She was mortally wounded. Her life essence pumped out onto her clothing and saturated the uniforms of his dragons, but she yet lived. As he had ordered.
She snarled as he approached, her golden skin twisted into a mask of hate. “You will pay for this,” she threatened. Her eyes blazed red, her youki swelling and making his soldiers fight to keep her restrained.
“No,” he said softly, lovingly caressing her face with his claws before digging them into the flesh under her deceptively delicate jaw. “This One will receive exactly what he deserves. As will you.” Her life would fade in less than an hour, given the poison that coated his soldier’s blades. He would have to work more quickly than he preferred to ensure her degradation was complete – that she knew her place before she sank to hell. Ryukostokken stepped back and sheathed his sword. Reaching for the knot of his obi, he commanded his soldiers, “On her back.” His tongue slithered out, waiting for the first sweet taste of her terror, but he was disappointed. The lord hated to be disappointed.
“Do not bother,” she spat, almost achieving dismissal through her anger. “I doubt I will even notice – from the likes of you. No dragon-” His temper got the better of him and he slapped her, flaying open her face and whipping her head against the floor. She let out a woozy chuckle. “Even your claws are small and soft.” Fury burned like phosphorus in his veins. Shianma plunged into the female’s belly, and the dragon lord drank up her youki while he leaned over her.
His rage washed through him, and spittle flecked her as he spoke, cleaning away tiny spots on her blood-smeared face. “This One is denied here, so know your niece will be next spread before me. Know that This One will savor the wait, and when she is ripped open and screaming, she will be healed so that she may watch her brother suffer the same.” He leaned closer, twisting his sword and relishing the way her eyes widened – finally she knew his power. “The meat of the male will give This One strength, so that your brother’s soft little cub can be taken again, and again. She will be the end of the House of the Ebbing Wave.” The pressure of blood against his blade was decreasing. Her death was near. Ryukostokken dropped to his knee beside her, bringing his lips within inches of hers. “She will know This One’s pleasure…in your place.” He released some of his flame to dance along her neck, singeing her hair. “And This One will burn down the home of your foremothers and leave the cub’s rotting corpse in the ashes.”
Five days. For five days the council meetings had continued, and Kagome was ready to tear out her hair in frustration. That morning she had finally put her foot down and told Kimi she would no longer attend. The Lady had acquiesced, easier than the miko had anticipated, and then suggested that Kagome could still be of use to Sesshomaru if she were to assist with some of the paperwork that had fallen to the wayside while Kento and he were in meetings.
Kagome seized on it with fervor. She took all of the scrolls and papers she could carry from Sesshomaru’s study and relocated to her anteroom with a pot of tea and her modern, comfortable clothes. The children had spent the morning with Aina, and the quiet solitude of her rooms and the little garden outside was a relief. The only thing that could have made it better would have been sharing it with the daiyoukai himself. Unfortunately, she had seen little of him since their late supper after the first day of meetings. Although she was aware of him settling down into their futon each night, and his brief kisses before he left in the morning, it seemed the only time they were awake together was at the blasted council table. Although she missed him, really missed not just his touch but the intimate way he smirked at her when he had backed her into a verbal corner and the soft light in his eyes when he tucked Shippo and Rin into bed, she absolutely could not stand to listen to one more pointless argument.
They argued about territory boundaries. They argued about commitments of soldiers and supplies. They argued about debts, faults, and old insults that had taken place years, sometimes centuries prior. There had even been one heated side-discussion regarding a single bag of rice, an annual drinking festival, and a suspected kitsune. And then there were the more personal remarks and overtones. Uesugi had made it embarrassingly clear, through innuendo and almost-touches, that she had turned her eye from Sesshomaru to the miko. Kagome had had enough. Kimi assured her that it was the nature of such councils, even ones conducted for such serious topics as war. She also pointed out, that as Kagome had only been attending the afternoon sessions, she was missing the more sedate – she specifically called them ‘dry’ – meetings where previous treaties and alliances were reviewed and considered. It was all a foundation for the actual planning of a war; such issues had to be hashed out prior to a firm commitment to ally with the West. The miko also had the, in her opinion, significant pleasure of missing all of the individual discussions and meetings that Sesshomaru, Hirimoto, and Kimi had been arranging to attempt to sway the other lords and attendees one-on-one. She had tried to imagine such a lobbying conversation between Sesshomaru and the unreadable Matsudaira.
“Will you join This One,” Sesshomaru would intone very coldly and formally.
“I cannot say without proper consideration,” the human lord would reply, equally formal and polite.
Then they would stare at each other.
Bletch. Kagome shivered away that daydream – daymare? – and set aside another trade assessment before stopping to stretch. Nankae and Emi were taking a nap in Shippo’s room while the older children worked on a lesson. They sounded nearly finished, and she had told them they could play in the ima once they were done; the weather had been too bitter to allow them outside. Even Shippo shivered and chattered after a few minutes in the garden. She closed her eyes and focused her reiki. The rock brothers were standing guard in the hall, Aina was on her way back to the ima after, presumably, enjoying her own lunch. Aki was also on her way. Kagome smiled lightly. She enjoyed the company of the spider demon, but it also made her miss Sango that much more. She hoped the slayer had had an easy trip north to meet up with Inuyasha, and that the hanyou and monk were doing well.
She put away her pen and had just finished straightening her desk when Aki arrived with a brief knock. “Come in,” Kagome called softly. Shining iridescent eyes looked over the miko’s clothes as the spider shut the screens.
“You never cease to surprise, Kagome-sama,” she said with a smile. “I cannot say that I am not intrigued with the idea that somewhere an entire village dresses as you do. Do the males not trip over each other, unable to keep their eyes in their heads?”
Kagome glanced down at her leggings, tank top, and open flannel shirt. “Uh, not that I have ever noticed.” She laughed, “but they would probably stare if I wore one of your creations to the sto- er, market.”
“Well, of course they would,” Aki said agreeably. “My kimono are the most beautiful in the world. Now, speaking of such, I have brought you a gift.” She pulled a parcel wrapped in plain brown linen from behind her back.
“Aki,” Kagome grinned, “I don’t need any more clothes. You spoil me!” She reached for the package and plopped down on a cushion at the table. The youkai sat much more gracefully.
“Not I, but Sesshomaru-sama. He was very specific in the design he wanted you to wear for the announcement ceremony.”
“Announc…” Kagome blanched. She had completely forgotten about the engagement party that Kimi had planned. Gifts. Formal presentations. Vows of intent. And everything in front of the argumentative guests that were attending the council. She felt fidgety and self-conscious just thinking about it.
“Do not tell me you forgot?” Aki’s brows raised and she laughed at Kagome’s awkward shrug. “I suppose you will say there have been other things on your mind, no? It is fine. That is why I am here. Kimi-sama asked me to help you select your gift after I fit you for this kimono.”
“Yes, my lady told me she had explained it to you…” Aki’s voice faded hesitantly.
“No, I mean, yes, she did. But I already have one?”
Aki blinked. “Are you asking me, Kagome-sama?”
“No, er,” Kagome laughed, rueful. “I guess I meant to say that I had something I was going to give Sesshomaru, and my mother packed me something – in return for the bride gift he sent her. But I would like a second opinion, if you don’t mind, to make sure it is up to snuff?” At Aki’s look of confusion, she clarified, “I don’t really know what will be considered okay for this. All I know about these gifts is what Kimi told me was done at her ceremony with Toga, and that seemed a little…”
“Excessive?” Aki suggested with a smirk.
“Beyond my means,” Kagome answered diplomatically. “My family owns a shrine, you know, we aren’t nobility or anything.” She set the package on the table and rolled to her feet. “Here, let me get it.” It took her a moment to find her blue bag, tucked inside the old yellow one on the upper shelf in the wardrobe. She returned to her spot and settled the bag between her crossed legs. “I will admit, I was a little surprised to find it in here, but mama always tucks a few extra things into my bag before I leave. Although usually it is healthy snacks and betadine and stuff.” A bag of crushed chips, a clean shirt, replacement bandages for her first aid kit, and various odds and ends were piled on the table as she dug around inside.
She could feel Aki’s curiosity as she finally pulled out a rectangular cardboard jewelry box. The interior had been packed with cotton balls, and resting inside were two perfectly round pearls. Other than their uniform shape, there wasn’t anything overly special about either of them. They were largish, for pearls, about three times the size of a pencil eraser, but the colors were mismatched. One was green, the other purple and both shone with an iridescence that was not particularly attractive, to Kagome’s taste.
“I don’t know that they can be worth very much, where I’m from,” Kagome said while she stared at the pearls. “They wouldn’t make very good jewelry. The note in the box said my father bought them for my mother before he died. It was nice of her to give them up, of course, I’m just not sure that-”
Aki made a strangled sound, and Kagome finally looked up. The youkai was staring, wide-eyed, into the box with one hand on her throat. “What?” the miko asked, alarmed.
“I do not know what shrine maidens consider to be precious, Kagome-sama, but your family must be powerful indeed if you think these would not be prized by the House of the Moon.” Her slender fingers reached out, shaking slightly, but she snatched them back before she could touch the box.
“Er, so they’ll do?’ Kagome stared at the spider in confusion, then back at the box. Maybe they are the real thing? All my friends have cultured pearls, they sell them at festival booths, for heaven’s sake. But maybe papa bought mama ocean pearls, the natural kind, as sort of a present for having Souta? Her line of reasoning didn’t make a lot of sense. Who would buy their wife mismatched pearls? Especially if they were going to spend enough to get the real thing; it seemed unlikely.
“Do? Can you not feel their power, Kagome-sama?” Dark blue youkai, thin as fishing line, twined around the box. Kagome watched carefully, and as Aki’s power came into contact with the pearls, they began to glow. First the green, then the purple, one fading as the other brightened and then vice versa. The faint sound of the ocean and the smell of salt water teased her senses. Abruptly, it stopped and Kagome glanced up. Aki was lightly holding her head, her eyes unfocused.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes,” the spider chuckled at herself. “I am unused to such objects of power, it makes my youki dizzy.” She blinked a few times and poured herself and Kagome each a cup of tea while the miko closed the box and set it on the table. “I am surprised you have not heard of them, although perhaps it is a story told only to youkai. A powerful sea-dragon gave those to his human son-in-law as a mating gift. They are called ‘ebb’ and ‘flow’, and they are rumored to control the tides, among other things.”
“Holy shit,” Kagome whispered, then blushed. “I mean, ah, that’s crazy. To think those were sitting in my mom’s bureau all those years.” She frowned to herself, trying to remember more of the story she had been told as a child, about how her father had come to buy them. The memory was too fuzzy. “Anyway, if you think they will be okay…” Aki’s awed expression and nod assured her. “Then maybe I don’t need to give him the other stuff too? I picked it up before I knew about the engagement, er, courting ritual, rules…thing. Tell me what you think.” The second package she had wrapped herself in plain brown paper and white string – biodegradable and simple enough for the feudal era. Inside was a coffee table book of images from the Hubble telescope and a fountain pen. The book had been on clearance at the store where she got her textbooks and she had purchased on a whim, but the pen had cost most of her allowance. Such antiquated things weren’t available just anywhere, but she thought Sesshomaru would appreciate the craftsmanship and utility.
“These paintings are exquisite,” Aki marveled, lightly fingering a page. “I have never seen art so fine; this will be coveted by all of the lords present.” That gave Kagome second thoughts. She wasn’t sure how good of an idea it would be to have powerful feudal lords desiring photos of space. The pen held the youkai’s interest less, although she admired the case politely. Together, they determined that the book and pen might be suited to be given privately.
Fitting of her new kimono was next, and Kagome was amazed and surprised again by Aki’s skill, and flattered that Sesshomaru had taken the time to choose the design himself. Arranging the kimono on a stand in the bedroom made the engagement seem more real, and nerves the miko hadn’t realized she had surfaced at the thought. She mentally chided herself. With everything else that was happening, something as frivolous as an engagement party shouldn’t even have registered on the Kagome-freaking-out scale. She couldn’t help but wish, however, that her friends and family could be there. Not just to lend support, but to share in the day as well. Kagome was happy to be agreeing to mate Sesshomaru, and she wanted her friends to know that. Despite their difficulties, and the short time they had been together, the depth of their experiences and the years over which they had slowly moved from enemies, to acquaintances, to allies, to something more made her certain that she wanted to be with him.
By the time they had everything put back away, Aina was returning the children for supper and baths. She promised to meet them at the springs in a few hours to collect Nankae and take him to Hisao for the night, and the two youkai females left at the same time. Kagome presided over a boisterous dinner – oh how she wished for an indoor jungle gym to burn off childish energy – and the rock brothers escorted them all to the hot springs. She let the boys play on their side for nearly an hour – with strict instructions to stay in the shallow end – after Nankae had been scrubbed, in hopes that they would be worn out enough to sleep. The plan seemed to work, as the pup lay his head on Aina’s shoulder as soon as she picked him up. Rin and Shippo leaned heavily against each other while Kagome carried Emi upstairs. As she slid into her futon, she hoped that the council had gone better than previous days. She wanted the decision to be made, so that they could make concrete plans against Ryukostokken. And, selfishly, she wanted to have Sesshomaru to herself again. As much as she ever did, anyway, with the claims on his time from running the West. She burrowed into the blankets, purposefully taking her share out of the middle so he would have to move her to get in, and wished, more than anything, that they could have peace.
Five days. Five fuckin’ awful days arguing with that dragon captain and Inuyasha was sick of it. He was drawing a line. Right there in the stone ground of the Eel valley, he actually did it. His claw shot up sparks and drew the attention of both sides of the camp, his and the idiot’s. That was the idea. He needed to get that captain’s attention and move the plan along, ‘cause if he had to spend one more minute bullshitting when he could just kill the scaly moron and be done with it he would probably go mad.
“Alright,” he barked, pointing at the dragon leader rudely, “this is it. I’m tired of fuckin’ around with you. We settle this now.” A vicious smile broke out on the dragon’s face, but before he could draw his weapon and challenge Inuyasha to fight to the death, the hanyou continued, “If I’m gonna agree to all this shit you been saying, we’re gonna do it my way. And I learned to seal a deal with a drink.”
It was a stretch of the truth, but Inuyasha was betting that the dragon’s sense of smell wasn’t good enough to call him on it. Miroku had told him that, once, and he had drank sake with perverted monk before. It was just that the two things had never coincided. That and he had never made a deal with Miroku – he wasn’t stupid. And he hadn’t really liked the alcohol. It made his nose burn, so he had never had more than the small half-cup that Kaede poured everyone after Naraku was defeated. He was sure his plan would work, though. And he was out of other ideas.
“You wish to drink with me, half-breed?” Natsou’s lip curled up in disgust, making it clear what he thought of sharing even alcohol with a hanyou.
“Not really,” he replied with a shrug and a grimace of his own. “But if I have to listen to you gloat, I’m damn well gonna do my best to ease the pain.” Inuyasha sat down and pulled a bottle and two cups from the fire rat. He tilted his head to give the dragon a hard stare, “Unless you lizards are too soft for it? Sake probably puts ya right to sleep, eh? Pansy.”
As he had hoped, Natsou snarled and sat down as well. After five days listening to him brag and harp on, Inuyasha was at least happy he had managed to peg the dragon as unable to let a challenge go. “I’ll use my own cup.” He snapped his fingers and another dragon quickly appeared with a little porcelain vessel much finer than the crude clay that Inuysaha had brought with him.
“Fine – if you’re worried I’d poison you. Don’t know how any poison would work on your black insides, but whatever.” He poured them each a good measure and threw his back without waiting for the dragon to even pick up his cup. It burned. Holy hell, it burned, but Inuyasha forced it down and did his best not to breathe for a minute while his nose tried to crawl up into his skull. When he was sure that his eyes wouldn’t water or he wouldn’t cough, he slammed his cup back down and stared at the dragon, who was frozen, about to take a sip. “Don’t ya know how to drink up north?” The accusation was effective, and Natsou snarled and tossed back his liquid as well. He didn’t seem to have the same issue with the burning and put down his cup for more. Maybe I should have thought this through more.
Inuyasha poured again.
Ryukostokken was pleased. He cast aside the wind demoness with a rough motion as soon as she landed in the courtyard, and breathed a deep lungful of Northern air. The cold was horrifically bitter, and it made him smile. In defiance, he let loose a gust of flame straight up into the air. The North was his – his home and his birthright – but soon he would have all of Japan. The final taste of fear around the bear bitch had been like his first taste of triumph. The minor setbacks up to his point had only been tests of his determination. He would win. The dog would be defeated just as the bear was. He would have the miko ready and willing in his grasp. She would heal him, and then he would divest her of the purity that gave her power. His victory was close.
Finding the half-breed waiting for him when he strode into the castle only reinforced his good mood. It was time to move his plan along. “Attend This One,” he commanded. The spy stayed several paces behind him, but followed silently through the corridors. A faint scent of irritation clung to his stocky frame, but it only made Ryukostokken smile. The hanyou had not enjoyed being summoned, being forced to wait for his lord, but still he obeyed. He always obeyed his lord, his master. It was ingrained in his blood. Ryukostokken blew whorls of sulphuric smoke out through his nose. His plans had been shaken, but he had recovered, regrouped, and he was ready.
Power still thrummed in his veins from Shianma, and the additional youki was heady. “Tell This One of Natsou’s progress.” His demand was met with silence, which quickly began to wear at the lord’s patience.
“He has met with Inuyasha,” Arashi finally spoke. “Although his manner of diplomacy did not seem to be appreciated by the dog, they were still in discussions when I was called away.”
“The bastard will attack the West.” He did not need to make it a question, he needed only his own thoughts confirmed.
“I found Inuyasha to be as brash, quick-tempered, and crude as rumors have described him. He will most likely fight with Natsou, if you are prepared to order an attack, Denka-ue.”
“Do not try to dig information out of This One, whelp,” Ryukostokken reminded him of his place with a snarl. “This Ryukostokken will tell you what you need to know – and only that.” From the corner of his eye he watched the half-breed bow in apology and respect. As he should. “The South has heard Shianma’s song, and the blood of the bears was a sweet tease for the victory that will soon be mine.”
“The House of the Ebbing Wave was truly as weak as you have always said, to have been crushed under such a small force from the North. Natsou will be disappointed to have missed his last opportunity to taste bear.”
“Natsou’s disappointment is of no concern to This One,” the lord smirked to himself. Sou had not been pleased with the massacre; that captain had always been one to prefer an ‘honorable’ fight over a certain destruction of the enemy. Natsou would have found the endeavor far more enjoyable. “He will have his belly full soon. The Southern army was divided, as you said it would be. This One generously left most of the castle standing; it will be a beacon of crows when they receive word of the bloodshed. The strategy devised by This Ryukostokken is already being fulfilled; by the time the army returns to the Southern shiro, buries the corpses, and marches north again, the arrogant pup will already be dead.” He turned the final corner and approached the rooms given over to his witch. “Come, half-breed, there is a new task before you.”
“Is there agreement, then?” Hirimoto’s deep voice boomed in the hall, bringing silence to the several small groups that had broken into conversation. Kimi smiled behind her teacup. Her old friend was showing his impatience with the discussions.
“The wolves follow the West,” Ayame said in a strong voice. The little redhead’s tail twitched behind her, but her expression remained resolute. Kimi felt that she showed considerable promise in the area of politics.
“Of course you do,” muttered Uesugi with a condescending smile. “Canines.” Ayame’s sharp ears caught the quiet insult, and her eyes narrowed at the otter.
“I will consent to this alliance,” Date declared arrogantly. The Lady had to suppress an eye roll. Of course the idiot consented. It had taken less than two days to determine that his weakness for fine things had led to deep debt. Privately, Sesshomaru had offered to cover his obligations in exchange for support. In a more intimate setting which Date had been sorely disappointed in his expectations of, Kimi had suggested she would buy his markers instead. And sell them at a sharp discount to his most hated enemies.
Several of the lesser youkai voiced their support of Sesshomaru, and a few deferred commitment. Then, painfully slowly, Hitashimashita spoke, “The trees have ever been long allies of the Western Lands and remember well the friendship of the Inu no Tashio…which has been continued these long years with his most esteemed son, Saidai Mao Tashio Iwakura Sesshomaru of the House of the Crescent Moon…who has-”
“Thank you for your support,” Hirimoto interrupted. The tree blinked creakily in surprise, but did not seem to take offense.
“I cannot agree to all of these terms,” Shimazu stated flatly. “There has not been adequate time nor have my concerns been properly addressed.”
“I will agree,” Tsukahara folded his arms over his chest with finality, “when the humans prove their value to this alliance.”
Kimi did not grin or gloat over how perfectly her trap had been sprung, but she wanted to. “And what would constitute proof of such, Tsukahara-san? Immortality? Strength to match a youkai? Artifacts of legendary power?”
“Yes,” he responded shortly.
“Very well,” Kimi conceded and nodded with a smile. She did so love to have the upper hand. The expression of wary surprise on the eagle’s face was equally delicious. Hirimoto huffed and interrupted her moment of suspense. Spoilsport, she directed her thought at the bear.
The water daiyoukai folded his hands precisely and looked first to the bear, then Kimi, then spoke directly to Sesshomaru. “I cannot respond as you desire at this time.”
“Nor can I,” spoke up Matsudaira, “without proper consideration.” Arguments and discussions broke out again, and Kimi turned her gaze pointedly to Sesshomaru. Neither of them had expected swift conclusion, but she knew her son, and he did not endure squabbling or indecision easily. There were only two days left of the Full Moon Council. Two days was not very long to sort through the complex and often emotional issues that had hampered the meetings. However, two days was more than adequate time for manipulations to be carried out, displays of power to reinforce position, and new incentives offered to gain acceptance. She nodded, and with a flash of disdain so quick she almost did not catch it, Sesshomaru nodded back. He had hated the idea when she first brought it up, and it sat no better with him now. She had prevailed though, as she always did, and Sesshomaru had seen reason.
A party was the obvious solution to an entrenched war council.
“This Sesshomaru,” he paused to ensure that every ear in the room was his, “extends you the honor of witnessing the Courting Ceremony. You will attend.” With that he stood and left swiftly, leaving it up to the imaginations of those present to determine if he cared for their response or not. Kimi doubted there were any foolish enough in the room to think Sesshomaru cared – or that they had an option of attendance.
“Surely not…” muttered Tsukahara.
“Sesshomaru-sama?” asked Ayame, wide-eyed.
“For the benefit of the human guests,” Kimi said sweetly, “The courting, or…betrothal, as you say…of a noble daiyoukai is a great and rare event. Often Houses plan for years for such things. The timing of this ceremony coincides with the Council.” Her carefully chosen words had the desired effect, as youkai looked slyly at one another to determine who among them had arranged a union. None seemed to give the wolf female’s suggestion of participants any credence. Sesshomaru’s long standing disdain for personal intimacy and pack, and his cold disposition prevented those present from considering the pending mating would be his. Having allowed Kagome to attend his council had been grudgingly accepted, but his reputation for finding humans generally unworthy of his notice and the situation with Inuyasha’s mother made the idea of anything between the two preposterous to the youkai. Most no doubt had noted the Saidai Mao’s scent marking of the miko and assumed she was a temporary liaison for the daiyoukai. It did not seem to occur to the warlords that a demon would select a human as a life partner.
“We are all humbled by this honor, I am certain,” Matsudaira answered. “May I request some instruction, so that we humans do not bring disrespect to the ceremony out of ignorance.” Kimi relented, and Kento announced that protocol would be sent to all of that would attend. He also informed the group, to their mixed relief and consternation, that no meetings would be held the next day.
“It is the desire of my Lord, the Saidai Mao, that all may rest and refresh themselves, and take this opportunity to collect their thoughts regarding the issues presented to this council. After the ceremony tomorrow night, meetings will resume the next day to conclude the Full Moon Council.” With that, the secretary bowed and the screens were opened to politely inform those gathered that it was time to leave.
Kimi enjoyed it all immensely. She had planned it to the last detail, including Kento’s little speech and the carefully worded instructions that would be sent to the human lords. In the next two days, her son would declare his intended, her most trusted informant would return with news, a new, magnificent kimono would be completed for her, and a war would be declared.
Kimi really did love a party.