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Chapter 15: Under the New Moon part 1

A thick heat prevailed through the air. It was only the hour of the rabbit* and already Rasetsu could feel sweat build at the nape of his neck. It would seem that the gods were eager to inform mortals that the easy summer months were ending and they were entering the long heat filled heyday of the season. Rasetsu wiped his neck with a cold cloth and let out a groan as the cold offered him a brief solace from Amaterasu's* early assault on the mortal world. The bandit tucked the cloth away in his belt, hoping the cold water would remain so after he completed his task. Fresh dew slicked the grass beneath his feet and the rising sun peaked through the tree branches, blinding his good eye occasionally. Rasetsu's fingers drummed against the hilt of his sword as he mentally repeated the task assigned to him. Defeat the priestess' six shikigami warriors.

Rasetsu had laughed at the task when the priestess presented it to him. Surely it was some type of jest or ruse, he had thought. He had survived over three hundred battles with many more to come! He had slaughtered men and women by the thousands! Defeating six conjured pieces of paper would be a simple task for a fighter of his caliber! Or so he had thought.

After ten defeats in a row in only an hour's time, Rasetsu began to understand how much was set against him.

First and foremost was his eyesight. A man could survive in this world with only one working eye, a fighter however could not. Both eyes were needed to keep all opponents in view and to take in the surrounding area in case the gods granted good fortunate in advantageous terrain. It was a task that a sole right eye could not accomplish. To compensate, Rasetsu was forced to keep his head in motion to prevent the shikigami from attacking on his blind side. Yet another task that was easier in speech than in deed. The shikigami often moved faster than the bandit could keep up with. The puppets seemed to be aware of this and constantly broke off into two groups. Three would attack on his good side to keep his attention while three would approach from his blind side and rain blows on his exposed left. Even with his foreknowledge of the tactic, Rasetsu could do very little to counter it. Each time he was brought to his knees hatred filled Rasetsu gut. Hatred for this half-blind condition and hatred for that disgusting half-demon who had caused it! He would decapitate that pathetic creature and use its skull for his sake!

The bandit shook his head and took a deep breath. Hatred was a powerful tool, he was beginning to learn, but it could easily be turned into a distraction. Many of his losses could be attributed to his frustration which led to him attacking wildly without any hint of strategy or technique. His hatred for the half-demon would power his strokes but not blind him further. He needed all his wits to fend off the six puppets.

The shikigami stood in a semi-circle, their weapons already drawn. Three held the standard samurai sword, two wielded the yari, and the final one had a bow and arrow. Their six eerily pale faces stared back at the bandit, unmoving. Rasetsu inched forward, recalling yet another challenge inherent in the task. The puppets held no emotion. They were blank parchment with only what the priestess ordered of them as their desires. Without any desire, they had no intent in their faces. And with no intent, Rasetsu could not read them or anticipate them. But after three days of attempts, stopping only to eat and sleep, Rasetsu was beginning to, at the very least, understand his puppet foes.

Rasetsu raised his sword and dashed forward, a mighty yell shaking the leaves from the tree branches. The two yari shikigami charged to meet him, their long pikes lowered, ready to skewer him like a wild boar. The three sword shikigami quickly shifted to his blind side while the arrow puppet jumped back to notch an arrow.

The bandit brought down his sword, deflecting a thrust to his feet. Rasetsu rammed the attacking puppet with his shoulder, the power of his charge granting extra strength. As the first puppet fell, the rest were quick to cover their first loss. The second yari puppet thrust high, forcing Rasetsu to block upwards to avoid losing his final eye. The bandit realized too late the true purpose of the attack. With his sword caught, Rasetsu had no means of blocking the sword shikigami's stroke to his belly. The bandit's blood sprang from his flesh, soaking the yari puppet in crimson red. Rasetsu planted his foot in the red puppet's chest, knocking it back, freeing his sword to pursue his second attacker.

The sword puppet moved like water as it avoided Raestsu's first two strokes. The bandit pressed his offensive going for a downwards stroke but the puppet slid backwards, allowing his two fellows to swing around him. The two puppets cut into Rasetsu's exposed side as they past, causing the battered bandit to stumble forward and into the path of the final puppet's arrow.

The arrow hammered into his knee like a kick from a horse. Before a cry of pain could leave his lips, the yari puppets came in for the final blow. Two swift blows to his head.

Darkness overtook Rasetu's vision in an instant.

The bandit awoke to a powerful wave of warmth overtaking his damaged body. His vision cleared to see Tsubaki standing over him, her hands in an odd seal, and her lips moving quickly through some chant. A burning sensation passed through him, making the bandit cry out, but the moment the pain eased, he found his wounds to be healed.

"Yet another loss I see," chided Tsubaki.

Rasetsu shot her a glare. For the past three days the only time he would see the priestess was when he was rendered unconscious and she arrived to heal him. Then she would return to her lair to continue plotting whatever she had in mind for him. What was the witch getting out of this? Pleasure? Were her loins arid except in the presence of another's torment?

"Can you read?" the priestess asked suddenly, snapping Rasetsu from his brooding.


"Can you read?" she said again, annoyance building in her voice.

Rasetsu scoffed. "What purpose would reading serve me? I can read and write my own name but that's only to carve my name in the heads of my enemies so others know it was I who took their head! Reading marks on paper holds no other value to me."

Tsubaki nodded and tossed a roll of parchment in his lap. "Excellent. Take a horse and deliver this message to Lord Hojo to the east."

Rasetsu stared at the paper and could only scowl. "I'm a bandit, not a messenger!"

"You're whatever I tell you to be," Tsubaki replied. "Now get moving. I expect you to return by tomorrow morning."

"Return to what exactly?" Rasetsu growled. "Being your puppets' personal sandbag?"

The priestess glowered at the bandit, but said nothing as she rose to her feet.

"Answer me, damn it! What's the point of all this! Why am I subjecting myself to this torment!? You promised me revenge against that disgusting mongrel of a creature! For the past three days you have done nothing to honor that promise! And now you make me your personal messenger!"

"I made no such promise," Tsubaki said. "Our agreement was you do as I say, without question."

"Well that's not good enough anymore!"

The priestess turned to face him, her eyes flashing crimson, making Rasetsu's skin crawl. "I believe we both know how this chain of thought will end Rasetsu."

Rasetsu stepped back, despite the priestess being nine paces away from him. His chest tightened at the memory of the doll tucked away in her robes. The sweat near his neck began to flow like a river, while his eye lingered on the priestess' hands hoping she did not reach for the cursed object. Her pale hand rose to her chest and to his horror she began to chant.

"No, please!" Rasetsu exclaimed, falling to his knees. "I understand. I'll do as you ask." The bandit let out his breath when the priestess ceased her chanting. But his relief was short lived.

In a single instant, the priestess formed her hands into the seal and resumed her chant. Rasetsu's cry for her to stop immediately became a wail of misery as the spell worked through his body. The bandit gripped his chest; his body became wrought with spasms. Air would not reach his lungs and his chest felt as if a boulder bashed against it each second. The world fell away from him. Rasetsu only knew pain.

Finally after what seemed to be years, the pain melted away into the ground. Movement was beyond Rasetsu's body. He gasped at the air, greedily grasping for as much air as possible. His limbs and chest ached as if he had just come from a raid.

Tsubaki stood over him, her face filled with a smug superiority. Rage gripped Rasetsu but the bandit had no energy left to indulge it.

"Never raise your voice in my presence again. Do you understand?"

Rasetsu attempted to speak but his throat could not function.

At his hesitance, Tsubaki narrowed her eyes. She placed her hands into the seal again. "Do you understand?"

Cold panic coursed through the bandit's body. With all his might he forced himself to rise to his knees and push the words from his mouth. "I…..under…stand…."

"Then get on your feet and deliver that message."

Tsubaki turned on her heels and walked to her lair. As she left, Rasetsu allowed something to slip past his lips.


"Good," Tsubaki replied. "Then you're finally progressing."


Inuyasha's leg bounced against the ground as he sat in the meadow. His fingers drummed on his thigh while his ears twitched every which way. He licked his lips for tenth time in only a few minutes and shook his body for the fourth time, trying to ward off an imaginary itch. Tonight was the night of the new moon and his body was already on edge. He should be scouting the area for a secluded place to hold out in or the highest tree he could find so he could overlook the entire area around him. Instead, he sat in an open meadow with Kagome and the kid as they ate their fill of some noodles Kagome called "ramen". Inuyasha had to admit the weird yellow food smelled good, but now wasn't the time to stuff his face. The sun was already nearing its peak in the sky and it would be all downhill from there.

He wanted to growl at the girls and force them to get moving. But then they would ask him why and Inuyasha had no desire to tell them. Not even the old flea Myoga knew for sure when his time of weakness was and that's how Inuyasha wanted to keep it. Keeping his night of weakness a secret was the only advantage he ever got out of life.

"Inuyasha," Kaede called. "Why don't you join us, this… ramen Lady Kagome brought is really good!"

"Keh, no thanks!" Inuyasha shot back. "I'd rather get moving before the day's over!"

"It's only the hour of the snake*, Inuyasha," Kaede said gently. "We have plenty of time to cross these meadows."

You have plenty of time, Inuyasha grumbled to himself. No way they would get it.

"Well if you're not gonna eat anything then would you mind stop fidgeting," Kagome said, half of her face obscured by one of those textbook-things. "Watching you is making me exhausted."

"Then quit gawking at me and keep those stupid eyes on that book-thing!"

Kagome sighed and closed the book with a slam. "I would like to, it's just that there's this red fidgeting figure in my vision that keeps distracting me!"

"Well maybe this red figure will just go on without your slow asses!"

"Go right ahead!" Kagome yelled back. "I'm sure Kikyo would love to hear how you left her two sisters out in the middle of the wilderness!"

Inuyasha flinched. He had never seen the reserved priestess truly lose her temper before but leaving Kagome and Kaede here would definitely be enough for her expressionless mask to break. The image of Kikyo extremely cross with him entered his mind and he could feel all the color leave his face. The hairs on the nape of his neck immediately stood on end and the daunting summer air suddenly became much colder. She could always pin him to the trees no matter how fast he went or what angle he came at when she was calm. If she were ever truly enraged…..an imaginary noose wrapped around the half-demon's neck at the thought, making the young man leap to his feet to escape.

The sound of Kagome's giggling snapped the halfling back to reality. "Did you see the way he jumped Kaede? I had no idea you were that scared of Kikyo!"

The little girl, despite having a mouthful of noodles didn't attempt hide her amusement either. "You can't blame him, Lady Kagome."

The half-demon scoffed and looked away, his face warm. "Wh-who said I was scared? I ain't scared of nothing, especially not Kikyo!"

"I'm sure your soiled robes say otherwise," Kagome sniggered.

"Just shut up, and finish eating!" Inuyasha snapped.

Kagome opened her book again, the satisfied smile on her face annoying the hell out of the half-demon. "You certainly change your tune fast."

Inuyasha merely growled at the schoolgirl who only giggled behind the book. In the end, it took them another hour before they got moving again. Inuyasha took the lead, grumbling all the while. Behind him Kaede was chatting Kagome's ear off about previous missions Kikyo had been on, while Kagome kept her nose in that ridiculous book. Both of them going on with nothing to fear from the coming night. Inuyasha wondered how he would be able to keep this long night a secret from them. It was impossible not to notice when his hair went black and his fangs and claws receded. If they could find a forest to camp in, he'd be able to stay high in the trees for the rest of the night and stay out of sight. With any luck, Kagome would stay out of trouble. Inuyasha paused and thought back on the last month with Kikyo's newfound "sister". As the memories replayed in his mind, from their first encounter to now, the thought of Kagome staying out of trouble for a single night seemed all the more unlikely.

They were nearly out of the meadow when a strong scent struck Inuyasha's nose. It was a crisp, burning scent. The scent of blood and burning wood was mixed together in the air as well. From the strength of the scent, there were a lot of bodies.

"Something wrong Inuyasha?" Kagome asked. "Why did you stop moving?"

"It's nothing," he said quickly. "We need to keep moving."

"Look! Over in the distance!" Kaede exclaimed.

Inuyasha cringed as his eyes followed the girl's finger. A column of smoke arose out from the hills on the far horizon. Based on what his nose was telling him that was source of the burning scent.

"Looks like something is on fire, we should go check it out," Kagome said, closing her book.

"We ain't gotta do nothing!" Inuyasha barked. "Now let's go!"

"Are you out of your mind?" Kagome shot back. "People could be trouble!"

"Well it ain't got nothing to do with us, now does it!"

"Of course it does! We can probably do something to help!"

"Hey! My one job is to get you to this creepy priestess in one piece!" Inuyasha growled getting nose-to-nose with the frustrating girl. "Going off and checking out every little problem is not what I signed on for!"

"What the heck is your problem? It probably won't even take that long, right Kaede?"

But the little girl wasn't present. She was long gone, off the road and running straight for the pillar of smoke. Inuyasha nearly pulled out his hair at the sight.

"Kaede wait up!" Kagome exclaimed and ran to keep pace with the girl.

"Hey, get back here stupid!" When neither girl seemed intent on returning, Inuyasha could only growl into the sky at his plight, and bound after them. He could already smell disaster in the air.

He soared over the girls, thankful that his strength and agility had yet to decrease. It only took him a few bounds to reach the site of the scent. As he expected, the source wasn't pretty. A village lay in ruins before him. Huts were either soot or still burning. The rice paddies had been trampled over by what looked like a hundred or more horses. At this close distance, the stench of burning flesh overpowered the scent of burning wood and straw. The bodies strung about with deep slash wounds and their blood staining the earth, told Inuyasha how little of a fight the villagers had put up. No one was spared from the looks of the bodies. But as Inuyasha examined the carnage a small irregularity stuck out to him. There were no women present.

In most bandit raids one could find as many female corpses as male. Most of the time the female corpses were stripped naked and physical markings of being ravished remained. In this village, Inuyasha could see no females. It was possible they had been burned along with their huts. But another irregularity stuck out to his nose. The scent of a demon was in the air. It was faint but still present. Any other day, Inuyasha would have been able to sort out the scent no problem, but already his senses were getting dull. A small gasp from behind him caught the half-demon's attention.

Inuyasha whirled around, ready to face whatever monstrosity had caused this massacre. The half-demon presented his claws and let out the most feral growl he could muster. To his surprise the newcomer was a boy-monk. From his awkward and gangly body, the boy was fresh into his adolescence. His dark grey apprentice robes were smudged with dirt and dark circles of sweat covered his armpits. The kid's round plain face was slightly hidden by an over-sized straw hat but his fear was still easy to spot. The boy slowly stepped back, his hands shaking and his voice locked in an eternal whimper it seemed.


Inuyasha withdrew his claws and titled his head at the boy. "What the hell are you doing here kid?"

"I-I-I-I-I…I am…a monk…..!"

"Yeah…I'll be sure to tell that to your soiled robes," Inuyasha replied.

"Matahatchi!" a powerful voice exclaimed from the distance. "Away from there!"

The kid dove to the side and before long, Inuyasha quickly realized why. A staff about the length of his arm spiraled in his direction at the speed of one of Kikyo's arrows. The half-demon bounded back, the staff striking the ground where he once stood. A blast of spiritual energy exploded at the contact, nearly knocking the half-demon off his feet. The kicked up dust and dirt prevented Inuyasha from seeing his new opponent. He sniffed the air but only received the scent of dust and blood.

The half-demon soared over the obstruction and landed face to face with the new monk. Like most monks he was bald. His oval face and striking dark blue eyes would have given him a lot of female attention, Inuyasha figured. A small mole under his right eye was the only blemish in his looks. A set of purple prayer beads dangled in his left hand and in his right, his staff. The staff's head it appeared to be a brown claw of some sort. Maybe taken from a demon the monk had slain? Inuyasha scoffed. Where his staff came from didn't matter.

"Hey!" Inuyasha barked. "Who the hell are you and what's your deal?"

"It is as I suspected, Matahatchi," the monk said to the boy. "A demon is behind these savage raids."

"Don't ignore me you damn monk!"

The monk lowered his staff. "I had heard that half-demons were rather feral creatures, but I never expected to find one so vicious."

Inuyasha reeled back. "You think I did this?!"

"Do not attempt to deny it, beast," the monk replied. "I know not your motives and I do not care to know. My only request is you release the women you have taken captive, and then you may prepare yourself for judgment from above."

"I ain't preparing for nothing!" Inuyasha exclaimed. "I ain't the one dying today!"

"Very well."

The monk reached into his robes and produced four talismans, the papers burning with a strong spiritual aura. Maybe as strong as Kikyo's even. Inuyasha narrowed his eyes. This monk was the real deal. Inuyasha cracked his claws and put weight on his left leg, ready to leap when the monk hurled those things. For the longest time neither moved. Inuyasha knew and the monk seemed to know as well, that the loser would be the one who moved first. If Inuyasha attacked first, the monk would have a clear shot with his talismans. If the monk attacked first, Inuyasha could easily dodge the talismans and slash the monk with his claws. Inuyasha inched forward wanting to break the stalemate but not willing to fully commit to an attack just yet.

"Inuyasha!" he heard Kagome shout. "What the heck is going on?"

Inuyasha turned his head to see the girls finally make their way into the ruined village. But that seemed to be the opening the monk was looking for. The moment Inuyasha returned his new foe; the talismans had found their mark. The charms attached themselves to his torso and exposed hands and sent a powerful shock wave of spiritual energy though his body. It felt like lightning was striking him from the inside out. The half-demon's wails filled the silence as the pain forced him to his knees. Inuyasha gripped the ground and bit down on his lips to prevent more screams from escaping. A task harder than it seemed.

"I'll ask again, demon," the monk said, his voice eerily calm. "Where did you hide the women?"

"Fuck you monk!" Inuyasha managed.

"Then, may Buddha find mercy for your troubled soul."

"Hey! Leave him alone!" The red hamaka pants of Kagome's robes blocked Inuyasha's sight of the monk. Kaede's tiny feet quickly accompanied her.

"Lady Kikyo….?" The monk gasped. "What are you doing here?"

"Master Muso," he heard Kaede say. "Please stand down; this half-demon is our friend!"

"Kaede-chan? What in the world is going on?"

Kagome's face filled his vision and the girl quickly removed the four talismans from his pained body. She glanced at them with confusion before tossing them to the ground. "Are you all right?" she asked.

"I didn't need your help."

"Seriously?" Kagome said, exasperated. "You being brought to your knees with talismans covering your body is your definition of not needing help?"

Inuyasha scoffed and slowly rose to his feet. The monk reached into his robes for more talismans but Kaede stood in front. The monk named Muso, scowled.

"Kaede-chan, I am asking you to please remove yourself from that half-demon. He must be removed from this world at once!"

"Master Muso, Inuyasha is my friend and our escort," Kaede said calmly. "I will not allow you to engage any further."

Muso turned to Kagome. "Is this true Lady Kikyo?"

Inuyasha wanted chuckle at Kagome's confused expression.

"Err…I'm not…."

"This is Lady Kagome, master," Kaede interrupted. "Kikyo's twin sister and she vouches for Inuyasha as well, right?"

"Uh…right! Of course!" Kagome said. "Yeah, Inuyasha is with us."

Inuyasha cracked his neck. "Forget that crap! Come on monk! I'm just warming up!"

A rock smashed against is skull, knocking the half-demon off his feet. "Would you shut up for once?" Kagome hissed. "We're trying to defend you here!"

"Kaede-chan," Muso said as he lowered his talismans. "I believe an explanation is in order."

"Later master," Kaede replied. "I believe we have some bodies to purify and bury."

Muso nodded. "Agreed."

Inuyasha growled. "We don't have time to play grave digger!"

"We do now OK!" Kagome shot back.

Inuyasha glanced into the sky and could see the sun inch its way down.

It was going to be a long night.


Kagome ducked her head in the nearby river, her body no longer bothered by the sheer cold. Her clothes hung on a nearby branch soaked with river water as well. The schoolgirl only wished she had some soap with her to complete her cleaning ritual. Never before had she been so close to corpses, let alone touching them. She was no stranger to dead bodies. Back when she was a kid, her mom would take her to the hospital while she worked the late shifts. Very often she would see her mom rush into a patient's room when the EKG went haywire. From behind the window, she would see someone struggle to breathe or just shut their eyes never to open them again. Her mother would always try to shield her from such sights of course, but death was something every one needed to see at some point.

Moving dead bodies into freshly dug graves however, was something she'd rather not do again.

There was nothing to fear from the dead logically. But logic had very little comfort for her nerves. There had been so many. Their wounds were atrocious and many weren't even whole. Much of the day had been spent trying to figure out which limb went with which corpse or trying to make heads or tails of a charred body.

Kagome's stomach churned at the memory. Her hands flew to her mouth to prevent the bile from rising further.

There had been so many kids. Too many kids. Their small bodies mangled, burned, slashed, or all three. Each time they found a small body, Kagome's heart felt like it weighed forty tons. Kagome could only just barely hold the tears back as the monk known as Muso lowered the children's bodies into the graves. It had been a grim task but it needed to be done. If they had just left the bodies out there to rot and be pecked at by the crows, Kagome knew she would have felt a thousand times worse.

Inuyasha had been a huge help. Being part dog allowed him to dig the graves rather quickly. The image of the half-demon crouched down and digging into the dirt as per his namesake, brought a smile to Kagome's weary face. Still she wished his attitude had been as appealing. Throughout the entire process Inuyasha's grumbling only got worse and more frequent. He would fidget and keep glancing at the sun as Kaede, Muso, and Matahachi said their blessings over the bodies. And he kept growling as she and Muso put out the remaining fires. It probably didn't help that Muso had kept a wary eye on Inuyasha. The half-demon was probably still sore that a monk had been able to bring him to his knees with only a few talismans. But that didn't excuse his insistence of leaving every few hours.

Kagome resurfaced, hoping the grime, soot, and heavier emotions, would be left in the water. As she dressed, the low hanging sun got in her eyes occasionally. The bright orange-red hue was a gorgeous sight. Kagome wished she had brought her smartphone with her. Sunsets like this one were a rare thing back in the modern era. But then, she was sure that Inuyasha would try to slash it out of her hands if she did bring it.

Kagome approached the village, walking by the numerous graves as she went. Flowers picked by Kaede and Matahachi decorated them with incense curtsey of Muso. Kagome clasped her hands together and lowered her head in prayer. With that completed, she made her way to one of the few remaining houses left intact. Kagome had guessed that it belonged to the previous headman of the village. Kagome couldn't venture a guess as to why his house was spared, but it did provide them with some shelter for the night. Perched on top of the roof was Inuyasha, staring at the sun. Yet another mystery Kagome couldn't figure out.

She slid open the doors to see Kaede and Matahachi huddled over some miso soup in the fire pit. On the far wall, Muso went over a map of some kind, muttering to himself.

"Ah! Lady Kagome," Matahachi greeted. "The soup is ready!"

"Great, I could use a bite to eat," Kagome replied.

The bowls were passed around. Kaede offered some to Inuyasha but the stubborn halfling refused to come down from his perch. Kagome had half a mind to scold him but the day's events had worn her out.

"I believe proper introductions are in order," Kaede said. "Lady Kagome, this is Master Muso and his ward Matahachi. Master Muso is a powerful monk who has assisted Sister Kikyo in a number of missions."

"Nice to meet you," Kagome said.

"Likewise, my lady," the monk said with an incline of his head. "Now I hope you can explain to me why two of Lady Kikyo's sisters travel with such a being as your half-demon."

Kagome raised an eyebrow. "What's the big deal? Yeah he's rude and crude but he isn't dangerous."

"You must be new to your duties then, Lady Kagome," Muso said. "Trust in a half-demon is about as valuable as trust in a snake."

"Hey, cueball!" Inuyasha yelled from the roof. "Keep in mind I can hear every word you say!"

"Who we choose to travel with is our own affair, master," Kaede said. "If Sister Kikyo were here, she would say the same."

Muso sighed. "Very well, I shall say no more regarding the matter."

"So... what brings the two of you out here?" Kagome asked, hoping to break the tension. "I heard you say something about raids?"

"Yes," Matahachi spoke up. "There have been a series of bandit raids on villages the past few weeks. Vicious ones. In cases such as these, the local garrison would handle the brigands, however these raids are different."

"In each one, the women are spirited away," Muso continued. "No trace of them is ever found. Lord Hojo believes a demon is responsible and I am inclined to agree with him. I have investigated four raided villages and in each one a demon's aura is present. It is very faint but it's there, hiding among the bandits."

"Lord Hojo has tasked our company with tracking down this demon and exorcising it," Matahachi said, his excitement clear.

"Your company?" Kagome repeated. "But there are only two of you."

Muso scowled. "There was a third, but he proved himself to be most unreliable. I thought it best to continue without him. His exclusion from the reward will be of his own doing."

"Is there any way we can assist you?" Kaede asked. "This sounds like a mission where you would benefit from more hands."

"Helping Matahachi and I bury and bless the dead was more than enough, Kaede-chan," Muso said. "I cannot ask more from you, I sense you have your own task to accomplish."

"Hear that Kagome!" Inuyasha yelled again. "Even the monk thinks we should move on!"

Muso scowl deepened. "Half-demon that is no way to speak to a lady, let alone a priestess!"

Inuyasha scoffed. "Oh yeah, and what are you gonna do about it monk!"

"Inuyasha!" Kagome hissed. "Stop picking fights!"

"It is of no consequence Lady Kagome," Muso said as he rose. "I believe it best for Matahachi and I to continue on with our task."

"But it's nearly pitch black outside," Kagome protested. "You won't find anything out there now."

"Don't be too sure of that," Inuyasha said, leaping down from the roof. "There's someone out there in the bushes. A bandit by the smell of him. Probably one of their scouts."

Muso grabbed his staff and urged Matahachi to his feet. "We best hurry then if we hope to catch him."

"We'll be here if you need more help," Kagome offered.

"Thank you, but it will not be necessary. Come Matahachi!"

The monk stormed out of the small house like a man possessed. His ward at his heels, trying desperately to keep up. The scene would have been comical or something right out of a cartoon if their purpose wasn't so dire. The two disappeared in the bushes and Kagome could only hope they could find and rescue the lost women.

"Keh, good riddance."

Kagome could only shoot him one last glare before sliding the door closed and preparing for the coming night.


Blood poured down Kagome's shoulder. Her white robes were saturated with the red sticky substance. The fluid rolled down her arm and dripped to the ground leaving a long trail for even the most incompetent tracker to follow. She was walking, her destination unknown. The trees around her seemed to fly past her despite her slow strides. A fury, an intense, murderous fury, seemed to be driving her. Her heart pounded against her chest both from blood loss and the savage emotion she felt. A figure in red dominated her sight and his cursed voice rang through her ears.

"I shall take this nonetheless, thanks!" she heard over and over again like a tormenting punishment from the gods.

Kagome closed her eyes, trying to shake off the voice, only to find that she was no longer in the forest. She was on the steps of a temple, a bow and arrow in her hands, and her target in sight.



Kagome bolted awake, her breath caught in her throat. Complete darkness welcomed her, reminding her of the moonless night this evening. The schoolgirl checked her back and just like before, there was no wound.

"Just another nightmare," she muttered, both relieved and concerned. Kikyo had told her the dreams would only intensify, but Kagome didn't realize it would be this bad. She was tempted to go back to sleep, but if she did the dream would probably torment her again. The teenager rose from her sleeping bag and slid open the door, the evening summer air a relief on her skin.

She leaned against the wall of the hut, unsure what to do with herself.

"What you still doing up?" a voice said above her.

"Can't sleep," Kagome answered without looking. Only Inuyasha would still be awake during these hours.

"Join the club."

"Unfortunately, the insomnia club isn't an organization I'm up for joining right now."

"What the hell is insomnia?"

Kagome sighed. "Never mind." Silence passed between them. Kagome heard the half-demon shift around on the roof, probably looking for a comfortable spot sit. Why he insisted on staying up there was beyond her. Sure it probably wasn't proper for him to share a room with them or whatever but she didn't know Inuyasha was that much of stickler for decency. "You can come sit next to me you know," she offered.


Kagome growled. "What the hell is your problem? You've been acting like a bigger jerk than usual all day today. What is it your time of the month or something?"

"Who told you?!"

Kagome froze. The implication of his statement sending her mind to places she'd rather not go. "Uh…what?"

"You heard me! Who told you about my period of weakness?!"

Kagome winced. "Ok…that's seriously making it worse….."

Before the half-demon could respond a shrill cry for help reached her ears. Kagome had never been so thankful to hear a cry for help in her life.


Matahachi emerged from the bushes, his straw hat long gone and panic so clear on his face, the complete darkness of the night couldn't hide it. Kagome rushed to meet the teenage boy.

"Matahachi, what's going on?"

"It's Master Muso! He's been captured by a demon! Please your half-demon seemed strong, he has to help!"

"Not tonight kid!" Inuyasha shot back.

A fury gripped Kagome's body. Before she could stop herself, she grabbed a medium sized stone and hurled it at the rooftop. The rock smacked the petulant half-demon right on his skull, knocking him to the ground. Kagome marched over to the halfling, feeling close to how she felt in the dream.

"Ok I've had it with this attitude of yours!" Kagome exclaimed, sure that her voice would wake every creature around them. "This boy is running to us for help and because you had slight clash with his master, you're going to leave him to die!"

Inuyasha remained hidden in the shadows, refusing to look at her. "That's not it….."

"Then what is it?"

He refused to move from his spot.

Anger gripped her hand and with an odd strength she pulled the half-demon into the light. "Look at me damn it!"

His hair cascaded down his shoulders, ebony black. His now violet-black eyes looked at her with an intense annoyance and frustration. His clawless hand attempted pushed her off him but lacked the strength it usually did. He scowled but without his fangs it was ineffective. He brushed his hair back behind his now completely normal looking ear and glared at Kagome. The schoolgirl found herself dumbfounded. The red robes were right but everything else was completely off.

"I-I-Inuyasha…..is that….you?"

"No," he snapped. "I'm a talking puppet."

"Wh-I-…..what happened to you?"

"Like you said, it's that time of month."


1.) Hour of the Rabbit: Approximately between 5am and 7am

2.) Amaterasu: Shinto Goddess of the Sun

3.) Hour of the Snake: Approximately between 9am and 11am

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