He’d gotten back to late. The villagers were nice enough to tell him the others had left weeks ago. One woman even let him know how long the others had looked for him, before leaving. He used his PINpoint to make up the time, traveling to the next village west.
In the mountains, he’d found the corpses of youkai children, and he wondered what had happened. He knew the others had come this way, it was like a scent lingering on the wind, and he worried over the part they might have played.
When he came to the village by the river, he felt as though his luck had begun to turn. The others had left just that morning, renting a boat to cross the river. The Elder told him about the Youkai in the river, and Goku watched as a young boy of 10, ran off in anger.
Across the river he found Gojyo and Hakkai, their bodies unmarked. Sanzo was not there, so he ran, almost tripping over the body of Yaone. Ahead he saw Kougaiji, bloody and barely able to stand, bending to take the Sutra from Sanzo. He removed his diadem, and everything went white.
“You sure made a mess of things, didn’t you boy?” Goku couldn’t move, and he realized it was because the Merciful Goddess had him pinned to the ground. Her knees dug into his shoulders. Se was so close that he was almost overwhelmed by hir scent. Male and female, and something that pulled at his memory, and made his heart ache for something long forgotten. She stood and pulled him to standing.
“I’ll make you a deal, kid.” He nodded. “You’re going to go back to wherever you’ve been hiding, and you’re going to take this with you.” She handed him the Maten Sutra. “I expect you to fix this, when you’ve learned what you need to. In exchange, you get to go free.” Se disappeared in a shimmer, and Goku was alone.
So that was the answer.