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Only Hope Remained by tenchi no mai

Only Hope Remained

This was written in response to MontiK’s challenge.

Theme:  Myth Meets Miko and Taiyouki

Due:  December 30, 2009

Required Word Count:  Minimum 1,500

Actual Word Count:  4,200

Universe:   Canon – Feudal Era

Rating:  MA

Warnings:  Innuendoes, Language, Lime Content 

Disclaimer: The characters of InuYasha are not mine, they are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Yomiuri TV, Sunrise, and Viz Media.   Only the plot to this story is my intellectual property.  I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

‘Italics’ = thoughts

 

 

Only Hope Remained

 

“Oh, Kagome, what’s that?”  Shippo and Rin were pointing up towards the sky which was quicky brightening from the pre-dawn darkness.  The hanyou had woken them early to get started on the trail of a shard.  

“It looks like a shooting star.  Make a wish Shippo!”  Sango was carrying Kirara and walking with Kagome in the middle of the pack. 

There was a bright flash of multicolored light that went streaking by overhead before falling to earth some distance to the east with a loud crash, causing the ground to tremble for a moment.

“I don’t know, Shippo.”  Kagome took Rin’s hand as Shippo scrambled up onto her shoulder and she began chuckling to herself.  ‘As though he’ll get a better view from my shoulder.  You would need to be up on Sesshoumaru’s youki cloud to be able to see anything.’ 

The entire group had stopped momentarily to gawk at the strange sight.  “Keh.  It can’t be anything important.  Let’s keep moving, the damn shards ain’t going to find themselves.”  Inuyasha tried, in vain, to get the group in motion again. 

“It could be a meteorite.”  Kagome frowned as she stared in the direction the streaking light had traveled.  Something didn’t seem right.  This looked more like a lightning bolt suddenly erupting from the clear blue sky.  The lingering smell of ozone reminded her of a lightning strike.  

“Hn.”  Sesshoumaru was also of the opinion that this was a strange occurance.  “It may be prudent to check out this ‘meteorite’ as you called it, miko.”  He lifted his nose towards the sky and carefully sniffed, committing to memory the unusual scent that accompanied the flash of light. 

“We head in this direction.”  Sesshoumaru veered off slightly towards the northeast. 

Inuyasha growled and sprinted ahead to plant himself firmly in front of Sesshoumaru.  “The Yourouzoku territory is in that direction.” 

Sesshoumaru raised one eyebrow at the irate hanyou.  “You are not afraid of the ookami prince are you, Inuyasha?” 

“I ain’t afraid of that mangy, flea bitten wolf!  I just don’t want him sniffing around Kagome.”  Inuyasha stood defiantly with his arms crossed over his chest. 

Sesshoumaru stepped around his half brother and the rest of the tachi followed him.  Inuyasha glared at them and grumbled under his breath as he turned to take up the guard position at the rear of the pack. 

After several hours of heading in a northeasterly direction, they came upon a large crater and several long furrows in the ground.   Following the tracks in the soil, Sesshoumaru stopped abruptly and raised an eyebrow at the shapely female hind end wiggling in the air.  The unknown female was apparently searching for something in the underbrush.  Miroku and Inuyasha quickly joined Sesshoumaru, and stood with their mouths hanging open. 

The oblivious female on the ground in front of them was reaching under a sticker bush with a long stick.  “Come back here you stupid thing.” 

Her long, lithe legs were revealed every time she stretched forward to poke at whatever was hiding under the bush.  The odd white kimono she was wearing was long and diaphanous; it appeared to reach her ankles, but it had slits up the sides that stopped just short of her slim hips. 

The three males, silently standing there, were getting an eyeful of her feminine attributes with each move before Kagome and Sango pushed past them.  

“Are you alright?  Can we help you with anything?”  Kagome knelt beside the woman to peer under the sticker bush to see what she was trying to retrieve.  ‘Huh?  It looks like a sake jug.’ 

The woman didn’t turn her head and was still trying to reach the jug.  “Oh, I’m okay, when I fell I lost my pithos.” 

Kagome watched as the piece of earthenware finally came loose from the grip of the sticker bush and rolled lopsidedly towards the woman.  She cocked her head as the pottery jar came into view.  ‘It looks almost like a Greek amphora.’ 

“Yes!  Finally!  I didn’t think I was going to get it out of there without getting all scratched up.”  She picked up the container and sat back from her kneeling position, then turned to look at Kagome.  “And you are?” 

Kagome was so stunned that she couldn’t speak.  The person sitting beside her was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen.  She was almost the spitting image of the actress  that played Grendel in the movie Beowulf, and Kagome wondered for a minute if she was looking at the woman’s incarnation. 

“I’m Higarashi, Kagome.  What’s your name?”  Kagome managed to stutter out as she took in the appearance of this woman calmly sitting with the jar clasped firmly to her chest. 

“My name is…” the woman hesitated and seemed to think for a second,  “Dora.” 

“Dora, if you fell hard enough to produce that crater, how come the jar didn’t break?”  Kagome waved her hand back towards the rather large hole in the ground. 

“Keh.  You stupid bitch, I don’t break when you ‘sit’ me, why can’t someone else be able to be sat without breaking.”  Inuyasha pushed Kagome out of the way and quickly sat down.  “Hi, Dora, I’m Inuyasha.” 

Kagome narrowed her eyes at Inuyasha and was just opening her mouth to ‘sit’ him, when Miroku came hustling over, squeezing between Inuyasha and Dora, then knelt down.  

“Hi, Dora, I’m Miroku.”  He took her hand and held it to his chest.  “You’re so beautiful, would you do me the honor of bearing my child?” 

Sesshoumaru raised his other eyebrow at the goings on in front of him.  ‘You would think the two bakas had never seen an onna before.’ 

Kagome looked at Sango, noticing that she was beginning to turn red and was tightening her grip on the hiraikotsu.  Miroku hadn’t spoken his infamous line since he had started getting serious with Sango;  this was going to put a big dent in their relationship, as well as probably a dent in Miroku’s skull.  

Dora giggled and pulled her hand away from Miroku.  Turning towards Kagome she patted the jar.  “When the pithos was created, it was made arrektos, an unbreakable house for its contents.”  

“Uh huh.  Where are you from, Dora?”  Kagome was critically assessing her appearance.  Her manner of dress, physical features, and speech indicated she was definitely not from Japan. 

“I live at the base of Mount Olympus.  I was created as a gift for Epimetheus.”  Dora giggled again at the two males that were hanging on her every word.  

“Kagome, why does it matter where Dora is from?  She’s here now.”  Inuyasha and Miroku had momentarily ceased their pushing contest to see who would be closest to Dora, and were gazing at her with wide awe-struck eyes.  “Hey, maybe she can travel with us!” 

“How did you get here?”  Kagome was quickly putting the pieces together.  ‘Greece, Mount Olympus, Epimetheus, unbreakable jar.  Not Dora… her name is Pandora!’ 

“Well, it’s an old story.  Early this morning Zeus had a temper tantrum over something or other, and began throwing lightning bolts around.  It happens all the time.”  Dora leaned closer to Kagome and whispered.  “Personally, I think one of his ‘lady friends’ may have spurned his attentions.  That usually makes him terribly upset, and an angry, horny Greek god is not something to be taken lightly.” 

“Hn.”  Sesshoumaru was still standing in the same spot with his arms folded across his chest.  He had taken several sniffs in the onna’s direction and was able to readily discern that she was human, had no holy powers he could detect, and therefore posed no outright danger to the pack. 

Kagome glanced towards Sesshoumaru, noting that he didn’t seem to be as affected by Dora’s presence as the other males were.  Even Shippo had become entranced.  He was now sitting on Miroku’s shoulder, blinking his big green eyes as he gazed adoringly at Dora. 

“So, Pandora, how will you get back to Epimetheus and Mount Olympus?”  Kagome wasn’t too keen on the idea of Pandora traveling with them.  She could just imagine the havoc that would be created when they walked through a village; as though they didn’t cause enough commotion already with the demons in the tachi. 

Pandora looked sheepishly at Kagome.  “Oh, so you figured out who I was?” 

“It wasn’t all that difficult, you haven’t really tried to hide anything about yourself.”  Kagome glanced over at Sango to get her to join the conversation and take her attention away from Miroku’s wandering eyes which were now fixed firmly, and lustfully, on Pandora. 

“Someone will come to get me sooner or later.  This has happened before.  Zeus can be such a huge pain in the butt.  You would think he was going through a mid-life crisis the way he carries on sometimes.  Stomping around and throwing lightning bolts hither and yon.”  Pandora made a motion as if she was throwing a dart, and Kagome couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of Zeus, the King of the Gods, having a temper tantrum because he woke up with morning wood and hadn’t gotten any as the day dawned. 

Kagome looked up at the sky, then around at the woods.  “Well, it’s almost time for us to stop and eat our midday meal.  Do you want to join us?”  She then looked over at Sesshoumaru.  “Is that okay with you, Sesshoumaru-sama?” 

Sesshoumaru’s nod was subtle.  “It may be wise to stay in this vicinity until someone appears to retrieve Pandora.”  He was curious about her and her jar. 

Kagome, Rin, Pandora and Sango followed Sesshoumaru as he strode off in search of a clearing in order for them to set up camp.  When the other three came to their senses, they scrambled after Sesshoumaru and his ‘harem’, leaving Jaken and Ah-Un to bring up the rear.

A short distance away, Sesshoumaru halted at a clearing surrounded by sugi trees.  “We will stop here.”  He then disappeared into the woods.

“Sango, if you and Rin fill the water bottles and the large pot, Shippo and I will gather kindling.  Inuyasha, you dig the fire pit and find some rocks for it, while Miroku gathers firewood.  Jaken, can you forage and see what you can find?”  Kagome directed everyone, and like a well oiled machine each person set about their chore. 

“What can I do to help?”  Pandora had sat her jar down next to Kagome’s giant yellow backpack under a nearby sugi tree.  

“Oh, Pandora, you don’t have to help, everyone knows what needs to be done, we’ll be right back.”  Kagome took Shippo by the hand and tugged him with her towards the treeline. 

Inuyasha suddenly got a sly look in his eyes, squatted down, then proceeded to rapidly dig the firepit, shoveling the excavated dirt back between his legs.  “I’ll be right back, Pandora, I just need to find some rocks for the firepit.”  His thoughts were that if he finished first, he could have a few minutes alone with their guest. 

Miroku had apparently surmised what the hanyou was up to, and tore off into the woods to gather as much firewood as he could, as quickly as possible.  He was somewhat familiar with the area they were in, and knew it would take Inuyasha a while to find enough large rocks to ring the firepit. 

Sango and Rin returned with the filled water containers and sat down next to Pandora to watch the houshi and hanyou as they each tried to get their task done before the other one did.  

“Do they always set up the cooking fire this quickly?”  Pandora giggled as her eyes followed first one, then the other of the males as they raced to be the one to get done first.  

“No, I think they are trying to impress you.”  Sango had to chuckle as Inuyasha tripped Miroku and he lost his footing, dropping an armload of firewood at the edge of the clearing. 

Kagome returned with Shippo and more kindling.  Setting it down beside the firepit, she carefully built up a pile of wood and kindling before pulling a pack of matches out of her pocket and starting the fire. 

Miroku limped into the clearing and dropped his last armload  of wood just as Inuyasha returned with several more large rocks for the fire ring.  “Keh.  You thought you could finish before me?  Don’t forget, monk, that I’m hanyou and faster than you pathetic humans.”  

They both turned to go sit near Pandora and groaned.  There, sitting in Pandora’s lap with a blissful expression on his face was Shippo.  Pandora was absently running her long, graceful fingers through his red hair as he sighed and nestled his head against her. 

“Oi!  Get the hell outta her lap, runt!”  Inuyasha made a fist to bop him on the head. 

“Don’t let him hit me ‘Dora!”  Shippo screamed as Inuyasha bore down on him. 

Pandora pick him up and hugged him firmly to her ample breasts, putting out one hand to stop Inuyasha from abusing the kit.  Shippo turned his head and smirked, before sticking his tongue out at Inuyasha then nestling back into Pandora’s bosom.

“He was tired from gathering the kindling, so I suggested he sit on my lap for a while and rest.”  Pandora continued to hold Shippo close to her and rubbed his back. 

“If he’s tired, he can take a nap where he usually does, on Kagome’s sleeping bag!”  Inuyasha was still irate over the fact that Pandora was paying attention to the little brat. 

Sesshoumaru returned with four brace of rabbits for the meal.  He raised an eyebrow as he watched the now furious hanyou posturing as Pandora continued to cuddle the kit.  Leaving the rabbits with the miko, he settled himself under a nearby tree where he could keep an eye on everyone and an ear open for any interesting conversations. 

Sango slid over next to where Kagome was putting together the meal.  “So, Kagome, what’s with Pandora and that jar?  You seem to know something about her.” 

Jaken waddled back into the clearing at that point with a furoshiki full of mushrooms, which he proudly showed to Pandora before giving them to Kagome and Sango to cook with the rice. 

Kagome glanced over at Pandora before turning to answer Sango.  “I know her story from the Greek Mythology course I had to take at school.  The story is interesting.  The jar, or pithos, supposedly contained evils, pain, sorrow, famine and troublesome diseases which caused death to man.  According to one legend, Prometheus, who was one of the titans, had persuaded the satyrs to steal the jar from Zeus, who is the King of the Gods, when he was tempted to pour them out on mankind, and Epimetheus locked up the jar to keep mankind from suffering.” 

Sango shuddered as she peeked at the jar.  “Is that what’s in there?” 

“Not any more.  I’ll get back to the jar in a minute or two.  Pandora’s story is entwined with the jar, so you need to understand both.”  Kagome continued to turn the spit with the rabbits over the fire.  

Sesshoumaru was listening intently to Kagome telling the story of the jar and Pandora.  

“Zeus was upset with the brothers, Prometheus and Epimetheus, for giving the knowleldge of the gift of fire to mankind, and in order to retaliate, he had Hephaestus, who was the blacksmith to the gods, create Pandora out of clay.  She was brought to life by the four winds, and all the gods and goddesses of Olympus had a hand in giving her unique, seductive abilities and beauty beyond compare.  She creates desire in every man who looks upon her.”  Kagome paused again to check on the rabbits.   ‘Huh, I wonder if this is why Inuyasha seems so enamored of her.  Maybe her scent somehow reminds him of Kikyo?’ 

Kagome glanced again at Pandora, who was being regaled with a story by Miroku.  “She was given to Epimetheus as a gift by Zeus.  Prometheus had warned Epimetheus against accepting any gifts from the gods, but he was so captivated by Pandora’s beauty that he accepted the gift of the first human woman.  Before this the world was inhabited only by gods, goddesses, and human males.  One of the many things Pandora was gifted with was curiosity, and when she found the jar she opened it, releasing all the evils on mankind.  She realized what she had done and slammed the lid back on the jar, but only Elpis, or Hope, remained inside.” 

By this time Sango’s eyes were wide.  “Oh, my!  They certainly sound like vengeful, ruthless gods.” 

“The stories of the Greek gods are complicated and can be difficult to understand.  I didn’t do too well with the course and only just managed to pass.”  Kagome stirred the rice.  “Dinner’s ready.” 

Sango, Kagome and Rin were cleaning up from the meal when a very familiar aura with two jewel shards approached at high speed.  Rin hid behind Sango, she still didn’t like the wolves. 

Skidding to a stop in the clearing, Kouga quickly began provoking Inuyasha.  “Hey, dog breath, what are you doing in Yourouzoku territory?  Don’t you remember what I told you the last time you were here?” 

“You mangy wolf!  I didn’t want to step foot in your filthy territory, but he brought us here.”  Inuyasha stopped to point a finger at Sesshoumaru. 

Kouga nodded to Sesshoumaru, then turned towards Kagome.  “How’s my woman?”  He grabbed her hands in his and was about to pull her into an embrace, when he happened to look over her shoulder and noticed Pandora sitting under a tree. 

“Well, hello there.”  Dropping Kagomes hands like they were hot stones, he strode over to Pandora and sat down with Miroku and Shippo.  “I’m Kouga, Prince of the Yourouzoku tribe.  You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” 

Inuyasha rushed over and shoved his way in between Kouga and Pandora.  “Hey, wolf-breath, she ain’t yours to drool over!” 

“Oh, like you think she’s yours?”  Kouga taunted him back, and the fight was on.  

Pandora picked up her pithos, and made her way over to Kagome and Sango.  Miroku and Shippo trailed behind her.  She nodded towards Sesshoumaru.  “He doesn’t seem too friendly.” 

She had been shamelessly flirting with him since they had finished eating, and he was apparently one of a very few that she couldn’t captivate with her charms.  She had found that any male that didn’t fall for her natural beauty was usually not interested in women.  ‘He is immensely beautiful in his own right, it would be a shame if he is more interested in men.’ 

“No, he’s not overly friendly, especially if he doesn’t know you too well.”  Kagome was trying to keep an eye on the fight between Kouga and Inuyasha.  She didn’t want either one of them to get injured, and hoped they would tire of their game before that happened. 

Pandora was just about to ask another question regarding the intriguing male when there was a loud rumble of thunder and the crack of a bolt of lightning.  She looked up towards the sky and mumbled a curse under her breath, she would have liked to stay for a while longer.  “Well, it sounds like my ride will be here any minute.” 

Pandora smirked as she watched Hermes descend from the sky.  He was quite handsome, and she glanced at Kagome and Sango to see their reaction.  Both girls were staring wide eyed at the figure that appeared.  

Kagome stared at the man, no god, who stood in front  of her.  He was wearing a winged hat, a short  white chitoniskos that was belted around his waist, winged sandals, and a red chlamys, or cloak. He had short curly hair and a twinkle in his eyes.  Her mind went into overdrive when she realized who he was. 

Sesshoumaru rose from his seated position under the tree and swiftly came to stand in front of Kagome and Sango.  His first instincts were to protect his pack.  The tall, athletic looking male was holding a strange implement in his left hand, which, while it didn’t appear at first glance to have any magics associated with it, could be used as a weapon. 

“Hey, Hermes.”  Pandora walked up to him and ran her hands over the shoulders of his chitoniskos unpinning the right shoulder so it draped down to his waist, exposing a large portion of his chest.  “I see you decided to wear some clothing this time.  I’m still not sure who was more embarassed the last time, you or the gentlemen I was with.” 

Turning slightly towards Kagome and Sango, she picked up the edge of his cloak.  “As a messenger, Hermes often wears only his chlamys, or cloak.  I’m still not sure how he doesn’t freeze his… ass... off flying about in nothing but this cloak flapping around.” 

“Behave yourself Pandora.  I can think of many ways to keep my ‘ass’, as you called it, warm.”  Hermes put his hands around her waist and turned her to face the group.  He then pulled her back to himself, and flexed his hips against her derriere. 

Kagome and Sango each blushed, as they peeked around Sesshoumaru’s large frame.  Sesshoumaru watched their antics with an internal smirk, and thoughts about the miko. 

“Hermes, you can take your kerykeion and…”  Pandora stopped speaking as Hermes rubbed his growing erection against her backside. 

Hermes smirked down at Pandora.  “My messengers staff? And what, spank you with it?  Or would you like me to use it for something else?” 

Pandora gasped.  “And you told me to behave myself!” 

“I hurried here to retrieve you as soon as Zeus opened the rift in the planes of time.  It is only temporal, we have but a limited amount of time before he expects me to return you to Epimetheus, so if you want anything else, we’ll have to leave now.”  Hermes movements left nothing to anyones imagination as he continued to rub suggestively against Pandora. 

Inuyasha and Kouga had finally noticed what was happening, and they both streaked over to confront the stranger. 

“Who the hell are you?  And what are you doing with ‘Dora?”  Inuyasha growled at the male molesting her.  He could smell the musky arousal emanating from both of them, and was decidedly pissed. 

“I am Hermes, messenger of the gods, patron of boundaries and the travelers who cross them, as well as miscreants and harlots.”  He grinned at Pandora, then picked her up bridal style before taking to the skies.  

Pandora waved over his shoulder to her new friends.  “Bye, guys, maybe I’ll get to see you again sometime.”  

In the blink of an eye they had disappeared beyond the clouds.  

Ginta and Hakkaku were gasping as they came running into the clearing with the pack of wolves.  “Hi Sis!  Kouga, the pack needs you back at the den, there is a messenger from the northern wolf tribe there to see you.” 

“Kagome, I’ll see you later.  Don’t let dog boy get into trouble.”  With that Kouga turned and forming his whirlwind, streaked off towards the mountains, the rest of the pack hot on his heels. 

“Well, that was certainly interesting.”  Kagome was still blushing from watching Hermes actions with Pandora.  “I think I need to find a hotspring and have a bath.” 

Sesshoumaru had noticed Kagome’s faint, but growing arousal as she watched Hermes with Pandora.  He decided to tease her for a few minutes before whisking her away to the nearest onsen. 

“Instead of a bath, wouldn’t you rather debate the theodicy of whether Hope’s retention in the jar is comforting, an antidote for mans present ills, or if it is a blessing withheld from man so that his life is more dreary and depressing?”  Sesshoumaru smirked as she turned shocked wide eyes towards him. 

“Sesshoumaru, I would have not thought that you were the philosophical type.”  Kagome was surprised.  “So you knew who she was all along?” 

“Of course, miko.  I have heard the story of Pandora and her jar before, but sometimes it is referred to as a box.  After all isn’t that where the humans figure of speech comes from?  ‘Opening a Pandora’s box’ suggests bringing up an issue that will likely make matters worse and compound the problem rather than alleviate it.” 

“So you really weren’t interested in Pandora?  All the other males seemed captivated by her.  She is extremely beautiful.”  Kagome was still feeling somewhat like an ugly duckling in comparison to the gorgeous woman from the myth. 

Sesshoumaru leaned down to whisper in her ear, his long silky hair brushing across her neck and shoulder.  “Why don’t you go get your bathing supplies, and I’ll show you exactly whose ‘box’ I’m interested in.  After all, I did mark you as my intended.” 

“Sesshoumaru!”  Kagome blushed a deeper shade of red as the meaning of what he just said registered in her brain.  She then hurried over to grab her packpack.  She wasn’t going to waste any time searching for her bathing supplies.  

~*~

Fin

 

~*~

Authors Notes:

Amphora - a type of ceramic vessel with two handles on opposite sides and a long neck narrower than the body.

Arrektos - Scholars point out that Pandora's jar is termed an "unbreakable" house.  In Greek literature (e.g. - Homer, and elsewhere in Hesiod), the word arrektos is applied to structures meant to sequester or otherwise restrain its contents. 

Chitoniskos – A chiton was a form of clothing worn by men and women in Ancient Greece.  There are two forms of chiton.  The “Doric” style was simpler and had no sleeves, being simply pinned at the shoulder with the excess fabric girdled at the waist.  Greek men sometimes wore a short version of the chiton known as the chitoniskos.  On Greek vases, men are pictured wearing the chitoniskos while hunting, farming, and under their armor for war.  The smaller chitoniskos could also be worn over another longer chiton. 

Chlamys –  The chlamys was an ancient Greek piece of clothing, namely a cloak.  The chlamys was typically worn by Greek soldiers, it was usually pinned at the right shoulder.  It could be worn over another item of clothing, but was often worn as the sole item of clothing by messengers.

Kerykeion – The caduceus is typically depicted as a short herald’s staff entwined by two serpents in the form of a double helix and is sometimes surmounted by wings.  This staff was first borne by Iris, the messenger of Hera.  It was also called the wand of Hermes when he superseded Iris in later myths. 

Pithos – It is the ancient Greek word for a storage jar.  Anything could be placed in a pithos; however, they were used primarily for grains, seeds, wine and oil.  Pithoi were almost universally of ceramic, an ideal material that kept out water, dirt and insects.  

In the myth, the mistranslation of pithos as a “box” is usually atributed to the sixteenth century humanist, Erasmus of Rotterdam, when he translated Hesiod’s tale of Pandora.  Hesiod used the word “pithos” which refers to a jar used to store grain.  Erasmus, however, translated pithos into the Latin word pyxis, meaning “box”.  The phrase “Pandora’s box” has endured ever since. 

Thanks to Wikipedia for these definitions. 

~*~

 

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