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Fox Tales

The Prophecy

By Dana YostPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 16 min read

There weren't always dragons in the Valley. Then one day without warning, the sky shattered and seemed to unzip in a streak of fire as a great rift tore open the Earth’s material plane, releasing dragons into the world once more. The people of the Taira Valley watched in shock and terror as dragons began pouring through the rift and descended on the nearby mountains and the single small village in the center of the valley. By the time the dragons moved on in all directions to claim their own territories, the village, and all of their crops and thatched roof homes were destroyed in flames. Over half of the village population died in the dragons’ wake. It was a nightmare beyond anything they had ever dreamed.

The dragon who laid claim to the Taira Valley itself was the first to emerge from the rift. It was the largest of the dragons, with blood red scales, gargantuan in size, and devastating in power. It seemed nearly the size of one of the nearby mountains, and came to rest atop the tallest and largest of the mountains overlooking the valley. He was the first to execute a strafing blast of his fiery breath upon the small village. After that, he took his perch to watch as the rest of the dragon horde unleashed their fury on the valley. Finally, when it was all over, a deathly quiet fell upon the valley as it continued to burn, and the enormous red dragon had flown away as well. Before he left, he bellowed in a frightening and commanding voice, “Mortals of the valley! I am Hyperion! You are now in MY domain and will live or die at MY pleasure. Your lives as you once knew them are lost and you live to serve me. You will offer me two thirds of all that you reap and gain in wealth, and will follow all my commands. Failure to obey or displeasing me in any way will result in your immediate obliteration. I will be watching!”

The valley itself seemed to weep from its charred scars as a welcome storm cloud developed overhead and the flames began to diminish slowly over the next several days. Over the next 60 years, the surviving villagers rebuilt and delivered their crops and goods to the dragon according to his demands. Amid their grief and fear, they lived impoverished by the oppression of Hyperion, and a few people usually died every year at the whims of his ill temper. Then one day, a young samurai ventured into a wood further beyond the valley that had remained untouched by the dragons’ fire. He sought to hunt and gather wood to help his village. He crept along the forest, stalking a deer with his bow. Moving slowly, he skillfully climbed over a large fallen tree to get a better angle of the opposite side. As he landed his feet and returned to his crouch, he was surprised to find a young maiden lying unconscious on the other side of the log. He quickly forgot about his hunt and stared in awe at the young woman, who looked like nothing he had ever seen before. She had very pale skin and bright red hair, and was clothed in torn and filthy rags. Regaining his composure, he carefully picked up the woman and returned to the village.

The next morning, the young woman awoke inside a half-burned wooden house lying on a straw mat with soot covered blankets and a lumpy headrest shaped like a square block. She arose slowly, holding her pounding head as she tried to focus and understand the strange and unfamiliar scene before her. She stood up and noticed her clothes were stange. She was now dressed in a light brown robe with large rectangular sleeves and a belt of thick fabric around her waist. The robe had a variety of lovely yet simple designs stitched throughout depicting swirls and flowers in a darker brown hue. Gathering her senses, she padded barefoot over to what looked like a sliding wooden door with dirty white paper lining. Cautiously sliding the door open, she peered into the glaring sunlight and was greeted with the sight of charred smoking remains of simple houses and gloomy, smudged faces of silent villagers methodically working to clean up and rebuild the ruins. As she gently stepped outside, the villagers within view stopped what they were doing, turned to her, and all of them gave her a low respectful bow. Surprised by this, she stared for a moment, and then gave a return bow, upon which the villagers raised their heads once more and stared at her quietly and expectantly.

After several awkward minutes of quiet staring, one of the female villagers approached the red-haired woman and brought to her a tray with small bowls of rice and soup and an emaciated fish. The villager set the food on the ground before the mysterious girl and bowed low to this stranger from the forest. The rest of the villagers bowed again as well and stayed in that position until the visitor bowed back again. The village woman then broke the silence and spoke in a quiet voice, “Tabemono wo tabetai desu ka?” The red-haired woman looked at the village lady confused, not understanding the words she spoke. After a few moments, the village lady repeated the words, this time gesturing to the tray of food, and lifting it to offer it to the strange woman. The redhead realized that the villager was trying to ask her if she would like to eat some food, and she gratefully nodded and accepted the tray. Quietly, the red-haired woman returned inside the house with the tray and closed the door, wondering to herself where this place is and how she got here. Pondering all that was happening around her while she ate, she realized to her dismay that she had no memory of anything that had happened to her. She couldn’t even remember her own name, and she became suddenly afraid. After her meal, she laid down with many thoughts swirling around her mind until she fell asleep again.

The red-haired woman looked around in horror as she found herself in the middle of the village ablaze in a raging inferno. Villagers ran around screaming and wailing over dead loved-ones. Her shock from the scene of devastation was instantly transformed to terror as she looked up and saw an immense shadow gliding rapidly toward the village and a gaping maw opens to release an engulfing wave of fire. The woman turned away in fear, trying to guard her face and closing her eyes. After a moment, she opens her eyes in pitch blackness. A deep ethereal voice begins to laugh, and she is filled with dread. That voice… it’s frightening, yet, somehow familiar…

She turns slowly to see two yellow eyes glaring hungrily at her in the dark. As she tries to focus, she begins to see a shadowy form of a black fox appear, then 9 black tails with red tips and yellow eyes on each. The fox snarls with sinister pleasure as she starts to shiver with fear and timidly says, “Who are you?” The black fox bares his teeth and growls, “I am your death… Feed me fear!” And as he finishes the statement he lunges toward her and his jaws clamp down on her whole. Suddenly she awakens with a start and gasps to catch her breath with her heart pounding. A nightmare, but why was that voice familiar?

Suddenly the sliding wood and paper door opened, and a village woman kneeling at the door bowed to the red-haired woman, and then a male samurai entered. He gave a small bow as he stood before her, and she returned the bow. He spoke to her saying, “Onamae wa nan desu ka?” She looked at him blankly and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” Seeing her confusion, the samurai took a step forward and said, “Watashi wa, Kenji desu.” Pointing to himself, he repeated, “Kenji,” and then pointed at her with a questioning look. Inferring from his gestures and context that he was saying his name, she assumed he was asking what her name is. She shook her head and said, “I don’t know my name.” She lifted her hands in a shrug to indicate she does not know. “I don’t remember.” She said sadly.

The samurai sighed and nodded. He turned to walk out the door, then paused and turned back, signaling her to follow. She arose and walked after him, and the village lady kneeling at the door bowed as she left and closed the door after her. The young samurai led the red-haired woman to small rural path up a nearby hillside. The path wound through a network of charred trees and dead forest, freshly destroyed in the dragon attack. Some small stone sculptures lined the path on occasion, each with new coats of ash and smoky stains, and every few hundred feet there was a tall wooden gate-like structure with two vertical poles, one straight horizontal cross beam overhead, and topped with a larger horizontal cross beam that is curved upward and decorated. The first few gates like this were completely burned along the path. However, as they neared the top of the large hill, the dead forest seemed to open up into a small clearing that was untouched by fire. It was an odd sight, because even the trees beyond it and on all sides were charred and dead, yet this one spot on top of the hill looked as if it were just built yesterday. A small temple with orange and green trim sat at the center of this clearing, and the gate-like structure at the end of the path just leading into the clearing also appeared new and without tarnish or burn.

The samurai pointed ahead and once again indicated for the woman to continue following. He proceeded into the clearing toward the temple and the woman followed quietly. As they neared the temple, the samurai pointed ahead again, this time to another woman. She appeared to be an older woman, dressed in a kind of pants that flared out so much that each leg seemed to be covered in its own skirt. The pants tied around her waist and were bright orange. Her top was pure white and appeared robe-like, but was tucked into the pants, and had the same long rectangular sleeves that she has seen almost everyone in the village wearing so far. She also wore a small decorative headdress with beads, fabric, and flowers. The samurai gestured toward the older woman and said, “Miko.” He proceeded toward the woman.

As he approached, the older woman bowed to him. He stopped in front of her and bowed back, and the red-haired woman followed suit. The samurai and the older woman spoke to each other for a few minutes, and the red-haired woman did not understand what they were saying. When they finished, they both looked at the stranger found in the forest, and the older woman came to her and gently took her hand and gestured toward the temple and guided her inside. In the center of the temple was a long pedestal upon which sat another gate-like structure, similar to those that were along the hilly path from the village. Off to one side sat a large shallow bowl filled with water. The older woman said something to the samurai, who acknowledged and moved off to the other side of the pedestal, staying toward the front, opposite from the large bowl of water. The older woman guided the redhead to the bowl of water and gestured for her to sit next to it. The older woman then began to chant something and ring a bell and seemed to go into some sort of trance. The water in the bowl began to swirl and the older woman suddenly snapped out of the trance and indicated for the redhead to peer into the bowl of water.

Cautiously, the redhead leaned forward and looked into the bowl. The water rippled a bit and as the surface settled an image of a reflection appeared, and the redhead saw herself as a red-tailed fox. She sat back quickly in surprise and heard a “yip!” slip out of her mouth. Suddenly, she looked down at herself and saw that she had transformed into a real fox! The samurai let out a low gasp of surprise as well, as he watched the situation with growing interest. The fox looked up at the older woman with an expression of worry, and the old woman smiled, and spoke, “Stay calm, I have merely brought forth your natural self.” Startled again, the fox said, “What? I can understand you now? Wait… I can still speak? Why am I a fox?!” The older woman replied, “You are a fox normally, and not just any fox, you are a young celestial fox. Celestial foxes grow up to 9 tails as they develop in age and abilities, and they grow much larger as they gain tails. For now, it seems you have only learned one of your celestial abilities, which is the ability to transform to a human form and back to a fox form at will. When you are in human form, you can walk amongst humans freely and humans can understand you, if you speak their language. When you are in fox form, you can speak to foxes and other animals and creatures, but humans, for the most part, will not be able to understand you.”

“Then, how can you understand me?” Asked the fox. “I am a fox now and before I couldn’t even speak your language.”

“I am a Miko,” said the older woman. “That means I am the spiritual caretaker of this temple and have insights into the celestial realm. My connection with the celestial realm allows me to have greater understanding of celestial creatures and gives me the ability to talk to them in their natural form, regardless of what languages we each speak.”

The fox paused for a moment to consider what she is hearing and feeling. Then she asked, “Why can’t I remember my own name or where I am from? Do you know who I am?”

The Miko gave a small sigh and said, “Normally the ritual to draw out one’s true self includes the identity and memories of the individual, but yours did not come out with your form. It seems your memories are not naturally dormant, but are being magically suppressed by a very powerful spell. I do not have the ability to break the spell or see into your memories, so I cannot help you learn who you are or where you are from. All I can tell you is that, as a young celestial fox, you likely came from the celestial court of the great Taiyo Shogun, Ho Kahn Ra, the golden sun fox who has ruled over celestial foxes for many millennia. However, not much is known about the celestial foxes and their culture. It does seem unusual, though, that such a young celestial fox would be found among humans. Celestial foxes haven’t been seen among humans for thousands of years, and when they were among humans, they were usually already very powerful with 8 or 9 tails. You only have one tail still. Plus, it seems to be an odd coincidence that your arrival coincides with the return of dragons to the world, which also haven’t been seen for many millennia. The implications of these events are deeply concerning, and I suspect something may have gone wrong in the celestial court. Whatever your role is in all of this, I am not sure, but I have a feeling you may be the key to setting things right. There is a prophecy I once heard as a child, it is not well known, but somehow I sense it may be relevant now. It goes:

‘When shrouding darkness

And burning light

Oppress the weak

And glorify fright

Vulpine spirits of

Red and white

Awaken the silver

Queen of Night

And all that is wrong

Will be made right’

“While the meaning of this prophecy may not be clear at first, I believe you will understand its meaning in time, over the course of your journey.”

“Journey?” The fox said, tilting her head curiously. “What journey?”

“The journey to discover your true identity and find a way to free the world again from the terror of evil dragons. The prophecy speaks of ‘vulpine spirits of red and white,’ and I believe you are the red spirit. You must find the white spirit, and together awaken the Queen of Night.” Replied the Miko.

“Who is the Queen of Night? And how do I know where to look for the white vulpine spirit?” Asked the fox.

“I do not know.” Said the Miko. “That is something you will have to figure out. If I can offer any guidance on your quest, I will, but I’m afraid we need more information to solve this puzzle. In the meantime, I offer a word of warning.

“Whatever resulted in the release of dragons into the world could very well have been intentional. Who or what is behind this cataclysm is unknown, but be wary. If there is an evil intent behind it, they will surely try to stop you from opposing their plans, and your journey to discover who you are may be fraught with danger. Perhaps that is why your memory was erased. Or perhaps, it could be the force of evil behind this plot that suppressed your memories. Either way, it could mean that someone does not want you to remember your past, and therefore might try to stop you from learning the truth. So, keep a sharp eye wherever you go, and be careful who you trust.”

The Miko then turned aside and pulled something from a nearby shelf. “Here,” she said, “take this.” She carefully placed a golden necklace with symbols engraved on an amulet around the fox’s neck. She added, “These symbols, 九尾 (kyuubi), mean ‘9 tails.’ An ancient celestial fox enchanted it long ago with one of the celestial fox abilities. It allows the wearer to teleport to a specific location to which the item has been magically tethered. It can work from anywhere in the world, but be careful, because it can only be used once, and then the enchantment is gone. This amulet is tethered to this Torii gate.” She said as she gestured to the gate-like structure on the pedestal. This gate can also send people to other places, but I cannot control where it sends them. The amulet will bring you back here one time from anywhere.”

Processing her newfound knowledge, the red fox gathered up her determination and decided, “Okay, I’ll try to figure this out. I want to know who I am at least, and if I can help stop evil dragons from terrorizing people, I will. But, wait… How do I get back to human form? Or should I stay as a fox? It’s nice to be able to understand people now.”

The Miko chuckled, “It may cause more distress for people to be talking to a fox, and besides, they can’t understand you normally in fox form, remember? So, I recommend using your human form around humans and just try to learn the language. It will come to you quickly. Foxes are known for being quite intelligent and cunning. All you have to do is focus on the form you want and decide to become that, and it will happen for you.”

The fox nodded, then she closed her eyes and focused as hard as she could, and after a few seconds, she was a beautiful young red-haired woman again.

Suddenly, the temple wood and paper sliding door broke open as a giant bestial creature burst through it, roaring, “You!” Pointing at the red-haired woman with a blue hand and long, clawed fingers. “Lord Hotin has been looking for you! You’re coming with me!” With huge strides he lumbers forward, breaking furniture and a few ceiling beams as he went, reaching toward the redhead.

The Miko shouted, “Oni!” And grabbing the red-haired woman, she thrust her toward the Torii gate and began chanting quickly. The opening in the gate frame began to glow and pulse with multicolored light. As soon as she finished her chant, she looked at the redhead and pointed to the light in the gate and shouted, “Hayaku, ike!” It didn’t take much for the redhead to realize she was telling her to ‘go quickly.’ She gave a brief glance of fear and gratitude, and jumped through the gate.

The red-haired woman fell to her knees as she exited the portal, disoriented from the magical trip. She tumbled forward as she landed on hard cobblestone and bumped into the legs of a man wearing metal armor on his legs and feet. As she looked up, she saw it was a man who was also wearing metal armor on his chest, arms, and head, with a large sword sheathed to one side and a large metal shield on his left arm. The man reached down to help her to her feet and said, “My lady, are you alright?”

Surprised at the sight of this man she accepts his help up in silence and simply nods. He looks inquisitively at her, and then at the flickering ethereal light from which she fell which appears to be fading. Just as she was about to speak, she again heard the roar of the giant monster she left behind and turned to see him charging through the portal after her. She gasped in fear, and the man in armor firmly but gently pulls her behind himself and draws his sword, taking a protective stance and preparing to fight whatever this evil may be.

To be continued…

Fantasy

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Dana Yost

Life is an adventure and it is what you make of it, so make it good!

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    Dana YostWritten by Dana Yost

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