I'm sorry this took so long. I've been busy with work and other things. I'll try to be more diligent from now on.
Inuyasha almost felt relaxed as he landed lightly on the gate of the Higurashi Shrine. He was used to being out of danger there and having to stay on guard aggravated him. The sky was still dark but he could see the well-house on the other side of the God Tree. He could have Amon and the sword there in a matter of minutes. Amon's ability to use the well without a jewel shard would make things easier. Inuyasha looked around to the stairs that led down to the street. Toukijin was already climbing, glowing brighter than ever. Amon's face was a picture of concentration as the blue light illuminated it. Inuyasha couldn't tell if it was Amon or Toukijin glaring through those eyes but it didn't matter. The sword raised itself and fired another energy blast. Inuyasha ducked and the beam passed over his head. Toukijin's aim wasn't as good as it had been earlier. Was Amon's body weakening even further? Or was it the sword itself that was weak? After being sealed for so long, could it be that Toukijin wasn't back to its full strength? Inuyasha abandoned his perch on top of the shrine gate and ran for the well house.
Sesshomaru was getting the feeling that he was being conned. A feeling he didn't enjoy. He could smell the humans up ahead through the trees. Their conversation sounded tense, as if a storm was gathering.
"Are you sure you should be out here? Maybe you should stay inside and let us handle this."
"I'm okay. I feel better now. I just want to see the end of this."
"Let her be, Houshi-sama. We have other things to worry about."
"How will we get him to stand still? It won't be easy."
"We won't have to do anything extra if things go according to plan."
"Yes, we stick to the plan… for now."
Why were they clustered so close together? And why wasn't Inuyasha with them? Something wasn't right. Sesshomaru quickened his pace until he reached the edge of a clearing. The humans were all standing around a well which, to Sesshomaru's knowledge, had been dry for ages. Was this some kind of trap? The first to look up at his approach was the golden-haired witch he remembered seeing only briefly before. He could tell that she was injured by the way she held her foot just off the ground. She watched him and said nothing at first. Kagome was quick to jump in before her.
"You're here just in time. Inuyasha will be here in a minute."
Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes. Where did she get the nerve to talk to him that way? But he had to admit he was intrigued. He would stay just a little longer.
"Wait a second," Karasuma interrupted. "You said that witches' powers could weaken if they were sick or injured. But I was just fine when my craft weakened a while ago. How do you explain that?"
Travisian carefully put the second scroll away before answering. "The explanation is simple. You are not a demonic witch."
Karasuma's face darkened with confusion. "What do you mean? What am I then?"
"You are what we call a holy witch," Travisian began. "Your powers come from your soul rather than your body. People like you are called witches just as your demonic friends are, but you are not like them. Allow me to illustrate. Robin is a demonic witch and so her powers will not fail her as long as she remains healthy. Your powers can wax and wane in response to your emotional state. It is my understanding that both Amon, and Robin were away during the time you mentioned. Is it possible that your powers weakened because of the pressure you were under?"
Karasuma paused and thought for a moment.
"You were kinda stressed out back then," Sakaki broke in.
"Kinda? She was totally freaking," Dojima laughed.
"You're saying that my craft weakened because of stress?" Karasuma asked.
"Your power returned when your friends did, no?" Travisian replied with his eyebrows raised.
Sakaki and Michael sniggered.
"You stressed so bad, you messed up your craft," Dojima giggled.
Karasuma valiantly ignored their teasing and focused on Travisian again.
"How do you know all of this?" she asked.
Travisian sat back in his chair. "That is precisely what I was about to tell you. For generations, my family has kept tabs on the Dog Clan and their allies and passed down this history in a collection of scrolls and papers known as the Dog Scrolls. As you may have guessed, the scroll which led Amon to the Swords of the Fang was one of many documents in the collection. The collection was always cared for by a senior member of my clan. However, forty years ago, word of the collection's existence was leaked to someone loyal to The Vatican. Being suspicious of all things that are not quite human, they sent their special unit, Section XIII to steal the collection. During our annual reunion celebration, they attacked the estate of our clan leader. We fought back, but unfortunately we had already lost most of the strength that had carried our ancestors through the turbulent Feudal Era. I and seven others were barely able to escape their assault. The Dog Scrolls often changed hands at the reunion so they had already been packed securely for transport. As a result, we were able to carry the entire collection out with us. The decision was made to split the collection into eight volumes. Each one is currently in the care of a survivor or their children. Two years ago, I was captured by Vatican agents and imprisoned in Rome. My volume of the Dog Scrolls was hidden away in their secret archives. Fortunately, I was able to win the loyalty of a few guards who helped me escape and get the scrolls back. I knew that there was no better place for me to seek help than here in Japan. After all, my family originated here. And the STN helped support our ancestors' efforts to preserve the demon race."
"And what do you mean by that?" Nagira spoke for the first time in a while.
By way of answer, Travisian pulled out a third scroll and began reading.
The slayers have not disturbed our little community here as of yet. It is unclear whether they even know about us. Some of those who have taken shelter with us have started talking about leaving Japan altogether. Others have mentioned the possibility of organizing a counter-attack against the slayers. I believe that fighting back would only make things worse. And trying to abandon the country may not be a good idea either. It is not safe for demons to travel with the slayers patrolling the roads.
Kohaku and Rin have been doing what they can to smuggle good-hearted demons through to us. But their resources are limited. It was years ago that they founded their investigation unit to counter demon crime, the Secret Taiji-ya Network. But now that demons are much rarer, they have lost much prestige among the lords in the area. They fear that before long they will have to pledge their loyalty to someone with money and influence in order to stay in business. Already, a foreigner by the name of Solomon has approached them. They turned down his offer. But if their situation gets any worse, they may have no choice but to reconsider.
God Tree - The tree that Inuyasha was sealed against by Kikyo 50 years before Kagome's arrival in the Feudal Era. It's a time tree that connects different dimensions of time.
"golden-haired witch he remembered…" - See Hunting Dogs 2.
Taiji-ya - Demon slayer. Sango's family was called taiji-ya before they were massacred by Naraku's forces.
Secret Taiji-ya Network - STN (for those who didn't make the connection already). The organization that Robin, Amon, and their friends work for.
Solomon - The name of the mysterious group that controls the STN.