Kitsune Chapter One: Part 1
The boar was covered in coarse black hair. The giant yellow tusks curved around his snout as he pawed at the ground. The young man stood transfixed in place, staring down the eyes of the beast. Rin watched him, wondering what he would do. From the trembling of his hands, he did not seem to be the type who could defend himself very well. His clothes were tattered and dirt stained but finely made. He must be someone important in the human world. I wonder why he came into this forest.
She did not meddle in human affairs as a matter of principle. They lived such brief uninteresting lives she could not be bothered by them. Then as she stared at the young man, he turned slowly to face her. His dark eyes looked at her and saw her not as a fox, as he should, but as a woman. She could see the spark of recognition, and the confusion, overlaid by his fear. The boar charged and the young man looked for his sword, just out of reach in a bush nearby. Not that it would have mattered either way—no human blade could kill that beast. She should not have cared what happened to him. But as if controlled by some outside force, she pushed the young man out of the way of the churning hooves of the monstrous boar.
The boar roared as he passed, the sheer weight of his body propelling him forward and crashing through the brush. It was a large clumsy beast. It collided with a tree twice as thick as Rin and snapped it in half. It tossed its massive head and focused gleaming yellow eyes on the pair of them. Now I’ve done it. Akio will have my head for interfering. She looked down at the young man as she straddled his waist and he stared up at her in a daze. His eyes glazed over her face and came to rest upon the pair of fox ears on top of her head. No doubt about it now, he knows what I am.
He opened and closed his mouth like a fish out of water. It was rather amusing. She grinned as she jumped off of him.
“We should get out of here; those trees will not hold him back for long.” She jutted a thumb towards the trees that shielded them from the boar’s wrath. The boar tore at bark with his tusks, grunting and snorting as he dug chunks of earth out of the ground. The space in between the branches was too narrow to allow for his massive body to pass. But judging from the growing pile of splinters, they would not remain an obstacle for much longer.
A wild animalistic panic threatened to overcome her. It screamed at her to transform into a fox and hide in the underbrush. She smothered the impulse; for some strange reason she felt she had to help this young man. If Akio wants him this bad, then I cannot let him have this man.
The young lord climbed to his feet, his hands shaking. His open mouth gaped at her ears; then slowly his gaze traveled downward to her foxtail, which she swished back and forth behind her. The boar roared again and the young man tore his gaze away from her and stared terrified back at the beast trying very hard to come and tear them apart.
“Run, my lady, I will defend you,” the human said. He reached for a sword that was not there. So instead he put up his arms to shield her from the boar.
She laughed. She did not mean to, but he had all but wet himself out of fear. How could he hope to protect her when she had to save him first?
“You cannot hope to defeat him,” she replied. “Follow me or die, those are your choices.” She jogged away from the clearing and deeper into the forest, where the undergrowth grew to her thigh and the trees close together. It would be impossible for the boar to follow.
It was foolish to save him, even more foolish to talk to him, but sometimes it was the foolish things that brought the most entertainment.
What I want to know is how he can see me. A human should not be able to see my form without me revealing it to him. Any other Yokai in her position would leave him to the mercy of the boar, but he had piqued her curiosity. He fumbled in the undergrowth as he followed after her, whereas Rin moved about with grace, not so much as bending the grass underfoot. He broke branches and mumbled curses under his breath when his silken robes got caught on a thorny bush and tore a gaping hole. He’ll wake every bloodthirsty Yokai in the forest, stomping around like that. She waited perched on a boulder as he mourned his ruined clothes.
He glanced up to see her watching him, dropped the fabric and continued onward. She flicked her tail and leapt down from the boulder, running ahead, checking to make sure there were no more nasty surprises waiting for them in the shadows. She spread out her senses, searching for other Yokai, and though she sensed others in the forest, none were close by. That’s a relief, at least.
She led him through the twisted pathways through the forest known only to forest inhabitants. She felt the boar waiting on the edges of the forest, where the woods were sparse. He roared again but too far away to be any danger now. He’ll be returning to his master, I suspect. She glanced over her shoulder to check on the young man, and found him bent over gasping for breath. I forget how fragile these humans can be. She waited for him to regain his composure. She wanted to question him further, but she had broken enough laws just by saving him. She dared not incriminate herself further, not in Akio’s realm. She looked away from him lest he catch her staring and take it upon himself to ask his own questions. She had seen the sidelong looks he gave her, and she knew he had questions of his own.
When he stood upright once more, she said, “Keep going this way and you’ll be outside the forest.” She pointed to a narrow animal track that twisted around the trees and led out onto a human road. He looked up at her, then past her to the path. When his eyes were off her, she cloaked herself. When he looked up again, he would see the forest behind her.
“Thank—” he started to say. He swiveled his head back and forth. He scratched his head as his eyes skimmed over her, unseeing. She could see the question in his eyes, wondering what she was, just as she was wondering why he could see her. After a few moments, he shrugged and turned to walk away. She watched him amble down the pathway she had indicated. He took a few steps before stopping to check for her over his shoulder. A part of her wanted to chase after him, but she knew no good could come of that. They lived in separate worlds. How he could see her would remain a mystery. After searching for her to no avail, he continued on the path and disappeared around the bend. She waited until he was out of sight before heading back into the forest.
Part 2 coming soon!