Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha, and I will not repeat myself! Chapter 1
Kagome yelled out. The pain in her leg shot through her entire being. "What the heck?" She looked around quickly, trying to figure out where this sudden attack came from. Inuyasha, who had been lounging in a nearby tree, dropped to the ground immediately. In less than a second the hanyou stood protectively over the young woman. Sniffing and searching the area, he concluded there was no threat. "What's up Kagome," he asked?
"Something bit me," she spit out as she furiously rubbed her leg. Kagome looked up at her handsome hanyou friend in time to see him wince and grab his leg.
"Damn! It bit just me too," Inuyasha yelped and jumped to the ground sniffing frantically for the offending presence. "I don't smell a thing," he grumbled with obvious frustration. He looked to his best friend as she reached to grip his shoulder.
"Inuyasha, something's wrong," Kagome felt a little dizzy. "I think we should go to Kaede's hut." She was thankful that they were close by the village. The shard hunters had just arrived yesterday to take a little break from their duties. Kagome went home, through the well, to visit her family last night. She arrived back in the feudal era a couple of hours earlier. Inuyasha met her, as usual, upon her magic reformation in the wells bottom. The day was so warm and lovely that Kagome insisted they sit for awhile and enjoy the fresh spring afternoon.
"I think your right. I can't understand why I couldn't smell the damn thing," the hanyou's obvious frustration flashed openly to his friend. He stood up to escort Kagome back to the village. After taking a few steps, he didn't hear her behind him. His usual lack of patience prompted him to fuss about her dragging around, but when he turned to the tiny miko his heart almost stopped beating. She lay on the ground. Her eyes were open only slightly, as if she were about to fall asleep.
"Kagome! Are you alright," Inuyasha rushed to her side. He knew then that something was terribly wrong with his friend. She mumbled something he couldn't understand. He immediately swept the girl up in his arms and rushed with demonic speed back to the old priestess. "Hold on Kagome, we're almost there!" Inuyasha noticed that his friend was heavier than he remembered. 'What the hell has she been eating? She musta gained twenty pounds!'
The silver haired hanyou looked up to see the tiny hut of the old priestess just ahead. His frantic actions had drawn the attention of several villagers. The noise drew out the monk, who had been meditating inside the little hut. Immediately he stepped back to allow Inuyasha entrance. Once inside, he carefully placed his delicate bundle on the furs lying in the corner of the room. "Get Kaede, Miroku! Something bit us, and then Kagome collapsed!"
With a flash of blue robes Miroku rushed out to find the older miko. He spotted Sango coming towards him with a worried expression across her face. It occurred to him that he did not like that look on the demon slayer. She was so lovely. The frown only made him want to hold her close to bring comfort...but there was no time.
"Miroku.... Juroku said something is wrong with Kagome," her voice was filled with worry over her friend. Kagome was the closest thing she had to a sister. She knew Inuyasha and Kagome were spending some time together on the outskirts of the village. She spotted them lounging in the sun a couple of hours earlier on her way to scout the area with Kirara. They looked so engrossed with one another that she chose to not intrude, in order to give them some much-needed time alone. Now Kagome was in trouble.' What could have happened?'
"She's in Kaede's hut with Inuyasha, I have to find Lady Kaede!" He scurried off in the direction of the stream where he was sure that the miko went earlier to pick wild herbs. Sango broke into a run. Her worry for her 'sister' put speed into her steps.
"Inuyasha! What happened!" Sango burst through the door flap to see a pale Kagome and an even paler hanyou.
"Sango.... Something bit us on the legs.....It had no scent....I don't even know what...." That was all he could force out before the darkness enveloped him.
The night was long and frightening for the remaining shard hunters. They watched over their friends as the old priestess chanted non-stop. Her exhaustion was wearing on her. The constant vigil had proved no help in reviving the two fallen comrades from their deep sleep. Sango, once again, patted Kagome's burning skin with the cool cloth. Inuyasha, on the other hand, ran no fever. He simply could not be awakened.
"Hmm... Sango, have you noticed something strange about Inuyasha?" Sango knew what the monk meant. She had noticed the slight change as well, but was hesitant to speak of it. Now the signs were beginning to become more evident.
"I see it too, Miroku, but I don't know what to make of it." Her voice carried the strain of the evening. Her body needed rest, but her mind wouldn't allow it. She found herself very afraid.
Miroku had spent every day by the demon slayer's side. He knew without a doubt how upset the woman was over the whole thing. Without any idea what had bitten their friends, they had no idea how to treat them. The two simply could not be roused from their slumber. Kagome seemed to be fairing worse than the half-demon. She burned with fever and occasionally would draw up in pain.
Kaede found the wounds after a quick search over the legs of the victims. There were two tiny punctures on Kagome's ankle. Identical punctures were located on Inuyasha's right foot. The marks were red and slightly swollen. The old miko tried in vain to draw out any poison. The poultice covering the bites turned rotten soon after administering them. She was at a complete loss as to how to save her two young friends.
"This is unlike anything I've ever encountered. This was no natural creature...." the old woman's words were cut short when a little fox crashed into the room in a panic.
"Outside! You have to come outside" Shippo was frantically jumping up and down pointing towards the door. The urgency in his voice sent the three caretakers out to see what spurred the kitsune's anxious behavior.
Miroku was met by a tall, rather ordinary looking man. Behind him stood three other men and one woman. Two of the men carried a makeshift stretcher loaded with what appeared to be a wolf demon. "Can we be of some assistance," Miroku's calm voice helped to sooth all those near him. Hope flashed in the eyes of the small group.
"Houshi, please... we seek your knowledge, and that of your miko friends," The tall, rather lanky man spoke first. "We have been bitten by something...unknown." The worry in the man's face was clear to all.
"First things first, said the old miko, let's get your friend into my hut." She hurried to lift the door flap as the two men carrying the fallen youkai pushed inside.
Miroku turned to the leader of the group, "What is your name, friend?"
"I am Jeninji. I have met your young miko Kagome, and her half-demon Inuyasha. I live near a village north of here, with my mother. We grow herbs for healing, but none could be used to save us." Jeninji looked down solemnly. It appeared to Miroku that he was not unwell. He looked fine, in fact.
"Hmm...Jeninji you say. Well Jeninji, you say you were bitten? How is it then that you have not taken ill?" Miroku was more than a bit confused. He had hoped, upon hearing that the man grew healing herbs, that a cure for the affliction had been discovered. Apparently this was not the case.
"I fell ill for two days and two nights. I do not remember anything shortly after I was bitten. I went back home and told my mother of the attack. I got dizzy and all went black. When I awoke, I was like this." The tall, lanky man, held out his arms in a posture of confusion.
"Like what," asked the demon slayer, who stood by the monk listening quietly to the tale? She was more confused now, than when they first arrived. The man looked her in the eye. She could see a softness there. A sort of kindness mixed with deep sadness.
"I awoke as a human," Jeninji's sincerity was unmistakable. Sango drew in a frightened breath. "You are Jeninji the half-demon?"
"I was, but now I am Jeninji the human. The ones who came here with me had the same thing happen to them. The wolf demon on the stretcher...well, he is full demon. The woman is his wife. She was half demon, as well. They live very near to my home. She came to me, as did the others, seeking the help of my healing herbs. The herbs were useless to help me, so we all hoped that the miko could help." His voice sounded hopeful with the last statement, making Miroku hate to tell him of Kagome and Inuyasha.
The monk went on to explain that Inuyasha and Kagome seemed to be suffering the same fate. Sango scurried off back to her two ailing friends. The hut was crowded now, and the others left as she stepped inside. The female stranger sat near her husband, holding his hand tightly. She made no sound, but tears fell slowly down her cheeks.
After checking Kagome's fever, Sango again administered the wet cloth. She looked over to Inuyasha, who looked as if he were simply sleeping. His long silver hair was now peppered with black. His claws seemed to be retreating into his nail beds. She hesitantly reached up to lift his upper lip. She gasped and quickly moved her hand back into her lap. 'His fangs.... they are.... gone.'