Disclaimers: I do not own InuYasha or any of the manga/anime characters. They belong to the wonderful genius Rumiko Takahashi.
This was written for the First Tweak community at LiveJournal. The prompt was “ghost stories” and the requirement was that it be a oneshot (301 words or longer)
Ghost Busting, Feudal Style
InuYasha couldn’t help but to mumble, “Isn’t anyone besides me the least bit suspicious that the runt is the one that came and told us about this?”
Miroku stoked the fire, causing it to flare up again as they waited. “I’m sorry. Did you say something, InuYasha?”
The hanyou didn’t respond right way, so the miko softly asked, “What’s troubling you, InuYasha?”
Kagome remained quiet while she waited for an answer, nestled comfortably against her husband’s side. It was so strange traveling without Sango, but she had three children to take care of and was pregnant again. Miroku had jumped at the opportunity to check out the wandering soul when Shippou showed up and said that spiritual help was needed to put an angry ghost to rest. He insisted that both Kagome and Miroku come, and InuYasha wasn’t letting his wife go anywhere without him, much less alone at night with that lecherous monk.
The hanyou squeezed her just a little tighter as he stared at an old well past Miroku. “I just think the timing is a bit funny, is all.”
“Ah… you think our kitsune might be up to his old tricks, then?” the monk said as the words sunk in. “It is about that time of the year, isn’t it?”
“Huh?” Kagome asked. “What are you two talking about?”
“Kagome, I know you were away for three years, but don’t you remember that night at the Kitsune Inn?” InuYasha questioned.
That brought a smile to her face. “Yeah – that was kind of fun, wasn’t it?”
“Fun? If you call getting used by the little twerp to advance his ranking and getting sat because it annoyed me, I guess it was ‘fun’,” the hanyou replied sarcastically. “And you two just went along with it and helped them all get more points. Yeah, that was great time, all right.”
“Now, now, InuYasha. We don’t know if that is the case this time. There may indeed be an avenging spirit that needs our help to be put to rest,” Miroku said in a calming tone.
The hanyou scoffed, “Keh, if you say so.”
“Are we where he told us she was sighted?” Kagome asked.
“Keh. We’re in the right place, I think. There’s the well he told us about, and there’s a house through those trees.” InuYasha pointed in the direction of a path that was barely visible any more. With disuse, it had become overgrown.
“Is anyone in the house?” Miroku questioned.
“It doesn’t smell as if anyone has been here in some time. I guess the obake has scared anyone living away,” InuYasha mused.
“I guess all we can do is wait and see if she makes an appearance tonight.” Kagome rubbed her hands over her arms as a sudden chill enveloped her.
Miroku suddenly looked alert and sat up very straight. “Did you feel that?”
InuYasha felt his wife shudder under his arm. “What’s the matter, Kagome?”
“I suddenly felt cold. You don’t feel that?” she responded.
The hanyou turned loose of the miko and stood. Something made the hair on the back of his neck stand up and a low growl spilled from him. “There’s something coming from over there.” He indicated the old well.
Kagome and Miroku rose to stand alongside him, facing the structure.
“A beautiful woman,” Miroku commented as a ghostly apparition emerged from the well. “Maybe you were right about Shippou having something to do with this.”
Kagome shuddered with a flash of fear as the young lady began to count, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…”
InuYasha gripped the hilt of his sword. He hated to admit that this unknown frightened him more than an oni did, though he muttered under his breath, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”
Miroku was still watching in fascination as the maid broke into gut-wrenching sobs. However, no hostile movements were made and eventually, she disappeared back into the well.
“What the fuck was that?” InuYasha asked. “Shippou might have gained a few points, but I don’t know how.”
“InuYasha, I think she was real,” Kagome said softly. “I remember this story.”
“What?” the hanyou and monk responded together.
“There is an old legend about Okiku, who was a maid to a samurai. There are varying reasons as to why he did it, but he murdered her and tossed her body into a well. She did this every night and eventually drove him insane. Miroku, there really is a body, or used to be one, in that well. She’s doomed to do this until she feels avenged if we can’t put her to rest. I guess driving the samurai crazy wasn’t enough since she’s still here. That’s probably why the house was abandoned – no one can bear to hear her every night.”
“So Shippou wasn’t just trying to use us to increase his ranking, after all,” Miroku commented. “Not that I blame InuYasha for being suspicious. Perhaps there will be a reward for helping her to move on so that the house can be used again.”
“You could certainly use payment with all of those mouths to feed.” InuYasha couldn’t help but to smirk.
“Now, don’t you feel badly for suspecting Shippou like that?” Kagome gently chided.
The hanyou sounded a bit irritated when he replied, “You didn’t have to deal with him for three years while you were in school. So are you guys going to take care of this now, or what?”
“We’ll take care of the yurei in the morning, while she rests. Then we can check the village to find out who owns the property and see if there is a reward offered.” Miroku settled back down in front of the fire. “Now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s get some rest.”
Eager to get their task completed so they could get back on the road, InuYasha roused Miroku and Kagome awake shortly after dawn. The hanyou was given the unpleasant task of going down into the well and recovering the remains of the girl, which now consisted only of bones and scraps of fabric of the clothing she was wearing when she was murdered. The monk and miko gave her a proper burial with InuYasha’s aid, though his help was more of the physical variety in that someone had to dig the grave.
The hanyou and miko remained near the well and fresh grave as Miroku went into the village to find out more about who owned the property. He returned with a man who said they would indeed be rewarded if the apparition was truly gone. Much to InuYasha’s chagrin, that involved remaining another night to verify that the young maiden would not appear again. It also annoyed him because with the man and the two others from the village he’d brought with him to stay by the well all night, the hanyou couldn’t show any signs of affection towards his own wife, or she him. After all, just because the humans in their own village accepted them didn’t mean that any others would.
They were all tired the following morning when the sun began to creep upwards on the horizon. They stayed awake all night, but for the first time since she had been killed and thrown into the well, Okiku did not rise from it. Satisfied that the haunting spirit was indeed gone, the man thanked them and sent them on their way with a cart laden with bales of rice and fresh vegetables. Kagome was also able to acquire some herbs that grew in the area that were difficult to come by near her own village. With many thanks from Kagome and Miroku, and a grumpy hanyou towing the cart, they were on their way home.
Pulling the cart slowed them down. In addition, everyone was tired from a night with no sleep, so they took an extra day getting home. Even InuYasha did not complain because though he was weary and wanted to sleep in his own bed, at least he could hold Kagome in his arms again while she slept. He did not see the smile that graced the monk’s face as he watched them from his own bedding. Miroku was glad to see InuYasha truly happy, as he clearly was now that he was married to the miko he had loved for so long.
They crested the last hill and their own village came into view. They were making their way along the road when Shippou suddenly appeared in front of them. “Hey! Where did you guys go! You never showed up like you promised you would!”
The three of them stopped and Miroku stood his staff on the ground in front of him. “Whatever do you mean, Shippou? We followed your directions and found the yurei that you told us about. We laid her to rest and collected the reward.”
“No you didn’t!” the kitsune exclaimed. “Wait a minute, what?”
“We went to where you told us to, runt. There was a ghost, just like you said, and it was taken care of.” InuYasha crossed his arms in front of him and glared.
“But I didn’t see you! You never came! You were supposed to-” Shippou abruptly cut himself off.
“Supposed to what?” Kagome asked. “We found the well and the house, just like you said.”
“But that was just a story!” the kit blurted out. “It doesn’t really exist!”
“I knew it!” the hanyou bellowed as he took off after Shippou. “Come back here, you little runt!”
“So, InuYasha was right, after all, and we just accidentally came across a real spirit that a legend was based on. Got a nice reward for our trouble, though.” Miroku couldn’t help but to chuckle. “But it is nice to be back home.”
“Yeah, it is,” Kagome responded
“So did things seem to change a lot while you were away those three years?” Miroku asked.
Kagome smiled as she watched her hanyou chase the kitsune. “It seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Miroku nodded in agreement as his twin daughters came out to join in “catch the kitsune” though they ended up catching InuYasha instead.
As the hanyou attempted to walk with a small girl attached to each leg, the monk couldn’t help but to add, “He’ll be a great father some day.”
Kagome rubbed her belly. Soon she would have to tell her husband her news. “Yeah, he will be.”
Yurei: ghosts of those who did not have time to obtain spiritual calmness before the moment of death. They most commonly consist of those who were murdered, killed in battle, or suddenly committed suicide.
The Story of Okiku: Okiku was a maid that worked for the Samurai Tessan Aoyama. It was said that she was dusting ten dishes that were family heirlooms and accidentally broke one of them. In his rage, he murdered her and threw her body down the well. Every night thereafter, she rose from the well and counted to nine before breaking into heart-rending sobs. She tormented the samurai every night until he went insane. Another account of the story say that he wanted her as his mistress, but she refused and he killed her, using the broken plate as an excuse. There are numerous versions of the story, but they all have her counting to nine before breaking into howling and sobs.