Sora fidgeted with her shirt front. “So, can I—umm, release the Outer Body Technique?”
“In a moment,” Inari said, tails fanning out behind her. “Be aware that Emilia does not know how to functionally use her abilities; just like I taught you, she will need to be educated.”
“Huh,” Sora’s mouth dropped open as she glanced back at her first follower; Emilia looked down, ears pulling back, cheeks flushed. “You really don’t know how to use your abilities?”
Emilia slowly shook her head, arms locked against her stomach. “I don’t.”
Inari hummed. “Emilia has been filled with much knowledge about the world and your circumstances; however, how she used her magic before her Core was shattered and Intelligence erased is beyond the scope of her understanding, and other issues are compounding this scenario. In addition, the gift that you have given her has changed the fundamental essence of her magic.”
“Changed the fundamental … huh?” Sora rubbed her forearm and elbow. “How so?”
Inari sat back, the same elegant chair appearing. She gestured to the seat that was conjured behind Sora. “Sit, I will explain.”
Sora took a seat, her vision moving between Emilia’s nervous fidgets and her aunt’s calm smile. “Okay.”
Inari spoke slowly and distinctly. “Normally, Vulpes use a very diluted form of Founder magic. Your grandmother infused a portion of her own magic mixed with a magical seed from the Magical Plane into a few Vulpes that would become the first magical foxes outside Founders. These Vulpes would have offspring and teach them how to utilize that magic, but over many ages and mutations, their magic became more limiting; eventually, the different Vulpes races came about.
“You could consider this realm’s Vulpes a future representation of where Vulpes will ultimately reach as the powerful influence of your grandmother, and the dying spores of that magical seed lessens each generation. This is the most extreme case, of course, since there are no outside sources to incorporate and convert other spiritual forces into their Core and feed their seeds.
“You have already discovered that these Vulpes are not utilizing any other source of magic but the single magical source that is being produced from within this planet; this includes the tragic case that none of them are taught how to mitigate this magical collapse by exercising the magical seed within themselves.”
“Wait,” Sora looked down at her lap, eyes narrowing. “Does that mean that my energy is diluted compared to grandma’s?”
Inari shook her head. “No, dear, you are a Founder, born with the source of your grandmother’s power. Consider it as the sun and the Vulpes your grandmother gave power to like solar panels. Your grandmother planted a magical seed within them and fed it with a lot of energy, and it sprouted within the Vulpes Cores that helped to awaken dormant spiritual organs that produce energy, namely, infusing this power into their Oltera Nexus.
“However, what I do to my Kitsune and that I have helped you accomplish with Emilia is different; you did not infuse some of your energy into Emilia’s seed, but resonated with her entire Core, causing her Oltera Nexus and the remains of that seed to transform into a miniature fireball in itself. Think of your Oltera Nexus as a blazing star, massive and powerful, while Emilia’s is an ember trying to keep alight. By unlocking her Core further, she’s fanning that flame and helping it grow.
“Your Core is powered by the massive spiritual genetic Oltera Nexus you’ve inherited as a Founder and could function without any outside source; however, your natural attunements also absorb outside energy naturally. This energy that you are producing can be used in unbelievable ways, but one means that I found out myself, was changing the very nature of a Vulpes’ Core; this was the start of the Kitsune.”
“I see,” Sora muttered, glancing back at Emilia; she was staying silent, looking down at her copper tails, fingers trembling slightly as she stroked her fur. “So—her magic functions a bit like mine now?”
“In an extremely crude fashion, yes,” her aunt hummed. “She does not have the attunement that you hold, the ability to recover nearly as fast, and many other feats you are gifted with as a Founder. That being said, she is far above any Vulpes her age, and even many of my beginning Kitsune; the first two levels of her Core have been fully unlocked. This was only possible because of her broken Core and erased Intelligence added with my knowledge and a Founder’s resonance with her Oltera Nexus.
“The method by which normal Vulpes and Founders utilize their magic on an intrinsic level is fundamentally different. You may think that imagining what you want and feeding your magic into that desire is effortless, such as what you did modifying the shower upstairs, but there will be a steep learning curve for Emilia.” Her aunt’s smile brightened. “This will be an excellent means to refine your own magic as you teach her.”
Sora chuckled, head resting against the back of the chair. “Everything you do is so complicated.”
“That is a matter of perspective,” her aunt said, stroking one of her tails. “Something is complicated until you practice it; the more experience you obtain, the more understandable my words will become. There are only a handful of beings that know the beginnings of the Vulpes, and now you are one of them. So, will you choose to help guide Emilia, or let her stumble on her own?”
She couldn’t answer right away; it seemed absurd to her, but she couldn’t help glancing in Emilia’s direction. Her head was lowered, ears pulled back as she stared at her tails atop her lap, and nibbled on her lower lip. That’s not fair … how do I teach her?
“All you need to do is take the first step, explain your process, and let her feel it out herself while you monitor and guide her hand. It’s like learning how to shoot a basketball; it takes practice and failure to build the proper experience to make it into the hoop. You, my little niece, are a genuine prodigy above gifted elites; you cannot expect everyone to be as quick a study as yourself.”
Seriously … I’m a genuine prodigy above gifted elites.
“Have you forgotten what the word Goddess represents? Though you are young, you are of Goddess pedigree.”
Her feet shifted uncomfortably as her ears pulled back. “I’m just sixteen though … she’s like seven-hundred, and I’m supposed to teach her?”
“Seven-hundred and eighty-nine by her spiritual activity, to be more exact,” her aunt stated. “Yes, she is much older, but that does not mean she has the experience you have. Remember, I taught you hundreds of years worth of experience in our first lesson; that one lesson has helped you accomplish all of this. Did you know that it would be nearly impossible for me to communicate to you otherwise since I do not have any power other than what you have given me to use? Everything was rooted on this one technique.”
Sora swallowed the lump in her throat. “That’s still all you, though…”
Her aunt shook her head. “No, Sora, I gave you information, but it was up to you to develop that experience and shape it to your own style. It will be the same for Emilia.”
Taking a deep breath, Sora looked over at the disheartened fox. “Emilia, I—I’m not trying to be mean or push you away … I’m just—I don’t know if I can teach you. I told Jin that I’d help her figure out this technique, but it was kind of a whim—I don’t know how to do that…”
Emilia put on a weak smile. “No—I understand. You’ve done so much for me already. I’m sure I can figure it out.”
Inari’s voice sounded in her mind. “No, she cannot. She does not even know how to open her magic to begin trying; even if she had her past memories, she would not understand because you have completely changed her Core. She is using a much more refined and elastic form of magic than she previously had.”
I see … then there’s no other way, and this is another training method for me, isn’t it. Teach Emilia, and in the process, learn more about it myself?
“You can see it that way.”
Sometimes … no, never mind. Everything you do is for a purpose; so, you’re purposefully vague … alright.
Sighing, Sora tried putting on a confident smile. “Okay, Emilia, I’ll help where I can—it’s not you at all! I was just a little intimidated … I’m not sure I’ll be a good teacher,” she mumbled, “but I’ll do my best.”
Emilia’s features brightened but soon fell again. “I—well, I want to help you, but … I can’t do that if I’m weak. I want to get stronger—I’m ashamed that I must continue to rely on you to do that, though—putting more of a burden on you when you already saved me.”
“No, no—Emilia,” Sora’s brow furrowed with concern. “You can’t feel that way—you lost everything—literally, everything. It’s not your fault at all—I’m the one that feels inadequate—I know,” she quickly stated, seeing Emilia’s features crease with apprehension. “I know that you don’t see it that way, but I can’t help it—I’m still a teenage girl that’s stumbling around in the dark. I like helping people, but I don’t want to mess up … I’ve already messed up so much.”
“I don’t feel like you could ever mess-up,” Emilia whispered, rubbing her wrist as she looked away.
Sora laughed. “You’re funny!”
“No—really,” Emilia said earnestly.
“I mess up all the time,” Sora said, a heavy sigh leaving her lips as she ran a hand through her hair. “I almost killed my friends without a second thought with my magic. If I didn’t have my aunt, then I’d probably have killed so many people—actually, I’d be dead. Everything I learned from her has helped me, but I’m scared I’ll trip up, and you’ll die or hurt someone else following my instructions.”
“Sora,” Inari said with a compassionate smile. “I am concerned about many things as well, but concern is not fear. Concern is an emotion that helps you plan and execute caution when moving forward while fear is paralyzing and halts your progress. Take it slow if you are concerned, but don’t stop with fear.”
She nodded, puffing out another breath. “Okay, I understand.” Turning to Emilia, she smiled again. “I’d really like to know more about you—wait,” her vision shifted to the darkness as she thought. “You—is there more to learn about you? I mean, you don’t have any memories, but you do have some of the knowledge of my circumstances, but this is like the first time you’ve had your own memories, right?”
Emilia took a short but sharp breath before smiling. “Yes, I know about Bathin, your father, and many other things about your life—much more than anything about my own.” She whispered, looking back down at her tails, she played with the fur of the top one. “I know a bit about this realm from what information Inari gave me, and the circumstances that lead to this event.”
“Oh?” Sora’s smile brightened. “You called her just Inari! Most people tend to get super stiff when talking to my aunt at first.”
“Well,” Emilia’s ears dropped back down again as she looked down at the white floor. “I recognize she’s powerful and your aunt, but personally, I’d rather call you Lady Sora because I revere you more than her, but … I also know that you wouldn’t want that.”
“Cute,” Inari giggled.
Sora was a little taken aback. “Lady Sora … what’s Lady-like about me?”
“It’s—a little difficult for me to explain,” Emilia mumbled. “It’s just how I feel.”
“I told you before,” Inari chuckled. “Honor, Sora, honor is where real power lies. She feels such deep admiration, trust, and loyalty toward you that you could be nothing less than royalty.”
“What?” She sucked on her lower lip as she watched Emilia look up at her and nod silently, but the emotions displayed by her light blue eyes made Sora hesitate.
You’re sure she’s not compelled?
“No, Sora, she is completely in control. Is it so hard to believe that she’d feel this way after being touched by your very Core and resonating with it? You do not give yourself enough credit.”
I guess I’ll take your word for it…
“In any case,” Sora muttered, folding her arms. “I would just like you to call me Sora, and why don’t we get out of my Core and meet the rest of the group?”
Emilia’s nervousness seemed to vanish as her smile turned stunning. “I’d really enjoy that.”
Her aunt’s giggle echoed in her mind. “You didn’t pick up on it in the least.”
“She was terrified that you didn’t feel ready to accept her; even though that petrified her, she was willing to wait for when you were ready for her, however long that took. She is more than willing to give you everything that she is; she will do it on the drop of a dime.”
That terrifies me! I want her to be her own person.
“She is her own person and has chosen to give herself to you. If you wish for her to have a life, then forge one for her. Give her duties that can bring her purpose and joy in accomplishing; praise her for her service. This is what she wants.”
I … I can’t just accept that, though … I need time to think through this.
“Then take the time, but know that her feelings will not change. You will always be of great value to her, and you must live with that.”
Okay … what is she now, though? She’s not … I don’t even know what she was before? Not a Nogitsune, like me, right?
“No, she had devolved from a Huli Jing by a significant margin, to the point that she could not even be considered the same. Why don’t you use the name Tenko? Originally, humans called Kitsune of the highest order Tenko, but I have always referred to them as Myōbu. Tenko would actually be rather appropriate for your followers since they resonate with you; their primary element becomes Celestial Energy after their Core unlocking. The closer they are to the open heavens and within outer space, the more energy they absorb.”
Well, I guess that works … you’d know.
“Congratulations, Sora. I am overjoyed.”
I think it’s going to have to get used to it, personally…
Sora sighed as she opened her eyes, Emilia opening her eyes shortly after; even as she watched, her tails, ears, skin, and eyes changed as her Spiritual Network radiated her new spiritual essence.
“Sora…” Jin muttered, but her mouth was half open in shock as she watched the transformation finish.
“Magnificent,” Eyia whispered in an awestruck tone. “That was breathtaking to behold.”
The four humans stared at Emilia with wide eyes and slack jaws; Ashley walked back into the room before freezing. “What the—Sora, what did you do to that fox?”
Wendy heard Ashley’s comment and rushed to the door to peek out from behind her.
Githa seemed to growl lightly before pushing herself further into the chair, trying to ignore them.
Sora laughed nervously. “Umm—so, I kind of—with my aunt’s help, unlocked her Core—twice. My aunt said that she is like my equivalent to a Kitsune to her, and said that an appropriate name would be a Tenko, but—she can introduce herself.” Her face flushed as everyone kept staring at her.
“Hmm,” Ashley rubbed the side of her neck as she studied the fox. “For me—it’s like a smell, but no—a feeling of a smell—like I’m experiencing an entire field of beautiful flowers blooming in front of my eyes.”
They watched Emilia extract the ruby pin and untangle her long hair quietly, colored the same copper as Sora’s. She stared down at the pin with a sad expression.
“Was she this stunning before?” Wendy muttered. “It’s like she’s a million times prettier—how does that work? What did you do, Sora?”
Rising, Emilia pulled her hair over her shoulders and set the pin down on the arm of the chair. She performed a short bow; her voice was just as Sora remembered within her Core, soft, beautiful, and lush. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Eyia, Jin, Wendy, and Ashley.” Her vision moved between each person. “My name is Emilia; Lady,” she paused for a moment, closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and opened her eyes as she slowly let out the air.
She really does want to call me Lady…
“Following Sora’s desires, Inari used Sora’s energy to heal and unlock my Core; she’s also given me a basic understanding of how a lot of the world operates and the fundamental knowledge of living within the Human Realm through Sora’s memories. I have also been briefed on the incident that destroyed my Core, and I have no love for The Vulpes Council that has robbed me of everything.”
She turned to Sora with a reverent smile. She pulled her hair away from her face and crossed her hands, each of her tails twisting around each other, making it look like she had four tails. “If you say I am a Tenko, then I will happily accept that title. May I ask what it means?”
Jin seemed to regain her senses. “Well—okay, Sora, that was pretty amazing. Ehrm, Emilia, Tenko would be Japanese, and literally means Celestial Fox or Heavenly Fox.”
Sora nodded, hands knotted behind her back. “Yeah, my aunt said that it best fits you because you share in my primary attunement, Celestial Energy; basically, we gain a lot of energy from the open sky and outer space.”
“That’s awesome,” Ashley whispered.
“No, but really,” Wendy spoke up. “How is she prettier, Sora?”
Eyia giggled, causing everyone to look at her. “I assume it has to do with your recent awakening. You aren’t seeing her outer body as pretty, but her radiant Core. If Sora were to remove the shield around her Spiritual Network, then you’d see an even brighter radiance, but it seems that Emilia has yet to learn how to shield her Spiritual Network.
“She has a vast pool of energy after her transformation; enough to do real damage to Jin or me, but it is obvious that she has many years of training before she can utilize it properly. I can feel her adoration for you, my sister; today we must celebrate to welcome a new sister to the fold.”
Seriously? Eyia just freaking accepts her instantly? Well, I guess since she can’t shield her Core that it’s wide open for anyone skilled enough to see. Wow … but if Eyia accepts her so openly, then it must be real. She’s usually super cautious.
Emilia bowed to Eyia. “Thank you for your welcome, Eyia. I look forward to getting to know you better and ask for your guidance in combat so I may better learn how to be of service to Sora.”
“Eh?” Sora’s eyes widened. Does she know what she’s getting into? Eyia’s a freaking monster at training … there’s no doubt she’d use some insane methods like she went through on the Island!
“It would be my honor,” Eyia said, walking over to her. Emilia straightened, and Eyia held out her hand; this was the first time Sora noticed a frosted over cut on her palm. Emilia lifted her hand and Eyia reached out, grasping her forearm; she only hesitated a moment before returning the gesture.
How did Eyia of all people get hurt? There’s no way someone else hurt her.
“Is this a greeting among Asgardians?” Emilia questioned, brow furrowed.
“Yes,” Eyia smiled warmly. “It has multiple meanings depending on the situation; one of those situations is a gesture of kinsmen.”
“It is I that is honored then,” Emilia returned.
Sora cleared her throat. “Ehm, Eyia … what happened to your hand?”
Releasing her grip, Eyia stepped back to give Emilia some space while holding up her hand to stare at the red liquid frozen beneath the ice. “I was responsible for pushing Emilia, formerly Miyabe, into revealing the information that destroyed her Core. Though I was not the perpetrator, I had a hand in her destruction; therefore, I took an oath to see that justice is done.”
“It’s stupid,” Jin huffed angrily.
Eyia frowned as she turned to glare at Jin. “It is my honor.”
Emilia and Sora swallowed at Eyia’s iron tone, but Jin only rolled her eyes and looked away with disgust.
Taking a deep breath, Emilia smiled at Eyia. “I don’t blame you; Inari gave me all of the appropriate information to make up my own mind. I don’t miss my old life, even if I do feel bitter that it was taken, I know that my future is brighter because of that sacrifice. However, if this is something you feel that you must do, then I’d like to help as a part of that event myself.”
Sora hummed lowly. So, Emilia’s entire world was shattered by this Council; maybe they have a reason for it, but still, that’s extreme, and it’s pretty obvious, even to me, that Emilia had no clue that would happen. It doesn’t sit right with me, and I’d like to know the reasons myself.
“Umm,” Sora bit the inside of her cheek for a moment as everyone but Githa turned to her. “I’d like some answers too; I don’t think it was right that they did that to you. I’ll have to think about it a bit more … maybe get my aunt’s opinion or go back and listen to some of her lectures—I bet that’s what she’ll make me do anyways, and there’s a lot for me to sort through—the information I got from my Intelligent Constructs returning … I just have a lot to sort through…”
Sora frowned as Emilia’s fur stiffened and a shiver ran down her frame. “Oh—excuse me, Sora. I didn’t even ask if I could join Eyia.”
“Huh,” Sora’s left eye narrowed with confusion. “I—eh, Emilia, look, just because your a Tenko, or whatever you are—you aren’t my slave. Remember, we’re friends; it’s not servant master…”
Emilia’s ears drooped as she looked down at the floor, tails dropping to the floor. “Sorry—I’m just trying to get used to this … everything’s just really new to me.”
She looked up into Eyia’s sensitive dark blue eyes. “Yes, it will be an adjustment, but your emotions are as pure as Amsvartnir. Sora is not the type to think less of you or belittle your efforts. Know that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Once we have consummated our celebration with a feast, we shall be sisters, and we shall be bound by the Oath of Sisterhood.”
Mood brightening, Emilia smiled softly. “Thank you for accepting me…” A few tears fell down her cheeks, causing them to redden. “I will cherish this day for the rest of my life.”
Eyia squeezed her shoulder and motioned toward the kitchen. “Now that we have finished our discussion, it would be best if we helped in the preparation of the feast. If we can be of service, then the food will taste that much sweeter.”
Emilia chuckled nervously, cheeks flushing slightly. “I don’t know much about cooking.”
Sora butted in. “Eh, I second that … I’ve always had someone else cook for me.”
“Then I must teach you,” Eyia smiled brightly. “Cooking is a necessity of life.”
Well, I don’t think I even need to eat anymore if I really didn’t want to, but … food is addicting.
“Thanks,” Sora said, tilting her head toward Wendy and Ashley by the doorway. “We’ll come join you guys then!”
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