Hey everyone! I'm back~! As always, I own nothing save my OCs and plot twists! Warning, there will be gore/violence/swearing (this is Inuyasha- it has at least ONE of those at any given time) as well as discussions of certain practices in Europe during the Dark Ages. There will be some interesting backstory hints this chapter and CULTURE CLASH!

Alright, onwards through volume 5!

Important text distinctions:

{ } means in Romanian or another language (will be specified where needed)

{Italicized} means silent casting where Runa is casting a spell in her head rather than out loud

Italics mean thoughts or locations

"Italics" means written words or spoken memories

"Bold" means a god/dess speaking or a transformed daiyoukai

Bold means emphasis

On a river in Feudal Japan…

"Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Mōrciana yells as the boat floats down the river, laughing when she gets sprayed.

Runa is close enough to grab her should she fall and sympathetically pats a seasick Shippo on the back. Kagome is also enjoying the ride, pointing out fish and other sights of interest to her companions.

"Feh! This isn't some pleasure cruise we're on!" Inuyasha grumbles to Myoga.

"What's 'pleasure cruise'?" Mōrciana demands, popping right in his face.

"Wah! Stop doing that!" Inuyasha yells, breathing hard from shock.

"Ciana wants to know! What's a 'pleasure cruise', Yasha?" She wheedles, ignoring his demands for space.

Inuyasha frantically stares at Kagome and Runa.

"Help me, dammit!" He hisses at them.

Runa quirks an eyebrow as she uses her staff to push the boat away from jagged boulders.

"Are you incapable of answering a question?" She inquires.

Inuyasha's face turns beet-red with embarrassment. Kagome intervenes before Inuyasha breaks into another argument.

"Ciana-chan, a pleasure cruise is sailing for the fun of it. We're sailing because we'll get to our destination faster this way." Kagome explains.

Mōrciana's eyes widen in understanding and she nods, bouncing over to Kagome and clambering onto her lap.

"Not for fun?" She questions the older girl.

Kagome shakes her head with a smile.

"No, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun while also being helpful! We can be scouting for trouble so everyone knows ahead of time!"

Mōrciana perks up at the possibility of a game and races to the bow, scanning the cliffs carefully. Runa gives Kagome an approving nod as she continues to guide the boat.

"Ah! There's a human up there!" Mōrciana yells, pointing upwards.

Everyone glances up (except seasick Shippo), spotting a local girl about Kagome's age running towards the cliff's edge. Mōrciana snarls, her tail fluffing up as she points to the thing chasing her.

"Dead thing! Wanna eat it!" She barks, bristling.

A ragged corpse with a strange looking head crawls after the girl, clearly menacing her. Inuyasha huffs as they watch the girl become cornered. Runa is unconcerned by the events beyond wondering what the hell that thing is. The creature's neck extends and knocks the girl off the cliff, falling towards them!

"Eeeeeeeeeeeeek!" She screams, plummeting head first.

"Look out!" Kagome yells in fright.

"She's fallin' right in the boat!" Shippo yelps, clutching at Kagome.

"Relax, coward." Inuyasha scoffs, standing up.

"Yey, go Yasha! Catch silly girl!" Mōrciana cheers.

He grabs the falling girl around the waist easily, flipping her the right way around.

"Good catch!" Kagome and Mōrciana celebrate.

Runa rolls her eyes at their antics, keeping the boat steady as they continue downstream. Her eyes narrow when the creature disappears.

That's odd- perhaps it doesn't want to deal with large groups… Runa muses as she keeps a watchful eye on the bank.

The girl groans and opens her eyes in Inuyasha's arms.

"Th… Thank you for saving me… from that horrible…" Her voice trails off as she takes in Inuyasha's demonic features.

Runa has a bad feeling in her gut as an expression of terror and fury replaces the girl's gratitude.

"D… Demon begone!" She screams, slapping him.

What the girl doesn't account for is they are right next to the river and both fall in. Runa shakes her head with a sigh, steers the boat to land before grabbing Inuyasha and the girl and hauling them to land.

"Why do I even try?" Inuyasha grumbles, wringing out his clothes.

"Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Goes to show not everyone can put aside their prejudice- even for the ones that save them." Runa murmurs, watching Kagome tend to the girl, whose name is Nazuna.

"So do you live on this mountain?" Kagome asks, dabbing at a bruise.

Nazuna scoffs disdainfully.

"Why would I tell you?" She demands.

"Is that anyway to talk after we saved your life?!" Shippo snaps back, tending a small campfire.

"Shut up! I know a demon when I see one!" Nazuna yells at him, making Shippo cower.

Mōrciana snarls and gets between Nazuna and Shippo, baring her teeth.

"Bad silly human! We save you and you mean! Yasha! Ask her to be servant for rest of her life- that's fair!"

Runa sighs as the group sweat drops at the girl's order.

"Why the hell would I do that?! I can't stand people like her!" Inuyasha snaps, glaring at Mōrciana.

She folds her arms with a huff.

"Teach lesson in gratitude! She said 'thank you', that means she knows she has debt! Can't ignore debt!" Mōrciana explains, pointing at a very confused Nazuna.

"W-well, that was before I knew he was a demon!" She yells back.

Mōrciana sneers at her, crimson eyes glittering dangerously.

"No buts! He saved you, you owe debt! What Yasha is no matter!" She snaps heatedly.

Inuyasha blinks at the little Hellhound's words before dealing with this strange situation.

"Answer our damn questions and I'll consider us even!" He growls before turning away from Nazuna.

Mōrciana blinks but accepts the compromise, staring at Nazuna intently.

"You heard, now answer Kagome-nee!" She orders, pointing at Nazuna before her expression becomes sly.

"Unless you want to stay in Yasha's debt..?" She hints hopefully.

Runa walks over and grabs Mōrciana's ear firmly, tugging her back to the boat. She casts a brief glance at Nazuna and gives her two cents.

"Answering questions is easier than saving a life. And some creatures can curse you for not paying back an unpaid debt." With that terrifying parting shot, Runa checks the boat with Mōrciana assisting her.

She only half listens to Nazuna's explanation of 'Spider Heads', a parasitic demon that occupies the bodies of the slain and uses them as their nests.

That explains why Ciana smelled death- they are dead puppets, essentially. Disgusting.

Runa only tunes back in when Kagome starts insisting that they help deal with the Spider Heads.

"Kagome-san… This is not the best time." Runa reminds her reasonably.

"A dedicated hunt takes time, information and preparation- we have only one of the three but even our information is incomplete."

Kagome's expression becomes disappointed.


"Runa is right- we need to be past this mountain before the sun sets." Inuyasha interrupts Kagome.

As they argue, Nazuna starts climbing the cliff, testing vines. Runa and Shippo watch her progress while Mōrciana giggles at Nazuna's antics. Kagome, hearing Mōrciana's laughter, turns and sees Nazuna climbing.

"Nazuna! What are you doing?!" Kagome gasps.

"I'm going home." She says flatly.

"It's too dangerous! We'll go with you!" Kagome argues.

"But I don't wanna go with silly human!" Mōrciana complains to Shippo and Runa.

"No thanks. I wouldn't put myself in a demon's care if my life depended on it!" Nazuna retorts, tugging on a vine.

It snaps and sends her tumbling down the cliff. Runa exchange glances with Inuyasha, resigned to being badgered by Kagome. After locating the path leading to Nazuna's home, Inuyasha reluctantly carries Nazuna piggyback while Runa guards their rear. Mōrciana and Shippo run around, sniffing plants and chasing each other. When they reach the top of the stone stairs, Kagome smiles at a familiar sight.

"That must be the temple!" She cheers.

Runa pauses but does not enter the grounds; Mōrciana hides behind her legs as they watch an elderly man in Buddhist robes approach.

"Nazuna… who be these folk…?" He wheezes.

"M-Master!" Nazuna greets him, elbowing Inuyasha's head to get down.

"Wast thou assailed by demons?" The monk questions.

"I was picking flowers for the graves… and then… these vile demons forced me to lead them to the temple! Forgive me, Master!" Nazuna begs, kowtowing to the monk.

"Who's she callin' 'vile'..?" Shippo mutters.

"I do not recall forcing you to do any such thing, girl." Runa states icily.

Nazuna gives Runa a heated glare but falters at the chilling disdain in her eyes. Mōrciana glares at Nazuna too, drawing her lips back to show her fangs. Nazuna looks away, shuddering.

"Demons be ye..?" The monk questions the group.

"Relax. We're not staying, old man." Inuyasha scoffs, moving back towards the entrance.

"Oh, but please, I ask you… will you not be our guests for but one night?" The monk offers.

Runa stiffens as Nazuna yelps, a chill running down her spine.

"Ooo, so the witch is gonna entertain us tonight?"

"Don't be so uncouth. We are merely motivating her to recant."

"And if she doesn't?"

"… Well, then she's ours to do with as we please."

"Oooo, I like the sound of that! Maybe she'll resist and we have ta discipline her!"

"Precisely: we are instruments of our merciful god's will. After all… thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

Mōrciana whines, sensing Runa's distress. Runa rubs her ears to comfort both of them as she watches the monk with a suspicious stare. Kagome is enthusiastic to accept the accommodations but apparently Runa and Inuyasha are on the same wave length, distrustful of the sudden generosity.

Runa turns to leave, picking up Mōrciana who clamps her tiny limbs tightly around her waist. Kagome is startled by Runa's abrupt departure and quickly gives chase.

"Runa-san! Where are you going?" She calls.

"The boat." Runa doesn't bother to stop as she speaks, striding towards the stone stairs.

Mōrciana glares at the monk as they depart, refusing to take her eyes off him.

"B-But we have shelter for the night! You don't have to go back to the boat!" Kagome wheezes, racing down the steps to catch up to them.

Runa pauses and Kagome almost slams into the pair as they both give her flat expressions.

"I will not sup nor rest in the company of a monk. No matter how kind or benevolent he may seem." Runa hisses icily.

Kagome is taken aback, but Runa isn't done yet.

"I cannot stand their ilk- always too swift to judge, to accuse and to burn, hang or drown if the poor bastard's answers are not to their liking. They hunt down those who are different or those that refuse to be fooled, smiling all the while. So no, I do not and shall not trust a 'man of the cloth'." Runa finishes stiffly, resuming her descent.

Mōrciana burrows her face into the space between Runa's neck and shoulder, hiding from the world.

"Runa-san! Runa-san!" Kagome yells after her but the Rune Caster refuses to stop.

Kagome frowns pensively at Runa's and Mōrciana's retreating backs, failing to notice Inuyasha's presence off to the side of the path. He watches Runa also, an uncharacteristically thoughtful expression replacing his constant scowl.

"Let her go, Kagome." He orders, jumping next to her.

Kagome jumps and opens her mouth to yell at him when he cuts her off.

"People don't say shit like that without reason. Especially not Runa. You know how stubborn she is- you're not gonna change her mind about staying with the old geezer."


"Look, just go inside already. That is what you wanted, right?" He says sarcastically.

Kagome purses her lips but does hike back up to the temple, leaving Inuyasha alone. He stares downwards at Runa's retreating back and grits his teeth before leaping after her and Mōrciana. Mōrciana perks up when she sees him and waves at him happily.

"Yasha, Yasha!"

Inuyasha feels heat start to build in his cheeks to his horror.

Am… Am I blushing?!

Runa stops and waits for Inuyasha to approach, Mōrciana giggling and squirming in Runa's firm grip.

"Yasha, come stay at boat! We den at boat!" Mōrciana demands with a toothy grin, reaching out at him.

Inuyasha has to work hard to keep his heart unmoved at the little Hellhound's offer, choosing to ignore her in favor of her mother figure.

"… Runa. I… have a favor to ask." He grits out awkwardly, the words sticking in his throat.

Runa's grey eyes sharpen and pin him with her intense stare.

"Go on." She says quietly, rebalancing Mōrciana's squirming weight with little effort.

"… I need you to stay closer to the temple tonight-"

"Eh?! Why?! Ciana doesn't wanna stay near a temple thingy!" Mōrciana interrupts with a pout.

Inuyasha opens his mouth to yell but Runa reacts first, flicking Mōrciana firmly on the nose.

"Do not interrupt your elders, pup." She reminds her whining ward before glancing at Inuyasha.

"Why?" Runa asks quietly.

Inuyasha's eyes flicker away from her and he shuffles his feet.

"It's just-! Augh! I can't protect Kagome or Shippo tonight and I need your help!" He snaps, aggravated.

"Yasha? You okay?" Mōrciana hesitantly asks the hanyo.

Inuyasha growls and bounds off back up the cliff. Runa frowns as she watches him leave and Mōrciana whines, staring at Inuyasha's retreating back.

"Runa? Why Yasha acting weird?" Mōrciana wonders aloud.

"I do not know, Ciana… We'll camp a bit closer, pup. To make certain we can help them if needed." Runa decides with a hefty sigh.

Mōrciana beams and wiggles to be set down, to which Runa obliges and the Hellhound races up the stairs. Runa gathers her gear and follows swiftly, uneasy with letting Mōrciana out of her sight for too long. Soon enough Mōrciana finds a spot near the temple suitable for their purposes; a grove of gnarled trees grown twisted to form a wind break with enough space for the two of them. Runa immediately starts carving runes into the stone and wood around their camp while Mōrciana hunts for supper.

Runes of warding, hiding, deflecting attention, protection, alarms and detecting ill-intent form intricate designs, all of which vanish once Runa activates them. Mōrciana burrows into the blankets Runa had retrieved and pokes her head out, grinning toothily at her. Runa smiles softly and rubs her ears, eliciting a low whine from the young girl. Darkness starts to fall and Runa lights a small campfire for warm.

When Mōrciana's tummy growls, Runa pulls out the rabbit Mōrciana had caught and cooks it over the coals. The scent of roasting meat makes Mōrciana drool as she watches the spit turn slowly. Eventually Runa deems it done and portions it equally between them, much to Mōrciana's joy.

"Runa?" Mōrciana asks in a small voice after supper.

"Yes, pup?" Runa answers quietly as she preps the rabbit skin for tanning.

"Why're monks so mean?"

Runa's hands still for a moment then resume her task.

"They do not like what they do not understand and cannot control." Runa replies finally after gathering her thoughts.

"But you were one of them villagers and weren't hurting nobody and they knew you but they still hurt you-!" Mōrciana starts to complain.

"I wasn't the same when I went back to that village, Ciana. Humans… rarely accept those that are different. And I wasn't really one of them anymore so I scared them." Runa explains, stretching the hide on a frame made of branches.

"I still don't like monks!" Mōrciana pouts, folding her arms.

"Neither do I, pup." Runa agrees dryly, ruffling her hair.

Abruptly Mōrciana sits up, ears twitching. Runa grabs her staff and one of her swords, listening hard. Distant sounds of panting grows slowly nearer and Mōrciana holds up three stubby fingers, crimson eyes reflecting the firelight. Runa nods and gestures for Mōrciana to stay quiet.

"… Looks like… they're not… chasing anymore…" Kagome's voice echoes slightly.

"Curse them…" Inuyasha's voice answers gruffly.

"Inuyasha… What's going on?" Kagome asks him.

"Let me alone!" Inuyasha snarls.

"Watch your mouth! Kagome's worried about you!" Shippo snaps back.

Runa glances at Mōrciana and gestures for the Hellhound to follow her. The pair swiftly makes their way to the trio and come upon Kagome, Shippo and Inuyasha. Runa raises an eyebrow at the spider webs covering Inuyasha's head as she silently checks them for injuries.

"Don't waste your time… Start worrying about yourselves!" Inuyasha retorts, pulling off the cobwebs.

Runa quirks her eyebrows at Inuyasha's unmistakably human appearance. Mōrciana has no compunctions about bounding up to him, startling the small group.

"Yasha is dark like Ciana! Where're Yasha's ears? Eh?!" She pulls back, nose wrinkled in surprise.

"Yasha smells human! Ciana doesn't get it! Runa-!" She complains, seeking answers.

Runa approaches, her expression wry as she observes this unusual scenario.

"I do not understand either, Ciana. But given he asked we stay close tonight, you had some inkling of this happening, yes?" She directs her query to Inuyasha, who fidgets and winces as Mōrciana climbs all over him.

"Wait, that's Inuyasha?!" Shippo yelps, pointing at him.

"Uh huh!" Mōrciana nods, tugging on Inuyasha's sleeve.

"Yasha is Yasha but more… human-y? Oh! Ciana's gonna cover up your scent!" She decides on the spot and starts messily grooming Inuyasha.

"Oi!" Inuyasha tries to protest but Mōrciana growls at him.

"Bad Yasha! Stay still!" She reprimands him.

"Gah! Runa!" Inuyasha complains.

Runa merely quirks her eyebrows.

"She's trying to protect you. Best thank her before she demands a year's worth of rabbits. Or better yet, explain what has happened to you."

"Mhm! Why Yasha like this? Ciana doesn't get it!" She complains, crawling on top of Inuyasha's head.

"In the life of every half-demon there are times when the power of their demon blood ebbs away. Since they are most vulnerable then they try never to let anyone else discover that such times must come. Lord Inuyasha's time must be the first night when the moon does not appear…" Myoga cuts in.

"'The first night'..?" Kagome questions.

"New moon." Runa clarifies, watching their surroundings.

"Runaaaaaa, Myoga-jiji said lots a words! Ciana doesn't get it!" Mōrciana pouts.

"I'm human right now, happy?!" Inuyasha snaps at the Hellhound.

Mōrciana blinks then comprehension dawns.

"Oh! Runa, we need to den! Not safe, not safe-!" She yelps, darting over to Runa.

"Really, my Lord! Couldn't you have told loyal Myoga at the very least!" Myoga exclaims dramatically.

"Why? So you could have run away before hand?" Inuyasha retorts.

"…" Myoga has a telling moment of silence before responding.

"Haven't I earned more trust than that?!" He says incredulously.

"You've earned something, alright!" Inuyasha yells.

"What about me?!" Kagome demands, popping up next to him.

"Eh?" Inuyasha blinks.

"If I'd known that this was about to happen, I wouldn't have pushed you into that nest of demons! Couldn't you even trust me?!" Kagome hisses.

"I trust NO ONE!" Inuyasha yells.

Kagome recoils but Runa knows the younger girl had unreasonable expectations.

"That's how I've survived this long. It's not for you to judge…" Inuyasha clarifies.

"I'm sorry… it's just, I thought you trusted me a little bit…" Kagome sniffles.

"Runaaaaaaaa-!" Mōrciana growls, tugging on her leg.

Runa sighs.

Well, this is my life now; was I ever this whiny? The gods must be laughing at me… She muses as she watches Inuyasha awkwardly try to comfort Kagome.

"Alright, that's enough." Runa interrupts.

Kagome blinks while Shippo, Inuyasha, Myoga and Mōrciana give Runa their undivided attention.

"What's done is done- better to focus on what we can do than what we could have done. Now then, Kagome-san, what happened?" Runa orders calmly.

"Um-! Well, Spider Heads broke through the protective barrier of the temple and they started attacking everyone." Kagome answers, sitting up straight.

Runa raises an eyebrow.

"Where is your gear?"

A deafening silence falls on the group and Runa wants to face palm at Kagome's stricken expression. Thankfully for Kagome, the inquisition is interrupted by Nazuna slipping awkwardly to sprawl at their collective feet.

"Nazuna…" Inuyasha mutters, shifting so he is better hidden from her.

Nazuna perks up when she spots the group and scrambles closer to them, her expression distressed and frantic.

"Please help! Master is still alive! Save him!"

Runa conceals a frown.

"You saw him alive? And no Spider Heads attacked you?" She asks very pointedly.

"Who cares?! We have to save him!" Kagome exclaims.

"That dog-demon of yours, he can do it!" Nazuna adds hopefully.

Runa rubs her temples with her fingers, feeling the beginnings of a headache brewing.

"I will go. Mōrciana, Shippo, you may come with. Inuyasha, Kagome, local girl, you stay."

"Yey! Hunt, hunt, hunt~" Mōrciana sings, bounding over to Runa's side.

"Ehe?! Do I have to?!" Shippo complains, shivering.

Runa faces him and bends down to his level.

"No you do not. But practice will help you later on if you ever need to fight. Mōrciana and I will be with you as well, Shippo."

Shippo stares at her, then Mōrciana before puffing himself up and clambering onto Runa's shoulder.

I will be brave, I will be brave, I will be brave-! He chants in his mind.

"Wait! I coming with since the fool girl-!"

"Inuyasha, manners." Runa cuts him off with an icy stare.

He flinches, looking away from her before regaining his courage.

"Since Kagome forgot the shards I'm coming too-!"

"He's… human?!" Nazuna gasps.

"Not for long, wench!" He snaps at her.

Runa considers him for a moment then answers.

"No. You stay, Inuyasha."

He gapes at her.

"Wah-?! Why?!" He barks, grinding his teeth.

Runa sighs, loudly.

"Inuyasha, do you even know how to fight in your human form? How to compensate for your weaker senses and strength?"

Inuyasha is taken aback, his jaw opening and closing soundlessly. Runa nods sharply when she notes his reaction.

"Tis as I thought. You stay and make certain Kagome and local girl are not ambushed. Keep them safe. Kagome, do you still have your dagger?"

Kagome gulps and nods.

"U-Um, yes!"

"Good. Be ready to use it. Mōrciana, Shippo, we're going." Runa commands, striding towards the temple.

Mōrciana laughs, her tail wagging at the prospect of a good 'hunt' while Shippo holds tight to his courage- and Runa. Runa spins her spell staff in one hand as they move closer to the temple. She glances at Shippo.

"Where is the room you were all staying in?"

Shippo perks up and points to a room with a door facing outside.

"It's that one!"

Mōrciana glares at the Spider Heads climbing the walls and roof of the temple, crimson eyes glowing eerily in the darkness. Runa checks the room and frowns.

"The packs are gone. The Spider Heads are after the shards." She murmurs.

A rustling down a corridor catches her attention; Mōrciana snarls and flames roar around her form, illuminating the space. Spider Heads scurry away from the sudden brightness as Mōrciana growls, her body changing fully into her Fae form. A crimson eyed black dog with ghostly flames flickering off her body stands nearly at Runa's shoulder, baring her fangs. Shippo's jaw drops.

"M- Mōrciana-chan?" He gulps.

She turns her head towards him and wags her tail.

"Um hum!" She reassures him before turning her attention fully back on their enemies.

"DIE THIEVES!" Mōrciana howls, charging.

Runa sighs, following at a brisk pace.

"Shippo, use your fox fire when you get close enough. Ciana! Drive them off! We'll purge them after!" She orders, crushing Spider Heads with her spell staff.

Mōrciana barks and the greenish flames roar brighter around her, sending the spider youkai running for cover. She reaches the packs and starts pouncing on the Spider Heads, killing the slowest and burning any that drew too close. Runa and Shippo follow swiftly to assist.

"Fox fire!" Shippo yells, driving more Spider Heads back.

Runa focuses on her staff.

{Heat!} She barks- the runes light up along the staff and glow golden as she crushes and swipes at the Spider Heads.

Soon enough they have rescued Kagome's backpack and Runa sets a quick ward.

{Myself and my Treasures within. Mine enemy, without, this Line shall not be Crossed!} She snarls.

A golden circle flares and the Spider Heads slam into it to no avail. Mōrciana growls, flames swirling and growing around her in an unearthly aura. Shippo shivers but resolutely stays with them as Runa checks the backpack. Her shoulders relax slightly when she finds the shards. Runa hands them to Shippo and stands, drawing a series of runes on Kagome's backpack.

{Swiftly, Surely, to your Master Fly!} She commands.

The giant yellow backpack floats into the air and shoots for where the others lay in wait. Runa turns her attention to the Spider Heads which are still scuttling around.

"Shall we see if the monk is who he says he is?" Runa murmurs.

Mōrciana's eyes glint at the prospect of the monk being an enemy while Shippo is justifiably confused. Runa focuses on her next spell.

{Enemies, Away!} She chants.

Her ward circle flares and the Spider Heads are blasted back in all directions, sowing confusion. Runa cancels her warding circle quickly and darts forward, Shippo clinging tightly to her shoulder. Mōrciana races at her side and burns the Spider Heads who draw too close while Runa crushes them. Shippo has their rear guard, throwing fox fire behind them.

They easily make it to the main part of the temple, where they are greeted with the sight of the monk strung up by spider webs. Spider Heads crawl all around them and Mōrciana takes great pleasure in killing the ones behind them as Runa assesses the situation. The Rune Caster's eyes sharpen on the monk's form and a feeling of danger and unease trill through her. Her grip on her staff tightens as she stares at him.

"Monk." She calls coldly.

The old man stirs weakly, staring at her.

"Lord… Runa..? You came… for me..?" He croaks, holding out his hand to her.

Runa cocks her head, her face expressionless as she makes no move to accept his hand.

"Perhaps." She answers.

The monk blinks in confusion.


"If you are human." She challenges him.

He stares at her and makes a pitiful face.

"Lord Runa..! What dost thou..?" He starts to say but Runa interrupts him.

{That which Hides in Plain Sight, Tear away the Disguise! As I will, so mote it be!} She roars, slamming her spell staff down on the floor.

Runes wink into existence, burning gold and scarlet as they wind their way around the monk. His face contorts with rage and pain as she forces his transformation into his true form: a massive spider's web. Shippo shakes like a leaf on her shoulder while Mōrciana snarls a challenge.

"You-! What manner of fiend art thou?!" He yells in his fully demon form.

"I must say, I do not know whether to laugh at your sheer audacity or slay you all the swifter." She drawls, watching him coolly.

"What art thou?!" He yells, extending his arms to try ensnaring her.

Runa's mouth quirks in a terrifying smile.

"A monster." She admits freely, dodging him with ease.

He growls, spitting silk threads at her. Shippo throws fox fire to burn them away and Runa whips her staff around, knocking back the arms as they reach for her and Shippo again. Mōrciana bites the 'monk's' arm, tearing it clean off. He screams in outrage as the Hellhound tosses the arm aside contemptuously and grins at him.

"Gonna eat you!" She threatens, absently burning several Spider Heads to death.

Shippo sets the webs in the room on fire while Runa sends her staff out of the room with a silent command and draws her swords. The monk spits more webs at them but Shippo and Runa have worked out a rhythm of Shippo acting as the defender while Runa attacks. Mōrciana stays close, getting in her bites when she can and driving the Spider Heads away from them.

Runa steadily cuts the monk into pieces- once she targeted the head only for it to reappear elsewhere on his body. So she slices him apart, cauterizing the wounds so there is no chance of regeneration. He screams and flexes his body; his writhing sections start to crush parts of the temple. Runa increases the speed of her blows, taking advantage of him moving towards her. She does not have to waste strength with the momentum he is already using.

A clack of outside catches their attention and Shippo pales when he sees Inuyasha, Kagome and Nazuna staring into the room.

"What're you doing?!" He yells at them as Runa whirls in place, sections of the 'monk' falling around them.

Mōrciana growls at them as she darts out to deal with the Spider Heads sneaking up on them.

"Dumb! Should have stayed at den!" She barks, biting a demon about to pounce on Nazuna.

"B-But we heard yelling and screams-!" Kagome protests hotly.

"M-Master?! What is going on!?" Nazuna screams.

"Leave." Runa orders, barely taking a moment to reprimand them mid-battle.

The monk, upon seeing their collective inattention, sees his chance. He lashes out, grabbing Shippo by his tails. Runa swears and activates more runes embedded in her boots.

{Soar Above the Turmoil!} She snaps, leaping into the air.

She cuts his hand, freeing Shippo but the jar of shards falls to the floor. Everyone's eyes widen when they see them fall onto the floor. Runa growls, too high in the air to reach them fast enough. Mōrciana goes for them at the same time as the monk. Time seems to slow as Mōrciana scrabbles for purchase, opening her mouth to seize the tiny jar-! Only for the monk to bite at her, poison glistening off his fangs.

{A Shield to the Sword!} Runa barks, creating a shield rune between the demon and Mōrciana.

The monk recoils but then a Spider Head quickly snatches up the shards, tossing them to the false monk. He gleefully devours them, cackling. Instantly, the wounds on his body start to heal and regenerate the missing portions, growing disgusting hair everywhere at the same time. Runa lands on one of his body segments and glowers, temper sparking in her eyes.

"This is utterly ridiculous." She states, avoiding a newly spawned head.

Shippo nods fearfully in agreement as heads pop up everywhere on the demon's body.

"Kagome! Where are the shards?!" Runa demands, racing along another body segment as she deftly avoids being bitten.

"U-Um! It's that head!" Kagome yells, pointing towards one in the middle of the body.

"Good! Grab something sharp and kill as many Spider Heads as you can since you're here! Watch each other's backs!" Runa snaps out orders as Shippo throws fox fire.

Mōrciana barks in agreement, harassing the monk with her claws, fangs and flames. The monk hisses with aggravation as the trio continues to attack him, failing to notice Runa leaving faint runes on his flesh. She smirks and speaks.

{Burn, Consuming Flesh and Blood!}

Multiple runes, all the same design, light up and spontaneously setting the monk on fire. He screams in terror as his body burns, regenerates, then burns again in a cycle of never-ending pain. While he is distracted, Runa pounces and slices out the section of the monk containing the jewel from the rest of his body. It falls with a squelch, the monk still screaming hoarsely as he tries to heal. Mōrciana moves fast, securing him with her jaws and dragging him to Kagome.

"Get the shards then we'll do clean up!" Runa yells, killing more Spider Heads.

The teenager pales at the disgusting mess then resolves herself, grimly lifting her dagger and carving into the demon's flesh. It's awkward and gets her a bit gory but Kagome eventually succeeds at removing the jewel. To everyone's surprise, it had fused into one piece within the monk. When Runa sees Kagome had finished her task she nods and leaves the temple with Shippo, joining them outside. The Spider Heads gather, glaring hatefully at the group and prepare to charge.

Runa smiles coldly at them.

"Not today." She denies them.

{A Circle bound, this Line shall not be Crossed! Mine enemies Trapped within, Burn to Ash and Bone!}

Her spell staff, missing for a good portion of the fight, flies to its mistress's side and plants itself before her. A golden line appears in the earth, encircling the entire temple and multiple runes explode to life. The Spider Heads charge the barrier only to fail breaking free, wailing shrilly. Then a second set of runes spark into existence and every demon spider in sight bursts into flames.

Nazuna gasps while Kagome, Inuyasha, Shippo and Myoga pale at Runa's brutal tactics. Mōrciana grins and shifts back to her humanoid form, grinning broadly.

"Bye bye spiders!" She catcalls cheekily.

Runa shakes her head wryly, amused by Mōrciana's antics. Soon the Spider Heads are burnt to ashes, leaving the temple slightly singed but mostly whole. With a murmur, Runa breaks the barrier and enters, scouting the building carefully. To her relief her trap spell, while difficult to set up, accomplished the task of ending the Spider Heads. Sighing from growing exhaustion, Runa returns and nods to her companions.

"It's safe. But to be certain, I will ward the room first to avoid any surprise attacks. I, for one, need rest after all of that." Runa tells them, muffling a yawn.

They all nod, some more readily than others but together they camp together in the room Kagome and the others stayed in previously. Runa is yawning by the time she finishes creating several wards and leans against the wall to sleep. Mōrciana and Shippo curl up on either side of her and mumble sleepily from their activities. Runa closes her eyes- and feels the stares of her human companions stabbing into her.

Stifling a groan, Runa pries her eyes open and glowers at the trio.

"Yes?" She murmurs, a bite in her tone.

Kagome gulps while Nazuna flinches and Inuyasha glares belligerently at her.

"How did you- what are you?!" Nazuna rallies, beating back her fear for anger.

Runa stoically stares at her.

"That's not an easy answer, girl." She replies softly.

Nazuna opens her mouth to argue when Runa cuts her off.

"In my homeland it was customary for those viewed as 'strange' or 'ungodly' to be hunted down and murdered. Other favorite methods included torture for information, executions like being burned alive, hanged or drowned and purges that target the vulnerable. I had a friend who was caught and buried alive for keeping his silence to protect his family. You demand answers, but you do not need them- you just want them."

Nazuna and Kagome pale at Runa's casual list of atrocities while Inuyasha's face becomes pensive. Runa sighs, looking away from them.

"All you need to know is I mean no harm to you as long as you mean no harm to me and mine. Do you understand?"

Nazuna nods hesitantly and Runa's mouth quirks slightly.

"Good. Rest now." She orders quietly, rubbing Shippo's and Mōrciana's heads.

The next day dawns brightly and with it the return of Inuyasha's demonic powers. Mōrciana is overjoyed to see his ears had reappeared.

"Yasha, Yasha, Yasha!" She yells, chasing him around the temple grounds.

"Augh, knock it off brat!" He yelps as he narrowly avoids Mōrciana's grasping hands.

Her eyes sparkle as she pursues him doggedly, nipping at his heels. Runa watches the pair bound around the courtyard, staying still when Kagome approaches with her backpack. Shippo balances on the top of it, nibbling on a cookie while Nazuna cautiously observes the small group.

"I'm ready!" Kagome calls.

Inuyasha blurs and starts tugging on Kagome to get her moving- Mōrciana follows quickly, laughing. Runa smiles at the sight, trailing after them. But a shout catches their attention.

"Everyone! T-thank you! For everything!" Nazuna yells.

Runa and Inuyasha blink in surprise while Shippo, Kagome and Mōrciana take her words in stride.

"You're welcome, Nazuna! Take care!" Kagome yells back with a wide grin.

Inuyasha scoffs but Runa spots a bit of pink on his face. She smirks slightly.

So you do have a heart after all, Inuyasha-san… I hope no one breaks it. Runa prays silently as they resume their journey.

It's a wrap! First half of volume 5 is done! Next chapter will have a certain undead priestess appear (not a favorite character of mine but oh well) but will the plot stay the same? You'll just have to wait and see!

Please review and comment, I love hearing from you!