1.Sora (Our Null-Void Fox Founder!)
2. Seiōbo (Our Black-Furred Aunt With An Attitude)
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The unusual delight of her aunt made Sora hesitate as Mofupsi and Wendy tentatively watched the Vulpes scoot closer to Emilia, gradient pink and golden tail looping around one of her daughter’s, and a fragrant scent instantly filled the area from her natural musk that quickened the heart.
“Isn’t this exciting!?” she asked, bobbing in to nudge Emilia’s side. “We’re gonna make such a beautiful, magical weave together!”
Ears pulled back, Emilia tried to swallow the sudden wave of jitters that obviously swarmed her stomach. “Mhm! I want…”
“Mmgh-hmm,” Sora made a sound in her throat, drawing their gaze.
Her daughter’s turquoise eyes drooped with her tails, staring at the floor. “Mom—umm, oh, do you think I’ll mess up? I’ll really try…”
She was about to interject when Nari cut in, leaning over to wrap an arm around Emilia’s side while pulling Sora in, and a gleam shone in her aunt’s bright pink irises. “Mmh, that’s not it, sweetie—hmm-hmm-hmm,” she winked. “Your mom’s not sure if she should trust me with her friends.”
The pink-highlighted, gold-furred Vulpes pulled away, fingers lifting to her chin in a deliberating stare. “Although something has been bothering me about you two … Inee has certainly framed your relationship in a rather odd light, considering the effect that transformed Emilia’s essence—not a complete lie, of course.”
Wendy’s mouth tightened, eyes swimming with uncertainty. “Wait, what does that mean?”
That’s what I want to know, Sora thought, uncomfortably shifting her flaming silver hair to gather in her lap; a ring vibrated from her chakram. From the moment she woke up, she’s been all hugs and help. Isn’t she worried about herself and everything that happened to her, like Seiōbo?
A hum vibrated in Nari’s chest, and an arch touched her lips. “No, really, though! Why would Inee frame the two of you as mother and daughter? Hmm—I don’t get it!”
“Huh?” Emilia’s vision widened, focus shooting to Sora. “Aren’t I—am I not?”
Sora’s fingernails pressed against her thighs as she stared at the thoughtful woman; she was at least decades older than her, and she’d been warned about this woman’s mischievous side. “Why are you bringing that up—is it important to the spell?”
Nari’s head tilted, narrow eyes drifting to her. “Mmh—I’m trying to determine my sister’s actions. You see, to me, at least by spiritual genetics, Emilia appears more like a younger sister to you. Yes, she may have more tails, which is a lovely fashion statement—they’re so adorable!” she chimed, reaching down to stroke the girl’s copper fur. “However … Just as Seiōbo and I cannot leave your side for too long, the same is true for Emilia.”
The warning bell in Sora’s mind was on a low hum—she was so confused as to what this woman’s end goal was. “Are … you trying to make me question my mom and Inari … Is that the reason you’re asking those questions? I’m just … not sure why we’re going down this path.”
“Indeed,” Mofupsi whispered, drawing on her pipe again before putting it out. “What is the goal here? I believe the conversation should be focused on my master’s wishes to strengthen and support Wendy and I.”
Her blonde braids swayed with her head, a short giggle shaking Nari’s figure. “No, no, no—you don’t get it! You see…”
Nari’s left arm folded against her stomach as her focus centered on the mountainous tapestry hovering against the wall. “Hmmgm … I grew up in a rather a time where it was common to be suspicious about mistaking dreams for reality, and while this appears entirely real … In the end, ‘perception’ means very little.”
Wendy’s cheek bunched up. “Uh-huh—so, you think this is all just an illusion?”
“It’s actually a fairly wise initial reaction,” Mofupsi mumbled, hazel irises flashing blue upon using her pipe; there was an edge in her voice. “I can see why you would be skeptical, considering what you’re sensing could be fabricated—although, at what point should you accept where you are as reality, and how do such thoughts connect to my master?”
“Mmh … I wonder, though,” Nari mused, a secretive smile returning as her golden eyes drifted between Kari, Emilia, and Sora. “No, I don’t believe something as bizarre as this would be the game any Founder would play … Meaning, this is quite genuine, or a different entity that I am not aware of as of yet—he-heh, both prospects are exciting, though!” She clapped her hands together, generating a ring rather than a slap.
I can’t read her… Sora tried to scan everything her aunt did, but she appeared so pure of heart, despite the playful mannerisms she employed.
Nari’s seductive smirk soon centered on Sora. “On that note, what makes you believe you can trust anything I say—even if I were to show you what your mother told me? I could show you a perfect representation of my sister,” she said, waving her hand to the left for her mother’s awkward smiling figure to appear.
Sora’s mind went blank as the scent of Mia traveled around the room, and she could perfectly sense her presence. Everyone else fell silent, watching the glorious dark, copper-haired woman nervously wave. “Umm, hey, sweetie—eh, I love Emilia and you so much…”
Nari snickered at Sora’s wide eyes and baffled stare. “You can hear her heartbeat—feel her radial warmth, the presence of her spiritual pressure, and I can use your own perception of my sister to mold it to what you expect of her—individually,” she winked as Emilia ran to an invisible person nearby to throw her arms around air—practically bawling.
“I wanted to see you so bad, too, Grandma!”
Everyone shivered as the overwhelming presence of Nari’s conjured clone of Mia vanished with a snap of her finger, drawing everyone’s attention back to her—Emilia was utterly stunned, glancing around in a panic for where her grandmother had gone.
“I could be elsewhere at this very moment—watching from the bed or playing with your ears,” she hummed, and without warning, she transformed into pink flames to split into four different copies to surround them.
The room changed around them, becoming the blackness of space, burning blue sun and alien planets to her left; she was trapped in some kind of invisible thread of magic, yet nothing like this had ever been so undetectable to her after she’d unlocked her father’s side.
Nari’s pink-blonde tail rose to hide part of her face as the copies spoke in unison, everyone vanishing one by one around her. “You have no idea how to craft the magic running through your Core, affecting Existence…”
Thoughts not her own whispered into her ear, yet it was her own voice. “I shouldn’t use my Null-Void—what if someone’s nearby and I hurt them. Is there anything I can…”
* * *
Done with the pointless chatter of hanging around people who didn’t know a thing about her, Seiōbo transcended the third dimension. Her jaw locked, applying pressure on her teeth as a chain in her Core added resistance.
Not yet! Go further!
She rose from this universe’s ocean to pass the fourth, fifth, and sixth layers—floating beyond the planet-like sphere of this seventh dimension to look back at the marble—similar spheres were now becoming clear nearby, showing she’d entered the eighth, yet it was here the iron penetrating to the very depth of her Oltera Nexus pulled tight, trying to drag her back down.
No! Inari, Mia … You can’t leave me! Tears filled her spirit as she fought against the pull of the universe Sora currently occupied. I can go further! Let me go further!
She tugged at the chain, wincing as a wound opened up inside her as the spear attached to her essence stirred it up. Why … Why did you leave me behind? How am I ever supposed to live up to you now?!
The indomitable visage of her cool, collected sister came into focus within her mind—the Inari she knew—not this aged Vulpes Founder that she had nothing in common with. How could you do this to me?! she cried.
Time in comparison to Sora was practically non-existent, and it was only because there was still motion in the bright universe before her that she could even go this far—a period did go by, but it was at such a small pace that it wasn’t worth keeping track of.
Seiōbo floated in the soup of raw universal energies that sought to bring her back to the point in time she was locked to in this part of Existence—in the time variance of Sora, and the stability her niece gave her was so minimal, she was losing strength to keep herself ahead of the universe’s spin.
Why am I like this…
Now, as alone as she could be, wrapped in what illusions she could muster, Seiōbo glared around the cosmos—she could see the path Sora took—her niece’s entire life marked like the golden thread of fate. She had been here ages ago—not in this universe; this area had been reborn and broken down countless times since; it was the blink of an eye to a day in the twelfth dimension, much less millions of years her past self had lived.
This place had formed around one of her mother’s former sanctuaries that she’d made for young Vulpes. Of course, that hadn’t been the purpose when she’d been alive—this was a test dimension that her mother demonstrated for them when they reached two tails—all of her sisters were only minutes apart at most, but it meant a lot to them.
I died … And both of you won’t tell me how, she growled.
Looking around at the various seventh-dimensional spheres surrounding her, she looked for answers—anything that could be used to connect the dots she was missing—eons in the twelfth dimension, yet that was all blocked from her.
Okay, if I can’t see it that way … Mom taught us ways to hide memories.
Seiōbo took a deep breath, allowing herself to be pulled into the universe by a tad to ease the stress she was beginning to feel from being too far away from her niece. She didn’t need to weave anything complicated; every Existent creature had a unique Core identifier, and if she took that and tapped her Oltera Nexus like a bell, it would radiate in a way that only she could receive an answer. It would take someone else, resonating with her Oltera Nexus, to force a similar outcome that they could track.
Her four tails fanned out behind her as a response came, yet this wasn’t what she expected; a brick hit her chest, melding into her soul as she felt her own, much older and more mature power infect her Core.
Losing her ability to remain in the eighth dimension, she fell, finding the strength to halt her progress at the sixth. The stormy roar of time billowed below her, clouds of vicious quakes and fiery timelines of destructive energy rippling across the tempest.
A cough bubbled up Seiōbo’s chest as she clutched her breast. Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! What was … Is this … Why?
“For obvious reasons.”
Seiōbo strained to catch her spiritual rhythm as a much more mature version of herself smiled at her, radiating a mental impression of fathomless power compared to what she currently held. From her womanly figure to the long black nine tails curving around her frame, she was everything her mother promised she would one day become.
“My, my, my,” her ancient Spiritual Construct mused, unseen or felt by anyone but herself. “To think I would be reduced to such a state, despite my preparations. Mmh…” she gave Seiōbo a disapproving frown. “Still unable to talk in my presence? I cannot work with you when … that is attached to your Oltera Nexus,” she sighed, staring at the chain binding her to Sora.
Goodness … What did I make … Why would I split my spirit to—to make you? Seiōbo gasped as the invisible spiritual essence of her former life drifted away, turquoise spheres of pre-woven magic she’d only witnessed from her mother. For what purpose?
Her spiritual construct smirked, allowing the globes to cycle around her frame. “Because I knew my sisters couldn’t help but bring me back if I died at some point, and I needed a way to retain the truth of the past … the Threads of Existence have been tampered with, and that which it shows is but a twisted story for the young and impressionable.”
The construct snapped her fingers, creating a tiny spark of blue flame before her narrowed irises wandered to the universe below. “This outcome … is not what I expected. Perhaps there is room for growth, but it will not be without sacrifice … I need to set things right.”
Seiōbo tried to pull away; this version of herself may have been lovely on the outside, but the unusual items of foreign magical power she wore and the frothing stone amulet between her breasts radiated a force that made her skin itch. However, she was trapped in some kind of spiritual net of her own design.
I wove this… she thought in shock—somehow, without her notice, this spiritual construct had hijacked her actionable magic to tie a noose around her chest, locking her in place. I can’t call for help…
Her dark counterpart snickered, left hand covering her lips, but she couldn’t hide the gleam in her illuminated irises. “Why would you want to? I’m you, after all—a past version that is far more than the pathetic child in front of me.”
Seiōbo’s gut tightened, sweat gathering in her pores. What’s the end-game—take over this new life and reconstruct yourself? Mom’s captured—we need to…
“Rescue her?” the spiritual construct lilted. “Please, Mother was soft, and because of her blindness, she allowed herself and Nari to be killed … Pathetic, really. All the First Generation Founders were blind … I know the truth they tried to hide, though! He-he-he, and mother was a part of that. No, I’m going to mold you—little by little … I need to be careful not to break…”
I don’t want to be you! Seiōbo snapped, but her magic seemed utterly locked; she’d never experienced this type of seal. Just show me, and let me figure things out myself! I’m you, so…
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” her counterpart chided. “I don’t need your consent—after all, you’re not even fully me yet, considering you haven’t filled in the blanks yourself but with our niece’s little group. I don’t need you—you’re weak. I need me.”
No! Don’t… Seiōbo tried to struggle away, calling out for her sisters, but the web she’d been tricked into fashioning was more potent and more refined than anything she’d constructed before. Why would I do this to myself?!
The smile the woman wore told Seiōbo she was pathetic; the smile she feared every day might come from Inari if her noble sister ever told her how she really felt instead of being the shining golden child. A tiny spark flickered toward her, seeking to meld inside her.
Seiōbo’s eyes squeezed shut as she internally screamed.
“You’ll understand when … Why…”
The moment the intense energy touched her spirit, a flare of white force incinerated it. Tears in her eyes, she understood what happened, which in turn transferred to her past self. “What is Null-Void, and why is it protecting you from something that should bypass all your defenses by its spiritual signature … No, I see…”
Her counterparts somber, searching eyes narrowed as Seiōbo resumed her struggle; she couldn’t find a single flaw in the weave. “Heh … How unexpected … I can be patient, though.”
Brushing back her thick black locks, the spiritual construct giggled. “This can open up many avenues I hadn’t considered before … Be frightened, my little self, because I will return to claim you … Although it doesn’t matter how much you struggle—you’ve always been weak on your own.”
Lifting a finger, Seiōbo gasped as a weight pressed against her chest, blasting her through the dimension to strike a fifth dimension moon. She managed to wrap her body in a shell to absorb the impact, but it still took a chunk out of her.
I … I was a bitch! She growled, struggling to her feet and wiping away the drool on her lips. I don’t want to know who I was anymore … She’s dead—but when she comes back…
Panic flooded her breast as she looked down at the chain, still trying to tug her back. Sora saved me … Mmgm. If I want to resist her spiritual assault next time … Sora is the only way.
Seiōbo glanced left as the little instruction manual her sisters had given her popped into focus; it was a half copper and white-furred woman that mirrored both her sister’s features—likely a funny joke to them. She caught Nari waking up soon—judging by her spiritual turbulence, the girl was going to act up to release stress.
She tried to calm her stressed breathing, her heart still racing from the encounter as the higher-dimensional spheres circled the globe, representing the universe Sora was in. Licking her lips, she skipped to the part that interested her. Tell me everything you wanted me to do regarding the bond between Mofupsi and Wendy to Sora—I need specifics—reasons why you’re frightened and how I can overcome the challenges.
To her surprise, as the simple question and answer construct recited the information stored, the path she saw with the least risk came from a being she didn’t know—The Herald of Sakura—a Primordial. Why are they getting help from a race all Founders apparently hate now? Bah, it doesn’t matter—I just need to find a way to beat this demon from my past … I’m not weak!
Taking all the time she could in the sixth dimension, Seiōbo waited for her nerves and strength to return, yet she could feel the disharmony growing. The further she was away from Sora, the less control she’d have over her magic, and it was only because of the restoration effects of the bed and Sora being nearby for some time that had given her the strength to last this long.
She sighed, watching Nari vent her frustrations in typical young Nari ways—the troublemaker of the family, but there were ways she’d learned to get her little sister in line—mainly, embarrass the crap out of her because she could be a little turd when freaking out and shoving everything away to focus on pranks.
Seiōbo appeared behind the laughing and boasting girl as she played with the perception of everyone present. Releasing an annoyed sigh, she muttered, “Always so unguarded, Sister.”
Hand darting out, Seiōbo snatched Nari’s swaying tail at its base, lifting her up while feeding disruptive spiritual energy into her Core after using the common Vulpes weak point—she was as helpless as she’d been when trapped by her spiritual construct.
“Ack! S-Seiōbo! It hurts! Stop! I’m sorry!” Nari cried, tense as a board with tears in her big, fake pink eyes. “Please—Seiōbo! Put me down!”
Sora, Wendy, and Emilia slowly snapped out of her sister’s trance; she was impressed that Mofupsi had been able to at least offer some initial resistance before succumbing to Nari’s natural hypnotic aura and scent.
Kari groaned, pushing herself up to find the source of the commotion since Nari’s antics had caused Mofupsi’s dampening magic to fail. “What in the…”
Seiōbo lowered her sister back to her feet but kept her grip firmly around the base of her twitching and thrashing tail; the biggest thing to teach her sister a lesson to not mess with people’s minds—she sent a pulse of cleansing energy through her sister’s open spiritual network.
“Seiōbo, no—no, no, no, no, please!” Nari wept, fighting past her throbbing tail to latch onto her front. “Mom—Mom said you can’t do this to me—please—please, Seiōbo … I won’t do it again! I promise!”
She watched her pleading sister’s pink irises slowly revert to their original golden color, and her highlighted fur losing its vibrance to become a radiant aurous sheen that the sister she knew was extremely proud of—however, during this stage in Nari’s life, she was embarrassed by the shade. “You promise?”
“I—I promise!” she screamed, making Kari, Sora, Mofupsi, and Emilia’s ears stand on end in confusion.
Leaving half of the pink hue on her tail, Seiōbo twisted her tails around to hold it out, arms crossed under her modest bust. “Tail swear—or do you want me to finish off the rest?!”
Nari jumped, sniffling as she rubbed the base of her throbbing appendage. “I—you held me by my tail, Seiōbo—you’re so mean now! I hate you!”
Her little sister jumped, forcing herself to turn and weave her tail around Seiōbo’s four, and she sent the binding link—it was only for three days, but served as punishment that their mother introduced—if she played a trick, and she knew it was going overboard, it would rip away her careful transformed looks and tear her dress to pieces, which was practically death for her young sister.
“I hate you!” Nari returned, jumping to the fifth dimension to pout before she could respond.
“Love you, too, Sis,” Seiōbo grunted, dropping back into the chair to stare at the dumbfounded party. “Such a pain…”
“Is … she going to be okay?” Sora asked.
Wendy tucked in her lips, glancing at the spot the girl had vanished. “Yeah—that was—what was she doing to us?”
Emilia had tears in her own eyes. “She tricked me that Grandma was here—that was mean, but—but she sounded so hurt…”
Sora sighed, and Seiōbo watched in fascination as a chakram appeared out of fire to expand and hover around the girl; a binding force carried the eight-tailed teenage spirit to Sora’s side for her to hold—Seiōbo just glared at her curves.
What’s with everyone in my family getting their figure before me?! It’s not fair…
Clearing her throat and holding Emilia’s hand, Wendy on her other side, Seiōbo’s flaming-haired niece asked. “Umm—thank you for saving us from Nari, but … Is there something you want?”
Seiōbo puffed out a long, annoyed growl, rubbing her left ear. “My sisters want to help you with this power-infusion thing—it’s irritating, but whatever—I’m a little interested in this Null-Void business.” The look the five gave each other was vexing. “What? Can I not want to help out my family?”
“No,” Sora forced a laugh, “it’s just—a little out of nowhere. I’d be happy for your help.”
“Alright, well—I guess I need to apologize to Nari, then … and get her to apologize to you—hey,” she grunted, feeling a bit embarrassed at the smiles they gave her, “don’t let her boss you around, okay? She’ll just keep going until you tell her to stop.”
“Thanks for the advice,” Wendy chuckled.
Rising through dimensions to meet her sister, she left as Kari laughed. “Hey, I kind of like her.”
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