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Spirits by Priestess Skye

Ko-dama

Perhaps it was just a dream, a figment of her imagination that was making her believe that the tree was truly talking to her. Trees didn't talk, at least not in human terms though she was raised to believe that they had a spirit all their own. Especially this one, the Goshinboku. If it could talk, the stories it could tell would sell millions of books. That's if books could be published by the millions here. Somehow she doubted it could be so in feudal Japan. Still, she was sure she just did not hear it speak to her.

Standing beneath it, Kagome gazed high into the branches of thick leaves and watched as the sun broke through the canopy in small rays that fell around her feet. Though she stood in less light now than she did when she sat in an open field, she felt as if she was basking in its glow, receiving some of the best light Mother Nature had to offer. Surely this was part of being a priestess, being one with nature and understanding everything it had to give. There was a lot she still needed to learn in her training, and more that she had to truly understand. Her time with Kaede was so little and simply covered the basics. The old priestess had finished her time, as she put it on her final day. Ye are not ready, child, she had told her as she placed a cold, wrinkled hand upon her own. But ye will be when the time is right.

She understood herbs and medicines and their various uses. Her own lessons from home in science had taught her the value of life and the circle in which all living things live. Each person, each animal, each insect and each plant lived and fed off one another. Remove one item from the circle, and the rest would come crashing down after. She had watched it happen once as various species in her time were declared extinct. She had vowed to learn from that and not let it happen again in front of her various eyes.

But trees talking to her? That was entirely new.

Miroku and Sango were away, so she could not ask for his expertise in the matter. Briefly, she had thought of Inuyasha. Having spent fifty years pinned to this tree he should have some understanding of the inner workings of the local flora. There had to be a reason why this tree stood as tall as it did, why it sheltered Inuyasha as it did, and why it was revered as it was. Even in her own time, before she was trapped on this side, her grandfather revered the tree and prayed to it.

A tree of ages it was called, one being so old that it had lived through and witnessed time itself as it changed and evolved around it. For her, it held its own symbolism, one being of home. It sheltered her often as she sat beneath it contemplating the turn of events that had brought her here. The tree had been a constant for her, having played under it as a child, having confided many secrets to it as she grew older and now, having voiced her worries over her newly appointed duties and role in this time that she clearly didn't belong in. Standing under it now, five hundred years before she was due to be born, she wondered, did it remember listening to her? Or would it never have happened?

"I don't understand."

Gently, Kagome placed her hand upon the trunk of the tree, the bark rough and coarse against her now calloused palm. It felt like it always did. Solid, warm, full of life. Closing her eyes, she concentrated, wanting to block everything out except for that speaking to her. Instead she could feel the thrum of power beneath her finger tips, the way it flowed just beneath the surface, strong, secure, almost exhilarating. It burned to feel it, yet she was addicted to it, needed to feel more of it. Was this what was calling out to her? Was this the thing that was speaking with her? Warmth flooded through her, causing her body to tense and tingle under its assault. As much as he wanted to pull her hand away, she couldn't, it wouldn't let her.

"Miko."

Startled, she jumped, finding the strength she needed to remove her hand. Numbly she stared at it, as if trying to decipher what had just happened. She half expected to see ancient kanji written upon it, knowing she had been placed under sort of spell, however temporary it was it. Lifting her head, she took note of her saviour and smiled, though she knew it didn't quite reach her eyes. "Sesshoumaru. I had no idea you were in this area. Inuyasha is just ahead in the village. That's if he hasn't left yet to hunt."

"I am aware as to the hanyou's whereabouts." His golden eyes pierced her own, causing Kagome to fidget under his hard gaze. There were very few youkai in the world who could intimidate her, and Sesshoumaru was top of the list, regardless of his connection with Inuyasha, and from their earlier alliance. He was a youkai whose actions spoke louder than words and more often than not, he had tried to kill her. She would never forget the gaping hole he left in Inuyasha's stomach, nor the way he fought with ease against Naraku, while the rest of them struggled to maintain their footing. She noted the way his arms hung loosely at his side and though she knew he had no intentions of turning his claws against her at the moment, they still terrified her. The acidic smell of his dokkasu was enough to cause her to lose her lunch.

She doubted he was unaware as to his effect either. Within seconds he was standing next to her, though no longer gazing at her. Instead his focus was on the Goshinboku before him, his hand resting upon it much like hers. "There is more to this tree than meets the eye. It's not uncommon for a tree of this age to see and know more than the average human." His eyes shifted sideways and she averted her gaze, not wishing to look at him at the moment. His close proximity to her was unsettling. Though they didn't touch she could feel the heat coming off him, she could feel his raw power as it began to rise and fall with that of the tree. Pressing her hand closer, she could feel the Goshinboku responding to it.

"What's it saying?" she asked, closing her eyes, listening to the near silent whispers.

"It is for you to decipher as it is speaking to you alone. Have you ever wondered why this tree was so sacred?"

"No. I just knew that it was. That's all I needed to know."

"Inuyasha wasn't left alone for those fifty years. There was a guardian watching over him. There's a reason why the villagers won't touch this tree..."

Opening her eyes, Kagome turned to ask Sesshoumaru a question, only to see the swish of his silver hair as he faded from site. More confused than ever she fell to the ground and looked up at the thick foliage. "Okay, tree of ages, what is it you're trying to tell me?"

AN: Written for Monti's Obakemono challenge. With luck this will be a series of interrelated one shots set within the canon universe long after Naraku has been destroyed.

 

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