Near and Far

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"My... 'True Name'...?" Katsumi asked, blinking. What was that supposed to mean? Didn't she already have a perfectly good name?

[[Yes, your True Name.]] Gean replied, nodding sagely. [[I mentioned it before, didn't I... that 'Gean Cánach' is only an alias? The reason I and other fairies go through the trouble of inventing extra names for ourselves is because each faerie's True Name holds a special, sacred power. Our very lives are linked to this name, and should another learn its true form, they could use it to enslave or even kill the faerie it belongs to... Our True Names are the lynchpin that connect us to the world around us and allow us to use our faerie powers. True Names are double-edged swords—they are both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness.]]

"I see... so, it's like a secret password we have to know in order to be able to gain access to our own, personal powers as well as to the 'worldwide web' of energy...?" Katsumi mused thoughtfully, trying to come up with a more modern analogy to help herself understand such an incredible and abstract concept more easily.

[[... Sure, let's go with that.]] Gean said, sweat-dropping. Although he could somewhat see what she was trying to say from the flashes of images mixed in with her thoughts, he still wasn't quite sure what purpose this... 'computer' served... Well, no matter. As long as she got the point. [[Anyway, most faeries usually learn their True Name through a sacred dream once they have matured mentally enough to understand what it means, about the same time they begin to learn how to speak. The names given to us at birth by our parents are merely considered placeholders in our True Names' stead.]]

"But... I've never had a dream like that..." Katsumi said. She was pretty sure she'd remember something as trippy as dreaming about something as magical as a True Name.

[[No, to be honest, I'd be more surprised if you had. You are something of an exception to the rules, Katsumi, having been born of mixed blood.]] Gean explained, smiling wryly, almost apologetically. [[The less faerie blood one possesses, the harder it is to learn your True Name. It won't reveal itself to you so easily. But don't worry, there is a method through which even you will be allowed to enter into a sacred dream and discover your own True Name... Although, it is not without risks... Should you fail, Katsumi, it is possible that you may never be able to return from the dream world, which means your spirit would be trapped there, and your physical body would remain in a comatose state until it gradually wasted away. It's possible you may even just outright die spiritually and physically. No one knows for sure exactly what dangers you will encounter upon entering the dream world, since it varies with each individual, but it is generally agreed that the older one is, the more difficult and dangerous this method tends to become. The only other to have successfully completed and returned from their journey into the dream world after using this method as an adult was my great-great-great-great grandfather.]] he explained solemnly, obviously concerned for her safety. While this latest information certainly wasn't very encouraging, to say the least... Katsumi knew there was no turning back. Despite the danger, she didn't want to spend the rest of her life regretting a decision to give up without even trying. If she really wanted to get stronger, then she had to keep moving forward!

"I understand. Thank you for worrying about me, Grandfather... but this is something I have to do," Katsumi said, raising her head as she smiled up determinedly at him, clenching her fists. She wasn't going to back down. She was going to see this through to the end, and quickly return to Rin and Sesshoumaru and all of her other friends back in Japan, stronger than ever before...!

{Back in Japan...}

Cold, amber eyes stared up at the heavens above, watching the stars in the night sky. Everything was calm, peaceful... still. Jaken and Rin had both fallen asleep already, tired from a day's worth of traveling. It had been a long time since Sesshoumaru had been able to experience such an extended period of silence... and, yet, he found he couldn't enjoy this long overdue break at all. Not while Katsumi was...

A breeze blew past the daiyoukai as the wind changed directions, carrying a familiar scent. Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes slightly. It was her.

"My, my. Such a scary expression! You're in a rather foul mood, I see... Are you sulking because Katsumi isn't around, Sesshoumaru?" Tsukihime asked as she descended from the sky, landing what she considered to be a safe distance away from him. Sesshoumaru furrowed his eyebrows slightly in irritation. This woman... had she no shame...?

"What of it?" Sesshoumaru demanded coldly, fixing her with a defiant glare, daring her to make another careless comment on the matter. "Do you, a mother who abandoned her own child to torture and humiliation, have any right to criticize me?"

A bead of cold sweat rolled down the back of Tsukihime's neck as she resisted the urge to take a step back and stood her ground. This was bad... judging by the wave of murderous intent radiating from Sesshoumaru, she could tell this brat was serious.

"Hmph. Is that so? Perhaps you have a point, seeing as how I could have interfered with Naraku's plan, had I chosen to do so..." Tsukihime admitted rather sardonically. After all, she had foreseen these events with plenty enough time to spare to travel all the way to Ireland and track down Gean Cánach in order to request his assistance with healing Katsumi for after Naraku had finished with her. "But I did what was necessary. It was for Katsumi's own good, Sesshoumaru."

Sesshoumaru gritted his teeth, infuriated that she had the gall to claim suffering so excruciatingly could have possibly been in Katsumi's best interest. He knew part of his anger was directed towards himself for having allowed himself to fall for Naraku's trick and leaving her on her own like that, but... Tsukihime had gone too far...

"Down, boy. Let me finish explaining before you decide to rip me to shreds," Tsukihime said, chagrined. His eyes had started to gain a red tinge, so she knew she was treading on dangerous ground. "While I'm glad to see you so concerned for my daughter, at the same time your lack of faith in her ability to recover from this is somewhat insulting!" she huffed rather indignantly.

"She had her wings ripped out," Sesshoumaru reminded her. "If you had heard her scream—"

"I did hear her scream," Tsukihime stated coldly, fixing the younger inu-youkai with a piercing glare. "In my vision I had to watch firsthand how much my daughter suffered at that hands of that bastard hanyou! I know what she's had to endure far better than you, who only saw the aftermath!" she growled, beginning to lose her patience with him. "But you underestimate Katsumi, Sesshoumaru. That girl may seem like a delicate glass sword compared to full youkais like ourselves, but she has an inner strength and will to survive that simply can't be matched. Don't be deceived. In reality, the reason that 'glass sword' shines so brightly is because it's made of an indestructible adamant. No matter how many times her body may break, that girl's spirit never will!"

"..." Sesshoumaru stared at her, and the red tinge left his eyes, showing that he had calmed down slightly. Though he was loathe to admit it, he had to concede that Tsukihime was right on this count. He had seen for himself how strong-willed and spirited Katsumi could be during their time together. It was one of the things he had come to admire about her, though he had only recently realized just how deep his attachment to her had become after the shock he had received upon seeing her lying there, nearly comatose...

"Rest assured, Sesshoumaru. What doesn't kill her only makes her stronger. It is times like this, when she has experienced the bitter taste of defeat, that my daughter becomes truly formidable. In order to properly motivate her to become stronger, a little suffering was necessary... And, as a result of this unfortunate event, you too have come to an important realization, have you not?" Tsukihime continued, smirking knowingly at him. "But in all seriousness, in a way it's rather terrifying how much my daughter's potential for growth will suddenly spike and begin to increase exponentially at such an incredible rate. Katsumi will return, and when she does, she will be far stronger than she was when she left us."

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