((LEGAL STUFF: Inuyasha and Co. are property of the sole ownership of the wise, witty, and wonderful Rumiko Takahashi, one of the Greats of manga! I am not making any profit whatsoever except my own enjoyment in writing this. I do not own nor claim any rights to her characters and concepts. However, the original characters in this story belong to me, so please do not copy them or use them without my express permission. Many thanks to the incredible Takahashi for bringing us another Great One!))
The birth of "The White Dog" concepts & notes: November 1999
Story outlined & sketched: March 2000
Officially begun: June 1, 2000
First posted: June 27, 2000
Posted at Fanfiction-dot-net: June 18, 2001 at 26 chapters
Full revision: January 11, 2005 at 32 chapters
The White Dog
by Becky Tailweaver
Chapter 1: The Cave
A youkai dashing about in broad daylight is an unusual sight, even in an age when such creatures pop out of the dark and devour people on a weekly basis. Most average persons in the Warring States Period would drop whatever they were doing and flee in terror at the sight of one, whether it was coming in their direction or not. However, in a small village inside Musashi's Domain, the townsfolk have grown accustomed to such bizarre ocurrances. In fact, something odd seems to come to pass daily there.
That's not to say they still don't stare when it happens.
Most people, when confronted with the sight of a roaring monster chasing after a pretty young maiden, will either run screaming in horror or try to play the hero and save the girl. But here in the village protected by the miko Kaede, the villagers do neither. They stare after the loud, rapidly-moving fracas, then shrug at one another and return to their work. "There they go again."
"No, 'tis nary a problem," one townsperson might explain to a visitor. "In truth, it happens quite often. Don't ye worry about it."
Indeed, having a snarling, white-haired inu-youkai go barreling through the village hot on the trail of a girl in funny clothes on a metal contraption was a common occurrance there, unusual though it looked. The occasional shouts the girl threw over her shoulder--which caused the youkai to trip over nothing and crash to the ground--only added to the bizarre quality of the scene. Despite this, few gave them a second look.
"Get back here, you!" Inuyasha roared for the umpteenth time, undeterred by the four Sits he'd already received. "You are not leaving again!"
"I told you I'll be right back!" Higurashi Kagome shouted over her shoulder, swerving around a tree as she entered the forest. "It'll be three hours! Maybe a little more! I promise!" She pushed aside tree branches as she plowed a new path through the underbrush, many of which struck the hanyou who ran close on her trail.
"Ouch! We have shards to find, wench! Argh! I am not waiting around--ow!--for your pointless free time! If you think you can run off--"
"--anyoof! Oi, stop that!"
Kagome reached the edge of the well, skidding to a stop on her bicycle. Without bothering to carry the bike, she dove for the rim of the well and had just cleared the edge when her descent came to a rapid halt, feeling sharp claws gripping the back of her shirt and wondering how Inuyasha had managed to pry himself off the ground so fast. She was lifted out of the well and turned about in midair until she came face-to-face with the dirt-smeared, angry-looking visage of her inu-hanyou companion.
"Um, could you let go, please?"
"No, I will not let go," Inuyasha growled, "and don't you dare sit me, either, or we'll both go down and I'll end up on top of you when we land. You're going to come back with me and we're going to Hitai Mountain to get that shard."
"Yes, yes, I know," Kagome sighed, rolling her eyes. "I just need to do something first. Hey, can you put my feet on the ground, at least? I promise not to bolt."
Inuyasha grumbled but set her back on her feet. "Let's go, then, wench."
"Excuse me? I just said I need to do something first! Haven't you been listening?" Kagome demanded, stomping her foot. She brought her face close to his and tugged on one of his triangular, white-furred ears. "I thought these did more than just make you look cute." Crap--that didn't come out the way I wanted! She blushed, drawing back. "Uh...I mean..."
Cute? Inuyasha reddened suddenly. "I-I was too listening--"
"Never mind, never mind!" Kagome wanted desperately to change the subject. "Inuyasha," she said quickly, preying on his malleable qualities while he was flustered, "please don't make me say the word. I just need to take some time at my house. I'm doing it for you."
"W-what could be more important to me than a shard?" He was almost imperceptably leaning away from her now, feeling cornered.
"Don't you know what night is coming up?"
The hesitation vanished from the golden, catlike eyes.
Kagome frowned internally. Oops, bad tactical error. Fluster just went bye-bye.
"Of course I do! So you can shut up about it!" Inuyasha snarled.
"Please, let me go for just a couple hours." Kagome tried her best semi-tearful-eyes expression, praying it would work. "I wanted to say goodbye to Mama before I left. I hardly see her any more..."
That did it. Lately the "Mom" thing had been a sure-fire way to get the hanyou to bend. Probably left over from feelings for his own mother. "Well, if it's just for an hour or so...then..."
"Yes!" Kagome hugged him impulsively, earning a surprised "huff!" and a statuelike inu-hanyou standing there dumbfounded as she dove into the well. "Thanks! I'll be back soon!"
"Huh...she even left her metal cart." Inuyasha managed to loosen his tongue from where it was stuck to the roof of his mouth. "She must've been serious about coming back."
Footsteps sounded in the duff behind him. "Methinks you pursue Kagome-sama a little too earnestly to truly hate her." A familiar Buddhist priest with an eye for beautiful girls came up beside Inuyasha. "Perhaps in truth it is...separation anxiety?"
"I am not asking you!" Inuyasha clobbered Miroku reflexively with a single fist to the top of the head. Leaving the unconscious youth on the forest floor, he stomped off to his tree to await Kagome's return.
Cat-slitted dark amber eyes watched the exchange from the safety of some overhanging branches. Gleaming white fangs became visible in a grin among the mottled shadows. "Hmmm...let's see; red kimono, long white hair, distinctive ears, bad temper..." The soft, whispered voice took on a dreamy quality. "...really strong...gorgeous eyes...ahem! Otousama was right--that must be him. Inuyasha-sama...I found you!"
There was a flash of silver from among the branches as the figure vanished into the upper canopy.
Hitai Mountain seemed pretty harmless on the outside. Benign, even. The hike up the side was very pleasant, with birds cheeping and deer grazing calmly on its forested slopes. The peak was rocky, but otherwise it looked like a typical mountain. The only indication that things were not as they seemed was the bright-black aura Kagome saw and the thick stench of demon that Inuyasha picked up.
"If this place didn't feel so evil, I'd want to have a picnic here," Kagome commented as she hid her bike in the woods outside the entrance cave. She hitched her bow and quiver up against her shoulders where they would be the most comfortable for her.
"It is quite beautiful," Sango commented, scanning the surrounding trees, her companion Kirara on her shoulder.
"But beauty often hides great evil underneath," Miroku observed, watching Inuyasha sniff warily at the entrance of the cave. Both priest and demon-huntress secured their weapons and prepared themselves.
Kagome came alongside Inuyasha as he tested the air within the great opening. He gave an odd, doglike snort and shook his head, his expression both angry and pensive. "Something wrong?" she asked him softly, concerned.
"I don't like what I think I'm smelling," the hanyou replied absently, golden eyes staring fixedly into the darkness. "It doesn't bode well."
"I don't smell anything wrong," Shippo said with a shrug. "Just smells like cave and critters. And whatever youkai's hiding in there."
Kirara chirred an agreement. Kagome knew better than to doubt Inuyasha's acute senses, but they'd faced great dangers for the shards before. "We'll be careful," she assured him, then nodded to the others and led the way in.
Inuyasha hung back for a moment, then shivered and hurried to catch up to Kagome. The girl from the future was proudly displaying the bright flashlight she had brought for just this occasion, flashing its cheerful beam across the damp, dark stone. Inuyasha just snorted at the use of such "toys" and continued on.
The tunnel into the mountain was so broad and easy that the small party began to feel more confident. There were no pits, traps, or monsters, so the procession continued without a hitch.
Until they came to a fork in the tunnel.
"Great. Just great," Inuyasha grumbled, dropping to all fours to carefully inspect the scent trails on both paths. "No one's been by here very recently, but both have been well-traveled by youkai."
"One goes up, the other goes down," Miroku said, pointing towards the ascending tunnel on the right. "Which way would a youkai hide?"
"Could be either way, depending on what kind he is," Sango informed them. "Kagome-chan, do you sense anything?"
Kagome closed her eyes and concentrated, but no particular concentration of evil called her. The shard simply seemed to be forward. She could not discern which direction. "No. I can't tell where it is."
Inuyasha rolled his eyes. "Fine. Let's split up. Miroku, you Sango, Kirara, and Shippo go right. Kagome and I will go left."
"B-but why do I have to go with them?" Shippo whined, suddenly nervous.
"You have youkai-sight, you little moron, and with Kagome's magic lamp you can help them better," Inuyasha growled. "I can see fine without that thing."
Kagome gaped at him. "Now wait a second--I'm not going off without my flashlight--!"
Inuyasha's furious scowl cut her off. "They need it more. Stop worrying; I'll guide you."
Reluctantly, Kagome relinquished her flashlight to Sango and showed her how to work it. Shippo complained once more about having to go with the humans, but a few thumps from Inuyasha convinced him it was safer with them. Kirara offered him a small purr of consolation, but he continued to pout.
With an agreement to turn back if they came to another fork or dead end, the party split into two and began their journeys.
Miroku's group had an easy time of it. The tunnel continued broad and unbroken, on an easy incline that curved gradually, as if they were on a gigantic spiral staircase within the mountain. No one complained--except Sango, who whacked Miroku every time he tried to feel her up in the dark. Since Kirara was in her larger form taking point, Shippo rode on Sango's shoulders and warned her when the monk's hands strayed too close. Other than that, they encountered no problems.
Meanwhile, Kagome and Inuyasha began to regret their choice. The tunnel narrowed and steepened, becoming winding and treacherous. Footing was unsure and even Inuyasha slowed his pace.
"Are you sure you can see?" Kagome asked softly, feeling stifled by the darkness. Utterly blind in the pitch blackness, Kagome had to trust in Inuyasha's supernatural sight to lead her through. "I mean, even the best eyes need light, and I'm sure we're way too deep to--"
"There's some kind of glowing moss on the rocks," said Inuyasha's voice out of the darkness. "It's very dim, but it's enough. You can't see it?"
"I can't see anything," Kagome whispered, feeling her way along the walls.
"Great." Inuyasha could see her well enough in the dim, faintly blue luminescence of the lichens. Her eyes were wide and dilated but did not focus on him, and she was feeling about blindly along the walls, completely helpless. Only his eyes were sensitive enough to make use of the faint light.
The tunnel was filled with rocky protrusions that Kagome would hit her head on, trip over, or bump into if Inuyasha didn't warn her about them. She moved slowly along, feeling about, waiting for his sharp voice to bark out instructions or warnings.
She was quite suprised to feel his hand take hers and pull her off the wall, leading her along the safest path. She could move a bit faster that way, trusting in his eyes.
"This is too slow," he said. Unable to see him, she couldn't read his expression and could only hear the rustle of cloth as he moved closer to her. He placed her hand on his shoulder. "Climb on," he instructed. "And keep your head down."
Obediently, she climbed aboard like she normally did, with her legs around his waist and her hands clinging to his shoulders, head resting on his back. He dropped to all fours and began a steady trot. It was somewhat rougher than usual. Although he could move about easily on four limbs--because of his inu-youkai heritage, his arms and spine were slightly longer and his legs slightly shorter than an average human's--his legs were still longer than his arms and made his center of gravity more difficult to maintain while traveling on a downward incline, especially with the added weight of a passenger. It was a rough ride anyway, because of the necessity of twisting and turning through the difficult tunnel, dodging stalacmites and jumping small chasms.
They seemed to have been traveling for hours, the continuous darkness and silence making time seem to drag on. Kagome became aware of an increasing tension in her companion, especially as close to him as she was. She wasn't sure if it was proximity to her that was causing it, or if something was wrong, but she didn't want to interrupt his concentration to ask him about it.
Inuyasha abruptly slid to a halt, skidding in the dust, and Kagome could feel his focused listening. There were tiny muscles that traveled from his skull to his neck and shoulders, and she could feel them twitch and flutter as his ears flicked about and his head tilted slightly. She could hear him scenting, the light, puffing breaths he took when sampling the air, his ribs expanding in short spurts. His muscles quivered beneath her. Everything about him broadcasted nervous alertness, and she wondered what on Earth could put him into that state. It took a hell of a lot to spook him.
Her voice made him start. "What's wrong?" she whispered.
He snorted faintly, but it was as if to clear a bad smell from his nose, not his usual disdainful huff. "Nothing. Be quiet," he growled.
Rebuffed, she settled her head back on his shoulder as he continued on, more cautiously this time. A growing dread filled her as she tried to imagine what might await them, things that he could hear and smell and see and she could not. Things that were faceless and silent in the darkness, things she would not detect until they were upon her...
Undetermined minutes later, Inuyasha stopped again...and this time, Kagome could hear it.
Faint, distant, echoing. Rustling, squeaking, scratching. Whispering sounds. Intense, though far away, as if there were many of...whatever it was. Kagome felt chills fill her, and she shuddered. "What is that?" she whispered, barely mouthing the words though she knew he could hear her.
"Rats," Inuyasha replied, his voice tight, almost choked. "Thousands of them."
"Rats...?" Though the sound was faint, it seemed to grow more and more intense in her ears, as though her mind were magnifying it. If the sound was thus to her, what was it doing to poor Inuyasha's ultra-sensitive ears? No wonder he was on-edge. The sound was pervaisive and mind-numbing, even frightening.
"And the light," Inuyasha said softly. "The moss is getting dimmer as we go. It's difficult to see...even for me."
Another thrill of fear went through her. What could they do in this black pit, if Inuyasha became as blind as she? They could be lost down here, or worse, set upon by the youkai that inhabited the caves. A sudden thought struck her. "Inuyasha...are they...youkai rats?"
"I don't think so. I hope not." He scented again. "They don't smell like it. There's no youkai-stink here, just rat. It's so thick I can't smell anything else here but you."
"Let's go back. Maybe we can wait until I get more flashlights, or--"
"I'm not turning back now," Inuyasha said, his voice strange and rough. "I'm not running away from a pack of lousy rats!"
He plunged forward, ignoring Kagome's startled cry, loping through the growing darkness at almost top speed. He disregarded Kagome's frightened pleas for him to slow down, continuing his headlong dash, sometimes missing stone protrusions by mere millimeters. It grew darker and darker until he could barely see his forelimbs beating the ground beneath him, but the pressing urgency that had gripped him would not let go.
There was almost no warning when the ground dropped out from beneath him. He uttered an embarassingly frightened canine yelp when the floor seemed to open up beneath his feet; he couldn't jump, he couldn't stop--and then they were falling into blackness. Kagome cried out as well, realizing what had happened, gripping Inuyasha ever tighter.
Nothing prepared them for the plunge into dark water that awaited them at the bottom. Both were bruised by the impact, inhaling water unintentionally. Inuyasha instinctively paddled for the surface, Kagome still locked to him in a death-grip. He gasped and choked when he broke free of the water, automatically reaching for Kagome and making sure her face was clear and that she was breathing. She clung to him, coughing, attempting to tread water at the same time.
"Swim, girl," he coughed. "Quit dragging me down."
"I can see you!"
He looked at her, seeing her staring straight back, and realized how much brighter it was in this cavern. However, that didn't matter as much as finding some ground did, so after glancing briefly about, he settled on a direction and started swimming--instinctive dog-paddle, of course--toward a spur of shore. Gasping, he finally touched bottom, and dragged Kagome with him towards the dry land. Once they climbed out to the rock, dripping and coughing, they were able to get their breath back--and realize their situation.
The chittering, rustling, scraping noise was all around them. Loud, echoing in the cavern. Intense enough to make them flinch. And with the brighter light, they could see them all around.
Kagome crowded up against him, gasping in fright. "The rats--they're everywhere!"
"Urk." Oh...shit... Inuyasha stood rigid as a great tree, staring about at the thousands of tiny red eyes that darted and dodged about. The giant cavern's floor and walls seemed alive with small, black, crawling shapes. The sounds of so many rats pressed in on his ears, flattening them to his head, and the sour scent smothered him. There was nowhere to go; the lake stretched on into the darkness ahead and only twenty feet of shore stretched between the water and the wall. Oh no, oh no...which way?
A rat shrieked behind him, making him jump away. When he turned, he saw Kagome finishing a kick that sent an adventurous rodent sailing back to his fellows. "It was getting too close, so I--" She leaned nearer to him. "Inuyasha, are you okay?"
Kagome was instantly concerned. His ears were pinned down, flattened against his head in a way she'd never seen. She could tell even in the dim light that he was trembling, and his breath came in tight gasps. His eyes were wide and wild, darting about--like those of a frightened, cornered animal. "Inuyasha...?"
His wild eyes focused on her, and he seemed to gain some control. He swallowed hard, and when he spoke, his voice was creaky, almost weak. "Let's go, Kagome. We've got to get out of here." Taking her hand, he led her quickly down the shore, near the water where the rats seemed to remain the thinnest.
"Inuyasha...are you...afraid of these rats?" Kagome asked breathlessly, incredulously, as she was dragged along behind him. Disbelieving, because it was just seemed so impossible for him to be afraid of anything...
"Shut up and look for a way out," he said, his voice equally breathless, but for a different reason.
"How about that tunnel right there?"
Inuyasha paused, glancing to where she was pointing--a place he hadn't even looked at, not with all the rodents swarming there. Beyond the rats, halfway up the wall, was a small tunnel that seemed just large enough to walk through. But the vermin were thick everywhere he looked, and he couldn't see any clear way to reach it.
To even get close to it, they'd have to plow through a dozen paces of rodents, to say nothing of climbing the wall. Oh no...oh shit...oh no...
"I-Inuyasha, what's that those rats are eating?" Kagome asked, taking his attention from the tunnel.
Inuyasha again followed her pointed finger; not twenty feet from them, a pack of large rats gnawed on what was obviously a humanoid rib cage, not too freshly dead--but recently-slain enough to have some flesh left on it. Feeling queasy, an unfamiliar sensation to him, he shrugged. "I dunno," he lied, seeing no reason to alarm her with the fact that it might have been a man. "Some poor animal that fell down here and starved to death, maybe. Let's go." Don't lose it in front of her... He took a deep breath, and, steeling himself, stepped forward into the rats. Hold steady...this is nothing like before...
Indignant vermin squealed as tails or limbs were trod upon, even though they tried to step carefully. Wriggling bodies pressed around their ankles, and rats hissed and growled at them as they passed. Inuyasha's innards churned, fearing rat bites on his bare feet. What if one of the rodents was rabid? He didn't want to imagine what a maddened, foaming hanyou might do to Kagome and the others, so he forced himself not to think about it.
He was shaking so hard he was sure Kagome could see it, but she said nothing. He was certain the rats were going to swarm up and attack him at any moment. His own mind tortured him with feverish, half-twisted old nightmares. His ears twitched with remembered pain.
They reached the wall after what seemed an unbearable eternity. His muscles hurt from being taut and trembling so long, but he couldn't make them stop.
Kagome slid onto his back so that he could carry her quickly to the tunnel above, and as she did she could feel that the tension and quivering in his body was even more pronounced than before. What was making him so uncharacteristically nervous? Was there somthing in here he wasn't telling her about? Something that could frighten him?
Abruptly, halfway up to the tunnel, Kagome sensed something dark and putrid approaching. She whipped her head around to stare down the lakeshore--spotting three pairs of big red eyes in the dimness.
They were much too large to be rats.
"I smell them," he whispered, voice tight. Just what I need. The Rodent Squad from Hell. "Shut up and hang on. If we keep going maybe they won't spot us." Please, oh please, don't let them see us... The fluttering in his abdomen was growing worse every moment, as the stench of the rats pressed down on him.
Kagome frowned. Inuyasha not wanting to stand and fight? That was almost unheard of! And there was the added problem of Inuyasha's youki--he stood out like a beacon in both aura and scent, especially to other youkai. Creatures like those who bore those crimson eyes below.
The red-eyed things were closer now, and Kagome gasped as she realized that they were rats as well; two of them--a pair of big, ugly, black youkai rats with jaws like crocodiles and tails like braided whips, and three eyes apiece. The largest, in the lead, stopped on the lakeshore a hundred yards away, the second pausing behind it.
It was looking directly at her.
Kagome later swore that the thing grinned at her. It uttered rapid chuffing, squeaking growls that echoed sharply within the cavern. Inuyasha froze beneath her, trembling.
The din of the normal rats ceased, and they stood at attention to the youkai rats like a million tiny soldiers. They appeared to be receiving instructions and, after a moment, turned to focus on the pair climbing the wall. The deathly silence, after the unending racket of rat-noise earlier, was as heavy as a gravestone.
Suddenly, like a furry tide, the rats charged.
"Oh, shit!" she heard Inuyasha exclaim--but his voice wasn't angry, it was something else. Their climbing pace became much faster, stealth and caution thrown to the wind in favor of sheer speed. She held on for dear life as Inuyasha took the vertical stone in wild leaps, barely catching himself each time, his desperation evident in his ragged breaths.
They reached the tunnel only seconds before the rats did, sprinting down into the dimness. They were back in the darkness again, but this time it was just bright enough for Kagome to make out Inuyasha as a white-haired ghost running before her, pulling ahead.
The rats flowed down the tunnel behind them like a hairy, overflowing river.
It was too dark, and Inuyasha wasn't helping her. She tripped several times over unseen obstacles in the twisting course, barely managing to catch herself each time. But probability won out at last and she sprawled to the ground, badly scraping her hands, knees, and chin.
Inuyasha was brought up short by the sound of her cry, and whirled to spot her predicament. On instinct alone, he leaped over her, placing himself between her and the oncoming rats. The Tetsusaiga was out but not transformed--it wouldn't work against normal rats--and he didn't know what he was going to do. This wasn't one enemy--it was a thousand! For every dozen he killed--whether the Fang worked or not--a a hundred more would swarm forth.
Behind him, Kagome tried valiantly to pull herself to her feet, gasping at the pain of her cuts and scrapes. The smell of her blood burned in his nostrils, terrifying and infuritating him.
The rats...they're coming--don't lose it, don't lose it... He glanced at the inert sword in his hands. Change, damn you, change! he thought at the weapon, his thoughts red with anger and dismay. How can I protect her when you won't help me? "Run, Kagome! Keep running!" Shit...the rats...
Her footsteps skittered away behind him, and after a heartbeat he whirled to follow her, the useless sword clutched in his hand, propelled along by an emotion that seldom took a place in his mind.
Cold, unreasoning fear.
Then the putrid aura of the youkai-rats reached his senses. He looked back into the hundreds of glowing, beady eyes advancing on him and realized that they were, in a way, demonic, connected to the youkai-rats as they were. If we come to a dead end or run out of strength, they're going to eat us alive--unless Tetsusaiga awakes! Damn it--Kagome, I don't want it to happen to you...not like it happened to me--I have to protect her--!
Abruptly, the Tetsusaiga hummed and throbbed, growing in a flash from a rusty twig into a massive blade that gleamed like a living fang. Spurred by sudden wild hope, Inuyasha spun about and swiped at the leading rats nipping at his heels, the pitifully weak trace of youki creating only a faint, splattering Kaze no Kizu. But it scattered dozens of the little bodies in pieces and cut gashes in the floor of the cave.
Yes! Inuyasha drew back the Tetsusaiga and brought it down with all his strength across the walls and ceiling. There was no Windscar against solid rock, but the blade itself--forged from the fang of a mighty taiyoukai--could bite through steel or stone with ease.
Again and again he struck, cracking the walls, crumbling the flesh of the mountain itself; the rats, sensing the danger of imminent cave-in, fought their demon masters and slowed their pace, seeking to abandon this sinking subterranian ship. Desperate, Inuyasha continued to slash away with the Tetsusaiga, even as he heard but did not register Kagome's voice shouting at him to stop.
A sharp crack overhead alerted him to the final surrender of the ceiling's strength, and he threw himself backward, out of the way of the immense chunks of rock that fell where he had stood. Boulders rained down, crushing rats, sending the herd skittering madly back down the tunnel.
Kagome screamed when a falling stone grazed her--barely hard enough to jar her off balance, but still enough to rip the shoulder from her blouse and scrape her bare skin. Reacting to her cry, Inuyasha instinctively pulled her to him and pressed close to the failing wall.
The tunnel continued to roar down around them, as Inuyasha cursed the terror and short-sightedness that had driven him to cause this. Even as he tried to protect Kagome from the crushing boulders with his own body, something huge and hard and heavy slammed down on him, driving him to the floor. Kagome was motionless beneath him; his head swam at the impact and before he could resist, the thunder of the cave-in faded to nothing as he slipped into unconsciousness.
At the first rumble, Kirara growled softly in worry.
"Whoa, did you feel that?" Shippo whispered into Sango's ear.
"I did," Sango replied, putting one hand out to steady herself as the whole mountain trembled briefly, then stilled. "What does it mean?"
"Inuyasha's probably having all the fun without us, that's what," Shippo groused, and got tapped lightly on the head with Miroku's staff.
"I don't believe he's having fun," the monk informed them gravely. "Tremors such as these usually accompany rockfalls or cave-ins--not necessarily a good thing when one is deep underground."
"Do you think Kagome and Inuyasha got trapped in one of those?" Shippo asked, alarmed.
"It is a distinct possibility, considering the nature of these caves," Miroku replied.
"Let's go back," Sango said, her voice urgent. "We'll take the other tunnel and see if they need help. They're obviously where the action is."
"Hurry," Shippo urged, his kitsune instincts whispering to him, as they turned and started back at a faster pace. "Hurry."