The Journey to the City of Endless Night

BY : FarAwayEyes
Category: InuYasha > Het - Male/Female > InuYasha/Kagome
Dragon prints: 49079
Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha, nor make money from this story.

Check out my livejournal for more information on updates and review responses. It can be found here:

Disclaimer: I do not own either Inuyasha or the Belgariad/Malloreon series. Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi/VIZ and the Belgariad/Malloreon belongs to David Eddings/DEL Rey. There is absolutely no profit being made from this story. It merely fulfills a curiosity of mine---and a desire to keep some really old friends around for as long as possible. Please do not sue.

Chapter Eighty-Four

“Thou hast not the strength to stand against me, Buddhist monk Miroku. I will claim thy soul from the inside and use thy body as a gateway to Hell's dominion over this world.”

The harsh whisper curled in Miroku's mind. It chilled his blood and ignited great fear. Shortly after sundown, the lurking demon had awakened, taunting him. Miroku knew it wanted to possess him---he could feel it trying to use his body to commit atrocities he dared not contemplate. The new moon must have given this hells-spawn power in darkness---ironic knowing that Inuyasha, a half-demon, would be rendered powerless on this night. If he had had the strength, Miroku might have laughed. 

He mused that this is exactly how Inuyasha must feel when he transformed. Vast rage, hatred, and malice surged inside him, swirling and burning. They were Miroku's feelings---and yet they weren't his at all. The demon fed on that side of him, trying to provoke him---to find that single vulnerability that would allow it to take control. It probed and prodded, attempting to find something, anything, it could use to anger him and force him into a direct contest of wills. 

When he had decided that he must use the Wind Tunnel on the demon, Miroku had accepted that it may kill him. Death did not frighten him. The monk had been preparing for it since inheriting the curse in his hand. His action allowed Silk to reunite with his wife---it made certain a family remained intact. If he was going to die, then so be it. Miroku would embrace death with no regrets. 

But this? To become something evil, to allow this demon to twist him into something wicked, to let it possess him, Miroku could not permit it. He would do whatever necessary to prevent that. This demon would not claim his soul or his body and corrupt him. It would not use him as a conduit to perpetrate evil on this world. Even if it killed him, Miroku would fight this to the very end. 

As it was, Miroku put all his energy into ignoring the demon. It could only win if he gave into its taunts. This inner battle would take all of his spiritual power and concentration. It would take all of his training---in meditation and the Buddhist teachings---to face down this opponent. 

It helped that he had incentive. Miroku had spent so much of his life resolved to his death. He had readily accepted that the Wind Tunnel meant a short life. And yet, he couldn't shake Silk's words. Had he allowed the knowledge of his curse---the seeming inevitably that it would indeed claim him into its void---prevent him from truly living? Miroku had to admit that perhaps the spy had made some good points.

After all, dying was easy. It was living that was so much harder to do. And now, Miroku knew he had something worth living for---something he wouldn't let this demon take away. 

Miroku would lock that reason away in his heart. Even naming it in the silence of his mind would give the demon ammunition. This demon might corrupt him---but he wouldn't let it corrupt this. It was too beautiful---she was too beautiful for this evil monster. 

“Thou wilt fall to me, young monk. I am inside thy mind. In time, I will know all thy secrets. I will own thy heart---and thou wilt come to relish in the power I can grant thee. Allow me to possess thee, Buddhist monk Miroku, and I will grant thee whatever thy heart desires.”

Miroku grit his teeth. He recited, his voice soft, “May the lonely be comforted. May love abound and divisions between us cease to exist. May all beings of the earth feel safe and free of fear. May we each continue on the path towards enlightenment with gladness and diligence.” 

A rough palm gently brushed hair away from his forehead. It felt cool and dry, contrasting with his sweaty skin. His inner temperature soared higher. His blood boiled. It thrummed in his ears, rushing. He saw sparks dance on his closed eyelids as blistering pain flooded his senses. 

His cursed arm throbbed. The poison radiated out from his hand, up his arm, and down into his heart. Miroku grit his teeth as his chest constricted. It felt as if a massive boulder had been dropped on top of him, its crushing weight squeezing. The demonic venom pulsated more, leeching his physical strength. 

“Feast thine eyes on this, monk. See that thou shalt be rewarded if thou shalt comply with my demands. All wealth shall come to thee. Name thy price in gold and it shalt be given,” the demon whispered.

In a haze, Miroku saw a richly decorated room. Elaborate silk screens lined the walls. Exquisite vases stood as ornaments. Lush silk pillows blanketed the floor. Strewn across their vibrant green was every precious stone. Silver platters had copious amounts of coins spilling across their surface. The wealth in this room was ripe for the plucking. All of it was out in the open, unguarded. 

It tempted Miroku---this kind of wealth attracted his eye---and yet its allure just wasn't enough to truly coax him into stealing. There was no challenge. The wealth and goods were only a method to keep score---a way to know if he'd managed a clean con well. The items themselves truly held no appeal to him. They weren't something Miroku valued the same way he did his staff. They were disposable goods---as transient as anything else in this life.

Miroku called upon his spiritual power, pushing the illusion away. It moved to the fringes of his mind, tattered and frayed. Slowly, it disintegrated. In its wake, the searing pain flooded his body anew. He gasped softly, gathering his strength. He needed his spiritual power to seep slowly. It was the only thing keeping this demon from out right controlling him. 

A muffled howl reached his ears. It sounded tinny, far away, and unreal. Another fainter one answered in the darkness. 

“Little girl, hang onto the monk tight,” a gruff voice said. “We can't outrun the Hound, but we need to get off of the road a bit. It's about to get bumpy, don't y' know?”

With a jolt, he felt the moment the wagon hit the rougher terrain. Miroku whimpered, the blow striking his lower back. It shocked through his system and his eyes flew open. In the pitch darkness, he couldn't make out much. He saw a vague outline of Sango's form hovering over him. She had her arms secured around his torso, her legs pinning his down to the wagon bed. The position allowed the demon slayer to absorb much of the rough and tumble pathway. 

“Do not think that thou canst ignore me, monk. I will not allow it,” the demon whispered again. “Let these foolish Grolims come and I shall show thee my true powers. I will bathe thee in their blood, feast upon their flesh, and enjoy butchering them using thy hands. You will understand how freeing---how incredible it is to be my puppet.”

Miroku squeezed his eyes shut, digging deeper into his spiritual reserves. He could feel the barrier inside him, but needed to ground it. He licked his lips and recited, “Though the many beings are numberless, I vow to save them. Though greed, hatred, and ignorance rise endlessly, I vow to cut them off. Though the Dharma is vast and fathomless, I vow to understand it. Though Buddha's Way is beyond attainment, I vow to embody it fully.” 

“Kheldar, lead the wagon into the trees,” Beldin's gruff voice commanded. “I'm going to teach this puppy a lesson. Keep your eyes and ears open. You and Liselle have to protect the wagon.”

The wagon lurched forward into a copse of trees, the branches scratching across its wood. Leaves rustled, brushing across Miroku's face. The wagon came to an abrupt stop, the bed shifting minutely. Sango grunted behind him, a soft curse escaping her lips. 

“Liselle, take the back of the wagon. I'll stay with the horses so they don't spook,” Silk whispered.

Velvet climbed out of the wagon stealthily. 

The dwarf sorcerer called out, “Okay, puppy dog. Come on. Let's play.”

A soft growl filled the dark night, the sound angry but wary. It said, its words garbled, “You destroyed the holy city of Mal Yaska. You will pay for this sacrilege, smelly hunchback.”

A sharp laugh filled the pitch black. “Oh, you Chandim never change. I didn't destroy anything. Ol' piebald's Demon Lord did---and if I didn't hate demons, I'd thank him for wiping that foul monstrosity off the map, but fine. Go ahead. Blame me. I'd love to have a quick and dirty fight.”

Gravel crunched and sprayed up, pelting the wagon. A scuffle ensued, soft grunts and whimpers filling the air. Hard smacks and growling met Miroku's ears. The tussle seemed one sided---almost all of the sharp cries coming from the Hound of Torak. After a startled yelp, the road fell silent.

Soft, stumpy footsteps approached and the dwarf sorcerer hopped onto the wagon, chuckling darkly.

“Well, that was quick,” Silk whispered. “Shall we keep going through the trees or back to the road?”

“Hounds be all bark and no bite, don't y' know? Shame, cause I was just starting to have fun.” The sound of scratching met the monk's ears. “I'd like to go back to the road, but clearly that's watched. We'll have to crawl through this forest. Much as I enjoy gutting Burnt Face's puppies, we just don't have time. Keep it slow, Kheldar.”

The wagon jerked forward slowly. Its movement jarred Miroku back to his sore body. Everything ached and burned. He gasped loudly, then grit his teeth. It felt as if someone pummeled him in the kidneys. His arms and legs throbbed. Even with Sango cushioning the initial movement through the thicket, its suddenness aggravated so much. He breathed shallowly, focusing on it in hopes it would ease some of the excruciating pain.

Sango brushed hair from his eyes. She whispered, “Sorry, monk. I'll try to keep you still.”

Miroku nodded tersely. He bit his lip, trying to keep the poison from pulsating through him more. His stomach roiled, the acid burning his throat. His body numbed, his extremities heavy and listless. New beads of sweat dripped down his forehead. It forced him to close his eyes, blocking the salt. He kept his focus on his breathing. 

“Give into me, monk. I can give thee respite from thy suffering if only thou wouldst submit. Let me possess thee, and thy heart's desire shall be granted,” the demon whispered, its voice seductive and cold in the vaults of Miroku's mind. 

Platters of delectable food swam in his vision. Great rice balls, fish stews, and spring rolls lay strewn as an opulent banquet. Servants catered to Miroku's every whim, and a lethargy consumed him. The pillows felt heavenly underneath him. Why would he ever leave such a pleasant spot?

Miroku fought to snap out of the tempting vision. It seemed too good to be true---another way for the demon to lull him. He did indeed enjoy the more pleasurable things in life, but much like acquiring goods, the monk enjoyed the challenge more. Could he talk fast enough into the best inn? Would he be able to con his way to the best service? The reward of success almost always outweighed the actual food and pampering. He shoved the temptation aside, sending a jolt of his spiritual power through his body to counter the demon's evil. 

The demon snarled, enraged. “The foolish priests of Torak will only continue after thee. Let me take control and thou wilt be able to eliminate their threat---let me use thy body to destroy them and relish in thy powers to do it.”

Liquid splashed into a cup. “Sango, try and get him to drink this.” 

Miroku latched onto Velvet's voice, hoping to ground himself in the present reality. He needed to push away the demon's vile visions---the temptations were designed to root out his greatest desire and open his heart to the demon's corruption. 

Cool water splashed across his lips and Miroku greedily swallowed. Its purity cleansed through him, soothing some of his pain. 

He whispered, “Thank you---both of you.” 

“Sh---don't strain yourself, monk, “Sango whispered. “Just rest.”

The wagon crawled through the trees. In the pitch darkness, the thicket buzzed with life. Birds chirped sleepily, small animals skittered, and owls hooted. Miroku tried to keep all of his attention outward, hoping it'd block the inner battle with the demon. The less he focused on his roasting body, the better.

Unfortunately, the wagon bucked, causing Miroku to cry out sharply. Pain, acute and white hot, stabbed him in the lower back. Fresh venom surged through him, and his body temperature climbed ever higher. Miroku seized, his body spasming. Blood flooded his mouth as he bit his tongue savagely. Its warm rivulets rushed down his chin, staining his neck. His body bucked against Sango's strong restraint, struggling to break free.

“Help me!” Sango's voice cried, seeming so far away. “Liselle, hold down his legs.”

Another pair of hands squeezed his ankles as his body continued to convulse. Miroku's eyes opened and they roved frantically unable to see anything in the sheer darkness. He panicked, his breathing quickening.

“Put something between his teeth. He's going to bite his tongue off,” a female voice said.

The sharp taste of leather filed his mouth as he sunk his teeth into its tough material. It allowed him to grind and focus on something other than the quaking his body endured. 

“Sorry. I can't see and we hit a branch,” Silk said softly. “Any way you can give us some light, Beldin? We have to be far enough into the trees by now.” 

A soft blue light ignited, filling the night. “There. That help, Kheldar?”

“Yes. Just enough to see in front of me.” 

Finally, Miroku's body started to settle. The leather slipped from his mouth and he took deep shaky breaths. As bruised and beaten as he felt before, he felt positively thrashed now. His body ached, and he groaned, unable to hold in the pain any longer.

“Give into me, monk. Cease suffering. I can take it all away.”

Sango whispered, “Monk, are you alright?” 

“Assailed by affliction, we discover Dharma,” Miroku began, his voice a scratchy whisper. “And find the way to liberation. Thank you, evil forces.”

The monk ignored her. He didn't want to pull Sango into this. He knew if he paid too close attention to her, his guarded secret would reveal itself to the demon pushing to take hold. He would not give in. He would focus on his prayers and hope that they could save him soon. The battle was just beginning, and Miroku vowed to outlast this evil monster.

“Thy Buddha does not answer thy prayers, monk. Thou wilt taste their blood. Thou wilt become a vicious killing monster.” It chuckled softly, the sound cold in Miroku's mind. “Thou art already a monster. Thy curse---the use of it---all prove that thou wilt never find peace. Thou wilt never be enlightened for thou art evil already. My corruption of thee is only to perfect what is already there.”

Miroku shuddered. Though he did not directly acknowledge the demon's words, he knew that there was truth in them. He did use the Wind Tunnel on other beings. He even sometimes enjoyed deploying it as a surprise---relishing in his opponent's fear. Typically, he tried not to use it unless absolutely necessary. Miroku didn't use it lightly by any means---and yet he could not lie. The Wind Tunnel gave him an extra boost of power elevating him beyond that of an ordinary Buddhist monk. Perhaps, in part, that did make him a monster. 

Flashes of dark nightmares painted themselves on Miroku's eyelids. He saw himself standing with his cursed hand outstretched. A malicious smile twisted his lips. His victims were human. As each one was pulled into the abyss, they pled for mercy. Miroku chuckled, feeling superior and powerful. None could withstand his power. All would be sucked into his hand. 

He would show all his might. 

His victims morphed into Naraku himself, the dark hanyou on his knees before him. Instead of the contempt and malice that normally marred Naraku's features, he stared up at Miroku in great fear. His Wind Tunnel pulled on his enemy, making Naraku's long, dark hair swirl. He begged for his life, and Miroku laughed wickedly. 

The monk wanted this badly---but he knew it wasn't real. Naraku would never fall to the Wind Tunnel. He had cursed Miroku's family with it. The spider hanyou relished in his victim's suffering---all while securing his own safety. That meant never ever being vulnerable to the monk's cursed hand. Miroku cast the illusion aside. 

The dwarf sorcerer cursed softly. He smacked the wagon seat. “Foolishness! Kheldar, stop the wagon. That stupid Hound was a damn decoy. There's a pocket of Grolims and Temple Guardsmen waiting to ambush ahead.”

The wagon stopped. Beldin stumped off into the darkness. Shouts and cries filled the glen. Small fires ignited. Beldin quickly turned their advantage against them. Instead of surprising their small group, they scattered in a panic before turning to engage the dwarf sorcerer in combat.

“You're in my way, Grolim filth,” Beldin said harshly. “I don't have time for your idiocy.”

“You are responsible for Mal Yaska's destruction. In Torak's name, we will make you pay, hunchback disciple of Aldur. His Holiness has warned us of your treachery.”

“Ol' Burnt Face could care less if Mal Yaska's destroyed. He's dead, you clot,” Beldin said. “And ol' piebald couldn't tell you his name right now. The Demon Lord owns his soul, now. Besides, Urvon's been having nightmares about me long before you were ever born. You want to know why?” 

Shouts rang out closer as an ambush party attacked the wagon. In the ruddy gloom, Miroku could make out Silk's acrobatic silhouette as he kicked away the Temple Guardsmen. 

“Liselle, Sango, help protect the wagon!” the spy cried.

Slowly, Sango eased him down onto the wagon bed. He stared up at the trees, left to hear the clash of battle. Underbrush crunched, steel on steel sounded, and soft sighs and agonized gurgles filled the night. The monk felt utterly helpless---and useless---as he lay immobilized. 

A flash of ruddy grey and burnished blonde arced over the wagon side. Velvet's black boots struck a breastplate with a solid crash. The Temple Guardsman grunted and fell backwards with a clang. 

“Nice back flip, Liselle,” Silk praised. 

“Thanks,” Velvet replied breathlessly. “And thanks for the well timed knife throw. You really saved my back.” 

Sango shouted, angry as she fought their attackers. She punched, kicked, and swung hiraikotsu with deadly accuracy. Miroku could hear it connect brutally with some of the men, its bone clanging off their armor. Her sword whistled, too, and she parried several men away from the wagon. 

“Kheldar! Get down!” Velvet shouted. A whistling blade knifed through the air, sinking into a target with a sickening squelch. “That was close. You okay?” 

“Nice save, Liselle.”

“I'd hate to owe you a favor,” she quipped back warmly. “Now we're even.”

The battle may have provided great distraction from his pain and the demon trying to take hold, but it also stirred other feelings within Miroku. There was an ease with how the two married spies worked together---each protecting the other. Their love---even in violent action---seemed so palpable. In many ways, it had nothing to do with sexual desire. This was beyond lust. This had to do with their obvious emotional connections---a confirmation that Silk and Velvet belonged together. In a corner of his heart, Miroku couldn't help but feel envy. 

As much as Miroku wanted to court Sango, he longed for the emotional intimacy. He yearned for the sheer knowledge that she trusted him explicitly---not only in the midst of a demon fight, but also in the matters of the heart. He wanted their relationship to have as much ease and warmth---and he saw it in Silk and Velvet's even while prostrate on his back. 

A loud bang careened into the wagon followed by a pained moan. The clang of swords meeting filed the glen. Sango cried out---this time in pain. She slammed into the wagon, the wind knocked out of her. She gasped, the sound weak. 

In that moment, fear curled in Miroku's stomach. Sango lay hurt and he couldn't help her. What if she couldn't defend herself? He heard the soft bashing as she hoisted her weapon to block attacks. It made his heart skip a single beat. Sango clearly had enough strength to lift hiraikotsu. It was so hard to sit here while she fought so hard. 

This was also the opening the demon needed. His concern for Sango opened his heart to its evil, and it laughed darkly. 

“I have thee now, monk,” the demon exalted. “Thy secret is now revealed. Thy lust for the demon slayer---thou canst not hide it from me. Thou wouldst enjoy subduing her. Thou couldst make her thy ultimate possession.”

Miroku licked his lips and closed his eyes, pushing away all thoughts of the demon slayer. If he couldn't help her fight their attackers, he could fight this demon. He whispered, “Through harm caused by spirits, we discover Dharma and find ways to liberation. Thank you, evil forces.” 

“Yes, monk. Thank the evil forces. Thank them for they are thy salvation.”

“Sango, are you alright?” Velvet's voice asked. “Here, let me help you back into the wagon. Beldin's chasing off the rest of those Grolims and we'll be on the move soon.”

The demon slayer's hand curled around the wagon's edge as she pulled herself to her feet. A fierce scowl marred her beautiful face. Dark strands tumbled loose from her pony-tail. “I'm fine. Let's get out of here.” 

In the ruddy gloom, Miroku stared at her ferocious expression. Fury boiled in her dark eyes. The monk couldn't help it. He found her enticingly beautiful. Power radiated off of her lithe frame. Sango had so much strength---and yet she was unquestionably a woman. She was unlike any other woman he had ever known---deadly and fierce. If he searched a thousand years---a thousand lifetimes---Miroku knew that he would never ever find another woman like Sango.

Even now, facing this demon, Miroku also knew that he couldn't fight his love for her. Once it was unlocked and laid bare, he knew that there was no bottling it back up. 

“Yes. Let me take control and Sango shall be thine.”

“All the evil karma ever committed by me since of old, an account of greed, anger, and folly, which have no beginnings, born of my body, mouth, and thought---I now make a full and open confession of it,” Miroku whispered. 

“It is too late, monk. I know thy secret. This woman, thy heart desires her. Thy body lusts for her. Good. I will use thee to unleash evil on this world. I will claim it finally in the name of the King of Hell.”

Horrifying images filled his vision. Any fantasy Miroku had ever had was thrown back in his face---and twisted into grotesque versions. Cruelly, he saw a nude Sango, bent over and spread lewdly. Her face was marred by pain and terror. Behind her, he saw himself, the demon's terrible effect evident on his skin. Green lines etched and pulsated on his face as he used her ruthlessly. She tried to fight him, but couldn't muster enough strength to dislodge him from her back. 

Miroku whimpered, trying to throw off the demon's visions. This was the last thing that he wanted. He did not want his love and his undoubted attraction for Sango to be corrupted this way. It was a blow that tore at his weakened defenses. 

And yet, Miroku's anger built. This demon wanted to use his pure love for Sango to commit evil. He loved her. Miroku wanted to spend the rest of his life proving it to her. He wanted to try and live as Silk had suggested he do---no longer letting the Wind Tunnel's curse stand in his way. Miroku wanted to open himself completely to the one person he truly loved more than he did himself. 

He would not let this demon free.

“Cease fighting me. I will use this wench---the one that thou loves---to breed. She will give me living half-demons that will enslave this world for Hell.” It laughed wickedly, the sound triumphant. “Thou wilt watch me mount, breed, and use her, monk. She cannot stand against me. She may even let me do it willingly while I wear thy face. I will laugh while I pollute her and enjoy thy suffering.”

“No!” Miroku said, his voice a hoarse shout. “No! I won't let you.” 

“Monk?” Sango's soft voice asked. She gently brushed hair away from his face. “It's alright. We'll be on the move again soon.”

“Thou wilt give in. Thou wilt come to enjoy it. I will keep her in chains, always bred, ready to unleash half-demons on this world. When she can no longer breed, I will bathe in her blood for my amusement.”

Miroku twisted his head back and forth, trying to fight off the demon's taunts. He couldn't let it twist him. He couldn't let it take control. He never wanted Sango to be nothing more than some broodmare. Sango was more than that. This demon tried to pervert his feelings---granted his behavior may have cracked open that door, but he would never tarnish her in that manner. Besides, he knew that his groping was harmless. It was a defense mechanism to keep her at arm's length---one he had since let go to court her properly. This demon would not change that.

“Sango,” Miroku rasped.

“Monk?” Sango lowered her head, shadows obscuring much of her face. A ruddy cast came over it, making flames dance in her eyes. “Are you alright?”

“Listen carefully, Sango,” Miroku replied. “I'm not just being poisoned by the demon I sucked up.” 

“I---I don't understand.” Sango's nose wrinkled and she gently ran her hand across his cheek. “What do you mean?” 

“The demon---,” Miroku said. He coughed, the action setting his chest on fire. He lowered his voice, not wanting Silk and Velvet to overhear. “The demon is trying to possess me. If it does, kill me. It wants to use me as a means to unleash Hell on earth. Please. I need you to promise.”

Sango's eyes flooded with tears. “Monk, I---,” 

“Thou wilt not die, monk. I will own thy body---and through it, I will take her again and again. She will be bred for Hell's purpose.”

Another sick vision flooded him. He saw Sango tied down with him brutally behind her, using her heartlessly. She cried and screamed. Miroku shuddered. This would happen if this demon won. He could only fight so long. He'd need to make sure he would indeed die before it corrupted him fully. 

“Please. I need your promise. If this demon possesses me, kill me quickly. You're the only one that can do it.” Miroku coughed, his lungs burning from talking so much. “Promise me.”

Sango bit her lip. Tears streaked down her face. She nodded. “Okay. I---I promise.” 

“Thank you.” He looked up, his eyes meeting hers. “I love you, Sango.” 

Sango gasped softly. She kissed him longingly. The demon slayer whispered into his ear, “You fight this demon. I love you, too, Miroku.” 

Miroku nodded firmly. He grit his teeth, turning his fight inwards. With her promise---and her love---he could focus on fighting back. Sango would keep her word.

Miroku whispered, “Through harm caused by spirits, we discover Dharma and find fearlessness. Thank you, ghosts and demons!”

“Alright, Kheldar, keep her to a slow trot,” Beldin said softly, settling heavily onto the seat. 

The wagon rolled forward---and for the first time that night, Miroku believed that they were heading towards his salvation. 

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