"Kashiesa! Hayaku!" Ryunuen calls from a distance, waving his arms frantically. He fixes his gaze on the small but energetic child enthusiastically making her way to him. He smiles at her sparkling gaze, as the highlights in her hair caught in the morning sun. She will be a vision when she grows older, he thinks. Somehow the thought does not comfort him.
"Oniichan!" Kashiesa calls as she rushes to his side. He smiles as he catches her lithe form in his arms. He lifts her into the air and whirls her around while she giggles in delight. "Chotto matte, oniichan!"
Ryunuen hugged his little sister tightly before putting her back on the ground. She gazed up at him with trust and love, a look that touched him deeply. In truth, Kashiesa was but his half-sister, for he had been born with a siren youkai for a mother and fire youkai for a father. When his father met an unfortunate end, his mother took on a new lover. While he despised his stepfather--who constantly attempted to alienate him from her mother--he adored his little sister. From the moment of her birth, he had noticed an endearing quality about her that made him attached to her. At first, he'd tried to be cold to her, but even as a baby, she'd cried and tormented them until he'd come to pick her up. Then, she'd snuggle contentedly in his arms and drift off to sleep. It still awed him how animated she was, how full of life she always seemed. While he tended to be withdrawn, she'd find a way somehow to break through his armor of silence and sneak inside.
"So where are we going today?" Kashiesa inquired from beside him, tugging at his trouser leg. Ryunuen gave her a smile, then stared at the dark mountain to the south. The Fire Mountain, said to be the land of his father's birth. How could he tell her how much he wanted to leave and go to the mountains to find himself? But he knew she'd be devastated, and he will miss her. So he kept silent, though he felt in his heart that one day, his destiny would be to ascend its peaks and establish an identity for himself. But for now, he will stay till she grows up. Then he will leave.
"Not far, I suppose," he shrugged, averting his gaze from the mountain. He started walking toward the edge of the river where a single canoe was tied to shore. "You said you wanted to go boating a bit, so that's what we'll do. But we'd better be back early. Okaa-san wants you to practice using your voice--and controlling your magic in the process."
"But it's so boring!" Kashiesa protested, frowning. "I can sing well--and do most of the basic spells correctly. She pushes me to hard." She turned a questioning stare at him. "How come she doesn't teach you, oniichan?"
"Honto?!" Ryunuen burst into laughter. "My talents hardly lie in that direction. You know that, imotou!" He gazes at his fingertips, and tiny flickers of flames appear for a moment, and then are gone. "As for the use of the fire…what can she teach me about it? And otou-san is long gone, so that means I'll have to learn on my own…for the time being."
"Then…you're planning to leave, aren't you?" Kashiesa said almost accusingly, pouting. Ryunuen glanced at her and couldn't help smiling at her sullen expression. "I don't want you to leave, oniichan! I love you."
"And I love you too," Ryunuen replied softly, dropping to his knees to meet her questioning eyes. He shook his head sadly. "I won't leave…not for a long time. But eventually…I'll have to know about my heritage, and that would mean going to otou-san's land. But even then, you'll have a special place in my heart. Always."
Kashiesa stirs, as she wakes from her dream. As usual, she wakes up in a world of perpetual mist, but she has come to learn how to use her voice to turn the mists and make them serve her. She uses the mists to view the external world, and she smiles sadly as the mists show the determined-looking Kurama advancing toward Yatsuke's lair. Oh, Kurama…would that I could be with you…Kashiesa sighs. Not until her brother has she felt such deep regard and affection for a man.
She wonders why her thoughts turn to her brother now. I have not heard from him or about him in a long time…even before the theft of the Dagger. She misses him, as always. He has always had such a solid, comforting presence that she loved being with him, watching a soft smile soften his dark, angular features. She knew they did not look alike--he had had wild, long red hair just like Kurama's, except perhaps a shade or so darker. But she liked looking into his eyes--his near-black eyes--that always seemed to be filled with anger and leashed rage. She had sensed that much had stemmed from his relationship with their mother. She'd largely ignored him, or berated him when she felt he'd done something stupid, like the time he had accidentally ignited the wall of the house practicing fire magic. For the most part, though, he was left to his own devices.
Which was why, she mused, why he'd seemed to be so secretive and grim. Especially when she began to see him less and less, when her mother had intensified her training. She saw him sometimes during the evening wandering off into the forest, retreating there until he'd return home well into the night. When she'd inquired about it, she'd received a curt reply that he was learning new fire techniques and that it would do her good to stay away. So she'd followed him into the forest one night, watching him forge whips and swords out of fire and shoot flaming brands from his fingertips. She crept away before he sensed her presence. But she was deeply saddened, for she knew it would not be long before he left.
And so one day Ryunuen did leave, but not before she made him promise to return. He solemnly agreed to, if he was still able. Then he began his trek to the Fire Mountain without looking back. Kashiesa remembered being depressed due to his departure, but then her mother intensified her training, and she had learned to use her voice as well as guile as formidable weapons. Still, she yearned for news about Ryunuen, and often wondered if she should go to the Fire Mountain to find him. But her mother expressly forbade it, and her father would not even hear of it. So she thought of how she could flee one day to find him.
Yet before she could leave, he came. She found him one day on the doorstep, his clothing soaked in blood and his body covered by welt and burns. She was shocked to find her brother in this condition, and she immediately treated him with potions and what healing spells she could muster. He looked thin and gaunt, his features more dour and grim than she could remember. And he bore a strange artifact with him--an ornate dagger with crafted black steel. As she kept watch over her brother, she found herself drawn to examining the dagger. Soon, she noticed faint murmurs from within, and opened her soul to the prompting. It was then that she found herself trapped by its allure.
The dagger's song had filled her ears with arcane words, words that she found to be of immense power--ancient song-words lost to the world, that not even the oldest of the sirens seemed to know about. She let herself absorb the words and committed them to memory, knowing that this knowledge could make her perhaps the greatest of the siren youkai. At that point, she lost interest in her brother and found herself immersed in the dagger's world. She encountered the mists for the first time, but let them cloak her. Their caress was cool and gentle, yet incredibly sensual, and she found her body responding to the stimulation. And more and more, the dagger's soft murmur beckoned of greater knowledge, of greater power. Subtly hidden in its message, however, was that she had to merge with it--through her own soul. At that point, she was more than willing to pay it price.
It was then, however, that Ryunuen woke up from his deep slumber. Though in pain, he found the dagger in her grasp, and had immediately cried in alarm. He threw himself at his sister, praying that it was not yet too late to save her, for he knew of the power hidden within the artifact. Kashiesa's soul was jerked back to the present with a jolt, and she found herself locked in combat with her brother for possession of the dagger. For some reason, her anger flared up and she lashed out at him in song, sending him sprawling against the far wall. He'd looked at him with a hurt and stunned expression, but she felt savage joy well up in her for having bested him. She had enjoyed hurting him, and she found to her horror that she craved for more. To her loathing and disgust, she cast the dagger from her and rushed to his side, embracing him to her tightly.
"Gomen ne, oniichan," she had sobbed, burying her face against his chest. "I-I don't know what came over me. I just knew you wanted the dagger, and I didn't want to give it up. Then I--"
"Daijobu desu, imotou," Ryunuen whispered, clutching her to him possessively. "It's okay. I knew I should not have brought such a dangerous object, but I had no other choice. And that you should fall in its power--I will do anything to prevent that!"
He then explained about his trip to Fire Mountain, how he had found some of his father's distant kin, and how they had taught him how to harness the fire magic inherent to their kind. Soon, he grew more powerful, and it was then that he heard the legendary whispers about the Dagger of Night, said to be able to grant its bearer great power beyond reckoning. He grew immensely curious, and then it was no longer possible to contain his excitement. He searched for it deep within the bowels of the Mountain, and he was unfortunate enough to find it. It was then that the Dagger seduced him, unlocking great fire magic within him, easily making him the most powerful fire youkai in their community. And he had used this power to conquer and kill, until he became a being without compassion, killing for pleasure and the prospect of greater power.
It was then that he came to remember her, and how his sister would despise him for what he was being turned into. So he was determined to go in search of her, to hide the Dagger and get rid of its taint. But he did not prove to be successful, as the Dagger's sentient presence sensed his intent and lashed out at him with baleful flames, scorching his body, consuming his soul. Still, he struggled for control, knowing that his feeble strength may not last long against its fury. Yet he recalled his sister, and it gave him strength to lock the Dagger's power within its mists, and struggled on to find her. Until he'd collapsed on her doorstep, but not before warning her of the Dagger's potential danger.
So Kashiesa and her brother were together again, and he told her tales of his dark adventures. And though she was saddened by the darkness that seemed to be consuming him, she was happy that he was once again with her, that he still cared for her enough to renounce part of the darkness for her light. In truth they had a happy life together, and he took her on short trips just like he did when they were young, and she grew fonder of him for it. Yet despite their closeness, she felt an increasing uneasiness about him, and she found him one night staring at the Dagger, his hand involuntarily reaching for it. But Ryunuen would draw his hand back almost immediately, and curse himself softly for falling prey to its call.
One night, Kashiesa watched this strange power play between the artifact and her brother, and decided to speak with him about it. As he was about to turn away, she sat beside him and asked him what was wrong. He averted his gaze from the Dagger guiltily, and faced her with sad and hunted eyes. She'd grasped his hand gently and smiled comfortingly, and that brought a hint of a smile on his severe features. Kashiesa noted that when she was with him, his hardened face would easily crease into a smile with a twinkle in his eye meant just for her. And she took much comfort in their closeness. And would do anything to aid him.
"It's not going to work, Kashiesa," Ryunuen remarked softly. "Every night, its call gets stronger, and I am hard pressed to keep its influence at bay. But it calls to me--and the prospect of such great power…
"I cannot stay her longer. I must leave."
"Must you, oniichan?" Kashiesa replied with a pained voice. "I will help you. I have been within its depths once, and I can use my voice-spells to contain it--"
Ryunuen held up his hand and shook his head sadly. "No, you can't. I once thought I could, but I never could. You are stronger in spirit--and for that I am proud--but I will not gamble your life and soul on this. I need to put some distance between the Dagger and me. It must remain here, and you must lock it within the vaults and guard it, lest it use its powers to tempt others. Will you do that for me?"
Kashiesa was deeply touched by the concern and sadness in his dark eyes. There was intelligence there, and regret. She kissed his cheek lightly and smiled ruefully. Then she nodded.
"I will, if that's what need be," Kashiesa replied with conviction. She saw her brother's eyes sparkle with approval. "But you must promise me one thing--that you'll come back someday, and we'll be together again. Always."
I found myself sitting in a glade beside a flowing stream, with Kashiesa sitting beside me silently. She glanced at me wistfully, then smiled. I returned her smile, glad to be with her, though I knew that this was probably within the world of mists. A dream of the soul perhaps. Yet she was special to me. And I cherished what little time I could spend with her, particularly in the midst of our dangerous hunt for Yatsuke.
"You remind me of him, you know," Kashiesa suddenly remarked, though I had no idea who she was referring to. "The same courage tempered with gentleness…you even have the same hair same hair color to some extent." She shakes her head in amusement.
"Uh, who exactly is he?" I asked, peering at her questioningly. I had a feeling this was tied up with the Dagger somehow.
"My brother," she replied, and I felt a wave of sadness wash over her. "It was he who found the Dagger and brought it to the sirens for safe-keeping. But then, he left…and I never heard from him since." I saw her brow furrow slightly, and I felt that she was hiding something from me still, and that made me a little uncomfortable.
"He must have been very special to you," was all I said. I reached out and squeezed her hand. She smiled and she squeezed my hand in return.
"He was," she said simply, but not before smiling mischievously. "Just like you are, but for an entirely different reason." Then she leaned forward and kissed me. And that was as far as our discussion got for a while.
We finally lay on the grass, our bodies entwined, and I held her against me possessively, knowing what time we had left may be precious little. I stroked her hair gently, and it felt like riffling silk through my fingers. She turned her silver gaze at me, her eyes sparkling with amusement, and I smiled at her, feeling content and happy. We held each other for a while, oblivious of the mists that had begun to close in, and the glade began to fade before my eyes. It was then that she broke free from my embrace and turned to stand.
"You have to go," she said, turning her face from me, but not before I could sense tears streaming down her cheek. I reached out and touched her shoulder. It was all I could offer for comfort, and it felt woefully inadequate for this siren youkai that I cared for immensely.
"Aishiteru, Kashiesa," I muttered, before rising along with her. She kept her face averted from me, and I longed to see those glorious eyes before I left. Then she began to sing softly--a soft, hypnotic rhythm that seemed to bring calmness and assurance to my troubled spirit. I smiled at her parting gift.
"Watashi mo aishiteru, Kurama," she replied. Then she turned to face me, and she was no longer crying, but smiling sadly. She reached out and touched my cheek. "You are gentle of heart, and for that I am glad. But the times ahead will require that you set aside your feeling and become cold-blooded once more…Youko Kurama.
"You must meet bare steel with steel."
I awoke with a start as I found Hiei staring down at me. When he saw me blinking in surprise at the bright Makai sun, he snorted softly and turned away. I saw Yusuke and Kuwabara snickering quietly a short distance off. I glared at them and shook the dust off my clothes. One thing that I had come to appreciate about Ningenkai was a hot bath and comfortable facilities. I hated to think what sort of mess I looked like, but now was not exactly the time for vanity.
"Oi, Kurama, you're up late," Yusuke remarked conventionally, grinning. "Did you have nice dreams?"
"Very nice," I conceded, smiling at him coolly, "though they weren't exactly just dreams." I fingered the cold steel belted to my side. Kashiesa's last words troubled me. She seldom called me Youko Kurama, and I had a feeling I will need my youko form before long.
"If you're through reminiscing, I suggest we leave," Hiei stated, aloof and frowning as always. "We must make up for the time we lost listening to you mutter in your sleep."
"Hn, if you say so," I said, shrugging good-naturedly. I knew it annoyed him, but I was in a good mood, despite the fact that we were about to face a powerful youkai mage who could probably incinerate the lot of us on the spot.
"Iku!" Yusuke exclaimed, a grim smile on his face. I knew he was up to the challenge, as was Hiei and Kuwabara. As was I.
If you are watching, Yatsuke, then know that we are coming for you. And I will feel immense satisfaction at sliding cold steel inside your cold heart…
Part VIII complete! Final battle coming up next, but I thought to explore a little of Kashiesa's history and her apparent attachment to Kurama before it. Before any Hiei-Kurama fans flame me, this fanfic is a "what-if" based on a discussion I had with a friend about what it would be like if Kurama was somehow attached to a girl. This is a non-yaoi fanfic, at least for the moment. For any comments, suggestions, and (heck) even flames, just mail to ryquest! I'd appreciate any feedback I can get about the fanfics. Ja ne!
Yu Yu Hakusho is a copyright of Yoshihiro Togashi / Shue Isha Fuji TV, Studio Pierrot. This fanfic is for non-commercial, entertainment purposes only.