A Twist in the Myth

BY : Dunkelgelb
Category: InuYasha Crossovers > General
Dragon prints: 9255
Disclaimer: See full disclaimer in Chapter 1

A Twist in the Myth

Chapter 11 – Resurrection of the Wind – pt. 2


Chapter summary: June, 1549: Kagura has defied Naraku by releasing the demonic golem Moryomaru from the prison the dark hanyou sealed him in.  Now serving Moryomaru, she moves to kill Kohaku, Sango’s younger brother, and relieve him of the shard of the Shikon no Tama embedded in his back.  She changes her mind at the last moment and with some help from InuYasha and his pack, she protects Kohaku from Hakudoshi in a battle that sees the vile demon-child put down for good…


(Continued from pt. 1)

            “She’s dreaming,” Byakuya awed.  Only a few seconds had passed since Naraku had implanted Kagura’s spirit in its new body and already, the wind sorceress was experiencing something similar to rapid-eye-movement sleep.  “What could she possibly be dreaming about so soon?


(Following section is transcribed from Volume 37, Scroll Nine of the InuYasha manga, “The Location of the Infant”)

(Soundtrack: Angel Witch – Angel Witch)


June, 1549

            Overcast skies and eerie mist shrouded a mountain range in the northern end of Honshu, Japan’s main island.  Deep within a stalagmite and stalactite filled cave penetrating the side of one such mountain, Kagura stood before Moryomaru, the twenty-foot-tall, two-thousand-pound golem-like suit of living armor that Hakudoshi, Naraku’s eighth incarnation, had created to house the ‘Infant,’ Naraku’s demonic heart personified.  Hakudoshi and the Infant began life as one being, but a desperate, last-ditch attack by a Buddhist monk it encountered during one of Naraku’s missions had split it in two.  Half of that being became Hakudoshi and the other half became the Infant.  With all the physical ability of an actual newborn, the Infant was extremely vulnerable, especially to those that could recognize him as Naraku’s heart, so Hakudoshi created Moryomaru and enclosed the Infant within him for his safety, though hardly out of any altruism or camaraderie.  To kill the Infant would kill Naraku and every single one of his remaining incarnations at once, Hakudoshi included.

            Perceiving themselves as ‘real’ and Naraku as a ‘shell,’ Hakudoshi, the Infant, and Moryomaru plotted to overthrow and destroy their oni lord ‘father.’  Unaware that Hakudoshi had placed the Infant inside Moryomaru and desperate for her freedom from Naraku, Kagura allied herself with Moryomaru by releasing him from a prison that Naraku had sealed him in, seeing him as a means to rid herself of Naraku’s control.  Now, she followed him to provide whatever support she could and assist him in killing Naraku, though she had begun to lament that she had merely exchanged one psychopathic master for another.

            At this point, Moryomaru had been seriously injured in a skirmish with InuYasha and Sesshomaru, causing him and Kagura to seek concealment in a mountain cave.  The inu brothers had used their super-swords to cleave or vaporize half of Moryomaru’s body and now, the demonic golem worked to repair himself by absorbing a cache of demon corpses he had left behind in the cave, one of several he had prepared.

            Kagura’s temper flared as she watched Moryomaru suck in raw demonic flesh and heal the damage InuYasha and Sesshomaru had caused.  Her eyes, like shimmering rubies, gleamed with anger as she looked upon the disgusting sight.  She had taken a serious risk in allying herself with him and it looked like he would end up being just another notch on the hilt of Sesshomaru’s or InuYasha’s sword.  “Now what?” she demanded of Moryomaru, her voice sultry and silky-smooth, like a female version of Naraku’s.  It was disturbingly sexy to anyone that heard it.  “Rebuild your body and fight them again?  It’s useless!

            Moryomaru glared viciously at Kagura, his dark violet eyes holding cold fury after his lost battle against InuYasha and Sesshomaru.  Given that he could stand at a height of twenty feet, even as he knelt before his cache of demon corpses, he was more than ten feet tall, utterly towering over Kagura.  His long-limbed body was grotesque and muscular, misshapen yet brimming with incredible demonic power.  His face, however, was strikingly handsome.  With a strange, crescent-shaped, blue-and-green tattoo covering the upper left quarter of his face and shoulder-length lavender hair framing it all, he was probably one of the best-looking monsters in Japan.  His battle with InuYasha and Sesshomaru had damaged those good-looks, though.  The side of his face not covered by his tattoo was covered instead with deep cracks, as if his face was made of dried clay and InuYasha had punched him squarely in it.  As a result of his personal vanity, he had little patience for Kagura’s venting.

            Kagura grunted in pain as a tendril of Moryomaru’s unbound demon flesh shot out from him and seized her by a bare ankle, yanking her off her feet so that she landed hard on her back, on the cave’s stone floor.  Moryomaru turned around to loom over her with his intimidating size.  “Bring Kohaku to me,” he commanded to her.

            “Kohaku?” Kagura repeated the name of the taijiya Sango’s younger brother, sitting upright on the stone floor as Moryomaru continued to hold her by her ankle.

            “I want that Shikon shard that’s embedded in his back,” Moryomaru explained.  “I’m going to use it.”

            Kagura’s gorgeous ruby eyes widened at the implications of Moryomaru’s plan.  “You’re planning to deceive Naraku?”

            Moryomaru smiled coyly.  “Heh…I know you too seek Naraku’s death, Kagura,” he said.  “Which is why you’ve been trying to sniff out his weaknesses.”

            The tendril of demon flesh Moryomaru had wrapped around Kagura’s ankle began to squeeze, causing the wind sorceress to tense in rising discomfort.  “It was you…who gave Sesshomaru the clue to finding Naraku’s heart,” Moryomaru continued.  “Am I right?”

            Kagura blinked with incredulity.  How could he know about that?  “And it was you who gave Kohaku those crystals of demonic energy,” Moryomaru revealed further, his smile growing wider, more sadistic at Kagura’s shocked expression.  “Yes, I know.”

            The ‘crystals of demonic energy’ Moryomaru spoke of were those made by the sentient demon-mountain Gakusanjin.  They changed color in the presence of the Fuyoheki, the ‘Nulling Stone,’ another product of Gakusanjin’s which concealed demonic auras.  Naraku stole the stone and gave it to the Infant soon after creating him so as to hide his demonic aura from his aura-sensing enemies.  Anyone possessing one of Gakusanjin’s crystals would see it turn green when the Nulling Stone was near, and finding it meant he or she had found Naraku’s heart.  Kagura had given such crystals to both Sesshomaru and Kohaku in the hopes that at least one of them would succeed in finding the Infant and killing it.

            He’s reading my thoughts!  Kagura looked down at her leg to see that Moryomaru’s tendril of demon flesh had transformed into two humanoid arms, like those of a child, their child-like hands pushing her kimono up her legs and pressing their palms to her bare calf.  Dark magic allowed her thoughts to travel from her body, through those tiny hands, and into Moryomaru.  Those hands…are they the Infant’s? Kagura asked of herself, her blood cooling in her veins by the realization coming over her.  That means…Naraku’s heart is inside Moryomaru!  Kagura connected the dots with escalating horror: if the Infant was inside Moryomaru and had been the entire time, and she had given Sesshomaru and Kohaku the shards of demonic energy so that they could find and kill the Infant, then by setting Moryomaru free from Naraku’s prison, she had betrayed Naraku for another master whom she had betrayed already.  Oh, fuck.

            Moryomaru gave a sick laugh and retracted the Infant’s arms from Kagura’s leg.  He then jabbed several sharp tendrils of his demon flesh directly into her leg, his tendrils not simply piercing her, but bonding with her, inside and out.  “So what?” Moryomaru asked of Kagura.  “I could just absorb you right here.”

            Kagura shook and struggled as Moryomaru forced his tendrils further up and into her leg.  She was perhaps seconds from being eaten alive by the horrible golem before her.  “Please, stop,” she begged.  “Stop!  I’ll…I’ll do whatever you want.”

            “That’s a good girl,” Moryomaru whispered approvingly, keeping his tendrils embedded in Kagura’s leg so as to remain able to read her thoughts.  “From the moment you defied Naraku’s orders and released me from my prison, you serve me.  So…if you wish to go on living, then you will help me make my body stronger.  Strong enough to surpass Naraku.  That’s your only choice.”

            “Surpass Naraku...” Kagura considered.  “You mean with the Shikon shard?”  Kagura thought carefully: Moryomaru wanted the Shikon shard embedded in Kohaku’s back, but the shard sustained Kohaku’s life.  If it’s removed, he’ll dieBut what difference does it make?  He’ll die anyway, soon enough…

            “That’s right,” Moryomaru confirmed, reading Kagura’s mind again.  “Either Naraku is going to take Kohaku’s shard, or I am.  That’s the only difference.”


(Following section is transcribed from the InuYasha manga’s Volume 37, Scroll Ten: “Kagura’s Decision,” Volume 38, Scroll One: “Hakudoshi’s Scheme,” and Volume 38, Scroll Two: “Hakudoshi’s End.”)

            Meanwhile, Kohaku, Sango’s younger brother, did not simply run, but bounded up the side of a mountain in the same range as the one where Moryomaru had made his lair.  His long, dark brown ponytail danced in the oncoming wind by the speed with which he moved.  The Shikon shard in his back gave him enhanced speed, strength, and almost unlimited stamina, allowing him to move faster, further, longer than most any other human in the world, past, present, or future.  He was moving up a 60-percent grade faster than most people could fall down it.

            Kohaku was just a few miles away from where Moryomaru and Kagura sheltered.  He used the crystal that Kagura had given him to seek out Naraku’s heart, watching it gradually change color by his decreasing distance to the Nulling Stone the Infant carried.  When he found the Infant, he fully intended to take his kusarigama, his chain-sickle made from demonic bone, and cleave the evil baby in half.  He only hoped that its remains wouldn’t grow into another set of monsters.  He wondered if he wouldn’t have to chop the Infant into little bits then incinerate them.  He decided that if he did have to, it would be one the less gruesome things he’d ever done…

            A powerful gust of wind accosted Kohaku as Kagura dropped in on him from above, landing a few yards ahead of him up the mountain slope.  “Kagura!” he called, greeting her with simultaneous excitement and fear.  “Naraku’s heart is nearby!”

            “Yes, it is,” Kagura answered coolly.  The space in her chest where her heart should have been clenched painfully; she was heartless only in the most literal sense.  She didn’t want to kill Kohaku, she considered him a friend, perhaps her only friend.  They were both victims of Naraku in one way or another and they had both done terrible things by his order or manipulation.  She even thought that if the adolescent taijiya was a few years older…No, it’s best not to think of such things.  I have to kill him nowI’m sorry, Kohaku.

            By Naraku’s design, Kagura’s primary weapon was an enchanted folding paper fan.  She held it in her right hand and flicked it open, sweeping it toward Kohaku to cast her Fuujin no Mai, her Dance of Blades at him.  The Dance was a whirlwind of spinning blades made of highly-compressed air.  When the blades contacted something solid, they either sliced clean through it or exploded with the force of a small, yet very powerful cannon shell.  Kohaku’s reflexes and Shikon-enhanced speed allowed him to leap out of the blades’ path just in time.  They hit the ground at his feet and exploded to blast heavy chunks of granite in all directions for dozens of yards.  “Just die here and now,” Kagura spoke, her voice carrying a grim weariness.  “You have no hope of winning anymore.”

            “Kagura!” Kohaku cried out as he landed on his feet, not understanding why the wind sorceress was suddenly trying to kill him.  As she considered him her friend, he considered her as his. “Kagura, why?  Naraku’s heart is nearby!  We’ve got to strike it down!”  He held up the crystals the wind sorceress had given him.  “I thought you gave me these crystals because you wanted to get rid of Naraku, too!”

            “Things have changed, Kohaku,” Kagura answered, angling her fan for another volley.  “Either way, you’re going to die.  I’m sorry.  I can promise that you’ll at least die painlessly.”

            Kagura launched her second volley at Kohaku, giving him less time to evade.  Tiny bits of hot, pulverized stone rained down on Kohaku as he dodged, bouncing harmlessly off of his taijiya armor but stinging his skin as they struck his face and the back of his neck.

            “Naraku’s heart…the Infant, it’s inside a demon called Moryomaru, now,” Kagura said as she advanced on Kohaku, trying to give him the dignity of an explanation before she murdered him.  “He wants to use the Shikon shard that’s inside of you to grow stronger.”

            Kohaku backed away from Kagura carefully so as to not lose his footing on the mountain slope, mindful of her demonic speed and strength.  Even without her fan, she could pounce on him with lightning speed and then, it would be all over for him.  “So you’re here to take the shard…and let me die?

            Leaping from place to place upon the mountain slope, Kagura maneuvered herself so that she backed Kohaku up against a wall, cornering him.  “If I don’t, he’ll kill me.

            “Then, there’s no reason for us to fight,” Kohaku said, relaxing his stance and standing fully upright before Kagura.  “I’ll go willingly.  Take me to him…if that will save you.”

            Kagura stopped her advance, her glossy ruby lips falling agape.  Kohaku would sacrifice himself for her?  Was he insane?  “Kohaku, you have to believe me,” she spoke, her blood red eyes softening with emotion.  “You don’t stand a chance against Moryomaru.”

            “But I still have to try!” Kohaku shouted.  “Even if I die in the attempt, I’ll at least get one blow in!”

            “But that’s all it will be,” Kagura warned.  “One blow.”

            “I killed my father and whole villages with my hands while under Naraku’s influence,” Kohaku seethed.  “And I added to my sins by hurting my sister, physically and emotionally, over and over.  The only reason I’ve fought to stay alive this long is for the chance to pay Naraku back.  That’s my mission, and unless I’m willing to die to achieve it, I’ll never be able to apologize to my father and the others in the underworld.”

            But, Kohaku…it’s pointless!  Kagura thought to herself.  I understand why you want to kill him, but a single blow isn’t going to hurt Moryomaru at all.  He’ll just go ahead and extract your Shikon shard.  As for me, I’ll only be switching masters from Naraku to that terrible Infant.

            A sense of profound helplessness overtook Kagura and in that moment, she made her decision.  She made another swipe of her fan, producing a blast of wind so fast that Kohaku couldn’t hope to avoid it.  Her target was no longer Kohaku himself, though.  Her wind blast slapped the crystal of demon energy that she had given him out of his hand, knocking it well out of his reach.  “The crystal!” Kohaku shouted, diving for it.  Before he could pick it back up, though, Kagura launched a Dance of Blades at it, pulverizing it into useless crystal dust.

            “Now you have no way to find Naraku’s heart!” Kagura said, collapsing her magic fan.

            “Kagura, why?” Kohaku asked again with a cry.

            “Shut up!” Kagura snapped.  She had realized that regardless of whether it was Naraku, Moryomaru, Hakudoshi, InuYasha, Sesshomaru, Koga, or whoever that killed her, she was dead.  She decided that if she couldn’t avoid her own death, then she had no reason to send Kohaku to his.  At least this way, she was maximizing his life span.  “Just…just go!

            Kohaku stilled.  Kagura was letting him go?  “Kagura, I…” he began, but the wind sorceress interrupted him.

            “I told you!” Kagura continued.  “With your shard, Moryomaru is just going to get stronger.  Not only will you die in vain, but you’ll make it even harder to get at that Infant inside him.”

            “Feh,” a young, yet sinister male voice muttered.  “I knew we couldn’t trust you.”  A massive orb of demonic energy manifested itself near Kagura and Kohaku, a short, slender humanoid figure appearing within it.  Wearing billowing white robes that belied his black heart, his eyes and hair color were not unlike Moryomaru’s or the Infant inside the demonic golem.  A magenta energy barrier much like one of Naraku’s surrounded him.  “First you betray Naraku, and now you betray Moryomaru, as well!”

            “Hakudoshi!” Kagura yowled, recognizing Naraku’s eighth incarnation instantly and poising herself for a fight.  “You’re one to talk, since you’re trying to betray Naraku yourself!

            Hakudoshi only smiled and Kagura continued.  “I’m finally starting to understand,” the wind sorceress said.  Kohaku glanced at her with uncertainty.  “You and that Infant were originally one being, and Moryomaru is a demon the two of you created.  Now he’s acting according to the Infant’s will, and you’re scheming to supplant Naraku!”

            “Well, Kagura,” Hakudoshi chuckled, impressed with the female youkai’s intelligence.  “You’re smarter than I thought.”

            Kagura placed herself directly between Kohaku and Hakudoshi to protect the young taijiya.  “Run, Kohaku!” she ordered.

            “Huh?” Kohaku asked rather vapidly.

            “Don’t you understand?” Kagura shouted at Kohaku over a shoulder.  “Hakudoshi wants your Shikon shard, too!”

            Hakudoshi gave no more time to talk.  Lowering his barrier, he used his demonic energy to propel himself through the air, lunging at Kagura and Kohaku.  He carried a seven-foot bladed polearm as a weapon and raised it to strike, swinging it downward to cast a swath of searing hot youki at his prey as InuYasha might use Tetsuseiga’s Wound of the Wind.

            “Get back!” Kagura snarled, half at Hakudoshi, half at Kohaku.  She snapped her magic fan open and swept it at Hakudoshi to counter his youki wave with a Dance of Blades.  The blades of wind cut through Hakudoshi’s youki easily, but the Infant’s other half raised his barrier once more, not merely blocking Kagura’s attack, but absorbing it.

            “Hmph,” Hakudoshi pouted at Kagura.  “Want a taste of your own medicine, your precious Dance of Blades?”

            Hakudoshi’s barrier glowed and vibrated as it took that Dance of Blades that Kagura had fired and shot it right back at her.  Kagura and Kohaku leapt back with a cry as the wind blades pummeled into the stony ground they had been standing on just seconds before, blasting it into rocky shrapnel.  Hakudoshi laughed proudly at his handiwork.  “Very nice.  How did that feel?” he asked of Kagura.

            “Ha!  I’m better at manipulating the wind than you’ll ever be!” Kagura shot back.  She was confident in her own abilities versus Hakudoshi, but she didn’t need Kohaku around to get hurt.  She drew one of her tiny white feathers she wore in her bound, glossy-black hair and turned to show it to her taijiya friend.  “Kohaku!  You’ll have to figure out how to get off on your own!”

            Kagura threw her feather at Kohaku’s booted feet and the tiny thing suddenly exploded in size, going from two or three inches in length to more than ten feet in the space of less than a second.  The wind sorceress then called on her winds to slip underneath the feather and carry it and Kohaku high into the sky, away from her and Hakudoshi at high speed.

            “Kagura!” Kohaku yelled out as Kagura’s feather spirited him away from the scene of battle.

            “You’re not getting away!” Hakudoshi scowled as he disengaged from Kagura and accelerated after Kohaku.  At this point, InuYasha and his pack arrived on the scene, with InuYasha carrying Kagome on his back, while Miroku, Sango, and a still-tiny Shippo rode Kirara.  Once he was within Tetsuseiga range, InuYasha slowed his run enough to let Kagome down to the rocky ground safely, then drew Tetsuseiga, sped back up, and took Hakudoshi by surprise with a Wound of the Wind broadside.  Having become intimately familiar with it by being blasted directly with it and losing most of her clothes to it on at least one occasion, Kagura recognized the sound and the pattern of the Wound instantly.  She turned to see InuYasha running up the mountain slope toward her and Hakudoshi with Tetsuseiga drawn.  His friends were right behind him.

            Miroku recognized that Kohaku had no control over Kagura’s feather as it carried him off and leapt off of Kirara once the fire-cat had descended low enough to the ground.  “Sango, you go after Kohaku!” he suggested forcefully to his taijiya love, to which Sango replied: “Right!”

            Miroku joined InuYasha, Kagome, and Shippo on the ground.  As Sango rode Kirara back into the sky and called out Kohaku’s name, she pondered what she had just seen.  Back there, Kagura forced Kohaku to leave, as if to get him away from Hakudoshi!

            Meanwhile, InuYasha’s Wound of the Wind had forced Hakudoshi to stop and reinforce his barrier against it.  Gripping Tetsuseiga tightly, the ivory-haired hanyou warrior and his friends, minus Sango and Kirara, approached Kagura and Hakudoshi cautiously.  They had seen the two incarnations of Naraku exchanging blows from a distance before intervening.  “What the hell’s going on here?” InuYasha asked gruffly.  “What’s this about, Kagura?  Why are you and Hakudoshi fighting?”

            Kagura shook her head, returning her attention to Hakudoshi and watching his barrier fluctuate and crackle with flares of demonic energy.  “I don’t have time to explain!” she answered.

            Hakudoshi could only laugh as his barrier prepared to return the demonic energy of InuYasha’s sword to him, as it had done with Kagura’s Dance of Blades.  “He’s shooting back your Wound of the Wind!” Kagome warned to InuYasha.  Swiftly, InuYasha slipped an arm around Kagome’s waist and Shippo clung his lightweight body to Miroku’s robes as they threw themselves out of the reflected Wound’s path, its energy talons eating up the ground they had stood on moments before.  With them distracted momentarily, Hakudoshi thrust himself at Kagura, seeking to cut her down with his polearm.

            Kagura parried Hakudoshi with a blast from her magic fan, scowling at her much more evil ‘brother’ in irritation.  “Hmph. Trying to shut me up, eh?”

            “Kagura, you’ve lived too long,” Hakudoshi replied coldly as he set himself up for another run at the wind sorceress.

            With Kagura standing too close to Hakudoshi for him to use one of Tetsuseiga’s more destructive powers without hurting her, InuYasha leapt at Hakudoshi and brought Tetsuseiga’s blade down upon the demon-child’s lavender-haired head.  Hakudoshi’s barrier prevented the blade from doing any damage, but InuYasha succeeded in deflecting him from Kagura.  The hanyou warrior landed between them, facing Hakudoshi squarely but facing away from Kagura, one of his most powerful enemies.

            Kagura’s expression softened at InuYasha’s act of protecting her.  She knew she didn’t deserve such protection, especially from someone she’d tried to kill on several occasions. “InuYasha…” she began with a hushed tone, before scrounging up some more of her ordinary vocal bite.  “You sure you should be showing your back to me?

            “Feh!” InuYasha barked at Kagura over a shoulder, keeping Hakudoshi well within his peripheral vision.  “Make a move on me and you’ll be dead before you reach me!”

            Standing on the sidelines of the InuYasha/Kagura/Hakudoshi skirmish, Miroku, Kagome, and Shippo could only watch in disbelief as InuYasha defended Kagura, of all people, from Hakudoshi.  Just as unbelievable, Kagura did not take advantage of her position at InuYasha’s back.  “I really think Kagura was protecting Kohaku from Hakudoshi,” Kagome commented to Miroku. 

            Miroku agreed.  “I believe you’re right,” he said to Kagome.  “And there’s only one reason for either Hakudoshi or Naraku to attack Kohaku: to get the Shikon shard embedded in him!”

            Hakudoshi refrained from attacking InuYasha and Kagura head on, seeming content to simply levitate inside his protective barrier.  At the same time, InuYasha held his position, not attacking either, for he knew Hakudoshi’s barrier could toss back most anything he could throw at it.  “Kagura!” he addressed harshly.  “Just spit out everything you know!  Unless you think you can trust Hakudoshi more.  I mean, maybe he’s hanging around to make sure you’re okay, but I’m betting it’s to make sure you’re dead.”

            “Mm,” Kagura confirmed.  “It’s because he doesn’t want the Infant’s location revealed.”

            Miroku and Kagome took special notice at the mention of Naraku’s heart.  “Kagura, did you just say the Infant?” the monk asked.  “Naraku is concealing his heart by erasing his demonic energy.  Which is why when we found that Moryomaru wasn’t emitting energy, we assumed that he was Naraku’s heart.  We didn’t notice the Infant had disappeared!”

            Kagura glanced at Miroku, clearly aching to answer.  “Go ahead, Kagura,” Hakudoshi permitted.  “Tell them.”

            InuYasha saw Hakudoshi’s barrier fluctuate and began to disappear.  “His shield’s fading, and so is he!” he warned to his friends.  “Getting ready to vanish?  Not if I can help it!”

            InuYasha raised Tetsuseiga high and swung it down at Hakudoshi.  “Kongosoha!” he roared, unleashing the Diamond Spear Blast.  Hundreds of foot-long flechettes of barrier-piercing diamond shot forth from Tetsuseiga’s blade, barreling toward Hakudoshi in a tightly-focused stream.  Just before the spears reached him, Hakudoshi and his barrier disappeared and the spears flew on to be lost to the sky in a ballistic trajectory.

            Hakudoshi reappeared a split-second later behind InuYasha, enveloping Kagura within his barrier.  InuYasha spun around to face them and Kagura pounded her fists against the barrier’s transparent wall in a futile attempt to escape her vile brother.  “Now then,” Hakudoshi gloated at the success of his little maneuver.

            “Damn you!” InuYasha spat, aiming Tetsuseiga at Hakudoshi again.

            “Well, InuYasha?” Hakudoshi baited to the hanyou warrior, daring him to attack.  “Try to cut me again.  And Kagura, too, while you’re at it.”

            InuYasha growled like the dog demon he was, baring his sharp incisors in frustration.  Through Hakudoshi’s barrier, Kagura looked at him with composed terror, anticipating the ripping burn of his Diamond Spear Blast tearing her and Hakudoshi to pieces.  It didn’t come, as InuYasha lowered Tetsuseiga slightly.  He refrained from taking another shot, to Kagura’s surprise.  He’s not going to do it? Kagura thought to herself, holding her breath.  Agh!  InuYasha, you’re a naïve fool!

            Hakudoshi laughed aloud as InuYasha held his fire.  “What a surprise…” he noted, looking down at Kagura as she sat at the bottom of his spherical barrier.  “That even you can serve as my shield.”

            “You idiot!” Kagura cursed and swept her magic fan at Hakudoshi within his barrier at point-blank range.  Her Dance of Blades sliced his lithe body in two, cutting him at the waist.  The demon-child’s expression did not flinch in the least, as he felt absolutely no pain.  “Listen!  The Infant…” she shouted to InuYasha and Kagome.  “It’s inside Moryomaru!  Hakudoshi’s scheming with it to make Moryomaru stronger, so they can take on Naraku!”

            InuYasha, Kagome, and Miroku were taken aback by this.  “You both Hakudoshi and the Infant…have turned against Naraku?” InuYasha asked of Kagura.

            Hakudoshi gave a sinister laugh.  “Naraku made a mistake when he took his heart out of his body,” the demon-child said.  “He gave the Infant the Fuyoheki to erase signs of his energy, as a sort of armor for his heart.  But then the Infant had a most clever idea.  To create an armor of his own: Moryomaru!  And then we realized something.  As Naraku made Moryomaru stronger and stronger, always thinking that he was protecting his heart, he only pushed it further from his own reach, until finally, we knew that we held the power.”

            The halves of Hakudoshi’s body, split by Kagura’s magic fan, knit back together.  Kagura sneered at him.  “Moron.  Do you really think Naraku’s going to let that happen?” she pointed.

            Hakudoshi gave Kagura a sardonic smile.  “Shouldn’t you worry about yourself, Kagura?” he posed to her.  “We may be as disloyal to Naraku as you, but he actually possesses your heart.”

            InuYasha, Kagome, and Miroku looked to Kagura.  Naraku possessed her heart?  For his own part, InuYasha angled his furry dog ears to focus them Kagura, using his incredible inu hanyou hearing to listen to her chest.  He heard no heartbeat.  He could hear her blood moving rhythmically through her body, entering and leaving her lungs to take in oxygen and offload carbon dioxide waste as normal, but no organ drove its movement.  He realized that if Naraku actually had possession of her heart, then Kagura was in grave danger no matter where she went or what she did.  He also realized that Naraku’s possession of her heart was probably the mechanism he used to control her, force her to fight against him and his pack.

            “Just give up, Kagura,” Hakudoshi suggested to Kagura, in much the same way she spoke to Kohaku earlier.  “Naraku’s going to kill you either way.  So why not join with us, and at least help us make him suffer?  And do so…from inside Moryomaru!”

            “Oh, God,” Kagome hushed.  “He wants Moryomaru to absorb Kagura!”

            “Give me a break!” Kagura spat at Hakudoshi, swinging her fan at him again.  This time, she cleaved his body into more than two pieces, blasting him until little bits of cloth and demon flesh floated around inside the barrier.

            Hakudoshi cackled defiantly, his head severed from the rest of him.  “Slash my body all you want, Kagura.  I won’t die.”

            “Damn you…” Kagura hissed.

            “No one can kill me,” Hakudoshi boasted as his body began to reform.  “Not even Naraku.”

            Somewhere far away, shrouded in darkness, Naraku himself observed Hakudoshi’s disloyal behavior through the magic mirror of Kanna, his very first incarnation.  He cracked an evil smile, and suddenly, Hakudoshi’s barrier shattered.

            Miroku, Kagome, and Shippo leapt back as Hakudoshi’s barrier blew apart, exposing the demon-child to direct attack and freeing Kagura.  Manipulating her winds, Kagura guided herself to land upright on the mountain slope below her, landing in an elegant crouch.  She looked up at Hakudoshi in bewilderment, realizing that somehow, Naraku had destroyed Hakudoshi’s barrier remotely.  That meant the oni lord knew of everything that had transpired, especially her betrayal!

            With Hakudoshi’s barrier gone, InuYasha saw his opportunity to strike.  “It’s now or never!  Kaze no Kizu!

            Hakudoshi grunted as the Wound of the Wind slammed over him, slicing his head in two and disintegrating most everything else.  He floated in the air as a dispersed cloud of pulverized matter, but as before, he began to recompose himself.  “He’s forming again!” Kagome cried.

            Miroku unfastened the gauntlet that muzzled his Kazaana, aiming to suck up Hakudoshi’s shredded body before he could repair himself.  “Heh.  Just try it,” Hakudoshi’s damaged head dared.  He summoned several dozen saimyosho, poison demon insects, to his side.

            Miroku hesitated to unleash Kazaana, fearing the effect of saimyosho poison on him if he sucked in too many of the winged insectoid horrors.  Then, all at once, the saimyosho turned and flew away, leaving Hakudoshi alone against InuYasha and the others once more.

            “The saimyosho flew off!” Kagome pointed.

            Again, Kagura perceived the invisible, puppet-master hand of Naraku’s intervention.  The saimyosho had departed…on Naraku’s orders.  Knowing that he was vulnerable without the saimyosho covering him, Hakudoshi deployed a heavy mist of his poisonous miasma around him, to prevent Miroku from using Kazaana.

            “I’ll clear it up!” Kagome shouted to Miroku.  Armed with her miko’s longbow, she drew an arrow from the quiver she wore over her back and fed her purifying reiki into it.  The arrow shot forth as a brilliant blue comet, its holy light searing Hakudoshi’s choking violet miasma cloud right off him.  By this time, the lavender-haired demon-child had reformed his upper body.  Armed with his polearm once more and as if in his death throes, he made a desperate attack on the person nearest to him: Kagura.

            “Hakudoshi, you bastard!” InuYasha snarled.  He and Kagome were helpless to save Kagura this time.  They were too far away to reach Kagura in time and again, Kagura’s proximity to Hakudoshi ruled out the use of the Wound of the Wind or one of Kagome’s purifying arrows.

            As Hakudoshi bore down on Kagura, he spoke to himself in mantras.  I am *not* like Kagura!  I am *not* Naraku’s tool!  I am my *own* master!  Before he could touch his polearm’s blade to Kagura’s throat, the calm air around the mountain over which he flew suddenly became like that of a typhoon, flowing horizontally to the ground and converging upon the center of Miroku’s cursed right hand.  “Kazaana!” Miroku bellowed.

            Without his miasma to protect him, Hakudoshi lay completely vulnerable to Miroku at last.  Kazaana devoured Hakudoshi’s shredded body ravenously, and the demon-child screamed helplessly as it finally sucked up his head.  Hakudoshi took his last glimpse of daylight before Miroku snuffed him out permanently by clamping Kazaana’s muzzle onto his hand.  “It’s done,” the houshi spoke.  Another of Naraku’s incarnations had fallen.

            “Yeah,” InuYasha said of Hakudoshi’s death, a single word the only eulogy that came to his mind.  Killing Hakudoshi was definitely a victory, but he felt no inclination to celebrate.

            “Though I don’t feel terribly pleased,” Miroku voiced similar thoughts to InuYasha’s, contemplating his cursed hand and the danger it posed to not only his enemies, but to himself and the people he cared about.  “I can’t help thinking that Naraku used us.”

            “Probably,” InuYasha agreed, sheathing Tetsuseiga.  “He didn’t have any further use for Hakudoshi, so he wanted us to get rid of him.”

            Kagura sat nearby, recovering from the stress of first nearly killing Kohaku, then nearly being killed herself by Hakudoshi.  Kagome noticed her in her uncharacteristically inert state and approached cautiously.  “Kagura, what are you going to do now?” the miko from the future asked.

            Kagura looked up at Kagome, seeing genuine concern in the miko’s eyes.  How fucking ironicKagome cares about *me.*  The people who care about me most are the ones Naraku created me to kill!

            InuYasha and Miroku looked to Kagura, as well.  “Naraku surely knows about your betrayal,” Miroku said to the wind sorceress, while InuYasha held his tongue.

            “Um…Kagura?” Kagome addressed uncertainly.  “You could join us if you want.”

            Kagura flinched visibly.  Kagome was so pure-hearted, so completely devoid of malice.  The miko would extend a figurative olive branch to her even after all the things Naraku had and hadn’t ordered her to do.  Part of her wanted very badly to join up with them, for some company if not for protection, but she shook her head in dismissal.  “No.  That won’t do you any good,” she said.  “In fact, shouldn’t you be on your way already?

            “Way?” Kagome wondered.

            “Well, yeah,” Kagura explained, rising to her feet.  “Can’t you track Moryomaru by the Shikon shard he stole?  And I don’t think you want to waste any time…given that he’s after Kohaku’s shard.”

            InuYasha, Kagome, and Miroku looked among each other, knowing that Kagura was right.  “As for me, I’ve had enough of you people,” Kagura added, rather back-handedly to the ones who had just saved her life.  “Goodbye.”

            Kagura turned away from InuYasha and the others, pulling another of her magic feathers out of her hair and preparing to depart upon it.  “Kagura,” InuYasha called to her.  The stern, yet somehow soft tone in his voice caused her to pause and listen.  “To the list of things we’re going to do, we’ll add bringing back your heart.  So until then, stay alive.  Got me?”

            A small smile graced Kagura’s ruby lips, but she did not turn around.  “Fine,” she replied, transforming her feather and riding it into the sky.  As she left InuYasha and his pack behind, she promised herself: I’ll just keep running…as far as I have to.


-To be continued-

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