Disclaimer: I don't own any of this! It all belongs to Takahashi-sama!
"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.)
---The Tendo Dojo---
He grinned under the cowl of his cloak, Inu-Yasha would have no inkling he was human now, although without his demonic powers there was very little he could do with the sword. Cursing the struggle with Ranma and his subsequent loss of control, Naraku continued on down the street.
Now there was a sign posted on the sidewalk, just to his left. In the pre-dawn sunlight most people wouldn't have been able to see it, much less read it; but Naraku's eyesight had been augmented by the power of the Shikon shard. The faint pinpricks of green energy floated through his system still, it would take at least another two hundred years before the shard was completely dissolved and assimilated by his cells. The wooden sandwich-board read: "Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts." [Hmmthe school that Ranma Saotome practicedaccording to his memories, the fat bastard said only his family still practiced it. ] This bore looking into.
Little did the demonoid know that the proprietor of the establishment was still sound asleep, his eldest daughter the only one alert and awake at that time. Kasumi Tendo enjoyed her solitude in the mornings, peaceful hours to clean, cook, and think before her sisters awoke and the hysterics of the day began. As she brushed past the foyer to begin breakfast a knock was heard on the dojo gate. Taking a peek outside she saw a figure robed in shadow standing before the gate, his eyes seemingly glowing an ethereal green. Not one to be impolite no matter the time, Kasumi opened the gate door wider.
"May I help you?"
"I've come to inquire about the school."
"You want to take classes?" Kasumi was hocked that anyone would arrive so early just to ask about classes. "Well you will have to ask my father about classes. I'm afraid he is still asleep, you can wait in the house however." She didn't feel any negative or dangerous feelings from him, so she let him enter the house.
"Thank you miss?"
He flipped off his shoes. "Thank you Kasumi." Kneeling before her he kissed her hand, inhaling the sweet scent of her skin. [I can sense this one is ripe, a figure of holy power, a priestess! In this day and age! Ohhh, I'll enjoy bedding her. ] Naraku, formally Ranma Saotome, smirked as he followed her into the tearoom.
"I'll go and prepare us some tea." Her face literally glowed with radiant energy to Naraku's demonic eyes; she turned and left without making a sound. As the feelings of human closeness bore down on him, he thought it best to use Ranma's attitude, as his own was so seductive he wanted to take his time wearing down Kasumi's defenses. That would make the final conquest so much sweeter. Perhaps he _was_ mellowing out in his old age.
When Kasumi returned with a tray laden with fragrant oolong tea and rice crackers, he opted for his congenial nature to win over the approval of this mortal. As her soft voice trilled off her tongue, as she laughed, he felt the barest stirrings of something he dismissed as base desires, love. As the suspicion loomed over him, he felt an irrational fear overtake him. [Am I becoming like that worthless half-breed Inu-Yasha by absorbing that mortal? What have I become? ] Keeping the fears to himself, he decided to judge whether this was a good thing or bad. It seemed more of Ranma spilled over into him than he thought, although perhaps this was not the great tragedy he was making it out be, but he still saw fit to limit the damage.
Upstairs slept the other three Tendos, undisturbed by the rays of sunshine streaming under their thick drapes. At that time and place only one member of the house was up and about, a certain fat, lying bastard, Genma Saotome. The portly, gluttonous creature plodded down the stairs, hoping to sneak a morning snack when he saw a stranger's shadow cast against the walls by the sun's rays.
Naraku was quite pleased to gaze at the sun, just cresting over the taller office buildings downtown. The harsh UV rays of sunlight are corrosive to demonic cells, pure demon tissue with no Shikon energy that is, yet another simple pleasure denied his kind. Use of cloaks or skins draped over the body would reduce the burning from continuous exposure. Inside his cranial cavities, something stirred, something that once held say in the inner workings of that mind. [I suppose you've seen many such sunrises before, haven't you Ranma? Well now it's my turn. ] He felt a psychic blow bash against his mental restraints. [Now, now, Ranma. You gave me control of your own free will, you wanted revenge, and to live life to it's fullest! I've given you that, and power beyond your wildest dreams! ] The blows ceased, Ranma's consciousness dissipating like early morning fog. [The merging will take a few weeks, after that you won't even know the difference between us then. ] He smiled as Ranma slicked off to the farthest recesses of his mind, accepting his fate. Reigning his aura in, the glowing waves of heat contracted, fading into a halo of power, not the acidic goo of his demonic powers. The sun seemed to slow passing through, casting a distorted shadow across the floor as if the ground itself were burning.
"Genma. Genma Saotome." The stranger spat out the name like some hideous taste in his mouth. "You worthless sack of flesh." He made one dismissive sweep of his clawed hand and the elder Saotome fell to the floor in five thick slices, his blood pooling rapidly on the polished wood. Kasumi's hum and soft footfalls aroused him, the matronly aura surrounding her enticing him even more. As she opened the rice-paper door, he swept a hand over the pile of bleeding meat upon the floor, Genma Saotome arose from the muck whole and unharmed. The pain lingered on however.
"I just made some delicious cookies, you'll have to wait until they cool thoughoh! Mr. Saotome1 I didn't know you would be awake, would you like to sit and have some tea?" Kasumi set the tray down on the table, Naraku's eyes flashed a crimson glow, Genma believed that cowardice was the better part of valor and ran screaming out of the Tendo compound. "Oh my! What's wrong with Mr. Saotome?"
"I wouldn't have a clue."
The Spider's Mark Part Two
A Ranma 1/2-Inu-Yasha fusion
By Dr. Suekeiichi Kaiton
---Furinkan High School---
Naraku crouched by the third story science lab, his monkey skins adorning his shoulders. Kagome was apparently in animated conversation with her lab partner, he smiled at her youthful exuberance. [Ranma? Are you still there?]
[Yeah, I'm almost halfway assimilated.] Ranma lay still on the edge of his mind. [I think the Kasumi girl's cute, so's her younger sister. What was her name?]
[Nabiki I believe.]
[Yeah! She's one hot chick if you ask me. She'll probably be one hell of a devil in bed, kinda like Kima.] Ranma rarely was given the opportunity to speak so candidly during his previous life, somehow it felt soothing now. [That last girl, Akane, boy she's such a bitch!]
[I agree, if you had let me, she'd be a pile of miscellaneous parts decomposing on their lawn by now.] Images of her neatly chopped into five equal pieces shot through his mind.
[No. If she gets killed, it won't be because of us.] Naraku could sense Ranma turning his head towards the kendo club. [It'll probably be that Kuno guy's fault.] As he left the Tendo household with Kasumi and Nabiki's affections for him growing, Akane had run off to school. Sensing the aura of hatred exhibited by the lass, he spied the morning duel with Kuno and the subsequent defeat of the crazed Kendoist by the youngest Tendo. [That guy has some serious personality problems.]
[No more so than us? After all we have two voices in our head.]
[No this is different!]
[I know. I just wanted to see your reaction.] He glanced back at his prey, still talking to her classmates. [Tell me Ranma, what do you think of this one?]
[Her? She seems nice enough, a bit stubborn though. I'd say it isn't worth out time.] Ranma felt Naraku's anger boil as the words echoed in his head. [What is it?]
[Nothing, justlust.] Naraku perched on a lower branch hidden from view, the dense foliage of the tree blending with his darker garb. [Many years ago I lusted after her, but she is a reincarnation, nothing more.]
[Reincarnation? Is that real?] Ranma hadn't believed in it before, but it wasn't as farfetched as being assimilated by a powerful five-hundred year old demon.
[Yes. Your actions in one life do not effect your rebirth however, if you were originally a human you stay a human. For ones that have merged such as you and I and that cursed Inu-Yasha, the line is blurred. This girl Kagome is the reincarnation of a priestess I killed five-hundred years ago. She also holds the Shikon shards.] He awaited the inevitable question.
[What are the Shikon shards?] Ranma's interest was piqued now, any kind of conversation was preferable to the boredom of the assimilation.
[Pieces of immortality. It was a gem sent down from the gods, that has special powers over demons. If a demon ingests it they become more powerful and immortal. If a human ingests it they are given the powers of a god and immortality. Inu-Yasha helped the girl break the Shikon jewel into small shards that can bestow immortality, but not great powers are it could whole. We are immortal because of its power.] Naraku smiled as his plans would finally be realized. [If we sire children they will be immortal by birth, as will their mothers due to their contact with our seed. The baby's blood flows through the mother so she would be given immortality as long as we share our power with them.] In the next year or so he would have two heirs in two strategically important areas. [And we will.]
---Musk Citadel, China.---
Eerie moans drifted from the sandy flats below the castle walls, wails of torment and suffering. Spice, princess of the Musk, clenched the cloak tighter around her as she stole away from the castle guards under the cover of the night. Demons had come, powerful creatures that snatched the very souls of her subjects, devouring them greedily and enslaving the poor person to its will. The dead now walked the foothills of the steppe, killing all who crossed the desert. It had all started after the massacre at Phoenix Mountain.
She had accompanied her brother to the battle site, his face resplendent in imminent victory. Herb had destroyed the Phoenix king, that they had seen as the ki-storm of his passing raced across the heavens, dying the sky red with blood. She and her guards had taken horses soon after to greet her brother and congratulate him atop the Sharptooth Cliffs, eager to claim victory over their long despised rivals. Instead they had ventured as far out as the outskirts when she saw one of Herb's ki blasts sail upwards, breaking the cloud banks, turning them gray with anger. A sharp sliding screech assaulted their ears and the very ground seemed to scream in agony. Forest animals ran away from the mount as she saw multitudes of demonic wasps stalking fleeing warriors, stinging them until their bodies bloated with venom.
"ONIGUMO HELLFIRE BLAST!!!!!!" The world exploded in white, the horses' eyes melting to jelly and dribbling down their necks with all the power and searing heat of a nuclear explosion. Musk royalty were descended from the great dragon Shen Long and were quite used to extreme temperatures, their semi-scaly hides absorbing the heat waves. A crack of sound. The heaven's ripped open with a cry thousands of times stronger than thunder. Darkness followed the cry, as if the world died a fraction after the attack.
The princess didn't notice that eyes began watching her from the forests, oddly human eyes. Those were soon joined by many, all yellow glares hungry with unrequited thirst for souls. Demons had awoken at their master's call, risen from their sleep of hundreds of years. In all shapes and sizes they perched or crouched in the dark forests, shadows of the hell-hound. The blast had sent shock waves of demonic power through the ground, reawakening servants of the most twisted sort. Just as Herb's broken body sailed through the mountains, they began the exodus to the Desert of Bleached White Bones where the remains of their master molded in the sands.
Now they were everywhere, killing entire villages close to the desert, wiping their victims of their souls and eating what remained of the bodies. Herb had survived, miraculously, but wouldn't be able to sit up in bed let alone lead the troops for another six months; the chancellor would rule in her stead until she returned with the culprit behind her brother's mutilation. It seemed that only someone in possession of that power, the power to use hellfire, would be able to stand against the forces amassing against all that lived. With one final glance back at her home of seventeen years, Spice mounted a horse and sped off towards civilization. Once again she hadn't noticed eyes watching her as she left the citadel walls, and once again it would cost her dearly.
A demonic wasp of monstrous proportions took flight from the grove of tree overlooking the Musk stables, book-thick segmented wings beating unceasingly to raise wind for flight. It's master, Naraku, had left it there as an eye in the valley. A harbinger to him of potential threats. It reached a low altitude, erratically buzzing over Jusenkyo.
It started as a dull glow in the nest of bushes, then escalated into a flaming red burst of fire which singed the wasp's wings, leading it to plummet to the pools of mystical water below. The culprit emerged from the nettles, a squat taloned demon with a salamander face; in his right hand he clutched a double headed staff, and old man's shrunken head on one side, a beautiful woman's on the other. "Naraku you devil! I won't allow you to ruin milord's plans this time!" With glee he scrambled up the side of a mountain and was away. This time it was what _it_ didn't notice that would come to haunt him.
The wasp's chitonous hide whistled as it fell to the springs below, the mournful cry as it hit drawing the Guide from his hut. What was that? Plum! Plum come out here! Bring a kettle! The rotund man wore a faded green Maoist uniform with the red-starred cap. His daughter came quickly from the hut with a yellow copper kettle filled with hot water. Something is going to be cursed very soon.
Hard exoskeleton touched the surface of the enchanted waters, the adverse magic between demonic power and Jusendo's charms causing the pool to explode in a blast of superheated steam. Joints twisted the opposite ways, soft flesh sucked to the outside air, hard skeleton burned into it's hide, the eyes twisting and shrinking to half size with enormous amounts of pain coursing through it's veins. Wings grafted to flesh, silken cilia extending to form tallow braids. The wasp's feet churned under the skin until nails and white flesh broke forth.
Stay away from the mist Plum, the customer may not like his curse. An inhuman howl of pain broke the misty silence of the valley of sorrow, causing bird to leap off from the trees and seek refuge in the avian sanctuary atop Mount Phoenix. The Guide waited until a reasonable amount of time had passed, then crept forward with the pot. Excuse me! Mr. Customer! Do you need help? He tried Japanese. "Mr. Customer! You need help now?" A shadow emerged from the mists.
It was shapely, long in leg and neck, her hair cascading down her back in sallow curls. She was naked, her legs unsteady on the moist earth. A faint buzzing noise came from her mouth. Her face was white save for three yellow dots about a centimeter in diameter on either side of her face. Her lips were ruby red as were her nipples. She opened her mouth but nothing save the unnatural buzzing noise came from her vocal chords.
"Ms. Customer alright? I no have herbs to cure wound now." The woman collapsed on Plum, the hot water spilling over her form. It was not the hot water, however, that caused her to wake but the pain of two extra arms bursting from her sides, two wings ripping from the flesh of her back, and her eyes stretching horizontally. She screamed, the air distorting around her mouth as waves were broadcast to all in the valley. The windows in the Guide's hut shattered, as did most glass in a ten-mile radius. Swarms of wasps took flight from the forests, oleaginous clouds of buzzing death.
Beating her wings, the demonic woman shot straight up in the air, easily passing mach one. As the sonic boom blew the Guide and Plum off their feet, their unexpected guest had already gone. Gone east to Japan.
--- Nieuchiezu Amazon Village, one hour later---
Amazons! Demons at Jusenkyo! The guide carried Plum into the village, searching for a healer. The villagers parted away from the man, called for the council of elders to question him, if demons had taken Jusenkyo then they would come there next. Some talked about renewing their former agreements with the Musk and Phoenix to combat this threat, others spoke of mysterious creatures lurking at the Musk border.
What is this you speak of Jusenkyo Guide? Cologne and Perfume hopped into the street, each on gnarled canes twice their own height. Demons have attacked Jusenkyo?
No, not attacked, a demon fell from the sky and landed in a spring! I thought it was a woman but Plum spilled hot water on her, the woman grew two extra arms and wings! He handed Plum to the healer and followed the elders who motioned him to tell his story to the council. After all the council had gathered, the guide was called to speak, he had nervously related the cataclysmic events leading up to the destruction of the Nyaniichuan.
The council was now faced with careful deliberations, preparations had to be made for an attack on the village, all amazons had to be called back from the foreign lands to help deal with this threat. Cologne sat silently as the group decided on sending a scout party to scope out the area, cursing her own cowardice and the younger generation's stupidity. As Perfume looked towards her peer, she saw a faint glimmer of hope in the face of this doom.
Cologne? Do you know of anything? You're hiding something.
She sighed as her ruse was discovered. Honored matriarch Perfume I know of a demon half-breed who employs demonic wasps similar to that which fell at Jusenkyo. He is called Naraku, a Japanese looking man with gray-blue eyes and black hair. My great-grandniece's daughter is his child. He looked at her relation with tears in her eyes. He used such wasps against the Musk at Phoenix Mountain. Mascara would most likely be cast out now or her child killed for lying with demons, she had never wished this upon her family. If he had just left, she would not have spoken about it, for he was strong, his progeny great.
Perfume murmured to the other elders, grimaces upon their ancient faces. At last they turned to Mascara, Is this true? Was he a demon lord?
The custodian clutched her distended stomach, already swelling against her tunic, and nodded, hot tears falling to the sandy floor of the meeting hall. She had never wished to betray her kind, nor the man she loved. Y-yes. He was. The hall erupted into screams of treason and death, of exile and curses. In the end, Cologne stood up for her family.
She has done nothing wrong! She did not know he was a demon lord when she became with child, she only knew when I confronted him! You cannot blame her for something she didn't know about! Her voice of reason quieted the crowd. I say that we dispatch a group to Japan to follow the demon, find out what he is doing. Several of her supporters murmured in agreement, yelling that not all demons were evil, those nice raccoon-foxes had helped them last year with the harvest.
Very well, honored elder Cologne, you, Mascara and Shampoo may travel to Japan to confront the demon lord. If you do not return in two months we will send parties out to avenge your deaths. Perfume grinned hideously as the elder behind her chuckled at her half-jest. Now go!
---Japan, Tendo Dojo---
Akane stormed into the kitchen from the foyer, her face reddened with anger. [How dare thatthat _boy_ insult my skills! I'll teach him who the top martial artist in Nerima is! I'll have Nabiki take photos so he can't deny it] she chuckled at her malicious thoughts. The narrow hallway opened into the kitchen, sacred holy ground of Kasumi in their house. Akane stopped. Blinked. Then blinked again.
Kasumi was lying on the kitchen table spread-eagle with her legs wrapped around Naraku whose gaunt frame loomed over her smaller mass. Their visitor was taken aback as they kissed and rubbed their bodies together, taking immense pleasure in hearing her gasps and moans. She ground her pelvis into his, her lacy white apron bunched at her hips, her tongue brushing the sharpened points of his teeth. Her eyes bugging, Akane back-peddled into the tearoom, visibly shaken.
[Hmmjust as I thought. Usually priestesses suppress their hormonal urges and are nymphomaniacs after they're first broken in.] Naraku intentionally grazed Kasumi's lip, drawing blood, letting it pool around her suddenly moist lips before licking it off to her orgasmic moans. [I haven't even undressed her yet! I'll save that for later, now I sense my spy returning from China.] He rose straight, allowing Kasumi to writhe in imagined pleasure on the smooth surface of the kitchen table. He spotted Akane frozen in abject terror that anyone could reduce her normally unflappable sister to mush. He simply walked past her.
On the veranda he stood dressed in his demonic monkey skins, toying with a shard of the Shikon he'd found in a minor demon of the sea outside Edo. Brilliant, glittering perfection the crystal was, unflawed yet surpassing far larger gems of its kind. Perhaps it was the energy inside, perhaps it was the way light glanced against its surface, never breaking the soft skinned basalt of its carapace. He looked to the skies, watching in amusement as his wasp returned as a woman with wings and six-arms.
The trek had been hard, the demon king and queen had placed wind sprites across her path, hampering immediate transferal of her master's information. The news she brought was both enlightening and frightening, a demon long thought dead had risen in the Desert of Bleached White Bones, ruins of a once great city decimated after a titanic demon battle three hundred years ago. The king known only as the battle scarred king' had set about opening the gates of the demon world. With him had been a soul-sucking priestess of death, seeker of the Shikon shards. She sensed her master's power nearby.
Akane had broken out of her trance when Naraku carried Kasumi back to her room, it wouldn't do to allow his consorts to be privy to such distressing news as his servant was about to give. The wasp woman had been doused with warm water shortly after landing, crying out in pain as the transformation completed itself. Wings slid underneath the soft flesh of her back, razor sharp membranes slicing through tough muscle, arms shoved aside internal organs to reel themselves in, disappearing afterwards leaving only the pain. A faint buzzing was the only vocal sound that erupted from her mouth.
"You had a run-in with the pools of sorrow I see. Your demonic energies twisted the magic of the spring, your now human or what passes for one nowadays." Naraku had returned to his servant in the dojo after placing Kasumi in her bed. He withdrew a Shikon shard from his robes, smaller than the size of a grain of rice. "Swallow this."
[What did you do to her? Why'd ya give her a piece of the Shikon shard?] Ranma's curiosity had been piqued. [I thought you'd just get rid of her.]
[She's far too useful to me. She is my most trusted servant, that is why I left her in China. If the jewel is assimilated into her vocal chords she will be able to speak, not buzz.]
[I guess you've got everything all planned then.]
Naraku frowned, his eyes still watching his newest bipedal assassin swallow the shard, watching the steady flow of mystical energies in her larynx. [No, Ranma I haven't. Inu-Yasha and Kagome are beyond my sphere of influence, I won't be able to control or gauge their actions.] "Tell me what news you have brought that is so urgent."
"My lord. The princess of the Musk seeks you to defend her kingdom against the forces of the demon king and queen. You have severely injured her brother and without his power the Musk fall." She knelt before him, her flossy hair the color of beeswax falling around her. "The demon king and queen have appeared west of the Musk citadel out of the Desert of Bleached White Bones. Their power is even stronger than you oh lord." She was jolted out of her report as a black yakuta was thrown at her. "My lord what are these vestments?"
"Your new clothes. You can never again regain your old form, so go into the house and wash the blood and slime from yourself." He turned back into the house, his tightlipped smirk visible from underneath the monkey skull. "You will become my bodyguard for the time being, you'll find undergarments in the spare room. We will be staying here for awhile, at least until the Musk princess arrives. After that, we will journey back to China." He threw off his skins and leapt to the roof clad in priestly robes, his long raven hair tied in a flowing pigtail reaching to the floor trailing behind him.
[What was that all about hmm?] Ranma was three-quarters through the assimilation, soon both would be joined. He watched as the streets and buildings whizzed by in a blur, his vantage point from the rooftop giving him a breathtaking view of Nerima. [What're ya gonna do about that king and queen in China? Kima and Mascara are there...]
[I'm thinking, Ranma, that it is time we involved Inu-Yasha in this personally.]
---Mount Phoenix, China---
Rocking blasts shattered the peaks of the Mount, their debris showering down upon the seneschal and her escorts. Saffron arose from his egg, a teenager, and took to the sky; moist wings, still encrusted with embryonic slime, drying in the updrafts. Choiler ran to his balcony, Ghode at his side, only to gaze out at a distant shimmering over Musk land. The sky was cracking.
It seemed that the very heavens screamed at this travesty of nature, a mournful cry that echoed on in the hearts and memories of those that heard it, it would not soon be forgotten. Shards of azure rained down upon the forests, the sky splitting into a whirling dervish of baleful ebony. The world was stepping closer to total destruction, it would soon be time for the daemonic rift to tear the ground asunder and unleash hordes of terrible unnamable creatures to enslave humanity. It would all be accomplished by the great daemon king and queen that resided deep within the hallowed Desert of Bleached White Bones, a morbid palace of decadent evil which lay smoldering beneath the sifting sands.
---Japan, Nerima ward, Mano household---
Madoka Mano screamed when awakened from a nightmare, sweat beading her brow. Yohko and Azusa slept soundly in the next room, their mother with her new beau on the other end of the hallway. None had awoken which meant none were attuned to the waves of natural energy Madoka was. Rising swiftly, she made her way down the stairs to the computer, punching up her password. As the room began to descend, her vision was blinded by the light streaming from the shrine of the Mamano Hunters. Evil had once again opened the rift between the daemon world and their own. The very shuddering of the Earth heralded their arrival on this plane. Yohko had to be trained and ready, the 108th Devil Slayer would soon be facing the direst of odds, facing the breach in time and space, facing the torturous daemon king.
---Japan, Nerima ward, rooftops---
The shrine appeared in the distance, Torii set across the cobble-stone steps. There was not a sign of life across the courtyard, not so much as a speck of soil rolling across by the wind. Miroku awaited in the temple office, meditating as the sickening stench of demonic blood wafted in through the open door. Naraku crouched in the trees as the dissipated monk threw the door open and leapt outside, staff angled before him, juzo beads keeping the abyss closed.
"Come out demon! I can sense you from here!" He leveled the staff, straight as an arrow, at the demon's position in the bushes. Unclasped, his hand shot an arc of purple energy like a blazing sword through the trees, watching eagle-eyed as his quarry landed on the cobblestones. "My hand contains the abyss itself, be careful lest you taste its power."
"Feh! Be careful monk lest you forget it is I whom cursed your line with that power." Naraku stood proud in heavy flowing robes, his eyes gleaming green in the sun. "You look much better than you did in the end. You were so far gone, being blind, paralyzed, dumb and deaf; that I had to put you out of your misery." He smirked showing pointed canines.
"Naraku. How did you get here?"
"No, no. It is I who should ask you that. I have survived in China for the past five-hundred years after the fall of the Demon Kingdom. I killed you all those years ago, how are you here?"
"Why should I tell you anything demon?" Miroku vaulted to the temple roof as Inu-Yasha and Kagome made their move.
"CLAWS OF BLOOD!!!" Inu-Yasha threw his ki blasts at the figure standing Miroku down in the courtyard. He watched, transfixed, as Naraku caught his projectiles, crushing them in his vise-like grip. "Naraku you bastard! Give me back the Tetsusaiga!" Kagome hid behind the dog-demon, clutching at his sleeve. The monk came to rest behind them.
"Ah, the half-breed. I have your Tetsusaiga, and I'll return it if you listen to what I have to say." He stared hard in Kagome's eyes, his creamy-blue burning into her gold. "I have it right here," he patted his side where a gleaming scabbard glistened in the sunlight, "and you'll have it returned once I'm finished."
Inu-Yasha snorted. "And what stops me from just taking it from you?"
"Two reasons, you cannot, and I have news that could spell destruction for us all." He sauntered over to the trio, his voice dripping sarcasm. "If _I_ say it's deadly you should take heed half-breed." Suddenly the foliage of a cherry blossom tree exploded and his newfound retainer landed slightly behind him. "Good work Karissa." He smiled at her sneaking prowess.
Kagome glanced at him then back to Inu-Yasha, reading the indecision in his eyes. "I say we let him speak. He didn't kill you before when he stole the Tetsusaiga, besides this sounds more important." She saw his puzzled look. "*Whisper* I don't trust him either, but he makes it sound like life or death. *whisper*"
"Beyond life and death Lady Kagome, this would affect both in ways that would be disastrous for humanity. Neither states would exist any longer if the demon king follows through with his plans." She was startled as he overheard her entire conversation. Without a noise, he entered her house, startling her mother and grandfather. "Come Karissa."
"Yes my lord." The oddly marked woman walked clumsily to the door. Reluctantly, Inu-Yasha, Kagome, and Miroku followed. Needless to say Shippo was surprised speechless. "What shall I do about the spy?"
"Spy? What spy?" Kagome looked around the courtyard, seeing nothing resembling a demon lurking there. "I don't see any spy."
"That is exactly why he is a spy priestess. If you could see him than his master would be a fool, which I know he is not." Naraku shrugged off his outer cloak, handing it to Karissa. "Kill him."
"Yes, master of the shadows I heed your command." The wasp-woman flattened out his cloak, smoothing the wrinkles out of the stiff fabric. The garment had been made long ago from the tempered fibers of a graklin demon, a metalloid creature who can create ultra-sharp knives from its tree-like branches. As such, Karissa picked it up and threw it across the courtyard, the fabric retaining it's flattened shape while honed to a razor edge. The knife slid through the middle of the courtyard, slicing more than air. After a few moments of silence a thin line of greenish-black blood fell to the cobblestones, as the murdered demon phased into being and fell in two neatly sliced pieces.
"Now I hope you see the necessity of this union between us?" Naraku/Ranma gestured to the bleeding pile of daemonic slime dissolving in the breeze. "Inu-Yasha even you could not have smelled his presence. This is the power of the daemon king." He retrieved his cloak, wrapping it around his frame.
Karissa and Naraku sat across from the rest, Kagome's grandfather pouring tea for the assembled group. Naraku felt the last vestiges of Ranma soaked up by his own mind, a wave of calm and experiences washing over him, pain, sorrow, joy, pleasure. He fell back, sprawled on the floor, convulsing violently for a short time before the merging completed. Karissa knelt by his side, holding her master's frame as he shook and trembled under the memories of an alien life, clutching his head in her arms. Kagome and Inu-Yasha were immediately on their feet, albeit for different reasons. Inu-Yasha believed it a cruel hoax, a bit of acting to divert their attention, Kagome stood up in mercy for the bizarre creature that had once tried to kill them, now help them.
"I'mfine now. Thank you Karissa." They returned to their seats, Karissa glancing worriedly back at her master every now and then. "I'd like to know how you three are here."
"Hey, that's our question to you! Now stop beating around the bush and tell us what you know!" Inu-Yasha leapt up from the couch, full of unreleased energy. Suddenly the Tetsusaiga hit him square between the eyes. He crumpled to the floor, knocked unconscious.
"Quiet half-breed. I trust that having the steel-cleaving fang back in your possession will curb your tongue." Naraku sat back, throwing the Tetsusaiga back atop Inu-Yasha's twitching frame. "You were all killed in the battle at the Desert of Bleached White Bones, oh, three hundred years ago. I don't know how you are here again, looking so young, but no matter. All you need to know is that our opponents from that battle, the daemon king and queen, have resurrected and will crack open the gates of the daemon world. We stopped them last time, we can do it again." The battle had been fierce, Shippo and Kaede, Miroku and Miyoga, all had fallen before the demon hoards. Only Inu-Yasha, Kagome and himself stood before the king's plans of universal destruction. Of course that didn't mean he let them live after the battle
"What of this Demon King, where did he appear from?" Miroku played idly with the bronze rings at the end of his staff, his eyes were growing more sunken with each passing month. "What powers does he have?"
"The Demon King is a powerful being who was a lackey of mine at one time, he found a portal into the pure daemon world, the world of darkness and shadow. He gained powers that enabled him to create and command ridiculously large numbers of daemons at once, his legions were commanded by a single group mind." He paused to whisper conspiratorially to Karissa who lay draped over his lap, she just as soon sat up with a start and walked outside.
"What was that all about?" Kagome asked aloud, a tad put off by the seemingly secretive exchange between the two. "What are you two planning?" She began to nudge Inu-Yasha awake under the table, each new kick sending greater and greater pain through his head.
"Nothing that need concern you, wench, it involves some _personal_ business that awaits my presence at my lodgings. Karissa will assuage the parties until I can arrive." All at once he seemed so unimaginably powerful, a nuclear explosion contained within the fragile shell of a petri dish, ready to burst forth and envelope the very life from their souls; but behind it seemed something far more sinister. It seemed human, lustful of power, insatiate, it lay in hiding behind the mask of the daemon, biding time until it could strike. All at once it was gone, leaving Kagome's flesh pale and cold.
Karissa took to the skies at that moment, splashing her body with the cold water from a nearby flower vase. Kagome and Miroku gasped as the wasp-woman took flight, neither having lived through the tragic events of the Daemonic Wars yet. Of course neither knew that in the past, or their future which ever way you wished to view it, that they would be battling in the infamous war Naraku spoke of. In time they would discover that the battle they would soon fight held more far-reaching implications for the cosmos then they previously believed. That day would become a day long remembered, for it would see the birth of a pantheon of heroes and the downfall of a greater evil.
"Now I fear he has reawakened, and driven by the power of vengeance he will do anything in his power to posses the Shikon jewel. That is the final ingredient to his master plan to dissolve the cosmic barriers separating the daemon world from our own. He has started the process now, he will come to Japan in order to take Shikon jewel, the last piece that will break the barriers of time and space, destroying the reality we now share."
"How do you know this evil being has started? How do you even know he's alive?" Miroku stood facing Naraku who sat before the rice-paper doors leading to the courtyard, which were shut at the time. Kagome propped Inu-Yasha up on the couch, the dog-daemon slowly coming back to life. "How do we know you aren't in a league with the Daemon king?"
Naraku smirked underneath the thick onyx bangs of hair, his answer was simple and to the point, he slid open one of the doors behind him. As the cobblestone of the courtyard disappeared towards the horizon it was merged with a nightmarish aberration of red and black swirling in the sky, spreading a pale sickly coloration over the land. Pieces of indigo sky showered over China, razor-sharp shards that decimated Beijing in cutting down the trappings of the modern world like the Reaper's scythe. Dimly visible in Japan, the effect of seeing the sky cracking and showering down upon the Earth was unsettling enough for the trio of reluctant heroes. Even more so was the look of sick amusement on Naraku's face. "Do you think me in the league of daemons now?"
The humans in the room sat down heavily on the couch, in the kitchen Kagome could hear her mother screaming in terror, horrified beyond belief that even a daemon could cause such an aberrant thing.
"This is but the start, if this cycle continues the entire human race will be enslaved by daemonic hordes that even you could not defeat, I think, Inu-Yasha. Time will end and all realities will merge into one salient universe where everything will happen at every time, daemons will either kill you or subject you to moretortures." Naraku grinned hideously as the females cringed at the icy waves of evil he was radiating. "Either way, we have to join together if we are to have any hope of defeating this threat. Believe me, I'd much rather choose less annoying company myself, but the situation warrants your powers." He stood up now, starched cloth crinkling as his gaunt body bent with his weight.
"Where do you think you're going?" Miroku leapt from the couch and landed before the daemon with his staff bent to ward off his spells. "We still do not know if we can trust you, and now you run from us?"
He grinned, pointed incisors gleaming in the sunlight. "Run? What makes you think I'm running? I merely have more urgent business to attend to. I will brook no more of this interrogation, you may come to me when you so desire." Naraku raised a hand and was gone, a faint shimmering of his mass and the shade was soaked into the floorboards and shadows of the hallway. No trace of the evil lingered but the stench of centuried corpses and the foetid aroma of burning flesh.
---To be continued---