A Tail’s Misfortune — Chapter Forty-Four: The Struggle

POV Change:  Kari’s POV

Kari walked toward the kitchen, mind a flurry of doubt with the occasional comment from Sora’s aunt; Inari suggested she should get out and stretch her legs.  She paused as Sora called out to her. A frown touched her lips as she turned to face the Vulpes.

“Umm—where are you going?”

Her cheeks pushed to the side before she released a drawn-out breath.  She’s worried about me … before, I might have thought she wanted to keep tabs on my movements … to make sure I didn’t cause trouble.  She’s too nice.

“That’s my niece.”  Inari’s voice chimed with pride.

Ignoring the voice in her head, Kari said, “I just feel like going on another walk … I have some things to think about.  Why—is there something you need?”

“Aww, how cute.”

Sora’s concerned smile made Kari’s heart burn.  It had been a long time since someone had been worried about her going out alone; her mind flashed back to human movies, parents directing worried questions and warnings to their daughter before going out.

“No, sorry, I was just curious,” Sora replied.

Her amber eyes shifted to Ashley as she waved her goodbye.  The woman was different than the others; she could hear the sincerity in the tone and the sound of her beating heart.  “Have a good walk.”

Kari’s vision fell to her plate.  I’m not alone anymore … but what does that mean?

“That you have expectations of others, and others have expectations of you.”

“Right,” she whispered, looking back up at Sora.  “I’ll wash my dish and come back later … thanks again, Sora.”

She walked into the kitchen, catching the uneasy scent of the others.  I have a lot to learn about being a good friend … I’m putting Sora in a bad position with the others.

“Oh, shush!  My niece made her choice, and she chose to welcome you in with open arms.  She’s working hard on your behalf. Put some faith in her.”

Did you jump into my mind just to pester me?  She growled.

Inari giggled; her beautiful voice made Kari sigh as she studied the sink, looking for a way to turn it on.  “Indeed, pestering, among other things.”

I…   Kari’s fingers slid across the pressure indicator.  She stared down at the water that gushed out of the tap, mind going blank.

“You feel the weight of all the wrongs you’ve done.  The pain you’ve caused so many people … mostly my niece.  Thousands of events playing through your mind as you relate it to the scars your brother gave you.  For a wolf, you learned a lot from humans. You’re haunted by the memories Sora shared.”

A lump dropped down Kari’s throat as a void opened up in her chest, tingles shooting down her limbs as she held her plate under the cold water; she caught sight of the cloth used to clean the dishes but didn’t reach for it right away.

Don’t you want revenge against me like everyone else?  I mean … I get it—accept it. I’m just like my brother … a worthless wolf.

“Honestly, you’re so hard-headed,” Inari sighed.  “I suppose I’ll have to leave this to someone that can knock some sense in you.”

The plate slipped through Kari’s fingers, clanking against the porcelain sink; her mother’s somber voice replaced Inari’s.  “Kari, I’m so sorry.  When I left you, you were too young … I was gone, but not my love.”

A tear fell down her cheeks.  Inari!  Don’t … don’t!

“This is not me, my dear.  Alva left her own dormant Intelligent Construct; your mother wasn’t able to build it properly before passing on.  I was able to repair it. My niece was a little leery of why I needed so much of her energy; you can choose to divulge the information if you wish.”

Her mother’s smooth voice returned with regret.  “You were never meant to fight on your own … to be lost in my war.  I wanted you to be happy … to make funny friends that make you laugh.  I wasn’t strong enough to make that happen. I’m so sorry…”

This isn’t … this can’t be real.  Kari’s chest convulsed as she leaned against the sink, legs shaking.

“Feel your mother at your side, Kari.  Her life was filled with tragedy, and she did everything within her power to prepare for that fateful day, but it still wasn’t enough—much like the Asgardians.  Your life is back to front, but you’ll see that’s not for long. ‘Cause I know you’ll feel the ghost of some memories so warm that they’ll make you want to fly.”

Alva’s tone touched with apprehension for a moment.  “Inari … I see—so that is how Aiden’s abilities shifted the board; thank you for sharing so much with me.  To think that your family would be expanded … congratulations, and apologies for my failings.”

“Nonsense; you know it, and I know it.  I am certain that I would not have known my niece without your daughter’s pained outlash.  She has your eyes, Alva … a strong will to struggle against fate. She’s lovely.”

Kari couldn’t breathe as tears fell into the running sink; she listened to the voices in her head continue, too stunned to comment.

Her mother released a long sigh.  “I’m thankful that your niece has such a good heart.  I’m concerned about her future, though … if Sköll and Hati set their sights on Sora…”

“No need to fuss, Alva … I understand what you are thinking.  I’ve built my entire life around protecting and avenging my family.  Your brothers will show up in time; it’s inevitable. The attention they bring is a concern, but unavoidable; the benefits outweigh the detriment they bring.  I did mourn your passing; we may not have been friends, but we had a history. Your isolation was your downfall.”

“Yes … not having anyone to turn to for help boxed me in.  I owe Aiden and Eric so much…”

Eric ruined everything!  How … how can you say that?  Kari cried, arms so weak that she was having trouble holding herself against the counter; the world went black.  Inside her chest was only heartache and pain as her mother’s massive hollowed-out tree came into vision, her old home.

The room had been shaped to provide a place of comfort for them to relax; Kari’s amber eyes were wide as she glanced around the familiar space.  The pool of running water fell down several levels of deep bows in the wood, disappearing into a small hole leading outside.

Inari was sitting in an elegant white wooden chair, nine tails lying across her lap; she was beyond beautiful in a black and white designed kimono with Japanese sandals adorning her feet.  Her long white hair was held up in a delicate bun.

To her right sat Alva in wolf form; Kari’s body started to quake at the sight of her mother’s familiar thick gray fur.  Even in wolf form, Kari could tell she was wearing a regretful smile. “Your brother … it’s complicated … my fault … everything is my fault.  My … you’ve grown…” Tears dropped down her mother’s reflected amber eyes, absorbing into her fur.

“Certainly a portion,” Inari commented.  “However, don’t discount your father; I mean, Fenrir wasn’t the worst guy, but he played his part in making Sköll and Hati what they are.”

Kari’s jaw locked, vision falling to examine the pelts that covered the floor; her teeth ground together for a moment.  “What … does this mean? Are—mom, are you going to be in my head—like—like Inari is for Sora?”

“Only when … if you want my help,” Alva whispered.  “There will be things that you need help with in the future, but…”  Her mother’s eyes shifted to Inari before she swallowed. “If you wish, Kari—I can give Inari the information needed.”

Kari sniffed back the snot, threatening to leave her nose.  Unable to hold back any longer, she ran forward, chest convulsing.  “Mom … I—I needed you…” She bawled, latching onto her mother’s neck.  The hard bristly feeling of her mother’s fur soon vanished, and soft, warm arms closed around her back, pulling her in.

It was the first time she’d seen her mother transform into human form.  “My little Kari,” Alva whispered, throat thick with emotion. “I’m so sorry I left you.”

Inari waited patiently, kept silent as they continued to cry in each other’s arms..

After a time, Kari gently pulled back, examining her mother.  Her messy, thick gray hair fell to her thighs, and she was at least an inch taller than herself.  Alva’s full lips, high cheekbones, and sculpted nose left a sharp impression.

Her chest was much more developed than her daughters, hidden beneath a thick wolf-fur shirt.  Her hourglass figure was tight with muscle, but her skin was soft to the touch; her long legs covered by a gray fur skirt.

Even if they were in very different styles, her mother was just as beautiful as the Fox Goddess next to them.

“Mom … I’ve never seen you … like this.”  She swallowed, trying to clear her throat.

“I know,” Alva smiled warmly, eyes and cheeks flushed.  “I know how much you admire humanity and hate Fenris Wolves.  I’m by your side, Kari … always.”

“Well, girls,” Inari giggled, winking at them.  “Yes, Kari, I am older than your mother, but not by many ages.  I will leave you two to catch up. If you need me, speak my name, I will still be here; no need for concern, I will give you your privacy.  I wish you both happiness.” She said with a true smile before vanishing with her chair.

“Foxes,” Alva chuckled, “always making a show of things.  You should have seen her when she was younger—always wrestling the spotlight from the rest of the Second Generation Founders.”

Sitting back, Kari rubbed her left arm nervously.  “I—what are we supposed to do?”

Alva took a deep breath before a gray light surrounded them, and their teary features were cleaned up.  “Let’s get the difficult things out of the way first.”

Kari blinked, and her large bear-fur blanket was in her mother’s left hand; she handed the article to her with a tender smile.  “I know you loved this old thing … it’s much older than you are.”

Accepting it, Kari caressed the familiar texture.  “I—I had to leave it when I ran away from Eric.” She mumbled.

Scooting back against the wall, Alva rested her head against the wood, closing her eyes.  “All I wanted was for you to be free from this cursed war…” She paused as Kari moved next to her, wrapping the blanket around them as she leaned against her shoulder.

“I love you, mom…”  Kari mumbled, nestling closer to her mother under the blankets and resting her head against her shoulder; she felt eight years old again.

Alva shifted a little to pull Kari under her arm, letting her rest against her soft breast.  “I love you too, Kari.”

Kari didn’t want to talk; all she wanted to do was rest in her mother’s arms forever.  It was so real; her mother’s heat radiating against her skin, warming the trapped air. Her smooth skin and prickly hair brought back memories, sleeping at her mother’s feet, listening to stories each night with Tiri pressed up against her back.


“Please, mom … just a little bit longer.  It’s been—so hard.”

“Of course.”  Her mother’s smooth lips kissed her head as she pressed closer.  “Of course.”

After a time, Kari knew if she continued, then she’d fall asleep; she longed to sleep in her mother’s arms but knew her mother wanted to say something.  Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes, fingers feeling her mother’s strong thigh by her side. “Okay, mom. I’m ready.”

Alva kissed her head again.  “I love you so much, Kari … I understand that you’ve been through a living nightmare since I … since I was killed.  You can’t blame yourself so harshly … blame me. If I was stronger…”

“I—I could never blame you, mom … you tried so hard.  It was Eric … he ruined everything.”

“His father,” Alva whispered.  “I underestimated his jealousy, and your brother has always been forced to endure terrible pain.  I do not have the type of magic that could fix … his curse. I’m thankful that The Herald of Sakura was able to free him of that burden.  Still, I understand the horrors you’ve endured.

“I also know the blame you heap upon yourself—how you lashed out at those around you.  There’s a way to repair your broken heart. I’m here to help you be free, Kari … free from the Fenris Wolf conflict, free from the horrors of your past … all I want is for you to be happy.”


“Sora, Aiden, and Ashley are on your side, Kari … and so am I.  I won’t leave you again.”

Kari swallowed, fingers twitching against her mom’s leg beneath the blanket.  “I’ve hurt so many people, though.” 

“We all hurt people … we all make mistakes; you aren’t bad, you’re hurt, Kari.  Sora realized that—what do you think about her?”

“Sora?”  Kari pursed her lips before softly biting them.  “She’s … nice … nicer than anyone I’ve ever met. She tries really hard to get everyone to work together.  I feel like she’s biting off more than she can chew … especially me.”

Her mother chuckled softly.  “Sora is like a completely different species of Vulpes; she’s a little less dappy than the average fox, but she has her own silly behaviors.  I think she needs you, Kari, right now, more than ever, and in the future.”

“What could I possibly offer, though?”

“More than you realize.  Sora does have a knack for biting off more than she can chew.  Inari has been helping to curve a bit of that, but she’ll need your opinion and support soon.”

“My opinion and support?  What could I possibly know,” Kari whispered?  “I couldn’t even give myself advice.”

Her mother rubbed her arm under the blanket.  “Humans are generally terrible at taking care of themselves.  Sora will need you to take care of her in more than one way; she’s her own monster.”

“I don’t know,” Kari said, feet rubbing against each other.  “She has other people to help her with that … better people than me.”

“Give it time,” Alva said in a soft tone.  “Sometimes, the best answers are simple and right in front of your eyes.  You’ll understand, my daughter … I know you can make it right. Just be yourself.”

“I don’t know who that is,” Kari mumbled.  “I’m scared to know who that is.”

The silence stretched for several seconds; after a while, her mother giggled.


“Do you remember the red rabbit?  Aiden said there wasn’t a chance you could catch it.”

“Yeah … I remember it.”

“What did you do?”

“I caught it.”

“Yes, but how long did it take you?”

Kari swallowed, shifting a little under the blanket; her fingers found her mom’s arm, and they interlocked their fingers.  “I kept hunting it…” She trailed off, so her mother finished her thoughts.

“Eight months … day after day; you spent hours looking for it.  Eventually, you caught it; you never gave up. It’s too cold out there for Sora; Inari has tried to build her bite more, but she struggles with making difficult decisions.  She’ll need help, and the others won’t be able to help her like you can.” Alva shifted her arm around her neck, running her fingers through Kari’s black hair with a short sigh.  “I know you admire her.”

“Yeah … I do.”

“She knows how you feel—how you think.  You let her in, and she let you in. Two Founders have rarely ever done what you both accomplished; it’s more significant than you might think.  Let the tide of your emotions wash away all the mistakes; she let go of all that pain. You’re the only one hanging onto it.”

“It’s easier said than done,” Kari whispered.  “How do I forget them?”

“Getting on the right path is difficult,” Alva said, chin resting against her daughter’s head.  “You don’t have to do it alone, though. Your thoughts are filled with Sora, aren’t they?”

Kari’s face reddened.  “It’s embarrassing when you say it like that.  No, it’s not like that … I just—she’s the only person that’s ever really wanted to be my friend.”

“That feeling of being a ghost … lost in the ocean,” Alva mumbled, shifting to pull her into a tight hug.  “Kari … you’re my daughter. You’re my gravity and oxygen … I’ll always be here for you, but there’s something that only Sora can provide you with.  I lost all of you … Tiri, Eric, Aiden, and you … but I’m still fighting. Everything comes with a price.”

“Y-you listened—you know what I said to Sora?”  Kari asked, a quake shooking down her spine.

A sad smile touched her mother’s lips.  “Yes—I looked at everything that happened since my death.  There’s something important that you haven’t realized yet.”

Kari’s brows creased with confusion before she swallowed.  “What?”

“What did you tell Sora would happen if she died?”

“That I’d follow behind her … I mean it.  I’ll never leave her; she … forgave me. I was like—like Eric to her, but—but she still forgave me.”

Pain flashed across her mother’s face, but she forced a smile, taking a deep breath.  “You said you’d die for her, but that’s not right … you must live for her, too.”

It took a moment for the statement to sink in.  “I must … live for her, too?”

The compassion in her mother’s amber eyes was new.  “Do you think Sora would like it if you died?”


“It could be our selfish nature,” her mother chuckled, “but she and I can read you.  We can’t keep it to ourselves; we cannot lose those things important to us. When your sister was murdered … I broke.  Please don’t do that to Sora.”

“T-that’s not fair…”  Kari mumbled, body going numb.  “I—I can’t … I need her.”

“Isn’t it simple, then,” her mother kissed her forehead, “you both must live—live for each other.”


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A Tail’s Misfortune — Chapter Forty-Three: A Hopeless Situation
A Tail’s Misfortune — Chapter Forty-Five: Unexpected Encounter