Disclaimer: I don't own any of this! It all belongs to Takahashi-sama!

"xxxxx" =Japanese

xxxxx =Chinese

[xxxxx] =Thoughts

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"West was a materialist, believing in no soul and attributing all the workings of consciousness to bodily phenomena; consequently he looked for no revelation of hideous secrets from gulfs and caverns beyond death's barrier. I did not wholly disagree with him theoretically, yet held vague instinctive remnants of the primitive faith of my forefathers; so that I could not help eyeing the corpse with a certain amount of awe and terrible expectation."

(H.P. Lovecraft, 1922. Herbert West-Reanimator.)

---Japan, Nerima Ward---

Kagome hefted her pack from the Bone-Eater's Well, accompanied by Shippo, the changeling fox, and the demon/human half-breed Inu-Yasha. Miroku chose to stay behind and guard the village lest the lady Kikyo attempt anything. The cavern was illuminated by the iridescent green glow of the Shikon jewel shards suspended around her neck. The search did not go well, as the demons occupying Japanese lands during their time had little to do with Naraku, the vengeful demon collecting the shards as well. As her supplies of shampoo, soap, and schoolwork dwindled, she thought it best to take a break from the hunt; even as Inu-Yasha complained they were staying from their quest.

Her grandfather, the eccentric if kind-hearted caretaker of the shrine, was busy sweeping the courtyard of errant sakura blossoms as spring had descended upon the usually peaceful suburb. Napping under the warming rays of sunshine, the family cat lay huddled in the centre. Her younger brother had run off with the changeling fox to play, leaving Kagome and Inu-Yasha alone on a gentle hill.

"Do you think we'll ever find the rest of the Shikon shards? They could be anywhere!" Kagome sighed then lay back against the cool grass. "Maybe we should look for Shikon carriers in my time then track then down in yours." Her ideas tended to lack the crucial element of thought.

"Maybebut I think we can take a vacation nowI mean the shards aren't gonna just disappear are they?" Inu-Yasha swung from his legs wrapped over a branch, his arms were folded in a serious pose, completely refuted by his ridiculous position. "It's almost time for my human blood to become dominant, I'd rather not worry about anything when that happens."

"That's a good idea! And I can get all caught-up on my schoolwork!" She ran back into the house to call her friends, lord only knew what kind of silly excuses her grandfather had come up with. Inu-Yasha, feeling mightily put off by her departure followed at a more sedate pace.

---Title---

The Spider's Mark

A Ranma 1/2-Inu-Yasha fusion

By Dr. Suekeiichi Kaiton

---China, Bayankala Range---

He had done it. Finally he had duped the goddamn panda of a father he had and ran into the woods. Confident he could take care of all the basic necessities, he removed a bamboo flask of Jusenkyo water concealed within his thermos. The water was from an unmarked spring, and, through a burst of logical thought, would aid him greatly in hunting for his dinner.

It was dusk and the last vestiges of sunlight streamed through the jungle between the staggered peaks of Mount Phoenix in the sky. The only sign of his presence in the forest was the single fire he had constructed from dry deadwood; a tin pot of water simmered upon it's crackling surface. His prey was strong he could sense it. After setting camp he had begun the singularly easy task of catching dinner when he saw an enormous bird fly overhead. Through some atavistic urge to hunt one that is stronger than oneself he was determined to eat the animal for dinner.

Now he had cornered the bird, a gigantic black crow with three-eyes that seemed to speak Japanese in hushed tones under the beating of it's wings. The massive avian creature easily had a wingspan of six feet. Before his astonished eyes the bird landed in a clearing to eat the mutton grasped in its beak, the gangrenous flesh cast in a sickening green pallor. His quarry unbalanced and resting, Ranma threw a sizable amount of spring water over its head, resulting in an impish squirrel with carmine eyes chittering in impotent fury. With a deft slice of his knife it was over. He didn't notice that the creature's mouth opened and closed reflexively before succumbing to expiration.

He made his trail back to camp, his victim hanging from a hook on his belt. The water was heated now as he doused the corpse and returned it to its true shape. Mystified by the sheer size of his catch, Ranma began to gut it. Serrated teeth drew through tough hide like so many wet noodles, stinking piles of steaming ichor, blood and bile spilled forth into the adjacent river. Partially digested matter soon gave way to the being's latest meal, to his horror; Ranma spied a white cylinder terminating in the thin digits of a tiny hand float downstream. Suppressing the bile that rose in his throat, Ranma cast a weary glance at the thick hide. [The thing was a man-eater! At least I did a little good killing it] Ranma cleaned the wounds with fresh stream water, plucked the feathers (which were seemingly made of silver, he put those in his bag for future use) and lay it upon the glowing spit to roast. [It's not like a mutant bird is any weirder than being cursed to become a girl, is it?]

Seemingly hours passed but the meat refused to cook, the skin would brown but the muscle underneath remained a healthy pink. Finally, his hunger could not wait to be satiated and he bit into the bleeding flesh. [I like my meat rare anyway. ] When finished, Ranma did not notice the eerie luminosity the puddles of blood gave off, as flecks of pure mystical power coursed through his veins, nor did he notice the bizarre burn mark on the creatures back, burned into the flesh, resembling an enormous spider. If one were lurking in the fens and dark bowers of the jungle that night, Ranma Saotome would have been glowing brightly with an indistinct green pallor.

---Two days later---

"Ranma! Ranma! C'mere boy!" Genma Saotome stopped his hollering when a group of Amazon tribeswomen cut through the lush undergrowth and leveled their spears and icy glares at the portly martial artist. Studying in turn first the spears then the look of hatred from their eyes, Genma Saotome took off for the hills, not caring in the least for the general well being of his son. Little did he know

---Joketsuzoku Amazon Village---

Out of the shadows permeating the building a figure emerged, seemingly birthed from the endless pools of darkness. The man was dressed in a black cloak that obscured all features. Is he away? He asked the custodian of the village, Mascara. They were soon seated at a heavily ornamented table with wine and food, that is to say she sat while he seemed to drift off the floor, maintaining a seated position. The building was in the centre of the village, one of several dotting the sparsely populated region. The rustic charm of their warriors' way was not lost on the dark stranger, who found their fighting spirit and way of lifequaint.

Yes. The huntresses frightened him off, he won't soon return. The custodian was in fact barely thirty, an appointed tiebreaker to the council of elders. She merely won the village championship and was thereby nominated the enforcer of the tribe. Now, she asked, fidgeting with the gold clasp to her dress, will you keep yourend of the bargain? She glanced nervously at the stranger robed in black. He pointed to the windows and grotesque wasps with human eyes darted from sill to sill closing the open ventilation. As the mutated wasps disappeared back inside his cloak he gestured with three fingers upraised. Cloth that had previously garbed the champion melted like butter and slid off her form, tracing the full lines of her hips and chest.

Of course. No one heard their cries.

---Two months later, Nieuchiezu Amazon Village---

The streets were limned with people working to beautify the huts and cottages dotting the land. The Town Square itself was a bustling hub of activity, the village was once again preparing for the contest of champions. The elders were in their own council building preparing the opening ceremony.

Honored matriarch Cologne, you will oversee the preparation of the contestants in the challenge field, they must be well dressed and well fed before the tournament. A wizened face lifted out of the darkness, it was apparently a woman, although some would protest it more closely resembled a shrunken monkey. She was Cologne, one of the oldest women on Earth and in the village. A grandmaster of Amazon Whu-Shu, she knew secret techniques developed over two thousand years of Chinese Amazon history.

I will do this honored matriarch Perfume. She sneaked a nervous glance at her great-grandniece, Mascara, who seemed preoccupied. Is anything the matter child? She had startled her as Mascara's eyes refocused on her ancestor.

N-no honored elder, I was just thinking how Shan-Pu will do in this tournament.

'How Shan-Pu will do?' Hah! You're thinking about the child you conceived with that strange man in your village! Perfume gently teased. I heard you didn't hold a village meeting for weeks.

Is this true child? Can it be so? Cologne hugged her niece with tears in her aged eyes. Where is he? I hope he is strong! She made way towards the door.

Wait! I must tell you something first. She lowered her head. Although he defeated me in combat he would not become my husband, he is so powerful I cannot bar him from leaving, I do not believe many of you could keep him here. She glared at the elders that scoffed at her weakness. We agreed that I would drive away one of his pursuers if he would stay and give me a strong child. He is very strong! His child will be a great asset to the tribe. It will be a girl, he has told me so! Is that not proof of his strength? She pleaded on her knees. He told me he had urgent business in Japan, but would return in a year. Please honored elder; do not judge him so harshly!

And the fact that he's handsome doesn't enter into it? Hmm? When no reply reached her ears, Cologne went forth to find this man.

---The Challenge Field---

Cologne soon found her quarry hidden amongst the tall stalks of bamboo near the challenge field. She greeted her great-granddaughter Shan-Pu, who was practicing, then moved onto the subject of her quest; the stranger dressed in black. She saw a brief movement in the reeds and circumvented his line of sight, moving onto him from behind. The sun shone brightly on the gleaming gold and steel of the girl's weapons, their acrobatic movements reflecting the rays of sunlight blinding her momentarily. In that flash she saw him.

He was garbed in the white fur of a demon monkey, the hollowed out skull atop his head as a cap. Black hair woven like silk cascaded down with the white fur, he was easily recognizable. Before her astonished eyes a giant demon wasp descended from the heavens and hovered just above his head as if in conversation. Upon closer inspection the wasp's eyes were not the typical compound eyes found in normal insects but rather mammalian eyes with black pupils. She cleared her throat as it departed and was face to face with Mascara's mysterious lover. He seemed unperturbed by her appearance, casually leaning against a tree.

I have heard much about you from Mascara. Is it true you control the demons? She balanced on her staff as he settled into a crouching position by the stalks of bamboo. She could make out a smug smile underneath the monkey skullcap. Something about this man sent her flesh crawling. There was something amiss

"Yes. I do control certain demons, although I wasn't able to before. This body seems to have no experience with magic so I had to train a little; my mana doesn't flow as strongly now." He began to glow with that same eerie green pallor. "There was a time when all of the shadows knew my name, respected my title. Now I am merely a superstition, something mothers tell their children as a reason to beware of forests." He leveled his eyes and met her gaze. "I see you have learned to control the flow of ki within your paltry shell, but look at me. I will never age, and you believe you can contain me in this village? I can see the shifting in your aura, you plan on trapping me."

"As you speak Japanese I think it best if we converse in it." Underneath her cool exterior Cologne was worried, how could the stranger have known she was thinking of keeping him here? "I take it you will not stay? By the laws of our tribe you _must_ stay and raise the child you have sired with my niece."

"Feh. I have matters to attend to in Japan now. I might return in a few hundred years though. I see you have a personal stake in this matter." He grinned under the monkey guise, sharpened teeth grazing his lower lip. "That makes this all the moreinteresting."

[I guess I know where Mascara got the bite marks on her inner thighs. ] "Are you a demon yourself? An evil creature sent to torment us?" She decided to be blunt, there was no time for pleasantries. There was magic in the air, a hint of shadow.

"A demon? Hmmmaybe. As for being evil? I once wasbut am no longer." He seemed a bit nostalgic at the memories of crushing whole tribes in his grasp, of the feeling of power as he siphoned the life out of human warriors. "This is not evil any longer. I seem to have mellowed out in my later years. My host seems to have been one of the good guys' he cancelled my moreanti-social mannerisms." He chuckled a bit at that.

She was worried now. This man was trouble, he emitted an aura of overwhelming power, so powerful she believed that Saffron of Phoenix Mountain would have trouble defeating such a foe. "Tell me young one-"

"I'm not young. I'm older than you are." His gaze hardened.

"Alright then, tell me stranger, who are you?"

The creature leaned against a tree and threw off the monkey pelt. "You may call me Naraku."

---Japan, Nerima Ward. Two months later---

"Inu-Yasha?" Kagome looked up from her textbook to the window. She could've sworn something hit it. At that very moment a small pebble bounced off the glass, spilling back over the clay shingled porch roof. Sighing in exasperation, she opened the window to see Inu-Yasha motioning for her to come down. Something was up.

Rushing out the door in a sleeve-less shirt and shorts, Kagome met him in the courtyard of the shrine. Just at a glance she could tell something was wrong, there was an odd distance to him as he stood, like he was seeing some far off land. "Well what is it? You asked me down here."

"Something's coming. I can smell it in the air." He sniffed at the air, detecting a faint scent, one that promised them no end of trouble. The new moon would appear tonight, suppressing his demon blood; for all intents and purposes he would be human that night. Because of the cycle of blood in his veins, his senses grew more acute just before dusk on the day of the new moon but were smothered when the transformation took place.

"Do you know what it is?" He shook his head. "Well how can we prepare for it then?" She was getting agitated.

"I'm going back through the well, I'll get Miroku to come back with me. I'll also ask the old woman for some demon wards." He turned to the well. "I'll be back before sundown, don't worry." He stalked off for parts unknown. Despite his assurances, Kagome still had reservations. The sun was still nearing its apex when he left; he had seven hours before sundown. She just prayed he'd be back in time.

---Same Time, Tendo Dojo---

Genma Saotome felt guilty. It was a wholly new experience; very rarely did his conscience rear its ugly head from the bundle of vices and greed composing what remained of his morals. He had arrived at the Tendo Dojo just that morning after fleeing China. It was good to play a few games of shogi with his old friend but those days seemed numbered now. The Tendo Family surrounded him with questions, most pertaining to the whereabouts of his son. Due to the honor pact between the schools Ranma had to marry one of the Tendo daughters. It was his meal ticket to easy living for the rest of his days! How dare the boy run off and abandon his helpless father to the brutal mercies of the Amazons!

"Saotome I thought you were coming with your son, Ranma. Where is he? I'm anxious to meet the boy!" Soun laughed and slapped his friend on the back. As sweat poured off the stout martial artist Tendo grew impatient, finally breaching the subject directly. "Where is your son?"

"Oh Tendo, it is a tale of woe! My son is dead!" Genma burst into tears, weeping pathetically on the floor. Nabiki's keen eyes saw through the ploy and came to the conclusion he was lying, one learned things in her line of work. She resolved to discredit anything he said, a fat, deceitful person was bound to slip up eventually and when that happened she would leech him for everything he was worth. Crocodile tears poured onto the floor.

"Oh Saotome! Such loss, such hardship!" Soun broke down in tears soon thereafter, not that isolated an occurrence lately. "How did it happen?"

"My ungrateful son deceived his loving father and ran off into the forests of China. I searched for months until I found he waswas ferociously mauled by lions!" It still didn't cut it with Nabiki.

"Oh yeah! One of those famous Chinese lions!" She glared at her family for being so goddamn gullible. Akane was even stricken by the false tale of woe. For Akane to care for the life of a _boy_ was just too unbelievable. "He's lying I tell you!"

"I'm not!" Genma stood up with an angry glint in his eye then realized he was supposed to be crying and resumed the charade. "It was a tiger not a lion, I'm so sorry Tendo, now the lines will never be joined!" Again he sought to change the subject, an easy thing to do when dealing with an overemotional Soun Tendo.

"Now Nabiki! You know it's not nice to tease someone whose just lost a son!" Kasumi verbally berated her younger sister, even while harboring doubt to the credibility of the story herself. It was not that she distrusted Mr. Saotome (that was part of it as well) but the idea of someone being eaten by a Chinese Tiger just seemed sofarfetched. If the story sounded farfetched to the naïve Kasumi, it should have been an outright lie to the rest of those present.

"Thank you Kasumi dear, I just felt so helpless when I saw Ranma's bear eaten clothes!" Genma and Soun held each other crying, the plan was going well Genma thought, just a few more gruesome details of his son's death' and they would feel so bad he could stay for a while, have a home cooked meal for once.

"Don't you mean tiger eaten?' You said bear eaten." Nabiki supported her head in her hands, apparently bored with his lies. She had caught her fish, hook, line, and sinker.

"-Tiger eaten pack!"

"You mean tiger eaten clothes don't you?"

"-Clothes!" Genma covered again without missing a beat. By now Kasumi and Akane had begun to believe that the man was lying outright to them. Akane planned on beating the stuffing out of the lair while Kasumi planned on giving him a smaller portion at dinner. He just couldn't seem to keep his facts straight. Soun cried on however.

"My friend, the path of a true martial artist is fraught with much peril, but why does it have to be so hard on us!" Soun broke down again and consequently was the only one still weeping at that point.

"Mr. Saotome?"

"Yes Akane dear?"

"You and father mentioned something about joining the schools? What does that mean?" Sweat dribbled down the rotund man's back. Kasumi noticed how deathly pale he had become, she wondered if she should make some tea for the lying cheat.

"Uhn-nothing Akane it's just that-"

"Saotome! Now our families will never be joined in holy matrimony!" Soun broke in, dashing Genma's plans to deceive his girls. He was tugging ineffectually at the fat man's gi.

"Tendo don't!"

"WHAT!!!!!" The trio of Tendo girls chorused.

---Early morning, an atoll two miles off the West Coast of Japan---

Kima gazed at the black-cloaked man across from her, his eyes glittering with floating pinpricks of green light. These pulses of energy seemed to flow through his body, enabling him to perform the wondrous feats of magic that bestowed upon him King Saffron's friendship and protection. She herself wished for more time alone with the man, she ached to once again experience the physical act of love. Images of far off places and times assaulted her memory, thoughts of the day he arrived.

---Mount Phoenix, two months ago---

"Go forth into battle! Raise your weapons and spirits high for I will be joining you in this holy quest!" The roars of appreciation and tears of gratitude from his soldiers did nothing for Saffron, he wasn't going in to destroy measly troops, he wanted Herb all to himself. After all, was he not the Phoenix God of the Mountain? Was he not immortal? Did Herb stand a chance? Saffron grin a malicious grin thinking about throwing Herb's decapitated head and entrails to his advisors of the Musk. Once Herb was eliminated, the threat from the Musk would be nonexistent. He thought it was going to be easy. "Go forth and crush the heathen Musk for this effrontery!"

Kima flew on his right, Divus flew to his left; the two most powerful guards in the mountain were assigned as protection against the human weapons the Musk may possess. As seneschal it was her duty to care for her Lord's welfare and to keep him out of harms way, unfortunately, Saffron had personally ordered her to make sure he and Herb were not disturbed during the battle. The forests rolled past them in an unending wave of battle and carnage, the warriors of the Phoenix tribe fighting valiantly against the overwhelming numbers of the Musk. In terms of strength, the Musk had the advantage but the Phoenix had far longer reach and maneuverability.

Herb oversaw the battle from a cliff overlooking the valley. Stride atop his black steed, his virgin sister-princess of the Musk, ambled beside him. They waited on the cliff until the barest vestiges of Saffron's aura were visible on the horizon, staining the sky crimson. Ordering his guards to accompany the princess back to the citadel, and Mint and Lime not to interfere, he stepped down to do battle.

The battle itself was unseen, the light discharged from explosive ki blasts blinding those unfortunate to turn their way, and killing those that gazed upon it. While Saffron had unlimited amounts of it, Herb possessed more skill and technique with ki, making the odds about even. Herb showed no signs of tiring as the battle raged for thirty minutes, in fact he was laughing at Saffron's lack of imagination in regards to his attack. As the two monsters fought, Kima and Divus faced off against Lime and Mint. Things did not look sunny for the Phoenix, their king was being beaten, their strongest warriors were being decimated, and their ranks were broke.

Kima was pinned between the edge of Sharptooth cliff and Lime's sword, her right wing broken and twisted behind her back, one of her legs snapped in two placed by a leg swipe. Divus lay unconscious at Mint's feet as the hulking brute savagely kicked his fragile ribs until all that remained was a pulpy mass of bleeding muscle and gleaming white bone. Lime began to leer as he tore off her tunic and prepared to rape her before all the phoenix below them, Saffron was still in a stalemate, there was no one to help. The Musk warriors were akin to an unstoppable tide, washing the phoenix back towards the mountain, several others gathered to watch Lime defile the beautiful Valkyrie. She could smell his stale breath on her face.

---At the base of Mount Phoenix---

Lord Zentaro Choiler of the Phoenix rallied the troops against the Musk on the land, his wings no longer able to keep him aloft for extended periods. The warriors were missing limbs and bleeding profusely as they were given cursory medical care in the camp. He had to hand it to their lord, he knew how to rile the men into blind loyalty, as soon as the pain faded the wounded would steal a knife or sword from a guard and run off to the fight again. Shielding his eyes from the newest pyrotechnics emanating from Saffron's battle with the dragon prince Herb, he tended to strategy. They were lost, they could not hope to organize another offensive, they could only limit the land taken and pray the Musk didn't make it to the mount.

Yojo, one of the many doctors on hand for the battle covered the body of Lady Merac of the House of Saffron. One of the many victims when the Musk threw grenades from the overlooking cliffs. Shaking his head he prayed for a miracle. Just as the word escaped his lips a scout appeared at his side.

"I hope," he remarked with a smile, "that you bring me good news." The soldier looked grim, his jaw set in fear.

"I'm afraid not sir. The joketsuzoku and nieuchiezu are moving against us. They expect to defeat us easily after the Musk kicked us around a bit. Advanced teams of amazons are already within walking distance, the river and forest units have already fallen."

Choiler sighed. These were not decisions for him to make! Saffron should be here to order the troops. "Ghode? Send word to the front line, tell them to use the advanced techniques. We cannot afford a double sided battle." The soldier clashed the gold carapaces on his wings and took off for the front.

"You look like hell Zentaro," Yojo appeared from the medical tent. "What's the situation now?"

"Amazons in the back, Musk in the front. We cannot hope to win this."

"Where are Lady Kima and Lord Divus? They accompanied lord Saffron did they not?" Yojo scanned the area for any signs of the ill-fated pair. Shock and horror warred for dominance upon his face as he saw Lime tearing the clothes off Kima's back. "Choiler look! Isn't that Kima there?"

Choiler gazed in horror as Lime came down on the lieutenant, a gaggle of maniacal Musk cheering him on. "Kima!"

Then the world exploded.

---Sharptooth cliffs, above the battle ground---

Saffron gave one final burst of energy, razing the countryside under him, extinguishing all life in a twenty-meter radius. Herb laughed as the Phoenix king fell, clutching at his tiara, symbol of his authority. The ki blast turned to fire and scorched Herb's armor but still caused no lasting damage. The light was seen as far as Taiwan, a brilliant hemisphere of purifying light dispersing into the sky. At this junction in the battle the Phoenix fought with renewed vigor, unleashing sealed techniques that pushed back the Musk lines several hundred feet. Vacuum blades sliced neatly through armor and flesh, ki blasts obliterated their targets all in memory of the Phoenix king who gave his life fighting alongside his troops. To the Tribe this was the ultimate show of loyalty, the ultimate gift that could ever be given. It would not be wasted.

---Phoenix border, amazon encampment---

Cologne gazed at the ki explosion with wide eyes, never had she seen such a magnificent use of one's battle aura, Saffron's ultimate attack, used only once in his thousand years existence. The Phoenix Fire Suicide. It was a blast that utilized all remaining reserves of ki in his body, expelling them continuously until a firestorm was formed in the sphere. The attack would then kill Saffron, reverting him to a newborn. Perfume was impressed as well, but also quite joyful. If the Phoenix were not lead by Saffron they would surely fall at the hands of the amazons. Then they could deal with that upstart Herb

Mascara watched in fright as the ball dispersed, remembering the legends of Saffron's suicide blast. She hoped that her lover was far away, safe so that he could return one day.

---Sharptooth cliffs, ground zero---

Lime was all but tearing his clothes off in anticipation of taking Kima. She fought as well as she could until Saffron's blast took him by surprise, searing the flesh of his back. He tripped and fell back, screaming over the sound of crackling flesh. The Musk horde that had egged him on so was just a pile of ashes blowing in the wind, wind blown by Herb as he landed on the cliffs. It seemed bleak, there would be no escape this time. She was crippled and defeated, the spark had left her shell, leaving only a frightened creature behind. Saffron appeared on the ground as an infant, his cries drawing Herb's attention from her broken form. With a devilish glee, he powered a ki ball to incinerate his hated foe, he didn't care if Saffron was immortal, he'd enjoy killing him over and over and over. The ball left his hand, the blue of his fire casting ominous shadows in the forests. The ball sailed forward in a collision course with the infant Saffron. Then a miracle occurred.

One of the shadows in the forest was no shadow at all. With a resounding slash and explosion, Herb's ki was blown towards the sky, missing the Phoenix king completely.

"Shouldn't you be treating your elders with more respect?" A figure garbed in demonic monkey skins dropped down behind Herb, seemingly from thin air. His smirk was visible from under the skullcap. Herb was enraged. His aura sprang to life around him.

"How _dare_ you interfere with our duel! You may be a stranger but that won't stop me from breaking every bone in your body into toothpicks!" He shot a fireball. The ball sped into the stranger's line of defense, just as the man caught it in one hand and tossed it into the sky, creating yet another brilliant flash of light. Kima saw the man as a savior, someone who could restore the honor of Saffron's power. "How?"

"Anyone can do that." Naraku smirked again and spread his arms wide, the open sleeves of his robe sending plumes of black demon wasps into the air. Clutching the hive ball, he called upon his aura of evil. However, since joining with Ranma he could not summon his evil forces, merely Ranma's own aura, greatly augmented. "Attack!!" The wasps looked at him, then at the warriors in the valley below. Through some kind of telepathic command, the swarm descended upon the unsuspecting Musk.

---The base of Mount Phoenix---

"Lord Choiler! The Musk are being driven back!" Ghode flew down to inform Choiler of the news. "Demonic wasps are attacking the Musk, they've been routed through the forest, a few units are still fighting though."

Choiler was astonished. A whole army of Musk driven back? Was it possible? "What of Lord Saffron or Lady Kima? Where are they?" Yojo walked in back and supported the aged librarian of Phoenix Mountain. The troops were crying out in victory all across the valley, their cries buoying the spirits of those scarred or maimed in the name of Saffron.

"They both are still on the Sharptooth cliffs. Herb has them pinned."

---Sharptooth cliffs---

"How do you do such things stranger? Are you a demon?" Herb was impressed and also a little frightened by the man's powers. A demon wasp flew in to sting the dragon prince but was burned to a cinder as it entered the enraged king's aura of fire. Herb trembled slightly, too afraid of the stranger to attack. Naraku had casually flicked his more powerful blasts away like annoying mosquitoes, who knew what powers he may still hold?

"A demon? I think I was once, but am no longer. You, however, are a dragon are you not? I thought all the dragons went extinct hundreds of years ago." Naraku sensed the prince's sister approaching the battle site. A perfect hostage.

"How do you know of my lineage? Tell me!" Herb conjured his battle aura closer, more concentrated, a fiery cloak that draped over his body.

"I know many things, and have seen even more. Do not trifle with me boy, you're only a few thousand years too early to fight me. Not to mention the wrong species." Naraku motioned with four fingers upraised towards the broken form of Kima. Her body was pushed by the wind off the cliff to land safely near the Phoenix encampment. She would only tell them of a powerful mage that defeated Herb. "Feh! Your sister approaches, do you want me to take her life? I have no qualms."

"You'll keep your filthy hands off my family demon! If I defeated the king of Phoenix Mountain, the immortal Saffron, I can deal with you!" Through the proud bravado though Herb was petrified, the entire Musk army defeated by the enchantments of one man. He shuddered involuntarily.

"Can you really?" Naraku called forth his searing aura and sent it across the cliff to envelop Herb. The gooey power binded Herb's arms and feet, as it's acidic properties made him scream in pain. His eyes flared and a powerful shock wave of ki blasted away the burning shackles. "Interestingvery interesting. You have great power, but can you face this?"

He drew away the monkey skin, revealing his silky black hair down to the ground, and his bared fangs. Naraku stood now dressed in a flowing priest's robes, stained with black and red designs which glowed with his evil powers. Raring his head back in an inhuman howl fangs extend out heightening the appearance, he pulled his arms back in fists then screamed out with the thunderous power of the heavens. "ONIGUMO DEMONIC HELLFIRE!!!!!!!" Out of the ground came a blinding red haze that surrounded and penetrated Naraku, who drew more and more power towards himself until he thrust his hands forward, a sonic boom accompanying his motions. A concentrated blast of unholy energy shot from his chest, easily the width of Lime's waist, blowing Herb away crashing _through_ the mountain behind him and back into Musk territory.

Naraku wrapped himself back in his monkey furs, his identity hidden well enoughfor now.

---Phoenix border, amazon encampment---

A startling, deafening roar echoed off the mountainsides surrounding them. Several amazon warrior's ears burst, spewing blood all the while screaming in pain. Mascara, Cologne and Perfume had been in the tent planning the assault and as such were not crippled by the roar. Bubbles and Brush ran in, pulling the matriarchs outside where the tribe was in chaos, the wounded and dying cries filling the air. It was not the chaos that drew them out, however, it was the sight of a black/purple ki wave looming overhead! They took cover near the mountains as wave after wave of ki flame slashed through the air overhead. In all the years of Chinese Amazon history never had anything like this occurred before.

Mascara heard the sonic boom again, and again, three times total. Cologne and Perfume were unaware that the deafening blasts were the result of Herb hurtling through three mountains. He finally landed, a boneless bloody heap, in the centre of the Musk citadel.

--Japanese atoll, early morning---

Now he was dressed much the same, a black cloak and cowl covering his clothes. What sparse clothing he wore consisted of his priest's garb, his demon monkey skin, and of course the red shirt and black pants Ranma was wearing the day he transformed. If one could see into the mind of Naraku they would find quite a bit of Ranma's personality left intact, although through sheer force of will alone. The stranger was the amalgamation of good and evil, naivete and thousands of years of experience, of demon and human. If Ranma still existed if was only as a conscience of sorts. Naraku wasn't evil anymore, rude, crass, and violent yes, but not evil. In the battle for dominance, he sacrificed his pure dark power for control over Ranma.

The stranger was under Kima's protection on his journey back, although Kima did not really believe he needed an escort. Halfway to Taiwan he had seduced her quite easily, as he found magic casting and sex second only to fighting in terms of enjoyment. Since he hadn't the funds to waste in a sleazy whorehouse on the docks, he felt it was overdue time that he see what the physical differences between the species were.

"It's almost light, you should get going." She didn't want their journey to end, did not want to let go, but she was in thrall to Saffron's will.

"Feh. All in good time Kima dear. All in due time." Their clothes disappeared with a wave of his hand. He grabbed her, pulling her into a passionate embrace, her exposed nipples jutting into his bare chest. "We still have some time to say goodbyemy way." A fishing boat far off the coast swore they heard some kind of bird screaming in pain. Or, in this case, pleasure.

---Japan, Nerima ward. Morning---

Leaves rustled out in the darkness, falling smoothly through the air to land upon the shrine's cobblestone courtyard. Inu-Yasha lay asleep in the shrine keeper's office, his dark hair gradually returning to his customary white mane. With the passing of the new moon the group could resume their search for the Shikon shards. Miroku casually snored propped up against the wall, his void tightly clutching his juzo beads. Naraku slid carefully out of the ceiling, landing soundlessly before Inu-Yasha. His dark eyes found the Tetsusaiga, tucked in the waistband of Inu-Yasha's robe.

"Inu-Yasha," his voice barely a whisper, "you have stood in my way for hundreds of years with your precious Steel Cleaving Fang. I now have a human body and I can now touch the sword myself." After casting a heavy sleep spell over the still human Inu-Yasha, he grabbed the scabbard without so much as a jolt of the mystic energies surrounding it. "Feh. You're not even worth killing, worthless half-breed." He was gone once again, with the sacred sword of Inu-Yasha's father as his prize.

Miroku was the first to wake. Inu-Yasha awoke an hour later to find his priceless weapon gone without a trace. Thanks to his demonic powers he could tell the intruder left his scent, a scent he had not known in a long time. [Naraku you devil! You must've used a Shikon shard to get here. I'll find you I swear it! ] "Kagome! Kagome come quick! I have some bad news!"

Soon enough Kagome appeared dressed in Hello-Kitty pajamas with bloodshot eyes. "What! Do! You! Want! Inu-Yasha! I'm trying to sleep!" She looked about ready to kill and make a nice doggie-fur coat.

"Naraku came during the night and stole the Tetsusaiga! His scent is all over the place. We've gotta find him!" He paid no attention at all to her threats, or her state of dress. "With any luck I can catch his scent and follow him. I'll need your help-" He turned around and saw her pajamas, his eyes bugged out. "What the hell're you wearing!?! We've gotta leave now!" he grabbed her hand and pulled her out the door, into the morning chill that accompanies all spring mornings.

"Inu-Yasha! Stop! I have to get dressed!" He tugged her along for at least three yards before she became so angry she resorted to her final weapon. "INU-YASHA SIT!!" Through the magical enchantment on the beads around his neck, they pulled him down to lie face-first in the cobblestone courtyard. She stood in front of him, huffing and puffing with the effort to cease his struggles. Her chest heaved up and down enticingly to his eye. "I'll get _dressed_ then we can go after him okay?"

He sighed, as if the time she would spend getting properly dressed would slow the chase. "Fine. His scent can't disappear that quickly anyway, he's a demon." He shooed her away. "Naraku you bastard, you're gonna pay for this!"

---To be continued---

I was going to have this be an extremely long oneshot, about 90-100 pages, but because of the responses from my pre-readers it will be a mini-series. A side note to this part is that I'm elongating Inu-Yasha's transformation to human and back, I believe that if he is sleeping his metabolism is slowed, slowing the overall process of his reversion. In the manga he was fighting as the change occurred, I think it was his increased blood flow that caused the transformation to be so fast.

Comments? Criticisms?

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