The soft hues of the early morning sunlight grew across the shadowed landscape, revealing gentle hills and deep forests with its illuminating touch. Relieved of its nightly bonds, an open field along the edge of a thick wood relished the radiance with the myriad of greens and silvers that colored its dew-laden grass. The flawless sea of jade seemed to flood the soil with its rippled blades, breaking on the earthen shore of a ring of well-tended farmlands that entertained a quaint village at its center. Stark and pale, the ribbon of a dirt road cut across the countryside as well, slipping between the worked fields until it met the tattered town and then trailed off across the distant hillsides in search of a place more worthy to end.
A lone farm sat further from the village than the others. Smaller in comparison, its flourishing fields of vegetables and herbs left it not wanting for more. Crowned with a thatched roof, an old cottage sat amid the rows of recently matured radishes and cabbages. Made of ancient and splintered timbers, it shortly interrupted the joyous songs of twittering birds as the gray wood of its weathered door scraped open along the warped groove of its track. A thin, sun-darkened man appeared in the doorway, breathing in deep the cool and crisp morning air. He sighed contentedly with a satisfied grin growing on his lips. There was a fortuitous feel to the lightening dawn that he could not quite name, but he knew that somehow it meant that it would be a good day.
A hoe in one hand and a scythe in the other; the farmer gingerly strolled out onto his land, minding the leafy plants at his sandaled feet with care. His watchful eyes scanned the mounded earth, searching for the occasional, odd sprout that he had not sown. When such was found, he delivered a deft strike from the short, metal blade of his hoe, ensuring the daring weed’s intrusion was brief. And so the man worked until he met the border of grass that edged his field.
Wiping the thin film of sweat from his forehead with a bit of soiled cloth, he looked on the open pasture before him and imagined it cultivated with his crops of swollen vegetables. He imagined himself bent over to pluck them from their twisting stems and then he imagined his doting wife carrying the bushels of their harvest to market with their rosy-cheeked son her back. And finally, he sighed.
Right now in his time-worn home, there was no devoted wife cooking his breakfast while he tended his plants. There was no boy toddling about with a stick in hand to honor the hard labor of his father by mimicking the fashion of his work. The farmer was as lonely as the modest hovel he lived in. Unwed women were scarce in the isolated town nearby and no established family there was interested in marrying off such a rare commodity to a nameless man with such little land.
With that thought, he let the hoe fall from his hand and it found the bare dirt with a soft thump. Then he gripped the scythe firmly and swung it low into the wild tangle of tall grass. Severed, the cut grass fell into a limp pile and he moved a step to continue on with another sweep of the sharpened metal. The green flesh of the fallen dyeing his feet and pants as he moved, the man slowly expanded his farm while he shrunk the untamed land beyond it. Distracted by the steady rhythm of his work, he nearly missed the small entourage breaking through the last of the dark forest and carrying with them, his hope for the future.
The bold and unusual shades of yellow and orange were what unexpectedly caught his eye, startling him from his work. He set the head of the scythe down on the loose soil and leaned on the end of the handle while he peered over the pasture and at his distraction. Meeting his view was a young girl with long, feathered, brown hair and clothed in the warm colors he had noticed. Running about giddily through the grass, her pleasant cheers at the newly-found, open sky brought a smile to the farmer’s face where a moment earlier a steady frown had found comfort.
The carefree girl was not alone in her discovery of the field as a strangely crafted staff with two carved heads bobbed out after her. Doggedly chasing her through the thickly grown grass, it squawked and sputtered as it went. The words it uttered were too muffled for the man to catch, but the condescending and frustrated tone was quite clear. Finally it paused in its quest of remonstration, exhausted from the pursuit of the tireless quarry and now leaned heavily to the side as it rested.
Taboos like magic and the supernatural had always intrigued the farmer and when others would have fled or hidden, he watched on with uninhibited fascination. It was in keeping with his nature though. When he was younger, he had aspired to become a monk or a taijiya for the simple opportunity to travel and embrace the more mystical elements of the world that captivated him so. A twinge of regret needled his chest when he absently thought on his unfulfilled childhood dream. Groomed to inherit the land, his parents died leaving no other heirs. Thus his fate was anchored to the meager farm and its tending while his pining heart settled for the likely satisfaction that a wife and family would bring.
The diversion of his lament was short-lived as a white, black and red figure emerged from the wood next. Statuesque and elegant, it seemed to glide as it strolled into the waist-high grass. The young girl veered away from her jubilant frolicking at its arrival, stopping abruptly before the tall being haloed in long, silver hair. Then a trail of eager enthusiasm flowed from her as she chattered on about nothing in particular, her excited voice revealing no trepidation regarding the unusual person she entertained. The golden-eyed figure looked on patiently, neither disinterested nor enraptured by what was told. At last and with a sweet laugh, she finished and bounded away to discover the waiting secrets of the unexplored field.
The scythe fell to the ground with a dull clatter as the farmer stood tall. Before him was what he secretly hoped for, the promise of a dutiful wife and the fulfillment only a family could provide. True, he knew that others would chastise him for his choice, but the man swiftly realized in that moment that he could care less. A beautiful bride had been delivered to him. There was no doubt now. It was indeed a fortuitous morning and he would not allow the gift the gods had felt so fit to reward him with go to waste.
Sesshoumaru waded through the wet grass, its slivered leaves dampening the thick silk of his pants as he stepped. Paying no mind to the soaking dew, his amber eyes lingered watchfully on the bouncing, brunette head of his ward playing happily in the unfamiliar field they had emerged in. It was unlike him to appear in places where he did not expect to be. And while the tai youkai would deny ever accomplishing anything as degrading as losing his direction, he would begrudgingly admit that there were occasions when he unintentionally discovered someplace new.
There was an element of ill-omen that hung in the innocuous air around him, furrowing his normally unwrinkled brow with its foreboding feeling. In his thoughts, he debated the odd sensation. An unexpected detour from his usual course across his lands did not foretell a ruinous day and despite that, how would such a prediction be sensible to begin with? Then with the casual wave of his clawed hand, he dismissed the apprehension, doubting the uncharacteristically superstitious thoughts that meandered through his practical mind. However, they stubbornly remained despite his efforts if only to furrow his brow more. Now further perplexed by the persistent feeling that sensibility would not ease, it was a mottled gray fluttering out of the corner of the demon’s eye that caught his attention next, effectively dispelling his contemplations into the chilled air.
“Jaken,” he called quietly to the still skewed staff a few steps away. The stick perked up hastily at the sound of its name, spinning to face the youkai lord and awaited the command he likely held. “Fetch Rin.”
“Ye-Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama,” it answered with a sharp and rough voice before turning to pursue its elusive charge climbing over the speckled, granite boulders that appeared like islands amid the sea of green. Zigzagging through the grass as it yelled, the oblong heads swayed awkwardly from side to side as the staff traveled toward the oblivious girl. “Rin! Rin!!”
“Hn,” the tai youkai snorted at the typically ridiculous scene and then shifted his interest to the intruding figure that cautiously approached from the nearby, human farm that lay across the pasture. Warily, his vision followed the erratic movements of the man who seemed to be in search of something hidden among the thick grasses and shrubs that spotted the land.
Finding what he sought, the human disappeared to bend down in the field. The inu youkai relaxed a moment at the sight, harboring the doubtful belief that the man before him was simply unaware of the youkai in his midst and would return to his farm once he recovered what he was looking for.
The farmer swiftly proved that he was not ignorant of who he meant to encounter as he stood up and deliberately stepped towards the demon lord once more. Surer of his intent, Sesshoumaru stiffened to address the foolish man who drew nearer with every unbidden stride. Then the human suddenly weaved away, stooping into the field as he had done before. Rising once again, the man grinned contentedly at his find and continued to scan the area while he absently resumed his walk towards his uncertain fate.
The tai youkai remained motionless as the farmer dipped down repeatedly while he traveled, the reason behind his actions growing more and more unclear with every passing crouch. Puzzlement knitting one of his thin eyebrows, the demon pondered the strange man. His obvious approach did not lend itself to stealth and with no weapons that he could spy; there was little suggestion of aggression. The random kneeling appeared similar to foraging, but the farmer had entered the field without an article to carry his finds. Also, there was a slight scent of anxiety permeating the air, but that did not mean that the human intended violence. After all, all humans were anxious in his presence and they were wise to be. All of them, except for Rin. The youkai lord snorted and silently waited for his baffling guest to reveal his purpose, if there was one.
“Sesshoumaru-sama!” Rin called out cheerfully to the lord with the determined staff herding her while it grumbled about her unfailing obstinacy under its breath. “Who’s that Sesshoumaru-sama?”
“We will see,” he replied coolly and then sent a glance that would brook no argument, “and you shall mind my commands without pause while he is here.”
“I will!” she agreed exuberantly.
Through the final waves of grass, the farmer closed in on the mismatched group and bowed deeply. As he rose, he caught each one’s expression as his sight passed over their faces. There were the wooden looks of the dual-headed staff, the impassive air of the flawless youkai and the beaming grin of the young girl. Taming his own smile, the man returned his attention to the demon’s face and gasped a laugh in his nervousness.
“I have a proposition for you,” he announced shakily, his nerves getting the better of his voice. “I know you probably have heard this dozens of times by now, but I hope you will heed what I have to say.”
Gliding through the grass, the staff wheeled between them and confronted the anxious man. The farmer blinked his confusion as the serene and unmoving expression of the carved, old man on its tip began to contrarily berate him on his manners. “Human, you are far too lowly to demand anything from anyone. You will tell me your request and I will decide whether or not it is worthy to relay.”
“If that’s what is necessary, great and honorable staff.”
“I-I’m sorry,” he quickly apologized, “My name is Jin. May I know yours before we begin negotiations?”
“I am Jaken. Now tell us and by that I mean myself, about your intentions here.”
“Well, I am, but a poor farmer on the edge of the outlying town beyond. I have a modest bit of land of which I am expanding and the crops that I tend flourish well at my hand.”
“And you wish for us to remove your competitors so that you may take their lands?” Jaken replied sagely.
“No, no,” the man denied adamantly, shaking his head at the thought. “I would never want to harm my fellow villagers. Well, sometimes I’d like to do something to their animals when they let them wander into my fields…”
“Then you wish for us to purge them of their livestock?”
“No, I just want to tell you of my status, so that you will accept my offer.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Jaken-sama, please let him explain,” Rin chimed in, eliciting a grumbling fluster from beneath the grass and at the base of the staff.
“He should just tell us what he wants.”
“Jaken-sama,” she reprimanded again and added the shaking of her little, forefinger. With his begrudging silence, she gave the man a reassuring grin and a nod. “Go ahead, Farmer-san.”
“Well, I-I want to propose a marriage.”
“Marriage?!” the staff squawked loudly in disbelief, his resentful quiet ending with the sound of the unexpected word.
“If I work hard, I can provide all the amenities that you are used to. You can have no doubt of that and whatever modest dowry you can afford will be fine.”
“I know what you are going to say, but it’s just that I’ve never met such a beautiful young lady in all my life. It’s true that we may not be accepted by others for the joining, but you can be assured that I will never allow them to harm my bride or our future children.”
“Hmm,” Jaken considered aloud. “No, she is still too young for such a pressing betrothal. Perhaps it will be acceptable in a few years when she has matured a bit.”
“You are referring to Rin, are you not?”
“Who’s Rin? Is that her name?”
“I’m Rin!” the young girl proclaimed enthusiastically.
“No, no,” the man insisted with a chuckle, reaching into his tattered sleeve and retrieving a bouquet of wild flowers he had gathered on his way to meet them. Stepping past the now thoroughly confused staff, he held the arrangement out to the youkai before him, his dark eyes never leaving the flawlessly stunning face they found there. Sesshoumaru still mystified by the farmer’s intentions and the strangeness of the entire encounter, accepted the benign bouquet for lack of a more apparent option. No one had ever given him flowers before, except for the occasional daisy Rin felt the need to leave in his hair. “My fair lady,” he went on, his sight never wavering. “I would be honored to accept you as my wife.”
“Wha-what?!!” Jaken sputtered, almost wordless from the shock.
“You are as lovely as a goddess and more beautiful than any hime I have ever seen,” he continued, believing the incredulity of the staff as a guide for more convincing on his part. “But beyond that, I have also seen from afar how mindful you are of your daughter and I know that you will be a devoted woman who will dutifully raise my children and to have that is all that I hope for. If that does not persuade you, know that I will accept your Rin as one of my own and eventually with my determination, the village itself will accept you as well, youkai or not.”
“You idiot human,” Jaken yelled, finding his voice among the rubble of the revelation. “That is Sesshoumaru-sama. He is a man!”
“Se-Sesshoumaru-sama?” the farmer fumbled through his words as a hot wave of panic drained the color from his face. “A-A man?”
“Yes, you moron. You spent so much time looking at his face that you never looked below his chin.”
With reluctance and fear, the man let his eyes fall. If the heavy armor and swords at his hip did not convince him, the youkai lord’s lack of ideal anatomy did. “I’m sorry,” he apologized hastily with a low bow as he hurriedly stepped back a few paces. “My eyesight has been troubling me of late. I should visit with the local miko and have her examine them. Regardless, I really must go now. My fields won’t cultivate themselves. It truly has been an honor meeting all of you. Have a good day.”
A whimper escaping his lips, the farmer sprinted away through the field, disappearing from sight occasionally as he tripped in his haplessly invited fright. Each time, he gathered himself up and eventually all that remained of his presence was the dark trail of trampled grass he had left behind.
Sesshoumaru stood motionless, staring at the bundle of flowers in his hand. The expected contemplation of rending the pitiful human for his transgression had for whatever reason remained absent from his mind. He had punished many for less of an insult, but the novelty of this indiscretion had stayed his hand out of sheer un-believability. Nevertheless, to chase the ignorant human now seemed a pointless effort, because it would also mean that he believed the foolish mistake had an element of truth. This Sesshoumaru was not effeminate.
“Sesshoumaru-sama,” the sweet voice of his ward beckoned.
“Can I have those, please?” she asked, pointing to the bouquet he still held in his hand.
“Hn,” he snorted and with a shrug, he offered the little girl the flowers she desired. A squeal of glee erupted from her as she took them and away she skipped with them in hand.
“Wait. Did he think I was just a staff?!” Jaken blurted out from deep within the concealing grass.
Before he could offer a condescending reply, a familiar and equally offensive scent reached Sesshoumaru’s nose on the suddenly shifting breeze. A scowl now gracing his face, the tai youkai knew that the person who exuded this disgusting odor was not only near, but had been so for sometime. Unfortunately for him, the change in the winds had come too late.
“I didn’t know I had a sister,” the rough, derisive voice of the hanyou remarked with mock realization. “Lady Sesshoumaru has a nice ring to it, don’cha think?”
He knew it now. It would indeed be a bad day.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi and other associated companies.
Chapter End Notes:
A/N: I needed a break from 7FFT and thought something light and funny would be in order. This one has been rattling around in the back of my mind for sometime, so I hope you all enjoy.