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Enlightened by Smortz

Messages and Plans

A/N

So, I spewed this plunny in chat, and then nightmareofcat posted a perfect challenge for writers and artists in the forum, and I couldn’t resist this idea that had been tumbling around in my head for a few weeks now.

If any of you are interested in the challenge, head on over to the forum for the specs!!!

I hope you readers aren’t too mad that I am starting another story, but I do want to add this.

Time Floats On Chapter 17 is currently being written.

The latest Fix It and Striking a Deal with the Devil chapters are in the beta-ing process. :D

Read and Enjoy.

~Smo


Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own any characters associated with the manga/anime InuYasha. They are just puppets to further enhance my creative imagination.

Chapter 1

The fresh air and light breeze could not keep the panic and sick feeling from Kagome’s stomach. Her black hair was tousled after she landed on her rear in the dirt, listening to the horrible news had knocked her off balance. Kaede, the leader of their small and weakening tribe, had just received intelligence from their wandering medicine-man, Miroku.

“When will the raid come? How many?” Kaede pressed for information. Her old voice was raspy and shook with apprehension. They hardly had any warriors as it was. Many of them had left to blend into society and assimilate into civilization, turning away from their past traditions. It was probably one of those runaways that had given away their location beside the long river in between two well hidden mountains.

“With a large group that does not know the terrain, I would say at least two weeks. I will go back into town and bring back more information, and hopefully some tools,” Miroku’s voice was filled with worry, but it didn’t shake like Kaede’s. “Perhaps we should consider moving the camp?”

“Shush!” Kaede exclaimed. Kagome shook her head at the mere thought. She pushed up on her knees and leaned closer to the seam of the tent so she could eavesdrop more clearly. “If we keep moving, our tribe will die. Every time we move, more people leave. We have finally stayed put for more than three winters, and we will remain here.”

“...And die here,” Miroku’s words made Kagome’s tears fall over her cheeks. She had no idea she’d been so near to crying, but the reality of it all had startled her. This was her home, her family. Now it was being threatened by people who decided on their own that the way Kagome and her family lived was wrong. Who were they to decide such a thing? Kagome’s anger pulsed to life.

There would be no raid if Kagome could help it. There would be no fight - no threat. Standing up, she turned from the tent. Her steps were evenly measured in her rage. Her best friend, Sango, had trained her in combat, and had said Kagome fought stronger when she was angry. That’s why Kagome would need to make her move now, while her agitation strengthened her.

She dipped into her small camp that she shared with the young children. None of them were in there. Most of them played in the river during the day or chased the horses around. She pulled out a small leather satchel and gathered some items to bring. It shouldn’t take too long once she formed a plan. First, she needed to figure out how many and who was leading them, what they were really after. Usually the raids were in retaliation to attacks, but that was not their way. They never attacked the town, choosing to trade for goods rather than steal them.

It made no sense to Kagome. Why would someone want to destroy a village? It’s not like they were a threat. That jolted a thought to her mind. She had heard of them doing this to other peaceful tribes simply because they wanted the land for future builds. In her opinion, they were the thieves.

Kagome exited the tent with her plan rapidly forming. It was risky. She would need to get close to them. She needed some sort of bargaining chip. Mind made up, she headed out to the edge of the village, where the horses were fenced on a rolling hill by the river.

Shippo, a young boy whose parents had been slaughtered in a raid a few years ago, eyed her with a grin. “Have you come to play? I’m taking the others to the river,” he cheered. His green eyes sparkled like leaves in the sunlight.

Kagome shook her head, her black hair had been pulled into a ponytail at the bottom of her head. The small rope tied it into place. “Sorry, Shippo, but I have to do something. I need your favor though,” she whispered the last part, kneeling down to bring herself to eye level with the young boy. He looked to be about eight, and always had a childish grin spread on his face that hid his troubled past and haunting memories. “I need you to keep a secret. Don’t tell anyone I left until they figure it out on their own.”

His eyes widened with realization. “You’re going on another adventure? Can I come too? You said you would take me!”

Kagome ruffled his caramel colored hair and stood back up, straightening the bow and quiver over her shoulder. Her buckskin dress stopped just below her knees, but had two slits that kept it from hindering her horseback riding. Heavy and thick leather boots cupped her feet and shins, keeping her warm during the new spring. “When you’re older and have finished your riding lessons,” she told him, clicking the tongue against the roof of her mouth.

Her horse loped in front of her. A delicate rope halter fitted on his head. She held her hand out to Shippo when she realized something was missing. Pouting, he handed her two colorful reins. She had beaded them on her own once she had finished training her very own horse. The blue, green, and violet colors wound around the actual rope, and she connected it to each side of her horse’s halter.

She hoisted herself onto the Paint. The black and white coloring made her fall more and more in love with her mount every time she saw him. With deep, sky blue eyes, the horse was a dream in itself. Leaning down along his neck, she hugged his frame. “Ready for a journey?”

Already, he stumbled sideways towards the forest. Kagome grinned at his enthusiasm. Nodding to Shippo, she cast him a wink before her horse broke into a run. She had a raid to stop, and her horse saw the importance in it.

                                                                                                                   ~ Enlightened ~

It took the rest of the day for Kagome to find what she was looking for. Traveling alone made it easy to get through the shortcuts only Kagome’s tribe knew. Additionally, Kagome had been raised in such a land and knew all the ways to get around on a horse. Kagome was happy she hadn’t gone into town. Her last experience in town without Miroku had ended with her being arrested and spat on by the god-fearing, civilized townsfolk. Apparently, her appearance had offended them.

Her target was a large cattle ranch that had a large canopy in the back. It looked like a military camp and Kagome knew raids were usually coordinated by ex-soldiers who had experience. “Stay quiet, Storm,” she whispered to her horse as she tied the rope loosely to a tree still deep in the forest. She would go the rest of the way on foot to ensure the element of surprise.

She held her bow in her hand, notching an arrow just in case before setting out along the plains. Slightly crouched, she used the darkness of shadows as her cover, hopping into the cattle pasture and leaning against one of the large animals. A few lanterns were still lit inside the camp, and she wondered how many of those men were in town at the local saloon.

From cow to cow, she made it to the opposite side of the pasture and hid beside one of the fence posts. The canopy must be only twenty feet away. She could hear a few voices, all of them male. One was calmer than the other. She turned her bow horizontal as she slipped between the wires and dove to the ground at the bottom of the tent.

Now prone, she crawled along the edge until she came at the far back. She could now hear the words the few men spoke. “We’ve gathered fourteen men, more than enough to wipe the village off the face of the nation,” one exclaimed with excitement. Kagome wanted to hurt him first, but knew that was not in her plan.

“Quiet.” This tone made Kagome freeze. Her muscles seemed to go stiff. The low, dangerous quality of it was enough to frighten her. This had to be the one in charge. The voice alone demanded complete authority. “Our intention is not to ‘wipe’ anything. We are to integrate the villagers into the appropriate locations.”

Kagome thought about his words. She’d heard about them maneuvering some of her people into specified areas. The ones that had run away quickly told them it’s nothing but a prison, a holding cell until they’ve lived off their years or gave in and became one with the rest of the people. The raid wasn’t to kill them; it was worse. They were being herded like cattle to a different pasture. Kagome shivered with fear. How would she tell the Kaede and the rest of them?

“Come on,” a new voice spouted. This was boyish, more amused at the other two. “You really don’t think they’ll put up a fight over their new... accommodations?”

Kagome thought she would like this one more. At least he was right in assuming they would put up a fight. Right now, the odds weren’t looking good though. Fourteen well trained fighters, most likely with more advanced firearms than her bow and arrow, were going to attack her small and weak tribe. Kagome felt the dread crawl up into her throat.

“What’d you find?” The leader commanded. His voice was harder than the steel railroad tracks. Kagome swallowed thickly, leaning against the tent in anticipation for the answer. He had sent out this boy as a scout.

“I found a trail that may lead up to the village. A few townspeople say the local tradesman for the tribe uses it. There are fresh tracks from earlier in the week. It’s a tight fit for all of us, but manageable.” Kagome didn’t like his report. It was too perfect. She was sure Miroku had taken precautions.

Kagome found herself doubting her childhood friend. He had been in a hurry. People make mistakes when they are in a hurry. Kagome needed to get hold of something and keep it so they couldn’t attack. Slowly, she crawled back towards the pasture. It was time to put her plan in motion. All three of these soldiers were important. If she could get her hands on one of them, she may be able to hold him captive. This way, the soldiers would at least delay their attack another week and buy her more time.

Finally, Kagome arrived back at her horse. She dug around in her pack and pulled out a small amount of netting. She had brought it in case she needed to be gone more than a few days. The netting was used for fishing along the river, but now she would fish for … bigger prey. “Sorry Kaede,” she muttered, pulling a knife from the bag. She whipped it out of the sheath and cut at the beaded yoke that sat around the top of her dress.

She collapsed to the ground then. Preparing her bait would take time, not to mention she would have to lay it close to their camp. It was time to wait for them to go to sleep. Cutting off strands of beads, she began to tie it along her arrow. It would be her very own type of message, one she was sure the commander would get. “You are being watched.”

                                                                                                             ~ Enlightened ~

Sesshomaru awoke to a few of his soldiers shouting and giving commands. A few seconds later, the flap of his tent was thrown to the side. One of the riders had his gun out. Sesshomaru knew at that moment, he needed to wake up completely. His cursed honey eyes that caused more attention than he wanted shone as he glared at the intruder. “Speak!” he declared after the man gave him a cautious glance.

“In-Indians...” the man got out, clearly out of breath. The one word caused Sesshomaru to lurch up from his bedroll. He grabbed his Colt revolver and shoved past the man still blocking his tent entrance.

“Don’t touch anything!” His voice carried through the ranch. He could have sworn he heard it echo as everything stopped. The men stood up in fear of his wrath. They had a right. He took his job seriously, and if they had tampered with whatever was causing such chaos, Sesshomaru was sure he would kill someone.

He found his younger brother at the main canopy. He was standing where Sesshomaru assumed the main battle had taken place. “How many?” he asked, arriving at his brother’s side.

“Don’t know, but looks like they tried to shoot arrows but missed,” he explained. Sesshomaru looked past him, eyeing the ground. He snorted at his brother’s poor assumptions.

A line of arrows lined the edge of the canopy. Some were threaded with beads while the others had feathers tied to the middle. This was a talented archer, who had purposely lined these arrows up. There had been no missed target. They had spoken their message with a clarity Sesshomaru almost admired. “We are being watched. Were there any tracks?”

“Yes,” Inuyasha answered. Sesshomaru was instantly thankful as his younger brother led him around the camp. Sesshomaru opened his mouth to ask something else, but his younger brother left him to help the other men contain the cattle. It would seem their intruder had cut through the fence and released a stampede along the other side of his camp. Sesshomaru was momentarily grateful the stampede had gone through the other side so he could catch some much needed sleep.

He eyed the dirt in front of him. There were footsteps covered by the hoof prints. It would seem the intruder attempted to cover his marks by releasing the cows. Sesshomaru smirked. “It was an admirable attempt, but I have you now,” he mused, following it through the pasture. He toyed with the hammer on his Colt. These footprints were smaller than his.

Sesshomaru hadn’t realized how far he had gone until he could no longer hear the voices from the ranch. He looked up from the footprints to find he was completely surrounded by trees along the side of a mountain. He could hear the sound of a flowing river. His conscience told him it would be a good idea to go back - to get reinforcements. His golden eyes returned to the footsteps. There was only one pair - one person. Surely, he could handle a person smaller than him.

His loneliness now justified, he continued on. Revolver still drawn, he paused to retrace his tracks. They had stopped at the bottom of a tree. Sesshomaru cursed, pulling his gun up to look into the branches. He had an instant to react, but he was far too slow. A loud snap resounded through the forest before his vision went black.

Meanwhile, Kagome eyed the man she had just caught with a triumphant grin. She clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and waited for her horse to approach her. The brilliant grin on her face was still there as she leaned against her horse. The man was now dangling upside down in front of her. The netting was connected to a rope that hung around a tree branch. As her horse neared, the net lowered, seeing as her horse had been the one to hoist him up there on her command. “Why, Storm, I think this is the largest animal we’ve caught...” she teased.

She pulled the leftover rope she had from within the confines of her satchel. She tied up his hands, connecting them to his belt loop. Kagome picked up the gun that lay on the ground and emptied the bullets before shoving it into her satchel.

A groan caused her to turn around and stare at her captive. One of his eyes were slowly fluttering open. Finally, his hat fell off and Kagome’s eyes widened in wonder as moonlight spilled from the hat’s confines. How the hell did a man with such a hard tone have such soft hair? WIthout thinking, she reached out and brushed her fingers through the strands.

“You will cut me down, woman, or I will make your death slow and agonizing. Whatever afterlife you believe in will be useless, as I will condemn you to death without one,” he slurred. His speech was slightly jumbled. Kagome understood most of the words, happy her English through Miroku’s teachings was actually useful.

“You are not making me want to cut you loose with those threats,” Kagome returned as she continued to get her horse ready for travel with a captive. For a moment, she wondered if she could simply drag him along the ground. It wouldn’t be a good idea - that would leave tracks.

His mouth closed then, as if he were replanning his negotiations. Good, the silence would allow Kagome to think. What she needed was a saddle of some kind, all she had now was soft blanket with a leather cinch on the side. “Something tells me you will try to escape the moment you form a plan,” she mused to herself. When he scoffed, she knew she was right.

Just then, her horse seemed to have a different plan. A squirrel ran along the forest floor, startling the leaves around her horse’s hind hooves. He spooked, rearing up and causing the rope to lurch back. Kagome winced when the leader’s head slammed along the tree.

“Storm, we were not to kill him!” she whispered harshly, running towards the map and cupping the bleeding head wound. “We can’t bargain with a dead body,” she growled as Storm came forward until the man now lay on the ground. Kagome sliced through the netting. She groaned as she hoisted the man up onto her horse’s back. She set his hat atop her head. Using a fallen tree, she jumped on her mount behind him.

She tried to adjust his body, lifting him up so she could put her arms around his chest. His head fell onto her shoulder. She reached for the man’s decorative collar and ripped it from the shirt, stuffing it into his mouth. That would keep him from biting her if he were to wake up, which she doubted considering the headwound.

“Storm, let’s get there fast. We now have an injured man on our hands,” she whispered. Her horse seemed to understand. At a gallop, her horse was faster than any other horse of their tribe. They weaved through the trees, sometimes doubling back to get rid of their tracks. Kagome’s plan may have not gone as smoothly as possible, but it was still in progress. As she saw the first marker of her village, she took a deep breath and prepared to meet Kaede.



Okay, so that's the first chapter. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. :D My Beta, Lilli, decided to keep score in this story. I have agreed because there are many battles between Kagome and Sesshomaru because of their … differences. So, in conclusion:

First Round
Kagome: 1
Sesshomaru: 0
 

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