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The Summoner by TamashaToko

Graduation

The Netherplane...

Kagome often stared at it between classes with awe and amazement though it was nothing more than a blue portal that kept shadowy figures at bay. Hard to believe that all the shadows that swirled around the display were once fierce demons that ruled over this realm, and had almost eliminated the entire human race.

"Kikyo did you once stand here?" Kagome often found herself asking.

Her last name, Higurashi, was one that everyone in this world knew long before Kagome was even delivered. Her dear departed sister, being able to summon and control a very powerful shape shifting demon from the Netherplane, had been the single most talented student that the institution had ever trained. Together, Kikyo and her demon fought off armies from attacking countries as well as modern day weaponry in a heartbeat. It was she who made the continent of Altaria, their homeland, the largest super power in the world...but those days were close to ending.

Everyone wanted to be a summoner, to be as strong as Kikyo was as well as to feel untouchable and immortal...even though it led to a really short life span. No one could become one with a powerful demon for so long and not expect to lose their humanity.

This wasn't the feudal era....demons were meant to serve the summoners who controlled them for if they could walk upon the Earth freely, they were sure to take over once again. The moment Kikyo Higurashi showed signs of changing the army had no choice but to poison her to set her soul free before she became the enemy.

Altaria mourned for a long time after it's favorite and most beautiful daughter was lost, but it was as though the sun had risen again when Kagome was born. Not only was there another member of the powerful bloodline, but like Kikyo she had deep brown eyes and long ebony hair. People liked to joke about how Kagome was the reincarnation of her sister even though their religion stated all souls went to the Netherplane to help keep darkness out of their world.

Her mother and father believed it the most for they never saw Kagome as anything more than a replacement for their precious daughter that had made them so proud. When she was little, it was very common for them to accidently call her Kikyo, and after a while she stopped correcting them as though it was her cross to bear. They even went so far as to submit her for enrollment in Summoning School long before she even became of age without even asking her.

Now more than ever Kagome had respect for her teachers because they were the only ones who didn't see her as Kikyo, but they did compare her and had every right too. She lacked talent and skill in almost every area of her study except history (which she already knew because her father told her all the tales of their world over and over again) but they were scared to inform her of this and actually correct her due to how powerful her family's influence had become. This led to her being able to perform an act that haunted her every night, lie to her parents.

Top marks was what she always had when she told them about her schooling on breaks as well as comments from her teachers saying she would one day summon a very strong demon that would bring hope to the people as their country was close to being in a state of war once again. Wanting so badly for Kikyo to come back to them, her whole family believed every word she said.. Telling the truth was as impossible as passing her advanced classes. She just couldn't handle it anymore. If it wasn't for her excellent grades in history and her above average grades in Theory of Soul Bonding, she would have been already expelled for her failures in all her other classes.

"Kikyo please help me," she prayed to the Netherplane, hoping her departed sister would hear her words, "Tomorrow is graduation day. Everyone will know that I'm a liar."

Though Kagome had never wanted to be a part of this whole world she'd been forced into, she like everyone else in Altaria, looked forward to witnessing Graduation Ceremonies. It was the day all graduates received their staffs and summoned their demon for the very first time. She loved seeing all the different kinds of demons that were brought to Earth and was amazed at how the Summoners had perfect control over creatures that were once so deadly.

Kikyo had looked so beautiful in her graduation picture holding her staff that was in the shape of a long thin cross, made of pearl with a diamond handle and gold inscriptions. That was the kind of staff that was passed on a Grade A Summoner, the only one that was capable of controlling any kind of demon the Netherplane had to offer, the kind of staff that someone could be proud of.

It took Kagome a while to leave the spot she was praying in as though she had been waiting for something. A sign, a response, anything? What she was waiting for never came, and it wasn't long before the school bell rang, telling her it was time for her history final. The only thing she could look forward too.

"Hey Kagome," she was quickly greeted upon entering the stuffy classroom.

Ayame and Sango were her best friends in the whole school and had been for the longest time, but she often felt intimidated by them for they were another group of people close to her that she'd lied too. In the beginning after she first started doing bad in all her classes she yearned for friends so bad and wanted to keep them that she never let them on to how much of a horrible summoner she was.

It was impossible to even think of herself as a good person when she'd thought about how many times she'd lied in the last few years.

Thankfully they were girls therefore they felt no need to brag about each other's grades when they could be talking about how they would style their hair for tomorrow's ceremony and what shoes they would be wearing. Kagome enjoyed this for she never told anyone, but she'd always wanted to be a clothing designer or a hair stylist. Fashion had always been one of her favorite subjects, which was why in her dorm room she had a very professional sewing machine that she spent more time on than she did trying to get a grasp of how to decipher the Netherplane.

As much as she wanted to spend a few more minutes telling Sango how beautiful she looked in the summer dress that she designed herself for Sango's birthday and had just finished making yesterday, it was now time to pass her test.
Question 1: Who was the leader of the banished demons when they attempted to eliminate human life once and for all?

Of course the first question was going to be super easy and down to basics. Everyone knew it was Sesshoumaru, the fierce thousand-year-old inuyoukai who organized all the demons into an army once his father passed. No one would argue that Sesshoumaru was the most evil of any creature to ever exist in this universe. Not only did he attempt to rule over everything, but like the question stated he tried to purify the world through murder, and not in a fast way.

Seeing no reason for the mindless lesser youkai to have a place in his perfect paradise, he locked them up in dungeons where humans were brought, poisoned, and devoured by the demons who died shortly after from the toxin. It was so scary how Sesshoumaru almost succeeded.

Question 2: Who saved humanity against the demons by sealing them up in the Netherplane?

Obviously Lady Midoriko. The only being in this world more popular than Kikyo...even though the Higurashi daughters had been compared to the savior all the time, which was odd since no one knew what Midoriko looked like.

She had been a miko before her village was attacked and murdered by Sesshoumaru himself. Wanting nothing more than salvation for her world she made a deal with the Gods, which caused controversy in their religion for Midoriko denounced her faith before it was done. When the killings first started, she pleaded with Mother Earth and the other God and Goddess of the light she could think of, but they ignored her, deciding it wasn't their place to interfere no matter how the souls of the dead would be mourned.

It was Onigumo, the Devil of Despair, who granted Midoriko her wish at the cost of her pure innocent soul. She agreed in trading her life for the power to create the Netherplane out of the souls from the heavens to finally banish all the demons including Sesshoumaru. Even in death the outraged members of the Clergy stripped Midoriko's title away as miko, but after a lot of time passed, it didn't matter because she would be forever known as the savior of the world.

Question 3: What caused summoning to become a holy practice?

Kagome had a smile on her face as she was able to answer that quickly.

When the world was freed from Sesshoumaru's reigns as all mass killings ceased, the Netherplane began to weaken due to the small amount of souls being received. With so many demons gathered in the dimension being empowered by their hate and bloodlust, the barrier that kept them sealed away was on the verge of being broken, so the elders had to devise a plan of slowly releasing the demons to keep the Netherplane free of evil energies.

It was around that time that Altaria, under the reign of an evil empire at that time, was struggling for its independence. Before, the holy land tried to stay out of the war but then it was decided that all holy temples should be destroyed since Midoriko was a devil worshiper.

While the war was being fought, a blacksmith named Totosai happened to come upon a forest near the Netherplane entrance and discovered that the trees as well as many materials in the mines held magical properties that were residue from souls no longer needed in the dimension. When used to create a weapon, it proved to be the link needed between this world and the Netherplane. Soon mikos discovered that they could use this power to combine their soul with a demon to have complete control over them and the rest was history. Many branches of mikos and monks began summoners and used demons to win the war resulting in Altaria becoming the holy capital of the world.

Question 4: How did become the richest and largest country?

This was the one she should have known by heart, the one she had always known all the words too, but because of this she quickly wrote a few sentences so she could get to the rest of her test.

Tentotri, the largest country a few years ago wanted absolute control over all the land and planned to tax everyone heavily and punish those who couldn't pay with death. So a summoner named Kikyo Higurashi used her demon to fight back and soon took over what use to be Tentotri so the land could be ruled fairly and freely.

The rest of the test was a breeze and Kagome wasn't surprised in the slightest when it came back 100%, but it didn't matter. Tomorrow was going to be one of the most humiliating day of her life when her friends and family would discover her lie. It was wrong of her parents to expect her to follow directly in Kikyo's footsteps, but it was wrong of her to let them believe their hope would come true.

Kagome began to sweat a little that summer night in her dorm room after drawing some design ideas for a kimono and then backing up all her fabrics she could use to make it with this summer. Why she would ever need a kimono, she didn't know. But when her parents would discover how much of a failure she turned out to be, she would need a large project to keep her occupied while she was banished and had no friends.

"Phew," she breathed after the last roll of silk was packed and she wiped her brow, "is this place honestly so holy they can't even put in an air-conditioner?"

She opened her window up nice and wide to let a little bit of breeze in as she laid down on top of her blanket and watched the stars before drifting into sleep.

__________________________________

Numbness was all she felt as she watched the darkness surround her. It wasn't long before she could barely make an outline of herself let alone the trees she saw briefly before it all started to disappear. She wanted to run, knew she needed to run, but couldn't as though she was paralyzed.

It wasn't until something touched her arm did she feel again. Her whole body shook with fear and adrenaline as clawed fingers began to go back and forth across her hand, but then it started to feel appealing and mysterious for it was the only thing she could feel rather than numbness.

"How does it feel?" a husky voice asked behind her.

"I don't know," her voice sounding so small and helpless.

"When are you going to be able to answer the question...?"

"I don't know," she answered dumbly again.

"I can't let you in," the hypnotic voice continued as a whisper in her ear, "not until you tell me."

Pain was the next thing she felt as she was pushed to the ground. She used all her strength to turn to see who the hunter had been, but he was too fast. She was left there on the cold forest floor as the darkness began to take the form of something rancid and toxic forced its way into her lungs.

The voice from before was laughing at her now finding her situation highly amusing as her body burned in pain and her mind was being disoriented.

"You can never be Kikyo," it laughed quietly as she faded.

_______________________________________

Kagome breathed heavily as she woke up that morning covered in more sweat than she'd gone to sleep with. She thought today's humiliation would be the worst part of today, but that nightmare had felt so real. The touch...and the pain.

"Kagome!" a very happy Sango cheered her name after forcing herself into the dorm, "our graduation gowns just arrived and- Kagome? What's wrong you're soaked."

Kagome wasn't too surprised to turn around and discover her bed was soaked as well with moisture, but she quickly tried to calm down. It was already bad enough that today she going to be branded as a liar, but she didn't need rumors flying around about her strange dream and how she almost felt it was real.

"Nothing," she tried to smile at Sango, "I just don't handle the heat very well, so the gowns are here?"

Sango nodded deciding to not ask any more questions as she revealed two coat hangers wrapped up in plastic. She laid them down and quickly began to tear through hers revealing what was to be her outfit for the ceremony as well as her uniform when performing the duties of a summoner.

"It's so ugly," Sango sighed when she revealed it.

"I don't think it's too bad," Kagome commented looking at the leather suit with built in armor, "though I can see what's wrong. Looks more like you're going to slay a dragon rather than control a beast."

"Any suggestions?" Sango asked with a hopeful smile, "you're the fashion expert."

"Hmmm I'd say a ponytail then it could be written off as athletic wear," she smiled before the look of utter disappointment flashed across her face when unwrapping hers.

She should have been expecting this, a miko outfit even though she was going to be a registered summoner. It was fate's cruel joke, because this was the same attire Kikyo had worn since she had originally aspired to be a miko before failing her classes and excelling in the art of summoning.

"Well," Sango said nervously knowing that Kagome was angry even though she thought it was kind of sweet that her friend got the same uniform as her idol had, "I don't think it's against the rules to alter it a little, you know use your talent to make it a bit more attractive."

That sounded like a good idea, but she thought more about her parents. Her parents were about to discover she was an utter failure and to remind them was the same outfit Kikyo had worn at her graduation as well her funeral garb.

"You should hurry up and get dressed," Sango then said with a frown before deciding to go wake Ayame up, "we receive our staves in a little bit and then our families are coming."

Kagome nodded slowly before taking a long hot shower to get all the nasty sweat off of her. The longer the shower the less time she had to look at herself in disgust after putting on the miko garb. When this was all over she was going to deeply consider hacking most of her raven hair off and dying it blonde or something so her family didn't dare make this mistake again.

"Kagome!"

Kagome looked up in the hallway after she was fully clothed, "Souta!"

Sure enough her little brother ran through the hallway to greet her followed by their mother and grandpa. It was strange not seeing her father here. She'd spent a lot of time at home after he died, but at least he wouldn't be here and give her that look of disappoint after her lie was revealed.

"Kagome," her mother smiled, "I know we're early but I'm really excited. I couldn't help it."

She couldn't take it. Maybe it was best to get it out now.

"Mom I'm-

"I could never be a summoner," Souta decided to throw out there, "it looks too hard."

"Well Ki- I mean your sister worked really hard to be here Souta."

Well at least her mother didn't really call her Kikyo this time, but it would have been nice to hear her name and be recognized as an individual for once. It also didn't help her in the slightest that Souta was making comments about the schooling. Must have been nice to be born a boy therefore look nothing like Kikyo therefore get a choice....

"Mom I have to tell you something," Kagome said.

"It has to wait," her grandpa interjected, "you don't want to be late. You should be receiving your staff in a few minutes. Kikyo said it was one of the happiest moments of her life to receive it."

"Will Kagome's staff look like Kikyo's?" Souta asked curiously.

"No staff is alike," gramps continued, "and they all come as one solid material unless you got top marks in every class like both your sisters did. Then they receive a staff made of the most valuable materials allowing them to bond their soul with the most powerful of demons."

"Gramps I-

"Kagome hurry up and go," her mom smiled as she tried to usher the other two to where the graduation ceremony would take place, "get your staff. We really want to see what you summon from the Netherplane."

"But I-" It was too late. They were already gone leaving her to walk to the Grand Forest in defeat, but not before she could hear her mother gush over how she was wearing the same gown as Kikyo.

"Kagome that's-," Ayame was ready to comment how beautiful Kagome looked in that outfit when she got kicked by Sango.

"It's okay," Kagome sighed, "it's not like it looks horrible or anything. Not fair you got the cutest one Ayame."

"You think," she smiled spinning around in the white fur she was adorned in.

"Girls hush for a moment," Kaede told all the students in front of her, "now listen today is a proud day. The day you all receive you staff and summon you life partner demon. Any questions before we begin."

One of the few male summoners, Hojo, rose his hand, "Yes Lady Kaede I was wondering what happens to our staffs when we...you know...die, I mean why can't Kagome for example use her sister's."

"Good question Hojo, because as we learned from situations like Lady Kikyo's summoning is not always easy. A few of you will be summoners for most of your lives along side your partner, but a few of you will have to accept that your soul will soon belong to the Netherplane, because the stronger your demon the more it can take over your heart and change you. We need your souls to keep the barrier between both worlds strong and we need to protect this one from the possibility of demons attacking again, so you will be saved when the change happens. In order for your soul to reach the Netherplane it has to first be separated from the demons or it will be lost forever. To that, you will be given your fatal blow from your own staff since it has controls over both souls, and afterwards its power fades."

Everyone took that answer and it didn't affect them. Was Kagome the only one who was scared of the day she would die like that? Though she knew she had nothing to worry about. It wasn't as though she was going to summon anything of use to take over her heart.

Kaede smiled before she began to hand over the staves.

The only one who got a grand staff made from the same kind of material as Kikyo's was Ayame for she'd been a really good student. It was a Platinum rod whose top looked exactly like a rose made from rubies, and emeralds from the flowers. It was one of the most beautiful rods ever.

After that came the normal caste system. Gold for the ones with mostly top marks, sliver for those a little below that, bronze for average, and wood for those who were lucky to pass at all.

Sango was about the second to last to receive her staff and could hardly contain the smile when she received her golden staff that looked more like a sword than a staff. By that point Ayame had already gone off so excited about the honor she received and Sango was soon ushered off by Kaede who wanted them to begin meditating so that they would be in perfect form when summoning for the first time. It would take a lot of energy out of them no matter how well trained they were.

"Kagome," Kaede frowned, "I'm sorry. I know you didn't want to disappoint anyone and you tried your hardest...but-

Kagome felt like her heart was going to stop the moment she was handed the ugliest thing she'd ever seen. It was a staff alright, but one with two heads...very ugly heads, but that wasn't what was most disturbing. It was wood...it meant she was a failure. It meant the most she could ever hope to summon was a measly bug youkai while everyone else conjured up Goliaths.

"I did that bad," she whispered trying to contain her tears thinking about how she would be mocked so badly tomorrow. The stands were bound to be crowded with those excited to see Kikyo's successor with her beautiful staff to summon the most amazing creature.

"I know Kagome...I thought things would be better if you at least left with a bronze, but it's too dangerous. We have to take this seriously. If you're heart is not into this than you won't be strong enough to control your demon. This way we know for sure nothing will go wrong, and look at it this way. In my class you stated you loved the warm. So I gave this one the element of fire."

"I understand Kaede," she spoke in a soft whisper, "and thank you for all you've done."

Kaede nodded, "Knowing your talkative friends you might as well wait around here a little more. I doubt they've started meditating...probably too wrapped up in gossip and I know you don't want to hear their foolish complaints right now."

Kagome nodded as Kaede left her there on the edge of the forest so she could most likely yell at Sango and Ayame.

She wrapped her arms tightly around the ugly staff. Everyone would hate her. Not only did she lie to everyone's face about how she was no question going to be equal to Kikyo, but she would walk out there with a wooden staff because she put in only the minimal effort and wasn't trusted with the creatures of the Netherplane. To make things worse she was told that was her best. What was next? Her soul denied from the Netherplane because of her grades?

There was no need to hurry when it came to meditating. Not only was it going to be too simple to call forth a weakling demon, but those who got wood staffs always went last. Probably so the crowds of people could start leaving to beat the traffic.

She was almost contemplating running away or even pretending she got kidnapped or something rather than risk getting disowned by everyone, and that's when she saw it. Sitting upon the silk blanket that everyone's staff had been laying on were two aquamarine jewels glinting at her.

Kagome kneeled down on to the blanket and unwrapped a sliver and pearl staff in the shape of a snake with the jewels as it's eyes. This was obviously Tsubaki's staff. It was probably made right before she got expelled for speaking about leaving the order to join some dark cult. Most likely it would be destroyed to make sure no one from that cult got a hold of it for if any one of them got a hold of a staff, it would be dangerous. It was often talked about how they wanted to let the demons take their hearts over so they could be immortal and rule over the world.

This was her way out. Tsubaki's grades were equal to Ayame and Kikyo's. All Kagome had to do was grab this staff and quickly summon her demon. Once her demon was summoned it was too late, she could never be stripped of the staff or title for she was officially a summoner.

Her conscious kept telling her no, but if she lied this long. What was another lie? Kaede would never tell for it would bring nothing but sadness and anger to the people of Altaria, and even if it was revealed her parents would never accept her and Kikyo were so different from each other.

"I'm sorry Kikyo," Kagome whispered as dropped the ugly two headed staff and picked up Tsubaki's which felt gold in her hand, almost making her feel numb like she was in the dream.

She had to sneak around quietly so no one would see her, and since she was supposed to be last in line the only ones who noticed her missing were Sango and Ayame expecting her to be next to them. The ceremony took place in front of the Netherplane where she prayed to Kikyo earlier to allow easy passages for the demons. She hid under the bleachers as everyone watched in awe at Ayame giving a long speech about how important this was and how hard she worked. She tried not to look for her family who were probably too busy trying to figure out why Kagome didn't get to go first and where she was. After all, she was supposed to be the main attraction.

"Okay," Ayame had a nervous smile as she held out her beautiful staff in the air facing the blue gate in front of her before shouting, "Namaarie!"

After saying the mystic word that allowed the staff's magic to go past the gate a blue aura surrounded Ayame. She began to sweat as she was in a constant struggle holding on to her staff for tightly as a beam pierced through the barrier looking for the perfect demon.

"Andodulin," she managed to get out in a pant as she buckled down to her knees and the area seemed to fill up with a hymn of some sorts, for a demon had been located, but before it could be released she had to give up a piece of her heart as well as receive the a piece from the demon's.

When that process was over, a bit of the barrier shattered as what looked like a wolf demon burst out of the plane. At first glance he was kind of human like but then it was easy to see his fangs and claws. Strange how he was wearing the same type of garb as Ayame except brown.

"Where in the hell am I?" The demon asked having a hard time opening his blue eyes for the sun was so bright here.

"Yes," Ayame smiled weakly getting up, "my very own demon! I'm gonna name you Kouga!"

The wolf demon struggled at first, but soon released he was under Ayame's control. It wasn't long before the audience began to go in a panic. Where was Kagome, where was their next savior?

Kagome filled up with guilt. Not only because she lied, not because she stole a staff, but because hardly anyone paid attention when Sango summoned a fierce flaming cat demon by the name of Kirara.

It was becoming too much by this point? No one was paying attention...where was Kikyo's sister...where was Kikyo's sister.

It was as though Kagome's legs came running out into the stadium of their own accord cutting off Hojo as he walked up with his sliver staff, "Sorry everybody! Sorry! I didn't mean to worry you I got lost!"

Her mother blushed kind of embarrassed as everyone else laughed. Her mom might as well get embarrassed more. She wasn't going to be giving out a speech of any kind. Kaede was probably in a frenzy right now.

"Okay," Kagome said nervously holding out Tsubaki's staff pointing it at the daunting plane where her sister could probably see her clear enough, "Namaarie!"

"Kagome," she sure enough could hear Kaede saying ready to get someone to stop her.

No. She'd gotten too far in her lie to stop now. She was so focused on not being called, not disappointing her family that she hardly noticed how much strength she was losing just from saying one word.

"Andodulin!" she managed out.

It was too late now for anyone to stop her, so her body recognized it was time to start failing her as she fell to her knees, but she couldn't disappoint anyone. She held on to the cold staff that tried to leave her hands, but she wrapped her whole body around the head of the snake not letting her go now that she was completely on the ground.

At first her heart was weak...as though it was going to fail her, but now it felt strong, but it was beating so fast. Her body almost couldn't take it. Her vision started to go blurry as the barrier started breaking around her. That feeling of numbness suffocated her as the staff fell to the ground with a clank, but by that time it was too late. Her demon had been summoned.

"Oh Gods no," many people could be heard saying as there was a huge gasp.

Kagome barely heard it though as she was fading into unconsciousness. Her mind barely registered the fact that she was being stared at by intense golden eyes that belonged to a tall figure with long silver hair and a white tail that hung above his thick armor. If only she hadn't gone so soon ...then she would have recognized that she had just summoned the most dangerous demon in the universe that she had no hope of controlling.

 

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