POV: Sora (the daughter of Mia; Inari’s niece; Fox 3rd Gen Founder)
Recap: Sora just needs to unwind. She’s discovered she’s not fully a Vulpes, that her dad isn’t human, and a load of other looming universal threats. She doesn’t want to think about all the things she cannot control, and so … she needs a distraction.
Sora released her magic, opening her eyes to see Kari’s amber irises. “Okay, right now, I’m not that concerned about the whole cult thing. Let’s talk while we walk back to the house and see if Aiden and Nathan are back.”
Kari gave her a sheepish smile. “You’re not worried at all? I’m worried.”
Nudging her head back the way they’d come, Sora brushed back her copper hair as she walked down the street. “You don’t happen to know where we are?”
Kari licked her lips with a half-smile, matching her leisurely stride. They were drawing the eyes of many Vulpes and humans, but Sora wasn’t that concerned. Things were becoming clearer to her, and she was finally starting to feel at home inside this new world she’d fallen into.
“The biggest downfall of this plot Fen came up with is letting it get out. Personally, I think it’s too complicated. There’s a group of people that think I’m some kind of sealed goddess.”
She giggled. “I kind of am, in a way. No, I’m not concerned about single-tailed Vulpes and humans killing me. Even if I can’t sense the danger, mentally, I just need to be cautious about the situation I’m in. I can react faster than any of them, and I think the first thing I should teach Emilia is healing. I think that will really help her confidence if she gets in a situation where I’m hurt. She won’t feel helpless again.”
A soft hum left Kari’s throat as she studied the cobblestone street. “You’re starting to think ahead, huh? And are we just wandering the streets until we see something familiar?”
“I need to start thinking a bit ahead if I’m going to get some control back, and yes, we do have some pressing matters, but I also need to clear the stress in my chest.” She pressed her hand against her left breast. “You know, the demons, Founders, Mimi, and everything in-between … the heaviest things on my chest are my parents and Emilia.”
Kari eyed a few carts full of fruit as men pulled them down a street to a large warehouse. “What about the thing Inari told you? You know, the Gloria reveal.”
Sora smelled the sweet scent the fruit left, carried along the wind. It made her mouth water, but she restrained herself from going over and grabbing one like a thief. “I completely understand; I don’t blame her at all. I can imagine the kind of life my aunt had, and me calling to her out of nowhere … I’m shocked she was as cool and collected as she was. Gloria, however, concerns me. I met her again.”
Kari’s brow furrowed as she looked down at her, following Sora as she turned left on a random street. “When?”
“In the Astral Plane. My aunt taught me that creatures as powerful as Gloria can sense their image being replicated through the Magical Plane’s ripple effect. Gloria is so powerful that she doesn’t need to be worried about anything, so she’s cheery and glowing, but if something were to cross her … the emotional balance they must have is insane. They could destroy universes with a thought if they wished.
“Anything that frightens my aunt terrifies me, and Gloria has plans in my future. I have no doubt about that, and there’s no one that could stop her.”
Kari’s eyes narrowed as she connected the dots. “Ah, okay … your aunt said the hate she has for the Primordials is legendary. You think she’s going to use you as a means to reignite that grudge?”
Sora scratched the back of her head before smoothing out her hair. “I’m sure it’s far more complicated than that, but yes, that’s something that did cross my mind, but let’s save this topic for the others … I don’t think we should mention the Nekomata Faction and Nilly, though.”
The bright light of the morning sun dimmed, causing both of them to look up at the sky to see a lonely cloud moving in front of the blazing sun, and Kari frowned, vision returning to the street. “Githa … without her help, we wouldn’t have made it out of that base.”
“Probably not,” Sora whispered. “Everyone has their reason for helping us, though.” Her head tilted as she turned to study Kari’s fit form. “However, I’m a bit more interested in why you don’t have a tail and ears like me.”
“Huh?” Kari gave her an incredulous look. “What’s that have to do with anything?”
“It doesn’t, but I need to distract myself,” Sora giggled. “I need to laugh, or the stress is going to eat me alive. I saw you have a tail when we fought before.”
Kari hunched over a little, rubbing her left arm. “I learned how to do it pretty early on when I came to Florida. I hated everything to do with Fenris Wolves … I wanted to be more human, and so I learned how to transform further.”
Sora nodded, lips pursing as she thought about what Kari meant by that statement. “I can see that. I don’t think you should hate how you were born, though. It’s not like you can help being a Fenris Wolf.”
“And I can’t help how I feel,” Kari mumbled. “Nothing good has come from being a Fenris Wolf. My uncles want to use me … people are either too scared to get involved with Fenris Wolves or hate our history. I’m judged the moment someone finds out what I am.”
“Kind of like being a Vulpes,” Sora winked with a smirk.
Kari puffed out a chuckle. “Guilty … yes, I suppose everyone’s put in a box.”
Sora eyed Kari’s shoulder-length black hair. Kari’s disgusted with her wolf form, but she uses it when she needs to … just when she needs to, though. She should feel better about herself if she can reconcile with that form, but it will take time and support.
A smile brightened Sora’s cheeks. “Can you show me your tail?”
“Why?” Kari asked, cheeks flushing.
“I don’t know,” Sora shrugged. “Just curious. I just want to compare it to my own.” She pulled around both tails as she walked, stroking the soft fur. “Mine’s super soft and fairly puffy. Of course,” she giggled, “when I’m surprised, it can get really stiff.”
A lump dropped down Kari’s throat, and she thought it was kind of cute how shy she was being; she hadn’t seen this side of the strong-willed bully before. “No one’s ever asked to see my tail before … gah, why does it feel so strange? It’s not a big deal, right?”
“I don’t know,” Sora gave her a teasing smile. “No one’s ever asked me to see my tails. I think it’d be pretty personal. What do you think?”
Kari gave her a forced smile. “You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?”
“No, no,” Sora held up her hands defensively. “I’m really interested in seeing it. I mean, if it’s not too embarrassing,” she muttered, shrugging again.
“No, I’m not embarrassed,” Kari grumbled, cheeks turning an even darker shade of red. “There’s nothing wrong with my tail.”
“I never said there was!”
“No, but you implied it,” Kari huffed, glaring at a pair of Vulpes as they passed. The two quickly averted their gaze before hurrying along their way. “Fine,” she tilted her head to the left. “Let’s go down that alley.”
“In private?” Sora gasped, holding a hand to her mouth with a smirk.
“Knock it off,” Kari grunted, but she was having a hard time hiding her smile.
Sora followed her down the alley, large three-story buildings blocking the sunlight and casting a dark shadow within. It appeared like they were between two large houses that were linked by second buildings further down the narrow space.
“So,” Kari said, voice hoarse, “you really want to see my tail?”
“I thought it wasn’t a big deal?” Sora repeated, nudging her side as they walked further into the shadows.
“It’s not,” Kari protested, glancing back at the street. “I mean, it shouldn’t be.”
“You want to see mine?” Sora asked, innocently pulling her tails around to bob up and down in front of Kari.
“C’mon, get those smelly things away from my nose,” Kari mumbled, shifting her body away.
This time, Sora’s cheeks turned a darker shade. “Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?” She asked, bringing her tails up to smell them. “I washed them pretty well, thank you very much! They don’t smell to me.”
“I never said they smelled bad,” Kari whispered, rubbing her left shoulder. “Every Vulpes has a distinct smell … yours is just pretty strong, okay? I mean, you are a Founder … it’s like a natural warning for other creatures.”
“Oh?” Sora said, forcing a quick laugh. “The more you know. Fen told me Founders have a different biology than most creatures. I may think I smell, but I really don’t.”
“Well, aren’t you full of yourself,” Kari said with a smirk. “Ms. Smelly Vulpes, over here. Getting a big head? Typical Vulpes.”
“Hey, I can do that, too! Ms. Scary Fenris Wolf, over here … oh, wait, no, all I see is a cute girl shyly hiding her tail.”
“C-Cute?” Kari mumbled, hugging her shoulders, head snapping to the right to look at her, amber irises wide. “What are you talking about?”
“C’mon,” Sora giggled. “You’ve never been called cute before? I mean, you’re tall, fit, and you have pretty cute features. Maybe not Sora cute, but you’ve got your own look!” She winked.
“Eh, heh.” Kari gave her an incredulous stare. “Did you just refer to yourself in the third-person, and as cute?”
“Aren’t I?” Sora asked, twirling before giving her a sideward peace sign, tails flaring out to the side.
“What, are you an anime character now?” Kari laughed.
“Well, I could make everything think we were!” Sora hummed with amusement as she looked around at the alley, manipulating the light with her magic. The scenery quickly became more saturated as reality twisted, and everything became more artistic.
Kari frowned, shifting her hips to look down at her body. “Seriously?”
“Hey, you’re the one that brought up anime!” Sora defended. “I didn’t think you’d be into that kind of thing.”
“I wasn’t,” Kari mumbled. “A few of my … the girls I hung around with had this kind of interest. They liked to do the whole dress-up thing.”
“I guess … c’mon,” Kari groaned.
“What?” Sora asked while manipulating the illusion to show Kari in a magical girl outfit. “You’d make a great Sailor Scout! I’m thinking a Mars look.”
Kari shook her head ruefully. “What does that even mean, and why does this look like it would fit me so well?”
“Remember?” Sora smiled.
“Right … you did make me clothes.”
“No, I saw you naked,” Sora chimed.
Kari gave her a look. “Don’t make it weird.”
“No, you’re right. I’m just having fun.” Sora giggled. “It’s helping me. So, anyway, are you going to show me your tail?”
She nervously glanced both ways, but none of the passing humans or Vulpes seemed to be looking in the alley. “What about my clothes? I don’t have a place for my tail.”
“Come here.” Sora ushered.
“Quit being so difficult!” Sora huffed, puffing out her cheeks.
Kari slowly moved closer, and Sora reached around her side, fingers slipping between Kari’s skin and shorts.
“Hey!” Kari’s spine stiffened as Sora accidentally pushed her index finger into her panty strap instead of outside of it.
“My bad, my bad,” Sora chuckled, ears pulling back a bit, “but I need to add hidden stitching in it, too. Okay … alter the physical matter, and … there we go!” She stepped back, folding her hands behind her back as her tails flicked to the side. “Now you have a spot for your tail … I had to guess where it would come out, but I’m pretty sure I got it right.”
“What’s up with you and this obsession with my tail?” Kari grumbled, hair hiding her blush as she poked her finger through the holes Sora had created.
“It’s a distraction, just a distraction!”
“My tail,” Kari sighed.
“You … nevermind. Fine, you win…”
Sora opened her mouth, holding her hand in front of it in surprise shock.
“Now, what’s up?” Kari asked, swallowing before licking her lips.
“You said, I win! The infamous Kari, admitting defeat … are you sick?”
“Shut-up,” Kari smiled, and without warning, Sora watched a long black tail flow out of the hole she’d made. The fur grew thicker and longer, causing Sora’s eyes to widen.
“Wait … it’s so long and thick! Is it…” Sora pulled around her own tails, linking them together. “It’s as thick as both of mine together.”
Kari shifted her feet, trying to hide her tail behind her back. “C’mon, don’t make a big deal out of it.”
“No, really, and it looks so smooth and clean.”
The long black tail moved around Kari’s side so she could study it. “I’ve never really paid much attention to it,” Kari mumbled. “I mean, I had it all my life. I always thought my sister’s was prettier.”
“No, yours is beautiful,” Sora whispered, stepping forward to examine the fur. “Can I feel it.”
“Don’t push your luck,” Kari huffed, stepping back while hugging her tail. “You sound like a pervert!”
“You can touch mine,” Sora offered with a bright smile.
“Not helping your case…”
Kari sucked in her lips, groaning softly. “Why is this happening? Is this really you? I never thought you’d ask this of me.”
“Well,” Sora’s smile fell a little as her vision shifted to the stone ground. “Ever since I met my Shadow, I’ve been trying to let her in more. I think a part of this is me letting that part of myself out.”
Kari didn’t respond for a few seconds, eyeing her black fur. “O-Okay…”
Sora blinked. “Okay, what?”
“You can touch it, okay. Just … only my mom’s touched my tail before.”
“Mhh?” Sora’s lips lifted playfully as she slowly closed the distance and reached out to touch Kari’s furry tail; it was a lot softer than she imagined, but not quite the same as hers. Kari’s tail twitched at her touch, making Sora’s smile grow as her green irises lifted to study her red face. “It’s soft.”
Kari didn’t respond, lips tucking in as she averted eye contact, and after a moment, she backed into the building wall, tail flipping to hide behind her legs. “Okay, you felt it. Can we go now?”
Sora tilted her head, ears standing straight as she hummed with amusement, folding her hands behind her back. “Can I see your wolf ears?”
“More…” Kari asked, giving her a strained smile.
“C’mon, just a little!” Sora pushed. It was a new feeling that she knew she needed to be cautious of; the power she felt she had over Kari was a little intoxicating. “Also, I think you should grow out your hair a bit more. Do you thin it because your tail is way thicker than your hair.”
“It’s … why are we talking about this? You have a cult, and there’s your dad…” Kari fumbled with her words. “What about your daughter? You said you were going to teach her how to heal?”
Sora licked her lips, eyes narrowing with pleasure. “Don’t be shy. You’re really pretty, and I just want to see what wolf-girl Kari looks like. It could be a new look for you! The new Kari.”
“It feels weird, though,” Kari mumbled, gripping her wrist in front of her stomach. “I’ve been taking on a human form for so long.”
“You said you wanted to change?” Sora hummed.
Kari’s muscles tightened. “That’s cheap, Sora … you’re totally playing with me.”
“Just a little fun, but I’m right. Aren’t I?”
Sora’s smile widened as Kari’s hair grew thicker, flowing down her back; she hadn’t seen anyone with a mane so glorious, and two large wolf ears sprouted out of her head, human ears disappearing.
“Well … happy?” Kari mumbled, looking down at her shifting feet.
“Very!” Sora said, closing the distance to examine her. “So cute!”
“Cut it out…”
“No, really! I think you’d need a big rubber band to clump that mass of hair, and it goes all the way down to your butt.”
“It’s a bit annoying, honestly,” Kari mumbled, pulling it around. “I had to really work at cutting it back.”
“Why? It’s so pretty. I like your ears, too. I think they’re smaller but more pointed than mine … can I get rid of my human ears?”
“Like I’d know?”
“Hmm…” Sora closed her eyes and tried to access her magic to reshape her body. It was the first time she’d tried to transform, and going by instinct, she directed the magic to her human ears, imagining them receding before vanishing completely.
To her delight, the mixed signals of her human and Vulpes hearing disappeared, and the focus that opened up to her was shocking. “Wow … it’s so much clearer without my human ears.”
“Geez … why do you want to be more fox-like?” Kari mumbled. “Humans are so much better.”
Sora opened her eyes before winking. “Maybe in some things, but I think there’s a reason why people like fox, cat, and wolf girls.”
“I don’t get them,” Kari whispered with embarrassment. “I hated it when Victoria would bring up Spice and Wolf … I did kind of like the story, though. The guy was nice, but why a wolf…”
“Why not?” Sora asked. “I think wolf-girls are cool; I mean, you’re cool.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Then I wouldn’t have said it. Well, how about this? Founder Goddess something or other Sora hereby commands Kari to stay in this cute wolf form for the whole day to see if she likes it!”
Kari’s mouth dropped open, showing her perfect teeth. “No way! You can’t … you said I wasn’t your dog!”
Sora winked, sticking her tongue out. “Retribution! Do this, and you know you’re one-hundred percent forgiven.” She snickered before emulating an evil laugh. “Who’s in control now!”
“Unbelievable,” Kari whispered, but there was a smile on her lips. After a moment, she rubbed her left arm, turning away shyly, ears pulling back. “You really like how I look?”
“Who wouldn’t?” Sora asked, brushing back her hair before looking into her amber eyes. “Okay, you ready to really head back now?”
Kari smiled. “Anything to get out of this alley with you.”
“Ouch! Fine, let’s go. Want to hold my hand?” Sora teased.
“Don’t patronize me,” Kari mumbled, walking back toward the street to hide her expression.
Yes! Operation Pull Kari Out Of Depression is a success. Aiden’s jaw will probably drop to the floor when we get back. On that note…
Sora jogged after Kari. “Oh, by the way, what do you think about Aiden?”
Kari stopped in her tracks, turning to give her a raised eyebrow. “Huh? What’s with that segway? What about Aiden?”
“Hmm? Do you like him?” Sora asked.
“Eh, I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest. Not off the top of my head. He was always just an annoying little depressed bird.”
“Ugh … ouch,” Sora winced. “Who knows! Maybe he can change, too. I mean, look at the cute wolf-girl you turned out to be?”
“You just want to see me blush,” Kari grumbled, folding her arms with a huff. “I won’t give you the satisfaction anymore.”
Sora gave her a sidelong smirk. “We’ll see.”
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