Band of Eight

By Anonymous Laughter

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi.

Chapter One

"Wahoo!" Kagome shrieked when her Grandpa handed her a box with a bow tied around it. It was the day before her tenth birthday and her Grandpa decided she could have her present from him early. When she finally got it open, she gasped in glee. A small puppy bounded out of the box into her arms and started licking his face. It was fluffy with black fur all over, though his tummy, paws and eyes were brown. His upper jaw jutted forward giving it a snarling-bucktoothed, yet happy, face.

Kagome started giggling at the funny looking puppy and then turned to her mother, who was standing proudly by the door. "Can I really keep him?" She asked hopefully.

"Of course you can honey. Just take good care of him."

"What's his name?" Her five-year-old brother, Souta asked with a toothy grin.

"I'll call you Aza."

"Make sure he doesn't chew any furniture." Kagome's mother cautioned.

"You won't do anything bad now will you, Aza?" Kagome asked, kissing the pup on the nose. Aza just barked happily and licked Kagome's cheek.

Kagome spent the rest of the sunny Saturday playing with her brother and new puppy. Though he was a mutt, he seemed very smart and already would growl at offending bugs that got too close to Kagome. That night for dinner the family had a filling meal of nikujaga and Kagome's mother made sure her daughter didn't slip her new pet any tidbits.

Even though her mother told her to make Aza sleep on the floor Kagome curled up with him and fell asleep, excited for the next day as she wondered what her real birthday would be like.

For breakfast Kagome quickly scarfed down her steamed rice and rolled omelet, ready for her friends to arrive so they could start her birthday party. "Kagome just go out and play until your friends arrive okay?"

"Alright mama, come with me Aza!" Kagome lifted the puppy up and dashed outside, heading over to the Sacred Tree.

As they passed the old well shrine Aza began to growl. It was different then the cute bug-growl. His neck fur was bristling and there was urgency in his voice that startled Kagome.

"What is it, boy? Is there someone bad over by the well?"

Aza barked in his most threatening tone and leaped from her arms growling as he ran towards the shrine.

"Wait! Aza! Grampa told me to stay away from there! Come back, Aza!" Kagome shouted as she ran after him. As she entered the Well Shrine she froze at the site of the ten-inch-tall puppy that growled and whined at the well in the center of the shrine.

'I hope there isn't a snake in there,' Kagome thought with a shudder. "Aza. Come with me. It's creepy in here."

Just as she lifted up her pup the top of the well burst open and a HUGE centipede emerged from its depths. "EEe!" The ten-year-old shrieked as the bug woman grabbed at her and pulled her into the well.

"The jewel! Give me the jewel little girl!" The bug-lady yelled threateningly.

"I don't have anything!" Kagome sobbed, fear gripping her heart.

"Then I'll just devour you whole to get it!"

Kagome cried out and tried to struggle away as the woman's fangs glistened closely to her head. Aza bit the nearest arm of the bug-lady, but it didn't seem to faze the woman at all. With a scream a pink light pulsed from Kagome's body and the bug-lady shrieked as her entire top-half dissolved into nothing. Kagome then landed at the bottom of the well with a thud.

"So…scary," Kagome shivered and cuddled Aza, who was quivering with adrenaline as well, "If that was Grampa's idea of keeping me away from the Well Shrine he'll get what's coming to him."

Aza whined and Kagome stuffed him into the front of her shirt, "Come on, Aza. We need to get out of this well and tell Grampa his joke wasn't funny."

Kagome carefully climbed over the lip of the well and nearly fell backwards in shock when she looked around. "How did we get in a forest Aza?" she asked and let the puppy tumble onto the soft green grass. It was the early morning and the forest she was in looked like it came out of a fairy tale book. Kagome looked over at Aza, who was running around, sniffing the grass and chasing away grasshoppers and butterflies.

"I wonder where that bug-lady brought us," Kagome said while she owlishly blinked in the sun, "I better find someone to take us home, Aza."

She lifted the puppy and started in random direction hoping to come across a hiker or park ranger. What she found was something different. After walking for hours and about ready to give up Kagome heard a hissing sort of voice that said, "I will devour you for your defiance!"

A young sounding voice shouted back, "Oh yeah? Well you'll have to catch me first stupid!"

Kagome looked around a tree and gasped when she saw a huge bug-man attacking a boy who was actually fighting back. He hand long black hair tied in a topknot and his eyes were sapphire blue and twinkling in mirth. However it seemed he was loosing. The bug-man was using his huge transparent wings to speed towards him. Kagome couldn't let someone get hurt by a weird bug-creature so she leapt out from her hiding place and shouted, "Leave him alone, ugly!"

The bug-man swiveled his head and a slimy blue tongue licked his lips as he began to drool, "Little girls are much tastier than little boys. I'll devour you instead!"

Aza growled, sleepily from the crook of Kagome's arm but Kagome stood defiantly, hoping the pink light would come and save her like last time. As it reached forwards to grab her she put her free hand up and let out a shout. The pink glow came back and shot forth, blasting the bug into dust.

"Miko," was the only word that escaped his mouth when he died.

Her heart was pounding but she sighed, feeling better. Then she remembered the boy and looked up, "Hey, are you okay? That's the second huge bug I've seen today."

"I didn't need a little girl to help me, I was doing fine myself," The boy said with a huff as he folded his arms over his chest. He was smiling though and Kagome took it as a good sign.

"But I just saved your life! You should be more thankful," Kagome shouted with a twin huff of her own, "What were you going to do run away from it to death?"

"I'm tougher than I look and I could kill you easily, so don't underestimate me!" The boy growled, pulling a concealed sword from his cloths, "I was training. I've never killed a youkai before and I wanted to try it."

"Oh," Kagome said, feeling embarrassed, "I'm sorry I didn't know. Do you know where we are? I'm looking for my home."

"We're in a forest," the boy said, with a smirk, "But there's a road down that way and two villages within walking distance from here."

"But I live in a city," Kagome said, "Can I walk with you until I find Tokyo? I won't be trouble and I can kill any bug things that try to eat us."

"Give me another reason," the boy said with a quirked eyebrow.

"We can keep each other company and watch each other's back in case there's more than one."

"Fine. But you better keep up with me." He said with a grin.

"Thank you!" Kagome said with a beaming smile, "My name's Kagome. What's yours?"

"My what?"

"Your name."

"My name is Bankotsu." The boy said as Kagome followed him through the trees.


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