Kit and Kin
Takeshi Saito was a quiet student who kept his head down in Ravenscrest High School trying to get along. But strange things happen in this small town and the spotlight finds those who would rather hide. So Takeshi finds himself pulled from his happy geek corner to somewhere else, somewhere he is not sure of.
Takeshi walked over in front of his Sousobo, curled his tail under him, sat down on his haunches and said in a voice as calm as he could manage, “I am ready.”
The old woman looked down at the little vixen for a moment, as if measuring something and then nodded, satisfied. She looked over the other family members and said in that commanding voice, “Prepare.”
Takeshi’s eyes widened as the forms of her relatives sort of wavered and straightened, their faces pushing out into muzzles, ears pushing straight up from the top of their heads. They looked completely comfortable in the clothes they were wearing even though it was clear they were all this sort of strange fox – human hybrid with a very expressive face. In a way that was difficult to put into words, they looked like people who just happened to be foxes as well. The also had a different number of tails peeking out from under their yukatas or kimonos, from three to nine. His mother on the other hand was an entirely different matter.
She had a half human half fox form as well, but while his kasa’s family looked an easy mix of the two, this form was much more feral, much more beastial than the rest of the Saitos. She looked more powerful than the rest, with clearer muscle definition and bulk and her form seemed much more geared towards combat based on the way her hands looked claw like. His mother was definitely more a monster than the rest of her relatives and Takeshi’s breath caught in his lungs as for the first time in his life he feared his mother. She was even taller than she had been by at least a foot and a half and looked more than capable of tearing him to shreds with little effort, even with all of his training.
The visible differences between these two forms made something abundantly clear to Takeshi, something that had not really penetrated until that very moment, that Kitsune and werefoxes were not the same thing, not even remotely. They even felt different in addition to looking different. There was some sort of subtle energy that Takeshi could feel that was not the same between his mother and the other Saitos. It kind of reminded him of what he had felt off of that coyote in the woods and that worried him.
Once the rest of the family had transformed into their forms, they began to dance, slowly at first, but with growing speed. It was another somewhat traditional Japanese Temple Dance that was part of training and the reason for that was becoming clear now. They were also chanting in that language he had heard before but he could almost make words out now and it was very frustrating that he was still not able to make out any of the words. It was right there, at the edge of his perception, but just unable to connect. There was power there in both the words and the dance and the air was crackling with it, like the air before a summer storm.
Again Takeshi couldn’t move, held fast by some invisible force far stronger than him. Heat rushed through his body then cold, alternating, along with an electric current that seemed to grow in strength as it tore through his body causing his muscles to convulse. The fur on his body stood up, which felt very strange, almost so it prickled, and made him look very bizarre. The effects of the forces on his body made him start panting and the itching feeling crawled on the inside around the inside of his skin, pushing out. He was sick to his stomach and getting light headed, vertigo threatening to toss his meal everywhere. As the sound of the chanting barking growling yapping caterwauling yowling baying snarling crying shrieking grew discordant Takeshi got groggy, eyes barely able to stay open, and felt like he was trembling, ready to pitch over, though the energy held him fast.
Pain wracked his body again, and something within him contorted, shifting, growing taller, stretching, bones elongating with a surreal sensation of pulling taffy. Longer hair was growing from his head and it felt like more tails were growing from his backside. The feeling was very bizarre and his mind almost rebelled at the imput. His limbs did not feel right, as they were not set like a humans. Colors shifted as his eyes transformed again. He blinked a few times, swallowed heavily to keep from vomiting and then the world settled, solidified into place.
Before a new yukata was draped over his now narrower shoulders, he noted that he had a pair of nearly C cup breasts, with small areolae and nipples. He blinked a few times before it registered. He had breasts. They were covered in a mix of fine red fur on the outside and white fur on the inside but they were still clearly breasts. There was no denying the clearly mammalian shape they had and the way they pushed out the Yukata. Then there was also the continuing absence that had to be noted. None of this indicated that he had returned to his old form in any way or shape. Takeshi sighed in resignation as the silk was draped over him. He slid his arms in, belting it tight while saying, “So, I gather by the way I look that this means that my name is going to be Maeko now?”
His mothers rushed over to him and enveloped him in their arms. In a voice thick with emotion, his kasa said, “You are our daughter now. We will miss our son but we are happy that you are still with us.”
Her mom kissed Maeko on the cheek, which was actually more of a soft lick than anything else, and said sadly in a rougher voice than normal, “Welcome to the sisterhood. This isn’t what we wanted for you but we will do what we can to help you fit in.”
Maeko teared up a little at their words and hugged them back tightly, burying her face in their fur. “Thanks moms. This means a lot to me. I love you, both.”
“We love you too.”
As they hugged, Maeko heard his mom mutter something that confused her, “So that’s what she meant.”
Her great grandmother cleared her throat and said formally, “I welcome to the clan Maeko Saito, three tailed Kitsune. Your release from the bonds of childhood shows that you will indeed become a vixen to be reckoned with in time to come. To come forth with three tails at your age is rare. It is a sign of your family’s power and your personal power. This bodes well for your future. Now sit and listen to the history of your clan so that you might learn the ways of your people.”
The old woman gestured and one of her Uncles walked up, bowed to her and then faced Maeko. Seeing a fox face with glasses on it was a bit strange but Maeko was not going to snicker. That would be unseemly and make her look like an idiot. “Maeko Saito, the history of the Kitsune is ancient one. The Kitsune people are an old people, interacting with kami, kami-sama, fae, oni, spellcasters, drinkers of life, were tribes and humans freely. In Asia we were well known for our trickster ways and our power, having respect in all worlds. Our clan, the Saito, mostly lived in Japan, and is one of the clans who pledged their allegiance to the Goddess Inari, saying that we would not hurt humans, as they are at an unfair advantage against the rest of us. This we have done for a long time, both by watching over them and by teaching humans how to defend themselves in various ways.
Maeko was a bit shocked at that. Were the stories that she had learned as a kid, the legends of Japan, of spirits and heroes and demons and such true? Had this been another way the family had sought to teach without making things too obvious?
Her Uncle continued on. “We have also served mortal people and rulers of the country in our role as Ninja, working to provide protection and intelligence at various levels. The most recent ruler we served in Japan was the Tokagawa Shoganate as well as the Emperor. We still have Clan members in Japan but our branch of the family came to America in 1860 attached to the first Japanese Embassy. Our Clan, having fulfilled their obligation to the Shogun and having felt a calling towards a northern point, left Washington DC in 1865 and came here to Ravenscrest a short time later. We built our homes here and made our lives here, keeping to our ways in private while we blended our lives like the others in town. We made friends with many of the locals, including the McCormicks, with whom we felt a kinship, but that changed at the advent of World War Two.
Cutting her eyes over, Maeko noticed her mother grimaced at the mention of her family of origin. Were they really that bad? What had happened that had driven her mother away from her family? Now Maeko really wanted to know, as there seemed to be even more tied up into the family drama than she had previously thought. It made her parents romance seem much more Romeo and Juliet than Girl Gone Wild, which was actually only a little bit better.
“Much of our family was shipped off to the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming though a few stayed to protect the compound and uphold our charge, as best as they could. Our businesses and homes in town were split up by the McCormicks and the Lockes and we lost a great deal of wealth. But it was the McCormicks who most abused our trust in this, using this to gain more wealth to put them in even stronger footing than they had been amongst the various Were families. They used our friendship as an excuse to buy short and try to cheat us out of our own. Our family has since regained much that we have lost through various means, to the chagrin to the McCormicks as you do not fight ninja, especially Kitsune ninja. It is folly to try. However, we hold our family’s sacred charge here, in Skogshaven and in California and we shall continue to do so as long as our Goddess Inari wishes us to do so.
Maeko blinked her eyes a few times as she tried to process this last bit. Was that really the short form of her family history? They had a job to do, given to them by a Goddess, the Goddess that this shrine was dedicated to? It kind of made her head spin and she was not quite sure how to react. But first things first, “Uhm Uncle, what job is that?”
The grin he returned to her was a touch unnerving and he winked at her before answering. “We serve as a liaison between the Fae courts and the other Unseen, such as Witchs, Weres, Vampires and the like. At times, we also do this between them and humans. Because Kitsune live comfortably in both worlds and we like both humans, the Unseen and the Fae, we are the natural people to talk to each side.”
“We’re diplomats?” asked a confused Maeko.
“Kind of. That is one way of looking at our job but we do more than just that. We also try to protect people from any of the Fae that decide that the mortals look like easy prey, which can include the Unseen. That part is more difficult, but we Kitsune are powerful, never doubt that.”
Maeko looked at the faces of the adults as if trying to find an answer there and then blinked a few times. She finally just said, “Okay. So kind of like the UN then. Right. Well… outside of the fairytales, what can Kitsune do?”
The adults laughed, clearly amused by this question. His Aunt Chiharu decided to answer that one, saying, “Well, we can naturally turn invisible, reduce our weight, and become incorporeal. We all have a degree of shapeshifting ability, though it varies as to how much you actually have. Some can only change minor things about themselves while others can completely alter their form. And we can all do magic.”
“Magic?” Maeko was clearly incredulous.
“Yes. It is closer to Fae magic than Witches magic to be sure, but it is magic none the less.”
“Wait… what? I don’t get that. Magic is magic right? There’s a difference?”
“Yes Maeko, there is.” replied Chiharu. “There is always a cost with magic, but the cost for Witches is a bit graver than the cost for Fae. Since they are mortal and do not have as easy an access to energy as any of the Fae do, their cost is time off their life. If they are willing to pay the cost they can do most anything, so it does not pay to cross them, because a determined witch will cut off a lot of her life just to ensure you pay. But Fae, they cast their magic off their individual source of power. If they cast too much it can drain and they will die but it can also replenish over time. Very powerful Fae who have built up their magical power can cast some very powerful spells that are difficult to counter. With Kitsune, an indication of magical power is number of tails.”
Maeko’s eyes were a bit wide as she took this all in. “Right, so magic is pretty crazy.”
“Very true. It also takes a while to learn. We will start you on simple things like basic warding, light, things like that, some of it will come naturally, some won’t.” She said with a smile, reaching over to pat her shoulder. “I am sure you will do fine.”
“Am I going to meet some of these witches and other Unseen?” asked Maeko, a little bit worried about where some of this could be leading her. It all sounded so overwhelming right now that she kind of wanted to crawl into bed and cry.
His Sousobo shook her head. “No, not yet. That will happen in due time as you take up the sacred charge of the Goddess. However, we have other introductions to make first.”
Maeko shook her head and asked, “To whom?”
She goggled some and replied quietly, “Oh.”
“Remember to be polite.” Her great grandmother teased.
The same Uncle who had opened the small door for her stood and moved to another section of the wall. He undid some latches, waved his hands in a strange pattern a few times and then slid open a different section of wall. Her Sousobo then called out something that did not sound like Japanese at all and it threw Maeko. She called it out a second time and then a third.
The air shimmered like the air above hot asphalt in the summer, wet and almost tangible. Then a man, tall but strongly muscled and dressed for a Rennasaince Faire, with dark black hair and a well groomed goatee and moustache stepped through with a familiar little fairy fluttering next to him. Following behind him was a similarly dressed woman with white blond hair and a gentle smile gracing her lips. The man scanned the room quickly, caught eyes with his Sousobo and spoke with a very deep and warm voice, “Ah, Countess Saito, another of your kin has come of age I see.”
His great grandmother bowed formally and smiled at the man. “Yes your Grace. Allow me to introduce my great granddaughter, Maeko Saito. Maeko, let me introduce his Grace, Duke Corvalis and his lovely wife, Duchess Naethien.”
Maeko was unsure if she should bow or curtsey and so ended up with this awkward mix of the two. The blond Fae laughed lightly, a sound that Maeko was sure she had never heard before, as the laugh was far too light to be regular laughter that humans made. The Duchess commented, saying, “I see she is one of the many in the valley who has changed with their coming of age.”
“Yes your Grace, she is nonetheless adapting fairly well so far. Her mothers were the ones who had the greatest trouble with this change.” commented her Sousobo with a slight chuckle.
The Duchess cut her eyes over to her mothers, who colored under the intense blue eyed gaze that seemed to hold a great deal of humor. “Really now? Your lovely daughter Amane and the fierce Grace McCormick troubled by gaining a daughter? That had to have been a sight to see.”
“We were pleased by our son, your Grace. This change came as a terrible shock.” replied her kasa calmly. Maeko’s mother however seemed to be trembling slightly under the gaze.
The Duchess walked closer to her mother while the little fairy flew over to Maeko. While the Duchess was leaning down and talking softly to her mother, the creature was fluttering in front of her saying, “You’re no longer a fox!”
Maeko frowned, having wanted to listen to what the Duchess was saying, and simply said, “Yes.”
“That’s okay. You look good this way too. You know… your ears still kind of look the same.”
Her mother had stopped shaking and was now smiling softly, tears gathering at the corners of her eyes. Maeko was a bit concerned but this little thing was still in the way and clearly wanted all of her attention. “I’m a pixie.”
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Maeko.”
“I’m Pepper. You’re really pretty.” stated the pixie, embarrassing the teenager.
The Duchess cleared her voice and the pixie started. She then bowed her head and flew over next to her blond haired woman, replying to the unspoken command in a flat tone, “Yes your Grace.”
Shaking his head in obvious amusement at the pixies actions, the Duke chuckled, “So you will be the newest kitsune to attempt to reconnect our two worlds? I would not desire to share in such a task young one as it is quite daunting. While there are some of the Coven who know of us but most in this don’t know of us. Through various mishaps we have become disconnected with the others in the valley and that might prove to be ill. It is only the Well of Orin that we share now and nothing else. Recent actions in the town have worried us and we cannot just let some of these powers move through this valley. That needs to change.”
“Wha… what can I do?” nervously asked Maeko.
The Duchess spoke up, smiling at her in a way that warmed her heart. “Make friends among the other Unseen. There are times coming when the ability to pull together would serve us all well. And when you feel you can trust those friends, let them pierce the glamour and see with clear eyes.”
The Duke nodded and added, “You are not the first Kitsune in this valley to have this task. This is difficult and we acknowledge that. We just ask that you try. So, Maeko, are you willing to try?”
Maeko swallowed heavily as she thought about what was being asked, trying to fix this problem that others had failed to fix, presumably including her haha. What made it likely that she could succeed where the others had not, where her haha had not? She was not any more skilled than them?
But then again, what did she know about all of this? For all she knew conditions might have changed since the others had tried. But how was she going to find these people and when she did, how was she going to make friends with them? She had trouble making friends with the girl she loved now. What the hell chance did she really have with new people?
But then again, could she really say no to this task? It went along with the charge her family was given by Inari only a bit more specific. She really had no choice did she? “Yes your Grace. I am willing to try.”
The Duke grinned broadly, clearly delighted by this answer. “Excellent. We will have Pepper here watch over you and report occasionally on your headway. The Countess will also report on your progress, if you do not mind Lady Saito, so we have a full picture of what is going on.”
“Not at all Duke Corvalis.” Her Sousobo replied in that calm manner of hers. Maeko felt slightly trapped but was aware that there really was nothing that could be done. She smiled and bowed.
“Excellent. Well then, take care. Lady Saito. Maeko. Good Luck!” The two Nobles walked into the shimmering barrier and then vanished.
As the doorway was being closed, Maeko sort blinked as she tried to process everything. This was really heavy. Something light rested on her head and she rolled her eyes upwards, as if they would be able to see what was there. They were not. She asked curiously, “Pepper?”
“Yeah?” came a tiny voice from above.
Maeko didn’t say anything, resigned to having a tiny pixie on her head while she just sort of walked over to her parents who took her into their arms and hugged her. Her haha brushed one hand up and down her back, saying comfortingly, “There, there love, it will all be okay.”
Maeko closed her eyes, unsure how it could ever be okay again.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.