Disclaimer: Until Rumiko Takahashi finally hands over the deed to "Inuyasha", I am still going to be the penniless, unemployed and uneducated 17 year old that I am right now. However - I did invent the word "Dogification". But why I should be proud of that, I have no idea.
Author's Notes: If anyone's read Harry Potter, then you'll already be familiar with the "Grim" legend. J.K. Rowling uses the myth that the Grim is a large black dog that brings omens of death to whoever sees it.
The 'Grim' which is also known as 'Barghest', 'Padfoot', 'Devil Dog' or 'The Black Dogs', is the most widely believed folklore in Britain, which originated from North Yorkshire (only a hour or so away from where I'm sitting now... ) While the modern belief is that they haunt graveyards, gateways, doorways and bring death omens, in the olden days their meaning was a little less specific. It was sometimes believed that people who had sinned in life became spectre dogs to guard the graveyards in a way to repent themselves, and that if someone in your family was near death, it would give you a little visit to let you know (if you saw the Barghest, it does not necessarily mean you will die). They're usually terrifying, monstrous, as 'big as bears', with abnormally large fangs and claws. Usually their eyes are glowing red, but I've seen some Barghest described as just abnormally large black dogs (six foot in length).
The one particular myth that I've incorporated into the story is the legend of Lady Howard who sinned terribly in life, and so when she died she was refused passage into heaven and hell, and had to remain on earth in the form of a ghost dog that was forced to run with the dead every night to a Castle. Once there she had to pluck a single blade of grass from the moat and then run all the way to a river far south and wash the blade of grass. Only until she'd plucked every single blade of grass from the moat would she be able to pass on into the afterlife.
Not surprisingly, she's yet to complete her task.
I'm so pathetic it's not even funny anymore…
After all, what was more pathetic than being stranded outside in the rain with a stomach that wouldn't let you forget it was hungry? Well… maybe if it wasn't for the fact that he was whining, he wouldn't have been so pathetic…
There was also the fact that he was a dog. There wasn't much lower to stoop than to be an actual dog.
Of course, he hadn't always been a dog - oh no! He'd actually been a person once with two legs, hair placed in strategic spots and a decent brain in his head. He'd also had hands back then… oh, how he missed hands…
He'd had quick hands. Perhaps, in retrospect, too quick. They'd got him into trouble more than once, lifting the odd coin from the odd purse. They'd even wielded the weapon that had shed the blood of his 'beloved' parents.
Karma was funny that way. You make one mistake like that and fate decides that it would be hilarious to stick you in the body of a dog for as long as it takes to complete an impossible task.
Yes, technically he was dead. It was his punishment for the sins he'd committed in life; to be trapped in the form of a semi-corporeal hound that was pledged to guard the dead. Not only that, but if he ever wanted to go back to colour vision and all-knowing human intelligence, he had to run with the dead every night to Okawa castle to pluck one frickin' blade of grass from the moat and then run all the way back to the river half a mile away to drop that blade in the water.
Apparently, once every blade of grass was plucked and washed, he'd be able to pass on peacefully for having repented in his punishment.
But have you any idea of just how many blades of grass there were around Okawa castle?
Water was leaking into his sensitive ears again. With an agitated huff he shook his head savagely and scratched at his perky ears with a hind leg. He absently licked his muddy paw before letting it sink to the ground again. Another long sigh drawled from his mouth, and he looked around bleakly.
He was such a pathetic creature… existing only to make the living piss themselves at the mere sight of him; existing only to run with ghosts each night on a hopeless task. By now, he would quite willingly sell his soul to be given the chance to move on - even if he was moved straight into hell. Anything was better than the life he led now…
Although, he did have some magic at the tips of his claws. A gift he'd inherited from his former life.
There was a chance that he would be able to… perform… a little trick in order to get back among the living again and cheat the powers that had placed him where he was. All he needed was a human with enough of a connection to the demon realm to provide a strong enough link to make a little switch. Preferably, a human with some kind of youki would be perfect… but how many humans were walking around with youki flowing around them unless they were actually some kind of youkai?
His nose twitched…
"Damn bitch!" came a crude yell through the pelting rain.
The dog snapped his head towards the sound of running footsteps. Faded human shouts rang in the distance, but he could already see their quarry.
A dog demon…? No, perhaps not. There was too much human in him… but he was certainly radiating waves of youki like any upper-class, full blooded youkai ever could.
Excitement bubbled up inside him, and in a heartbeat the canine was on his feet. The approaching hanyou was injured on his left shoulder; he could already smell the blood flowing from the wound. But that was only a small defect on an otherwise perfect specimen. He may have been young but there was power in him, a strong power… and a great deal of turbulent emotions. The rain dampened his sense of smell, but even that didn't stop him from catching the stench of anger and teenage angst inside the boy as he ran past.
The dog lopped after him easily, his tall, skinny frame barely more than a vague black shadow passing through the rain. The boy was fast, but it wasn't hard keeping up with him. In no time at all, those distant human voices faded completely, and then it was just the dog and the boy.
They carried on through the waterlogged fields of grain and then over the flooded rice paddies. The hanyou never once realised he was being followed and kept on running through the wind and rain. Musingly, the dog wondered why he was so upset. Perhaps he'd just been snuck up on and was angry that he'd been injured…
They fled into the forest as the overcast sky grew darker with approaching night. The dog saw this and put on a burst of speed… once midnight came, he would be called to an entirely different chase and lose track of the hanyou. Sure, he might be able to pick up his scent in the morning to trail him again, but with the rain washing away all the paths of scent and the boy being a rather fast demi-dog himself, the canine didn't wish to risk it.
He wanted that boy's body now.
But not in that sense…
Perhaps it was a good thing, but at that moment the wind took a violent change of course, sweeping up from behind him with a good tail-wind. But it meant he was no longer downwind, and in an instant the boy had his scent.
The hanyou stopped running and turned.
Very well… confrontational was the way it was going to be. He slowed down and came to a stop as well, only a few metres from the boy. The mere sight of him was usually enough to send most weak-hearted mortals dropping to the ground like stones. It wasn't that he was ugly… well, that's what he kept telling himself. But when a skeletal dog so black that his lank, greasy fur seemed to absorb all the light and warmth that touched it stared at you with the most piercing grey eyes in all the four realms, you'd be a little unhinged, too. He was tall for a dog, and rather tough looking, but under the masses of fur he was thin and fragile.
Irritatingly, the hanyou saw this and wasn't even the slightest bit scared.
He had no idea who he was…
"Go home to your master, you stupid mutt." he spat callously, then turned to leave again.
"Stupid boy…" the canine muttered… not that the boy would understand him. He was too human. And humans always had the annoying tendency to completely ignore the things they could not easily grasp.
If that ignoramus of a child thought he could walk out on the current caretaker of the dead, he was sadly mistaken!
"Want a job, do you?" He lopped after the hanyou, tail wagging deceivingly with his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. "You see, I have this wonderful job. You get to scare the shit out of people day and night and since you'll be dead, you'll never have to worry about starving to death –it's impossible!"
The canine had to dodge a half-hearted blow aimed at his head. He would not be deterred. Instead, he padded around to walk on the hanyou's other side. "You'll get to run up and down the country day and night trying to complete this hopeless task. Every time someone is due for a trip to the afterlife, you get to pay him a little visit to say farewell. Don't worry if people start taking you for a bad omen, it's perfectly natural!"
All the time he was discreetly weaving a spell of his own youki around the hanyou. Sharper wits would have noticed by now, but this particular hanyou, while being quite tough looking, was not the sharpest sickle blade in the shed.
Not long now…
"I said beat it, mongrel!"
"I am pedigree, thank you very much!"
"Go fetch a stick or something!"
"No, you go fetch - you're more of a dog than I ever will be!"
Obviously, the hanyou was getting annoyed at being followed by a rather large, smelly dog that kept mumbling little growling sounds at him. Just because he had a little canine blood in him didn't mean he automatically felt kinship with every bloody dog he saw in his life. That would be like a brunette getting excited at every other brown haired person in the world.
The canine knew round about then that if he didn't beat it, he would be getting a rather nasty scratch somewhere on his body. Well, that was ok. It wouldn't be his body for very much longer.
He stopped short, ran in a quick circle, dragging the edges of the spell into an enclosed shape. He then planted his two large paws in the mud at the edge of the invisible ring proceeded to bark his head off.
Clearly confused, the hanyou turned to look at him. "What the hell's your problem?"
"One step closer and you'll find out, kid!" He continued to bark furiously.
Almost as if he'd understood, the hanyou boy stepped forward… directly into the spell.
Sucks to be a moron, huh?
With one curling snarl, the canine leapt forward and fastened his fangs around the boy's wrist. The hanyou flinched slightly, but for such a savage wound he seemed more surprised than pained. That was good. He was too stunned to throw him off.
His plan ground into motion, his youki clashing with the boy's, confronting and merging, then separating and exchanging. The physical link with the boy's blood provided him with the means to send his essence through the link, and drive the hanyou's into the space he'd just vacated.
It was a lovely transition. He felt his arms again, his hands, the rain on his face, and the wind whipping through his drenched hair. The world was back in full blooming colour, despite it being such a dark and groggy evening with hardly an ounce of colour to spare. He felt everything the way it should have been… and felt the wonderful clarity the space of a human mind provided him with.
He also felt a silly dog clinging to his wrist.
"Off with you!" He snapped his other hand out and slapped the dog's nose. "I don't want you damaging this body any more than you have already."
The dog was completely stunned. It wobbled precariously on its four legs, blinking rapidly and trembling at all the foreign sensations it was probably feeling. Unfortunately, it didn't take all that long to cotton on to what had just happened. It's real hanyou body had been snatched and it was now a dog.
As marvellous as the new hanyou thought the arrangement was, the former hanyou was not so pleased.
His lips curled back, baring an array of lovely white, and needle sharp, teeth. A growl started in the back of his throat, then worked its way up to become a ferocious, inhuman sound that would have had any nearby mortals keeling over in fright.
The newly made hanyou cast an unimpressed look over the body he'd used to inhabit. He called that scary? Hah! He'd made scarier sounds when he'd had the dog flu!
But then the boy lunged at him, aiming directly for his throat despite the fact that he was near turning on himself. Rather than let the boy desecrate his body any further, the former dog leapt into the nearest tree and leered down at the ballistic canine beneath him. The dog's entire body jerked with the force of his barks and snarls and he bounced on his front paws, desperately snapping at the body snatcher.
"I'm sure once you calm down you'll enjoy your new form!" he said cheerfully. "It's not so bad being a dog… once you get used to it."
A lot of furious barking sounded below him. The hanyou smiled down at him happily, listening to the boy's ferocious shouting. He was demanding his body back, bemused at what had happened, and not understanding any of it at all. It was quite funny, really…
"I'd love to stay and chat all day, but I have another life to live now." He grinned. "Yours, in fact!"
More incensed barking. Didn't he ever shut up?
But just as he was about to turn and bound away to leave the boy bitching in the mud, he remembered something and leaned down. "Oh, by the way, some time around midnight you may start feeling a little tingly. Don't worry, that's just the dead calling you."
The barking stopped and intense amber eyes gazed up at him. It was hard to decipher a dog's expression, but by the tilt in his head he could guess the boy was confused. For a moment, he wondered about the amber eyes… he'd been sure they were grey… but maybe he'd taken those with him?
"Don't worry about it," He waved a clawed hand. "You'll know what to do when the time comes. You'll take like a duck to water, I'm sure. Must dash!"
Without a backwards glance and only a little cackle of mirth, he took off through the trees, faster than an arrow…
The boy hadn't a chance of pursuing. At least, not when the chase was about to begin.
"Oh, look. Here comes Miss Twinkle Toes and her lap dog." Miroku yawned widely as he eyed the duo coming down the steps of the Shrine.
Sango was sitting beside him on the wall along the opposite side of the road. She caught Miroku's contagious yawn. "I swear you're obsessed with that girl…" she told him dryly.
"Not as obsessed as that little beast is." Miroku sniffed. "Did you know that the little yapper bit my ankle the other day?"
"Well, you were teasing him." she pointed out, watching the girl collect the mail from the mail box beside the Shrine's first archway. Behind her, the happy little sod of a Yorkshire Terrier panted and skipped around her heels. "What a loser…" Sango finally commented. "You must have very little self-respect if you're willing to kiss the ground she walks on. I mean, that little fluff ball would probably make breakfast for her - if he could."
"It gives him hope, Sango dear." Miroku told her. "I say we might as well let him be."
"Hah!" Sango laughed dryly. "And I wonder what will happen when she finds out that her loveable little puppy is in actual fact a former newspaper boy?"
"Oh dear… she might not like that." Miroku let his mind wander. The poor girl would be frightfully embarrassed… he had to wonder about all the times she'd gotten changed in front of the mutt without knowing that he was actually a male of her own species.
"Whatever you're thinking, stop it." Sango said curtly.
"Oh - oh look!" Miroku directed her attention back towards the pair collecting their morning post. "They're doing tricks."
The girl held up her hand in a stopping gesture, a soft command floating across the empty road. "Sit, boy."
"Oh, look how well he sits for her…" Even Sango sounded mocking.
Miroku joined in the jeering. "Now roll over, there's a good boy. What a lark he is…"
"Wait for it… here comes the beg." Sango said evenly and they both hissed and twitched in unison as the dog happily got onto his haunches, paws in the air, and prostrated himself for a little praise.
The girl was pleased. "There's a good boy!" She patted his head. "Now let me just get my mail…" And she turned away again.
"Honestly - has he no dignity?" Miroku complained loudly. "I mean, if I was stuck in the body of a dog - thank the Lord I'm not - would you see me sucking up to the nearest female to catch a titbit or the occasional sweetie?"
"Yes." Sango said bluntly.
"At least I'd go about it with more grace and tact." He scratched his neck thoughtfully as his gaze wandered. "I mean, I wouldn't want anyone to know that I was actually a human and just pretending to be a dog. How low is that…? And why hang around that particular girl, I ask myself. What's so special about her, other than the fact that she has rather extraordinary legs-"
"And very nice dimples on either side of her mouth-"
"Her hair could do with a little brushing…"
"Miroku - I really think you should be paying attention to this-"
"But that bouncing bust is not to be laughed at either - very nice! And those lovely chocolate eyes would melt any man in an-"
"What?" he blinked at his companion who was gazing across the street intently.
There was a short scream opposite them, but whatever had happened, had happened already. Miroku had missed it. He turned just in time to see the Shrine girl staggering against the mail box, staring after a rather naked young man who was running in the other direction.
"What happened?" he asked Sango quickly.
She seemed to bristle, and even sounded slightly sick. "He turned back."
The girl seemed to be recovering from her shock of the naked man and was beginning to look around. "Beau! Beau!" She was calling her dog. "Where are you?!"
"I guess… she didn't see him turn." Miroku stated grimly, Sango just blinked her agreement. "I can't believe it… he changed back… after all this time. I thought he was done for."
"It seems that 'dogification' isn't as permanent as we thought…" Sango sighed.
"I reckon it was the girl…" Miroku narrowed his eyes. "There was a rumour going around that she had unusual power… he must have stuck around her, hoping that she would be able to change him back."
They watched the girl frantically continue her search for the dog. She seemed to think he may have run back up to the Shrine, as she turned and started up the steps. The post remained forgotten on top of the mailbox.
"And now he's got what he wanted and ran away." Sango said glumly. "Stupid Kouga…"
"Wham, bam, thank you ma'am." Miroku responded in a similarly bleak tone.
Kagome Higurashi was near tears. "Beau! Where are you?!"
As if his day could possibly get any worse…
First of all, he'd completely failed in his attempt to snatch the Shikon no Tama from the weedy little miko known as Kaede… then she'd shot him with a supposedly 'enchanted' arrow. If she hadn't been such a poor shot, she would have pegged him in the heart and suckered him to a tree for the rest of eternity. As it was, she'd only clipped his shoulder, but it had still hurt like hell and his pride had been far more seriously wounded.
Then to add insult to injury, some hairy mutt had jumped him and stolen his body. If that wasn't the perfect end to a perfect day, Inuyasha had no idea what was perfect anymore.
But there was still a major problem on his hands…
"I'm a dog!" Inuyasha howled into the forest, pattering in anxious circles while trying to sort out the chaos his mind was currently in. "I'm a freaking dog!"
Sounds, smells, textures and feelings he'd never even imagined were assaulting his senses. He may have been part dog demon, but his senses never even compared to this. He was almost distracted from his identity crisis when he caught the scent of a rabbit. Instantly he was tracking it, nose to the ground, snuffling loudly.
He caught himself doing it and snapped his jaws angrily. And then there was that annoying tail that kept distracting him! That big, bushy thing that was endlessly waving at him behind his back. He tried to turn to face it, but the tail kept dodging just out of reach. Irritably, Inuyasha attempted to catch it between his teeth… he missed the first few times as it wagged straight out of reach again. But he was clever… he timed it and-
"Ow!" he yelped and jumped at the pain that shot up his back. What kind of…?
Ooh! Another rabbit!
No, no, no… this was silly… he had to control himself. He was acting like a dog! His attention span was all over the place…
With a quiet whine, he flopped down into the mud and held his paws over his snout - more in an attempt to hold himself still than anything else. That dog… that dog had done something to him.
The point of the matter was that it needed to be undone. It must have been some kind of demon to have somehow stolen his form… some weird kind of underfed, stinky, insanely ugly demon dog…
Sitting up, Inuyasha assessed his options… and gave his neck a good scratch while he was at it. This dog's body that he was in was no way near the same league as his own heritage. Maybe the previous owner had been jealous of his blue blood?
With a snort, he quickly dismissed that idea. Who on earth would be jealous of a stupid little hanyou anyway?
The rain was falling unnecessarily hard. Even under the cover of the trees, Inuyasha was getting soaked to the bone. He was cold and tired and unbelievably hungry… anyone would think that he hadn't been fed for months. Not only that, but the rain had quite efficiently wiped out the scent trail of where his hanyou body had gone. He couldn't even smell the damn rabbits anymore.
His only chance would be to find someone who knew how to turn a dog back into a man. And how many people did he know that could do that? Inuyasha didn't really know many people, full stop…
For a moment he was up and heading in the direction of Kaede's village. It was his first instinct. Sure, the bitch had just shot him and everything, but surely she would take pity on a scrap of canine that scared humans beyond all reason… right?
Inuyasha sat down again and thought long and hard, staring off into space. It was difficult trying to concentrate when his brain wasn't really interested in thinking. Not that he'd been much of a thinker before, but now he was struggling to hold onto his train of thought…
Ohyes! He was going to Kaede's village.
He set off at a quick trot, quite sure of himself again. Surely Kaede would help him out, even though he was just a scrap of a canine that was scary beyond all… wait…
Inuyasha sat down again, utterly confused and very much lost. He'd just had his body snatched and was now trying to devise plans with a stupid dog brain…
Life was going to get harder from now on, he knew that much.
That's when the shiver ran through him, starting in his feet and rippling its way up his legs and down his spine to the tip of his tail. Inuyasha shuddered unconsciously as the tingling sensation spread in waves.
For some reason, he felt excited. He bounced back on his feet, not knowing where exactly he wanted to go, but he just couldn't keep still. He sat down, stood up, sat down and scratched himself repeatedly for good measure. He was anxious, worried, not just excited. Without a firm grasp of his abilities or senses, Inuyasha was having a hard time deciding just what exactly he was feeling.
"Oh, by the way, some time around midnight you may start feeling a little tingly. Don't worry, that's just the dead calling you."
"Just brilliant…" Inuyasha huffed quietly to himself.
Then he saw them.
Little flickering lights like torches were diving between the trees below him. On the slope where Inuyasha sat, wagging his independently thinking tail anxiously, he could clearly see just how fast those lights were moving.
But oddly, he couldn't hear anything from below.
Inuyasha had no idea why he felt so compelled to run after those lights, but maybe part of it was curiosity to know what he was seeing… but some other part of him was despairing. All thoughts of ignoring the lights and going on a search for his body snatcher were abandoned as he flew down the slope, tearing across the damp earth and mud in pursuit of lights. He angled himself perfectly in order to cut across their path directly to catch them…
The bushes and trees ripped past him, and his breathing sounded harsh and fast in his lungs… he kept his eyes fixed firmly on the lights, but every now and then he lost sight of them.
Yet, despite all the confusion and the disconcerting experience of being removed from one's body, Inuyasha was having the thrill of his lifetime. He loved running… and doing so on all fours was a whole new experience.
He was fast. Faster than Kaede's stupid arrow and probably faster than his normal body… vegetation was nothing more than a blur of grey as he dashed over the terrain.
He wound up on a dirt track road with the earth beaten down so hard it remained firm despite the rain. Ears pricked, he looked around, but he saw no lights… even though he knew this was where he should have found them.
An antsy, restless feeling made him fidget and he turned this way and that, trying to catch any hint or sign of what he'd seen further up the slope.
They were upon him in seconds.
Inuyasha barely knew what had hit him. One moment he was on an empty lane, alone, and then the next he was caught in a storm of pounding hooves. Almost certain he was about to be trampled, Inuyasha hunched down, laying his ears flat against his skull in shock and only mild fear. But ever so quickly, he realised he wasn't being trampled at all… that in fact all those heavy horse feet were passing right through him…
They weren't normal horses either. Oversized and shaggy. Terrifying, in fact. But Inuyasha wasn't all that shocked by their appearance… or the appearance of their headless riders either who were larger than the average mortal anyway. However there was one complete rider - a female with her head still attached, riding at the centre of the group that was fast leaving Inuyasha behind.
Once more that urge to follow rose, and automatically, Inuyasha gave chase, tearing down the lane after the ghost riders. This was something out of the myths and tales the grandparents told their children. These stories never sounded all that scary when told from the mouth of a dying fool, but in reality, the atmosphere was incredible.
Only Inuyasha's feet were audible as he quickly caught up with the travelling group. They were completely silent, but the air around them was cold. Not that it bothered Inuyasha. He quickly weaved between their insubstantial legs to catch a better glimpse of the female rider. It was hard to tell if anyone noticed him. The horses certainly didn't, and when the riders didn't have heads, it was hard to tell where their eyes were.
But the woman saw him. She looked down at him, smiled a faint smile, then turned her eyes back on the road.
Inuyasha's feet took him to the head of the group, racing a few metres ahead of them. But more than that… it was almost as if he were leading them…
He took a right down a fork in the road… they followed… he took a left at the next crossing, and once more they carried on charging after him. He knew he probably should have stopped this crazy nonsense and let them go… but he couldn't seem to stop running. Nor could he control where his paws took him.
A castle loomed up ahead… he smelt it before he saw it. The musty stench of rotting wooden beams and stone. Of death and decay. The gates were open… or more like they were smashed to pieces enough to let anyone who wanted to pass through them.
Just before Inuyasha could take one step through those gates, he split off to the side and immediately collapsed on the grassy turf beside the watch tower. The riders passed on, without even a glance in his direction, through the gates, and then they were gone…
But whatever had just taken place… it wasn't over yet…
Almost against his will, Inuyasha got to his feet and lowered his head to hastily pluck a single, fairly long blade of grass from the turf he was lying on. But that was it.
His paws were tired and sore, but he still ran. Old wounds beneath his toes were reopening and bleeding afresh… but he kept running.
He ran all the way back along the path he had taken and then some. He passed by the road outlet of Kaede's village and charged on, half terrified of his inability to stop. Time seemed to stretch and lengthen before him, and it was almost as if he was chasing the sun down… or trying to outrun it.
Hours passed but Inuyasha never once slowed down or dropped the blade of grass from his mouth. Only until he smelt the fresh tang of spring water did he unconsciously rejoice. All that running was finally over…
The river was wide, but fast and clear. Inuyasha trudged to a halt on its bank and listlessly opened his mouth to let the weed fall into the water.
The sun rose, but Inuyasha was in no mood to start a new day. He was exhausted… starved… battered and bleeding and confused… so confused…
"This is insane…" he panted as he lay on his side in the soft grass. There was no way he could keep up that kind of activity every night. Was this why the dog had escaped with his hanyou body? Was this what he did every night? Guide the dead and run some pointless errand involving grass?
It was a pity he couldn't just curl up and die, because there was nothing Inuyasha wanted to do more than just fall into a never ending sleep.
"Should have let that damn bitch shoot me…" he groaned to himself.
But as tempting as it was to curl up and die, or maybe just sleep on the river bank all day, he had a mission to complete.
Someone had stolen his body.
Inuyasha wanted it back as soon as possible, thank you very much. Today was as good a day to start his search… and hopefully he wouldn't be plucking grass by tomorrow night.
So with a weary grumble, Inuyasha got to his feet and started padding back towards the last place he'd seen his body. That had been somewhere around Kaede's village, but whether or not the dog-boy thing would be there now was over Inuyasha's head.
It took the best part of the morning before he eventually meandered his way back down the dirt track leading to the village. Of course, his morning hadn't been uneventful. Three times he'd been passed by a group of humans, and three times they'd run away from him screaming. But rather helpfully, they'd usually dropped whatever it was they were carrying (mainly food) and left Inuyasha to pick over what was edible and what was not.
By the time Inuyasha reached Kaede's village, his stomach was a little fuller than it had ever been before, and despite his rather obvious limping, he felt a world stronger.
It didn't take much to please a dog.
The only problem was… his body had long gone. It didn't matter how many people he asked, none of them seemed to know where his body was… well, perhaps they did know, but they were usually too busy stammering and running away to give him answers.
"Has anyone seen an incredibly good-looking hanyou around here?" Inuyasha called as he trotted through the village. "White hair, red clothes - may be acting like a total asshole right now…"
Within a few minutes, he found himself wandering through a deserted village. All the occupants had hastily locked themselves away in their homes and only the old miko - Kaede herself - had come out to face him.
But even she trembled. "Begone, demon hound!"
Inuyasha didn't want another arrow in his shoulder and so discreetly snorted a curse at her before shuffling on his way.
Perhaps his best bet was to simply follow his nose and find his body on his own?
Wait… was that a rabbit he could smell?
All thoughts of recovering his body were forgotten as he momentarily lost himself in the scent of the small creature. Nose to the ground, he began obliviously snuffling his way across the earth, recklessly shoving his way through bushes and thick grass.
It was white, male, anxious, and fairly old… and he could tell all that simply from the scent.
This was nothing like his other nose. This nose was superior in every way…
Inuyasha came out into a small clearing and began following the scent trail around in circles. It was only when he finally looked up absently that he found the rabbit crouching beside an old wooden well. It looked terrified, but he could see it's thinking…
Maybe if I don't move, he won't see me…
Inuyasha blinked at it slowly. "I can see you, you know." he commented.
The rabbit shuffled slightly. "Don't eat me…" it piped quietly.
Great. Even the rabbits could talk. Inuyasha stared at it for a moment, wondering if he was going insane. "What did you say?"
"No, you said 'Don't eat me'."
"Don't eat me…" The rabbit was either too petrified to sound intelligent… or it was just as thick as the mud coating his paws.
"I don't like scraps of bones like you, anyway." Inuyasha sneered at it. "I was just experimenting."
"Don't eat me… I have a doe and seven kits in my burrow."
A low growl started in Inuyasha's throat. "Want me to eat them instead?! Beat it!"
The rabbit didn't need to be told twice. It shot away, darting this way and that with it's little white rump flashing temptingly, as if to say 'Come follow me and eat me, why don't you?'
Inuyasha shook his thin, shaggy head and decided to flop down beside the well for a short rest. What was the world coming to when rabbits could talk back to you?
That was when he heard a grumble in the well behind him. For a moment, he was about to dismiss it as the wind, but then his keen ears picked up the distinctive sound of a body shifting down in the pit. Jumping to his feet, Inuyasha pushed his chin over the lip of the well and tried to look down.
Very uncomfortable… and he still couldn't see a damn thing.
Rising up onto his hind legs with his forepaws on the rim, Inuyasha peered down into the well properly. These eyes appeared to see better in dim light, but even the bottom of the well was too dark for them. The sound had stopped, but he could smell the lingering stench of demon and decay.
Wasn't this the bone gobbler's well? Perhaps Kaede had stopped by earlier to dispose of some leftover demons…? Someone had once mentioned to him the use of this particular well.
But had they mentioned that this well was also unstable and particularly rickety?
Inuyasha's weight on the well's rim seemed to be too much for the structure, and his ears perked as the wood gave a sound crunch.
Inuyasha pitched forward, stranded on his chest with his front paws dangling into a black abyss.
"Oh no…" he complained with a disparaged sigh. "Wonderful!"
He wiggled around for a few minutes, but his efforts only seemed to increase his dilemma as his body slipped further forward. Inuyasha couldn't imagine a more unceremonious and undignified moment in his life… and to make matters worse, his rebellious tail was still wagging happily behind him. It really did have a mind of its own.
Well, he could hang here all day and wait for a villager to come along and find him…
Then when they had a heart attack at the mere sight of him, he could wait for the next moron.
To be honest, no one was going to help a dog from hell out of a well…
His tail gave an extra little wag as he realised he'd made a rhyme.
Inuyasha had to forcibly set his mind back on the matter.
Yep. He could wait till the next moron came along to scream and run away, or he could cut his losses and simply plunge to his death. It would be quick. He'd break his neck and decay with all the other demons that got sent to wherever it was they got sent to.
Not exactly the way he'd planned to go, but you had to make the most of what you had.
…Best get on with it before that rabbit came back and laughed at his ass…
Without further ado, Inuyasha stopped bracing his hind legs against the outside of the well and let himself slither forward.
If walking around as a dog was awkward, falling as a dog was even more so. He wanted to twist and see where he was going to land, but his body was built the wrong way and wouldn't bend for him.
But at least there was one lovely moment of weightlessness before he hit the ground with a thud. It knocked the wind out of him, but he was surprised to find that he was in one piece… more or less…
Whatever had been down the well earlier was now gone. In which case - where was it?
"Oh, look…" a voice purred from above him. "A dog down a well. How amusing."
Inuyasha tilted his head towards the square of light above. A small, podgy white face was peering down at him. "Are you that rabbit…?" he wondered aloud.
A long, sleek tail flicked over the rim of the well, falling into his vision. "Charming. I eat rabbit for breakfast… bear in mind that it comes from a tin, but nevertheless…"
A strong, rather starchy smell permeated the air around him.
That was no rabbit.
That was a cat. A rather obese cat, in fact.
"My word… you're a very smelly fellow, aren't you." The cat's tail flicked again. "You could do with a bath. All dogs could do with a bath. Actually, all dogs could do with being chopped up and fed to horses." It chuckled as if it had said something very funny.
Inuyasha blinked up at it, nonplussed.
"Alas… dogs are always a little on the slow side." The cat sighed.
Inuyasha bristled testily. "I'm not a dog."
"Oh, it is nice to see one with ambition. What are you then? A human perhaps? Your type sucks up to those apes so well that anyone would think you wanted to be one."
Inuyasha picked himself up off the ground and planted his front paws against the side of his prison, all the better to see the cat with. "I am a human… sort of… I mean, I used to be." Inuyasha growled at himself. "I need to get out of here!"
"Temper, temper." The cat yawned in a patronising way. "If you truly were a human, wouldn't you have climbed your way out by now?"
"I only used to be a human… sort of."
"Either way, I suppose I should get you some help." The cat said, as if being incredibly thoughtful about his decision. "I could always get Kagome to come and help you out – she likes animals. Although she's been a bit adverse to dogs ever since the last one ran away-"
The cat suddenly broke off as a distant call cut off the conversation.
"Buyoooo?! Dinner!" a lilting female voice was calling. Decidedly human.
"Ooh… perhaps later then." The cat named Buyo suddenly rolled out of view. Inuyasha heard his fat little body hit the wooden boards before the cat began tottering away. "I'll send someone your way… sometime… maybe… after dinner."
"Wait! Come back here!" Inuyasha snarled and barked. "I want out now!"
"Patience is a virtue!" the cat called back. The little bell on his collar tinkled away into the distance until it had faded completely.
Inuyasha blew out a short, sharp sigh and let his forepaws fall back onto the earth.
There was something odd about the well… he could have sworn that a minute ago there had been a sky where that wooden roof was now. And that cat? What on earth had it been wearing around it's neck?
And rabbit from tins? What a strange way to serve food…
And what was that distant humming sound in the distance. It was continuous, and incessant, like a thousand bees all humming at once. It replaced the normally quiet countryside noises that he was used to.
Was this where all the demon remains ended up?
Lying down and resting his muzzle on his paws, Inuyasha realised he could do little more than sit and wait till the cat came back with help. The idea of having to find help from a cat was insane and very demeaning… but he had to accept that now he was a true dog - sort of – and he wasn't as far up the food chain as he'd used to be.
Inuyasha gave another exhausted sigh and let sleep finally claim him. He was simply too tired to do anything else.
Once I'm out of this stupid well – Inuyasha thought sleepily as he drifted off – I'll begin searching for my body again… I can't stay like this…
His dreams were filled with lots of rabbits with bobbing white tails and cats with bells around their necks - all begging to be chased.
So Inuyasha spent the best part of dinner time twitching and grunting down the Bone Eater's well, and failing to catch every damn one of those cats and rabbits.