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Here Come the Regrets by Alon

Chapter 1

God, I know you’re up there

God, I know you’re up there

God, I know you’re up there—

 

 

It was the same dream.

She was standing alone in pure darkness, the Shikon no Tama was talking to her, chorusing her to make a selfish wish. As the pit of her stomach turned and twisted, she just wanted it to be over. The amalgamated voice of demons threatened her with eternal darkness, an eternity of nothing but sinister energy and loneliness. She tried to shout back, to refute what they said, to assure herself that Inuyasha was going to save her. But her voice dissipated in the darkness, it swallowed her words and took away the small confidence that she had in herself.

“Don’t wish for anything! Not until I get there! Wait until I’m by your side! Can you hear me, Kagome?!”

A flicker of hope was ignited in her again.

Her bright eyes darted through the darkness and she shouted back. “I can hear you, Inuyasha! You’re close by, aren’t you?!”

In the darkness he found her, again and again he would rescue her, protect her and love her. The miniscule hope disappeared as quickly as it came, but it was enough. The Shikon no Tama took over again, it was mocking her, sneering at her.

“Do you want to be with Inuyasha?”

Her eyes were closed; she listened to her heart, hung on to his words.

“Answer me, Kagome. Do you want to be with him?”

She wasn’t going to be tempted. She knew what to do now. She just needed to have faith and her emotions—her heart—were stronger than ever before.

“I’m... Not going to wish for anything. Inuyasha will come...”

The voice from the darkness silenced itself as cerulean orbs opened with greater determination.

“I believe in him.”

She woke up with a tremble. Her arms were numb, the beating appendage in her chest pounded against her ribs. It was so dark that for a moment she thought she was still stuck in the grasp of the Shikon no Tama. But the echo of insects outside her window and the varying shadow outlines assured her that she was in her room. Kagome rolled onto her side, feeling the clamminess of her back and sickly humidity in the air. The dream that used to haunt her every night slowly dissipated to once a week, then once a month, and now once every three months.

It had been five years since Inuyasha broke through the darkness and saved her. It seemed normal to transport her back to her time but from that day onwards the Bone Eater’s well ceased to function. Inuyasha fell backwards into the past while Kagome was left in the future. No matter how desperate and deep her desire to return was, the wooden structure didn’t show signs of magic or the willingness to transport. At first she was in denial. She had glimmers of hope that it would suddenly start to work again. When it didn't, she began to feel numb. It dawned on her that maybe it wasn’t part of her destiny to return. She came to accept it. Kagome survived school pretending to be a normal high school student. As she graduated and the future became increasingly daunting, she had the opportunity to travel abroad for six months under scholarship. It seemed almost inevitable that she would return to study Japanese history and folklore. Her entire body thirsted for any evidence of yokai. She was about to turn twenty yet the memories of the demon-filled Sengoku period felt so recent. Like it was just yesterday when she met Inuyasha.

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and glanced to the window. It was as if he would jump through and complain again. Hounding her to get back, to bring ramen, and to hunt shards. Unknowingly her lips pulled to small smile, but her heart ached and nose stung. It was the loneliness and darkness that got to her. Around other people she allowed herself to be pre-occupied. She gave in to studies and books and knowledge to bury the hurt and sadness she felt. But it was summer holidays, the period she despised the most. There was no studying to preoccupy her, not enough books to keep her attention entrapped. No relationship time-straining enough to consume her thoughts and efforts.

So her mind drifts.

Her brain plays the possibilities of her future. It depicts vivid images of what she could have done. There were strong pictures of living a life in the feudal era. She would be able to live out the happily-ever-after that she always envisioned for herself. On the other hand, she could function as a modern Japanese woman. Eventually finding a partner, getting married, having children and continuing her family line. Even though it was an option laid out in front of her, her heart tightened at the thought. She couldn’t let go. She was psychologically unable to. Not a day passes when she doesn’t think about those that she left behind. She didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.

A strong pulse pounded through her body and she sat up, clenching the area where her heart beat. She had an urge to see the well. Just to touch the wood and relive the days where she travelled freely. Her legs swung to the side of her bed and pressed down to the cold wood. Even though it was summer, the late nights and dawn always had an element of chill. Kagome straightened her grey sleeping shorts before grabbing a cardigan to layer on top of her singlet. Tiptoeing, the floorboards of her house still managed to creak but she ventured out the back door and into the night air. It had been a long time since she was leisurely up before dawn. As she soaked in the night view, everything seemed to echo memories of the past. The bright moon easily lit her way.

It was a short walk to the well house and her legs easily led the way, sandals kicking up a small amount of dirt. The small structure ignited a feeling of nostalgia as she pushed open the door. It had the same smell from all those years ago. Kagome took a breath and gave herself a smile—this would be it. Maybe she could finally say goodbye and, most importantly, thank you. She climbed down the rickety ladder, walking closer and laying a gentle hand on the ledge of the well.

“Are you listening?” She took a breath, “Can you hear me, Inuyasha?”

The rustling wind from outside was the only thing that answered her. Kagome shook her head in stupidity; of course no one was listening. But it didn’t stop her.

“Y’know, it’s been five years. I wonder how you all are. I hope you’ve been healthy and happy. Me, on the other hand... I’ve been good. I’ll have you know that I’m a very diligent and smart student.” She briefly laughed at her own comment, leaning forward onto the well. “Mama, Jii-chan and Sota are happy too. Honestly, nothing much has changed.” There was a moment of silence as she contemplated her next thought, “I’m guessing that Miroku and Sango must be married by now and have a lot of children. What about you, Inuyasha? Did you—”

Her voice was stuck in her throat. What was she doing here? She climbed onto the edge and sat with her back to the well. Her face was tingling with emotion as her nose began to sting. She can try again. She convinced herself for so long that it was okay.

“—Did you find someone, too?” Kagome swallowed the discomfort that formed in her throat, “H-have you formed a family as well? Found someone else you l-like?” The phrase came out in choked chunks; she felt her eyes swelling with emotion. She couldn’t take it anymore. “I hope you didn’t find anyone.” Her voice trembled as she covered it with a bitter laugh, “Is that horrible of me? It’s so horrible that I’m thinking that. I’m sorry I’m so selfish. Sorry that I only want you to be with me. Why am I like this?” By now she was sobbing into her hands. It took all of her effort to muffle the noise but it sounded all the more heart broken. She drew an unsteady breath and let it out—

“I just want to know how you are. I don’t care how, I just want to know—”

All of the sudden the well began to glow white. Kagome sat too close to the edge; the overwhelming power and shudder that ran through her body made her lose her grip. In mere seconds the overpowering portal would swallow her. There was a sinking dread that developed in her stomach as she fell backwards.

Yet, at the same time, relief flooded her mind.

The well was working again.

.

.

There were distant voices, murmuring and whispering as she struggled to open her eyes. Even in the darkness she could feel the ache of her body. Her head felt especially pounding as her neck strained in places that she hadn’t felt in years. Her ears were beginning to pick up various strings of words as she stirred, limbs revolting and twitching in pain. Involuntarily she coughed, her throat feeling especially dry and parched.

“She’s waking up!”

Heavy eyelids began to open as a foreign face peered down. The wave of hurt echoed more strongly as her hand reached toward her head. Her other limb attempted to prop herself up and as she begun to do so, a pair of arms also aided.

“How are you feeling?” Another voice came behind the one that heaved her upwards. Yet again, it was a foreign face.

“U-uh, um—” Kagome shook her head slightly, trying to clear the migraine that formed at the base of her skull, “Where am I?”

The two women looked at each other, briefly silent as they exchanged knowing looks. “Somewhere safe.”

Kagome had no idea what that meant but when she coughed again one of the women brought a bowl to her lips. Thirstily, she drank, the cool liquid refreshing her oesophagus and she had the opportunity to look around. They were in a hut of sorts, wooden planks served as floorboards as the place littered with things that could only belong in the feudal era—

Her breath hitched, dizzying eyes stared at the two women. They were dressed in worn kimonos but their hair pinned up in a fashion that Kagome didn’t recognise. While there was familiarity in their outward appearance, she felt confused by her surroundings and her head began to pound again. She closed her eyes. A light touch landed on her shoulders and a gentle voice spoke.

“We found you at the bottom of the Bone Eater’s well—”

Cobalt eyes shot open and grabbed the hand that ghosted her shoulder. “Am I in the Sengoku period?” Her energy returned only for a brief second before her body swayed again.

Surprised by her outburst, the woman moved away, shaking as she spoke. “A-are you a yokai?” Kagome blinked, staring once again at the two women and then she laughed. The pain in her head was dissipating as she held her stomach, attempting to muffle her chuckles. The women stared in awe, confused and shocked, glancing at each other before staring at the oddly dressed woman again. She tried again, “Are you a yokai—”

“No. No way.” She was so happy she could burst; she was in a time and place where yokai existed. She was back. Giddiness began to develop from her heart. “I’m sorry for grabbing you. Also, I’m one hundred per cent human. Not a demonic bone in my body—”

“Per cent?” One of them inquired.

Kagome grinned, this was what she loved and missed. “Don’t worry. Thanks for everything. I really need to find my friends now.” There was a new energy that developed in her, an overpowering urge to scream in happiness.

The two women looked at her in curiosity, her attitude and personality was far from what they knew of. “Why are you dressed like that?”

“What?” Kagome’s eyes darted down to her bare legs, suddenly remembering the great cultural and social differences they had. “Uh... I was... I... I was sleeping!” The women seemed even more confused, now beginning to doubt the barely clothed young woman. “I sleep walk, you see.” The lies were rolling off easier than expected. “It's summer and I overheat very easily, and when I overheat I have a bad habit of sleep walking... I guess I wandered out far and fell into the well?” She grinned sheepishly, and even though the women had their doubts, they didn’t feel any malice from the giddy young female.

“You need to be careful you know. If you dress like that, people are going to assume you are a yokai. And your hair as well, loose hair makes for gossip.” The older woman chided, “Where do you live? Your mother must be worried sick.”

Black tresses spilled over her shoulder as she tilted her position, briefly contemplating whether to lie further, “My family lives very far away. Right now, I’m by myself. When I sleep walk, I have no idea where I go, so I’m constantly lost.” She let out an embarrassed laugh, knowing full well that there was no way she could tell the truth.

“It’s almost noon. You need to wear something more than that.” The other woman turned her nose slightly at her attire, “I’ll go retrieve a spare kimono for you.”

“Oh, actually!” The woman paused mid-step, looking back at the dishevelled female, “Do you know of any miko garbs lying around? I think I'd be more comfortable in that.”

The female that they saved continuously surprised them. At the same time, they chorused, “What, you’re a miko?” The two glanced at each other, “I thought they were all drafted. You shouldn’t...”

Kagome smiled but had a confused expression, “What do you mean drafted? Drafted for what—”

A distant shout caught all of their attention. Soon enough, there was banging on the wooden frame and as Kagome was about to speak, one of them hushed her with a finger. “Coming!” Shouted the other. Kagome was nudged and pushed to hide behind a straw divider with a stern command that told her to be silent. Both of them went to answer the door, sliding it open to reveal various men with weapons strapped to their sides. “Good afternoon, good sirs, how can we help you?”

All of them held a stern face, but the man that stood in front seemed exceptionally stringent, “Were you or your sister at the Bone Eater’s well this morning?”

The two females seemed to have a practiced ease, slouching slightly as a contemplative expression etched across their face. “Hm... Yes. Around dawn we were tasked to dispose yokai remains from last night.”

“Is there a problem?” The other one added.

Both of the women held a soft gaze against the steel faced samurai, displaying submissiveness yet standing their ground. “It was told that there was a disruption.” He started. “Surmised that a strong yokai is loitering around and attempting to hide. Do you know of anything in relation to this?”

“Not that we noticed. We did our usual job of disposing remains and returned to have a short rest—”

“We were about to have lunch.” Continued the other.

“Have lunch with who?”

The two of them were taken aback, “W-what do you mean?”

The man glanced over their shoulder, “There is another pair of sandals.” He enjoyed the squirm of the two sisters, “Do not take me for a fool.”

Both of them began to stutter. “That—uh... It’s... Min—”

“Oh hello!” A voice interrupted the tension that was starting to build. Everyone looked to acknowledge the new individual. A woman emerged from behind the straw latched divider, dressed messily in a kimono with her hair tied back into a low ponytail. At first glance she looked petite and plain, but her eyes shone a rare blue. “I’m sorry I couldn’t greet you all earlier. I slept in and had to quickly change. Forgive me, my cousins didn’t tell me that we would have guests.” She donned a wide smile, adjusting her sleeves and patting down her hair.

In reply, the samurai’s eyes thinned, “She is?”

“Oh! Our cousin came to visit from...”

“Takayama!” The younger sibling interjected, achieving an agreeing nod from her older sister.

Distrust was evident as the warrior stared at Kagome, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. “What do you do?”

The modern female said the first thing that came to her head, “I’m a miko-in-training.” She thought it was something to brag about, something she could be proud of. But his expression changed as the sisters hitched their breath.

“Oh.” His lips thinned. “I see.”

Kagome sensed that something was wrong, but she couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. “Could I help with anything?” She asked sweetly, putting on a smile.

He curtly said, “No,” Before turning and walking away. A tow of equally glaring group of men followed behind him, muttering something amongst each other.

The elder of the sisters slid the door shut, breathing deeply as she glanced back and forth between the stranger in her house and her own sister. “She needs to leave.”

Kagome was taken aback, “Wait, what—”

“She needs to leave Edo.” Agreed the younger one.

“Wait, I’m not leaving Edo.” The idea was preposterous. “Not till I find my friends.”

Their faces went dark, eyes overshadowing something deeper, the elder one spoke. “I don’t know who you are or where you’re from, but you don’t understand.”

The younger sister interjected, her face softer, “This is for your own safety. Knowing you’re a miko, you’ll be taken to the castle.” She glanced at her elder sister, “I don’t know what goes on there, but I’ve never seen any of our miko or hoshi come back.”

“It’s nothing good.” There was contempt in the other sister’s voice, “At this day and age, being a woman—much less a miko—is a curse—”

“Sister!” The younger one glanced at Kagome.

She was pensive, staring into her hands as they rested on her stomach, before speaking, “It might be a curse...” Kagome looked up, smiling at the two sisters, “But that’s who I am and instead of viewing it as a curse, I strive on making it into a blessing.” She grinned, “I should go now. I won’t leave Edo yet. If you could direct me back to the Bone Eater’s well, I’m sure I can find my friends.”

The younger woman was too shocked to respond as the older sister’s lips formed into a grim smile. “Turn left and go beyond the hill, you’ll see the Goshinboku. The largest tree here. The well is close by.” She took a small breath, “Go. Prove me wrong.”

She laughed slightly, “You never know what the future holds.” A wink was thrown over her shoulder as she donned her sandals. “Thanks for saving me. Falling backwards really hurt. Bye!”

Then she was gone. Leaving the two sisters thoroughly confused once again.

.

.

“That’s her.”

“We just need to grab her, right?”

“But don’t hurt her. Mikos are too rare now.”

“Tsk.”

Two individuals waited as the lone woman walked into the forest. The blazing sun created strong shadows that hid them perfectly from view. She wore a kimono that was a faded blue and strange sandals that neither men had seen before. Reports from the samurai told that she openly self-proclaimed that she was a miko. However, factual or not, it didn’t matter to the two. Their job was to attain mikos, whether or not they had purification powers weren’t something they had to worry about.

Kagome navigated herself relatively easily, noticing that she was in a different village that encroached over the skirts of the forest. The hut that the sisters lived in seemed to be at the edge of the village since she met no one else. As she moved closer to the Goshinboku, the air around her became cooler but she still felt hot. The kimono greatly restricted her movements and the clothes she wore under the long fabric only added to the heat. Looking back, she didn’t recognise the village at all, were the buildings always so sturdy and relatively modernised? However, she assured herself, no matter where she was once she found the Bone Eater’s well she would be able to navigate herself again. After all, a lot could have changed in five years.

As she continued to walk, a flash of black appeared in front of her, suspiciously covered from head to toe. Just as Kagome was about to open her mouth and speak, firm impact on her neck blackened her vision. Before she crumbled to the ground, another black-clad man caught her, signalling the other to move as he flung Kagome onto his shoulder.

The pair travelled in great speed, away from the village, away from the forest and even further away from the well. Soon, a carriage could be seen in the distance. An ox was fixed to the front of the setup, a worn wooden structure that didn’t seem out of place in the countryside. One of them circled to the back of the transport, producing a key and unlocking it. The other stood close by, swinging the woman that they kidnapped roughly into the back. There were also others inside, cowering in the corner, silenced by the crudeness of the controlling males. In seconds the back door to the carriage was closed again, lock firmly in place as the ox began to move.

The sun moved accordingly as they began to travel, further and further away from the desired destination of the unconscious woman. As the skies began to darken and countless fields were passed, the abducted female began to stir.

There was a familiar pain in her neck that echoed down her spine as well as through her head. Her face scrunched in displeasure and uneasiness before she managed to open her eyes. Darkness greeted her, with only slight rays of fading light slipping into the dim area. She sat up, massaging her neck and glancing around.

“What... Where am I?” There were three other girls in the space, huddled in their own area. Kagome closed her eyes, trying to remember. She was on her way to the well when... Like a spark, she quickly recollected what had happened. Being kidnapped had once been commonplace for her, after all. “Damn it.” Muttering under her breath she tried to stand up, but the carriage was too low for that. Instead, she head towards the front of the structure on her knees and began to bang on the wood. “Hey! Let me out!”

There was no reply and the other women began to look up, watching as Kagome exhausted her energy on an inanimate object.

“Can’t you be more civilised? What’s with this kidnapping?! Do you know what to means to ask? Would it hurt to say, ‘could you please come with me?’” Anger was toppling over her head, “Oi! Are you listening?!” She banged harder, but it began to hurt her palms. Finally, she huffed, “What assholes.”

Then it dawned on her. This was the feudal era. Whoever held power were the ones that had control. There was no such thing as equality or justice for the unimportant peasants and servants. It was easy to kidnap and steal, there were barely any enforced laws that protected and actively prosecuted such acts. She sat in annoyance and anger, having no idea what was happening at all.

“Hey, can anyone tell me what’s happening? Where are we? Why are we kidnapped?”

A girl close to the end of the carriage spoke, her tone laced with infuriation, “Stop asking stupid questions. I hate ignorant ones like you the most.”

“W-what?” Who stepped on her tail? Thought Kagome irritably. Though it was clear that anyone would be on edge in such a scenario. “Sorry, I just came from Takayama—” Once again, riding on the lie that was formed for her, “—I don’t know what’s happening in Edo.”

The woman stared at her before sighing. “Don’t you know? Mikos are drafted—” She almost spat the word out, “To be at war with the yokai.”

A puzzled expression etched across her face once again. What did she mean, war with the yokai? The more she spent time in this era, the more she felt like she knew nothing about it. There were so many questions, but none she could ask without becoming suspicious. But she had to get out of this. Now, no one was going to save her but herself.

Kagome couldn’t hold her tongue. “Where are they taking us?”

This time, another girl answered, in a quiet voice. “They’re bringing us to the shogun. To Tokugawa Ienari.”

Her heart thumped against her ribs.

Tokugawa.

Japan was now under the military government of Tokugawa. Her brain ransacked the information she studied and learned at university. As the knowledge began to be recalled, a jolt to her memory temporarily stopped her breath.

It was between 1787 and 1837 that Ienari ruled.

The Sengoku period was long in the past.

Everything she held dear was long in the past.

She was three hundred years late.

 

 

God, I know you’re up there

God, I know you’re up there—

But I needed you down here.

  

   

Epik High - Here Come the Regrets

 

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