A rare demon
Well… took me a while, huh?
Sorry about that, but I don't want to make a long note here so I'll just say, I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kimetsu no Yaiba.
Tanjiro woke up before the others in his room.
Inosuke has proven to be a very heavy sleeper, Zenitsu will just try to stay asleep as long as possible and Genya… Tanjiro is not sure but he seems to like to sleep.
With nothing much to do, he got up, put his futon away and quietly moved to the door.
'Hm.' His nose noticed the scent of Shinjuro and he stopped, waiting until he had walked away before leaving. 'I know Kyojuro-san told us to avoid him but I don't think I'd be able to do it without my nose.' He sighed before leaving, his thoughts going back to the conversation everyone had with Kyojuro about his father a few weeks before.
To say that the atmosphere was heavy after coming back to the dining room would be an understatement.
No one looked like they wanted to break the silence, Tanjiro holding Nezuko close and feeling on edge in a similar way as when he is on a mission.
"Well… are there any questions?" Kyojuro finally said.
"What's that guy's problem?" Trust Inosuke to just go straight to the point.
"He is the former Flame Pillar and doesn't like demons, like most members, seeing Nezuko without knowing what's going on… well, I would have probably reacted in the same way in his shoes."
"But what was that about him 'not wanting to talk with you'?" Genya asked next.
"Ah, Father…" Kyojuro trailed off as if thinking how to phrase the answer. "We have some disagreements about the Demon Slayer Corps and that has caused some distancing, to say the least."
"Is it really so bad that he won't listen to his own son?" Tanjiro chimed in. 'I can't imagine that… dad always made it a point to listen and talk to us.'
"There are some circumstances… I apologize for his behavior but now he knows about the situation so I doubt this will happen again. I just ask that you avoid purposely going to him, I think it's clear that he doesn't like to talk with others."
"To say the least." Zenitsu muttered.
"Ah, Rengoku-san, what was that about the 'Breath of the Sun' and my earrings?"
"Hmm… I honestly don't know but… I think it has something to do with a book Father is always reading, it's a journal of former Flame Pillars… I'll try and ask him once he cools down; do you know anything about it, Kamado?"
"No, the earrings are a family heirloom, as far as I know, and I don't remember anyone ever mention anything about the 'Breath of the Sun'… I can't help but think that it might be related to the Dance of the Fire God but I can't be sure."
"Hmm… well, it's not like we'll learn anything just by standing here!" Kyojuro suddenly said. "Let's go to bed for now and sleep on it."
While still a bit troubled by what just happened, everyone agreed.
End of Flashback
'I wonder if the Dance of the Fire God really is related to this 'Breath of the Sun'…?' Tanjiro wondered as he brushed his teeth. 'Well, I can't do much but wait for Reng- I mean Kyojuro-san to find something out… it still feels weird to call him by first name but it will get confusing with Senjuro-kun and, now, his father if I keep calling him by his last name.'
He finished brushing and exited the bathroom.
"Ah, good morning Kanao."
The girl looked up at him with her usual smile before taking out her coin.
She flipped it twice before saying.
"Good morning." And walking towards the bathroom.
Tanjiro moved to the dining room when his nose picked up the scent of a Kasugai Crow.
'Hm? I wonder if we have a new mission.'
"Everyone! We got a new mission!" Kyojuro announced as they ate.
"Awfome! Fhere are fe foing? (Awesome! Where are we going?)" Inosuke asked with a full mouth.
Zenitsu flinched and started to mutter while Tanjiro, Genya and Kanao waited to hear more.
"There have been some bodies disappearing in a town to the west of here, no one was sure but a kakushi just got confirmation that a demon is most likely involved." The Flame Pillar began before reading the letter. "Apparently, a man died of old age, after grieving his family was going to bury him but the man's son saw 'something that looks like a human' but with horns and grey skin grab it and flee out of the window when he went to get the body. They haven't been able to track what it was but there is a good chance that it's a demon."
"When do we go?" Genya asked.
"Today; Senjuro has prepared something for us to have for lunch."
"Isn't it weird, though?" Tanjiro chimed in.
"What do you mean?" Zenitsu asked.
"If it's a demon, why would it go for a dead body? I'm happy the family is ok but wouldn't it make more sense to kill and take all of them?"
"I don't know!" Kyojuro answered, his ever-present smile on his face. "There is still a chance it isn't a demon, there is no actual confirmation but it's better to go and check now."
"Um…" Genya mumbled and raised his hand.
"What is it?" The Flame Pillar turned to him smiling.
"I don't mean to belittle the importance of the mission but… I thought that, as a Pillar, you would get more dangerous missions or at least ones where there is a confirmed demon's appearance… this sounds like something other Demon Slayers would be send to at first and then call you if it proves too difficult."
"Ah, this other part of the letter should answer your question." Kyojuro turned to read again. "While not completely certain, this pattern has been repeated on several towns now and, going by the ones that have been hit, it is very likely that this demon has been traveling from one to another in an attempt to avoid the Demon Slayer Corps with the current one been its most recent 'hunting grounds', if it's this same demon then the amount of humans he has eaten are probably close to fifty; and that's only counting the ones we could find with this pattern."
Genya nodded in understanding.
"It could be a completely unrelated demon but even if that was the case, it's better to go and check for ourselves." Kyojuro explained. "Are there any other questions?"
Everyone remained silent.
"Excellent! Now, let's eat breakfast. We leave in an hour."
An hour later.
Kyojuro was leading the way to the village while the five followed.
"Is the village big?" Tanjiro asked.
"Not particularly, the reports describe it as a 'normal and mostly boring village'. If it wasn't for this incident, most people would probably turn a blind eye to it." The Pillar answered. "By the way, Kamado my boy."
"Has Tsuyuri answered you about collecting demon blood?"
"Ah!" He flinched. "Not yet…" Tanjiro turned to Kanao who was looking at him after her name was mentioned.
She remained silent so he didn't push.
Around a day after the incident with Shinjuro, everyone went out on their first mission.
"Ah, Kanao." Tanjiro called out as they walked. "There is something I should tell you… has Shinobu-san told you anything about a letter I delivered to Oyakata-sama during my trial?"
The girl remained silent for a moment before shaking her head 'no'.
Tanjiro spent the next few minutes explaining the important bits about Tamayo and Yushiro, making a cure to turn Nezuko back into a human and how he, along with some others, are collecting demon blood to send to her for research.
"I see." Kanao said simply after he finished explaining.
"So are you gonna help or not?" Inosuke asked.
"Oi, maybe we should give her some to think about it…" Genya trailed off as he saw Kanao flip a coin.
Tanjiro caught it before she could and looked at her.
"…I'd rather you don't decide this with the coin." He said before handing it back to her and turning around.
Kanao stared for a second before putting the coin in her pocket and start to walk again.
"What do you think that was?" Genya whispered to Zenitsu.
"I don't know…" The blond said, confusion clear in his expression.
"Come on! Pick up the pace already!" Inosuke yelled at the two as he began to run.
"…he doesn't even know where we're supposed to go, does he?" Genya thought out loud.
"He is not following the crow!" Kyojuro answered. "But he has a point, let's all go faster!" With that, the Flame Pillar started to run as well, the others quickly following.
End of Flashback
'Well, we've been in a good number of missions so far and she hasn't stopped me from collecting blood; she hasn't helped either but since she's not stopping me… I guess it's similar to what Kyojuro-san is doing.' He summarized in his head. 'Well, it's fine, I won't push her to decide.'
With that, he focused back on the road.
As they arrived at the village, the first thing that caught their attention was, ironically, how normal it seemed.
In towns with a demon's presence there is usually some sense of 'urgency' or 'danger' in the air but this one didn't have that.
Everyone was going about their business in what could be described as normal.
"Did you catch any scents?" Genya asked Tanjiro once they entered.
"None so far." He answered before turning to Kyojuro. "Where did the demon appear?"
"At a house in the forest, a bit away from the village."
"Alright, let's go!" Inosuke yelled, earning a few strange looks from the surroundings, as he dashed away.
"…once again, he doesn't know where to go, does he?" Genya mentioned.
"Some things don't change… but it's okay, Inosuke will come back to us in a bit." Tanjiro assured him.
"For now, let's go!" Kyojuro chimed in, earning a few more looks due to his loud tone of voice.
Everyone did as told, with Inosuke coming back a few minutes later.
As they approached the house where the demon is said to have appeared.
"…ah." Tanjiro stopped for a moment to smell the air.
"I picked a trace of the scent of a demon." He said. "It's faint… but there was a definitely a demon here recently."
Without saying anything, everyone picked up the pace.
"Is there any chance the demon has left?" Zenitsu asked downcast as he followed.
"Well… I can tell that he was here recently but not much else." The red haired teen confessed.
"Hngg, please just be gone and find a cave and stay there forever." The blond muttered repeatedly.
'Some things truly don't change.' Tanjiro sweatdropped.
A few minutes later they found the house where the demon was supposedly spotted.
Kyojuro approached and knocked.
"Excuse me, is anyone there?"
There was the sound of footsteps from behind the door before it opened slightly, revealing a black man around his thirties with a light blue kimono.
"Can I help you?" He asked.
"We heard you saw something strange and were hoping to ask you a few questions about it!" The Flame Pillar said.
"Ah… well, alright." The man opened the door and came out. "What do you wish to know?"
Wordlessly, Kyojuro turned to the others.
"Ah, well, what did you see exactly?" Tanjiro began.
"It was… well, it looked like a man but… there was something wrong with it." He explained.
"Did it come back or try to hurt you?" Genya chimed in.
"No, he just…" The man let out a sigh. "We, as in my brother, sister and I, were getting ready to bury our father when this… man, took his body, he didn't even say anything; I was coming in to pick him up when I saw him, he looked at me over his shoulder before jumping out of the window with the body and leave… I'm just glad it didn't attack anyone…"
"How did it look?" Inosuke chimed in. "Was it a demon?"
"Inosuke." Zenitsu seethed, covering his mouth.
"A demon?" The man titled his head with a frown. "I mean… I've never seen a demon before, I don't even believe they exist… personally, I think someone put on a disguise and took my father's body… I'm not sure why anyone would want his body, though."
"…Kyojuro-san." Genya whispered. "Do you think his father could have been someone with rare blood like my brother?"
"Hmm… it's possible but that doesn't explain why the demon didn't go after the rest of the family." He answered quietly. "It's not a guarantee but people with rare blood tend to be related in some way."
Genya frowned in thought.
"Could you show me the window from where it jumped?" Tanjiro asked.
"Sure." The man nodded and began to walk around the house. "Follow me."
Everyone did so and arrived at the opposite side where they saw a broken window.
"I haven't had time to fix it yet." He said sheepishly.
Tanjiro took a few steps closer and closed his eyes.
"…I got the demon's scent." He said when he opened his eyes. "I can track him." He turned to the man and did a quick bow. "Thank you for your help." Before running off towards the forest.
The others did the same and followed behind the Kamado.
"Um… you're welcome?" The man said, a bit confused, as he watched them go.
"Can you tell how far the demon is?" Kyojuro asked.
"Not yet but I should be able once we get closer; if not me, then Zenitsu can probably hear it."
The blond flinched but nodded.
"The scent is getting stronger." Tanjiro called out, turning to the left as everyone followed behind him.
"Good, I think this is a good moment to tell you this!" Kyojuro suddenly chimed in.
"Tell us what?" Genya asked.
"For this next fight, unless necessary, I won't interfere!"
"…eh?!" Everyone but Kanao said in surprise, the Tsuguko just looking at him with a neutral expression.
"I'll make sure you're not harmed if I see this demon is too strong but the purpose of the squad system is to make you stronger; that's why I will leave the fight to you unless the demon happens to be far stronger than what we're expecting." The Flame Pillar explained. "I'll jump in to cover you if I see that the demon is about to get you but otherwise I won't actively fight."
Silence followed this declaration as everyone processed what he just said.
"I understand." Tanjiro finally said. "We'll do our best so you don't have to intervene, right?"
"Ha! I was already planning on fighting that demon all by myself anyway." Inosuke declared after getting over the shock.
"I see why you would do that, most demons can't really put up a fight against a Pillar and we won't really get experience if you're the only one fighting like we've been doing up until now." Genya muttered. "…hey, Tanjiro."
"Just as a precaution, can you let me drink some of Nezuko's blood once we're about to find the demon and fight?"
"Ah, of course." He patted the box and Nezuko came out, changing to her normal height and running alongside everyone. "Nezuko, can you give some blood to Genya when I tell you?"
She looked at Genya, then back to her brother and nodded with a 'Hm!'
"Rengoku-san, you will help if we're in danger, right? You said that, right?" Zenitsu began to say after hearing the explanation.
"Yes, I did!" The Flame Pillar nodded. "Althought I doubt any of you will need it, unless by some strange coincidence we find a member of the Twelve Moons… and even then, I believe you could handle a Lower Moon now!"
The four boys couldn't help but do a double take at that.
Tanjiro smiled and scratched the back of his head.
Inosuke went 'howa howa'.
Genya blushed and looked down.
Zenitsu stared at the Flame Pillar in shock but found himself unable to say that 'he was weak and needs to be protected' after hearing him say that with such confidence.
Meanwhile, Kanao titled her head, deep in thought.
Twenty minutes later, the group arrived at the entrance of a cave.
"…the demon is here." Tanjiro declared.
"I-I can hear it." Zenitsu added. "It sounds… weird for a demon, though."
"Weird?" Genya asked.
"Yeah, like-ah! What are you doing?!"
"Zentisu, shh, you'll alert the demon." Tanjiro whispered.
The blond quickly brought both hands to his mouth.
"Thanks." Genya said to Nezuko as he made a cup with his hands to catch the blood she squeezed out of her palm and drank it in one gulp. "…still not used to this." He said with a shiver as his features turned demon-like.
"Alright, let's do this. Pig Assault!" Inosuke yelled, unsheathing his blades and rushing forward.
"…well, there goes the element of surprise." Genya commented with a sweatdrop. "Guess you can yell as much as you want, Zenitsu."
"R-right…" The blonde muttered. "…even your sound changes in that form."
"Hm, did you say something?"
"No, it's nothing."
With nothing else to say, and not wanting Inosuke to encounter the demon alone, everyone unsheathed their blades and ran forward.
The first thing Tanjiro noticed as he entered was the lack of the scent of decay.
He wasn't sure how many bodies the demon may have taken but with his nose, he should have gotten that scent as soon as he entered, even if assuming there is only one.
The second thing was that Inosuke was going the wrong way.
"Inosuke, get back, the demon is on the left path!" He called out.
The masked teen skidded to a halt before turning around, catch up with them and then run forward again.
"Maybe it's just me, but we should teach him the value of not being noticed until you find the demon." Zenitsu sweatdropped.
Everyone else couldn't help but nod in agreement.
About five minutes later, Zenitsu noticed footsteps.
"I-I hear him." He muttered with a gulp. "But… it's weird, I wasn't hearing the demon at all before and now the sound of his footsteps is… is it jumping? It's not the sound of someone running."
"Could it be a Blood Demon Art?" Genya asked.
"I-I don't know…"
"Let's hurry." Tanjiro said as Inosuke lead the charge.
Not a minute later, they could see a figure running in front of them.
"Found you!" The masked teen yelled, increasing his speed once more to catch up.
In a few seconds he was in range, his swords poised to decapitate the demon and he swung.
Hitting only air.
"What the- where did that demon go?!" He looked around and saw him even further ahead. "How the hell did you get there?! Get back here and fight me!"
"Inosuke, I think that was a Blood Demon Art!" Tanjiro called out, running past him. "It looked like his body was disappearing and suddenly appeared over there!"
"Eek, so it can teleport?!" Zenitsu screeched, suddenly looking around himself as if he was about to be jumped.
"I'll hold up the rear!" Genya called out, moving so he was the last on the line formation they were using. 'Even if that demon jumps me, I can take a hit.' He thought, focusing his eyes forward in case the demon suddenly appeared anywhere near them.
Rengoku moved to be next to Genya, ready to intervene if the demon tried to attack and they couldn't react.
Inosuke ran forward again, now keeping pace with Tanjiro while Kanao ran behind them and Zenitsu behind her.
'Should we try and corner it… no, if he can change places then there is no point, we have to take him down with one attack.' Tanjiro thought before speaking.
"Inosuke, follow my lead!"
"Don't give me orders!" Despite the protest, Inosuke began to move to pincer the demon.
The two swordsmen rushed forward and tried to attack from opposite directions.
The demon's eyes shifted towards the two for a moment before turning forward and his body, starting from the head, began to vanish and reappared several feet forward starting from his feet.
'It didn't move immediately, it must need a moment for his body to adapt after each 'jump'.' The red haired teen kept that tidbit of information in mind as everyone resumed the chase. 'We can catch up but there isn't much point if he will just disappear as soon as we are in range… we have to make sure he doesn't have any place to escape.' Even as he planned this, another thought came to mind. 'Why isn't he trying to attack us if his Blood Demon Art lets him appear anywhere like that?'
"Genya, Zenitsu, stay a bit away from us on the back, Kanao take our place; Inosuke, can you keep pace with the demon?"
"Ha?! What kind of question is that? I'll cut him to ribbons!" The masked teen declared, quickly dashing forward.
"Nezuko, stay with Inosuke just in case."
His sister nodded.
Genya and Zenitsu did as told while Kanao raised her speed to be where Inosuke previously was.
'Now I just have to get in front of him.' Tanjiro took a deep breath. 'Water Breathing, Ninth Form, Splashing Water Flow, turbulent.' Without any signal, he raised his speed and began to run along the walls, then the ceiling, then reaching the other wall before gravity could affect him, using the cave's layout to get in front of the demon.
Tanjiro turned around and began running backwards to keep his sights on the demon.
'I don't know what his reach is but even if it's further than this, I'll just have to move further until we corner him.'
The red haired teen prepared his sword to attack as soon as Inosuke dashed forward and forced the demon to use his ability to dodge.
But there was never a need.
The demon suddenly stopped, making Inosuke do the same a few steps away.
"…guess this is it." The demon whispered, raising his hands.
"Huh?!" Inosuke said, tilting his head in confusion.
"You're… surrendering?" Tanjiro said, his eyes wide.
"I don't think I can escape from you so…" The demon shrugged. "Just make it quick, please."
'…he is… accepting his death?' Tanjiro focused his sense of smell on the demon. 'His scent… there are no lies.'
He could also take a good look at him now, he has grey eyes and black hair tied in a loose low-ponytail, a single hair on the left side of his forehead and wearing a simple black kimono, although, even with that color, one could see that it had several stains and it was ragged in some places.
"Huh?! What the hell are you talking about?! Come here and fight me!"
Inosuke almost face-faulted at that.
"What do you mean 'no thanks'?!"
"I see no reason to do that, I thought I could escape if I got out of the cave but you already cut out my escape route; it's not as if I didn't know this would happen but I thought I would have another day… guess I was naïve." The demon shrugged again.
Tanjiro saw the rest of the group a bit away from Inosuke, standing and waiting for anyone to make a move; although no one, except for Zenitsu, could hear what was been talked from that distance.
"So, go ahead." He raised his chin, offering his neck. "I don't want to waste anyone's time."
Everyone stared in silence, Tanjiro, Zenitsu and Inosuke with a look of confusion while the rest wondered what they were waiting for to begin the battle.
"…why did you take that man's body?"
"It was a corpse, I thought that the Demon Slayer Corps, wouldn't be called if I just took the corpse; it was bad luck that man walked in on me as I was taking it but I couldn't afford to wait anymore."
"But why take only that man's corpse?"
"Is there a point to this questions? I'd really rather you just get it over with." The demon said back with an annoyed frown.
"…if I were to tell you that there is a way for you to live as a demon without killing people, what would you say?" Tanjiro asked, making Inosuke, and Zentisu who heard from the distance, stare at him in shock.
"…I'd say you're full of it and to just kill me already." The demon said back with a glare. "It's not as if I can't kill myself but I'd rather not; I've managed to live this long after all."
"I'm not lying."
"Yeah, and I'm not a demon; look, I don't know if this is how you get a kick out of this job b-"
"There is a way!" Tanjiro interrupted, loud enough for everyone to hear.
"…you're serious." It wasn't a question.
"Yes." The red haired teen nodded.
"Oi, what the hell are you talking about, Monjiro?!"
He opened his mouth to answer before his eyes widened and he dashed forward.
The demon closed his eyes.
'For a second, I actually believed him.' He thought with a self-deprecating chuckle.
"Wait!" Until he heard the Kamado's voice, opened his eyes and turned to see him blocking a girl's sword with his own.
Kanao's eyes widened slightly at this.
"Please wait, Kanao!" He said, pushing back just enough to stop her sword.
Before she could reply, Tanjiro saw Rengoku dashing forward.
"Wait, Rengoku-san!" Tanjiro called out as he was passing by him.
The Flame Pillar didn't answer and swung his sword to decapitate the demon.
Before he could, Nezuko rushed and stood with her arms open in front of him.
Kyojuro stopped just before his blade made contact, then faster than anyone could react moved behind the demon and prepared his blade.
"Kamado, explain now; if I suspect for a moment that this is a Blood Demon Art then his head rolls."
"Only speak if you are asked a question." Kyojuro nicked his neck and the demon shut up.
"…it's about Tamayo-san." He began, noticing how the demon's eyes widened at the name. "She has a way to make demons be able to live without needing to kill humans, just drink blood, and I agreed to send demons that wish to live without killing humans her way."
"And why should we give demons that chance?" The Flame Pillar asked.
"For the same reason you're giving Nezuko a chance."
"You misunderstand, Kamado." Kyojuro said. "I agreed to give her a chance because I believe that she has never killed a human, are you going to tell me that this demon is the same?"
Tanjiro flinched before looking at the other demon.
"Have you killed humans before?" He asked as everyone else stared.
"Yes." The demon answered. "My memory is a bit fuzzy but I know I've killed and eaten at least ten people, I'm not counting corpses in that number, though."
"Now, tell me why I should let him live after hearing this." The Flame Pillar asked, his arm ready to swing his blade at any moment.
"…Rengoku-san, have you ever seen the moment a human turns into a demon?" Tanjiro asked. "I have, when I met Muzan, I said this during the trial but he turned a man that was just walking by into a demon."
The others looked at the Kamado who shook with rage but forced it down.
"The man hadn't done anything but just turning into a demon drove him mad… I'm not saying all demons can, or should, be spared but I do believe that they don't just choose to eat humans."
"…" Kyojuro remained quiet at hearing this before looking at the demon. "You said at least ten people, under what circumstances?"
"…first three was when I was turned." The demon began. "I don't think you'll care for the details but I was turned into a demon when I was with my family, my parents and younger brother… by the time I came to I had eaten them all." He said, his tone and expression blank. "I ran away, some part of me knowing what had happened to me and found a cave to hide away, I thought that would be all and I would just stay there until… well, I can't really 'die' but I think you get what I mean. That was a grave mistake on my part."
"Because if demons don't eat, we become little more than animals." He answered. "I honestly can't tell you how long I was in that cave but I blacked out one night and when I came to, I had blood on my hands and mouth and there were bodies around me… I counted seven there but I don't know if I ate others in my frenzy."
"Do you regret it?" Kyojuro asked.
"…I'm not sure how to answer that." He said with a small frown. "Do I wish that didn't happen? Yes. About regretting… I don't even really remember anything so I'm not sure I could say that I do; at the moment, I was just starving."
"Why not just walk under the sun if you don't want to live as a demon?"
"...because I'm afraid of dying." He turned his head to look at the Pillar over his shoulder. "I found a way to live as a demon that didn't involve killing humans for food, I was hoping to continue like that… well, I'm not sure for how long, I probably would have gone insane after a few years but I'm a coward so I tried to not think about it too much."
"…" Rengoku stared at him in silence then. "What did you do with the body you took?"
"I ate it, you can find what he had on him if you go back the way you came and take the other path that doesn't lead outside."
"What he had on him?"
"His clothes, mostly; I buried the bones there as well."
"You buried the bones?"
"Demons only need to eat the meat and drink the blood, no need for the bones so I buried them."
Everyone stood quietly as the Flame Pillar of the Demon Slayer Corps interrogated the demon.
"Take us there, attempt anything…" He trailed off but the way his grip tightened around the sword made the threat clear.
"Alright." The demon nodded and slowly began walking with Kyojuro behind him.
The others let them pass before slowly following.
"What do you think Rengoku-san will do?" Genya whispered to Tanjiro as they walked.
"I don't know…" The red haired teen answered. "I honestly didn't think he would even ask any of these questions and would just kill the demon."
"Well… I guess meeting your sister made him at least start considering the possibility that not all demons wish to kill humans."
"Yeah…" Tanjiro turned to his sister who looked at him, her eyes conveying her worry. "Let's just wait and see." He said before patting her head.
"Ne, Tanjiro…" Zenitsu called out. "Could you… explain what you said back then?"
"…right." The Kamado nodded. "You see…"
As Tanjiro finished his explanation, the three that were unaware stared at him with different expressions.
Kanao just had her usual neutral smile but one could see her eyebrows move the slightest bit down into a frown.
Inosuke, even with the mask on, looked like he couldn't wrap his head around why Tanjiro was doing this.
Zenitsu seemed to be the only one able, or willing, to speak.
"Tanjiro… that's borderline insane." He said. "I mean, if it wasn't because I know of Nezuko-chan I would say that you're completely insane."
"Yeah, I can't argue with that." Tanjiro winced. "Even so, as rare as they may be, Nezuko, Tamayo-san and Yushiro-san are proof that demons can live without attacking humans and this one looked for a way to not kill them even if he still needs to eat."
"Why didn't you say any of this before?" Inosuke asked and Tanjiro could swear he was glaring at him from behind his mask.
"I honestly didn't think it would come up." The red haired teen answered. "Like I said, demons like this are rare; we've gone to several missions since joining with Rengoku-san and not one of the demons we met looked like they would even consider this alternative."
"Are there other things you're not telling us, Kentaro?"
"Well… do you remember the demon that was using threads in Natagumo?"
"She was the first… actually, technically the second, demon I offered this alternative to and the first to accept."
"Wait, so she's still alive?!" The masked teen yelled.
"Yes, she is with Tamayo-san."
"Who was the first?" Zenitsu asked, feeling like he should stop that line of questioning. For now.
"Another member of the corps… I met him in Asakusa, I had finished off one of two demons Muzan sent to kill me and was about to go and fight the other one when I saw him… I don't know how but Muzan got to him and turned him into a demon." He grinded his teeth at the memory. "I think… he had already killed people in the frenzy demons get when they first turn, he asked me to kill him when he managed to get some sense back; I'm not certain why but a technique Tamayo-san had unleashed against the other demon, who managed to flee, made him able to regain his senses for a few moments."
While Tanjiro finished explaining why he is sending demons to Tamayo, the group arrived at the place the demon mentioned.
"He is buried over there." He pointed with his head, Kyojuro's blade still pressed against his neck.
The Flame Pillar glanced to the ground the demon pointed at and noticed that it had definitely been moved recently.
"I have one last question for you." Kyojuro began. "Why go after corpses when it's easier for you to kill humans?"
"…are you really asking me that?" The demon looked at him with an amused smirk. "A member of the Demon Slayer Corps is talking to me about taking the 'easy way', really? Because I'm fairly certain your job is not for anyone that would choose the 'easy way'."
Rengoku stared at him, his expression not betraying any emotion, before turning to Tanjiro.
"If one of the demons you send to Tamayo eats a human once again, what will you do?"
"After making Nezuko human again and taking care of the demon that did, I would kill myself." He said without hesitation.
Inosuke and Zenitsu said in turn.
Kanao's head snapped in his direction while Genya frowned.
"So you're aware of the risk you're taking."
"Urokodaki-san made it clear when I first met him that if Nezuko ever hurt a human, then the first thing I must do is kill her, then myself; of course the same would apply to any demon I send to Tamayo-san."
Nezuko began to approach her brother but stopped when she felt Kyojuro's gaze turn to her.
"…I want to meet Tamayo." The Flame Pillar declared. "I won't budge on this, I refuse to risk my life and all of yours by letting this demon go on his way trusting that he won't kill any humans, not without meeting her and judging for myself." He said before Tanjiro could argue.
"…I can't guarantee that she'll meet you." Tanjiro said. "Even less so if our crows follow us… but I do have a way of going to her. Chachamaru!" He called out.
"Meow." That sound was heard and a calico cat suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
"This is Chachamaru, I send blood to Tamayo through her so she can guide us; the paper you see is part of Yushiro-san's Blood Demon Art and let's her turn invisible."
"How far away is she?"
"I don't know, she is hiding from Muzan and I only send her blood or letters via Chachamaru; I do not know where she is right now."
"Very well." He turned back to the demon, his sword never leaving his neck. "We'll leave immediately and only stop if the sun comes up, any sudden movements and your head rolls."
"Alright." The demon nodded. "Can I ask one thing, though?"
"What is it?"
The demon turned to look at Tanjiro.
"Why do you trust me? I could be lying so you let me go."
"I have a good sense of smell and I can tell when people are lying." He answered, pointing to his nose. "I can tell you were telling the truth."
"…pff, that has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard and I'm still half-convinced this is some sick joke you use to get a kick out of this job." The demon said with a chuckle. "But I guess I'm dead either way if that's the case so I might as well go along with it." He finished with a shrug.
"Before that." Kyojuro turned to look at the rest of his squad. "I do not wish to force you into this position; if you want, you can walk away right now and go back to my home, either wait there or tell Oyakata-sama what happened or anything else you decide."
The four stayed silent as they deliberated.
"…I'm already in the same boat as Tanjiro so I'll see this to the end." Genya was the first to answer.
"I still think we should fight the demon and be done with it… but there is no way I'm backing out if Monjiro and Gunya are going!" Inosuke declared with a huff. For once, neither of the two felt like correcting him about their names.
"Ahh…" Zenitsu gulped and answered while trembling. "…if I'm fine with Nezuko-chan then I guess I should at least see this Tamayo person before deciding."
All eyes turned to Kanao who was staring at the demon, her expression impassive and without a smile.
'What do I do?' She thought. 'On this… I'll only flip it once.'
The Tsuguko took out her coin and stared at it for a moment before flipping it.
All eyes went to the coin as it spun in the air.
Tanjiro gulped, wondering where it would land and exactly what decision she was making.
The coin fell and Kanao caught it on the back of her hand, waiting a moment before revealing the result.
"…I'll go as well." She said.
"Very well, let's go then." Kyojuro declared.
Chachamaru began to run and everyone followed.
Well… this was long, LONG, overdue.
I apologize for the wait, I was in a bit of a… I'm not sure I would exactly call it a writer's block, it was a mix of 'where do I want to take the story' and 'I don't feel like writing at the moment' and before I noticed all this time has passed.
But, I'm back now, hopefully for good but I won't make promises there.
I want to thank everyone who left comments on the story, they really made me smile.
To everyone who asked if the story was abandoned, I can only apologize that it took me so long to get another chapter out but I thank you for the comments; first, because it made me focus more on writing this and second, because I was really happy to know you wanted to see how it continued.
Side note: I was REALLY tempted to end the chapter in a cliffhanger and not telling how Kanao's coin landed but I felt like after such a long hiatus, that would be downright evil hehe.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and I'll read you on the next one.
Until next time!