Guest: A Fox’s Memoir

She should have listened. She should have taken the warnings to heart.

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A woman sits lazily in a pile of pillows that envelop her body, her clothes draped around her as if they can barely grasp her figure. She is preoccupied; lost in thought, she tries and fails to remember her given name. For so long she has been called dangerous, full of madness, she took the word itself as her name: Kyouki.

It wasn’t always like this. Oh, how glorious the days when her sisters would tussle and play under the willow tree. How she longed for the soft steps of her grandmother on the bamboo floors. Her heart ached to hear her mother’s soothing yet firm voice chiding and warning, yearned for the fights with her cousins over silly things.

Fate is a cruel mistress.

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She should have listened. She should have taken the warnings to heart. See him no more, her mother scolded, his presence raises my hackles. Clearly her mother knew nothing of love! She was just jealous; embittered by her own betrayal in her youth. Hikari (was that my name? I don’t know) knew she had never felt this way before; her mother didn’t understand. In secret she would sneak out to meet him. Baring herself to him, they had a moment indescribable.

But this night he… smelled different. Was that…?

Ha, of course not! No, of course not…

Once again, she bared herself to him. Once again, he took delight in her.

But tonight, was it her imagination? He seemed stiff, his movements too careful, his eyes too dark. She reached up to cradle his face; he flinched. A question passes on her face. He pulls away for a moment then

suddenly a searing pain across her chest. She only moved by instinct, triggered by his answer – cold, brutal eyes looked back at her.

Izanami (was that my name? I don’t remember) didn’t understand, only her body knew something was wrong.

Smoke?

She glanced to the west – was it almost dawn?¬†No, the sun rises in the east…

She stumbles, then realizes she has an ugly gash. The scent of blood fills her nostrils and panic begins to grip her.

Then a blur from him. He actually means to kill me?

Terror strikes her before he. As she throws up her arms in defense, her spirit releases her well of magic all at once: an explosion of fire erupts from her as hot as the passion she once had for him. Her sundered love turns him to ash at once. She doesn’t see him leave by the wind.

She doesn’t notice that her body moves seemingly on its own. All she wants is to be at home. She wants her mother, her grandmother. She wants her bed, her pillows. She wants this nightmare behind her. She barely notices when she crumples to the ground.

Smoke?

Screaming catches her attention. She looks up; she stands in front of the courtyard of her home. Someone has set the house on fire. She sees her sisters torn to shreds on the ground before her, the pool under the willow crimson with their blood. Her vision is turning black. Another scream; her eyes fall upon two people on the porch. One stands above the other, a flash of light, then red. It registers that her mother too has been slaughtered.

Blackness swallows her.

So long ago…

So long ago, the nightmare seems so distant.

So much pain, so much agony. Kyouki touches the only scar to never have healed properly – the jagged bolt that runs from the middle of her chest across her ribs and down her side.

She turns her attention to the field below her. A group of soldiers has gathered to train. One among them stands out: a brilliant man whose azure scales glint in the sun. His moves are almost like a dangerous dance, a romantic tango of blades. Kyouki knows this one has been gawking at her when he thinks she isn’t looking. Adorable, really.

She wonders how long he can remain stoic in front of her. She wonders if he will notice his missing piece of gear. She wonders.

He notices her watching and bows to her. Honestly, too adorable.

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