The walk back to the demon camp was a long and awkward one. Kagome couldn't muster up the courage to speak but Kimiko seemed indifferent nonetheless. The small demoness silently walked beside the miko, even though Kagome was sure that her pace, even while trying to be extra frisk in her step, must have felt like slouching to a full-fledged demon. They retained a courteous distance between each other and Kagome kept praying in her mind that Kimiko was not in a chattery mood. It would be just too much for her to handle. What could she possible even say to defend her actions? How she had but fifteen minutes ago begged her father-in-law to… Kagome felt hotness creep up her cheeks. Yup. She couldn't even finish that thought.
While Kagome was really hard trying not to die out of mortification Kimiko could still smell her future lover on the skin of this human woman. It did not much bother her. After all, she didn't have any romantic notions about Toga. The nature of their upcoming union was simply a matter of convenience to their clans. Nothing else. She had no other expectations or allusions otherwise. But to cavort with a human. That was quite… unexpected. Kimiko peered at Kagome behind her half-lidded eyes. What was so fascinating about them? They didn't even taste all that good.
"You sent for me." Toga entered a make-shift tent and kneeled before another dog demon. "Inu no Taisho" He added with a firm respect in his tone.
The elder demon lord being adressed was an impressive sight. He remained ever-impressive even in the eyes of his son that had known him for centuries. The Inu no Taisho wore an all-white pristine kimono with an equally immaculate shawl draping his armored shoulders. His armor was black and gave an aesthetic contrast to his white attire. He easily stood two heads' measure above his son – though now the demon lord was seated on a wooden stool at the back of the tent. His eyes were that same warm amber as his son's but deep creases in his skin gave away the fact that he was, indeed, very old. When he spoke, his voice quivered the very air with its deep bass.
"The time has come for our clans to reunite." Inu no Taisho declared without any greetings to his son. "I shall be waiting your return to the castle by the end of this moon cycle."
Toga stood up and waited for his father to continue.
Inu no Taisho's sharp gaze pierced through his son. He measured the younger demon with his eyes and sighed heavily before continuing.
"Word is that you have taken a…human consoler."
"Yes, Taisho-sama." Toga replied and clenched his jaws. He knew to expect some sort of reprimands.
"You know where I stand with my opinion of them."
Inu no Taisho leaned slightly back on his seat and kept his unflinching eyes on his son.
"With times as they are, I find it better that you relinquish your ownership of her."
The older demon sensed his son was about to argue and raised his voice slightly. The whole tent nearly trembled under the pressure of his bass notes.
"The decision has already been made. The human will fall under the service of the clan of Sesshoumaru. My command is effective immediately. "
Toga wanted to protest, but he knew that he would gain nothing that way. His father laid the law in all these lands. If nothing else, talking back at his father would earn Toga, and possibly Kagome, just further punishments.
"Let us not argue over this, Toga." Inu no Taisho looked at his son, his eyes softening woefully. "One son as a disappointment is plenty enough."
Toga knew the best course of action was to keep his mouth, but that didn't keep his fists from shaking with anger.
When Kimiko and Kagome finally arrived back to the base camp, most of the area was already deserted.
"Where is everyone?" Kagome asked and tried to look for any signs of Toga. But the hut Kagome had spent her time living was not in its place anymore. All that was left on the barren ground were the remains of hay she had slept in.
"My kinsmen have returned to the Inu Castle Fort." Kimiko answered nonchalantly while inspecting her claws. "They won't be returning." She added before Kagome got to ask.
"W- Wait, what? What does that mean?" Kagome was growing nervous. She knew what it meant. How could, how dare he just up and leave. He also abandoned her to the devices of this scary little demoness.
"It means that he won't be returning. You are free to go." It was true that Kimiko had been given the option to have Kagome as her personal wench. But she didn't really have any need for new servants. There could be other uses for human women but Kimiko was not interested in any further affiliation. The young demoness also had adopted a practice to never kill without the intent to either defend herself or eat. So, she saw best to just let the human go.
Kimiko hummed gently against the soft breeze.
Kagome frowned. "Where am I supposed to go?"
"That is not one of my concerns. There are plenty of human population centers. Seek their company and aid." The young demoness waved her hand as if brushing Kagome's question off.
"But… But…" Kagome tried to search for the words that would buy Kimiko's sympathy. But there were none. The miko knew she had nothing to bargain with. Kagome would literally be thrown to the wolves. Where Toga could be persuaded with food and flattery, Kimiko was far too intelligent and indifferent to flattery to let her ego hinder her decision-making. Talk was cheap, even cheaper in this era where the rights to live were a privilege bestowed only on the strongest. Everyone else had to fight for scraps. Kagome had nothing to offer for her patronage, save for her bow and some dead rabbits. But judging by Kimiko's outfit which was the nicest craftsmanship Kagome had come across this era, the demoness was well off. She would have no need for anything little Kagome was able to offer.
Kagome didn't bother finishing her sentence. She bitterly clenched her jaw. Whatever was to come, she would face it. Alone. She would not go hungry, thanks to her equipment and hunting skills, but a shelter was a more pressing matter since the demons had not left anything behind that would keep the cold from sinking its teeth into her bones during the nights. She couldn't ask for Kimiko's help, she knew better.
The miko could not believe that after everything, it was so easy for Toga to just abandon her. She had seriously misread his character. Was he relived to leave? Had he happily skipped to that castle fort with his demon friends – not glancing back? Was Toga just as heartless as his pillaging kin? He might have found raping and killing a distasteful sport but it wasn't exactly chivalrous to leave a woman to freeze to death either.
Kimiko observed with odd fascination the emotions that ran across the human woman's face. Like an infant, incapable of hiding the inner turmoil, she was. Like any other human, but still… So, peculiarly different.
"Thank you for brining me this far." Kagome said with a flat tone. Her voice revealed her defeat, but she asked for no mercy.
The demoness hadn't moved from her stance but she couldn't help but to feel a little admiration for the miko. Kimiko had been following Kagome's every move ever since she joined Toga's company weeks prior. Not for any particular reason at first, but to ease her insufferable boredom. It had been amusing to shadow the human's every move without that bonehead Toga ever catching a drift of her presence lest she allowed him to. The more she had tailed them, the more she understood why Toga had given the human such attention.
The priestess was clumsy. Could hardly survive the night in these parts of the land where all beasts wreaked terror. But she was also terrifyingly strong, evident not only by her holy powers, powers Kimiko knew the human hardly even understood the strength of, but her mental capabilities. Kagome had faced terror, despair and danger beyond what she was able to defend herself from, but she hadn't flinched. She didn't covert, run or cry. Plenty of times it was her foolhardiness that had made her stand up against Toga and other demons that questioned her rights to stand tall next to them, but in that stupid bravado there was also genuine courage.
Kimiko knew plenty of demons had, in addition to countless of humans, soiled themselves in situations Kagome would only get mad at and fight back. Even now, where anyone else would have pleaded for help, Kagome simply accepted her circumstances and decided to survive. Survive the nights alone.
Well, the young demoness smiled wickedly, if the poor miko only knew that some cursed bugs and roaming cat demons were the least of scary things that the night cloaked from the view, maybe she wouldn't have acted so brave to be left behind.
Foolhardy, clumsy and wearing her heart on her sleeve. That was the young priestess with powers that easily matched Kimiko's, if only Kagome knew how to use them. Not begging for pity, facing the storm with her head held high. Oh, what a stir it would cause to bring a human back to their fort, Kimiko's smile widened.
The wind picked up as the clouds huddled closer together in the murky sky above. Kagome felt the chill tickling the small hair on her arms. Maybe she could dig a hole in the ground to spend the nights in. If she stood on guard during the nights, maybe, just maybe she could survive if she slept during the day and whatever time there was in between, she would make way to the human town Toga had brought her earlier. She wasn't exactly sure where it was, but if she kept her heading to a straight line, she'd come across it in a week's time. She wasn't very convincing, but she could not give up. She could not lay still, cry and wait to be eaten.
A low rumble erupted from the clouds and Kagome saw how the clouds shifted, a dark silhouette moved within the gray, fluffy mass. Something green broke through and slithered downwards. It looked like some sort of lizard, like a snake with legs. But as it descended closer to the ground, Kagome could see it was not a snake, but a dragon. Two-headed, muted green dragon with a dark mane.
The dragon-like creature curved in the air and made a sharp dive above Kimiko. The thing landed dexterously between Kimiko and Kagome. Kagome looked at the dragon-demon, and above it hinds, Kagome saw Kimiko's eyes that were not fazed by the sudden appearance of the transportation demon.
"Whenever you are finished with worrying how you are going to live through the night, do join me." Kimiko cheerily announced and hopped on the creature.