Blooming Howls 2014

This is my posting for the fabulous Magaly Guerrero's blog party, Witches in Fiction: Crafting Blooming Howls



Tradition Lies Deeply


“I am telling you Fernando, esa chica es rara.”

“Fernando,” Angela said, “do you want to tell your sister goodbye this time or shall I do it?”

Ana could see the weary look in her father’s face from the crack of her bedroom door. “Natalia, we all know how you feel. Now please go and let us deal with our daughter.”

Ana couldn’t quite hear what her aunt mumbled as she went out the door, but her mother’s disgusted 
“Idiota supersticiosa” and the slam of the door carried quite clearly. She scampered back to her bed, clutching her stuffed fox tightly, knowing her parents would be in to see her soon.

They didn’t appear to be much more pleased with her than they were with her aunt.

“I’m sorry I didn’t behave at dinner,” Ana said quietly.

“Ana, you are a big girl now,” her mother said. “You must know better than all this locura about fairy tales and talking foxes – or at least be old enough to know to hide your baby games!”

“You were rude to your tía, mí hija. Whatever possessed you to say such things?”

Ana looked down at her blanket and said nothing. She didn’t think her parents would appreciate “because she’s mean” as an answer.

When it was clear no answer was forthcoming her father sighed. “You know, if I were rude to an adult like that when I was young my parents would have brought out un cinturón and I wouldn’t sit right for days.”

“Or anything hard, wooden, and nearby” her mother said with a nod.

“I won’t do it again. I promise.”

“I’d tell you have to stay in your room the next week, but you are already in here alone all the time as it is. Why don’t you go out and play more with the other kids?” her mother shouted.

“Angela, por favor,” Fernando said, laying a hand on his exasperated wife’s arm. “No postre, for a week. And no fairy tales. Just school reading or something we pick.”

They walked out of the room, her father only stopping to remind Ana to say her prayers before he turned out the light. Ana could hear that they were still talking. Creeping quietly to the door she opened it a fraction to listen.

“You don’t believe your sister’s tontería about demonios, do you Fernando?”

“Of course not. But you said it yourself. Ana needs to get over thinking she’s in a fairy tale or people will think she’s crazy.”

Ana closed the door and went back to her bed. All the talk of demons made the shadows in the room seem extra ominous. She lay under her blanket, saying every prayer she learned in Catholic school. But it was no use. Ana was sure demons were lying in wait for the bad child who told her aunt that a fox would pluck out her eyes for snooping in her room.

“Yuuki” she whispered.

“I am here Ana-chan.” A three tailed fox leapt onto her bed and curled up beside her.

“There aren’t any demons in here, are there Yuuki?”

“Nothing besides me.”

“You aren’t a demon. You’re nice,” Ana said as she sat up. “I’ll bet you’ve never got in trouble for saying something you shouldn’t have.”

The fox shook its head, “Wrong on all three. I’ve been called a demon many times. I’m most assuredly not nice. And yes, I’ve acted and spoken in haste only to repent later.”

Ana’s skeptical look amused Yuuki. “Alright small one, I suppose I shall have to prove it. Your father said you could not read any fairy tales, but he did not say you could not listen to one. You can judge for yourself afterwards, though the very fact I am telling you a story despite the fact we both know your parents would not approve shows I am not nice. Nice creatures do not help young ones disobey.”

“I had been trapped for many generations at this point, bound to serving one family to its 100th generation. My homeland had begun to change since the arrival of Admiral Perry, but my family weathered the changes well, with my help of course. The age of the samurai had gone, but wealth and status were always in style, and my family kept theirs. The one I served at that time was a lovely, but very spoiled, woman. Her husband had met with an unfortunate hunting accident soon after she bore him a son, but she was not lonely. She often attended social gatherings, reveling in the attention she received as a beautiful, tragic figure. Eventually, the attention began to fade, as other topics became more interesting to the circles she traveled in.

She did not care for calling upon my aid too often, but after my assistance with her husband's final hunting expedition, she became less shy about such things. So one evening she called me, demanding I do more to keep her the center of attention.

‘My lady,’ I said, ‘I already use my powers as a kitsune to enhance your beauty so that you are admired by all men and envied by every woman. You know how these aristocratic groups are. Only the most recent gossip of the moment is of interest.’

Her eyes lit up at my last sentence. ‘Yes, it is so,” she replied. ‘It is also so that the one who knows the best and juiciest gossip never wants for attention.  Kitsune, could you sneak into the houses of some people and bring me back whatever news you found interesting?’

Of course I could. It was possibly the easiest thing I had ever been asked by a member of that family. So for a week I crept in and out of the finest and most noble households of that district, reporting every salacious deed I saw. She clapped her hands with delight at all I told her and at the next gatherings she attended, my lady sprinkled the stories onto very attentive ears.

Inevitably, the remarkable accuracy of her tales was soon noted. In my travels I observed that several of the individuals I had reported back on were attempting to send spies of their own into my lady’s household, to see how she came by her knowledge. I advised her it would be wisest to discontinue our activities for a time, at least to allow me to deal with the other spies, but she was reluctant to give up her popularity.

‘My Lady, surely you must see they will not be satisfied until they have some sort of explanation. They will not rest until they know what skilled spies you have or magic you possess to know so much.’

Again, my words provided a spark to her mind. Magic, yes, but not the magic of a lowly servant - magic of her own was the answer. She started putting it about that since the death of her husband she had become more sensitive to spirits and could hear all the secrets they uttered. When pressed for evidence of this power she started giving spiritual sessions as a diversion at parties. Of course I needed to be close by to feed her information. She decided I should be beside her during all these events, in the guise of a simple lady's maid, giving her information through secret signals. I have no great skill in fortune telling, but with all the time I had spent prowling through the various households it was easy enough to predict the outcomes of many of the questions she was asked.

The charade amused me on so many levels. The majority of the people she was impressing normally would trip all over themselves to prove how modern they were, how they had left silly, old beliefs behind. But oh, how those sons and daughters of Old Japan loved tastes of the old tales, provided they weren't too frightening or threatening to their image as modern, enlightened people. I don't believe anyone really thought she was a medium. There were too many attempts to find out what lay behind her knowledge to presume they fully accepted her story. From my spying I found that the general consensus still was, rightfully, she had some sort of secret access through a clever spy or group of spies. But they loved playing along with the story. 

Her fame and popularity grew once more, but it was not long before she was dissatisfied again. Discontent came in the form of a simple girl, the daughter of farmers, who was making a name for herself in some of the villages as a skilled medium. Certainly, the girl was of little real threat to her popularity, but all it took was a tart remark or two implying in this modern era that a peasant was the equal of an elite woman and she conspired to have her thrown in jail. I was not part of that directly as I was quite busy with spy work. But because of information I gave her, my lady held a certain amount of sway over the local magistrate and the girl was brought in. My lady wanted to see her punished for her insolence, so made sure she was available at the time of the girl’s arrest. I stood beside my lady, as was my place as her handmaiden, and watched as they flogged the girl and then threw her in a cell.  

Two things came to mind as I watched. First was that although my oath bound me to serve the family, it did not say I could not serve others as well. The second was that although my oath was to protect my charge from physical harm, nothing was ever said about gossip.

I arranged to spend time at the jail between spying missions, disguising my voice to resemble that of one of the guards. I brought her small treats of good food, to gain her trust and get her to talk. She indeed was a seer of remarkable talent. She only needed to touch another person’s hand and she could see who they were and where their path was leading them.

I convinced my lady she should be there the day of the girl’s release to make sure she had been properly humbled by her experience. Gleefully, my lady agreed, and together we went. As the girl was led out of her cell, I put on my haughtiest voice and said “Wretch, you are in the presence of your betters. Show the proper respect!” And I made sure to grab the exposed skin of her wrist as I pulled her forward.

Of course she knew the second she felt my touch. She pushed me away in horror, as any sensible person might, causing me to lose my balance and fall, revealing my fox tails under my disguise. 

“Kitsune!” she screamed.

All the villagers who had assembled in curiosity at my lady’s visit now were yelling in horror. Perhaps I have a perverse sense of humor, but even during what followed I could not help being amused by how quickly these modern, rational people became no different from the people who lived hundreds of years ago when they faced something out of the ordinary.

“Demon!”

“Evil deceptive spirit!”

“The lady is kitsune possessed!”

“Get out before you curse us all to suffer at the hand of the kitsune!”

I managed to get us both out before any of the stones that were thrown could hit us, as was my duty. My lady stayed shut up in her room in shock for several days. Her other servants left quickly once word had spread that their mistress consorted with evil creatures, and of course there were no more invitations to fine parties after that. Happy with my work, I thought all I needed to do was wait for my lady to waste away in grief over not being the most admired woman in the district and my service would pass into the hands of her insipid son.

But my lady proved hardier than I thought. In a month’s time, this time disguised as a manservant of her son’s, I was boarding a large ship set to sail far away from my homeland, never to return. I heard my brothers and sisters wail for me as the boat departed, but what could they do? The terms of my service were clear: serve for one hundred generations. So where my lady went, I was compelled to go as well. It was well that my lady never addressed me again as long as she lived because I was filled with nothing but bitterness in this strange new land, not understanding a word that was said with no one I could call friend.

Oh yes, I regretted my actions. And how nice can I be if I spent years regretting a helping a luckless girl? The villagers knew me for what I was, a demon,” Yuuki concluded.

Ana looked back at the three tailed fox. “A really evil demon wouldn’t have felt sorry for her in the first place.”

Yuuki gave a barking laugh. “So you’re determined to see me as nice?”

“No,” Ana said. “You like sneaking around and playing tricks. You aren’t nice. Neither am I. Because I am not sorry you had to leave Japan, otherwise I’d never know you. And I am not sorry I said what did to my aunt. She’s awful and someone needs to tell her so. I just could have been smarter about it. That lady you worked for was awful and someone needed to show it. Maybe it wasn’t the nice way to do it - and I still think people should try nice first - but sometimes I think not nice is needed to get the job done.”

“You are an incorrigible child.” Yuuki said. “Do you need me to stay until you are asleep?”

“No. I feel better now. Especially because I think you are trying to go so you can play a trick on someone.”

“I must be getting more obvious as I age.”

“Nope. I know, because it’s what I would do if I were you. Just remember to tell me what my aunt’s face looks like when you scare her.”


“It would be my honor.”


Song Choice: Goodnight Demon Slayer by Voltaire. If Yuuki ever sang a lullaby, it'd be this one

47 comments:

  1. A nice multicultural mix! Some days I wish I had a kitsune.

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    1. LOL, it certainly wouldn't be boring with a kitsune like Yuuki around, but it would be difficult to stay out of trouble.

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  2. Love this story and love Voltaire :-)

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    1. This is one of my favorites by him. I love his tongue in cheek dark music

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  3. What a lively tale :) I am left wondering, how many more generations before his servitude is over. & how he met this young girl.

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    1. There are a lot more of Yuuki's tales to tell. Meeting Anna is definitely one of them, but I think I need to tell a tea party story next time.

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  4. "I’m most assuredly not nice." I can totally see the raised eyebrow and the smirking lips of Yuuki when she says the word. You have such a way when blending cultures, when showing the reality within myths... Yuuki was my favorite of all your characters, until I met Ana. I so want to know everything about this girl... I still adore Yuuki, but Ana brings out my sense of protectiveness. I see me baring my teeth, standing between her and unjustified resistance, so that she can be exactly what she needs and wants to be.

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    1. I really like the interaction between the two of them and it is going to be fun exploring a bit more about Ana in later stories. Yuuki very much approves of bared teeth where Ana is concerned, LOL.

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  5. Love this story so much. Absolutely awesome post for the blog hop! Happy Halloween!

    http://broomsticksandlace.blogspot.ca/2014/10/witches-in-fiction-2014-crafting.html

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    1. Happy Halloween Jennifer. You've got some great pictures of your October! :)

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  6. Love that someone else "gets" the necessity of Nice and Not nice hehehehe...makes me feel loved :D XXX

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    1. LOL, I'm sure Yuuki felt the same. That was a very satisfying line to write.

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  7. Very cool! Some many talented people on this blog party! I am so happy I joined.

    Stopping by from the Crafting Blooming Howls blog hop!

    http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2014/10/witch-crafting-celebrating-halloween.html

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    1. Happy to make your acquaintance Timothy! Yep, writing the story is just part of the fun - the inspiration from other creative souls is the other. :)

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  8. Ahh, the trickster. So true, sometimes "not nice" is necessity - the only thing that will be effective. Yuuki and Ana are both very wise little miscreants. I do hope there will be more of their story forthcoming. :D

    -the Artful White Fox
    Twinflame Studios

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    1. They compliment each other's Trickster very well. I have written about Yuuki and Anna before (I just added tags for those characters so if you search under their names) but yes, there are definitely more stories in the works involving those two.

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  9. So alike...and each understanding the trickster in the other...nice...

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    1. It does tickle me that a 10 year old Latina American girl and a 400+ year old kitsune find each other to be a kindred spirit.

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  10. This was very good. Visual and clever. A little dangerous. A fine read and a fine fit for Magaly's blog party. And the song? Well, I'm adding that to my Music List for all sorts of reasons! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. One of the trickier parts of writing in Yuuki's voice to to keep the details simple; I want things to be implied but not said outright. I'm glad there is a visual element coming across.

      LOL, and Voltaire is pretty cool. This song always makes me smile.

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  11. Ooh! I love it! "Sometimes not nice is needed to get the job done" I need to print that out and put it on my wall. This darling wicked little kitsune has curled it's three tails around my heart. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. LOL, indeed. I never picture Yuuki or Anna as intentionally wicked, but neither would hesitate doing what they felt was necessary to protect the things they care about.

      Now I think I want to print that out with a painting of a three tailed fox wearing a satisfied smile in the corner.

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  12. This was a really great read! I just had some trouble with the starting bit of dialog, figuring out who was who.

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  13. Yes, that's something I do need to work on. LOL, it all makes perfect sense in my head, but I need to make sure to tame the wild jumble in there to something understandable to my readers. Thanks for the constructive criticism and I'm so happy you enjoyed it, weirdness aside. :)

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  14. I could not tear myself away. I hope we do hear more about Ana and Yuuki.
    A 3 tailed fox!
    I feel certain Ana is still within the originally assigned family.

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    1. Yes, there will definitely be more. As to the family, this will shed a bit more light on the topic: http://kestrilsrhythmsandgroove.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-masked-souls-wish.html

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  15. Tricksters are the very best company to keep if you are of like mind and spirit. This was truly a fun read and a good thought inducing moment. Hmmmmmm wonder what kinda mischief could be afoot close by. Thanks, xoxo Oma Linda

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    1. I am glad it inspired both fun and thought!

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  16. What an excellent story. I do love kitsunes, and I love that you didn't play down their trickster nature, or try to make it 'fluffy' like some do, but nor did you make it All Bad.
    Bravo!

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    1. A fluffy kitsune would be a sad creature indeed. I might as well make kitsunes sparkle, LOL.

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  17. Leave it to Magaly to gather so much amazing talent together! Love your vision!
    Wow! Speechless! xoDebi

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    1. Aw, thanks! I'm happy to be in the company of amazing writers and artisans.

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  18. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story! You paint such a vivid picture with your words and I was completely caught up in Yuuki's tale! Wonderful!

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    1. Thanks! I love hearing things like getting caught up in a story - it means I'm getting better. :)

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  19. Such a great story, and so lovely to make your acquaintance Kestril! A fabulous post for a fabulous blog hop :) Happy Halloween!

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    1. Nice to meet you too! Thank you for the kind words and have a wonderful Halloween as well.

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  20. Haha, this is so cool! I dropped by earlier and decided to come back and read your tale before I went to bed, I wanted to give it time, not rush, and so happy, just a perfect story to absorb, loved the characters, really good read, tricky and treaty, perfect for Halloween :)

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    1. I'm honored you'd take your time with it :) Thanks!

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  22. I am slowly making my way through the wonderful contributions to "Creating Blooming Howls". THIS is fabulous ! Someday, might we know how Yuuki came to be with Ana? There are times I wish I had a Kitsune at my side.

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    1. I think I may be touching on that a bit in the next story, with the tentative title Dead Man's Tea Party.

      LOL, and now it occurs to me I never gave this one a title!

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  23. Oh, brava!! What a wonderful blending of cultures. I have always loved the Kitsune tales from Japan. Thank you for adding another tale to love!

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    1. Thanks! I really enjoy writing these and I'm looking forward on expanding their world in later stories.

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  24. Thought you might enjoy this Etsy artist!
    https://www.etsy.com/listing/115192448/oil-colored-pencil-art-print-kitsune-i?ref=shop_home_active_8

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    1. Wow, yes! Thank you for introducing me to new art Sharon!

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