Rin fell to the ground her eyes teeming with tears but didn't
allow them to fall, her cheek stung and was turning red.
Sesshomaru stood over her his calm returned, he'd struck her for
the first time in sixteen years. She stared shocked and hurt.
"I'm sorry my lord it won't happen again. " She mumbled pushing
away her tears and standing.
"See that it doesn't." He turned away, she followed numbly behind him, her hands clenched down in front of her...her eyes down.
How could she think he might care for her the way she did for him? She made the mistake of thinking she had a say in what they did. She only wanted to see the waterfall closer up. After suggesting they take a detour, he lost his temper and struck her hard. He'd been losing his temper more often when it came to her lately. She could simply say something he thought was childish or once when she picked a flower and showed it to him he swiped the flower from her hand. She didn't understand why, what had she done to anger him?
Jokkin looked at her over his shoulder and harrumphed turning away, she kept her gaze down biting her lip until Sesshomaru stopped. "We sleep here." He said suddenly, she moved to gather firewood. "No fire." He snapped harshly, she looked around. It was going to get cold, he didn't need a fire nor did Jokkin, but he never forbade her a fire before. She glanced at him, he was staring at her like he was testing to see if she would argue.
She shivered at the wind and sat down on the cold hard ground. "Yes lord Sesshomaru." The night was bitter cold she wrapped her arms around her knees to keep warm, never looking up at the man….the demon lord she would follow until her dying day.
Her eyelids became heavy as she laid down shivering, she couldn't feel the tips of her fingers, so she breathed on them, her mind began to float and she felt herself fall asleep. Is was like she was floating…something was wrong. Part of her told her she should wake up, but she was so tired.
She felt fire all over her body, it was burning her into a
cinder. She remembered trying to scream, but her lungs wouldn't
work right. It seemed an eternity before it stopped replaced by a
heaviness that warmed her body. She felt someone touch her hand,
so gentle…she thought she was dreaming….
When her eyes finally obeyed her, she opened them to see Jokkin sitting, warming his hands by a large fire. Her body was shivering slightly even under the foot of freshly killed animal skins. She didn't care that they stunk, they were warm. He looked at her. "You're finally awake. How dare you Rin. Lord Sesshomaru has been so worried…he.."
"Jokkin." Sesshomaru said walking into the light of the fire. "Go."
"But Lord Sesshomaru.." Jokkin protested whining but eventually he slumped and began walking away. "Yes my lord."
He sat down on the other side of the fire, his disapproving stare made her look away again. "I'm sorry lord Sesshomaru."
"Tomorrow we will take you to a nearby town. You will stay there."
She sat up suddenly. "No please Lord Sesshomaru, I swear I won't slow you down." Tears streamed immediately down her cheeks, her lips were still quivering.
"Enough!" He almost shouted, she flinched back. "You are a woman now…a human woman." He stood back up looking down at her the fire glinted in his eyes. "You must live as a human… it is the way of things.
"I wish I was born a demon." She whispered to herself, another tear dropped from her chin.
"It is foolish to wish for something that cannot be."
She bit her lip pushing the furs from her, she fiddled with a button on her shirt. "I know…it is foolish…I'm only human."
Sesshomaru growled. "Don't be petulant. We cannot change the way of things." He sounded angry at her again. "We leave in the morning get some rest."
She didn't sleep or talk as they traveled to the human village.
"Good bye, Rin. Uh…" Jokkin stammered. "Have a good life." She
looked up at Sesshomaru who had already turned away.
"Let's go Jokkin." He said over his shoulder. She watched him go until he was gone, she bit back her tears and finally turned to walk down the hill.
She found the healer of the village who took her in. The woman named Hatia was a wonderfully kind woman, Rin was obedient and tried to do what was expected of her. Every night she would stand on the porch, waiting for him to come for her. She never knew why he'd saved her when she was a child or why he had let her follow him for sixteen years, but she didnt need to know.
The winter came and went all while she learned about healing
herbs and salves from Hatia. She was bringing a basket of fresh
plants for her one day walking through the village when a man
stopped her. She knew who he was, although they never spoke
before, he was Oroai, the son of the blacksmith. He was very
handsome she thought, for a human.
"Rin right?" He smiled at her.
She nodded and tried to go around him but he stepped in her way. "Wait I wanted to uh…You see, I know you're new and everyone was wondering where you came from since no one knows." He stammered.
"I traveled a lot. I have no home." She said trying again to go around him, but he stopped her. "I must get theses back to Hatia, she needs them for her medicines." She insisted reaching out to push him out of her way when he caught her hand.
"You have a home now Rin." He said making her stare at him. He was still holding her hand.
She gently pulled her hand out of his and walked away, not looking back. She didn't belong here… she didn't belong anywhere but where she couldn't be. When she closed the door to Hatia's house she set the basket down.
"I saw Oroai out talking to you. What did he say?" The woman came out of her room, her graying hair in a bun, her lean body and taught skin was a testament to the woman's clean living. She believed in strictness, which Rin was used to… so they got along very well. Rin was grateful for everything she was teaching her.
She shrugged. "He asked me where I came from. That's it."
"Oh, well he's the most handsome man in the village, I believe he's taken with you." The woman sifted through the plants to see if it was all the right ones. She picked up one that was wilted and gave her a look. Rin sat down taking it from her and sighed.
"Why?" She asked distractedly, wondering why he would even look at her twice.
"Rin you are a very beautiful woman, hasn't anyone ever told you that?"
"Well…" Hatia said grunting satisfactorily and taking the basket to put on her counter to begin the drying. "You are my dear, and you're the perfect age to begin thinking of a husband. You have a talent for healing and if you study hard perhaps one day you could replace me here...or if you like find a village of your own one day." The woman turned to her smiling.
Rin smiled back. "Thank you, that is very kind, but I'm not looking for a husband."
Hatia stopped and turned to lean on the counter. "Do you think he's coming back for you then?"
Startled Rin looked away feeling her cheeks heat. "Who?"
"The one you keep waiting for every night." She came and knelt down in front of her. "If you're unsure, then wait. But you can't wait forever Rin, life is short for us….it is the way of things." She nodded reminded of what Sesshomaru had said. It is the way of things.
Spring turned into summer and fall and before Rin knew it, it was
spring again. Walking in the forest on the edge of town filling
her basket with flowers Rin smiled enjoying the warmth replacing
the coldness of winter. The new life bursting from the death. She
heard a crying and placed her basket down gently to go see what
it was. When she found two raccoon demons, one was lying on the
ground with a wound on its side the other was younger and crying.
When she came closer the wounded one clutched at its child and
tensed. She smiled and put her hands up. "It's ok, I won't hurt
you. I want to help. Let me see your wound." She said
Looking closely she knew the wound was made by and arrow. "Who did this to you?" She asked while she bandaged it up with a salve to keep it from getting infected.
Still looking afraid the raccoon demon didn't speak, but the child came to her and touched her hand. She stroked his head. "It was some of the humans from that village over the hill." He said in a small nervous voice.
"Rin get away those things are dangerous!" Oroai shouted, Rin turned to see him aiming and arrow, pulling the string back ready to fire.
She put her body in front of them and screamed. "Stop!"
"Get out of the way Rin those are DEMONS!"
"Oroai, put the bow down. They're just raccoon demons, they mean us no harm." She snapped.
The little one clung to her and she hugged it closely trying to protect it. Confused Oroai didn't drop the bow but pulled back the string further in preparation to fire. She bent her body over the adult as well. "Rin, what are you doing? Demons are demons…. they're ALL evil."
She clenched her eyes shut. "NO they're not! SOME are evil…but some are good. Some do the right thing even if they don't know why. Some are kind and save children from death. Some just simply want to live in peace without being hunted by humans who only want to kill!" She felt the tears coming and let them fall.
He relaxed the bow, she let the raccoon demons flee. Then as sudden as her heart began to beat again Oroai came and dragged her up, clenching his hand hard around her arm. "Let go you're hurting me." She said angrily but he didn't, and began bringing her to town.
She watched his face become darker and darker until she realized that she was going to be executed for protecting a demon. She didn't know why, but she didn't fight, he dragged her to the center and yelled for Sauk the village elder. Everyone in the village came out all wondering what was going on. She kept her eyes down as Oroai told everyone that she was a demon lover.
"Is this true?" Sauk asked.
She lifted her chin as Sesshomaru would have her be proud at the end. She squared her shoulders. At least she would die as he taught her to live. "I protected a raccoon demon from being slaughtered for no other reason than because he was a demon."
The elder looked astonished at her confession. "Why would you consort with those evil creatures?"
She shook her head condescendingly at everyone, she knew there was nothing she could do or say that would change their minds. She let her eyes settle on Hatia who was watching horrified her eyes glittered with tears that never fell. "I regret one thing." Rin said and everyone quieted so she could speak. "I regret that I have hurt the one person who still cares for me. Forgive me Hatia."
"She acts as if she were a demon." One villager shouted and everyone concurred the angry roar of voices swept over her. Oroai's face was pale.
"Evil isn't so easily seen with your eyes, when they are clouded by misconceptions. I hope someday you will see that." Rin said. though no one was listening.
He frowned shoving her to two other men who tied her hands while others brought out a large tree stump, Oroai's father came out with an axe in his hands. She closed her eyes for a moment seeing his face, it calmed her. She would rather die than live in a world without him. She was force to her knees, she didn't allow herself to cry and she didn't beg.
"Do you have anything to say?" The leader asked her.
She looked up at him and then around at everyone. "I've learned that I would rather die acting as a demon, then live with those who love to kill uselessly. Killing for the sake of killing makes you as bad as those demons that do the same." The man behind her pushed her head down to the stump.
She heard gasps from everyone and the hold on her head lessened, she looked up to see someone standing not to far away. His silver hair shining in the sunlight, his steely eyes bore through everyone until they rested on her. His sword was out glinting, showing he was ready to fight. She couldn't help herself she said smiling. "Lord Sesshomaru."
A huddle of men gathered in front of her Oroai in the front. "Away demon… before we cut you down where you stand." He shouted and the men all grunted in agreement.
"Release the girl." Sesshomaru said calmly.
The elder stepped forward but Oroai put up his hand. "We won't release her into your hand DEMON." The venom in his voice Rin knew had just sentenced him to death.
"Wait!" Hatia shouted running down in between everyone. "Please stop. Let her go, I don't wish to see anyone killed this day."
"Out of the way Hatia, he's a demon!" Oroai shouted stepping forward to grab the woman but Sesshomaru was there in a flash and in one shinning arc, Oroai was dead. Everyone gasped, Hatia stepped back staring at the demon who was watching her levelly, then turned his gaze back to Rin.
The man behind her cut the ropes binding her hands, she stood up rubbing her wrists. She walked calmly towards him, though her heart wanted to fly. She stopped as Hatia walked to her. "I'm sorry for putting you through all this Hatia, you're a good woman."
"I cannot fathom your world Rin…. but at least you won't be waiting anymore."
He was standing patiently waiting for her, and as she was just to
him she heard a shout and turned. His arm came around her in a
flash and he jumped, just missing a flurry of arrows that stuck
in the ground. She knew she should be scared, but with him she
always felt safe. He was standing in front of her now fending off
man after man. He could have just swiped them away like insects.
But she noticed, he wasn't killing them all. Only the ones who
had bound her or was mean to her in one way or another. The rest
were simply wounded and unable to fight. When all the men were
through he stood straight and calmly turned to her sheathing his
sword. "Come Rin."
She smiled as he began walking away. "Yes Lord Sesshomaru."
As they walked away the villagers left standing heard him say.
"We will visit that waterfall tomorrow."