We’re finally on Volume 5 as we get to learn about Sora’s aunts, Jin, and the Dragon Founders!
1.Sora Moore (Our Null-Void, Founder Mother!)
We learned the path Diane has traveled with Devin after Volume 2! The Witch has seen and been through quite a bit, gaining a lot of perspective, and now she’s in the Vulpes Realm. It doesn’t appear like she wants to cause any mischief, and she’s done with Devin’s machinations.
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Sora had Mofupsi teleport Wendy and her back to the room she’d left. Kari, her aunts, and daughter were still fast asleep, and Sora couldn’t help but smile at Emilia, cuddled between Seiōbo and Nari.
However, her attention was soon drawn to the formerly golden-furred Vulpes as Mofupsi stretched and yawned, glancing around the dim room.
It was a bit worrisome that everything she was planning depended on her inexperienced daughter; Sora wasn’t positive she could perform the magic herself, even if her mother’s side was available to her.
Mofupsi’s spirit was slowly dying after the Council’s longevity brooches had lost their magic. She drew in on the pipe between her delicate fingers and expelled light red flames, tinting her eyes a brilliant blue before they returned to their original dull hazel shade.
Sora’s illuminated silver irises drifted to the dim flames that provided a modicum of light from the top corners of the space; she was at peace for the first time in a long while. Her path up to this point flashed across her mind as they silently watched the sleeping women, and after a few seconds, Sora directed them toward the gathering place on the opposite side of the room.
She floated a few centimeters off the ground, thinking of the insane path she’d taken to reach this point—it felt like years had passed, and given how time was practically meaningless in many instances, it very well could have been. She grinned, no longer was she helpless. However, that knowledge came with certain realizations.
Wendy sat across from her, pondering something Sora knew all too well; it was the first chance they’d had time together in quite a while, yet silence ensued while they reflected. Sora could see why her best friend since childhood was having a challenging time—everyone was getting stronger to face the threats around them, but she was stuck in the damsel position.
Pulling in her legs to lean against the couches side, Sora smiled at Mofupsi as she took on her fox form, curling up at her feet to rest; the former Council Member’s dull red fur reminded Sora of her mother.
I met my mom … And the crappy part is I don’t even remember the first time—at least Aunt Inari gave me a chance to see her once before they went on their journey.
It was a little depressing to think about, but it touched her heart to know the experience had been cathartic.
Wendy saw Sora’s absent gaze and closed fist against her chest. “Something on your mind?” she asked, keeping her voice low to not wake the others.
Mofupsi cracked open a hazel eye and flicked one of her nine tails, tickling Sora’s feet in the process; a sound barrier enclosed them.
Restraining a giggle, Sora gave the woman a thankful smile; she wanted them to fully heal before waking up. “Just about my mom. I met her, and it was so magical—I guess, but … I only have the vague feeling that she loves me so much. Hmm … What about you?”
A long sigh pumped out of Wendy’s lungs as her brown irises wandered to the bed, fixating on Kari’s sleeping figure; half her blankets had been thrown off by her black puffy tail, wrapped against her chest. “Me? Hmm…”
Voice turning somber, the chocolate-haired girl shook her head and combed her bangs behind her left ear; it had grown at least two inches since Miami, which said something. “I’m not trying to sound all woe is me … I’m just trying to figure out my place in all of this … I didn’t really do anything—I really haven’t done anything since we got here.”
Sora figured this was where their conversation would go once they were basically alone, yet it was needed.
Wendy tucked her legs against her chest, vision aimlessly searching for something in a tapestry of a crystal lake to their left, cast in snowy mountains. “I’ve thought a lot about all the fantasy books and TV shows we watched growing up—I couldn’t do much else while trying to fall asleep … Every time, the heroine keeps getting all these new powers and cool items and stuff…”
A sad chuckle shook her figure. “I sound pathetic—really, I do—but I seriously feel like a side character …the kind that’s just there, waiting to be kidnapped to motivate the hero to get stronger.
“You know … after the whole Core strengthening thing with Inari, I thought I’d get abilities or something—I don’t know, but … in the end, it really was just a way to help us better understand ourselves—resolve past traumas.”
Sora honestly didn’t know how to respond, yet Wendy also needed to express herself, too. Anything she said could make Wendy retreat and bury these emotions instead of voicing her heart and letting it go.
“And don’t get me wrong,” Wendy mumbled, arms tightening around her shins as she looked up to aim a weak smile at her, “your aunt really helped me—I couldn’t see anyone in my life doing something like that for me … And it wasn’t in some mystical, ‘eat this bean and everything will be fine’ kind of fantasy way…”
She swallowed, voice becoming hoarse as a quiver entered it. “No … my mom was happy to trade me away for a life of luxury … I didn’t want to believe it … I couldn’t … but Inari helped me to accept reality … I’m dead to her.”
Sora got up, causing Mofupsi to stretch out and join her next to Wendy as a single tear ran down the girl’s cheek. Somberly, her friend leaned into Sora’s welcoming arms as they sat against each other—all she needed to do was be there for Wendy and let her talk.
Clearing her throat, Wendy played with the tail end of Sora’s flaming hair—she’d reshaped it to be more manageable and gotten pretty good at keeping her Null-Void from destroying everything.
“You’re all I’ve got left,” Wendy whispered. “Heh … literally—I have nothing—no clothes, food … someone to love me. J-Just nothing without you, and I don’t want to be a burden or some random person left in the background. What do I need to do?” she pleaded, looking into her eyes.
A short pause followed as Sora thought about the question; it wasn’t an easy subject to address, especially since Wendy was an ordinary sixteen-year-old human girl. “Mmh … I have a plan, Wendy … It may not work, and even my aunt didn’t know all the details, but…”
Sora’s focus fell to the red-furred fox curled up between them, drawing Wendy’s attention. “My aunt told me how to save Mofupsi—and I think I can do something similar to you.”
The red-furred fox’s head lifted, shining eyes questioning the statement, Wendy just as confused.
Sora sighed, scratching the side of her head while feeling a low vibration emanating from her chakram. “I can’t use my Vulpes Founder side right now, and that has its problems … All of the magic I learned is basically locked behind a wall, and my father’s side makes me so strong—crazy strong—but it just doesn’t have the versatility as True Vulpes Magic.”
“Oh, okay,” Wendy whispered, her sad smile focused on the fox’s lifted head. “So … You don’t want to try it because it’s dangerous? I get that—there’s no way I’d want you to feel guilty if something happened to me—that’d be the worst.”
“No, no, no,” Sora chuckled, reaching out to grip her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze that drew her gaze. “I’m pretty sure it will work—am I worried? Heh, of course! I don’t think there’s really a risk … at least,I don’t think, but it’s going to affect both Mofupsi and you differently—at least, I’m pretty sure it’s going to.”
“Really?” Wendy asked, but she paused, following Sora and Mofupsi’s gaze as rustling in the bed snatched their attention.
Sora’s gut tightened in apprehension as the black-furred Vulpes’ big ears twitched, left eye cracking open to reveal its deep blue shade that might even surpass Eyia’s. She yawned, stretching four tails swaying to the left as Sora watched her vanish and appear above Nari and Emilia.
Sora’s focus drifted between her custom-made outfit; the black boots with her own snow-white fur around the top, her thigh-high, long-sleeve dress, loose shoulder stitching showing her white skin, and fur collar hood that was pulled back.
Seiōbo’s expression settled into the agitated scowl Sora had first seen on her aunt as the woman’s eyes fixed on them, and without warning, she vanished, suddenly sitting across the table, legs crossed. “Well, well, well … I want to puke,” she grumbled in a shockingly pretty voice that didn’t match her unrest.
I couldn’t sense anything she did … She’s only somewhere in the three-hundred-year mark, yet she’s probably even more skilled than Loral.
“H-Hello!” Wendy forced a smile. “Ahem … I’m…”
“Wendy, I know … A human—mom’s a loser—sure, whatever; I’m not an idiot—I can read the threads of that little universe you’re from,” Seiōbo absently grunted, focused on Sora. “What I want to know is where my mother is…”
Seiōbo seemed locked into a one-sided conversation as her fur stood on end, ears twitching in a tizzy. “Damn you, Inari … I don’t care if it’s inconvenient—get your stupid nine-tails over … You, too, Mia?! I don’t want to read your ridiculous ‘life manual’ … Why … Just tell me!” she hissed, claws ripping part of her dress to draw red blood as she bit her lower lip. “Mmgmgh … I don’t want to be stuck in this … Of course, I haven’t read your manual, didn’t I … You’re making fun of me!”
Wendy leaned in, voice hushed. “Sora … Is she okay?”
Sora was too stunned to respond for a moment. She’s just … just chatting with Inari and Mom … How can she be so advanced when…
Her answer came in the form of Seiōbo’s blush and embarrassed glare at the rug. “No … I know I shouldn’t have—I just want answers, Inari … I’m sorry, okay … Why should I care if anyone can hear us … Fine … Fine! I’ll read your stupid thing…”
“Aunt Seiōbo?” Sora tentatively asked. “Can I … help you with anything?”
The woman rolled her eyes but soon paused, vision closing as she took a deep breath and puffed it out. “No … I’m just perplexed, and … I need some time to process everything my sisters have given me. Excuse me.”
Sora blinked, and her aunt was gone. “Well … I think that could have gone better,” she mumbled.
A low rumble shook in Wendy’s throat. “Mmh … It sounds like she’s kind of freaking out.”
“I don’t blame her…” Sora glanced back at the bed as her aunt Nari showed signs of waking up. “It’s like my aunts booted up a save file only to find out they’re in the end-game when the day before they were at the beginning, and they don’t know how it all happened.”
“Yeah, that would suck,” Wendy muttered, and Mofupsi floated up to stare at the blonde-haired, single-tailed Vulpes stretching out her arms and body to reveal her pink panties.
Nari smacked her lips as she rubbed her eyes to find herself entangled in Emilia’s arms; she glanced between Kari and the red-haired woman she was trapped by before a curious smile brightened her hot-pink eyes. “Ooh,” she snickered, wiggling out a hand to stroke Emilia’s hair. “There’s a nice girl!”
Emilia cooed, pulling her in more before her new family member transformed in a small flash of light—in her place was now a small golden fox that easily slipped out of the girl’s grip. She watched Emilia groan, and a silent giggle shook her frame before she vanished in pink flames.
This time, Sora could feel her aunt traveling through space, but this was unlike anything she’d felt; it was like she had converted to pure magic and instantaneously reformed on the coffee table to look at them.
“Hello, my little niece, her servant, and friend! I’m Nari—he-he, but I’m sure you already know that,” she chimed, turning back into her human state to sit cross-legged on the table. The girl’s pinkish-blonde highlighted tail flicked to the left as she peered around. “We’re still in my mom’s Realm … Ooh, wow, it really is pretty old.”
Sora cleared her throat, watching Emilia’s tangled mess of hair rise with her body as she glanced around, sleepily looking for her snuggle buddies. “Aunt Nari, it’s nice to finally meet you!”
“Just Nari’s fine,” she mused, seductive glowing irises drifting to Kari. “I never thought someone in our family would get close to one of Fenrir’s descendants … Interesting. Honestly, I never found the appeal of those boys—at least Alva was tolerable, but she was only a little pup; heh, so easy to sway.”
She blinked, an innocent smile curving her delicate lips, and she folded her hands across her pretty kimono dress. “I seem to be the youngest of my sisters now—I’m the baby of the family! Isn’t that something?”
“I … bet it’s pretty weird,” Wendy chuckled, scooting a bit away from Sora and composing herself. “So, Nari, umm … How do you feel?”
The blonde hummed, tail flicking to the opposite side as her head tilted to the left, fixating on Mofupsi. “Me? I’m lovely! Unfortunately, this pretty fox is not … Mmh, poor thing, but you plan to link your unique genetic essence with her. Correct?” she asked, smiling at Sora.
“You plan to what, Master?” Mofupsi asked, fox head darting to her in concern. “Such a thing could cause severe corruption and a wrong…”
“Have a little faith!” Nari interjected; Sora was utterly speechless at the entirely different mannerisms of the two sisters. “It may be practically impossible for someone like you, but for Emilia, she has the proper genetic gifts to facilitate it, and I can help direct her through the hard parts!”
A lump dropped down Sora’s throat as her single-tailed aunt happily inserted herself. “Do you know how to accomplish that? I thought Inari didn’t start advancing her Kitsune for a long time after … Well, after you four left grandma’s side?”
Nari eagerly nodded. “Mhm! Inee is really cool now; eh, not that she wasn’t before,” she smirked, looking away and hiding her smile. “She was just a little … uptight, I guess you could say, but now she showed me a little devious side of her that makes me giggle—the tricks she played to get back at those fools that bullied Seiōbo and Mia. I love my sisters!” she chimed.
Lazily gesturing to Emilia as she groggily entered the silence spell, Nari folded her fingers across her stomach again. “Should we get started? Every second counts and Mia left me a detailed note, asking for me to help you—oh, want me to share it?”
“Please!” Sora instantly replied, scooting to the edge of her seat and adjusting the red gown she wore. “I’ve only seen her once—well, twice, but I can’t remember the first time.”
“Grandma?” Emilia whispered in shock as she slunk into the area, eight tails instantly going on point. “Is she coming?!”
Nari snickered, looking at Emilia’s lopsided nightgown as if she were the most adorable thing in the world. “Mia a grandma … I’m so happy for my little—heh, big sister. No, my big, little niece—you see, Mia is very busy right now, but she wanted me to help you through a pretty tricky thing that has me very intrigued.”
She scooted to the side, effortlessly pushing the table back before gesturing for her to join them. “Come and sit; this shouldn’t take long.”
A weight pressed down on Sora’s shoulders, and it appeared to have flattened Wendy at the sudden shift in conversation. Mofupsi felt it, too, reverting back to her human state to stand beside the couch.
“Master Nari, is it appropriate to do this so soon?” she asked, ears falling back and some hesitation in her voice. “If this were to fail, I fear for how my master will take it.”
Sora’s heart burned at the concern Mofupsi had for her; they’d barely known each other, but in a way, she was the woman’s savior. “Umm … I’m worried, too, but I do have faith in my mother and aunts.”
She turned a confident smile to the bubbly blonde Vulpes. “Can we do it for Wendy, too?”
“Wait … What are you going to do?” Wendy asked, scooting to the side to look between them. “I don’t know what’s going on anymore.”
“Me, too,” Emilia yawned, still waking up as she happily plopped down beside the smaller Vulpes. “You need my help?”
“Mhm!” Nari scooted over to take Emila’s hand and guide it to her lap before directing their attention to the nervous red-furred Vulpes beside Wendy. “Here, let me explain!”
A magical weave the Second Generation Founder molded between them drew their eyes; it started out as a little cartoonish display of a Vulpes—the number of years displayed above the fox as she aged, turning into a human and growing tails.
“You see, as souls age, certain aspects of Existence press in on each part—Spirit, Intelligence, and Body—you see these little bad guys?” she asked, creating small villainous orbs that pressed in on the fox.
Emilia hissed, scooting in closer to the girl. “Eh … are they hurting her? I don’t like them…”
“He-he-he,” Nari made them have tiny scythes. “You can see these things like death—natural universal forces—although, hmm-hm-hm … they can operate under the direction of someone that knows how to gather them up and whip them into shape! Sometimes they can be mutated into these scary shadow things that turn on the universe itself, creating mutually-assured destruction!”
“Scary,” Emilia mumbled, watching the grim chibi reapers attack a giant bubble that appeared around them. “You see, for the most part, these entities are utterly invisible to anyone who’s not at least in the sixth dimension.”
“Here’s the trick to real immortality,” she winked, gesturing to a small image of Sora’s Vulpes Founder state as the fiends hovered around her and then ran away. “You need to change your Core Essence to a force that repels them … Yup, death is someone—eh, heh, well, some ‘things,’” she snickered, remaining somewhat vague.
Wendy shivered, hugging herself while glancing around the dim room. “No way … So, they’re here—even now?”
“Of course!” Nari said, focus drifting between several locations. “When you grow up on a twelfth-dimensional plane, you grow accustomed to all sorts of things.”
Mofupsi’s pipe was front and center, eyes narrowed as she studied the playful images the Founder created. “Mmh … So, the City Core Accessories released a warding magic that repelled … death?”
“Weaker versions,” Nari nodded. “However, death will eventually claim any living being if they have not converted their Life Essence to that which is incompatible with their diet—certain creatures are more susceptible than others. Of course, their effect on beings is purely natural, much like the formation of stars—they’re a product of Existence and act as its janitors, in a way,” she whispered, playing with one of her front braids.
“When you put it like that,” Sora snickered, “they’re less scary.”
Nari returned a cute shrug. “Death is quite frightening to most mortal creatures, and it is this that differentiates mortal from immortal. Inee tends to use her magical weave in a manner to imprint her immunity onto her followers like a bubble, from what Mia has told me, so if that were to be stripped, they would feel the effects of death.”
Sora’s gaze drifted to Mofupsi and Wendy, both trying to remain calm; this would affect everything about their lives. “I can provide that to them through Emilia?”
“Hold up,” her daughter’s tails and ears instantly shot up. “Me? W-What, Mom? Uh … I … Huh?”
Nari squeezed her hand and smiled. “No need to fret. However, to answer you, Sora…” The girl’s expression turned mischievous. “In a manner of speaking.”
The way she said it put a stone in Sora’s gut. “Meaning?”
“Hmm…” Nari lifted a hand to swirl her finger around Sora’s chibi form, now forming into her current state and making the figure run around to dodge it in panic. “What do you think would happen if you pumped Mofupsi full of Null-Void … What is currently happening inside your Core?”
Sora’s eyes narrowed slightly while watching her blonde aunt create various monsters for her chibi self to send chakram at and erase the creatures from Existence. “I’d … destroy her.”
“Destroy?” The golden-furred Vulpes mused, generating a representation that tightened Wendy’s throat. “I can honestly say I know nothing of Null-Void, Sora … It’s something your mother and Inee have only recently come to the knowledge of through someone called The Herald of Sakura.”
She sent tiny beams of lasers and Bullet-Hell balls from the chakram to evaporate more enemies, and Sora realized she was following history’s recording of her battle with Mofupsi; if Nari was this skilled and powerful before the age of a hundred, Seiōbo was on a whole different level.
“Your Null-Void is like the predator of everything that comprises what’s around us—death is kept in balance since it simply avoids Founders or anyone that has become enlightened to the point of learning how to evade their presence, but you—you are like a radiating sun that devours their very existence.”
Wendy’s tight hands pressed against her lap as she gaped at her. “Sora … kills death?”
“By her very presence—subconsciously,” Nari sighed, ceasing the battle to send the fiends darting at her. “She’s more than poison … Sora is a light, and they are the bugs, but the point is that they are not alone. As I said, she is a predator, and her father’s side attracts and eats Existence—every natural phenomenon that is meant to keep balance is thrown out of it by her destructive presence.”
Sora’s ears fell back. Why hasn’t anyone told me that?
Nari snickered, half-smile aimed at her while reading her mind. “What good would telling you do? There’s nothing you can do about it. As you’re thinking, yes, you are a blight on everything that is around you, but so what?” she absently huffed. “You’re actually subconsciously doing everything in your power to be as ‘dim’ as possible. Only by understanding the full extent of Null-Void can you grasp it, and there’s going to be some cracked eggs along the way.”
Emilia, Mofupsi, and Wendy were already speechless at this point.
“There’s a solution, though?” Sora asked; her aunt had already told her as much before elaborating on the problematic parts. She was practically a natural disaster.
“Indeed!” Nari hummed, seductive pink eyes staring inside her. “Your mother’s side is attempting to connect to your father’s, and there’s something else that’s there—I suspect this Frankenstein person created this catalyst … Heh, I couldn’t tell you what it is if I stared at it forever!” she laughed.
“This process is simple, really … a funnel is all that’s needed.” She brought their attention to a thread that moved toward fire and ice, divided by some kind of silvery substance. “I just need to help Emilia weave a little bit of Founder Magic into a tube to redirect a portion of that force into Wendy and Mofupsi’s Cores.”
Sora’s fur bristled, remembering her conversation with her aunt. “No, but shouldn’t it be in Mofupsi’s first tail?”
Nari slowly shook her head, thigh-length hair and small front braids shifting with the motion. “Inee thought it would be enough at first—and if we were just talking about your mother’s side, then it would work, but they need to adapt to this unknown force, and we need to compress it into a little generating seed that can temper a small portion of your father’s side.”
“Oh…” Sora’s silver eyes widened in understanding. “Oh … this is … We’re going to have to do this in stages?”
“There we go!” Nari cheered. “Yup, this isn’t a simple one and one deal, but Emilia’s going to have to be a surgeon and slowly develop their souls to accept your father and mother’s dual force—in the meantime, we’ll need to pump a temporary bit of your mother’s side into Mofupsi to restore her former glory—a temporary fix.”
To Sora’s surprise, Emilia’s nerves had become steel; determination set as she listened closely and nodded. “Right! I’m ready to learn, Aunt Nari! I want to get stronger—should we use the Outer Body Technique?”
Nari squealed with excitement, leaning in to hug her. “How lovely! You’re so dependable, Emilia. Is everyone ready?”
Wendy and Mofupsi’s focus darted to Sora.
“Don’t look at me! Are you two okay with this?”
Their gaze drifted between the various displays Nari had crafted, and Mofupsi nodded. “If it allows me to serve you, Master … I will do anything, and I cannot do that if I am dead within the week.”
Wendy drew strength from Emilia and Mofupsi, eyebrows drawing in. “Yeah … I don’t want to be helpless anymore.”
Nari’s impish grin made Sora wonder if this was really her radiant aunt and mother’s plan or something else her other, more playful aunt had concocted herself. “Wonderful! Let’s begin.”
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