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Of Captivity and Captivation by Philosophy Blue

Chapter 1

"This is her?" Sesshomaru masked his disbelief well, but if it had been anyone else, he would have been gaping. There was a good reason for it, too.

He had been informed that a very special prisoner would be released today, and as the most successful war lord during the Total War several years back, he had been offered said prisoner so that she may serve in his home. He had agreed to visit the Capital, if only to see her. He really didn't need any more slaves in his castle, but he distinctly remembered capturing her in battle himself under orders from his father, the Supreme Lord of the West, but not after a prolonged fight, and he was interested in seeing her again. Perhaps she could be his sparring partner.

But this could not possibly be the same miko he had pinned down, panting, in the middle of a battlefield and rendered unconscious with the toxic fumes in his pam. The girl kneeling before him was no ferocious warrior; she was emaciated and pale, and her dark hair hung in lank ropes, shielding her face. She wore only a thin, sleeveless shift that had once been white, but was now discolored with filth. Her bare arms bore the mark of hot irons and scalding water, and around her tiny wrists resided thick, iron manacles that glinted an evil black in the sunlight.

"It is," affirmed the Captain of the Jail Guard. He casually jerked the ugly black chain he held in his hand, and the girl's head snapped to the side. Some of her hair flew over her shoulder, revealing the thin, black leather collar wrapped snugly around her throat. The Captain jerked her leash again, then offered it to Sesshomaru, who took it absentmindedly. "Come now, girl, acknowledge the Lord Sesshomaru."

At last, she looked up, and Sesshomaru saw that it was indeed the Shikon Miko. But her face was almost unrecognizable. In the heat of battle, she had been stunning. She had been covered in dust, sweat, and gore, but her eyes were like twin points of blazing blue fire, glaring at him right until the end, when she had fallen limp beneath him, succumbing to his venom.

Now, her cheeks were sunken, and her lips were cracked and bleeding. Dark circles resided under her eyes, and bruises marred her death-pale flesh.

"I know; she hardly looks the same. We broke her alright. All she's good for now is a slave."

The Captain's words registered dimly in Sesshomaru's mind as he stared into the former proud warrior's eyes. He did not know what to expect. Hatred? After all, he had been the one to capture her, albeit under orders. But there was no hatred, no sadness, no resentment. Not even pain from the still-bleeding wounds that he could see on her was just a blankness that was decidedly disconcerting in the eyes of a live person; usually, this look was reserved for the dead or dying. Dull and emotionless. Once a vibrant and burning blue, the fire in her irises had been almost completely extinguished. But he looked closer, and he was convinced that he could still see the faintest glow, like a dying ember's last breath. There was still hope for her; he knew he could rekindle the flame and restore her eyes to life.

Sesshomaru decided then that he would do so; if only out of honor. She had been full of life, and he had been the one responsible for her current state. True, he had not been the one to order her capture; true, he had not been the one to torture her. But he still felt responsible, and his honor twinged at the thought of leaving the girl like this. It wasn't right.

He wrapped her leash around his hand, making a mental note to get a finer one. "I will take her," he told the Captain. He tugged gently on the leash, but the girl didn't budge. The Jail Guard chuckled.

"You have to do it like this," he said. He reached down and wrapped her hair around his fist, dragging her to her feet. Once set in the position, hair released, the girl stayed where she was, her face shielded once again.

"I will thank you not to handle my property so roughly in the future, Captain," said Sesshomaru quietly, but not without a tone of warning in his voice.

The youkai shrugged. "What can I say? It's the way she learns." He backed away, having fulfilled his duty of handing over the released prisoner to the war lord.

The Lord's eyes narrowed, and he turned without another word. He brought his new slave close to his armored chest and sprang into the air, utilizing his gift of flight to put as much distance between them and the courtyard, now far below, as possible. They would return now to his castle, and he would keep her close. After some time away from the dungeon, Sesshomaru was confident, she would regain her old spirit. And then he would have a designated sparring partner, one much better than any of his soldiers; she had been one of the toughest opponents in his long life. He looked forward to crossing blades with her again.

Sesshomaru smirked to himself as he remembered her past self on the battlefield; fierce and, dared he say, gorgeous. Once he had fed her enough so her bones were covered more adequately, he would not mind taking her as a companion.

For now, however, he satisfied himself with tucking her stiff body into his mokomoko, ensuring her warmth as he soared high above the clouds.

-oOo-

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