Inuyasha's Mind, Consumed

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It had been several days since Katsumi's little 'power-up', as she liked to call it, and they were now walking in search of an old friend of Inu-Papa's who might know why Inuyasha's blood changed. Sesshoumaru was determined to find out what had happened.

'For an ice prince, Sesshoumaru sure is awfully curious...' Katsumi thought fondly. She thought it was kind of... cute... but if Sesshoumaru knew that, she had a feeling he'd leave her corpse for the crows to snack on. Katsumi inhaled the sweet fragrance of the forest around them. Ever since her power-up, she had felt a little more in tune with nature. It smelled so fresh and green, and she could feel a faint hum of power. One scent in particular stood out. It was a Japanese magnolia tree. Katsumi smiled. Magnolias, from both Louisiana and Japan, had always been her favorite flower.

"Your Chichi-gimi's acquaintance lives in such a remote forest?" Jaken asked. He was holding Ah-Un's reigns and 'leading' the dragon as Rin rode on it's back. Rin had gotten tired, so Katsumi put her on Ah-Un's back after they had asked the dragon's permission.

"..." Sesshoumaru said as he stopped in front of the old magnolia tree that Katsumi had smelled earlier. The leaves rustled.

"I thought you'd be coming to visit me sometime soon... Sesshoumaru..." an ancient voice said.

"A voice came from the sky..." Rin said in amazement.

"Hn? There's nothing here," Jaken said.

"I wouldn't say that..." Katsumi said. The tree's energy felt so very... alive.

"You know why I've come... Boukuseno?" Sesshoumaru said.

"That you've come to see me means, that you've come about the swords, haven't you," Boukuseno said as the tree's bark began to creak and form an old man's face. "It's about your Oyaji-dono's memento, Tessaiga huh?" Boukuseno glanced at Katsumi. "Or is it..."

"Wah! The spirit of a tree!" Rin said in surprise.

"Nice to meet you," Katsumi said politely.

"Sesshoumaru-sama, who on earth is this..." Jaken asked.

"A two-thousand-year-old Magnolia Hypoleuca tree," Sesshoumaru said.

"Really?" Jaken said in surprise. He hadn't expected a tree.

"Indeed, and also the scabbards of Sesshoumaru's Oyaji-dono's swords, Tessaiga and Tenseiga, were carved from branches of mine," Boukuseno said.

"The scabbards..." Katsumi said. 'No wonder Tessaiga's scabbard was so tough...' she thought, remembering how it had been able to block Tessaiga.

"Boukuseno, you'd know, wouldn't you. The connection between Inuyasha and Tessaiga, that is," Sesshoumaru said. Katsumi sighed internally. He still hadn't given up on the sword yet, after all.

"Inuyasha... your younger brother, huh..." Boukuseno said.

"The first time was when Tessaiga was bitten apart by an oni... The second time, was when he relinquished Tessaiga in a battle with me. Inuyasha's blood changed," Sesshoumaru said. "It went from the smell of a hanyou's blood to the same smell of a youkai's blood, like mine and Chichi-ue's blood."

"The same youkai blood... huh? I wonder about that," Boukuseno said.

"... What do you mean?" Sesshoumaru asked.

"Inuyasha is only a half-youkai, born between a youkai and a human... He can't become a true youkai," Boukuseno explained. "At any rate, Sesshoumaru, there is something you as a perfect youkai can do, but Inuyasha cannot do. That is... preservation of the self, you see..."

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