“Inu no Taisho!” Sango cried out as she caught his large form before he fell to the floor.
She tried to revive the youkai with a shake, but his great weight was all she could hold as she looked for signs of trouble. Her eyes moved to the mark upon his wrist and she noticed the new circle’s light slowly fade into nothing, leaving another small mark.
Fortunately the spell was short and soon Sesshoumaru’s eyes flitted open. He stared at her for a short time in a perplexed state until he shot up and she found him standing the distance of the room. His expression was a mix of utter disgust and a failed attempt at stoicism.
“It appears we have a similar problem” Sango commented, and she took his silence as agreement. “Perhaps...perhaps we should work together to rid our families of this curse.”
“I do not need a human’s help” the youkai snarled at her suggestion.
“Your father believes differently” she shot back in anger, and her head became light headed. She tried to rein in her emotions with a deep breath. “He spoke, through you, of a promise unfulfilled” she explained as she turned the conversation to the more pressing matter.
Sesshoumaru’s expression eased somewhat and he allowed himself to look mildly interested at her information. The tajiki took his actions as a positive sign.
“My father was...foolish, in matters concerning humans” the lord briskly commented. “He would indeed approve of working with your kind, even with their weaknesses.”
“We have more strength than you give us credit” Sango countered with a frown, though a curious expression crept into her face. “What weakness did you show to allow your father use of your body?” she inquired.
The sting hit its mark as the youkai lord himself scowled at her question. She was surprised when he deigned to answer.
“I ventured out of your village’s walls and found a skull lying upon the ground” he lightly informed. “I felt myself drawn to the object and reached out to touch the item.”
“A skull...” Sango murmured as the item recalled some vague memory. Then she remembered her own previous experience with the forgotten skull. “I, too, touched the skull” she informed as she looked down at her wrist. “It gave me this mark, the same as yours.” The young woman turned her gaze to her companion. “How did you come by your mark?” she inquired.
Sesshoumaru ignored her question, apparently shamed enough with his confession of weakness to the attraction of the skull. He instead began slowly pacing the room, though this time Sango felt now sense of the stalking she had known before when his body had been commandeered by Inu no Taisho.
“Were no records kept by your clan?” he asked as his eyes wandered around the wretched abode.
“There were some” the tajiki admitted as she nodded toward her father’s study. “And I did find some articles related to the...incident, but nothing of use.”
“I will judge for myself” he haughtily replied as he turned toward the suggested room.
“Do what you want” Sango countered with less energy than previous snipes. Her strength felt as if it were slipping from her body. “They are underneath the floor boards in one of the corners” she instructed.
Sesshoumaru promptly left her presence without another comment in the direction of the study and Sango was left to muse in her own thoughts. She could hear soft noises as he no doubt shuffled through the paperwork she had left on the table, but all her mind could focus on was how tired her body felt.
The tajiki, accustomed through training for fatigue and taught to recognize weakness through infirmity, could scarcely lie to herself about her condition. She knew her illness was growing worse, no doubt exasperated by the marks on her hand.
Sango raised her cursed wrist and peered at the symbols to concentrate her focus. They appeared dimin the lack of light, but she could clearly make out the three circles standing out amidst the animal symbol. With but two rings on Sesshoumaru’s wrist, she knew her own curse to be further along toward what end she knew not.
A sudden chill swept over Sango’s body as her shaking hand flexed and dropped her hiraikotsu. The clattering was loud amidst the silence of the room, but she hardly cared as she wrapped her arms around herself. In the damn darkness of the decrepit home she found her fever growing worse with every hour which ticked by.
Sango could hardly control the shaking as Sesshoumaru returned from his search. She knew he could not help but see the deteriorating condition she was in, though she doubted whether he would remain long enough to care what state her health became.
The tajiki’s eyes trailed along his newly restored arm as she glimpsed the aged paperwork of her ancestor’s tale in his hand. She knew he had questions which the parchment had not answered, but she had little faith she held the answers.
“What instructions were you given to break this curse?” he cooly demanded as he stood over her pathetic figure.
Sango blandly looked at him through fevered eyes as the weather outside worsened. Rain soaked the walls and inched toward her along the floor as she sat motionless and with her weapon lying uselessly to the side. She felt less inclined to share with him any sparse information she held, and at the rate of the illness she would be in no condition to care for herself soon, much less reply to his hostile questioning.
With sickness falling heavy upon her, the desolation of her childhood home surrounding her, and the discomfort of a hostile companion, Sango pondered whether she would soon collapse from the sheer weight of the circumstances.
The tajiki felt the pain before she saw the light blaze from her wrist.
The world, though illuminated by the fierce glow of her symbols, blurred and everything darkened around her until she could see no more. She still vaguely held the sense of pain from afar, but what dominated her senses was the presence of something entirely different invading her body and thoughts.
Sango pushed back against the onslaught of the intruding entity, but her meager efforts were repulse and she felt her consciousness shoved back into her mind.
Then she heard herself speak.
“Do not pretend to have power over me, demon” her voice spat at in a tone filled with indignation and anger. She felt her body rise up in a seated position, her back straight and proud with her chin lifted up. “You have no lordship to command me to reply to your questions.”
The action of speaking without commanding the words terrified her as she struggled to fight against the other. The opposing side, however, appeared not to feel the weight of her illness nor the stinging pain of her wrist as it quietly brushed aside each effort.
The other had won.
“There are indeed false covers being played here, but not by this Sesshoumaru” the taiyoukai countered as he wearily watched this new creature.
The sting hit its mark.
“What insult do you mean to make?” the imposter replied as her fingers clenched. When he deigned not to answer her anger erupted. “What impudence!” she vehemently shouted to the empty world around them.
“No servants will answer your indignation” Sesshoumaru bluntly replied with an indifference expression on his face.
“It is not for a servant that I call, oh Lord of the Western Lands” she replied as a cocked smile slowly appeared on her lips.
Sango, feeling the smug attitude and the ease of her possessor, took advantage of the situation.
The young woman suddenly clutched at her throat as two souls again fought for control. One hindered by ill weakness of the living and another by the unfocused attitude of the dead. The body was wracked with spasms as the taiyoukai watched on with a mix of curiosity and revulsion.
He was curious who would win.
Sesshoumaru was startled when the eyes lifted to see into his own, and he found two reflections of himself in their depths. Two personas with different motives, two souls in a single body with each reflected in one eye.
He was grateful when her gaze broke from his as she turned her head down to choke out bile. The liquid which emerged was tinted with a red stain.
After a long moment, a point where the body appeared to be straining the entirety of its muscles to the breaking point, the woman finally collapsed to the floor. She lay still for several seconds, unmoving and still as the grave.
For a moment Sesshoumaru contemplated whether the wretched woman had not entered that state, but her fingers twitched, disproving his theory. He watched unhelpful as she struggled to remove herself from the mess of her own making which lay on the floor. She coughed, a dry, scratching sound, as her trembling arms barely lifted her frame from the grotesque muck.
“No more questions” Sango quietly demanded as a wave of fever shook her body. “No more games. No more...”
The words trailed off as she spilled over onto her side, her chest heaving to achieve enough air to encourage her lungs to move. Sesshoumaru, somewhat startled by her sudden fit of unconsciousness, felt an emerging emotion very seldom felt.
“Useless” he spoke to himself as he stooped down to pick up the small frame of a woman.
Even he couldn’t tell himself whether the word was directed at the emotion or another target, but he didn’t trouble himself as he moved her trembling body to the few cushions which were not rotten. The taiyoukai removed his outer clothing and settled itself upon her cold shoulders.
Her forward felt warm as his hand brushed across her damp hair, still soaked from their journey to this village of forgotten times. Memories, people, even purpose were now discarded, only they remained to remember what had occurred in this place.
And the silent witnesses you stood watch at their burial.
Sesshoumaru looked out the window, battered and without cover as rain did its best to pour into the crumbling building. He could not see the gate which led to the graves of those restless souls, but he could sense them watching. They were waiting for their freedom, and he pondered whether the release would come at the price of their sanity.
Or their deaths.
His thoughts were distracted by the woman who groaned beneath where he stood. Something would have to be done to remedy her ailment, or she would be of no use to him in this already trying situation.
He would need to consult a physician versed in human remedies, as his knowledge of medicine was strictly limited to youkai remedies. The absence would be brief, and he could only make small comforts for her body until his return.
Sesshoumaru stepped up to the room’s exit, and for a moment he pondered turning to glimpse the female one last time.
The idea was brushed aside as the urgency of the situation demanded swift action, and without a sound he vanished from the building out into the storm.
To face the perils of nature’s wrath to save the life of a human.