Author’s Note: For those of you reading this for the first time, welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride! For those of you returning, welcome back and sorry for the hiatus. When I first took a break, life was beyond challenging and when I picked this story back up, I wasn’t happy with the way things were going. So, welcome to the new and improved Dreaming of You! I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: The following is a fan-based parody. InuYasha & Final Act are all owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Viz Media & Madmen Entertainment.
Sunlight streamed into my room from the window high on the wall. I knew it was late in the day and I should have been up long before now, but I couldn’t bring myself to crawl out from under my warm covers. Today was the summer solstice. As he did with every solstice and equinox, Father arrived late last night. He would stay the week at the Western Shiro to test my worth as the heir to the Western Lands.
Father was the Great Inu no Taishou of the West. His position kept him roaming the Lands and protecting the citizens of the West from both youkai and human alike. Father was the most powerful youkai in all of Japan. They needed his strength in places other than the Western Shiro. Yet, he came to each solstice and equinox to test what I learned during his time away.
The Western Court expected much from me. I was the product of their greatest warrior and most cunning ruler. I should want nothing more than to train and study; growing stronger and wiser with each passing season. Yet, all I wanted to do was spend time with Father and act like a normal child. It was shameful. If the Western Court ever learned of this wish, they would run to Mother in a tizzy, demanding her to stifle such a want before it became a weakness that our enemies could exploit.
I stared at my window, watching as a small ant entered my domain. What would it feel like to be free of the obligations of my birthright; even for just one day? To go wherever I pleased, do whatever I felt like doing without repercussions? I sighed, wishing I could hide away for the day. For the first time in my memory, I wanted to avoid Father. I had no improvements to show during our exhibition. The Western Court already knew, and the thought of letting down Father destroyed any urge to prove them wrong.
“I’m worried about Sesshoumaru.” Mother’s voice filtered through the walls. I froze, straining my ears to listen. “He has seen nearly ten winters and has yet to gain control over his poison.” She had to be speaking with Father, warning him of how I was the Western’s folly, not their salvation.
I doubted she realized I was still in my room. Truly, I should have left for the training grounds long ago. I lingered only to postpone the inevitable; though my delay would only be further proof of my failures in the eyes of the Court. I glared at my hands, cursing the poison that lay dormant inside me. Everyone knew I had the ability. My markings proclaimed it to the world. Yet, not a single drop has formed.
Poison among inu youkai was rare. Neither Mother nor Father had the ability. When I was born with the elusive second stripe of a poison youkai the Western Court rejoiced. It was a sign from the Kami themselves that the West would finally overcome our enemies and become a power beyond the glory of centuries long past. Yet, as time moved on, it became apparent that I had no access to the poison flowing in my veins. It was the first of many failures in the eyes of the Western Court. What kind of ruler could I be if I could not control my own powers?
“You worry too much, Inu no Kimi.” The deep voice of Father set my panic at ease. Father was always more patient than both Mother and the Western Court. He was a warrior and knew more than anyone that time was the only thing that could give both power and control. It was one of the many reasons the thought of disappointing him, as I had everyone else, devastated me. But his next words shattered the illusion that his patience came from his vast military knowledge. “A human with as many winters is nowhere near as developed as our son.”
A human... I was only better than a human in Father’s eyes. Youkai as a whole were more developed than humans. The truth behind Father’s words was that I was nothing special. Even he viewed me as a liability. He didn’t come every solstice and equinox to help me prove to the Western Court I was stronger than they believed. He came to ease the weakness I brought to the West. My heart ached at the realization.
“Forgive me if I do not take comfort in your words.” Mother snorted, the tone of her voice revealing that it was likely Father had returned to the Western Shiro once again smelling of human women.
I don’t think I will ever understand Father’s fascination with humans. Getting to know one is nearly pointless with their short lifespan. The heartache left in their wake once they passed on wasn’t worth it. But Father did not seem to have that problem.
It was no secret Father had many human friends in his life; especially those of the female persuasion. Mother made it quite clear that as long as Father fulfilled his duty to the West, she didn’t care what he did or who he spent his personal time with. When I became the ruler of the West, it will not give my consort the same freedom. Though, I would have a mate by my side, and not simply a consort.
It was quite the scandal in the Western Court that Mother and Father weren’t a mated pair. Where they did care for each other; they weren’t compatible enough to merge youki. If the clash of their energy didn’t kill them, over time, their personalities would. However, the one thing they always agreed upon was the strength of the West. Both would do everything in their power to keep the West from falling back into ruin.
Long ago, in the time of my Grandfather’s Father, the West was the most powerful of all the lands. None dared to oppose us. But, Isamu-sama joined the Northern Lord to fight against the threat the Miko Midoriko brought to all Youkai. It was the one and only time the Inu and Ryuu clans were allies.
Isamu-sama never returned from the fight with Midoriko; and, with my Grandfather being but a pup, the West was thrown into chaos. Centuries later, the West had only just recovered enough to once more be seen as an equal to the other Lands. To protect the future, all agreed that a child created from the two most powerful Western daiyoukai would be needed. That was how I came to be.
I was supposed to be the salvation for the West. The strongest youkai ever to walk the earth; yet, time and time again, I proved this to be false. I was advanced for a youkai of my age when it came to studies and weaponry; but there were some vital things I was lacking. My non-existent control over my poison being one of those very things.
Scowling, I glared at the ant crawling through my room without a care. I couldn’t fault the Western Court for their lack of faith. If I could not control my own powers; how could I protect the West? This was the very foothold our enemies needed. I couldn’t let that happen.
I was the heir to the Western Lands and the hope for the future of our people. I needed to gain control over my poison, and I needed to do so before I met with Father. The Western Court would all be watching as he tested me, and I needed to prove them wrong. Time was not on my side though, at least not time as it flowed in this reality. What I needed was to spend more time in the Dream Realm.
The Dream Realm was a special place that not everyone could reach. It was a place the spirit could go while the physical body was resting. In that reality, time moved far slower; allowing those able to reach the plane benefits far beyond simple relaxation. It would not be the first time I would slip away to train in the Dream Realm, nor would it be my last.
With a deep breath, I closed my eyes once again. Slowly, I felt my body relax into sleep and my spirit reach for the Dream Realm. It wasn’t long before the telltale sense of peace surrounded me a moment before my sense of smell disappeared. I truly loved this realm, even with the handicap of losing all scents around me. This was the only place I have ever felt at peace. I had no responsibilities, no one to disappoint if I made a fool of myself, and best of all; I could train all I wanted without physical limitations.
I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as I traveled towards the small oasis I had discovered years before. It was a beautiful grotto in the forest with a small pool in the center, filled by a waterfall spilling over a cliff above. A stream drew the water out of the pool, leading deeper into the forest. Large boulders littered the ground, creating places to sit or training obstacles to avoid.
This was my territory. As an inu, territory was very important to me. Before I even breached the tree line of my grotto, I knew something was off; that something had invaded my territory. A growl spilled from my lips as I ran past the trees and into the grotto. It was rare to run into anyone else in the Dream Realm. Between the few that could even reach the plane and the vast size of the realm itself, this was my first encounter with another person.
I was less than thrilled.
My sudden burst into the grotto startled the small raven-haired girl. She was sitting on one of the many boulders lining the pool of water, her feet dangling into the cool liquid. I glared at her, still growling. She just stared at me; deep blue eyes wide with surprise.
“You’re not supposed to be here.” I nearly snarled, angered that she refused to react appropriately to my presence. She should be scared, yet the girl just blinked at me. Not even my harsh tone swayed her. She looked younger than I was; why didn’t she fear me? Cocking her head to the side, the girl continued to stare. Was she simple? Or did she not understand what I was telling her? “You need to leave,” I repeated, refusing to allow the girl’s presence to distract me too much from my plans.
“You’re really pretty.” It was my turn to blink. Of all the things I expected her to say, that wasn’t one of them. The girl moved off the boulder, walking closer to me, a smile on her face. Did she think just because she tossed an off-hand compliment in my direction, I would forgive her intrusion? She was sorely mistaken.
I flexed my claws, causing my knuckles to crack, daring her to come closer. She paused, her smile fading as she eyed me warily. “Why are you being so mean?” It was difficult not to scoff at the pout in her voice. As much as I wanted to avoid a conversation with the girl, I wanted to have the grotto to myself far more.
“This is my grotto. You’re not welcome here.” The girl blinked again, confused. The longer the girl stayed, the more I was convinced she truly was simple. We clearly spoke the same language, yet all she could express was confusion over my words.
“But... this is my grotto. I’ve been coming here for years.” It was likely that the two of us did spend all of our time in the same place, yet never crossed paths. We just happen to be unlucky enough to choose the same time to visit today. Regardless, I was older that she was; thus, this is my grotto. I continued to glare at the girl, though it was quite clear that my surly attitude had no effect on her.
“I’m older, so it’s my grotto. You can use it when I’m not here.” Anger flashed across the girl’s face, and I nearly smirked at her reaction. She might be simple, but she had spirit.
“I was here first. I’m not going anywhere.” She placed her hands on her hips. “There’s no reason we can’t share the grotto.” I rolled my eyes at her suggestion. Honestly, if I wasn’t so eager to get started training, I wouldn’t even consider it. Perhaps if I explained the danger she might be in, if she were to stay, she would leave. If one got hurt in the Dream Realm, the injury would transfer over to the waking world. That was the same foundation as why I wanted to train here. The muscle memory created in the Dream Realm would still be there when I woke.
“I will be shooting poison from my claws. You will only be in the way.” A look of utter excitement passed over her face, and I watched her carefully. What kind of creature got excited over poison? The girl made no sense.
“Like a cobra?” She asked, bouncing in place. I blinked at the odd bouncing child. She was far more excitable than any creature I have ever encountered before. She should be concerned over what my plans are, instead she’s excited... what was wrong with her? And what creature was she comparing me to? It was obviously some kind of animal, but one I’ve never heard of before.
A large part of me wanted to ignore the curiosity burning within me. It wouldn’t do for the Western Heir to seem so uneducated, but how could I learn new things without asking questions? I was still a pup. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with asking people to explain things. “What is a cobra?” If it were possible, the girl seemed to bounce more. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked.
“It’s this really cool snake that spits venom through its fangs!” Of all the things I expected to hear today, this was not one of them. Was there truly a creature that could spit venom in such a way? There had to be something I was missing to unlock my own poison. Not as irritated at the girl’s presence, I hoped she knew more about how this cobra could make such a thing happen. This could be the breakthrough I needed to prove to the Western Court how wrong they were.
“How is the cobra able to do this?” The girl smiled widely, apparently happy that we were conversing. She still bounced, and I was beginning to admire her endurance. Few humans would continue for so long, at least not the ones I’ve encountered. The Dream Realm might take away her physical limitation of how long she could bounce, but surely others would have gotten bored with the action by now. She was a child, though, and the first human child I’ve met. This could be normal for one of her age.
“My animal book says they use the muscles in their mouths to put pressure on their venom glands. The pressure makes it shoot out!” I glanced at my hand, wondering what she was talking about. Venom glands? What in the world was that? I shook my head, determined to ignore the girl for the rest of my time here. I didn’t want to keep asking her questions.. if she was the daughter of an enemy, it would do no good to advertise my ignorance of something that seemed to be common knowledge.
Instead, I moved away from the girl to sit along the stream. The trickling sound of the water as it rushed by was relaxing, and thankfully, the girl moved back to the pool and left me alone. I stared down at my hand, wishing I had the power to see through the skin to whatever these venom glands were. In the background, I heard the girl giggle and strangely; the sound didn’t bother me. Instead of filling me with envy for her freedom, the sound blended with the nature around us and a deeper peace settled around me.
Suddenly, all the confusion I felt melted away. So what if I didn’t know what venom glands were? If the girl was to be believed, it didn’t really matter where the poison came from. All that mattered was strengthening the muscles enough to get the poison to come out. I know how to get muscles stronger. I could do this. I could prove to the Western Court I wasn’t a mistake.
Keeping my breath steady, I focused on the muscles of my right hand. I tried to move the small muscles that surrounded my claws. At first, it seemed like nothing was happening. I was going to give up, but just as a snarl started forming on my face, the girl laughed again. I was so startled; I stopped focusing on my hand to turn and glare at her. This was why I didn’t want anyone in my grotto while I trained. Time might move slower in the Dream Realm, but I didn’t have time to play around.
Growling, I turned back to my hand, only to see a small line of green seeping out from under my cuticle. “Dokkasou…” I whispered in awe. The girl was right... slowly, my head turned to watch her again. She was jumping from boulder to boulder, trying not to fall in the pool. Each time she wobbled and came close to falling in, she would right herself and giggle. With a small smile on my face, I turned my attention once again to my hand.
Now that I know the secret to accessing my poison, everything would change. I would spend the rest of the time I could training the muscle memory in my hand to bring out my poison on command. Then, when I woke up to train with Father, I would prove to everyone I was worthy of the West.
My eyes fluttered open as the sound of my shoji door slid open. The surprised gasp of a servant filled the room a moment before I sat up. I wondered how long I could sleep in before someone would notice. “My Lord.” The servant was bowed low when I turned to look at her. “The Inu no Taishou is waiting for you in the courtyard.” Any other day it would horrify me to make Father wait for me; but today was no ordinary day.
“Hn,” I hummed, dismissing the servant as I left the futon and started dressing for the day. I was unhurried in my movements, and couldn’t keep the smirk off my face. Already I could imagine the look of shock on the faces of the Western Courtiers. Mother will raise an eyebrow in surprised approval, and Father... he will look at me with pride. It took everything in me to keep my pace slow as I left my room and headed to the courtyard. I didn’t want to seem overly excited. That would ruin the surprise.
I schooled my features; again, not wanting to give anything away. The moment I stepped foot into the courtyard, Father was indeed waiting, and didn’t seem concerned about my tardiness. I glanced around, wanting to know who would witness my newfound control over Dokkasou. Nearly all the Western Court stood along the edge of the courtyard. Close enough to watch, but far enough not to come to harm. There were a few servants milling about, but that was all. Mother wasn’t here to witness my accomplishment.
Swallowing hard, I refused to let her absence bother me. It wouldn’t be the first time she had missed an exhibition with Father; and she would soon hear of what was about to happen. Instead, I focused on Father. I nodded my head in respect, not saying a word. “Come, boy.” I could hear the irritation in Father’s voice for having to wait for me. “Show me what you’ve learned.”
Without hesitation, I lunged at Father; claws extended. He just stood there, waiting until the last moment to dodge; just as I knew he would. Unable to keep the smirk off my face, I sprayed him with my Dokkasou a second before he would have dodged my claws. His eyes widened in shock as he jerked to the side. I ignored the surprised gasps from the Western Court as I spun the ball of my foot, lunging at Father again. This time, he made certain to keep a fair amount of distance between us.
It wasn’t often I could surprise Father in battle, and even less often I kept him on the defensive as I was. I would give anything to see the look in Mother’s eyes when she learned of this accomplishment. If only I could land a blow, even a small one, on Father. That would make today the best day of my young life. But I was getting tired, and only a mistake on his part would give me the opening I needed.
Stuck with an idea, I stopped focusing my Dokkasou on his person. Instead, I started letting the poison land on his shoes. I wasn’t sure how long it would take the acid to eat through the leather, but now was as good of a time as any to figure it out. Trying not to make it look obvious and more like poorly aimed attacks, I kept spaying his shoes. After only a few attacks, the leather disintegrated, and Father hesitated a split second to adjust his footing. It wasn’t long of a window, but it was all I needed.
Using the last of my energy, I lunged at Father. Claws extended as far as they could, I felt the very tip catch on a few strands of his hair as he jerked back. Time stood still as we watched the few strands of hair fall to the earth below. It wasn’t first blood, but it was something.
Panting, I looked up from the fallen hair. Father was still staring at his lost strands, as if he were seeing things. Slowly, his gaze moved up and the look of pride in his eyes stopped my breath. “Well done.” His voice didn’t hold the same pride as his eyes did, but that didn’t bother me. I was used to dealing with Mother and the lack of emotion in her voice. His eyes told me everything I needed to know. I was worthy of the West.
“Hn,” I hummed, nodding my head, signaling the end of the exhibition. Father would work with me on training in the next few days, focusing on areas he wanted me to improve on in the coming months. The rest of the day, I would have for other studies. Not that I would remember anything else I tried to learn today. I wanted nothing more than to return to the Dream Realm to continue working on my muscle control… and… to thank the girl for her help.
It wasn’t lost on me that if I hadn’t met that girl when I did, I never would have unlocked the secret to my poison. I never would have gotten the approval of the Western Court, and I would never have felt Father’s pride. I needed to thank her for what she did; even if she had no way of knowing how important it was.
The moment I could return to the Dream Realm, I did so. I didn’t think it was likely I would see the girl there again; but I still had hope that I would. Rushing into the grotto, I tried not to frown when nothing but the rushing sound of the waterfall awaited me.