POV: Sora (the daughter of Mia; Inari’s niece; Fox 3rd Gen Founder)
Recap: Sora has just been exposed to information overload. She found out her father isn’t human, in fact, he’s something not even her aunt knows of. The big hint being that the Primordials all knew him before they met the Founders. She now must figure out how to move ahead with all this information eating at her.
Sora took a deep breath before looking up at the three figures left in her Core; each of them had a different expression.
Her aunt looked troubled, which didn’t surprise Sora, but didn’t make her feel better; she’d come to expect so much from Inari. Her aunt had known everything; after all, she was a goddess and had the power to accomplish anything.
Now, however, she was seeing how vast and uncertain the world she was entering was, and why her aunt was so cautious and guarded. Yet, even with all her preparations, she was caught off-guard and left to brood on events that could change countless lives in innumerable realms and universes.
Suddenly, Sora saw just how small humanity really is, and the thought brought with it questions. Inari talking to them about reality is like a physicist trying to explain the complexities of space to an ant, yet it seemed like her aunt couldn’t live without being a part of her life.
She couldn’t doubt her aunt’s intentions in the least, even if she wanted to. If only she could have the same confidence in her own mother, and now she was beginning to doubt her father. He was free, yet he didn’t seek her out, and she was having a difficult time trying to separate the father she knew to whatever he was before. Not only that, but those two personalities were now merged into one. Was her father even there anymore?
Sora leaned against the left side of the chair, supporting her head with her hand while rubbing her temple. Her light green eyes shifted to Alva; Kari’s mother seemed to be in deep thought, but she appeared to be a little more stoic than her aunt. Not to say her aunt wasn’t stoic, but compared to what she’d become accustomed to, her aunt’s narrow eyes and tight fingers gave her unease.
Kari, on the other hand, was a picture of concern. Her lips were sealed, forehead creased, and her amber eyes wide with worry while staring at her, arms folded underneath her chest. “You okay, Sora? I know that was … well, I guess I don’t really know what it’s like … are you okay?”
A tired smile lifted Sora’s cheeks. “How do I look?”
“Irritated,” Kari quickly replied.
Sora lifted an eyebrow before flipping back a lock of her copper hair. “Really? Not what I expected to hear.”
“Just a little,” Kari sighed, shifting in her seat to tuck her legs to the side. “I don’t blame you. I can’t … your whole life must be falling apart.”
Her lips creased into a smirk as she thought back on the last few weeks. “My whole life falling apart? Yeah, you could say that. If I went back in time to tell myself what to expect, I’d call myself crazy. I’m friends with you … and don’t get me wrong, I do cherish that. I’m not human … at all, and my previous form was some kind of incubation phase or something. Right, Inari?”
Her aunt’s tight hands eased as her relaxed demeanor returned. “Yes, dear. I wasn’t expecting The Herald to be so chatty. She gave us far more than you realize … far more. I will be transparent where I can, and I think I should be here. I wanted you to hear much of this from your mother, but things are accelerating at a rapid pace, which is good and bad.”
“Good and bad, how?” Sora asked. “I’d like to have at least a little heads-up. I’m kind of at my limit here. There’s so much on my plate … which I know is laughable to you.”
Inari’s face fell slightly. “The blackest night is the same for all, my little niece. Everyone feels pain, and that cannot be compared to another’s. I would never belittle your troubles. Do you wish me to tell you what I can, and then we can come up with a plan?”
Knowing her aunt knew the answer made her smile. She closed her green iris for a moment before opening them again, hair hanging in the air as she opening her palm to hold her head up. “That’d be great.”
Her aunt’s orange eyes moved to the others. “Kari, Alva, is there anything you wish to say before I go on?”
Alva shook her head. “We can discuss things between ourselves later.” Her vision dropped to the floor. “I haven’t seen this level of uncertainty for so long … since The War.”
One of Inari’s tails flicked slightly as she nodded. “I’m beginning to see why Gloria was so intrigued when she came to my sanctuary.”
Sora swallowed at the implication, remembering the radiant fairy that defied all logical beauty. Gloria probably knew about my dad … she said she had her speculations. I’ve met some of the most powerful beings in existence; I don’t know if I should curse or feel blessed. It’s like I’m at the center of a storm, and the eye is looming overhead, just moments away from sending a hurricane on my head … the madness swirling around me.
Kari’s lips were a line, amber eyes low as she shook her head. “I have a lot to talk about with Sora with this Fen business, but I feel like this is a lot more important. Thinking about it … I don’t know anything about my father.”
Alva folded her hands in her lap. “Yes … I’d like to know that, as well.”
A shiver ran down Sora’s spine, and Kari stiffened. “What do you mean? You don’t know who my dad is?” Kari asked, fingers curling into fists.
Alva’s amber eyes lowered to her lap before she shook her head. “I’m afraid that is information I was not given. That puts a lot of doubt within myself, and it gives me pause with how I should respond. Inari and I have discussed it. I’m scared, to be honest.
“Knowledge is a key part of a Founder’s life … we base everything off our experience, and your mother removed information. You could say that what I did was a taboo among Founders, to begin with. That can come with time, though,” she chuckled softly before looking up at them. “You needn’t worry about the failings of this old wolf. You have your own issues to handle.”
Sora glanced at Kari’s concerned expression before clearing her throat. “I think,” she paused and sighed. Sitting back, she slid her fingers through her hair. “Everything’s so convoluted! There’s so much to talk about … I don’t know where to start,” she groaned.
Kari tucked her legs up to her chest and added a forced smile. “Umm—no, sorry. I didn’t mean to steal the stage … it just kind of hit me,” she mumbled. “Don’t worry about me. Let’s talk about your dad.”
Shoulder’s drooping, Sora let her head fall back. “Okay, let’s talk about my dad, and then we get to some other things, but no, I want to learn more about you, too, Kari. You’re not a lost cause. Got it?”
Kari’s gaze shifted to the side, smile faltering. “I don’t know about that. I mean, it’s not like it’s really that important to me. It just—no, no, don’t worry about it. So, what’s up with Sora’s dad, Inari?” She asked, turning her attention to her aunt.
Sora glared at her, but let Inari talk.
“We can start with you not being human, Sora,” her aunt said but turned a mischievous grin at the teenage wolf. “Don’t think my niece is done with you. She’s growing more assertive, and she really does care about you.”
“Just get on with it,” Kari growled, slumping into her seat, but Sora noticed her red cheeks. “Y’all bring up too many things.”
“We can’t help it,” Inari mused with a sad expression. “Anyways, first, no, you are not human; Frankenstein forged a shell for your father, so perfect that I couldn’t even see it. However it was done; it allowed the union of your mother and father to create your unique Intelligence, Spirit, and Body.
“That means that your human physical form was used to help facilitate the merging of both genetic lines. Frankenstein, it appears, knew when the process would finish, and returned to check how the transformation beginning stage was progressing. Your Founder blood was triggered, and now, here you are, a Vulpes Founder.”
Her aunt paused, drawing Sora’s focus to her soft face. Inari’s legs were crossed, tails across her lap while sitting back against her cushioned chair. Her orange irises were centered on the light above them, expression and tone soft and distant.
“No doubt, you’ve already thought about it … you are not fully Vulpes. What are you then? Honestly, I couldn’t say at this point, but I will give you what I can. I am going to reveal a few pieces of information that may concern you … about my own actions.”
A lump dropped down Sora’s throat. Wonderful…
“The last comment The Herald made before abruptly cutting off the conversation is of vital importance; it’s not a light statement … not in the least,” she muttered. “The Herald said that every Primordial knew him before we crossed paths with the Founders.”
The silence stretched as she pondered those words, face unreadable, and after a few seconds, she released a soft sigh, orange eyes closing. “If only my mother were here … we’re talking about a group of beings that rival us, and there are not that many. The First Generation, in particular, stands above or equal to every creature I know. Now, every side has its powerhouses, and the various abilities of each are different, but we are unique in many ways.
“How my sister developed this plan of hers is beyond me. She somehow discovered the means to create you and took it to Frankenstine while also puzzling out your father’s identity, which would likely be a key factor in this plan; it might have even been utterly coincidence.
“Frankenstein is not the type of person to plot against someone; he’s more akin to a scientist, an explorer of possibilities, and he likely helped your father obtain a human shell for his own reasons as much as he helped your mother to create you. It might have even been both your parents’ plan, and he may have even initiated it.”
Sora moaned, left ear folding as she pressed her head against the side of the chair. “So, you’re saying you have no clue how it all happened. You can’t tell me my mom or dad’s intentions. The story that my dad told me, though … I just can’t see him not loving her,” she mumbled. “I felt it … it was so real.”
“At least in his human form, yes,” Inari stated. “Your father was captivated by your mother, and there’s no doubt in my mind he would be. Mia is a Vulpes Founder, after all, and she has a naturally alluring aura that draws the eyes, even stronger than mine, but not quite like your Aunt Nari’s … she was a real player,” she mused with a light giggle. “She wore her heart on her cheek, not on her sleeve; the little minx.”
Her aunt released a depressed sigh. “In any case, no, I don’t know exactly what you are besides a Vulpes Founder. My initial thoughts were a Primordial, which would have actually been a breach in Founder Law, and no one has an idea what such a union would produce. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
“Why not?” Sora asked. “Couldn’t I still maybe be part Primordial, too?”
Inari shook her head with pursed lips. “No, and this is where I tell you something that might be hard to hear. You are not, and I am certain of it; it is one of the many things proven by Gloria’s visit and response to you.”
Sora’s eyebrows drew together. “What do you mean?”
Her aunt’s eyes fell to her tails as she began to stroke them. “You do not comprehend the First Generation Founder’s odium toward the Primordials, Sora. I was scared when I first met you … very scared. I am a very guarded individual, and to put all my doubts to rest, I did something that could have been quite dangerous for you and even Mia.
“The reason Alva said removing memories is taboo for Founders is, in part, due to the Primordials. The War … you cannot comprehend the lives lost in it, the scope of the relationships forged, blood feuds created, and I’m not just talking about Founders or Primordials.
“I’m talking about beings of such power that the fabric of reality itself quaked, sending waves of destruction throughout existence … you cannot fathom it. Hell is nothing in comparison; in fact, the Hell realms were created from that great conflict. Take the worst cataclysmic event you could imagine that would strike the earth and know that would be heaven to those that took part.
“No, if Gloria had sensed the union of Primordial and Founder within you, then you would not be here; the fury she harbors is legendary. You might not have seen it when we were talking, but there is a reason why that whelp was so terrified of Gloria being there.
“There is no god, Founder, or Primordial that could save you from Gloria’s rage … potentially combat? Yes. Save … no, no one could keep you safe if Gloria truly wished to kill you. As I said before, there are five beings I know of that could give her trouble, and even they could not stop her from killing someone; they could fight her after the fact, but there is no protection from the Fairy Founder’s wrath.
“The biggest hint Sekhmet gave us was her last statement. A being every Primordial knew, and before they met the Founders … that’s something. I have lived millions of years, and still, I do not know much about the Primordials. For the most part, we keep our distance from each other, and the Earth Realm is what you might call neutral ground.”
Sora bit her lower lip. “Hmm … you told me Stephanie is a Primordial, though. How does that work? Does my mom not care much about the whole hating Primordial thing?”
Inari didn’t answer right away, choosing to stroke her tails. “No, not nearly as deeply as the First Generation … most of the Second Generation is like that. The damage the Primordials did to the Founders, and in turn, what the Founders did to the Primordials. Each generation has less of a tie to that conflict, which is natural.
“Mia actually fought Stephanie once … your mother spared her life, which was quite the controversial move. Stephanie was very young back then and, in comparison to Founders, she could be considered within the Second Generation. Since then, Stephanie has been shunned by the Primordials, and Mia has had a bit of a tarnished reputation among the First Generation.
“Our family was very active during The War, and being among the oldest of the Second Generation, we held a very prominent position among the Founders. Not just anyone can send a messenger to Gloria and ask her to visit … that respect came at great sacrifice. Every Founder with a hint of education knows about your grandmother and her contributions to that conflict.”
Sora folded her arms, pressing her tongue against her teeth while she listened. When her aunt paused, she asked, “I get that our name carries weight … what about my dad, though?”
“Yes, I know you’re a little impatient, dear. There’s just so much history involved to connect the dots. Sekhmet was created by Primordials, and she played both sides during The War, which gave her an awful name in both Founder and Primordial eyes, but still, she was needed.
“She follows Sakura, which is a faction of the Primordials that is rather small but powerful. I do not know much more about Primordial society, but what I know is that she has some stake in you, which must be connected with what she knows about your father. This is what frightens me, Sora … the fragile balance of powers surrounding you are so phenomenal that I cannot even compare.”
Sora slowly nodded. “I know I don’t understand what you’re saying … it’s beyond my ability to understand the scope of their powers, but how I feel…”
A lump dropped down Sora’s throat, and she relaxed against her chair, feeling exhausted. “It’s like my fate, life, causality, whatever you want to call it … I’m being stretched on all sides, and I know countless other people are trying to make a difference in my life. I’m tired of feeling like a pawn. No, I won’t be a part of this, and that’s why I had a plan.”
“Aiden, I assume,” Alva said with a long sigh. “The poor guy … he knows what it’s like being stretched on all sides. I can’t believe I would subject him to such a life, but … for the sake of my daughter, I won’t deny I would have done it and, in fact, did.
“The guilt I feel … but his mother. His mother wanted no part in my plan and offered her son to me to regain her freedom. It’s an act I could never commit, but we each have our own selfish desires that conflict with us morally. Life is often unfair … no matter the power you wield.”
A shiver ran down Sora’s left arm, causing her to rub it. She’s not wrong … I was thinking about using him, too … yet, I’m willing to do it to regain control. He must feel like such a tool … he must know what hell really feels like. He can’t choose how he feels, and if others can manipulate his feelings, then they can turn things to their side. Maybe I’ll need to do a bit more pondering on how to go about this … transparency would be the best solution.
Sora’s eyes shifted to Kari’s sad expression as she rubbed her shins, legs pressed up against her chest. “I always thought of Aiden as just my brother’s little songbird that tipped things in his favor, but yeah, he’s always been kind of a prisoner. I used to just pity him, but now … it kind of hurts my chest thinking about it. I never really treated him that well, but he’s always worried about me.”
“He is a nice guy,” Sora mumbled. “Nice people are taken advantage of.”
Kari nodded silently, resting her head against her knees. “I always felt so stressed … I didn’t want to think about anyone else; I was too worried about my own problems. That’s until I burned everything to the ground.”
“It’s complicated, my daughter,” Alva whispered. “Life is much more gray than you realize.”
“Yeah, don’t be too hard on yourself,” Sora chuckled bitterly. “Fate dealt us a bad hand, to begin with, but we’ll find our way out of this web. I’m so conflicted about my parents, but I can’t really determine anything until I meet them.” Her eyes rose to her aunt. “When can I meet my mom?”
Inari’s ears twitched, and she shook her head. “I don’t know, dear. I really don’t. Your mother is dealing with a lot, and likely more than I am even aware. She’s actually thankful that I am now supporting you; things were starting to spiral out of control for her with Aiden’s influence.”
Sora hummed thoughtfully. “Which is why I was thinking about Aiden … wait,” her inquisitive green irises shot to her aunt. “Have you been manipulating Aiden’s choices?”
Inari’s lips lifted slightly. “In a way, yes. My goal this entire time was to put the reins back into your hands, and by helping to shape the others, it has, in turn, had an effect on Aiden through many interactions that you’ve had, and that also includes Nathan’s impact on him.
“Aiden is looking for a strong male leader with a set of morals to help guide him, and how many males are in your group to choose from?”
“Where does that put Aiden?” Kari asked.
“With guidance,” Alva said, releasing a long puff of air. “Aiden is lost, and he’s looking for a path to follow. Right now, he’s lost his place in the world and looking for purpose. You could say it’s a part of his nature.”
“What should I do, then?” Sora asked. “My dad’s off who knows where with people he knew before going inside his human shell. My mom’s dealing with a bunch of unknown threats. The Herald is watching me all the time, like a pervert,” she huffed, glaring around her Core. “I’m not even in privacy in my own Core.
“And then, oh, let’s not forget Frankenstein, doing all sorts of experiments, and now he’s worried about Nilly, right? Of course, he is, and we’ve got the Nekomata faction complicating things. Primordials, Founders, demons, that one Kitsune dude, and who knows what else … you don’t even know what I inherited from my dad.”
Her aunt hummed softly, breaking her off. “Well, I didn’t say that. I can identify the parts of you that are not Vulpes, but what they are is a mystery. I have not met a creature with that type of Intelligent, Spiritual, and Physical genetic code. Also, it is not active yet. All of the natural energy that you’re absorbing is being funneled into those sections of your DNA.
“Whatever you are, it will manifest in time, but how that will mesh with your Vulpes Founder abilities is unknown to me. It is powerful … even your Vulpes side is well beyond the Third Generation Founder standard. I cannot say how your dormant genes will manifest, but they will in time.”
“Can you force them to activate?” Sora asked. “Maybe you could understand it better if you did.”
Both Alva and Inari shook their heads.
“I’m afraid that would be extremely dangerous,” Alva cautioned.
Her aunt sucked in her lower lip for a moment. “Could I? Yes, I could. However, it would likely have an even worse reaction than when you first met me, which again, is one of the many reasons your mother has kept her distance. Being in my presence further activated the Vulpes genes that are even now continuing to awaken, and it has not only required my intervention to stabilize but also Sekhmet’s.”
“Then I’m back to step one,” Sora growled, tails flicking in her lap. “How can I deal with all these threats? I’ve been trying to help Wendy and the others, deal with the politics of illegally entering this Realm, Fen, Bathin, my transformation, and now Emilia.”
Her ears drooped slightly. “Don’t get me wrong, I love her, but now I also need to teach and worry about her, and I get that it’s a learning opportunity. I’ll better understand my abilities, but it’s just … a lot. I have a lot on my plate.”
Alva gave her a warm smile. “Yes, but you are not alone, which is something your aunt has been trying to show you. You just need to rely more on your friends. Let everyone know how hard of a time you’re having, and rally around each other. I’m sure they’re itching to help. You don’t need to carry the weight of the world on just your shoulders.”
“It’s exactly as Alva said,” her aunt reinforced. “Discuss the issues with them, and figure out how to best navigate out of this horrible situation. You won’t need to convince Aiden at all. He wants to help, but you need to give him a chance to settle his own baggage. This is not the end of your journey.”
Kari swallowed before clearing her throat. “Yeah … anything you need, just let me know. I don’t know how much I can help, but I’m trying. If you want me to go find Fen and drag her back, then I will. You just need to tell me what you need.”
Sora let out a tired laugh. “Kari, c’mon.”
“You’re not my dog.”
Kari stiffened. “No … I know I’m not. I just … I want to help you.”
“I know, but I want you to be your own person. You’re my friend, not my pet. You don’t need to get my permission for everything, and you don’t need to be so reserved. It may not sound that great, but I want you to first figure out what you want. You can’t live through me, and I know that’s what you’re trying to do.”
“I need to make up for everything I’ve done, though…”
“You’ve paid it all,” Sora stated with a soft smile.
Kari’s eyes dropped to her hands, voice low. “It’s just hard. I hate who I was, and I don’t really know who I am now. I don’t know exactly how to act.”
“Like yourself. I don’t know how many more times I need to say it. You’re forgiven. Forgive yourself and help me figure out how we can get out of this mess! If my dad were to walk through the Red Gate and tell me to go back to my old life … I’d ask if you wanted to join me. I know you don’t have anywhere to go.”
Kari’s eyes shot open. “W-What? No, that’s … how could you?”
“She already told you,” Alva chuckled. “She’s forgiven you.”
“So?” Sora pressed. “I think I’m done thinking about all this complicated mess my aunt and your mom think about. Want to go figure our way out of the pickle we’ve found ourselves in?”
Kari hesitated, but after a moment, she sighed while smiling. “Sure. Thanks, Sora.”
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