Summary: One small thought, an action, and suddenly history has been changed. Consequence: The jewel was never destroyed and Kagome has to get used to her new position. AU. Blend of both manga and anime.

Authors note: A longer chapter! Don't take it for granted though. It just didn't want to end. Maybe that's what happens when a major (a minor in relative to the show) antagonist shows up and the other protagonist is gone. Writing this is so hard sometimes... Eh, but who cares? It's fun.

Please enjoy!


Chapter 5

The night sky was filled with stars so much more brighter than only a moment before, and Kagome knew without a doubt where she was.

She was back again.

"At least it worked," she muttered to herself. Kagome eyed the length of the well dubiously. "Now it's only the matter of getting up."

As her hands looked for something to hold on to, and as she slowly climbed with the help of some vegetation, Kagome dearly wished she had thought of bringing a ladder. It would have made things so much easier. Fortunately, she managed to reach the edge and ungraciously fall into a heap on the ground. She nearly wept with relief.

A sharp sting on her cheek, however, made her hiss out in surprise.

"What the..." She frowned and delicately touched something wet on her cheek, only to be shocked when she discovered it was blood. A quick look around revealed some kind of strings crisscrossing the grounds, and one alarmingly close to her had dark liquid on it. Tentatively, she touched it only to hurriedly bring her hand back. The string bit into her finger while at the same time disintegrating from the place she had touched it, crumbling like pink ashes and ceasing to exist.

Kagome stared at her finger dubiously. A small red drop lingered on the tip.

She stared at the thin strings near her.

Kagome came to the conclusion that she would rather not touch those strings and that it would probably improve her health to avoid them. The problem in this observation was that they were literally everywhere as far as she could see...


Her blood chilled. Everywhere? Then what about Kaede and the village? Inuyasha? The thugs? Whatever these things was, the strings easily bit into her skin and drew blood. What would happen to the children if they were caught in a tangle? Kagome shot up in alarm, narrowly missing another string above her head.

She came back to sooth her guilt and to quickly check up on them to assuage her worry. However, those thoughts was pushed to the back of her head as she sprinted to the grounds, evading and ducking the strings to the best of her ability as she went. Kagome had never been the best at gymnastics, and her uniform showed it. It was torn in places she had been snagged, small specs of blood when she hadn't seen the string in the darkness, and grass stains from when she fell.

Kagome didn't care. She only picked herself up again and continued doggedly to the village.

Her alarm only grew when she continued to see the same sort of strings wherever she went. She tried to think positive, that she didn't see any blood on them or torn body parts, and perhaps this was a normal event that she hadn't been informed by? Right? And Kaede would surely know what to do anyway. Right? ... Right?

Her terror and fear grew when she entered the village and saw no one outside.

"Hello?" Kagome called nervously. "Anybody here?"

No one answered, but that could be because she didn't shout. Not many would be able to hear her calls from a distance. Hopefully.

With trepidation and a murmur of warning at the back of her head, she cautiously made her way to Kaede's hut. More strings than any other place could be seen coming into the entrance, and Kagome was uncomfortably reminded of a spider's snare, the likeness only mounting when she stepped closer and saw other, thicker strings crisscrossing the web.

When she walked inside, she gasped at the sight.

Kaede lied on the floor, strings coagulating to the middle of the room where they surrounded her like a loosely held cocoon around her unmoving form. Her breathing was heavy as she struggled for air.

"Kaede!" Kagome called fearfully. She immediately moved to help her, but her hand fluttered uselessly in the air when she didn't know what to do. There were too many strings for her to come closer. She peered anxiously through a gap. "Kaede-obaasama," she tried carefully, "are you alright?"

The woman twitched and opened one eye blearily. It looked like a great effort. "...Kagome-sama?" She breathed out, confusion lingering on the edges of her words like vapor might cling to skin. Her ghastly pallor did a good impression of the dead.

"Y-yes!" She nodded frantically, holding back frustrated tears. "It's me!"

"... Kagome-sama?" Kaede repeated in a rasp, but this time in more disbelief, as if she didn't believe her own ears. "Why did ye come back?"

"I–..." She bit back the rest of the sentence when she saw one of the strings detach itself from the cocoon, gently falling down on Kaede's body where it completely disintegrated in that same flash of pink she could remember from before. Kaede exhaled softly.

Kagome blinked.

Another string fell after ten seconds, and it disintegrated just as the one before it.

"What's happening?" Kagome asked at last, watching with concerned eyes as the strings kept on falling with regular intervals. Was it hurting her? She couldn't see any blood though. The grimace on Kaede's face would suggest an affirmative, but why didn't she just move away from those strings if they disintegrated on touch? Or did these thicker strings work differently?

Kaede beckoned her slightly closer, a soft smile on her lips despite the grimaces every ten seconds. "It tears at my powers... I'm not as young as before," she admitted.

"What powers? What are they?" She asked, something frantic still showing in her twitching fingers. Kagome tried calming herself down, if only for the way Kaede seemed worried about her, but she couldn't. The place was like a ghost town, the complete opposite from what she remembered. "What happened?"

"The hair-youkai... came."

She blinked in confusion before a chill spread through her body in realization. Those strings... were hair? Like hair from one's head?

"Ye must eliminate the source," Kaede continued, eyes alight with frustration and bone-deep fatigue. "Hurry. Please. Just follow the... main hair strand... and ye will find her..." Kaede grimaced, her breathing ragged and tearing into the air with how broken it sounded. Kagome had to strain herself to hear the words that passed those lips. "Hurry," she murmured.

"Of course I will! Just hold on! Stay put, breathe, please," Kagome babbled incoherently. Her worry increased when Kaede's eyes turned inward, deaf to the world. "Kaede-obaasama? Miko-sama? Kaede?!"

She didn't get an answer.

"Kaede..." Kagome's eyes darted through the room, panic visibly written on her whole body for those that wanted to see. Nobody was there, though, and no sound could be heard except her heart thudding loudly in her ears. The only movement in the room was those strings, no, hair that kept on falling and disintegrating.

She was completely alone.

"Follow the main thread," she muttered. Every hair string looked the same to her eyes. Nothing was different except the thickness. Was that it? Should she follow the thickest thread? Kagome grimaced. "What's the main thread? Kaede-obaasama, please..." She sighed, biting her lip in worry. "Stay alive."

She turned and ran outside.

The situation outside hadn't changed much since she had last been there. The sky had gained the light color of a sunrise which made the hair strands stand out that much better as they glittered when the sun caught it, but the village was still empty. Kagome was more careful this time around, a keen eye focusing on one of the thickest ones as she angled her body to follow it.

The thread tangled with others in the middle of the village, almost like a huge ball of yarn hovering suspended, only waiting for the cat to come.

She bit her lip briefly in hesitation, but she turned around and followed one of the thinner hair strands into a smaller hut. At the sight of a family peacefully slumbering in the middle, bodies pinned to the ground, Kagome didn't know if she was crying in relief or terror. Probably a combination of both. At least they were safe. A quick look around yielded the same result around the village. No one had been killed, but they wouldn't wake either.

Kagome sniveled.

"Why did I come back?"

Her voice sound weak even to her own ears. She cried harder when there was no answer. How could she do this alone?

"I have to," Kagome whispered. She could remember Inuyasha's grumpy huff as he sat down and ate with her. The children as they ran to their mothers and laughed. The thugs as they shuffled in embarrassment that they had to bathe. Kaede who tucked a blanket around her... Kaede who asked for help. Something clenched in her stomach, and her eyes hardened in determination "I have to," she repeated.

This will be just like that time with the centipede, she mused to herself. Only she will be alone. There will be no one to rush for her rescue.

"Since when has that ever stopped me?" She wondered. And it hasn't. She had always been like that, ever since a child; always wanting to help wherever she could. Kagome clenched her teeth and glared at the ball of hair strands in front of her. "Just you wait," she promised, pointing dramatically at it, "I will eliminate your source!"

It was easier said than done, however. There were several hair strands that was about the same size, and Kagome had wandered to dead ends twice already.

She was beginning to think that this was impossible.

"Just jump down the well, Kagome, it will be alright, Kagome." She kicked a loose stone, muttering to herself. Lack of any movements had made her initial cautious sneaking into exhausted trudging. "It will only be there and back again, Kagome. Only a peek, Kagome. You will be back in time for school..." She sighed, hanging her head down in defeat. "I've missed another school day, haven't I?"

Carefully not directing her thoughts anywhere near the motionless villagers, she began to walk again, following another thick rope of hair. So far, the lead looked promising. It thickened the longer she walked alongside it, and there was no end to it as far as she could see. The trees obscured her sight though, so she couldn't really be sure. The navigation was at least made easier when the sun slipped through the heavy foliage and made the hair shine like silver. It was a bit worrisome that the hair continued to lead her deeper and deeper into the forest, but Kagome jokingly assured herself that she could always follow it back if she got lost.

Ducking and avoiding a low-hanging hair strings with ease born from familiarity, she stepped around the tree and made her way back to the main hair rope.

A low soothing murmur stopped her short.

Was that...?

Immediately crouching and carefully walking forward, it didn't take long before the treeline stopped and she came out into a glade, cliffs lining the side and loose rocks collected below. It wasn't that which made her gasp, though.

Obvious in hindsight, several thousands individual hair strands coalesced and clumped together in increasing width until, right in the middle of the glade, a huge ball of carefully woven hair hung.

Kagome stumbled back in shock, eyes widening at the sheer size of the thing. It was easily as high as her house, if not bigger. She doubted that she could have missed the thing if she had thought to climb a tree and look at the horizon. Even now, it felt like running headfirst into a brick wall. There was something that was practically slamming into her, saying control, youkai, old and death. The words stole her gaze towards the source of the murmuring, and Kagome saw exactly what Kaede had meant when she had said her.

A figure, all smooth lines and bared skin, sat in the center under the ball of hair. Her head was tipped down, short cropped black strands barely brushing her slender shoulder as she ran delicate fingers alongside a skull, murmuring soothing things Kagome couldn't hear.

She stumbled back, unconsciously gripping the bark on the tree behind her.

The woman exuded grace, yet something inside Kagome couldn't help but liken her to a colorful flytrap, swaying innocently in the middle but made to lure prey into its midst. The woman had to be a youkai, for what else could describe her presence? But she didn't look anything like the Mistress Centipede who's upper body was smooth but the lower half had been entirely insect-like. Her mottled scar across her hip gave a throb in remembrance, and Kagome winced. If this woman was anything like the youkai Centipede, she would have to proceed with caution. Who knew, perhaps this woman's bite was even worse?

She carefully backed away, only tearing away her gaze from the woman when she felt a string almost touch across her back. She ducked under it and slunk back into the welcoming embrace of the trees, using them to hide to the best of her abilities.

"The main source," she mumbled to herself, straining her eyes to see anything like that. "Where is it?"

Kaede had told her to follow the thickest strings of hair, which she had done, and then eliminate the source. What was the source though? Was it the woman? Or perhaps it was the ball itself?

She frowned, biting her lip in worry.

Kagome didn't know, and the hesitance made her only more upset.

The soothing murmur in the background continued, the tempo unwavering and falling like droplets of rain. She continued to observe the woman, looking for any sign of what she should do, but the woman's gentle stroking of the skull didn't give any clues at all. It only proved to Kagome that she was morbid, but not much else.

"Kaede-obaasama... For the love of – even Inuyasha," she lamented. "What should I do?"

She thought back, looking for something, anything, that could help her at the moment. When the Centipede had attacked, she ran towards the light-show over the forest and had trusted the way her feet had led her. And eventually, she had reached the Goshinboku where Inuyasha had waited for someone to release him. So that had worked out alright. When she had been kidnapped, she had sensed something strange from that crazy sword swinging leader, but she had been more insistent to escape with the others than anything, and then Inuyasha had saved them.

Now, everyone else was out, so what..?

Frustrated and feeling on the verge of tears, she ran her hand through her hair. If only there was a way to distract the woman away, so that she could go down and investigate.

She grit her teeth and very nearly stomped her foot in a childish pique of a temper tantrum. Was there anything she could even do? Kagome didn't want to resort to waving the Shikon no Tama in the woman's face and then run far away, but she would do it if she had to.

She tugged at her hair, grimaced when a few strands loosened, and reluctantly opened her grip. The hair strands floated gently towards the ground, and she watched it with detached curiosity, her mind still stuck on the current problem.

Could she –

Kagome blinked in astonishment when one of the hair strands fell onto another string, and that same surge of light disintegrated both Kagome's and the woman's hair.

What just...? She whipped around, pressing her back against the tree as she noticed the murmur had suddenly stopped. The woman was sitting straight up, every line of her body sharp and attentive as narrowed eyes stared straight forward.

Kagome held her breath.

After what seemed like an eternity, the woman relaxed again. Her body folded easily and the murmur began anew.

She released her breath quietly, feeling her heart thunder dangerously loud in her chest. A smile crossed her face as she finally understood.

While she didn't like exactly how it had come about, it had at least given her an idea on what to do next. She slunk further inside the forest, keeping a wary eye on the woman, and when she figured the youkai would have no chance of spotting her, she turned around and ran back in the direction of the village. She would need scissors for her plan to work and luckily enough, Kaede hadn't moved them from where she last remembered they had been. With fingers steady from determination, she snapped off a few hairs worth near her fringe, hopefully nearly invisible but enough for her plan.

She grabbed the hair tightly in her fist so that she wouldn't risk losing them, and ran as fast as she could to a cluster of hair strands inside the forest. Kagome could remember it from one of the dead-ends she had come across, and she could only hope the plan would work.

Relief washed through her when she arrived. She had remembered the setting right! Now, if she could just... How to destroy this thing?

She bent down to pick up a stick from the ground and weighed it calculatingly while eyeing the two ropes of hair that hung straight above the likewise hovering ball. If she stretched, she might be able to reach it. "Hm," she mused, eyes dragging alongside the hair. It was like mapping out a labyrinth with three dimensional twists and turns. Finally, she landed on a knot tied to a nearby branch.


Reaching to the crisscrossing ropes higher up, she wiggled the stick so that it sat snugly against the two ropes of hair straight above the hovering ball, placing her fistful of black hair on it so they hung loosely from the stick.

So far, so good.

Kagome clenched and unclenched her left hand, a grimace as she worked up the nerve to complete the plan.

But what if it didn't work? The woman could ignore it altogether, or worse, she could come straight to Kagome and then bind her just like Kaede had been.

Contrary to what the small uncertain voice in her head had been hoping for, this only hardened her determination. Kaede and the entire village's hope rested on her shoulders.

She narrowed her eyes, squared back her shoulders, and took a deep breath.

With Kagome's exhale, she slammed her hand down on another knot of hair, biting pain tearing through the soft skin of her palm. Before she could cry out, the surge of that something within her burst forward and obliterated the rope.

Immediately, she turned on her heel and ran, not staying to watch the knot of hair disentangle so that the stick above would loosen enough to drop together with her hair. It would hopefully set off a chain reaction and disintegrate the hovering ball.

If one string of hair so close to the 'nest' could get the woman's attention, then this should definitely do it!

Now she just had to run faster than the woman could come and investigate.

Kagome sprinted around a in a large half circle, altogether avoiding the path the youkai was expected to take. It was a complete guessing game at this point though, and she could only duck her head and hope that it would work. Her heart thudded painfully loud in her chest as a reminder on what was at stake. She. Could. Not. Lose.

When she finally stumbled into the rocky clearing full of skulls and the ten times larger globe of hair, she crumpled, barely holding herself up by the help of her knees. Kagome was near tears when she breathed out a sigh of relief, no youkai woman to be found.

It had worked.

She sucked in a deep breath, and then let it out.

"The source," she repeated to herself, stumbling down the cliff side. Rocks crumbled under her feet, and she scrambled for a leverage with her good hand. Skin got scraped off her palms, and she winced. Her wound from earlier throbbed insistently, blood smeared all over her fingers and dirt now covering it. She bit her lip and wiped the worst of it off on her skirt. It stung more afterwards, but she knew from experience that infection felt a lot worse.

Hesitantly this time, Kagome continued down the steep slope.

"Where is the source?"

She was filled with exhaustion and spurned by desperation, not a particularly good combination for anyone. Her legs trembled, and it was probably inevitable that she tripped and fell all the way down.

It also probably saved her life.

"Oni bi gushi!" A trail of hot red fire streaked towards place she had been standing at the moment before, slamming down with such force rocks flew everywhere.

Kagome scrambled back with a yelp.

Standing at the top of the cliff, the youkai woman stood carefully poised on a hair strand. She bent forward with effortless grace, hands on her hips. "Tch. So I missed."

Kagome could only stare wide eyed at how close to death she had been.

"Who are you then?" The woman continued musingly, tilting her head to the side. Kagome couldn't help following the pale line of her neck as her hair brushed against it. There was just something about her that made Kagome shiver. The woman jumped down easily, landing lightly on her toes and fluidly moving forward. "I haven't seen you before."

Kagome scrambled to a standing, barely throwing herself to the side before another streak of fire could impact her. She was going to get killed at this rate!

"Why do you keep moving?" The woman sounded honestly confused. "Stay still, will you?"

She choked back a hysterical laughter at those words. Kagome could feel it bubbling in her throat though. She shuffled slowly backwards, keeping a wary eye on the woman's movements. She seemed amused, teasingly taking a step forward and watching as Kagome shuffled a step backwards. "It was you that destroyed a piece of my hair, wasn't it?" She finally said, stopping her movements. It was apparent that she was poised to lunge forward to Kagome anytime though. "Are you this village's Miko? I seem to remember trapping her though..." She trailed off, tapping her lips with one finger.

Kagome tensed when those lilac eyes turned probing at her. She bristled. "So it was you!"

There had been a vague hope that everything had just been an illusion or a really, really bad dream. To have the confirmation flung into her face did not help in the slightest.

"Who else?"

It was an honestly confused worded question, and Kagome could only shrug in answer. Can one blame a girl for hoping? "Where is Inuyasha?" She snapped instead, struggling desperately to keep the youkai from going back to trying to kill her. If the woman wanted to talk, Kagome felt rightful in indulging her. Anything to keep her attention away from her helpless form. She tried standing up, and when she only got an amused head tilt, she surreptitiously wiped her bloody hands on her skirt again.

"Inuyasha? Who's that? Wait," she struck her fist lightly in her open palm, "like the Inuyasha in the Inuyasha's Forest? He's alive?"

Kagome forced herself to bite her tongue at the confirmation that wanted to come out. Her odd little band of thugs was probably not in the village then if she hadn't seen the very loud Inuyasha that seemed to hound the humans, pardon the pun, so it was safe to assume they weren't in danger. If she failed and actually became youkai mush, she didn't want the woman to also turn to them. She didn't want them hurt.

"Good. So you know where you are," Kagome said instead, deflecting the question.

Slowly, she backed away, the woman's eyes lingering on her movements with amusement. The source, if she could just find the sour– Kagome stopped, eyes widening and a full body shiver wrecking through her body when her foot connected with something hard and round. It cracked slightly under her misplaced weight, and she wobbled. A quick glance showed that she had come to the edge of the scattered skulls. The huge mass of hair hung above her head, strands mostly shooting up and into the forest rather than down, and she was thankful for that. It was hard enough as it was without adding any more obstacles.

That wasn't what was scary though. The sudden darkening expression of the woman made something primal in Kagome's head scream that she should run and run as fast as she could before it was too late.

Instead, she stood rooted to the spot, her left foot hanging precariously above the skull.

There was a snap, crackle and a whoosh of air before Kagome could even register that the youkai had moved to stand directly in front of her. "You know," the woman said conversely with a smile so bland that it almost tasted like dirt to Kagome, "I was going to be nice to you. It was a long time since I've collected so beautifully tended to hair."

A hand as delicate as porcelain moved up, hovering a hairsbreadth from actually touching the black hair. Kagome took a stumbling step back, chest heaving and a swallowed scream making her pupils dilate. The skulls under her feet barely took her weight, groaning from old age.

The woman watched her impassively. "But not now, Miko." She tilted her head. "Sorry."

"My name is Kagome! Ka-go-me!" She bit out, a knee jerk reaction from her different name callings. She took another stumbling step backwards when she got another smile in return.

"Sakasa-gami no Yura. Pleasure to meet you. Now die."

She barely saw the twitch of the woman's fingers, two thin hair strands making their way towards her in what was undoubtedly a motion to behead her. Kagome managed throw her body down, rolling and scraping her knees before she stood again, running belatedly away from Yura.

What followed was an odd exchange of curious hair strands set on killing her and Kagome narrowly escaping every time. Duck, throw skull, roll, run and repeat process. It could have gone on forever as her adrenaline was telling her, but it was more probably sixty seconds at most before she was caught. Yura had been walking steadily closer to the middle of her arranged skulls, hands waving lazily as she watched Kagome duck for her life. When the first pair of hair strands actually touched Kagome's skin and they flared up before crumbling into nothing, Yura perked up. "Oh? So that's how you did it."

Faster than Kagome could twitch in discomfort, another hair piece was whipped at her arm and was similarly destroyed. Yura tilted her head to the side. She got an uneasy feeling from the motion that urged her to run, but her exhausted form could barely be coaxed into pulling up her arms in a block just in time to catch hair the size of a rope being weaved around her body. It tore into her skin and Kagome cried out, but just as faithfully as before, it got destroyed by a flash of pure pink. Yura took the time to hop to her though, bright curious eyes transforming her face into something more malicious. "That's interesting," she commented.

"Glad you think so," Kagome wheezed out in turn, glaring at her from behind trembling arms. She didn't have the strength needed to pull them down again.

The woman smacked her blood red lips absently, eyes staring intensely at Kagome... and yet not. It didn't feel like she was staring at Kagome, but more like the very concept of Kagome and what might lay behind it, and not the human wearing the name.

That, if nothing else, scared Kagome more than anything. So when Yura brought a curious hand forward, reaching to touch the enticing skin with her own, Kagome shook in horror. Something told her it would be very bad, danger, no no no no, and she could only scream silently in her head 'I don't want her to touch me'!

There was a breathless moment when she got closer and closer and then –

Yura withdrew her hand with a startled hiss, cradling the burn that looked so prominent on her blemish free skin.

Kagome flopped down onto her knees, drained. Her muscles trembled and her sight wavered, black spots dancing in the corners. It didn't stop her from hearing the sharp inhale though.

"What is that?"

She didn't need to look down to see that the Shikon no Tama had escaped the confines of her shirt. It dangled like the weight of a sun around her neck, glowing with its usual inner light.

Her only thought now was, 'oh no, another reason to kill me'.

To be honest, Kagome wasn't the most cheerfully optimistic person when on the verge of being killed. She should probably work on that if this was going to happen often.

"Do you know what you have there, Miko no Kagome?" The woman whispered, looking torn between stepping forward or backing away to her spot in the middle of the skulls again. That same skull that she had been crooning over still laid there, Kagome noticed dully. "Something so powerful with a mere mortal... Unbelievable."

As Yura stared fixedly at the shikon, Kagome closed her eyes. If she had known she was going to die here, then she – would what? Nothing. Guilt would have driven her to the well anyway, and her responsibility wouldn't have kept her away from Yura. Perhaps she would have given the useless bauble to Inuyasha from the get-go. It had only brought her dangers in various forms, could apparently destroy Yura's things with a touch, and it had a death with her name on a silver platter. He deserved it anyway much more than this woman. She liked him better, too, despite him trying to kill her, too.

If only she had found the source, then maybe –

An idea, so painfully obvious but burning like embers only waiting for her to notice it before burst into an inferno. Of course she wouldn't die here. How pathetic could she be? The source was probably something cherished, like something one would sing to when no one was looking.

So it was only a few steps there.

And Yura was the only person standing in her way.

And she was intent on killing Kagome. More so than before.

It was nothing else to do. Bracing herself and harshly rebuking her legs for any weakness when she flexed them, she glared up at Yura. The woman only had time to widen her eyes before Kagome shot up like a rocket, trying to dig her bony shoulder into the woman's chest. She screamed at the burn that flared up with contact, hopping away a safe distance and allowing Kagome free passage in the process.

Kagome took five long leaps to the lone skull in the middle, almost crashing on top of it when her legs decided to give out. The woman cried out again, but this time in panic.

It only confirmed her beliefs that she had found the source.

With steely determination, she swung her hand down hard.


The shriek was so unexpected Kagome paused for the barest of moments. She half expected the woman to take advantage of this hesitation and attack her, but her hand continued to hover above the skull with no interruption.

The woman though, she collapsed, looking like her legs could no longer hold herself up either. Her whole body trembled where it laid. "Please don't," Yura whispered, a broken desperation shining through those previously so dead eyes. "No, no, please, don't! Please!"

The woman reached out a quivering hand, and Kagome flinched, her own hand coming closer to the skull, and the woman herself flinched back in reaction. "No. Don't," she repeated. Her throat sounded muffled, like she was on the verge of crying. It was an ugly sound. Pain, desperation and horror mingled through it.

Kagome's fingers twitched above the skull and she watched as the woman flinched back again, as if waiting for the death blow. And in a way, the woman was. Her reaction confirmed it; Yura would die if Kagome disintegrated the skull with her powers.

Her heart clenched, and Kagome wavered. She thought about the village, her wounds, but also the cost of a life.

… In the end, it wasn't much of a decision if she could choose.

"L-leave," she ordered, voice unsteady from exhaustion. "Leave and never bother us again."

Her heart almost broke at the sight of the disbelieving hope in those eyes, unfurling slowly like flowers in the morning and growing the longer Kagome was motionless. Like they couldn't understand what she was saying but desperately wanting it to be true. Her stomach clenched uncomfortably at the sight.

"Leave," she repeated again, as if confirming it to her, "and I won't destroy the skull." The woman still wavered though, eyes darting from the skull between Kagome's legs and her blue eyes that shone with determination. Louder and with her other hand coming to rest on the other side of the skull, she repeated, "Leave now."

She nodded, frantic eyes focused on the skull. "I will!" Yura lurked to a standing, taking a step backwards. "I will leave now."

The woman took one last glance back at the skull before she heaved herself on top of one of those strands of hair, and then she was gone.

Just like that, she was gone.

"Oh Kami-sama," Kagome moaned. Boneless with exhaustion, she slumped down against the skull. This was not an experience she wanted to repeat in the future. Or ever.

Black crept up against her vision, and before she knew it, she had passed out.

A/N I have to confess, I absolutely loved writing Yura. She was being deliciously creepy when I wrote her, and I don't think any character that wasn't the main one has ever been so cooperative for me! This whole chapter is actually a huge canon derailment in of itself. Kagome on her lonesome wasn't seen as a threat to Yura, and the consequences of her playful act went into a win for our heroine. I rather doubt Kagome would have made it if Yura had even an ounce more of seriousness when trying to kill her. What did you think of the fight/running away scene? Or this chapter in its entirety? It was odd writing this considering there was no bow, Inuyasha or knowledge of what exactly she was dealing with. And yet she won. I'm so proud of her! *Cuddles my dear girl*

And for those that misses him just as much as I do, Inuyasha will make an appearance next chapter. Thank you for reading, and see you then!