The next few days were difficult.
The baby had another bout of colic, which reduced him to wild sobbing throughout much of the night. An increasingly worn Inuyasha bounced across the treetops with the howling baby in his arms, while Kagome frantically skimmed through the baby books.
Miroku and Sango managed to sleep through the worst of it. It might have been that they were getting used to the baby's cries, or it might have been, as Inuyasha bitterly pointed out, that Miroku kept stuffing little bits of his old robe in their ears.
During the day, Inuyasha refused to let anyone else carry the baby along. At first Kagome couldn't understand what the fuss was about. Then she remembered Koga boosting the baby over his head. I guess he feels a little worried about anyone else handling the baby, she thought.
But when she asked Inuyasha about it, he just snorted. "Feh. I'm not that attached to the kid."
"Sure you're not."
"What's THAT supposed to mean!"
And so they travelled to the village where the dog demon was said to dwell.
"So, that's the place," Inuyasha mused.
On his back, the baby snuffled and yawned. Inuyasha reached back and patted the carrier, to make sure the baby was securely attached. He seemed to be doing that pretty often.
Spread out in the valley below them was a large village, fringed with small farms and houses. One end of the village bordered on a large lake, and small children could be seen playing on the sand. If Kagome looked carefully, she could see an unusually large house in the middle of the village -- probably the headman's house. It was a pretty, almost idealized village.
"This can't be the one," Sango said skeptically. "Koga said that a dog demon was attacking the village. This one doesn't look like it's been attacked by anything."
"Think again," Inuyasha said. He sniffed loudly. "Smell that?"
"No," Kagome said. "What do you smell?"
"Burned wood, and a few hints of old blood," Inuyasha said grimly. "And there's something missing from the air. There aren't any demons nearby."
"No demons?" Shippo asked incredulously.
"None," Inuyasha said. He shifted the baby carrier higher on his shoulders.
"And in my experience," Sango added, "demons only evacuate an area if they're afraid of something. Like a monk or priestess... or a much stronger demon that might want to kill them."
Inuyasha nodded. "Exactly. Which is why I think that we've come to the right place. I just hope this stupid trip wasn't for nothing, and we've found the baby's father at last."
He set off down a winding dirt road, fringed with thin willow trees. Kagome followed behind him, dangling a charm bracelet to entertain the dog-eared baby. His tiny face split into a wide, toothless grin, and his little golden eyes sparkled. One of his tiny clumsy hands grabbed at the bracelet.
But if this demon is the father, she thought, would he be a good one? If he's attacking human villages, he couldn't be a good father to a half-human baby, could he?
Suddenly Inuyasha stopped and growled. A cloud of dust was rising from the road ahead of them, and the figures of running villagers were slowly coming into view. They were holding axes, bamboo spears, gardening tools and even a few old swords, and were waving them around in a desperate manner.
"There he is!" one bellowed. Other cries rang out:
"The one with the white hair, at the front! He's the one we want!"
"Get back, you filthy demon!"
Inuyasha dropped into a fighting stance, and his claws cracked ominously. At the sound of angry voices, the baby began to whimper piteously. "Looks like they're not in the mood to talk," Miroku said, raising his staff.
TO BE CONTINUED