A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Five: Inception

Happy Thanksgiving!!  Hope you have a wonderful food day!  I’m about to … hehe (stomach’s growling while I write this).

POV: Sora (our Vulpes Founder)

Recap:  After the other council members left the room, most likely trying to organize their thoughts and remain calm, the party talked amongst each other about the Vulpes running the realm.

There were a few fun interactions, but the important bit was some mysterious force that connected to Sora, telling her all sorts of random gibberish while leaving off with, you should let me steal your body!

What the crap is going on?  The Herald of Sakura is enough eldritch horror for one book, right?

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Sora blinked, green irises sliding between the tense faces that all gradually turned to her, the only one that hadn’t instantly caught the mood of the room and hadn’t freaked out.

In the ensuing silence, she cleared her throat.  “Just checking, but, umm—you all heard that voice, right?”  After the words left her mouth, she felt a little stupid, realizing it had entered her Core.  “Wait…”

“Uh—huh?”  Jin mumbled.

Eyia slowly shook her head.  “I did not—Emilia, is something wrong?”

Sora’s focus darted to her daughter with everyone else.

Emilia seemed paralyzed, expression frozen on shock while looking up at the sphere above them.

“Is she okay?”  Kari asked, hair falling across the table as she leaned over it to get a better angle.

Mary’s brow creased, slowly rising back to her chair with the others from underneath the table.  “It looks like—what happened, Sora?”

Githa was in her human form, standing atop the table’s liquid-like surface, feline eyes locked on Sora.  “Hear a voice … hmm, no, but there was a large spiritual burst that clouded my senses for a moment.”  Her tone slowly became more serious.  “What happened?  Don’t leave out a detail.”

“Emilia…” Sora whispered, but Jin cut in.

“She’s fine; study her yourself.”

Ignoring Githa, Sora analyzed her daughter’s Core.

She’s horrified, but … if she was following my magic, she probably sensed whatever spoke to me.  If that’s the case…

She quickly searched Emilia’s recent memories and found the image that had startled her, tails going stiff.

“What?”  Kari asked.  “Sora, what’s going on?  Did you hear something when connecting to the City’s Core?”

“I—wow, how do I describe it,” she mumbled.  “Umm—okay, I think this is serious.”

A lump dropped down her throat while studying Emilia’s much more extensive experience.  There had been no voice, but the images and implications would have overwhelmed someone as innocent as Emilia; she was so stunned that there weren’t even tears falling down her cheeks.

“Wonderful—well, don’t hold out on us,” Jin groaned, leaning left and right.  “Never a dull moment with you.”

“Give her time; she must still be processing the severity of the situation,” Eyia assured.  “If immediate action was needed, then she would have said something.”

“Just remember,” Githa repeated in a neutral tone, “don’t leave anything out—there was something—unnatural, in that burst.”

“Where do I—Okay,” Sora ran her free hand through her hair, releasing a puff of air.  “I’ll just make an illusion of it—yeah, that would probably be the best.”

Manipulating the light around them, she made the table and floor vanish, and a broken, devastated city in a realm of darkness formed below, giving them an aerial view of the wreckage.

Taking a deep breath, Sora did her best to subdue the hair-raising tingles shooting up her back, like hundreds of disembodied fingers slowly sliding along her skin.  She’d experienced much worse while in the presence of The Herald; still, the things Emilia saw took her from DEFCON four to DEFCON three.

“This is the first thing Emilia saw when watching the City Core touch my spiritual force.  Tola, is there a place like this in the Realm?”

“No—no, I’ve never seen anything,” she cut herself off, staring at a colossal tower, which collapsed around the ruins.  “This looks like—like the Capital, but—no, no, there are differences.”

Githa dropped to her butt upon the invisible table, legs crossed as she brooded on the scene.  Jin and Eyia also seemed preoccupied with speculations.

Wendy, Ashley, Nathan, and Mary gazed at the scene as if they’d stepped into a post-apocalyptic world; even the countryside was void of life, showing dirt and dead forests.

Emilia had snapped out of her trance, hands like vices around Sora’s arm, and she knew why, but there had to be a build-up to the information for them to get the full context.

Kari appeared more interested in Emilia and her than the illusion she spun while Aiden watched from the sidelines with an unreadable expression.

“Emilia and I experienced something that—it wasn’t timeless, but almost felt like it, and there were a lot of things she saw—it was like she was experiencing this place through someone else’s eyes.”

The illusion quickly moved up with her manipulations, showing individual streets, broken utensils, and houseware goods.

Curiosity soon turned to silent horror upon exploring; the remains of Vulpes and humans alike could be seen around the area, unfettered by the effects of time.  The evidence of a vicious struggle remained, showing pools of wet or dried blood, torn off body parts, and mortal wounds.

Not one soul was alive; corpse after corpse, the timeless scene stretched on to every ruined street they walked.  Looking up, the clouds didn’t move, and no wind could be seen, yet through her magic, they could hear the soft sound of someone walking, the person showing them the carnage.

“I reached out to the City Core … something reached back—well, it felt like someone did.”

Jin’s narrow yellow eyes darted to Tola.  “Has this happened before, or can you shed some light on this?”

Tola slowly shook her head, looking sick as she averted her eyes from a mass of bloodied bodies; it looked like they’d torn each other apart in a mob.  “No … I’ve never heard of anything this—ever.”

Eyia’s deep blue irises lifted to the heavens.  “There are clouds overhead … we are unable to determine if those celestial objects are still in the sky.  Could there be other cities upon those spheres?”

A shiver ran down Tola’s frame.  “I haven’t actually—well, there’s nothing of importance on those planets.  They’re meant for gravitational stability, including environmental factors upon the planet—our calendar.”

“You’ve never—been to them, then?”  Mary asked, holding her stomach while averting her eyes from several children.

“There’s no reason … not that I can think of.”

“Did anyone give you that idea?”  Jin prompted.

A low rumble passed through Nathan’s throat.  “Right—has anyone ever talked about them?”

“No, I don’t think you understand,” Tola earnestly replied, “I’ve seen the surface of many from this very chamber, and they’re just—all I’ve seen is a barren place, devoid of life, and we tend to those that live on the planet.  We had no reason to go there…”

“Then, how did you know there’s no life if you’ve never been there?”  Ashley pointed out.

“I—no, there’s a reason why I never … there has to be a reason?”

Sora glanced up at the black clouds.  “No—I don’t think you’ll find this on one of those planets, but I get what you’re all saying; yeah, it would be good to look into those places, but this is something secreted away—for a very long time.

“Something spoke to me through the City Core, which would mean that they either have some control over True Vulpes Magic or they’re linked to this city somehow.”

“It spoke to you about what?”  Githa asked, focus never leaving Sora.

“To be honest, she sounded insane—literally.”

Sora sighed, rubbing Emilia’s trembling fingers.  She influenced her mind, filtering out the illusions she spun and showed her the good memories she had of being with Inari in her sanctuary.

With Emilia distracted, she replicated the voice, and the others listened, each having their own reaction to the character.

Kari hummed softly.  “When she’s talking about your daughter, is it Emilia—or is there more to it—could she be mistaking you for your mom?”

“I thought that, too,” Ashley mumbled.  “She sounds super uncertain, though.”

Jin and Eyia’s lips were drawn into a line.

“You weren’t wrong.”  Jin lifted an eyebrow as it continued to play on repeat, Sora allowing everyone to get the full grasp of her meeting the unknown figure.  “She’s insane, alright.”

Mary’s brown hair bunched against her shoulder as she carefully studied it; Sora didn’t want to respond until everyone had their own questions.

After a bit, she cut her magic, returning to the space-like scene the room currently displayed.  “What did everyone think?”  Sora asked, bringing Emilia back to the conversation.

“Aunt Inari … oh,” Emilia’s eyes popped, staring around at the serious expressions surrounding them.  “Wait, Mom, was that a…”

“Yeah,” Sora gave her an apologetic smile.

“Oh … well, umm—it was nice,” she smiled with a light blush, staring down at her thighs.  “Way better than whatever that other place was.”

“I’ll say,” Nathan groaned, ruffling his hair.  “So, is this an Intelligent Construct inside the City Core, like an AI?”

“Perhaps,” Mary whispered, but still seemed too deep in her thoughts to expand.

Wendy’s legs were pressed against each other, and she chewed on her cheek while glancing around.  “So—eh, am I the only one that found it kind of scary—I mean, she wants to take over Sora’s body, like, uh, really—can I get a no from anyone?”  She asked with a forced chuckle.

“Of course,” Eyia responded, “it would not be advised.”  Her fingers folded across the table, vision narrow.  “Asgard has a City Core that governs many functions in our Realms; however, I have never heard of an Intelligent Construct being a directing force.”

“Because it’s ludicrous,” Githa replied, tails waving back and forth.  “Giving any form of intelligence command over a Realm could and has proven disastrous, which is why this place functions with a Council instead of Founder Intelligent Constructs.  Magic, no matter how powerful, will degrade over time, and Intelligent Constructs will unravel.”

“You’re saying that’s what happened here?”  Nathan asked.

“No—she’s not,” Jin slowly replied.  “If that’s the case, then … could this be a hybrid?”

Something her aunt had said rose through her mind in an alarming surge.  “Wait … a homunculus?”

Eyia, Jin, and Githa’s focus all shot to her, shortly followed by everyone else’s curious gaze.

“Where did you hear that word from?”  Jin asked with a deep frown.

Wendy’s hand shot in the air.  “Oh, I heard it in an anime!  It’s like a human, but not a human.”

“Wrong!”  Githa growled, eyes narrowing.  “It’s an artificial Intelligence that has been granted life through the sacrifice of many Intelligences … not a true miracle of creation, but a twisted shadow of the act that births something—unnatural.”

Eyia nodded.  “It is a banned practice among the Asgardians—which was one of many reasons why Loki was banished.”

“Well,” Sora felt a rock drop in her stomach, “my aunt said my mother—she created homunculus’ … among a lot of other things, trying to create a daughter.”

Everyone fell silent, and she could feel Emilia’s uncertainty upon hearing the revelation.

Wow … so, my mother took who knows how many lives and twisted, smashed, and shaped them into things, hoping it would make a daughter?  The more I learn, Mom … just who are you?

Her eyes wandered to Mia’s statue, and even though she could see a lot of her own features with many more in her daughter, the figure was a mystery to her.

“Mmh,” Githa shrugged, “Well, I mean, I knew that about Mia—nearly every Founder I know has tried it at least once … or they’re probably lying,” she snickered.

Jin sighed, leaning back in her seat.  “Yeah, you got that right.  Still, this thing that connected to Sora isn’t necessarily a homunculus, either.  It could be a lot of other things.”

Sora was a little taken aback by their indifferent responses; a moment ago, they’d been acting like it was such a horrible act but were just moving on like it was nothing.

Mary folded her hands on the table, eyes downcast.  “I can’t speak upon the merits of such things, but what I will say is that whoever this person—thing if you want to call it—whatever it is, it’s lonely.”

“Huh,” Nathan leaned back, tongue pressed against his bottom lip.  “Yeah, I can see that.”

“That doesn’t mean Sora should give her a joyride in her body!”  Wendy replied with dismay.

“I didn’t say she should,” Mary sighed, scratching the back of her head.  “There have been many studies—human, mind you, but I believe it still applies—studies show that if someone is left isolated, then they will crack; most of us are social creatures and require a certain level of interaction to ground ourselves in reality.

“First, she says it’s been a long time since she was awake, indicating a few possibilities.”

Eyia’s focus moved to Sora.  “Correct.  This creature could have been sealed away or isolated for a purpose.  It would be best to get more information about it before proceeding.”

“Yes,” Mary continued, “but we can also pull much more from her words.  I believe she both saw Mia in Sora and noticed Emilia as Sora’s daughter; the duality in her response is quite clear, which means we’re possibly dealing with someone far older than any of us wish to contemplate.”

“Oh,” Githa’s eyes sparkled, and she licked her lips, “you’re smarter than you look!”

“Thanks—I think?”  Mary cleared her throat.  “Anyway, she follows up with a barrage of statements, saying she doesn’t know you, but knows you, which is likely a throwback to her confusing you with your mother—however, she follows that with are you me?

“Dissociative disorders are mental disorders that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions, and identity.  This could be her projecting her need to be something else or someone else, and for all I know, it could just be a reflection of something deeper within Sora, making the statement true.”

“Woah—this just went a level above my brain—super inception,” Nathan mumbled, fingers pressed against his temple.

“Let’s not get too crazy,” Ashley chuckled before catching herself, “well … I suppose that isn’t the craziest thing we’ve actually seen.”

“Just food for thought,” Mary whispered, moving on.  “There’s a clear disconnect that this person has with herself and what’s around her, but the creature then catches itself, coming back to a sense of reality the moment it sees some type of gate closing.”

Wendy’s hand popped up again.  “Oh, it’s gotta be a metaphor, right?”

“Perhaps,” Mary shrugged, “we can’t be sure.  It could have been the link Sora and her shared through the City Core was weakening, or some protocol was set off to sever the connection.

“In any case, it was disappointed, but mentioned Sora by name, separate from itself, or not confusing itself with Sora, and then asked to take over her body, but not as her, which is an important distinction.  There were serious dissociative signals before, but now, she wanted to use Sora’s body with her—maybe share the space while also trying to appeal to her humane side, claiming to be lonely, which justifies the action.

“Then, she starts to degenerate into her dissociative state, referencing a dream, and if she’s a dream herself.  The next statement is an important key…”

“I’m a thing of things, not a dream,” Jin repeated.

“Right … but is she really or does she think she is, is the question?”  She forced a depressed laugh.  “Normally, the answer is simple if I’m dealing with a human, and we can work toward recovery, but this is—outside of my experience.  For all I know, she could be a dream, a part of Sora, an amalgamation of Intelligences, among any number of other options.”

“The last part came true, though,” Sora said, turning to Emilia.  “She showed Emilia something appalling … saying she knew awful secrets.”

“Yeah, I vote to make the Council talk!”  Wendy huffed, making Tola stiffen.  “After what we just saw—that was horrible!  Babies, kids—so many Vulpes and humans were dead … how can anyone justify that?”

“Well, let’s pull back a little,” Ashley replied, breathing through her teeth.  “That’s just a single side of a story that we’ve been given.  For all we know, that could have been a trap set to get Sora back in with this creature, using our emotions to pull us in to release it.”

“Oh … yeah, bad-guy 101,” Wendy mused with a sad sigh.  “Oof—I would have fallen for that hook, line, and sinker.”

Jin laughed, drawing everyone’s attention.  “So, in the end, we can say we’ve discovered a mysterious creature that sounds completely insane.  It gave us some questionable information, and that’s it.”

Nathan folded his arms, jaw working around.  “Not to state the obvious, but—what are the chances the other council members planned this out as a diversion?”

“I’d put it at a slim chance,” Githa replied, unusually serious, “but possible.  They can’t counter Sora’s authority, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use the City Core to seed false flags.”

“Eh, am I missing something?”  Kari asked.  “Why would they want to make us even more suspicious of them?  This just puts us even more on guard.”

Eyia’s sharp blue eyes moved to her with a frown.  “You are a Fenris Wolf, of course, you could not see the tactical advantage.”

Sora was a little surprised at the biting words but also knew Eyia was on a bit more than unfriendly terms with Kari based on her genetics alone.

Jin gave Eyia a sidelong glance.  “Geez, I mean, It took me a moment to get it, too,” she muttered.

“Yet you still understood,” Eyia stated without remorse.

“Uh—I feel stupid,” Wendy laughed, scratching her arm.  “I don’t get it, either.”

Mary and Ashley seemed a little stumped, too.

Nathan explained after giving both Eyia and Kari a forced smile as they glared at each other.  “Let’s not go for each other’s throats, here!  I know we’re all a bit tense, but, uh—well, we saw that each council member wasn’t exactly thrilled to be working with each other.  If they have a powerhouse that can override the entire Council combined, then…”

“Oh…”  Both Wendy and Kari mumbled, and Sora felt more than one person get the same click as the information fell into place.

“Oh my gosh…”  Ashley groaned, slumping to the table.  “This is too complicated!  It could be so many things—and all of them are bad.  We really didn’t learn much except there’s probably a lot of conspiracies working around us.”

Sora felt the same exasperation falling against her own chest.  “Not that I needed more…” she moaned.

To make matters worse, after two minutes of silent thought, the other council members began to return; one after the other, their entrance caused everyone to straighten, and more than one eye darted to Loral once she took her seat.

She looks … healthy—did that gate opening have something to do with … oh, no … more conspiracy theories.  How many does that make now?  Too many … too many.

“Well,” Loral’s soft voice held a charming tone that had been lacking before, “it seems as if something has caused quite the stir … and Lady Githa…”

Githa slowly turned, scooting atop the table to give her an innocent, questioning smile.  “Mhm?”

Loral’s charm cracked for a moment, jaw tightening.  “Could—you please take a seat?  Tables are not for butts.”

“What about tails?”  Githa asked with a beaming smile.  “Oh, think how many we could have on a table?  Let’s see … one, two, three … eighteen,” she managed to get further than Sora would have been willing to bet before the Indigo councilwoman interrupted.

“Tails are not for the table, either, I’m afraid.”

“Aww, you’re no fun!”  Githa huffed, casually rising into a stretch before slinking off to a seat Tola conjured, and Sora noticed a few hidden smiles from the other Vulpes.

Githa’s smarter than I thought … but is it really wise to get on the bad side of the person that holds the most power?  Wait … that’s actually me … oh … oh, okay.  Githa’s preparing the mood to be more casual when we meet with the other council members alone.

She couldn’t help but feel out of place.

Why do I feel like everyone’s playing 4D Chess while I’m stuck at the easy stage of normal Chess?  Still … could all of that have been fake?  I’m leaning toward no, but I just can’t rule it out.  These mind games will kill me before anyone physically does the job…

Loral cleared her throat as everyone took their seats.  “Is there anything you’d like to discuss that occurred while we were away?”

Everyone glanced at each other, shaking their heads.

“We were just discussing personal matters,” Mary replied.

“I see,” Loral whispered, vision sliding between them before settling on Sora.  “I apologize for our rude introduction.  Now that our emotions have settled, why don’t we go around the table and have each member express a concern and a solution to that issue?

“I will start as is custom.  Lady Sora, as a Third Generation Founder of the Vulpes, you cannot deny that you hold great authority.  When you speak, you can be seen as a representative of your family…”

Eyia sharply interjected.  “Respectfully, I disagree.  Sora is her own woman and does not speak on behalf of her family.  I have never heard her say such a ridiculous thing as to proclaim her aunt’s decision on a matter, much less her entire family.  Where do you draw your basis for such a claim?”

Wow … okay, didn’t expect Eyia to be so forward about that, but I guess it could come from Asgardian culture?  Maybe that’s just something she thinks is really stupid.

Loral’s lips fell ever so slightly.  “Is it not obvious, Lady Eyia?”

A smirk lifted Jin’s cheeks.  “I think she’s talking about the City Core, Eyia.  What Sora desires is reflected as a family override, right?”  She asked, looking at Loral.

Eyia huffed, throwing back her blonde hair out of irritation.  “An utterly foolish argument.”

Dang … Eyia’s going hard right now!  What’s gotten into her?  In fact, everyone seems to be getting a bit more serious.

Ella scooted forward on her violet colored seat, eyes wide as she studied the Asgardian.  “Oh—how so?”

Loral’s charm diminished again, cold eyes sweeping to the small, teenage-looking Vulpes girl.  “Ella, do I need to remind you of the format.”

Mary chimed in.  “Chairman Loral, may I?”

The Indigo Vulpes gave Mary a moment’s study, seemingly approving of her tone.  “You may.”

“And, Eyia, can I explain?”

Eyia shot a distrustful glare at Loral.  “If you can dispel such an absurd notion.”

“Right, well, Sora does not have her family here to act in accord, but the City Core responds to her bloodline.  I understand that family is a known topic here in the Capital, unlike the rest of the world, correct?”

Sora could tell there was a hint of a point in that question, but it didn’t seem to register for Loral as she nodded without any indication of seeing her distaste for the implication.

“Then would a brother, choosing to take his mother, father, and sister’s daily food away, without discussing it with them, act as speaking on their consent?”

Loral’s lips were tight as she noticed Ella’s bright expression.  “Go ahead.”

“No, it would not.  He would need to get their consent before going to get the food, correct?”

“Indeed!  Therefore, Loral’s notion only applies if Sora’s entire family told her that she is an acting agent on their behalf.  However, Sora has yet to meet her mother, and as far as I am aware, Inari has never told her that she can stand in her place.

“For instance, if a Vulpes came to Sora and asked her to make her a Kitsune, or a follower of Inari, gifted with specific blessings, then Sora would have to decline because she does not have the authority.

“Now, if they wanted to be Sora’s follower, then that would be fine, but again, she could not speak on behalf of Inari.”

“Yet she has Inari’s name backing her,” Loral stated, doing well to keep any heat out of her voice.

“I cannot deny that.”  Mary chuckled, implying the question was silly while speaking perfectly neutral, “but isn’t that conflating two different conditions?  Inari will go to any length to protect her niece.  However, how does that fall under speaking for her?”

Loral was silent for a moment, but it didn’t appear as if she’d had a sudden realization that what she said was wrong.  “Let’s move on.  My point being, Lady Sora can interfere with our decisions as the overseers of this Realm.”

A light clicked in Sora’s mind.

This is just like before … we’re building support.  These Vulpes follow those who have more power than them, and this isn’t me interfering with their decisions, but Loral’s decisions, holding the highest seat.  Man … my mind’s still back on that crazy voice.

Clearing her throat as Loral finished, everyone turned to her.  “I told you before, Chairman Loral, I did not come here to be a threat to you.  However, there have been some recent events that have caught my attention, and the notice of my family.”

Loral’s shoulders tightened as she continued.

“This Realm was definitely created by someone within my family, and because of that, I do have power here; perhaps the greatest seat of power one can hold.  My aunt did tell me to do something on her behalf—there is a mystery in this Realm that involves my family, and I will solve it.

“I do not plan to interfere with your daily operation, but I do want to better understand why this Realm is operating the way it is, and if we discover a better way to facilitate its function, working together, then wouldn’t that benefit everyone?

“I want to be of help to each of you, and I hope you can also help me!  We’ll all be in your care, and I look forward to working with you.”

Loral’s head mechanically moved to the other councilmembers.  “We’ll move to Phebe—any concerns?”

The ruler over the Red Seat was giving her a bright smile.  “None.”


“Oh, me?”  The green-furred Vulpes giggled.  “Concern—concern, hmm—oh, will you have enough time to have a chat with me?  I have so many questions that just aren’t—ahem, appropriate for this kind of setting!”

Feeling a little nervous about what direction that might go, Sora slowly nodded.  “Umm—sure.”

“Wonderful!”  She clapped her hands.  “No other concerns.”


“No, Lady Loral.”

Her jaw locked before taking a deep breath, and a mask of serenity passed over her.  “I’m grateful that you’ve all found such confidence in our visiting Founder.  Ella?”

“Same as Lady Hallaway, Lady Sora?  I’d love to also speak with your companions.  If that is acceptable?  There seem to be quite a few intelligent minds among your group.”

“Will there be food?”  Githa asked, eyes burning with passion.

“Food, hmm—yes, we can provide a great feast.”

“Oh, I second that!”  Hallaway added, and the others quickly gave their own promise of refreshments; Eyia and Jin’s features brightened at that, and even Emilia’s heart began beating faster with anticipation with all the tension leaving.

“Food … yes, that would be nice—Bethel?”  Loral asked.

“No concerns—oh, but, umm—yeah, I’d like to talk, too!”

“I get it,” Sora giggled, “yes, we’ll spend some time together—you know, maybe if I do have so much power—I man … maybe I can lift some of the bans that prevent you from going to each section of the city?  It’s just a thought.”

A few councilmember’s eyes widened with surprise and wonder, but Loral was quick to respond.  “That would be—we should discuss that in private, Lady Sora.  Would that be acceptable before you make any—rash decisions?”

Rash, huh?  Well, I don’t exactly know what that would cause, and it’s among the most civil things she’s asked.

“Umm—yeah, that seems fair.”

“Excellent, then … that leaves Mofupsi,” she sighed.  “You have the floor.”

The Yellow Seat holder had been sitting on the edge of her seat with anticipation.  “Oh, umm—yes; it usually takes so much longer to get to me!  Eh—can, umm—can you, like fight me?”

Everyone stared at her for a second, still registering the request.

“Concern, Mofupsi,” Loral sighed.

“Ah, right, right—I gotta phrase it like a concern … wait, didn’t I?”  She asked, yellow hair bouncing as she turned right and left to stare at her co-workers.

Ella gave her a forced smile.  “Reasonable concern, Mofupsi.”

She clearly didn’t understand why her question wasn’t a reasonable concern, so Sora responded.  “Uh—I mean, maybe?  If there are boundaries—I can make a protective shield around us with the City Core.”

“Again,” Loral groaned softly, releasing a puff of air, “Lady Sora, if you could speak to me before committing to a fight with such conditions.”

“Right…”  Sora mumbled, eyeing the yellow-furred Vulpes.  “Well, we’ll see, and maybe I’ll learn something, too—so, umm, yeah, we’ll see.”

“I’m so excited; our big tournament is coming up for rank advancements!”

Sora, Wendy, Mary, Ashley, and Nathan’s eyes widened in surprise at the statement, but Eyia, Jin, and Githa seemed hyped.

Loral spoke up before anyone could question further.  “That should conclude our meeting then.  At our discretion, Lady Sora, please have Tola notify me.”

With that, she left, and soon after, a few of the other council members did the same with begrudging expressions.

Hallaway chuckled sheepishly.  “I’m afraid that once she calls a meeting, the meeting room should be vacated.”

“Such strict and boring rules for Vulpes,” Jin noted.  “I thought this would be more fun.”

Mofupsi gave her a gleaming grin.  “Oh, each of our districts is way more fun than this boring stuff!”

“Huh?”  Jin returned the smile, “I’m looking forward to it.”

The Yellow Seat gave a hearty laugh before vanishing with the others.

“Well,” Tola released a breath that made it seem like she’d been holding it since the start of the meeting, “it’s over.  That went surprisingly well; you each caught onto the undertone of the meeting quite quickly.”

“Meh, it wasn’t anything great,” Jin shrugged.  “I’m still mulling over that thing that happened with the City Core.”

“Yes,” Eyia growled, “this is troubling.  We must gather more information, and I am not comfortable with my Sister going alone to have a chat with that Vulpes.”

“C’mon, Eyia,” Jin snickered.  “Have some faith in her; she’s come a long way since Miami.”

Eyia’s face glowed in an instant.  “That she has!  Although, you have yet to practice with me, and I wish to help you advance at a faster rate to defend yourself.”

Sora sucked in a breath through her teeth.  “Eh, yeah—maybe Emilia and I will take you up on that.”

Kari gave her a stern look.  “No, first you need to teach Emilia about her powers.”

“Yeah!”  Emilia shouted, latching onto her arm again.  “You promised!”

“Right, right,” Sora sighed in defeat.  “We can do that as soon as we can … Tola, anything else we need to do?”

The blue-furred Vulpes shook her head.  “As of this moment, no, we should all relax … I wish to, after everything we’ve been through.  I think I might retire for the day.”

“Rest well!”  Wendy said, moving to Sora’s side as they stretched and got up.  “I want to check out your training; it sounds really cool!  What first—the firetail thing; oh, no illusions?”

Emilia groaned, giving Sora an unenthusiastic stare.  “No … healing and meditation stuff…”

“Boo!”  Wendy called.  “We want to cool things!”

“Yeah, the cool things, Mom!”

Kari popped her tongue.  “C’mon, Emi, you gotta first learn how to utilize your Spiritual Energy and control it before doing those kinds of things.”

Both Wendy and Emilia’s cheer fell with their heads.  “Yeah, okay…”

Wow … I bet if I said that, they’d be all over me still.  Wait, when did Wendy and Kari start getting along, and Wendy turn into Emilia’s bestie?

Her thoughts were cut short as Tola adjusted her gown while addressing them.  “I’ll transport you to the same living quarters I sent the others with a few Vulpes attendants to look after your needs.”

“A hot bath…”  Jin moaned, pounding her tense shoulders, but she didn’t finish the sentence before they were whisked away by Tola’s spell.


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A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Four: Mysterious Events
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