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"Why don't you just tell me what you know about Naraku right now?" said Inuyasha to Kurama with a surly glance.

"Inuyasha," Kagome growled, and he subsided quickly, not wanting to endure another sit. He hadn't quite recovered from the last one. This did not go unnoticed by Keiko.

Naraku Inuyasha Kurama Keiko
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In the meantime, the Suzaku Seven was getting ready for their next act. To the surprise of the audience, many of the band's members disappeared offstage, along with Amiboshi. In the meantime, Hotohori stood center stage and began to sing, "YES - Koko ni Eien ga Aru" to warm up the crowd. Much of the crowd did indeed appear warmed by the song.

"He's just as handsome as Sakyo," Shizuru thought to herself. "I sure hope he's not evil too."

Amiboshi Hotohori Sakyo Shizuru
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"Come on, Your Majesty," Nuriko demanded as he reappeared from offstage, in an more formal outfit than he had worn before, "leave some girls for the rest of us."

Hotohori tossed his long, luxurious hair as he declared, "Very well, Nuriko. I leave them in your hands." He walked off, towards the backstage area where the other band members had gone some time before.

"More accurately," Nuriko corrected him as he strode forward to the center of the stage, "you're leaving these pieces of scrap metal in my hands." Nuriko picked up the metal pieces and announced, "First, I need a volunteer from the audience." Behind him, the curtain closed, concealing most of the stage.

"I would be honored to-" Miroku began. Sango forestalled him with a stormy countenance, and he finished his statement, "-watch your performance from here." Nuriko stared at him, or more accurately at the ropes binding him to the chair. Not wanting to have another awkward scene, Sango hurriedly stood up and volunteered, walking briskly to the stage.

Keisuke Miroku Sango
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Nuriko handed the metal pieces to her. "Now, would you please try to bend these in half?"

"What sort of madness is this?" Sango asked. The metal pieces were stout bits of iron. When Nuriko only grinned, she took the piece of metal from his hands. As she had expected, not even the strength of a Demon Slayer could manage to buckle the iron. Nuriko insisted upon her testing the other two pieces as well, and she had similar results.

Nuriko now took the first metal piece back and said, "This metal shouldn't be able to be bent by any human, right? Watch this!" He compressed the metal, and it bent into a U shape.

Sango said quietly, "Incredible." Shippo wondered, "Is he some kind of demon?" Kuwabara enthused, "Yeah! I love strongman acts! Wow, I wonder if the phonebook trick is next?"

Nuriko bent the other two metal pieces at the same time, creating a large U shape. Next, he turned to Sango again and asked, "I notice you have a rather large boomerang, miss. May I please use it?"

"No," Sango said firmly.

Nuriko was surprised. "Why not?" he asked.

"It's nothing personal," she explained, "I don't often let anyone else touch Hiraikotsu."

"Well, then, er, oh!" Nuriko had a sudden idea. He offered his hands and said, "Please, step on my hands."

"If you insist," she sighed, stepping on with both feet. Nuriko smoothly lifted her above his head. The audience burst out into applause.

Shippo Kuwabara
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As the applaused died down, Kurama put his index finger to his chin in thought. Kuwabara looked at him and asked, "What're you thinking, Kurama?"

"Nuriko, Hotohori, Tamahome," Kurama recited. "The names sounded familiar, but only now could I place them. They're Chinese constellations, in the southern region of the sky. Or, in the traditional way of speaking, they're ruled by Suzaku."

Kurama Nuriko Hotohori Tamahome Suzaku
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"Suzaku, eh!" Shippo mouthed; he had only bad memories of that bizarre demon he and Inuyasha and the others had encountered. Kirara made a high-pitched noise of disapproval at the name.

Suzaku of Inuyasha Shippo Inuyasha Kilala
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"The creep who mind controlled all the teachers and made them attack us?" Keiko asked with anger at the memory.

"These are humans," Hiei disagreed. "The Suzaku of Maze Castle despised humans. These couldn't be his servants."

"Perhaps they're associated with the legendary Suzaku," Kurama thought aloud.

Suzaku Keiko Hiei Kurama Suzaku
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"Hey, if that's so, you can use your knowledge of the legend to predict their personalities and powers, right?" Kuwabara asked excitedly.

"Unfortunately, I don't actually know the legend," Kurama admitted calmly. "We'd need to call Kaitou, he's more likely to have read up on it."

"Oh," said Kuwabara disappointedly.

"There's something you don't know, Kurama?" Yusuke joked.

"Maybe that means there's some sort of conspiracy to keep it a secret," Botan suggested in a dramatic voice.

"Probably it was just because I've been too busy reasearching the literature on the germination of genetically modified plants," Kurama said mildly.

Kuwabara Kaitou Yusuke Botan
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"Everyone, please give Sango a hand!" Nuriko called as Sango left the stage. There was enthusiasitc applause. Chiriko walked onto the stage, and called out, "Please show your appreciation for the remarkable strength of Nuriko!" The audience applauded, Nuriko bowed, then he disappeared behind the curtain.

Chiriko cleared his throat, turned to the audience, and recited in a singsong voice, "Ladies and gentlemen, I now invite you to come with me to a faraway land. The brave warriors of Suzaku have come to aid the land of Konan in its time of need. Swearing to use their powers to protect their emperor Hotohori and the priestess Miaka, they are now joined together in a ceremony to summon the awesome power of Suzaku to bless the land. Arise, Suzaku! Your warriors are betrayed!"

Sango Nuriko Chiriko
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Hotohori Miaka Suzaku
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The curtains rolled back as suddenly as Chiriko left the stage, revealing a magnificent set. There were massive stone pillars, and beautiful blue panels, creating an almost perfect illusion of seeing inside a richly adorned temple. A giant golden image of a phoenix rested beside the wall on stage right, or to the left side as the audience saw it. A short distance towards the center of the stage was a brazier mounted on a ziggurat as tall as a human. Surrounding the ziggurat were the Hotohori, Nuriko, Chichiri, Tasuki, Mitsukake, Tamahome, and Amiboshi, all clad in their finest crimson garments. Miaka was stood upon one of the ziggurat's higher steps, clad in a priestess' garment, dyed crimson. Her hair was elaborately curled around decorative wooden sticks. In both hands she held a scroll.

Suzaku Group Miaka
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She chanted the ritual words to summon Suzaku and ask him to grant their desires. The seven below closed their eyes and concentrated upon Miaka and the ceremony. Then she took the scroll and tossed it into the flames with both hands, then clasped her hands together and closed her eyes.

The scroll continued to burn.

Opening her eyes, Miaka asked in confusion, "What's wrong? We did the ceremony correctly! Where is Suazku?"

Amiboshi stood up and backed away from the seven by several places, removing his flute from his vestments. In the audience, the older couple that Chichiri had brought smiled broadly and held up a huge sign that read in Chinese, "Go Kai-ka!"

Amiboshi spoke in a loud and mocking voice, "Your ceremony has failed."

Suzaku Amiboshi Chichiri
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The others on stage looked at him in shock as he continued, "My true name is Amiboshi of the Seiryu Seven! Now I will destroy you all with the power of Seiryu in my flute!"

He set off on a brilliant series of flute music, which caused the Suzaku Seven and Miaka to collapse writhing onto the stage. His playing continued, and their suffering was unrelieved.

Suzaku Group Miaka
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Just when all hope seemed lost, there was the sound of a leaf whistle. Chiriko walked slowly onto the stage, playing the leaf whistle. Amiboshi gasped and said, "That whistle! It's cutting through my magic!"

He gasped again as Tamahome and Tasuki jumped up from the ground, freed from the spell, and adavanced threateningly on him. They ran forwards when suddenly a figure from the audience leapt onto the stage.

Chiriko Amiboshi Tamahome Tasuki
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Suboshi stood in front of his brother Amiboshi, taking a defensive stance agaisnt the Suzaku Seven. There was a wild look in his eyes, and his Meteor Balls bobbed and floated in the air beside him, and whirred menacingly. To some they appeared to be simple ornamentation, but the Suzaku Seven knew they were lethal weapons.

"Don't you touch him!" Suboshi shouted.

Suboshi
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"Huh?" Tasuki finally managed to say, totally bemused.

"You won't harm a hair on my brother's head!" Suboshi said frantically.

"This already happened!" Tamahome said in disbelief. "You know it better than anyone!"

"Suboshi, they're just following the script," Amiboshi tried to reassure him. "I'm going to be fine. Just take your seat again-"

"I couldn't save you from them last time because I was in Koutou, but I'll save you this time!" he said, turning madly devoted eyes upon his brother.

"This is only a reenactment, a play," Chiriko tried to explain gently.

"Sure is a mysterious play," Inuyasha muttered, confused by recent events.

Tasuki Suboshi Tamahome Amiboshi Chiriko
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Inuyasha
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Miaka appealed, "Suboshi, this has already happened! We're not going to hurt your brother; we asked him to play this part!"

"And I agreed," Amiboshi supported her. "Suboshi, this doesn't bother me at all. Thanks to your erasing my memory, I don't even remember what it was like the first time, so this isn't hurting my feelings. Please, just sit down again."

"I can't let you die again!" Suboshi wailed.

Tamahome began to lose patience, and threatened, "Suboshi, do you know what else has already happened? I've already beaten you, that's what's already happened! I say we skip ahead to that part of the story!"

Miaka Suboshi Amiboshi Tamahome
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Yui stood up, her fists clenched, and said sternly, "Suboshi, this is a major embarassment. Don't make me order you to get off that stage."

"Lady Yui," he turned to her, surprised and mortified. Slowly he hung his head, and the Meteor Balls returned to his belt. He crept offstage and into his seat.

"He's lost whatever sanity he had left," Tasuki said in wonderment.

"Suboshi isn't crazy, he's a passionate but evil man," Kuwabara shook his head.

Yui Suboshi Tasuki Kuwabara
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Kiyoshi Mitarai kept watching the Seiryu Seven's row. He noted, "It's as though none of the others on Suboshi's team cared one way or the other through that whole business."

"Kinda sad," Amanuma agreed.

Sea Man Game Master
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The play resumed where it had left off, with Tamahome and Tasuki chasing Amiboshi offstage. The curtains closed, and there was polite applause.

Tamahome Tasuki Amiboshi
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Suboshi moodily left his seat and went out the exit.

"I hope this means we don't have to take him with us when we leave," Keisuke muttered fervently.

Tetsuya muttered, "Don't be too relieved yet. Who knows what that murderer will do now?"

Keisuke looked at him in alarm, "He might try to hunt down our families!"

Yui stood, saying "I'll make Suboshi come back."

Suboshi Keisuke Tetsuya Yui
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Genkai suddenly appeared at her elbow. "Don't worry about him. I put in a special request. Koenma's placing him back in his correct location in space-time."

Yui sat down and breathed, "What a relief. I don't think I could take much more of him." She had no idea who Koenma was, but was too tired to really worry about it at this point.

"So," Tetsuya curiously and suspiciously asked Genkai, "you're the priestess of Koenma?"

"As if!" Genkai emphatically denied it. "He's the pint-sized ruler of Spirit World. I just spent the past half hour trying to get through the Spirit World bureaucracy, trying to get all of the thugs back where they belong. I finally got through to Koenma, and he gave me his assurance that he'll take care of it. He's young, but dependable." Genkai walked briskly away.

Tetsuya and Keisuke looked at each other. Keisuke shrugged, and Tetsuya sighed but decided to accept the situation.

Genkai Koenma Yui Tetsuya Keisuke
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As Mitarai had observed, the others of the Seiryu Seven seemed indifferent to their teammate's fate. A malicious grin was spread across the child like face of Miboshi as he waved his wooden needle a few inches from Tomo's ear, whispering, "I'm not touching you!"

"No, you aren't," Tomo rolled his eyes. "What other idiotic children's games did you pick up from this modern age?"

Sea Man Miboshi Tomo
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The curtains reopened, and Miaka and Tamahome reappeared. Keisuke, Tetsuya, and Yui, smiled broadly, and all of the audience applauded politely.

"I appreciate it," Tamahome waved at the crowd, "but if you really want to make us happy, then please write out a check to Tama-" he grunted in discomfort as Miaka tweaked his ear. The crowd laughed.

Miaka Tamahome Keisuke Tetsuya Yui
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Finally getting somewhat serious, Tamahome made sure that the sound equipment was set up correctly, then sat down at a synthesizer. Miaka performed a solo- "Itooshi Hito no Tame ni" . Since the crowd's interest was now piqued, she smiled and waved at the audience, enthusing, "Oh, thank you all so very much! This next song is one of my favorites, and I'm dedicating it," she looked coyly at Tamahome behind her, "to my beloved." He smiled winningly back at her.

"That is so sweet!" Yukina grinned.

"She's a lucky girl," Shizuru agreed.

Keiko leaned towards Yusuke.

Yukina Shizuru Keiko Yusuke
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"I wish I brought my girlfriend," Mitarai mused.

"I wish I had a girlfriend," Amanuma said in a small voice.

Kagome clasped her hands below her chin and daydreamed a moment.

Genkai was unusually quiet. Was she perhaps thinking of a time long ago when she and Toguro had-

"I'd discontinue that third-person omniscient narration if I were you," Genkai advised Dragonwiles in a steely voice.

Sea Man Game Master Kagome Genkai Younger Toguro
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Nakago tried flexing his fingers. Soi's arm around his looked ordinarily amorous, but for some reason her grip was also cutting off his circulation. He then remembered that, being dead, he had no circulation, and stopped worrying.

Nakago Soi
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Inuyasha gnarred, "Are we gonna hear about Naraku soon?"

Inuyasha Naraku
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Tamahome, skillfully employing the synthesizer keyboard, laid out the initial verse as a prelude, and Miaka then began to sing "Toukimeki no Doukasen." The crowd applauded wildly.

The entire Suzaku Seven came out and bowed. People began to wave things, asking for an encore, and the band finally acquiesced and played "Chijou no Seiza" to great acclaim. After that, they took their bows and left the stage.

Tamahome Miaka Suzaku Group
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"Finally! Now we can learn about Naraku," Inuyasha cracked a smile.

Kurama stood up, turned to face him, and frowned. "I'm afraid I don't know very much to tell you. I've only heard a legend that about seven centuries ago, there was a half-demon named Naraku who made a nuisance of himself in Human World. A fox-demon, a cat-demon, a monk, a demon slayer, a priestess, and a half-demon went on a quest to fight him. The half-demon was the son of Inutaisho. Inutaisho was the great lord of the West, who was related to Raizen."

"You don't say," Yusuke commented, finding a personal interest in the story.

Naraku Inuyasha Kurama Inutaisho and infant Inuyasha Yusuke and Raizen Yusuke
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Kagome put a hand to her forehead and thought, "For seven hundred years, demons are going to mistake me for Kikyo in their stories? This is terrible!"

"That is a fascinating tale," Miroku commented thoughtfully. "Do you happen to recall who prevailed in the battle?"

Kurama shrugged and said apologetically, "I'm afraid I never heard the end of the legend, or indeed, the middle of it. I'm sorry I can't be of any further help."

Inuyasha scoffed, "What a waste of time. Let's go."

Hiei disappeared and suddenly reappeared in front of Inuyasha, blocking their exit from the row of seats with his drawn sword. "Hold," Hiei commanded. "I still have business with you. You are in violation of the laws of Demon World."

Kagome Kikyo Miroku Hiei
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Next Chapter:

"But he's got dog ears!"

"Ninja food!"

"I suppose we were too beautiful an emperor to remain dead."


1Anime Galleries at http://www.animegalleries.net

2http://www.ex.org/1.5/11-fy3.html

3http://www.freewebs.com/jakotsushrine/jakotsusfriends.htm

4http://morgan-d.net

5http://www.yuyuhakusho.com/index.cfm?page=characters

6Fanlisting for Suzaku (of Inuyasha) at http://www.geocities.com/iyfanlist/Suzaku.html


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