TIPS, TRICKS, TECHNIQUES (Ricks GUIDE to everything Ive learned in my first year)
Disclaimer: These are simply things I have learned, and what I personally do for each of my drawings. There are many ways to draw, such as line drawings, cross-hatching, non-blending, etc, but my chosen area is one that strives for Realism. I am 100% self-taught, meaning that I never went to Art school. I drew for maybe a total of maybe 5 hours since I was a teenager. Then in October of 2008, I decided I needed a hobby. Im just as surprised as others at the results? I also wonder why I just NOW discovered I that can draw? Now, almost 1 year later, I have completed over 91 portraits, which is a total of between 400 and 600 hours of practice!!! Later, someone suggested I call a local college and offer to teach a course on portrait drawing. They actually created a course for me, which I get to design the class 100% start to finish. As PART of that class, I am making this TIP GUIDE to give the students. So far, there are 8 people who signed up. Im excited to see if teaching artists get better, is my calling, or if I will even enjoy it? We shall see?? In the 10 hours together, I am going to take them start to finish through the same celebrity portrait, using the steps outlined below.
1) CLEAN HANDS: I always start by washing my hands of any oil or dirt that would damage the drawing surface area. NEVER touch the area you are drawing on and NEVER use your finger to blend. Thats what Ive read AND experienced. I also use copy paper to lay over parts of a drawing I dont want to lay my hand across. Some say to work from upper left to downward right, if you are right handed, but I dont always WANT to work that way.
2) PHOTOS: I have gotten really good at finding good photos on the web! There are lots of sites, but I find plenty at Google by using images of _________ in the search box. There is SO much I could type about photos, but the main things I do, BECAUSE I crop the photo to use only the head, is to only use a photo that has a file size large enough not to become blurry and pixilated after I print it to THE SAME SIZE Im going to draw it. There are reasons for that, but mainly because I want my eyes to draw a 1:1 ratio of what I see. I use a photo program to crop the photo, to remove color (saturation), which makes it a Black and White photo, and to improve Contrast (making the lights lighter and the darks darker). If you are in to taking your own photos, use natural light, so that shadows define the facial features. I also crop the top of the head off, if youve noticed, for two reasons. ONE is that it gives the illusion that the subject is closer to you. Grab a newspaper and notice now how most all of the columnists crop the tops of their heads off. Its for this reason! SECOND, I hate drawing hair, and this is the side benefit of cropping. Note: you do not have to draw every single detail in a photo. If there is an area that looks strange, it will look strange when you draw it? Create something else.
3) SIZE: Yes, size does matter in drawing! I read that if you make a drawing just 20% larger, will take up to 50% more time to draw. I have personally found that the IDEAL size for ME, is to keep the total face size between 5 to 6 INCHES from the hairline to the bottom of the chin. If its TOO big, there are too many details to ignore, and I find it affects the motion of my blending. If it is too small, obviously you cannot get enough details. For ME, it is about finding the balance between the level of details and how long it takes me to draw, because I get bored fast and want to move on. I have my total AVERAGE drawing time down to somewhere between 3 to 5 hours.
4) PAPER: Much can be said about types of drawing papers, and I have tried many. The main types I tried early on, were Strathmore and Canson MEDIUM tooth Drawing papers. I have SINCE moved on to using ONLY Strathmores Bristol Smooth 300 series, for many reasons. It is THICK paper. Its tooth is not easily destroyed and you can get DARK darks from it. It is PERFECT for blending graphite; it forgives easily and has excellent eras-ability! If you notice now, my Chevy Chase was the FIRST time I used Bristol smooth, and all drawings since, and you should see a difference in contrast? It took some getting used to, because it draws darker, meaning the pencils you use show lighter than you may be used to, so I use a lot more B and 2B pencils now. View or buy it here: [link]
5) PENCILS: I have also tried many types, but will now ONLY use Staedtler pencils, made in Germany. They are excellent, and have predictable and consistent results. I find them at [link] along with everything else I need!!! Always make SURE your pencil is SHARP!!! There many ways, the obvious of which is an electric sharpener, which I use, but I sometimes fine-tune the point with fine sandpaper, or by rubbing the point sideways on a scrap piece of paper. I have also tried Clutch Pencils or called Lead Holders. I use BOTH but for different reasons and parts of the drawing. The advantages of using Clutch Pencils are that their weight and length remain consistent, unlike pencils that are constantly shrinking in size and weight. Its also cheaper to buy just the graphite refills than whole pencils. Staedtler make both the holders and the refills. Go to [link] There are a wide range of darks and lights, but I use only the middle range. Rarely 2H and H, a lot of F, HB and 80% B and 2B. I have the following, just in case (light to dark) 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 9B
6) OUTLINE: I START with an outline. You want to get a feel for the layout and perspective. Once I draw an outline, I move on to the border.
7) BORDER: After I finish my outline, I take a ruler, and establish the framed sides of my drawing, so I know where it ends. I do NOT ever (maybe I should?) draw to any frame specific size that can fit a standard frame. I have not framed any of my drawings, but if and when I do, I will have it custom matted, which will then fit a standard sized frame. I store all of my drawings in Display Books which are clear plastic sleeves that protect them. I also seal each drawing with a spray workable fixative (more on that later)
8) EYES: I ALWAYS start with the eyes!!! They are the windows to a soul and if you dont get them write, why waste time finishing the drawing. (Thats just how I feel). I usually just finish one eye, and move on to start the first layer on other areas. I never finish the first eye 100% at first. The important things to remember are the key highlights or spots of light in every photo, and person you see. One basic rule that I read and remember as to eyes and feature placement is this: Eyes are approximately in the center of the face, about half way between the top of the forehead and the bottom of the chin, and are approximately the same distance APART from each other as the width of a single eye (not always). The bottom of the NOSE is then about half way between the eyes and bottom of chin; the mouth is about half way between the bottom of the nose and bottom of the chin. These are obviously rough guidelines. Remember, eyes are NOT pure white! I use a light touch with a blending stump around the corners of the eyes, on MOST drawings. The same goes with teeth.
9) CONTRAST is always been just obvious to me, and I believe is one of the main things that take a drawing to the next level? I have learned to select a photo that has a wide range of contrast and as many variations in between! I discovered that I am FIRST inspired by a dramatic photo with lots of contrast, NOT so much the celebrity, but when you find BOTH, its magic!!! One way I have trained my eyes to see Contrast, besides printing the photo in Black and White, is to sometimes, TURN the DIRECT light you are using, AWAY from you. You will be amazed at what you see in darker lighting conditions! I use a drawing desk now, with a combo swing-arm light/magnifying glass. I USED to, and sometimes still do, use a Lap-Desk, which is portable. Another KEY thing I do, is to CONSTANTLY walk away from the drawing, and come back with fresh eyes. Things I could NOT see or notice before, become obvious to me. Especially, first thing in the morning. In the 4 to 5 hours I invest with each drawing, I may start and come back 10-20 times!!! This keeps giving me fresh perspective.
10) TONE RANGE: I have also learned to establish the RANGE of tonal values early in a drawing. What I mean is, after drawing one eye; I look for the darkest areas of the photo, and start laying down some graphite in those areas. Another reason for starting some of the darkest areas first, is that I often get some of the graphite from those areas on my Blending Stump for use in other areas of the drawing. I dont always start an area with a pencil, but sometimes with the graphite from an old Blending Stump, Tortillion, or Torchillon.
11) LAYERING: I find it takes many layers of graphite to build up certain areas. Shadows of course, lips, hair, etc. After I draw the eyes, and establish tone range, I may lightly color the lips? All lips are different, but I start with something light, like H, F, HB, or sometimes B. I look for key highlights and Im careful to preserve those areas for later. Other areas that I layer are, eyebrows, eyelashes, hair, eye pupils, lips and of course shading.
12) SHADING: The type of shadows that are in the photo, obviously determine how dark I start? I usually start around the eyes, just after I do the first layer of the eyebrows. I take my pencil of choice and hold it lightly and sideways, so that the side of the tip is rubbing the paper, NOT the point. This makes for a larger coverage area, and can also be used to create certain effects of the skin. Hard Shadows are the toughest I think? Like my Sean Connery portrait. I never start the shadow or darkest part, AS DARK as it will later become. Its something I build into, in case I need to erase.
13) BLENDING: I am convinced now that its ALL IN THE BLENDING!!! I use Blending Stumps, Tortillions, Torchillons, Paper towels, and sometimes Q-tips and make-up sponges. Many of the techniques would require me showing you, rather than describing them, but I will try a few. For one, I am always mindful of how much graphite is already on the stump, which determines how much pressure I apply when blending? I have many different sizes for both tight spots and large areas. Again, layering is the key. When a Blending Stump gets too much graphite on it, it tends to get slick and shiny, and stops blending. To extend its life, I will scrape off the excess graphite by turning it while scraping it on sandpaper until the fibers are useful again. Whether I am Shading or Blending (Rendering) I most Always blend in the SAME direction that the skin is going, in order to build the illusion of dimension and shapes. I also turn the stump as I blend, if more graphite is needed, it is usually on the other side of the stump. If not, I lay down some more with pencils, or rub it on a dark area, to get some. Keep in mind that you will need to go back over the dark areas you borrowed graphite from. More on the key to dark darks later. I do NOT always blend EVERY area of the drawing. For some effects, a light touch with a pencil only may do? But I do blend about 95% of the entire drawing (NEVER BLACK AREAS though)
14) NEGATIVE SPACE: One great trick I learned, was to use a small nail, duct tapped to an old pencil, as a stylus for scratching out whiskers, white hairs, highlights, etc. IMPORTANT: PRACTICE this before you ruin a drawing. Get an old piece of drawing paper, and practice the procedure. What I do, BEFORE (key) I put any graphite on the area, is hold the paper sideways in the light, so I can see where I am scratching, and I make the needed lines, hairs or whiskers in the paper. THEN, I rub a pencil SIDEWAYS over the scratch mark, to Expose the white lines. I can then draw between them, or what ever, but the effect is amazing to me! Its a PERFECT tool for creating white whiskers, white hair (against dark back ground), etc. You will find many uses for this! The MAIN concept of Negative Drawing is that you create what you are trying to draw, NOT by drawing it, but by drawing first what surrounds the object. Hair is a perfect example (hair type depending). Hair should NOT be many pencils lines, but the shadows BETWEEN the hairs, which by default, will create the ILLUSION of hair. The same with teeth. I draw the dark areas AROUND the teeth, which as a result, forms the shape of teeth.
15) HIGHLIGHTS: They can REALLY make a drawing come to life. From the Key Highlights in the eyes, to the glimmer on the lips, and anywhere else that either the photo shows, or you THINK it would be realistic? Highlights are best saved for last, mainly because you may be blending over the same areas beforehand. I use 3 tools for highlights. The first is the Kneaded eraser. View or buy here: [link] It can be molded into many shapes you need. A point, for small areas, a knife-edge for lines next to wrinkles, or as a blunt dabbing tool. I also use a TUFF STUFF stick eraser by Papermate. View or buy it here: [link] It is firm and rigid, and looks like a pen. I use a razor to cut an angled point for fine line, where a soft kneaded eraser may flatten and remove graphite where I dont want it removed? The third was recently discovered when I went to an Art Workshop in August, and is called BLU*TACK found at [link] It is stretchy like a kneaded eraser, but is very sticky. I do NOT use it to rub, like a kneaded eraser, but to blot up excess graphite. It is an adhesive used to hold posters on walls, etc but an artist showed me its artist uses. One of the best tips Ive heard and use, is that IF you want to make something lighter, like a highlight, then make what surrounds it, DARKER!
16) OTHER TIPS: a) One of the last things I do is add fine, stray hairs, if applicable, to the edges of the hairline. I also take a sharp F or HB pencil, and make very small and short hairs along the forehead, where the hair meets the forehead (sometimes).
b) Whenever I think Im done, I sleep on it. Invariably I notice something I swore was not there before.
c) Most every artist signs their work, in some form or another, but my dad gave me the idea to DATE each one as well, so that I could remember the order that I drew them, in case you dont use a Display book.
d) I also use a workable spray Fixative to seal the drawing when its complete. It prevents smudging, keeps them from yellowing and also takes down the shine from the darkest areas of graphite. Here is the one I use: [link]
e) To get REALLY dark black areas, I generally use a SHARP 2B and go back and forth in small areas, expanding outward. I keep TURNING the pencil in my fingers, SO THAT the point digs deep into the TOOTH of the paper. When that area is complete, I use a harder pencil, like F or H and go over it again. IF I had used that area to grab graphite from with my blending stuff, during the drawing, I go back over it with 2B again, then F. The spray fixative will tone down the shine.
f) When I use clutch pencils, I no longer use a hand sharpener, which I used to string around my neck. I use a Lead Pointer Tube sharpener, which also holds the shaved graphite. View or buy here: [link]
g) I use an old paintbrush to remove dust, etc from a drawing in progress. It keeps me from rubbing it off, or spitting on the drawing when I blow it off. I didnt notice one time, and accidentally spit a minute amount on the surface, and when I rubbed over it with my blending stump, it smeared, and I could not remove it!!
h) 7 months after discovering my passion for drawing, I bought a Drawing Table. Actually, my folks got it for my birthday. It the sports car of drawing tables! To view the one I got, go here: [link]
i) Taking Photos of your work. After a drawing is complete, I use a digital camera to take a photo of it. I first used scanners, but they lighten the drawing, and you cannot see as much details. I take the photo in the daytime, in natural lighting, on the floor in front of a window, careful NOT to put it directly in the sun. After I take several shots, I upload them; pick the best one, which is usually the one where my name and date are IN FOCUS. Then I crop out the borders, and I also REMOVE the SATURATION, which removes any color that the camera picked up, turning it back to pure black and white. THEN I use a feature called Auto Enhance, which lightens it up and makes it look as close to the drawing as possible.
j) I NEVER show someone the photo next to my drawing, no matter how much it looks like the photo, because then it becomes a challenge for someone to see how many mistakes someone can find, and it takes away from the drawing.
k) The brain can be fooled to believing that what it THINKS it sees is real. One of the best illustrations of that is when I noticed that blurry, out of focus backgrounds, in some portraits, made it look like a photo.
It was a Saturday night and Emily, was of course, sitting in front of the TV. Her favorite program was on, Saturday Night Live. Tears welled up in her eyes as she realized it was another lonely night, without John. The lads had been on tour. She missed her silly mop topped man. She grabbed a pillow and held it to her chest. It seems as though the usually hilarious show wasn't working at all. Tears started to roll and she wondered how many more nights John was going to be away. The tour was supposed to be over two weeks ago. But you know, weather, fans, things just happen. The next thing Emily knew was that it was 3:00 in the morning, and she had fallen asleep on the couch. She got up and turned off the TV and headed into her bedroom, crawling into bed. Despite her recent sleepiness, She just couldn't fall asleep. She thought about John calling her Em. He always called her Em. Then she thought of his laugh. She just couldn't sleep. Emily gave up. She crawled out of bed and went into the kitchen. She grabbed the soup can and pulled out the pot. "Soup." She said through the sniffs. "I want soup." She made the soup and sat down in the living room, in the dark, and ate it. It was nearing 4:00 and she was beginning to get droopy eyed. "John." She whispered. "When the bloody hell are you coming home?" As if to answer her question, a couple minutes later, the doorknob turned and in walked John. "John!" Emily squealed and jumped up. John dropped his bags and ran to her with open arms. John held her close and took a deep breath. "Oh Em." He sighed. "Oh my sweet Em." They both were crying. When they sat down, John grabbed her soup. He dipped the spoon and collected some noodles. Then he took the handle end and put if in his mouth. He put it towards Emily who laughed and gladly sipped it up. "Weird way to eat soup..." She laughed. "Great way to start making love!" John kissed her. "Besides! You think I'm weird for feeding you soup....Your eating soup at four in the morning!" John pulled Emily on his lap. She glared at him. "I missed you." She whispered. John started unbuttoning his shirt. "I missed you too, baby."
Streets of Gold "You're way too young to fall apart... Chapter 4
The house was empty. Quiet. Dark. Just how I liked it.
But I trusted Tom on his word, he'd be back. I know he would be. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy to let you into his heart then forget you... He seems different. In a good, kind way. Not the bad, bitchy, douche bag way. If he was like that, I wouldn't even have gotten near him, much less kissed him. Hell, did I really kiss him? A boy? I've never even kissed a girl! But a boy? My God... I've changed too much just by meeting him.
I sighed deeply and sat down in front of the couch yeah, you heard me. In front of it. I stared down at the floor for the longest time. What was I thinking when I asked him over? What the hell was I even letting run through my damn mind. Ugh... But what if I was right, what I thought of last night? What if he is cheating on someone, with me? Of all people in Germany, Europe, the WORLD. Me? Why me? Am I that special? Am I really needed by someone that much; that they feel the need to cheat on them, with me? Crazy, that's so crazy. Nobody likes me that much, not a soul does. I have a face only a mother could love, nobody else does. I'm hideous. I'm creepy. I'm scary. I'm weird.
I'm so different from Society.
My hand twitched, as it does when I'm too deep in thought. Way too deep; I'm a thinker, a dreamer, not a maker, a creator. I'm a nobody. I'm Bill. Bill Kaulitz.
Wait... What the fuck was his last name? Shit! Did he even tell me? I don't even think I told him mine... Ugh. I'm such a fucking retard.
"Biiiillllll, a voice called from behind my front door. "Billiam, you in there? then a knock. I got up quickly and swung the door open, only to be tackled by a heavy Gustav. "Hey Bill! Long time no see, eh?
I squirmed slightly under his weight, him being more then 50 pounds heavier then me. "Yeah.. It's been a while.
"It has! Where you been? What happened? Anything new? he asked while he crawled off of me and sat upright on the floor, in front of me. "I haven't been anywhere... And nothing really happened. I met someone last night, shut up voice. "And nothing is really 'new.' Gustav's eyes lit up with enlightenment. "Oooh who are they?! What's their name? Is she hot or what? he beamed at me. I looked up at him, sitting myself up. "Well... I started "He's okay looking, I guess..- "He?! Gustav leaned towards me as if I was insane, he had that look about his face that said it all; shocked and wanting to know more. "Yeah.. he. His name's Tom... I don't know his last name though. "Well how did you come to meet him? Or do you know him already? I hesitated. "Well he really kind of approached me when I was standing outside that gas station down the street. Weird, eh? I looked at him with an eyebrow raised slightly. Gustav leaned back so he wasn't so close to me anymore. His face still had a quite clear look on it, as before. "Yeah... Did he try anything? Do I have to beat his ass?
Gustav, I thought, You're too over protective of me.
"No, Gus, you don't have to 'beat his ass.' He said he'll be back, sometime...
"A few days, a week maybe.
"Oh... Okay. Gustav peered down at the floor for a second before standing up. He held his hand out to me, as an offer to pull me up too. I grabbed his hand and he jerked me up off the floor to standing. "So how's everything been, besides what you said already? "Good, I guess. "Did you.. Draw anything else?
Yeah, I lied to Tom. I can draw better then anyone I knew in high school. I just kept it quiet.
I lingered over what words to say next. "...Yeah. I did actually. I'll show you. I grabbed one of Gustav's hands and pulled him into the back room, to the small closet in the corner. I slid one of the doors open and knelt down on the floor, crawling back into a small space under the shelves. I felt around in the dark for the sketchbook I had laying on the floor until one of my hands ran onto the smooth, cold surface of the top cover. I pulled it out from under the shelf, sitting up. Gustav had already sat down next to me. "Who is it this time? Just someone you thought up? Me again? Or one of your parents? he watched my hands slowly lift the cover up and over, flipping through pages of portraits and scenarios, charcoal drawn and pencil, pastel and light paints, this and that from page to page.
"You'll see. silence possessed us then.
My hands started to tremble looking through all of them, though, because I did draw a lot of pictures of my parents. Black and white sketches, detailed pencil and charcoal portraits, things like that. I had canvases with paintings on them slid under the same shelf all my other work was under, just to make sure I knew where they all were.
I stopped at one specific page, where the lightly drawn portrait of a boy stood alone on the page. I held it out to Gustav. "This... This one. I said the words slowly, as he took the drawing from my hands. He peered at it, from every angle, trying to get good light on it. He looked up at me after about five minutes, I looked back. I read his expression, yet again. Confused and slightly dumbfounded; a small hint of amazement in there.
"Billiam... he started.
"....Did you draw yourself as a child?
I stared at him, long and weak. I did. I drew myself for the first time. A sick, horrible attempt it is. I know. But I chose one specific picture for it, one from when I was only 6 years old. The facial expression fit how I was feeling at the time I drew it, a few days ago. Deep and detailed, thoughtful, with a small crease of a frown in the brows that were drawn together, and on the forehead. Eyes slightly black, appearing from the picture, heavily shaded with the black rings of makeup, that yes, I wore at age six. Jet black hair, spiked in all different ways, shaggy and un-kept, slightly styled with hairspray. I didn't like it, one because I didn't take time to really finish it, and two because I don't like myself from back then. I was dumb, young, ugly, and just down right idiotic.
"Yeah.. I said after a while. Gustav peered down at the drawing again before I slid it out of his hands, closing the cover of the sketchbook. He then looked up at me. "Why?
"Because I felt like I looked in that picture.
"Billiam... tell me what happened. Gustav sighed slightly as he said that. I looked at him, frowning a bit. "Nothing happened. I just felt down and wanted to draw that... is it bad? Gustav shook his head. "No it isn't. But Bill you've changed. A little too much.
I glared at Gustav, hard. "How dare you say I've changed. I've been the same since I was born, don't even say I'm different. Gustav frowned slightly, standing up. "Well I wont then, even though it's true. he walked back across my apartment and I followed. "Where do you think you're going? he looked back at me. "Oh, I'm leaving. I don't want to disturb you anymore. Sorry, Bill. Didn't mean to. He pulled the door open and left.
"Stupid bitch. I muttered as I went back and sat down on my smaller couch. He was weird. Automatic, more like. I don't know, I never had the right words for anything.
Now, nothing to do again.
I looked around mindfully on what to do. Draw, maybe? While I'm alone. Go somewhere, maybe finally go talk to one of the people who lives around me. Bah. They don't want anything to do with me so I wont bother them.
Days passed. Weeks.
A month and a half, to be exact. I hadn't gotten contact from anyone. Not Tom, not Gustav, nobody. Absolutely nobody. I got fired from where I worked, now all I had left was the fund I had in my savings account in the bank.
I knew this would happen.
My house was just how it had been the day after Tom left. Everything in the same spot, I didn't even move much around. I wanted everything exactly the same as it had been. I don't know, I just wanted it to look the same, exact same, as it had when he left. I'm just a creep like that.
I didn't try to call anyone, I waited for them. But what if nobody ever called? Or tried to contact me? I don't know. I don't know anything.
I laid back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. The white, empty, cold ceiling, staring straight back at me. I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, again. Actually, it's been like this for a long time. I didn't mind though.
Hell, I didn't seem to mind about anything. Heh, I was dumb that way.
Every so often I would look out one of my windows like a creepy stalker. I dunno. Waiting for Tom to show himself again, I guess. Maybe he forgot me, maybe he didn't, maybe he was just a fag, maybe not. Who knows. I don't, that's for damn sure.
I kept my focus back on the ceiling, I was still laying on my bed. It's too blank, I though. This room needs some life.
I got up, looking over to the corner where my closet was. Should I? Or should I not... I don't know. I got up, opening the door to my closet. I slid four buckets, sealed, full of paint. One neon green, one bright and vibrant red, one electric blue, the last one was just brown. I had others, but I didn't feel like reaching for them. I crossed my legs and reached for the screw driver in which I pried open the lids with. The colours stood out fantastically against the white background of my floor as I looked down into each bucket, rim-full with the designated colour. I also got out a set of brushes, large, medium, small, each with a different texture of them. I looked back over to my walls and ceiling, which had nothing on them. Bare, clean, boring white. Bright. It was too much, my OCD for making anything look like art had been building up since I moved here, it's so empty in here. I hate it. It makes me wanna take all the paint I have and throw it on everything naked of colours.
I know, I'm weird that way. An OCD of "Art isn't exactly so normal.
I picked up the paint buckets, two in each hand, taking them over to the first wall. The one that had not a single thing touching it. I looked down at the red, cautiously and slowly dipping the medium-light-texture brush down into it, slowly pulling it back out and looking back up at the wall. I didn't need a basis for where to start, I just knew. I dragged the brush with paint on it across the wall for about four feet, making the line curved down slightly. This made me smile. I did the same, one line above the other, none of them touching, for the next colours. And it was a pattern, red then blue then green then brown. Red then blue then green then brown. To the ceiling and down to the floor. Up the whole wall in front of me. Then, having that part finished, I dragged out the next few colours. Yellow, white, orange, and black. I did the same, but instead of making them next to the original lines, I made them go over them. Only, the second ones, went down the wall instead of across. I did this about 12 times, making them layer up on each one and another, making them thicker and thicker each time. Soon enough, I had the whole one wall covered with colour. In a criss-cross pattern, one set across or over the other. But I didn't use the white, not yet.
I'm saving the white for the effects.
I picked up the smallest brush, dipping it into the black and staring at the wall I had been focused on for hours. "What to do, what to do next... I crossed my arms, holding the wooden part of the brush between my teeth. This is what an artist should do. Not keep himself hidden in the fears of embarrassment all the time.
I got it.
I had a perfect idea. I painted the outline of a circle, in black. Thin, delicate, black lines. Then, the inner part of the circle. Same black lines, only on the inner part of the circle. Then, inside that circle, I drew a straight column. Then a sideways column on top of that one, like a block letter of a "T. I tilted my head slightly as I did so, just so it didn't come out looking squiggly. Then under the first sideways column, I did another, only smaller and a little further down. Then under that I did the same as I had on top. Same size, same shape. Just under the smaller one. Now that I had that, I painted the lines around the outside. The effects. It made it look like it was literally "Smashing through the wall. but, around the inside of the circles and the symbol, I covered up the original pattern colours with white. I finished up the effects of the area around the circles and symbol and stepped back a little to see it all. Perfectly in line... I thought to myself. Now to paint it black.
This all humored me. I'm not quite sure why, but this just made me happier.
I took the black paint bucket and studied the wall once more. I still needed to make it a lot more different. More effects.
I dipped the large brush in the paint and filled in the empty circles, the symbol, and used the smaller brush to make it look like it was smashed in some parts. I covered up part of the circle on the left with white, then took black and made it look like part of it was actually "Falling out for lack of better words. It looked kind of three-dimensional. I intended for it to look like that. I set the paintbrush down and stepped back to examine my final work. Goddamn...
It looks too perfect. My eyes shifted down to the bottom though. I picked up the smallest brush again and painted my name in black. Cursive, perfect black cursive. Right under the symbol. The whole thing topped off with the "Bill Kaulitz at the bottom of it. I don't know, it just did.
I loved it.
All of a sudden, I heard a knock on the front door. I looked at the paint-covered watch on my wrist. Fuck. Seven hours? Damn! Took a while. But who the fuck could that be at 12 midnight?
I ran down the hallway to the front door, opening it.
Tom beamed at me, his face looking at appalled as ever. I looked just as surprised.
He looked me up and down. "Uhm... he was staring at my hands. "Why are you..-
"No reason. Just taking care of a few things. Come on in, Tom. I said, smiling and standing away from the door. He smiled back, walking past me and inside. He wasn't wearing a coat, much less a long sleeved shirt. Just simple pants and a tee-shirt. "So how have you been? he looked over at me as I closed the door. I looked back at him. "I've been okay. Actually, I've been way better. Getting fired and all-
"Long story. I sat down on the couch and looked down at my hands. They were splattered with every colour of paint I had. Tom sat next to me, also looking at my hands. "What were you doing? With... Paint, I mean. his expression seemed empty, like he didn't know me. Bitch. I looked up at him. "Oh.. Hm? Nothing. It's just paint- ...That's all.
"You were doing something, Bill.
"Just drop it. Where the hell have you even been? You broke your promise and I'm not happy about that. my mood changed completely as I choked those words out. Tom looked at me in utter disbelief, his brows pushed together slightly forming a frown. "What do you mean, 'Where have you been?' I've been at work where I said I was. I grunted after he said that. "You said, what, a week at the most? Two. Okay, two. How long ago was that? Oh, right, a month and a half, Tom! A month and a fucking half! I raised my voice slightly and shot up from where I was sitting, still staring down at Tom. He stood up also. "It's not like I'm your fucking boyfriend Bill! I barely fucking know you! Just back off, okay? Back the hell off.
That crossed the line. I pulled my arm back and back-handed Tom as hard as I could have. "LOOK WHO'S TALKING, ONE-NIGHT-STAND PLAYING BITCH!! I shouted as I kept my eyes set to kill on Tom's. His jaw had dropped, his hand over where I slapped him.
Note: Shirakume is Sesshoumaru's mother's name that I use in this story.
Meidouseki: is the stone entrusted to Sessmom by Inupop for Meidouzangetsuha's improvement (and a challenge for Sesshoumaru) Reference: Inuyasha Manga Chapter 467-471 (Meikai arc) I have included this element into my story.
An Emergence 7: "Machination"
It was near daybreak. The blue torch flames that lit up Shirakume's palace faded as the darkness of the night began to yield to the approaching light. Two of Kureha's apparitions were moving through the palace, carrying large caskets belonging to their mistress. They glided through the long outdoor passageway between the wings of the palace, then entered into the dimly lit hallway of the next building. Suddenly, they both halted. Sesshoumaru stood in their way. He stared at the blank eyes of the one in front. These were familiar eyes to him, since his childhood. They had arrived with Kureha when she first visited this palace for her studies. Kureha had explained to Sesshoumaru that her apparitions were ancestral spirits that descended through the blood of the Orochi Matriarchs. Her ability to manifest the apparitions testified to her Matriarchal pedigree. The longer the Matriarch lived, the more powerful these beings became, and the greater the number she could call. They were an embodiment of Kureha's power. The apparitions had humbled him in the past, when he underestimated Kureha. They taught him that Kureha's gentle demeanor did not reflect a lack of will, and he had stopped testing her long ago. Their eyes wished for nothing, and said nothing, except of their will to serve their mistress. They came to exist through their mistress, and they would perish when she did. Kureha told him that their true forms were specter serpents as large as great dragons. Sesshoumaru had never seen them in that form. Kureha had said it was better for the Matriarch to rule without unleashing her apparitions' true power. Their human-like appearance was unchanged since the very first time he saw them as a child. They probably had appeared the same for thousands of years through the lives of past Matriarchs. It was unexpected that something so constant would make him feel the passage of time. He wondered whether this would be the last time he would see them in this palace.
They bowed to him, and moved to the side to open a way for him. Sesshoumaru passed them, and proceeded to the passageway. The apparitions resumed their seamless movement toward their destination.
Shirakume stepped out of her sleeping chamber, and walked into her dressing room. She noticed a simple lacquered box she had not seen there before. She sat in front of it, and rested her hand over it for a moment in hesitation. Then she carefully opened the box. Inside of the silk wrapping, there was a neckless, connected by large polished beads made of dragon bone. At the center, there was a disk, also made of dragon bone, which framed a large black stone. Shirakume arched her brows apprehensively, and picked up the neckless to examine it. The necklace was not as heavy as its appearance led her to believe. It was certainly made with fine material; however, it did not suite her taste. She would have preferred something more delicate and ornate. Shirakume turned to the mirror and held it up around her neck. She frowned subtly in dissatisfaction.
"Well, I realize it isn't in your taste." She heard the voice of her mate. "However, its purpose is not for your adornment." Shirakume turned to Inu no Taishou. "You could have consulted me about the design. This was my suggestion to begin with." She smiled coquettishly at him. "It would have taken too long, if I did that." Taishou smirked. "That is the Meidouseki. The stone can connect this world to Meidou, the passage to Meikai." Shirakume stared at the large black stone in her hand. Its black was dense and pure, and rather than stone, its surface looked like the void itself. Though the stone was only about the size of her palm, she felt like she might fall into its depth, if she looked on it long enough. "What ominous blackness." She uttered. "I will entrust that to you, until the time when Sesshoumaru wishes to use it to improve Tenseiga's ability." Taishou said solemnly. Shirakume ran her elegant fingers over the surface of the strand of the white polished beads, and sighed. "I do not like this rushed attention to your legacy. It is as if you are preparing for your own passing." She placed the necklace back in the box. Taishou laughed wistfully. He stepped closer. "Ryukotsusei will not be an easy opponent. I do not wish to be unprepared, especially now that my second son will be born soon." They both paused for a moment. The lamp in the dressing room was fading. The daybreak had reached through the screen, pushing a crack of white light into the dim chamber. Inu no Taishou stood with his back against the morning sun, a simple layer of kimono loosely wrapped around him. His silhouette cast a shadow over his features, shrouding them in darkness, and seemed to Shirakume as an omen.
"Sesshoumaru will attempt to eliminate his hanyou brother in the future. If my hanyou son cannot survive this test, he will not be worthy to thrive. It is better to be dispatched by his blood brother than by some nameless creature." Taishou spoke gravely, as he stood motionless. "However, if either of them dies in the process, we all have failed. I am taking this chance, and I intend to level the playing field. It is for the sake of both of them." Shirakume smiled mysteriously. The pale rose of her bare lips and her undone hair gave her a youthful, maiden like appearance. However, the sharp glint in her eyes betrayed that impression. "I thought you had become soft by being around humans too much, but I suppose I was wrong. You still treat your offspring like the savage creatures that humans fear them to be." "The one who is born as neither us or them, needs strength to carve his own niche and to keep it," Inu no Taishou said. "I only have one wish. Which is for both of them to thrive." Shirakume stared at a void against the morning light in the shape of her mate. "I wish for my son to thrive, as well. That is why I decided to take part in this machination, to add what I wish for my son to yours. However, what you intend to gain from this war against Ryukotsusei....I do not share your point of view. Have you not thought for a moment, that your human mistress may not wish to extend her life, but to live well, and accept her mortality?" she asked. "Izayoi no longer belongs to her own kind. I will see to it that she gains what she needs to live in our realm. It is too dangerous to leave that region to a creature like Ryukotsusei. Unlike its distant kin the Orochi, the creature lacks in wisdom." Inu no Taishou moved closer. His features began to come back under the soft light of the lamp as he approached. "Even if she gains extended life, her mind will still remain human, until she decides to cast it away. Humans do not possess the way of mind that is suited to live as long as we do." Shirakume moved her glance over at the lacquered box, which contained the Meidouseki. "There are reasons why they must be short lived." She said as a matter of fact. "You certainly have high stake on this endeavor. If you proceed over the objections of others, yet fail to realize your intentions, you may lose the esteem of many, including Sesshoumaru." Her expression turned subtly stern. "Does that 'many' include yourself?" Taishou asked. "No. I do not have affected expectations, unlike some," Shirakume said candidly, and turned to her mirror. Her evenly cut silver white hair streamed down gracefully on her back. "I wish you to survive this endeavor, because I prefer not to have to put my son through this plotting of ours prematurely." A shadow of her servant appeared behind the screen, and positioned to wait for the mistress's call. Shirakume and Inu no Taishou faced each other thorough the reflected images in the mirror. Shirakume looked as if she had become the mirror's smooth, cool surface that obstructed an attempt to touch. "I know everything is in good hands." Inu no Taishou smiled softly, and left his mate in the dressing room.
"Where is Kureha-sama?" Kureha's handmaiden Kosame asked her peer, Hakage. They were in Kureha's suite, packing her belongings into caskets. "She went to the library a little while ago. She said she wished to look up something before we leave." Hakage answered. "How diligent of her. The convoy's early arrival was unexpected. She must have some unfinished studies." Kosame shrugged, as she folded Kureha's kimono. "Though I am glad that we are returning to the Orochi, I will miss this palace. This is such a fascinating place. Very different from our stronghold." Kosame wrapped a kimono in a large sheet of paper, and put it away in a flat wooden case. "It seems that our concern about Sesshoumaru-sama was just our presumption. He was being so difficult with Kureha-sama early on, but it looks like they had come to terms with each other now. They have known each other since their childhood....I am glad that they mended their friendship before they parted." She started on another piece of a kimono. Hakage stopped her hands and looked at Kosame, bewildered about how different Kosame's understanding of the situation from her own, despite being at the same place and seeing the same scenes. Kosame was gullible and always a little slow to catch what was going on in her surroundings. On the contrary, more quiet Hakage was observant, and she had perceived that the quality of the tension between her mistress and Sesshoumaru had changed. Hakage had once seen her mistress come back from her walk in the forest, and her rouge was faded to a tint. That day, she immediately took a bath upon returning, and had her apparitions do all the assistance. That was the only time she had observed such behavior from her mistress, and it was then that she became suspicious of her mistress' affair with Sesshoumaru. At the previous night's gathering, the heat in their glance under their reserved interaction was transparent to her watchful eyes. Nevertheless, Hakage was devoted to her mistress, and thought her awareness was undesirable. She did not wish to cause her mistress difficulty. She had pretended ignorance to match Kosame's, whose naiveté made the whole act more convincing. Hakage had also made sure that Kosame remained unaware of her observations.
In the absence of her mistress, Hakage felt playful. "Kosame, I was thinking recently.....Who do you think more attractive, Sesshoumaru-sama or Kuchinagimaru-sama?" She asked. Kosame's face was brightened with enthusiasm. "Oh, let see...hmm. Well, Sesshoumaru-sama certainly is strikingly beautiful, but he scares me sometimes. He's also too distant. I wouldn't know what is going on with him. I would have to say Kuchinagimaru-sama. My father and cousins have great respect for him. He is young but powerful and astute. And he is dedicated to the clan. I think Kureha-sama and Kuchinagimaru-sama will make a stunning pair." Kosame spoke contentedly. "What is your opinion, Hakage?" "Mine? um, I agree with you." Hakage gave a vague answer. "How would Kureha-sama answer to this question?" She wondered. In fact, she was rather curious about what drew her mistress to the infamously impassive Inu daiyoukai. "But I must admit that Sesshoumaru-sama makes me curious, that there must be more to him that I don't know." Hakage added to her remark, and impishly smiled. "You'd better watch your curiosity. It does not do any good to those who are in a position like ours." Kosame chided Hakage lightheartedly.
Kureha was in the basement of the library, amongst unrolled scrolls. Fireflies which were raised for this library flew about, providing cool lights. A couple of them landed on her shoulder, and illuminated her view. They were larger and brighter than the specimens seen in nature. "I would like to gather as much information as I can find about Ryukotsusei and the region. I do not know enough to determine my course of action." Kureha thought to herself. "However, it seems there is not as much here as I hoped." She sighed lightly, and rolled up the scroll that she had in her hand. Shirakume had an impressive collection of scrolls on youkai history and spells of different types. Her library was well known amongst youkai sages and scholars, and this palace had become a destination of their "pilgrimage". Hence her mother, Matriarch Shiyou decided to send Kureha to study here since her early age.
"Kureha." Kureha heard Sesshoumaru's voice. "What are you doing?" Sesshoumaru stood behind her, near the entrance. "I was searching for some information about Ryukotsusei and the region," Kureha said, and put away a few scrolls she had rolled back. She turned and looked up to see him. Though it was only yesterday when he held her in his arms, it felt like it was a distant memory. Sesshoumaru threw a cool indecipherable stare back at her. Last night they had parted, and let each other go. Now after the daybreak, their wills had driven them into their roles. Even so, they realized this theater that maintained their distance and poise was more delicate than it appeared.
"The convoy is approaching. You will not find anything here in time," Sesshoumaru said. "It seems it was a wasted effort. I suppose I should return to my suite and prepare for the convoy's arrival." She agreed, and began to put away the rest of the scrolls. The fireflies which were resting on the scrolls around her flew away simultaneously, and for a moment Kureha was showered with light. Sesshoumaru stepped toward Kureha, and dropped a scroll. "....What is that scroll?" Kureha asked. "Recently my mother had it brought to her from here. I assume you had not seen it." He turned around. "You do not have the time to read its content. I suggest you take it." "I do not wish to take Shirakume-sama's scroll without her permission," Kureha said to his back. She regretted that she could only speak to him in this way. "I will tell my mother that I have lost it." Sesshoumaru showed his profile to her. "That is as if you are telling her that you let me take it," Kureha replied, with slight anxiousness in her tone. "I do not wish to appear that I am infiltrating while asking her counsel." She paused, her eyes fixed on his profile. "And involving you." "Perhaps you could learn from my mother to lose scruples," Sesshoumaru spoke dryly. "It will not concern her as much as you would expect. She will consider that I merely leveled your playing field, and proceed as usual." He left the library.
Kureha stared at the scroll on the floor. She reached out, and took the scroll in her hands. She felt a familiar longing that she kept at bay. Kureha pulled out a piece of silk cloth from the folds of her kimono, and wrapped the scroll carefully with it.
A young Orochi warrior appeared at the end of the stairs leading to the main tower of the palace, accompanied by another Orochi male, who seemed older. It was apparent that the elder Orochi was a subordinate to the young warrior. Five large carriages and a small army of Orochi males followed them, and they all proceeded through the gateway of the palace. The young warrior ordered the convoy to take a formation in the courtyard inside of the gateway. He took off his sword, and entrusted to his subordinate. The two proceeded into the palace.
All assembled in the meeting room. Shirakume sat in her throne, and Inu no Taishou stood on her left side. Sesshoumaru stood away from them, on the right side of Shirakume. Kureha entered the meeting room. She walked towards the throne, and bowed to Shirakume and Inu no Taishou. Her handmaidens, Kosame and Hakage positioned themselves near the entrance.
A servant came in, and announced the arrival of the Orochi convoy. Shirakume gave a nod to allow them to enter. A moment later, the young Orochi warrior and his elder subordinate entered the meeting room. The warrior looked to be about the same age as Sesshoumaru and Kureha. His face still showed the freshness of a young male who had just entered adulthood; however, the air he carried was austere and commanding. Though it was suppressed, all in the meeting room could sense the immense energy of his youki*. The elaborate details against the dull sheen of his armor expressed the warrior's high status and his active front line experience. This creature was not a mere convoy leader.
"By the order of The Orochi Matriarch Shiyou, We have come to escort Matriarch Kureha." The young warrior bowed, and announced as he looked straight at Kureha. He spoke with stern authority. Shirakume raised her brows in amusement. Inu no Taishou assessed the young Orochi warrior quickly, and smiled broadly in satisfaction. Sesshoumaru looked at the warrior dismissively. "I have also been sent by Matriarch Shiyou to introduce myself to the leaders of our allies, the Inu daiyoukai." The warrior continued, as he faced to Inu no Taishou and Shirakume. He glanced over at Sesshoumaru, and gave a slight nod. "I am Kuchinagimaru, son of the Orochi first minister, Kagetsune."
"Welcome, Kuchinagimaru. Please come closer. I have been looking forward to meeting you," Shirakume said amiably. Kuchinagimaru approached the throne. He moved with discipline and poise. Kureha watched over him attentively. Her expression evinced the seriousness of a leader evaluating her deputy. Yet she also showed a gentle concern for him. Her time for sentimental feeling had ended with the daybreak. She focused on being the effective new Orochi Matriarch. Sesshoumaru observed Kureha's profile. He felt pain as he saw the countenance of her will. It seeped into him surreptitiously. However, he disregarded it as though it was an insignificant wound. Kuchinagimaru bowed to Kureha with intentness before he stood next to her. "It is good to see you again, Kuchinagimaru." Taishou greeted. "It is an honor to meet you again, Inu no Taishou." Kuchinagimaru replied.
"I must congratulate you, Kuchinagimaru, for your imminent ascension as the Lord of the Orochi," Shirakume said with a captivating smile. "Thank you. I am honored to finally meet you, Shirakume-sama. I have heard much about your wisdom from the Matriarch Shiyou." Kuchinagimaru answered politely. He turned to Sesshoumaru. "I am also pleased to meet you, Sesshoumaru. Matriarch Kureha speaks of you highly." Kuchinagimaru greeted with subtle cautiousness, though with sincerity. It seemed that he had yet to conclude his assessment on Sesshoumaru. This Orochi was alert and prudent.
Sesshoumaru saw the famed three scale marking on Kuchinagimaru's forehead. The marking was known to appear only amongst the most powerful of the Orochi males. As the Matriarch's principal mate, this male would become the leader of the Orochi males after Kureha's enthronement. "I greet you under our alliance, Kuchinagimaru." Sesshoumaru responded plainly. His face was as inscrutable as one of Kureha's apparitions'. A brief silence followed. Kuchinagimaru looked at Sesshoumaru probingly, as if to determine the will behind his apathy. "I look forward to the occasion for us to get to know each other." Discerning there was no further use of diplomatic platitudes, Kuchinagimaru wrapped up his greeting for Sesshoumaru innocuously. Inu no Taishou was baffled by his son's display of utter disinterest toward Kuchinagimaru. This male was to be the mate to the only female Sesshoumaru had ever showed special interest in, as far as he knew. If he was in his son's situation, he would at least be curious about Kuchinagimaru, and would have made some effort to get to know him. He did not understand his son's indifference. Shirakume snickered under her fan, at both her mate and her son. It appeared that her mate does not know about some aspects of his son as well as she. Or rather, perhaps Taishou assumed his own perspective on his son all too often. On the other hand, her son was completely negligent of diplomacy and communication. The males in her life were naturally dependent of her exceptional perceptiveness, it seemed. Shirakume gave an inaudible sigh, and looked over at Kureha. Her face did not show any trace of the sentiment toward Sesshoumaru that was apparent the previous night. Her regal posture spoke of her resolve to accept her role, and take on the challenges that awaited her. Shirakume felt nostalgic, seeing herself in the young Orochi Matriarch.
An Orochi clansman entered the meeting room, and announced that the convoy had received all the caskets, and was prepared for the departure. "Well Kureha, Congratulations. May your reign be prosperous." Shirakume said warmly. "Thank you, Shirakume-sama. I shall meet you again in our diplomatic dealings." Kureha and Kuchinagimaru gave formal bows to the throne, and proceeded to exit.
Kosame and Hakage waited for their mistress and Kuchinagimaru to exit the meeting room, then followed. Kosame had been preoccupied by the view of her favorite, Kuchinagimaru, and she quickly exited to follow him and her mistress. Hakage had been closely observing Sesshoumaru. From where she was, she could only see his profile. She focused on his profile in hoping to catch a glimpse of his state of mind; however, he remained perfectly graceful and impassive, with no hint of perceivable emotion. "Does he not miss Kureha-sama? What was she to him?" She felt disappointment and frustration at his stoniness. Hakage stared desperately, as if that could make Sesshoumaru show her his inner self. Sesshoumaru turned his face to her. Hakage swallowed her breath and froze, as though she had been pinned to the wall by his mere look. Though she was youkai herself, for a moment she thought she understood the awe humans might have felt in front of an unfathomable creature like him. "Hakage." She was brought back by Kureha's voice. "Yes, Kureha-sama." Hakage bowed toward the throne, then followed her mistress. She felt Sesshoumaru's eyes following her. When she joined her mistress, Kosame scowled at her, and Kureha inspected her. However, what alarmed Hakage most was Kuchinagimaru. She saw him look toward Sesshoumaru in the meeting room for a moment, then shift his glance to Kureha. Kureha turned, and began to proceed down the corridor. All followed her. "I must watch my behavior. I must not draw anyone's attention to the connection between Kureha-sama and Sesshoumaru-sama." Hakage braced herself.
Shirakume shut her fan. "That Kuchinagimaru is a sharp one. The Orochi certainly is blessed with their new leadership. You might need to watch yourself, Sesshoumaru," she said to her son teasingly. "I do not think that necessary." Sesshoumaru dismissed his mother's remark. Shirakume turned to her mate. "The same goes to you. You are not only dealing with Kureha, when dealing with the Orochi." Inu no Taishou nodded silently. He judged Kuchinagimaru could become a difficult adversary against his endeavor. A servant came in to notify Inu no Taishou that his messenger from the east had arrived. He instructed the servant to have the messenger led to his suite, and left the meeting room. Sesshoumaru also proceeded to leave the meeting room.
"Sesshoumaru, whatever happened to the scroll that I had in my study?" Shirakume stopped her son. "I have lost it." Sesshoumaru gave a terse answer, while he had his back towards her. "You probably handed it to Kureha. I expected it as much." Shirakume frowned with a hint of playfulness. "I cannot let this pass. You shall pay for your betrayal to your dear mother." She said, and slapped her palm with her fan like a whip. Her rouged lips widened as she smirked. Sesshoumaru turned to face his mother, annoyed by her theatrics. "I shall send you to the Orochi as my emissary. You shall greet Matriarch Kureha and Kuchinagimaru on my behalf after her enthronement." Shirakume gloated. Sesshoumaru furrowed his brows in discontentment. "I refuse." "Why would you refuse? Don't you want to make sure Kureha handle matters to her advantage against your mother?" Shirakume asked frankly. "She will handle matters as she pleases. It is not my concern." Sesshoumaru retorted. "It is your concern. You wish to maintain our alliance with the Orochi, while your father goes on to threaten it with his plan against Ryukotsusei. You certainly do not wish to be at war with Kureha's clan. Should that come to pass, you will be forced to taint your hands with their blood. Then it would be.....too late." Shirakume's words contained a degree of threat, though it was subdued. Sesshoumaru responded to his mother with a defiant glare. "Your taste for devious amusements has warped your judgment. I should not be the one you send." Shirakume was unfazed by her son's youki threatening back at her. "You will do. Your fondness for Kureha and your skepticism of your mother would give you a decent cover from Kuchinagimaru's suspicions. In fact, your presence may distract him." She grinned. "I am sure Kureha would appreciate your counsel. Worry not, I don't intend to give instructions that you must follow. Indeed, I do have a taste for devious amusements."
Glossary: youki: Youkai aura. It reflects the innate power of a youkai.
As many of you already know, "Inu no Taishou" is not exactly a name. "Taishou" means something similar to "general", and it is a nickname for him. Since the word "taishou" already refers to a position/class with a degree of respect included, adding "sama" to it would be redundant and would only be done by (fearful) lower class youkai and commoners, which have not shown up in the story as of yet. XD So I have not been adding "sama" with Inu no Taishou. RT not giving him name is annoying, but I already made up a name for Sessmom, and I didn't want to make up a name for him.
Disclaimer: I make no profit from this work. This is just for my own enjoyment. Sesshoumaru, Sesshoumaru's mother (I call her Shirakume in this story) and Inu no Taishou=> Rumiko Takahashi's characters.
Kureha, Kuchinagimaru, Kosame, and Hakage are foo-dog's characters. This work is foo-dog's. Please do not redistribute.
Finally I got to upload this chapter. I hope you remember what happened previously....
Well, this one was more about setting things up for later chapters..... introducing new characters and all. Kuchinagimaru (his portrait can be seen here =>[link] )will be depicted more later, of course.
Sesshoumaru did get "humbled" by Kureha's apparitions in the past. For example... =>"Little Sesshoumaru 2" [link] and "Little Sesshoumaru 3" [link]
Kureha's two handmaidens, Kosame and Hakage's sketch can be seen here. => [link]
you know what hurts? filling your head with ideas and fantasies of a perfect love and dreams come true... and finding out that just because you wish on stars, doesn't mean those burning orbs of gas even hear you.
what hurts is knowing that your world is falling apart. that it is crumbling away, piece by piece... and no matter how hard you try, you can't put it pack together, because the "fix instantly" glue won't stick.
what kills me is this need to be someone, to change something... but never knowing exactly where to start.
i know where to begin.
i need to change myself before i can truly accomplish anything else. the problem is, i'm so used to being me that i'm unsure of how to be someone else.
or maybe i got that all wrong.
perhaps i'm so used to being someone else, that i don't know how to be "me" anymore
it's almost a habit to pretend that the girl i see in the mirror every day is me. she has my eyes, and my hair and sometimes, she even wears my smile.
but there's something missing.
her eyes seem so hollow, and cold i often wonder, if she has a soul at all.
and her smile, the corners of her pretty mouth lift,
but smiles indicate happiness--and i know she's not happy.
the real me is always happy. her genuine smile brightens everyone's day her laughter resonates in their ears, like joyful music without words. she is beautiful.
maybe i am both of these girls.
perhaps somewhere in between.
or maybe i am someone else entirely.
i live in such a mad world, that i don't know how i'd ever know. maybe i'm just as mad as the rest of my world.
I did a bit of editing of this poem. Re-submitted it since I like my new version better. This will likely be the final.
Edits from the first version [Version1 found here [link] ] Shifted part one S2 to Part III. Changed last line of S1. Cut X stanza and down-shifted original part III. Cut last lines of VI (the current VII)
Following is a short list of ideas and premise used in this story. Please read it before starting on the story. It will make more sense.
Sesshoumaru and Kureha had studied together since they were children. Kureha's mother and Inu no Taishou had an alliance against a foreign youkai invasion, and since then their kin kept their alliance. Kureha was entrusted to Sesshoumaru's mother while she received lessons from sages gathered at Sesshoumaru's mother's palace. They met every few years, and Kureha stayed about half a year each time. Kureha's Orochi (Great Serpent) clan and Sesshoumaru's Inu Daiyoukai have different customs and social structure. Youkai do not have convention of marriage. In my universe, Inupop was an absent father. He did not live with Sessmom, and he visited Sessmom and Sesshoumaru from time to time, occasionally giving Sesshoumaru lessons when he was around. (as seen in Young Sesshoumaru 6 and 6B) Kureha has a special ability to create "apparitions" of herself, and they act on her behalf. These apparitions will transform into giant spirit serpents when attacking. (not relevant to this tale) The numbers of apparition she is able to create correponds to her age and power. Sesshoumaru is carrying a short sword at this time, which he will give up during his rite of passage ceremony. In their youth, youkai has similar aging speed as humans, and it slows down as their body matures.
Sesshoumaru and Kureha had come to the last year of their study. At the end of that year, they both were to go through ceremonies for rites of passage. For Sesshoumaru, that meant to gain the right to build own stronghold. He would be given his armor and fur, and be recognized by his pack as a new competitor. For Kureha, that meant to replace her mother as the new Matriarch. She would assume her duty of leading her clan, and she would be expected to bear the next Matriarch. Kureha might or might not produce a female heir in her lifetime, and she could only conceive by her own kind. It was very rare for an Orochi (Great Serpent) Daiyoukai to conceive a female offspring. Thus her Orochi clan members were mostly males with very few females, and they operated collectively around their Matriarch. Inu Daiyoukai on the other hand, had more free-forming social structure. Each members were left to his or her own choice and ability to build their own stronghold. Some did (Sessmom), and some chose not to (Inupop). Their number were also much fewer than Orochi Daiyoukai.
On the promised day at dusk, Kureha arrived at Sesshoumaru's mother's palace with dozen of her Orochi clansmen and two handmaidens. She only allowed her handmaidens to accompany her into the palace.
This time, something was different. Kureha ran into Sesshoumaru after greeting his mother in the meeting room. They both inspected each other as if they have met for the first time. It had been 3 years since the last time they met for their study. Kureha had grown to be an alluring young woman. She was never daunted by Sesshoumaru's harshness, and she was one of very few strangers whom Sesshoumaru had some degree of respect for. Sesshoumaru's appearance was remakable. His presence naturally drew attention, especially from females. Although, their attention was always returned by his indifference. Kureha was always fond of his graceful bearing. She noticed that he had become more virile. However, what drew her to him most, was something lurking beneath his harsh and impassive stance. It stirred her curiosity. Whenever she thought she came close to knowing it, it eluded her.
"I will be staying again, for the last time." Kureha said to Sesshoumaru. He did not reply, except with the slight change of the light in his amber eyes. This was all familiar to her. They both started to walk away from each other at the same time.
As their days went by, Sesshoumaru had noticed that without intending to do so, he was looking for Kureha when he was not around her. He did not question himself why. He chose to dismiss it. Kureha became aware that her own interest in Sesshoumaru was more than mere curiosity. She wondered what he thought of her. It was difficult to know, except he was not so surly to her like he was to most others. She imagined what would be like to touch him. He sometimes seemed like an illusion, just like an apparition that she could create. Though she did not control it. It haunted her. Knowing that she would soon have to leave, Kureha decided to leave things alone. Her duties as the new Matriarch of her clan awaited her.
One day, one of the sages brought a rare specimen of moth to their lesson. The moth fed on corpses and dusts of youkai remains. When it lived long enough repeating its consumption, the moth would eventually emerge as the youkai it had last consumed. Kureha was fascinated to see a creature that could make such transformation, and her face brightened up with delight. Sesshoumaru was pleased by seeing Kureha's reaction. For a moment, he was seized upon by an ardent impulse to possess her. However, he became disturbed to realize she had such effect on him. He resented her for intruding in his mind so clandestinely. While Kureha marveled at the details on the moth's wings as it flew around her, she saw the moth suddenly split in two in the air. The half of its remains landed softly on her lap like a petal of peony.
"A vile creature." Sesshoumaru said dispassionately, as he sheathed his short sword.
For many days, Kureha had been hiding. It was getting too difficult for her to be in the presence of Sesshoumaru. He was becoming increasingly irritable around her. Her handmaidens also became concerned, and advised her to keep distance from him. She needed some peace until the time she would leave. Peace in hiding was far from what she wanted, however she chose that over disappointment. "What is it that I am expecting from Sesshoumaru?" Kureha asked herself. No matter, she decided to leave things alone, and hiding herself was a way to do so. Kureha stayed inside of the warded "male off-limits" area within the palace "studying". She met with sages for lessons without Sesshoumaru, and used her apparitions to run her errands. Though he acted as if he would rather see her go away when he was around Kureha, Sesshoumaru was perturbed by her disappearance. He became angry at himself for letting her absence get to him, and at her for disturbing his mind. He needed to rid of the source of his disturbance as soon as possible. It was difficult to track Kureha's apparitions, because they could disappear without leaving any scent to follow. Of course, this aggravated Sesshoumaru even more.
One afternoon after his training, Sesshoumaru caught a sight of Kureha's apparition. He tracked it down successfully this time, and found Kureha in the forest. She was playing a game of go stone with another of her apparitions on a small island in the middle of a small lake. A single magnolia tree had grown on the island, and it was in full blossom above them. Kureha felt a breeze that moved petals on the ground. Sesshoumaru stood behind her.
He grabbed her wrist forcefully and asked. "Speak. Why do you hide yourself ? " She winced slightly at the pain he caused her. The forest fell silent, sensing his tremendous youki (youkai aura) being stirred. Sesshoumaru looked sharply into her eyes, and tightened his grip. It would have quickly crushed a human arm. Kureha was speechless for a moment. It was unusual for her to get flustered. "I...hid myself because...." She was starting to feel glad to be found, and she thought she would simply reveal what was in her mind all this time. Hiding herself did not keep her safe from what she wanted. However, as she looked into his eyes, she realized that she had lured him out, and it was he who was caught. Sesshoumaru listened to her intently, but he did not wait for her to finish what she wanted to say. He remembered the moment when Kureha saw the moth. This time, he had made a different choice. He chose to simply respond.
Kureha thought she heard Sesshoumaru murmur, "Enough." as he drew her to him. She saw his face approached her. Their lips touched. He supped the rest of her words from her lips gently. However, grip of his hand was still firm. He was not going to let her go. As she felt his fang on her lip, she clutched his garment. "We are each other's prey." Kureha thought.
Later that day, Sesshoumaru's mother called Kureha to the meeting room for a conversation. Kureha entered the room. She looked to have just come back from cleansing. She brought with her fresh scent of spring water. Her face had slight flush, and she was wearing new kimono. Kureha bowed to Sesshoumaru's mother in her usual graceful manner, but she seemed to be a little bit preoccupied, which was unlike her. She also did not talk much about her day, except she said she took a break and spent some time in the forest nearby.
The mother could smell faint but distinct scent of her son from the girl in front of her. She did not pry, though she understood what had transpired. When Kureha left the room, the mother sighed. ".... Sesshoumaru...! " She regretted that she did not consider a warding rosary to protect the next Orochi Matriarch who was entrusted to her. How would the Orochi clan receive this incident if they find out? However, those were just momentary thoughts. Why, a mere rosary would not do anything except to insult them with my presumption. This would not have happened if either of them did not wish it. Kureha is a clever girl. Let her handle the situation. No one needs to know what happened between them.
The mother glanced toward the direction where Kureha had exited, and shrugged. "They will do as they please."
Disclaimer: I make no profit from this little story. Sesshoumaru and his parents=>Rumiko Takahashi's characters Kureha=> my character.
When this was written, I really did not think I would turn this into a saga. But the idea kept growing.
This story will continue to "An Emergence 2" [link]
OMG did you read it ? I'm a little bit embarrassed for some reason. I am an artist, not a writer, but I am constantly thinking about stories when I make pictures...so figured I would write a little bit as a record and to give more context to my pictures. Plus, this is a good practice in English for me.
This little tale was written for "Young Sesshoumaru 7A" and "Young Sesshoumaru 7B" I hope it makes viewing my pic more entertaining at least! Thank you for going along! It's supposed to be a romantic fairy tale. (as far as Sesshoumaru goes...)
Their relationship was short lived. The reason I'm not mentioning here... But he will meet Kureha again, and eventually, Kureha will meet Rin, as seen in Sesshoumaru and Rin: A Seer.
Hakage sat in front of Sesshoumaru with her back as straight and rigid as one of stone pillars. "...You...require my assistance?" She did not hide her astonishment. "You understand what that means." Sesshoumaru watched her intently.
"I cannot let you inside of the Matriarch's chamber. You must stay at the guest's palace this evening." Hakage answered decisively. She was afraid to anger him, however, it was not something she could allow herself to do. Even if they tried, Kuchinagimaru's presence would surely escalate such attempt into a disastrous situation. She was not confident about escaping the astute Lord of the Orochi's notice, even with Sesshoumaru's effort. Still, she felt sympathetic to his wish. She braced herself and waited Sesshoumaru to respond.
Sesshoumaru stared at Hakage's earnest face, somewhat amused at her presumption. To sneak into Kureha's sleeping chamber was not what he had in mind. However in Hakage's mind, it seemed that he was assigned a role of a quiet yet passionate lover, who is seeking a surreptitious rendezvous at great risk, or some such. His slightly amused expression surprised her, and Hakage was emboldened by it. She opened her mouth. "Forgive my frankness, however, my loyalty is for Kureha-sama, and I will not do anything that may put her in a difficult position. Matriarch's chamber is no longer privately her space." She spoke cautiously, hoping that Sesshoumaru would understand the situation at hand. The meaning of her last words stung him subtly, though Sesshoumaru let it pass. "You have an incorrect notion of what I require." His amber eyes met with her green eyes. "Kureha will attempt to meet with me. You are to facilitate her effort, with least amount of involvement, and the foremost attention to secrecy." Sesshoumaru reached into the folds between collars of his kimono, and took out a small folded paper in square. "Give her this as soon as you are able. Tell her to use it when I may approach her." Hakage stood up and moved toward Sesshoumaru. She bowed, and received the folded paper held between his long graceful fingers. Hakage blushed as her own hands came inches away from his hand. His skin was fine and fair. She saw deadly yet arresting claws that accentuated his fingertips. An Orochi like herself did not possess claws. She wondered how he would caress her mistress without harming her delicate skin; the imagination made her feel her own body heat rise. Sesshoumaru looked at her subtly flushed face suspiciously. Hakage swallowed her breath, cast her eyes on the floor; she stepped backwards to her position, away from him. "I receive this on behalf of my Matriarch. I will give it to her at the first opportunity I find." She hid the paper carefully within her collars. Sesshoumaru scrutinized Hakage's movement. "I require nothing more. You will not betray your own oath to your Matriarch." He concluded solemnly. "Yes. I will do as you requested." She answered with sincerity, and gave an impeccably graceful bow to Sesshoumaru. Hakage stood up and proceeded to exit the room. She stopped in front of the screen, and turned toward Sesshoumaru. He raised his brow, prompting her. "I know that your decisions are out of your affection for Kureha-sama." Hakage smiled. "I am certain your thoughtfulness will reach her." His impulse wished to deny her assertion immediately. However, in denial he recognized his own dishonesty. "I am honoring her circumstance as the Matriarch." Sesshoumaru replied impassively.
Sesshoumaru was left alone again in the room. He had picked up what he entrusted to Hakage, on the way to this Island. His intuition told him it would be useful, yet he was uncertain of how and when he could get it to Kureha. It would have been useless if it was given too late. Nevertheless, he was somehow compelled to bring it with him. The unexpected aid from Hakage at this favorable moment made it seem as though it was part of the plan all along. "Sesshoumaru-sama." He heard Keijya's voice behind the screens. "The Matriarch is ready to receive your greeting."
Kureha gripped her leaf-shaped fan. Its flexible edge bowed against her silk garment. Kuchinagimaru gazed sharply toward the entrance of the meeting hall. Keijya entered the hall. "I have escorted the Emissary from Inu daiyoukai, Sesshoumaru-sama." He bowed, and exited the meeting hall. Sesshoumaru entered the hall. He bowed to the entire Orochi leadership, then proceeded forward. His tall figure moved elegantly, his steps falling softly on the stone tiled floor. He halted in the center of the hall, facing directly toward the throne. Sesshoumaru stood silently, and took a moment as he faced the Orochi Matriarch.
A delicate smile floated on Kureha's lips. Her smile showed a glimpse of trepidation, yet its tenderness communicated that she was still pleased to see him, so unexpectedly soon, in front of her clansmen. Seeing her in front of him again, Sesshoumaru realized that he had missed her. He missed the serenity he felt when she was with him. The distance between where he stood and her throne was so short. Within a few strides he would be where she was. His unruly side aroused an impulse to ignore everything except his own unadulterated desire and take her away. It was indeed tempting. Such act would quickly devastate his mother's schemes and destroy all of the charade he had been made to endure. Of course, his inauspicious satisfaction would not come cheaply; at the costs of war with the Orochi clansmen, betraying Kureha's wish. He would attain nothing that he desired in the end. Besides, here and now it would be a suicidal act. He stopped entertaining his dangerous impulse.
Sesshoumaru noticed Kuchinagimaru's calm yet keenly scrutinizing stare, which looked as though he had just seen through Sesshoumaru's thoughts. He smelled "them". It was faint, yet it clearly declared to him that Kuchinagimaru and Kureha had consummated their "oath", as Teiroushin put it so lewdly. It was nothing unexpected, however, he was not prepared for his own spontaneous imagination; he saw a fleeting image of her smooth limbs wrapped tightly around Kuchinagimaru, just as she had done to him. Sesshoumaru refused to acknowledge the emotional surge he felt at that instant, and laughed at himself for his own banality behind his poise. "It does not concern me," he told himself. Sesshoumaru moved his eyes back toward Kureha. She received his glance with dignity, with her insignia, her fan set against her chest. Her bearing conveyed that she had accepted her part. She was honoring his parting words* to her, that she be vigilant, and would treat him as the Orochi Matriarch. Her resolve reminded Sesshoumaru of his purpose for being here at the Orochi stronghold. He did not wish to harm Kureha and what is dear to her, because of his father's choice. He felt confirmed in the role assigned to him. Sesshoumaru kneeled in front of Kureha. His hair and pelt formed an elegant slope which evoked a freshly snowed hill behind him. "I have come on behalf of Inu daiyoukai Shirakume, to wish you a prosperous reign, Matriarch Kureha." He spoke ceremoniously. "And we extend our blessing to the ascension of the Lord Kuchinagimaru. May our friendship continue to benefit us all." His solemn voice resonated through the cool air of the meeting hall.
"Sesshoumaru, We are pleased to see you. We thank Shirakume-sama for sending you here. We appreciate her gesture of respect and friendship," Kureha spoke with regality. "This is the first time you have been to our stronghold." She gave a coy smile. "We hope we did not keep you with Teiroushin too long." "It was long enough. Some may find it amusing." Sesshoumaru replied frankly. Some members in the meeting hall snickered with his remark referring to Teiroushin. "My mother send regards to Matriarch Shiyou. She wishes to personally visit her soon. I also wish Matriarch Shiyou's well being." Sesshoumaru concentrated his attention on Kureha. Kureha turned her leaf-shaped fan. "Thank you. My mother would be pleased to have her visit."
Kuchinagimaru was intently listening as their conversation continued, while his eyes fixed on Sesshoumaru's countenance. He had already deduced that there was something more than innocent childhood friendship between Kureha and Sesshoumaru. In their most intimate moments, Kureha was reticent with him. Yet in the heat of their lust, she relished pleasures with the awareness of the one who had cultivated her sexuality. Kuchinagimaru wondered, and he reached a simple conclusion. Sesshoumaru was one of few males in Kureha's rigorously controlled environment. Their familiarity since the childhood could have made the transition to lover's intimacy unprompted, if they became attracted to each other. Furthermore, Kuchinagimaru could not think of anyone else who Kureha would possibly accept. As soon as he acknowledged the connection, all other indications seemed to support his conjecture, including Hakage's favorable view of Sesshoumaru, which he found notable. Kuchinagimaru also assessed that Sesshoumaru was the kind who was concerned with what is personally significant to him and nothing more, that he would not take on a role of emissary out of his concern for diplomacy, nor for his family's sake. He suspected as well, that there had to be another reason beside his tie to Kureha to compel him to come here. It would be dishonest if he said he was not at all perturbed by what he had perceived. Kuchinagimaru understood that his partnership with Kureha had just started. The time they had spent with each other did not compare to what Kureha had spent with Sesshoumaru. In the presence of Sesshoumaru, he realized his wish to protect his matriarch risked coming too close to his more selfish desire of keeping her for himself. He was made aware of his own growing affection for Kureha.
"However, it is meaningless to fret," Kuchinagimaru thought, as he watched Kureha's profile. He was not only Kureha's mate; he was also her top deputy, and the protector of his clan. They were bound to their roles, and thus to each other. Kuchinagimaru had decided that he would trust Kureha's commitment to her role as the Orochi Matriarch, and let the situation unfold. "I shall find out what is behind this visit, and act upon for the benefit of the clan. That is my answer." He said to himself.
"Sesshoumaru, I hope you will be staying this evening for the celebration." Kuchinagimaru broke his silence. Kureha turned to her mate, and observed his expression carefully. Sesshoumaru faced Kuchinagimaru. "Yes," He paused. "I thank you for your hospitality." He subtly inflected his superiority while playing deference. Kuchinagimaru nodded with a faint grin. "Very well. You are our last guest. You will be escorted to where we hold the celebration."
Kosame and Hakage heard movements in the meeting hall. Elders and ministers were exiting, and they passed the hallway next to the dressing room. "Ah, it is finished." Kosame noted. "Well, do you have all of the garments for this evening in order?" She turned to Hakage. "Yes. They are over here." Hakage pulled stacked garment boxes out from the shelf. "I must find a moment when I could give what I received from Sesshoumaru-sama to Kureha-sama," she thought, as she readied the room with Kosame for Kureha's arrival. The screen opened, and Kureha had entered the dressing room. "Kureha-sama, I hope you are feeling all right. Earlier you seemed to be very fatigued. We still have more events today." Kosame approached her. "Thank you, Kosame. I feel much better now." Kureha smiled. Hakage stayed quiet, observing her mistress. Kosame began to undress Kureha. Hakage brought out the stacked lacquered boxes, and she lined them up beside the two females. As she stood with her arms raised, Kureha tracked back what happened in the meeting hall in her mind.
After Sesshoumaru was escorted out of the meeting hall, Kureha looked over at Kuchinagimaru. She wondered how much her astute mate had discerned from this meeting. It would not be surprising if he understood the unmentioned aspect of her past with Sesshoumaru, and he chose not to question. Kuchinagimaru caught Kureha's probing stare. His expression was calm and confident. It was as though he was pushing her to proceed, so that he could respond to what would become of it. Kureha stood up from the throne. "I shall see you all at the celebration." She spoke to the members of the leadership. Kuchinagimaru bowed to her, and the rest of the leadership bowed in concert as she made her exit. Kureha was taken aback at herself that she felt somewhat disappointed at Kuchinagimaru's undaunted self-possession. It was as though she wished to see a sign of his distress in this situation; or perhaps, what she wished to see was an evidence of his own passion for her. "...That does not make sense. His stance is favorable to my situation. This is how I wish things to move along at this time," she said to herself.
Kureha was brought back from her thoughts by the tightening of a sash that held innermost layer of her kimono together. "Would you prefer it looser?" Kosame looked up from her kneeling position. "This is fine." Kureha replied. Kosame proceeded to tie the sash meticulously. "It must have surprised you to see Sesshoumaru-sama here for this occasion." Hakage stopped folding the garment Kureha was wearing, and focused on her mistress' expression. "Yes. I was pleasantly surprised." Kureha smiled. "I think he was particularly well behaved, considering that I had made him wait with Teiroushin." Kosame chuckled. "Well, I am very happy that he came. It is a nice gesture as your childhood friend." Kureha turned her attention to Hakage. "Hakage, you are being very quiet." Kosame chimed in. "You have been a little preoccupied today." Hakage smiled bashfully, and resumed her task, facing away from them. "It will be an interesting evening tonight, with guests like Sesshoumaru-sama and Teiroushin-sama." Kureha watched her more quiet handmaiden with curiosity. "Indeed, it will be." She answered.
Kosame and Hakage finished putting the last layer of Kureha's garment, and retouched her coiffure. Kureha examined the thin white silk shawl with intricate embroideries of vines in front of the mirror. "I have changed my mind," she said. "Yes?" Both Hakage and Kosame turned to their mistress simultaneously. "I prefer to use the one with plum blossoms." Kureha handed the white silk to Kosame with a coquettish grin. "I will be back with it." Kosame received the silk, and left for the garment room across the hallway from the dressing room. Hakage was left alone with Kureha in the dressing room. She looked over at her mistress in front of the mirror. "This is when." She concluded. Hakage moved toward her mistress, and pulled out the folded paper she had received from Sesshoumaru. "Kureha-sama," She stood beside her mistress. Kureha turned her bright jade eyes to her. "What is it, Hakage." Hakage held Kureha's hand gently, and left the folded paper in her hand. "Sesshoumaru-sama said to use it when he may approach you." Hakage whispered softly into her mistress' ear, and swiftly moved away from her. Kureha immediately hid the folded paper between her collars, and turned to Hakage. "That is all you heard from him?" she inquired. She watched her handmaiden's face intently, trying to discern the situation. "Yes. I met him while he was in the waiting room. He requested that I make this delivery to you. Forgive my intrusiveness." Hakage bowed deeply, and faced her mistress. They were interrupted by the subtle sound of the sliding screen. "I have brought the one you requested." Kosame entered. Kureha smiled gracefully as she received the shawl. "Thank you Kosame." Then she glanced over at Hakage, and gave an order. "You both are dismissed until the celebration begins."
In the moment after she had sent her handmaidens away, Kureha pulled out the folded paper that she had received from Hakage. It seemed that her "secret" affair with Sesshoumaru was not as secret as she assumed. Though there were still uncertain points in why and how Hakage managed to meet with Sesshoumaru, she trusted Hakage's intention. She sent two of her apparitions to watch outside of the dressing room, and opened the folded paper. Between the whiteness of the paper, a single crimson colored leaf of houttuynia* appeared. "....Sesshoumaru." His name came out of Kureha's lips naturally. The leaf was their secret since their childhood. The unique youkai plant had a special property which they found out coincidentally. When blown against one's lips, it was able to create sound which is only audible for creatures like Inu daiyoukai. As a child, Kureha sometimes used this leaf to annoy Sesshoumaru as a retaliation, when he became insolent toward her. On her last full day at Shirakume's palace, Kureha found the plant amongst the tall reeds on the hill of "Fu-jin path". She used its leaf to bring Sesshoumaru to her, so that she could tell the news of her sudden departure to him privately. The crimson plant was the last witness of their affair. Kureha remembered how she saw its deep red leaves through the canopy of his silver-white hair, as they lay amongst the emerald field of reeds. She understood that it was more from "practical" reason Sesshoumaru had chosen to make use of this leaf. Amongst her clansmen and guests this evening, he would be the only one who could detect the sound it made. Still, he must not have been entirely oblivious to the symbolic quality of this leaf. He was aware of it somewhere, in the area of his heart which he often choose to disregard. "He does this sort of thing instinctively. I suppose it would seem too trite to him otherwise. However, I will take this as a romantic little gift." Kureha tenderly ran her index finger over the velvety surface of the leaf, and wrapped it back in the paper. She carefully hid it between the folds of her collars. Regardless, this is useful. This could facilitate a covert meeting with Sesshoumaru." Kureha adorned herself with the plum tinted shawl. She viewed her countenance of the Orochi Matriarch in the mirror.
Kuchinagimaru paused in the corridor on the fourth level of the palace. He was awaiting the time to escort Kureha to the celebration. The top level was always quiet, since half of the floor was dedicated to the Matriarch's private use. Only the high ranking servants and members of the clan were allowed to access this floor. The guests had been escorted to the annex of the palace where the celebration to be held. There was still some time left until the Matriarch would make her appearance. He watched the courtyard below, and checked the faces of the guards on duty. Most of the servants were stationed over at the annex, serving the guests.
"Kuchinagimaru-sama," a recognized voice spoke to him. Kosame approached Kuchinagimaru. "Have you not had enough events?" She grinned. Kosame was wearing a different kimono from earlier; one in a rich fabric suited for the occasion, with patterns of white butterflies. The pattern seemed somehow familiar to him, yet he could not place where he had seen it. "Yes. I could go without one for a long time." Kuchinagimaru answered. "Where did you obtain your fabric for today, Kosame?" "My, you pay attention." Kosame beamed. "If it was Seida, I could change my fabric every hour in a different shade and he would still think it was all the same." She mentioned her cousin, a two-scaled male who had trained with Kuchinagimaru in the past. "Actually, this is a gift from Shirakume-sama. Hakage had also received one in a different shade, with white butterflies." "Inu daiyoukai." Kuchinagimaru recalled the day he met Shirakume at her palace, when he arrived to escort Kureha back to the Orochi stronghold. He remembered the butterfly pattern on Shirakume's outer layer, which trailed under her throne. He stepped forward to examine Kosame's fabric up close. Kosame's pale face turned red quickly, as she saw Kuchinagimaru closer than she had ever seen him before. She froze speechless, as his fingers traced one of the butterfly pattern on her right shoulder. Alarmed, Kuchinagimaru narrowed his eyes. "You must take this fabric off at once, Kosame." He told her with a sober expression. "Kuchinagimaru-sama?" Kosame was baffled by his demand. "....I prefer not to do this, however, this may be the most efficient way to keep the matter under control." Kuchinagimaru thought, and he grasped her chin firmly to raise her face closer to him. "Watch my eyes." He commanded. "You had never received this garment, and we did not have this conversation." He stated as though intoning an incantation. Kosame felt her consciousness fizzle into nothingness, as she focused on Kuchinagimaru's steel green eyes. She collapsed in his arms. "I must find Hakage." Kuchinagimaru lifted Kosame's unconscious body.
Hakage was standing in front of the mirror in her suite. For some reason, today she had the hardest time tying her obi* in the way she wanted. She was still not satisfied with the bow; however, she decided she was not going to fuss with it any more. She ran her fingers across the white butterfly pattern on her left shoulder. "Sesshoumaru-sama will probably notice this pattern, Shirakume-sama's butterfly," she mused. Though she had no luck with her obi, Hakage was pleased that she completed her role for Sesshoumaru successfully. "Hakage." She heard Kuchinagimaru's voice behind the screen. Hakage saw Kuchinagimaru standing, with Kosame in his arms, unconscious. "Kuchinagimarusama.....Kosame!" She quickly escorted them into her suite, and prepared a mattress for Kosame. "What happened, Kuchinagimaru-sama." Hakage asked. "I must ask you both to remove the fabric you had received from Shirakume-sama. Give them to me." Kuchinagimaru commanded. "There is a matter I need to investigate." His expression was stern, and expected her obedience. "Understood..." Hakage agreed, and she looked up at Kuchinagimaru. He stepped outside of the room, and closed the screens. Hakage untied the obi that she was unhappy with. "It seems that I was not supposed to be wearing this today." She shrugged. She removed the top layer of her garment which was made from Shirakume's fabric from herself and Kosame, and folded into a lacquered tray. "But I wonder why....." Hakage opened the screen. "Kuchinagimaru-sama. Here is the entirety of Shirakume-sama's fabric." She handed the tray to Kuchinagimaru. Kuchinagimaru picked up the fabric. "Hakage. How did you two decide on this garment for today? Was Kureha involved in it?" He inquired. "No. Kureha-sama was not involved. It was a suggestion of Shirakume-sama that we wear these today, when we received her gift." Hakage was slightly confused about the situation. Kuchinagimaru nodded. "Hakage. When Kosame wakes up, she will not remember what had happened to her, nor the fact she had ever received this fabric. Put her in a different kimono, and tell her that you found her unconscious in the hallway, and I helped you carry her. This is a precaution to avoid any disturbance today. I will communicate about this with Kureha myself." Hakage watched his concerned expression, while he stared at the fabric in his hands. "I judge that I can trust you to not to tell anyone about this, for the sake of our relation with Inu daiyoukai." Kuchinagimaru turned his face to her. Hakage understood that this matter was beyond her ability. She decided to follow Kuchinagimaru's direction. "Yes. I will leave this matter to you." She agreed.
Teiroushin was taking a walk in the garden right outside of the annex of the Orochi palace, where the banquet and celebration was to be held. The annex was built on the top of the island's tallest peak, and from the edge of the garden he could see a view of the night sea under the crescent moon. Guests were mingling in the reception room, however, he had just made a Tortoise from Sanuiki* upset with his distasteful joke, and he escaped out into the garden until the attention of the crowd moved on. Sesshoumaru gave him a murderous look, just as he snuck out. "Well, I am not sure if Sesshoumaru-sama's current position is better than mine," he chuckled. Sesshoumaru had been kept captive by several emissaries from different youkai families, as they went all out to pique his interest for their daughters. They were not some lowly creatures whom he could simply punish for their annoyance. In fact, it was Teiroushin who stirred unwanted attention toward Sesshoumaru, by casually mentioning to them that he currently had no consort to speak of. "I might have gone overboard with that one." Teiroushin pondered. "Ah well, he'll survive. Why not have some females for the time being, instead of brooding over Kureha-sama." He shrugged. "But it is entertaining to see his stuck up face marred with the ever so subtle hint of anguish....hm?" He saw a tall figure ahead of him across a bridge, under the shade of a large pine tree. "Teiroushin-dono*. I wish to speak with you." Kuchinagimaru called on him. "Yes? Ah, Kuchinagimaru-sama." Teiroushin opened up his eyes, and moved toward him. One of his dead legs was not moving well, and he limped side ways like a monstrous crab.
"What do you want from me." Teiroushin looked up. "I wish to know what this is. I thought you might know the answer. I sense it to be a youkai, yet it does not seem to be alive in the state it is." Kuchinagimaru tore a piece from the kimono he held, and dropped it on Teiroushin's hands. The white silk butterfly floated as it fell, almost mimicking a real butterfly. "Hou...this is a sort of 'shikioni'." Teiroushin observed the butterfly in his hand. "It derives from a human spell called 'shikigami'*, though only a handful of human can actually use it. It is basically a spell to temporarily infuse life into an object, often a paper doll, and it will serve as the caster's loyal servant, but it requires an enormous amount of ki* and the skill to control it. He continued, Shikioni, is a little bit different. The caster must be a youkai, and his or her own youki is infused into the inanimate object, instead of the ki with shikigami. It also requires a high level of skill, but more importantly, it depends on the quality of the youki of the caster. It is not a spell that may be used by lowly creatures." Teiroushin recognized Shirakume's butterflies, however he decided not to mention the name. "But the reason I said this is 'a sort of' shikioni is that this is made to 'borrow' the youki of the wearer, unlike normal shikioni which moves on its own. That is why it seems lifeless currently."
"Perhaps it was made that way because it was difficult for the caster to control its own youki from the distance, with the disturbance from this island's spiritual energy." Kuchinagimaru mulled. "Could be. Or the caster does not possess enough youki of its own to make these operate independently." Teiroushin shrugged. He intentionally offered a different possibility, though he agreed with Kuchinagimaru's speculation. "Teiroushin-dono. Can you eliminate the link between the fabric and the caster?" Teiroushin blinked. "I can. By merely sealing the fabric. But I note that it's also possible by simply destroying it." "Well, I meant it for just one butterfly." Kuchinagimaru smirked boldly, and tossed the fabric in the air. As soon as he drew his sword, a tremendous amount of energy burst in a flash, and it incinerated the entire fabric in an instant. There was not even a piece of ash remaining. Teiroushin clapped wryly, as though he was watching a performance. Kuchinagimaru sheathed his sword with graceful discipline. "I will save that piece in your hands. You would do it, would you not?" Teiroushin grimaced humorously. "Hmm...I may agree to do it, just because it may benefit Kureha-sama. But...you'd better tell me how things went on your first night together with her." He leered. Kuchinagimaru raised his brows, as he dispassionately looked down the lecherous creature. "I pardon your insolence that I heard just now. You are to fulfill my request in return." He retorted forthrightly. Teiroushin laughed. "Ha! I know the former Matriarch Shiyou very well. It isn't because of the pretty scales on your forehead that she picked you for Kureha-sama," he said, and began to seal the silk butterfly.
"Ack!" Shirakume hissed quietly in her dimly lit study. A couple of white butterflies flew away in response to her sudden reaction. She closely looked into a large bronze bowl filled with water, placed on her desk. The butterflies eventually returned to the edge of the bowl, and closed their wings while they perched. Shirakume gazed into the dark surface of the water. She could see and hear Kuchinagimaru and Teiroushin. However, she was about to be disconnected from her last butterfly. She snickered. "That Kuchinagimaru certainly has an eye for things that matter. I agree, Teiroushin. Shiyou did well to place him beside her daughter." Shirakume stirred the water with her long claw on her index finger, dispersing their image amongst the ripples. The butterflies flew away once again, now finding their resting place on her coiffure. "That was my mistake, not to take Kuchinagimaru's capability fully into account. His attention is a bit troublesome." She shrugged. "Now I have lost the means to be entertained...however, I still have Sesshoumaru there." Shirakume raised a corner of her lips. She leisurely streaked a drop of water on her desk with a tip of her finger. "I can almost see his rage toward me when he returns," she uttered.
*"his parting words": Referring to a scene in chapter 6, "Parting". *houttuynia: A type of herbal plant common in Japan. It has round, heart-shaped leaves. (also mentioned in chapter 5 "Momentum".) *obi:silk belts for kimono. *Sanuki: an archaic name of the region which is part of the Shikoku island now known as Kagawa prefecture. *-dono: Used like -sama. However, -dono is never used toward someone above your status. It often used when one wish to maintain formality and politeness within an organization. An archaic term. (This is hardly used in contemporary spoken Japanese, used only in writing, in certificates and such.) *ki:Japanese version of chi. *shikigami: I am referring to the same thing Kikyou was using in the Inuyasha series, (two little servants whose names I've forgotten) though the details of the concept were improvised by me. Kikyou used pieces of paper cut out in the shape of figures as a base to create them. The ability was said to be used by a superstar onmyoushi, (a specialist in "onmyoudou", who specialize in fortunetelling, cursing, exorcism, etc.) Abe no Seimei 921(?) - 1005. (There are a couple of Japanese fantasy movies about him, though they are not very good.) *shikioni: I don't know who originally created this term, but I have seen the term used in different fictions. It is basically something similar to shikigami, but not created by human. What Teiroushin explains in the story is improvised by me.
In the Inuyasha universe, (or in other fantasy manga for that matter) it seems to me that the swords are used something similar to "wands/staves" to throw magical attack like a range weapon, (like Inuyasha's kaze no kizu, etc) beside their traditional use as swords. So I am following that convention. Here, Kuchinagimaru destroyed the suspicious fabric in that manner. Sessmom (Shirakume) wore kimono with butterfly patterns in the manga. However, she was not doing anything with it like I made her do in my story.
Thanks for reading! I had something to say, but it's late and I forgot. I may add as edit when I remember.
EDIT: I realize that I am making Sesshoumaru to act very mature, probably more than he would in cannon...(he tends to act more recklessly in the manga...) But that's intentional. I get enough brashness in the manga, so I wanted to envision something more psychological.
There will be artworks, as usual. Portraits of Orochi Royal couple => Kureha's [link] Kuchinagimaru's [link]
Streets of Gold "You're way too young to fall apart... Chapter 5
I was still laying on my bed sobbing, holding my right arm as tight as I could so the bleeding would stop.
My face was stained with tears and the usual black eyeliner I wear was running down as well. I felt horrible. Tattered. Torn. Smashed.
My head pounded as I sat up, still clutching my upper right arm. I looked over at the mirror across my room, seeing the fist-sized bruise that now made up my entire left cheek. I then looked down under my hand, on my arm. The same, deep, long wound was dragged into my skin. Just enough I could faintly see the muscle of my bicep. I hate my life. So fucking much. Why didn't he just get it over with and kill me? No. Instead, he makes me suffer. That stupid lying bitch makes me suffer like... Like... Like a kicked kitten.
Actually, I was kicked. Not a kitten, but I was kicked. My right side actually was pulsing and cringing itself with pain, along my ribcage. How did I not see this in Tom? I knew he was this kind of person. I knew it. I always seem to get caught up with the wrong people.
But never like this.
I stood up, almost falling back down, and limped into my bathroom. I fell over the sink, to what I could get a hold of. I turned my head slowly and shakily up towards the mirror to look my beaten self in the face. My right cheek, up closer, was more red and black then it was purple and blue. A mess of colours. My hair was everywhere, but I didn't give a shit about that. My arm looked worse then it had less then a minute or so ago. I pulled my sleeve up more so I could get a better look at it. Was weak, so keeping myself standing was difficult. I peered down at my arm and saw something in my skin. Fucking bastard. I reached over with my shaky left hand and moved whatever it was slightly, I screamed and lost myself over the sink again.
I had to gather up enough of my own non-existent strength to do this.
I pushed myself back up and reached my hand over again. I grabbed it, lightly, with my pointer finger and thumb. I tried to slide it out without killing myself with pain. Fuck it. I pulled it out as fast as I could and screamed, blood-curdling, terrified, loosing myself once again.
I slipped down from the sink and lay on the barren white tile floor, whatever I just pulled out of my arm still in my left hand. I looked over and cringed. A razor? How the hell did a razor get in my arm? I knew I got thrown around and beaten, but a razor blade? Jesus fucking Christ what did I get myself into.
I curled up, right there on the floor. I didn't want to look at myself. I just wanted to die. That's it, I should just lay here and bleed to death. Yeah... That's what I'll do.
I smiled slightly through my tears and pain. The end was near, but why am I still standing here?
My mind all of a sudden started racing with thoughts of everything I could have pop into my mind right now. Fuck... What if I did die? How long would I lay here, before anyone found me? Would I just be here forever? Or would someone sure and come find me, if they noticed I was missing? Would I just lay here and rot? Oh God... Probably. I wouldn't be found. I'd just lay on the floor here until the end of time. Tom probably is out having a good time right now, I bet. Happy that he ruined the only person who ever saw anything in him. Happy that he ruined the only person who ever saw anything in me. Happy that he ruined my life.
Happy that he probably committed first degree murder and wont be caught for it.
Shit. Shit. SHIT. What if he does this to everyone he's ever loves, or liked? Dammit! I got myself met up with a murderer... God mother fucking dammit! Why? Why doesn't this happen to someone else? I'm stupid. God, I'm so fucking stupid.
I gathered up enough energy after a while and dragged myself out of the bathroom I'd been laying in. I lied on the carpet, instead. I wasn't crying anymore, just shocked and in pain. So much fucking pain.
"Into the dark, back to the blue... I sat myself up and wiped my face with my left hand. I looked at it, then. Blood-stained from the gash on my right arm. Fuck my life, I though, standing myself up while taking a tight hold of the wall and door threshold that lead out into the hallway. I was still weak as shit, but I could manage.
All of a sudden, someone was pounding at the door. I stared forwards, waiting for them to yell something.
"Hey in there! they shouted after they pounded on the metal door once or twice more. "Are you okay?
I wasn't able to make noise, I tried speaking but couldn't. Instead, I fell forward and dragged myself across the apartment with my left arm and pushed myself with my legs. Struggling like a run over dog, I thought.
I finally made my way to the front door and reached up to the knob, slamming a grip onto it. I twisted it weakly and pulled the door open a bit.
A man, a little on the stocky side, looked down at me, then making a surprised expression. I just lied there.
"Oh.. My God! What happened? I heard you screaming... he bent down and lifted my head up, so I was looking at him. I did, looked right at him, his dark green eyes stared back at me in amazement. "Hello? Uhm... he lifted me up and carried me inside my own apartment, not caring about closing the door. I was limp and so weak I could barely move.
He walked over to the slightly larger couch and lied me on it, sitting next to me on the floor.
"What's your name? he put a hand on my forehead and moved my messy hair out of my face. I looked over at him weakly and didn't open my mouth to speak, since I couldn't. He looked at me still. "Cant you say something? Uhm... he sounded as worried as a mother for her child. I shook my head slightly, looking away and shutting my eyes. His forehead creased with a line from him frowning, worried as ever for some reason. "Hey... he said. "Don't die on me here, try to cooperate... he got up and quickly pulled a small towel out of my kitchen, sitting me up. He took light hold of my right arm, slipping my sleeve up and tying the towel tightly around my wound. I cringed slightly, dropping my head down. He got another towel and started wiping the blood off of me, from my face to my left arm and hand.
"Now, he said, setting the blood-covered towel over his shoulder. "Try and say something. Anything, please. I wanna know who you are. his voice was as soft and quiet as ever, he looked at me with those green eyes. Mysteriously, I wanted to know the story behind those pretty eyes.
I looked at him. "Bill... I said, quieter then a whisper. "You're Bill? Your name is Bill? I nodded, turning my head back down. "Okay... he slipped my shirt off and started wiping the rest of the blood off of me. My chest and stomach, it was everywhere. I didn't mind him doing this, though. Was nice of him. Really.
"What happened? Who did this to you? the guy said after he had put the towel over his shoulder again, looking at me once more. I shook my head. "Nobody...
"Are you sure?
"Positive... I choked out the word like it was water coming out of my lungs. I still felt horrible, it was hard to breathe because of how many times I was kicked and punched in the chest and ribs. "Okay... he pushed me back down onto the couch so I was laying again. "Don't move... Just rest. You're beaten.. Bad. It's best if you just stay still for a little, okay? I'll take care of you, don't worry. he got up and went into the kitchen, seeming to know what to do instantaneously. I closed my eyes and exhaled sharply, wishing I had just died in my bathroom. Wishing this guy hadn't heard me screaming in pain.
Hell, I would have been better dead anyway, right? I'm not that great of a person. Nobody would have missed me.
The guy came back out of the kitchen and handed me two pill capsules, he was holding a glass of water. "Can you swallow? You need to take these... I sat me back up and I nodded slightly, taking the glass of water and swallowing both the pills, then drinking the water.
"Thank you... I said quietly, giving him the glass of water back. He nodded once in reply, setting the cup on the table behind him.
"Are you sure you don't want to tell me who did it? I could tell the police... he put his hand on my left arm, looking at me with those eyes again. You, it seemed his eyes were telling me. You.
"I'm... I'm positive.. I choked out once more. "But thank you... "It's nothing, Bill.
Dear God... Who was he? Why did he come here to help me? Yeah, I had screamed pretty loud, and I'm sure the whole building heard me, but was he the one who lived next door to me? The guy in 484 who plays what sounds like guitar all the time... The one with the sleek brown hair and well-built stature that I barely saw but once or twice. So this was him, huh? Well... Not a bad guy to be living there.