Lol, I feel like I'm breaking some rule of DA posts, to change the content of a submission so drastically. But, this is the writing that went with the art, and I *really* hope I'm not going to upset anyone by altering the old posts this much.
One Can Only Wander for So Long
Chapter Two - Desired Solitude
The sun had not yet risen as the polished oak front door creaked open. Kagome closed her eyes and breathed deeply of the crisp autumn air. The sweet smell of freshly cut grass filled her senses as she stepped forth from her two-story home, ready for a weekend outdoors.
She stepped off her front porch and walked down the flagstone path to the garage off to her left, a content smile plastered on her face. The part-time gardener had planted a variety of flowers and bushes along the house, and something was always in bloom until the frosts of winter came. Kagome loved everything about her home of two years. The interior was spacious and had everything she could want or need: a fireplace in the cozy living room, a large master bedroom with the most comfortable bed money could buy, three extra empty bedrooms for when she had guests, a huge bathtub in the upstairs bathroom, and the coolest shower installed downstairs. She grinned as she thought about that shower; she'd spent hours in there, marveling at the way it was set up… The kitchen had oak cabinets and stainless steel appliances, and her library was an excellent place for her to relax with a book and a cup of tea. She sighed happily and a fleeting image of her future family playing in the pool or running about in the garden passed her thoughts.
She reached her truck and tossed her pack into the bed, then walked to the driver's side and opened the door. Lifting her bow case to the seat, she pushed it across to the passenger's side so she could climb in afterwards. She settled in her seat and buckled herself in, starting the ignition as she hummed a little tune. She pulled out of the short garage driveway and onto the lengthy front road that wound down the front of her small estate. As she reached the front gates, a sensor picked up her truck and opened the gates so she could pass, closing them once again as she turned onto the street.
The privacy and security the walls around her property were wonderful; neighbors and passersby couldn't see her home from the road. But sometimes it was too confining, and she found release in leaving for a weekend of each month to go enjoy the outdoors. Last month she had gone with her two close friends, Sango and Miroku, to hike up a mountain a day's drive away.
She smiled as she pulled onto the highway, this month she had planned a three-day campout - she had a small tent and a few supplies to keep her sustained the two nights she would be in the woods. After consulting area maps, she found an excellent spot to set up camp, not too far from a freshwater stream, and no residents for a good twenty mile radius.
It would be a long drive, but Kagome knew it would be worth it. Two hours after she got on the highway, she took an exit and made her way down a quiet road for another twenty minutes before reaching the tree line. The map had shown two forks in the road once she reached the trees, she would be taking the first right, and then the next left. She had seen that the first left lead to a single building. She had called the nearby town to ask about it, and to see if anyone lived there - Kagome didn't want to endanger any lives while she hunted. The local authorities had told her the house had been empty for years now, and was owned by people who lived across the country. At the right turn, she drove another fifteen minutes before reaching her left turn. The left came upon the clearing shortly, and she pulled her truck around, pointing it back towards the road.
Turning off the ignition, she pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and checked the signal. She smirked in amusement when she realized how far out of range she was, and tossed her phone into the glove box before hopping out of the truck. She opened her bow case and withdrew her bow, running her thumb over the weathered wood fondly. It had been in the family for generations, and of the small number of remaining relatives, Kagome was the recipient of this heirloom. Her quiver was more modern, lightweight and easy to draw from, holding a maximum of eight arrows at a time.
Archery was Kagome's favorite outdoor activity. Taking take her bow and arrows with her for every trip, she'd practice diligently. It came in handy when she was out camping for longer periods of time, she used her skill not only for protection, but to also pick off small game for a hearty meal. It was a nice change from anything else she might have packed to eat. Granted, there were packaged foods that could last for weeks she could take along with her, but hunting made her feel wild and carefree.
Slinging her bow and arrow over her shoulder, she locked the truck, then walked back to the tailgate to heft her pack out of the bed and onto the grass. She checked the pockets for her map and compass, found her bearings, then shot an azimuth to a group of boulders far past the tree line to her left. Her chosen campsite was a small clearing just past the barely visible boulders, well within reach of her truck should the need to return soon arise. She took a refreshing sip of water from the `Camel-bak' attached to her pack, then strapped it securely to her back. With her quiver at her hip and her bow in hand, she started off at a brisk pace.
"God, I love this stuff," she said aloud to herself. She reached the tree line shortly, pulling her bow into the ready with an arrow notched. She knew the forest teemed with life, and the occasional youkai had been reported to attack unwary hikers. Kagome had only ever seen one youkai, a large centipede that had attacked her and her best friend, Sango, on one of their hikes. While Kagome favored her bow, Sango had a massive boomerang, as tall as she was, that she carried with her on their outings, slung effortlessly over her back.
Kagome smirked at the memory of that weapon. Sango used it as an awe-inspiring mantle decoration in her home, for it accented the outback-inspired decorations around her house, but whenever she was out with Kagome to any uncivilized locale, she brought the deadly weapon with her and handled it like an expert. That centipede had hardly lunged at the girls before that boomerang had torn through its body, leaving it messily cleaved in half, twitching as the girls walked past.
`I'll probably get my ass chewed when Sango realizes I've gone out here by myself - she's such an over-protecting friend,' Kagome thought as she walked slowly along the path, keeping her senses alert for any evil presence nearby.
Since Kagome could remember, she'd been able to see and feel more than anyone else she knew. Her family had descended from a long line of mikos, and some were even legends in history, with awesome powers they used to protect and save countless lives. Stories over time had faded, and knowledge of miko strengths became more myth than fact, to the point where no one was around anymore to teach those with the ability how to unlock their potential. Until Kagome's 15th birthday, her powers were just strong enough for her to feel uneasy near especially cruel people, or anyone thinking of ill intent. She could, for the most part, ignore it and live a pretty normal life. But, on that fateful 15th birthday, her father had died. Robbed and murdered in the city, halfway to his car from the bakery, her birthday cake in hand.
The tragedy had stirred such a strong feeling of loss and a deep mistrust of people that her ability over the next two years to sense evil became almost blinding. Those with corrupted thoughts stirred such an anger within her that was unable to remain living in the city at the family shrine for much longer. Upon her graduation from high school, her grandfather informed her of the trust fund her father had left her, and passed on the ring worn by the family for generations.
A beautiful silver ring, engraved with complex swirls that reflected light with such intensity it almost seemed to glow, was supposedly enchanted. It somehow was able to fit the true owner perfectly, no matter their size of fingers, and would not fit any finger of one who was not the owner. The legend behind it had long been forgotten, it was simply held by the eldest family member, in this case, her grandfather, until someone of age could once again wear it. Much to her family's delight, it had fit her finger perfectly, and so, along with her trust fund, she left the shrine to find a place of her own.
Her inheritance was easily enough to purchase her own house far outside of the city, in a very spacious town. There was a grocery store, a post office, a few common shops, two restaurants, a small doctor's office, and not much else. This town was mostly for well-off retirees or rich folk who loved life away from it all, and didn't mind the commute. There were no schools or major businesses in the area, just enough to not have to go far for normal needs and wants. With proper planning and spending, Kagome would have enough to live off of comfortably for the rest of her life, but she felt it necessary to get her degree, just in case she ever wanted to get a good job.
Kagome chuckled. Three years of working her ass off with distance education and a scant few classes at a community college fifty miles away had gotten her an early Bachelor's degree in business administration, and all she did now was paint. She had discovered her love to paint in one of the art electives she'd taken, and now her library had stacks upon stacks of paintings inspired by her frequent outdoors adventures.
Kagome paused in her musings, the sound of trickling water nearby had reminded her of how close she was to her camp area. The woods were warming; the sun had been up a few hours and the morning chill had quickly faded to a pleasant breeze. Kagome smiled and shrugged off her pack, dropping it next to a large tree where she'd be setting up her camp.
She had chosen a perfect place - the distance between these trees was wide enough for her to set up her tent and build a small fire. She plopped down into the dirt, stretching her legs out in front and turning her face up to enjoy the patch up sunlight that filtered down through a break in the branches above her.