Within their shimmering prison, Midoriko felt herself losing ground fast. The colossal youkai sensed victory, roaring in triumph as her last defenses crumbled and the opalescent pink soul-tomb swirled blackly.

The legendary miko grimaced and looked at the Go board, willing the pieces to disappear. The Jewel must have come under a youkai's influence: she'd been playing better than her best for fifteen years straight, and now this? "What next? Shogi?"

One of the great youkai's misshapen limbs - formerly two dragon youkai and a squirrel who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time - waved smugly: You always cheat at shogi. Dice.

"I do not."

Do too.

"I most certainly do not."

And you smell, too.

She prudently ignored that. Best not to start; their last argument over Go had dragged out almost two hundred years, before a particularly virtuous miko had purified the Jewel into shutting the youkai up. "Fine! Dice. But there'll be no cheating."

The youkai "rolled" first. It cheated.


The Shikon no Tama suddenly exploded, shards flying untold distances in every direction. Her last thought was that whoever had split her neverending battle into a hundred tugs-of-war was going to pay.