A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Forty-Two: Laid Bare


1.Jin (Our First Look At Jin in 4 Volumes!  A Reason For It!)


We got a conclusion to the Council’s punishment as Naomie was handed down her sentence; now, our little snake goddess girl will oversee the Realm and get it back on track after Inari restored its Core and fixed most of the problems.  Victory!  Sora actually got to bed without passing out!  Isn’t that a victory?!

Now, let’s have our first look at Jin’s POV … How is our Dragon Girl doing and what is going through her mind?

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Eyes Wide, Andre Lauth, Gines Espinosa, Jared Larkin, Fotia, Sicarian, Krimson Fox, C. Beck Harbinson, N, and my other Patrons!

Unbinding the third-dimensional boundaries Jin placed on herself, she scratched the side of her scalp, releasing a low rumble in her throat that echoed across the dimensional space—higher third and fourth-dimensional beings would probably shiver at the ripple the wave sent across the zone of space-time.

Placing her hands behind her neck, Jin glared at the warped space in front of her; she’d left Sora and the rest of her posse trapped in their tiny sliver of time.  Eyia was standing before her as branches of various streams of time flowed beneath them.

“Look what you made me do…”  Jin grumbled, focus flicking to the tide below.

It was impossible to realistically explain to a third-dimension locked being, but the closest representation that could be given was as if a creature was trapped in a hurricane, stranded out at sea, hopeless to make any move against the flow of time.

Once they branched into the fourth dimension, they may have a boat, allowing them some mobility by viewing the rise and fall of the waves and giving them a chance to navigate to less rough waters.

In the fifth dimension, you could take to the skies in a plane, and, while the surging gale of the storm could buffer you in various directions, you had the capability to navigate to different places that were less violent.  In addition, you weren’t bound by the sea, meaning everything was an eternal ‘now’ or ‘present’ at all times.

Jin had a great view of the ocean from her position, that being said, her sight wasn’t limitless—in a worldwide ocean of time within this universe, she could only see a tiny slice of its scope.

She had a birds-eye view of this third-dimensional sphere, but not unlimited control of where she landed with the winds beating against her flight.  It did pull her mind back to the events that led to this moment, and unsurprisingly, a long curve through the sea was dark and murky.

The curse of a Founder … Only having one incarnation warps space-time where you walk.  Some things can be predicted, but that takes too much effort … at least for me…

Turning her attention back to the floating sphere that protected Eyia from interference against anyone fifth-dimensional or under, she released another long stream of hot air.  To think it wasn’t justSora and my presence that blackened time so much…

Resisting the drag of the fifth dimension as the tides sought to draw her back into the box she’d tethered herself to in the fourth, Jin floated around the frozen globe.  If she squinted, she could see the outline of Eyia, curled into a ball, crying; never did Jin think the indomitable woman would ever break down to this extent.

Mia brought up so many troubling questions … pfft, like she wouldn’t … twelfth-dimensional beings are annoying.  What are you exactly, Eyia?  If you’re … No, it’s just impossible and … weird.

Gathering her spiritual force, Jin politely sent short pulses of neutral pressure against Eyia’s barrier by wrapping her knuckles against the storm.  It sent a backlash of frigid spikes that tried to dig into her skin, but Jin didn’t have much trouble defending against it.

Eyia’s blurred figure gave a short jolt upon being disturbed, head shifting her way.

“Mhm, that’s right, Frosty,” Jin grunted, “I’m here to talk.  We good?”

The Valkyrie slowly lowered the shell, rubbing away her tears to show red, puffy cheeks and glistening blue eyes.  “Jin … So, I was right, you are a Founder…”

Jin folded her arms under her small bust, sour look on her lips while glaring down at the sea.  “I mean, not as if I should be shocked you’d come to that conclusion now … I hoped you would be too naive about Founders, but I suppose I shouldn’t be that shocked after those stupid humans brought me into my raged state and you had to calm me down.”

Swallowing a lump in her throat, a sad smile lifted Eyia’s lips.  “Yes, it was not easy to keep you sealed within the third dimension to keep you from doing severe harm to time-space … thereby hurting Sora.”

Rolling her eyes, Jin shook her head.  “Geez, what happened to that badass I liked watching?  I knew you were at least fourth-dimensional as a Valkyrie and able to access feats most creatures couldn’t when following you around that island, but after you contained my rage, I began to wonder.”

Eyia seemed a bit hesitant to deviate away from her internal struggle involving Sora, but Jin gave her the opportunity to talk about something else.  She wanted to know what the frosty creature would focus on because both of them did have some things to clear up.

It wasn’t like Sora or the others were going anywhere, seeing as Eyia and her were beyond time at the moment, and so long as they maintained their elevated state, they had almost eternity—unless something much bigger came along and ruined everything.

A sharp pulse of weight pressed against Jin as Inari, Mundilfari, Hati Hróðvitnisson, and Sköll did battle.  Expectedly, all of them were more or less locked into a four-way brawl, contained by the overarching framework of the dimensional space Sora’s grandmother created.

In Jin’s ancient memories, she knew some of the First Generation Founders called her Amy, but it was awkward to think about the identifier, seeing as it was somewhat of a term of endearment, and her mother wasn’t the closest Founder to the Vulpes family.  Ultimately, her mother, Yìnglóng, just called the woman Vulpes.  It felt a bit rebellious to associate with Sora, which she toyed with initially, and calling the first Vulpes by a more friendly term helped with that.

A shiver ran down Jin’s spine at the colossal radial forces being buffered by Amy’s lingering magic and Inari’s own support.

On the other hand, she wasn’t the biggest fan of Inari—most True Dragons weren’t.  Although this experience showed Jin there were biases inside her inherited memories, and meeting with Mia proved many things weren’t as they seemed.

Jaw locked, Jin glared up at the fathomless sky of raging clouds that represented the seemingly impassable barrier to the sixth dimension—everyone in the omniverse with any form of sense was likely feeling these waves.  Even normal humans would be inexplicably on-edge by the timeless pulses that touched various points in the timeline.

Mother … Why manipulate everyone so much?  Are the memories of Gong-Gong true, too … I suppose that shows why my older sisters have a different view of the Vulpes family.

Naturally, Jin resisted much of the expectations and responsibilities her mother passed down through their lineage; she was a black sheep in the family, choosing to laze around below her station and not put in all that much effort.  However, the moment she’d been captured by that human organization, her outlook began to change a bit—things were becoming very real to her.

Eyia’s expression tightened a little while following her gaze to the heavens.  Hate in her soft voice, the girl mumbled, “I hope Inari and Mundilfari kill them.”

The Valkyrie’s response grated against Jin’s mind.  Really … I would have thought you’d want answers and be more confused about Inari calling that presence Mundilfari, seeing as in your iteration of Asgard, he should be dead.

Jin eased her neck around, the sound of several cartilage pops bringing Eyia’s attention.  “Mmgh, I wouldn’t bet my fang on it.  After the Vulpes and Tanuki breakdown, Founders made a pact to preserve their numbers—even though there isn’t a lot of love lost, despite the hate, Inari would save the Fenris Wolves from Mundilfari if push came to shove.”

The frustration and helplessness that burned in Eyia’s tight expression made Jin scratch her neck.  “Eyia … eh, I know it’s not a great time for you, but … mind if we talk a bit?  Relive some old times maybe—seeing as we’re already in the fifth dimension.”

Eyia’s palm pressed against her cheeks, trying to clear away any remaining liquid before clearing her throat and giving her a thankful smile.  “I am sure you have much to ask me about, Friend … I don’t know how much I can answer your questions, though…”

Jin shrugged, adopting a carefree grin.  “Meh, I can make my own assumptions.  I just want to clear the air on a few things and cool down myself.”

Scanning the sea of timelines below them that were available, Jin centered on one in particular that would be a good starting point to the direction she wanted this conversation to go.  “Why not experience the time we spent just before meeting Sora?”

A pained smile grew on Eyia’s lips.  “The starting point of great change—I can see the events that drew us in that direction going back weeks—Aiden’s comments to a stranger about soda that eventually brought about the conversation that drew my attention.”

Jin ruefully scratched the back of her head, fingers spreading apart her thick black locks.  “Right?  I had trouble explaining to you how carbonation tasted, so I brought you to a nearby store to experience it, and we got sidetracked by all the different products.”

Both of them navigated the air currents to descend upon the place in the sea, submerging themselves into the fixed time-point.

Unlike almost every other position within the ocean they could access, this thread was like steel rope compared to the flimsy string Eyia and Jin could easily splice and cut using the scissors in their naturally-built kit as beings in the fifth dimension.  This moment in Existence was immutable, including every atom of the universe they existed in—Reality was set.

Some rules governed all that was, and if there existed only a single entity inside a given place in Existence, it would be burned into the fabric of Existence itself—immutable, even by First Generation Founders.

While the ebb and flow of Existence was constantly in flux, continually growing, the path of a singular entity could only be forgotten by burning the thread itself away, which many higher beings did to hide the possibility of their enemies exploiting past weaknesses.

Jin knew much from her genetic history—far more than most, including the stages of Existence and the powers Sora unlocked—it was frustrating.  Knowing many basic governing Laws of Reality, where one currently sat in the hierarchy, and the manner of how things progressed was a little annoying, but the backbiting, petty nature, and general idiocy of the highest-level of creatures in power over Existence made her somewhat cynical.

She didn’t care about playing a part in the grand drama that echoed across Reality; Jin would do her thing, casually living life in the present and not looking too far into the future—binding herself to a third-dimensional sphere here allowed her to just kick back and enjoy the experience first-hand … yet she was drawn into her mother’s web through Aiden’s manipulations.

Appearing in the vibrant sunny atmosphere of a past Miami with Eyia next to her, Jin looked beyond her past self, ignorantly speaking to Eyia without a clue what she was walking into.  However, her mind was still on her mother.

Was this your whole plan?  Secretly stick me into this backwater universe that’s only being held together by Mia’s hands to draw me back to you … Of course, you knew I’d be rebellious before I hatched.  You stand next to Gloria in strength, so you’d be able to see the unusual twist Aiden created.  Was it just to put a daughter on the board, and I turned out to be too unruly for the piece you needed?

Hand gripping her breast as Eyia and she happily strolled down the sidewalk, Jin dug her fingernails into her slightly baggy black shirt.  Why would you dump this on me, Inari?  Mom … Is this your doing … It feels like your doing…

“We were so innocent,” Eyia chuckled, giving her past self melancholy eyes.  “To think I would betray someone I called Sister over a moment of weakness.”

Her bitter thoughts shifted to their past selves.  “Yeah … you know, it’s pretty insane that Aiden was able to manipulate us both into a position of getting to know Sora.”

Eyia’s eyebrows pulled together.  “I had not thought about it in that light … Aiden may have drawn us together, but it was Sora herself that was the first person to treat me as a sister.”

Given what Jin suspected of the Valkyrie, her unusual attachment to Sora became clearer.  “Well, she was the first person to offer us a home, food, basically making herself utterly vulnerable without a thought of compensation … Heh, I was a bit overwhelmed at first … I mean, she’s a Vulpes, for crying out loud!”  she scoffed, gesturing at the far more insecure fox girl as she entered the store they were now in.

A small smile lifted Eyia’s expression upon seeing Sora, without tails or ears.  “This is where you latched onto her … Heh-he-he, the tests you played to see how she would react.  I thought you were so silly.  You knew she was a Founder.”

Jin groaned.  “I know—but when you pointed out she wasn’t with Inari, and I scoped her out, yeah, I was blown away!  Why wouldn’t I be—she shouldn’t exist … period!”

Reflecting on all the internal thoughts that stabbed her brain and gave her the worst migraine of her life, Jin snorted.  “Yeah, it had me wondering if Mia or Inari figured out some … ugh, some potent stuff.  How was I supposed to know her dad was like—yeah, just something I couldn’t even guess at if I had eternity!”

Eyia folded her arms under her chest, rubbing the back of her biceps as goosebumps ran down her forearm.  “I found her sincerity and purity refreshing … Learning about her likes and dislikes without invading her privacy has been a joy I could not explain—never did I think I would be able to experience such joy, given my fate, and that is why I am grateful to Aiden.”

“You don’t show it a lot,” Jin grunted.  “He might as well not exist to you.”

A sad puff of air passed through the girl’s nose.  “Yes … I am not good at understanding his plight, and I fear if I interfere, I will only exacerbate his condition.  Sora seems to know what to do to support him, but I cannot grasp why he sorrows over Fate.”

“What?!”  Eyia’s baffled stare shifted to Jin as she burst into fits of laughter.  “Y-You?!  You can’t grasp how sad he is about Fate?  Are you joking with me, Eyia?!”

“I … do not believe I am,” she whispered.  “Why do you laugh at me?”

Wiping away the tears from her eyes, Jin couldn’t respond for several seconds; she hadn’t laughed like this in ages, but the Valkyrie was the gold standard for comedic irony.  “You, heh, you blow me away sometimes, Eyia!  You, talking about someone unhappy with their fate!  All I hear when you talk about your future is frustration and shame!”

Eyia’s lower lip tucked under, pain-filled eyes falling to the polished tile floor.  “I … I do not understand why you laugh at the things I am … Oh … I suppose there are some commonalities.”

The pain in her face hadn’t lifted as the Valkyrie forced a smile and weak laugh.  “Good joke … I think?  I am not that sure of the humor in it, but … perhaps it is another thing I am inexperienced in.”

Jin walked forward to embrace the stiff girl, pulling her much taller figure into a tight hug while pressing her head against her chest.  “Sorry!  Sorry!  Heh-he-he, I’m just … Eyia, you’re too precious!  You take everything so seriously!  Geez, he-he-he, lighten up a little, girl!  Wooh, I’m just—you’re saying you don’t understand why Aiden beats himself up when you’re doing the same thing right now?”

Eyia’s messy long blonde locks tickled Jin’s face and arms as they shook back and forth with her head.  “No … no, we are not the same.  Aiden affects things without the ability to direct them … I should know better, and I knew what I did … it should not have been done, yet … yet I did it to stabilize myself … My lack of self-discipline caused my sister to suffer and led to so many issues.”

The girl didn’t return Jin’s tight grip, and she could feel the tears falling upon her head as Eyia’s muscles began to tremble.

“Way too serious,” Jin whispered.

Holding her for a time as new occupants entered and left the corner store, Jin thought about her own life up to this point.  Much of it had been fairly dull—nine hundred and ninety-six years of aimless wandering, looking for something to snatch her interest until stumbling upon a strange rift in space-time that drew her in—another causality shift made by Aiden.

Recalling the three and a half years of her life she’d spent observing Eyia work through her trials, Jin created a low rumble in her throat.  “Remember … when I first showed up?  You threw a bone at me—laced with spiritual energy like a spear … Heh, for real, talk about a rude invitation!”

Eyia sniffed back her tears.  “I … did not know you held a grudge against me for that action…”

“I don’t, you impossibly serious Valkyrie!”  Jin growled, tightening her grip until Eyia winced.

“J-Jin—you are—crushing my ribs…”  she wheezed.

“I know!”  she huffed, easing up a little.  “‘Cause someone can’t take a joke!  I wish I could get you drunk to find out what you’re like loosened up because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life!  Give me some tools to work with, ‘cause you’re a hard nut to crack,” Jin giggled.

Mirth dying down a little, Jin puffed out a long breath.  “Really, though … Eyia, I know what’s hurting you most is how Sora can just forgive you with no strings attached … It’s not something you were brought up to understand.  It’s like you blame yourself for starting Ragnarök … opening the floodgates for the army to march through.”

Eyia’s weak voice held her damage.  “Is it not an apt comparison?  I damaged the gates by my foolishness … I let the wolves in…”


Jin hadn’t considered that connection; it was more than just allowing some minor villains in; it was two of the major participating figures in the fall of True Asgard.  One of the many steps in the prophesied war with the Founders were the Fenris Brothers finally catching their prey.

Although there were many events before that, the similar event of the dampening field falling to give access to the two Founders must have triggered something—Jin could recall the twitch of her mother’s smug smirk when watching the various Founders that participated were restored to full strength, and the brothers snatched Máni and Sól in their jaws.

Stroking the back of Eyia’s head, Jin had a momentary lapse of feeling.  What am I doing … Eyia’s likely some descendant of a Primordial … probably Odin himself!  Yet … she’s nothing like the Primordials in my mother’s memories … Again, I’m left questioning them!  Then again, it’s probably just the selective interpretation of the events, just as Inari not understanding the relationship and inner struggles Tsuku had with his part in Amy’s death.

The fact her mother knew about the history between the Tanuki and Vulpes, and Inari’s ignorance about the actual events that occurred—of which Jin still didn’t fully grasp—not to mention her mother’s indignation at Gong-Gong’s stolen Core when she could have easily stepped in to explain things to the grieving woman angered Jin.

All this innate emotion you’ve given me, Mother … How much of it is your propaganda?  Was this your aim to begin with? Learning about all this … Are these even more devious plots to push me in some direction?  For this ridiculous outcome?  I’m NOT going to see you!

Pulling away, Jin gave Eyia a reassuring smile.  “Want to put this on hold for a bit, cool off, and look at something else?”

Never had she seen the Valkyrie look so vulnerable as she nodded, cheeks flushed and puffy, bones quivering, lips trembling, and big eyes watery.  “Mhm!”  she sniffled, sucking back in her sticky snot.  “I’m the worst…” 

“C’mon…”  Jin sighed, dragging her back to the fifth dimension to take her to the time Eyia had restrained her.  The sight of her red hair and expanding spiritual pressure put a quake through her own bones.  “Look at me…”  she mumbled, shaking her head.  “What kind of idiot lets someone so weak get to them … Of course, I’m the stupid one, locking away most of my power that let him get the better of me.”

Eyia hiccuped, doing her best to regain some of her composure.  “I—was a little afraid—when I sensed your growing power … You almost destabilized this timeline and sent a spatial wave that would have evaporated this galaxy.”

Jin watched Eyia reveal her radiant crystal-like sword, powerful sealing mist filling the space to separate her dangerous expanding spiritual pressure and lock her into the third dimension as the twelve barbarian women helped Eyia dampen her fierce waves of destructive force.

“Mmgh … I almost killed Sora and everyone else … just because my pride got hurt.”  Running her fingers through her hair, Jin scoffed at herself.  “You thought you were an idiot … I was the one that put us in that position when Bathin showed up.  He-he-he … A demon of that level … playing with us because I drained us both.  I’m the pathetic one.”

Expression softening a little, Eyia shook her head.  “I grew to respect you more … To recognize your strength over just friendship.  The best companion you can have is someone that can support you when in the most danger … including oneself.”

Jin gave her a half-smile and lifted an eyebrow.  “Wise words from your father?”

“Indeed,” she whispered, vision glossing over.  “What would … would he think of my weakness if he saw me now?  I am a disgrace.”

“Mhm!”  Jin returned, reaching up to rap her knuckles against the side of her head.  “You’re a real blockhead at the end of the day!  Eh-heh, just like me, I suppose … A couple of fools…”

Expression easing, Jin’s mood turned somber upon returning to their first real-combat fight.  “It was at this point I realized you were more than a simple Valkyrie, and you knew I was more than a simple Dragon … You’re a True Valkyrie, and I’m a True Dragon.”

Eyia stiffened, giving her a weary sidelong glance.  “I … do not know how to respond to that accusation.”

Jin walked to one of the broken pillars of the fixed event, dropping against it to look up at the on-guard Primordial—Eyia sucked at lying, and this practically proved it.  “Wow … really, what a fool I am.”

Smiling at her own blindness, Jin forced out something between a groan and chuckle.  “What a mess … what a mess … Aiden certainly has pulled together the most … gah, can I even say impossible group … because even that seems too much in the realm of possibility?!  A Primordial and a Second Generation Dragon Founder … friends … heh, sounds like something my mother would kill a daughter over just dreaming about.”

“Friends?”  Eyia’s creased eyes slowly fell to the rubble along the floor, dust and mist momentarily hazing her from sight as the battle escalated.  “You … still think of us as such … even after suspecting I am … that thing…”

Jin snickered, a weak shrug lifting her shoulders.  “Please, I’ve always felt like a disappointing Founder anyway.  A Second Generation Founder … born in this age, when I have seniors like Inari and Nüwa to look up to?  Tch, forget that—Gloria’s fiftieth generation daughters would scoff at me, but it’s whatever.”

Playful smirk lifting her lips, Jin stared at Eyia as the girl processed her response.  “No, but what would other Primordials think about one of their ranks having a Founder not only as a friend but a half-breed Founder like Sora as your sister?  How did you ever think that would be okay … Is it?  Was it some big spy thing?  No … heh, unless you’re the best spy in Existence because you’re like … incapable of lying … at all!”

Eyia nervously rubbed her left arm.  “No … Sora was the first Founder I believed I had met, and … and she was nothing like what I believed.  She was so pure … honest, and … there was no malice in her heart.”

Jin rolled her eyes.  “Yeah, because malice toward a Fenris Wolf isn’t malice at all!  He-he-he, you’re hilarious … but that’s what I found so awesome about you when we first met … You weren’t like anyone, and … well, I guess I know why now,” she mused.  “Man, we’re totally rebels against our culture, aren’t we?”

“I question myself more each day I am with Sora and experience the events surrounding her,” Eyia mumbled, confusion filling her sapphire eyes.  “What have I become?”

“Awesome?”  Jin offered, holding up a new finger with each new word.  “Let’s see … awesome is a start, but that’s not all … super-serious is a must, but doesn’t even scratch the surface, responsible … unlike me,” she groaned.  “You’re loyal to an absolute fault, unlike any of the Primordials my mother gave me memories of, and make me question everything I thought I knew.”

Lips puckering, Jin nodded thoughtfully.  “Yup … all in all … you’re really just a magnificent, sincere little Primordial hot mess that is like broken iron right now—if you want me to put that into a perspective you understand.”

“Iron?”  Eyia mumbled, head tilting to consider the comparison while feeling out the word.  “… I … have shattered under pressure…”

Jin hummed.  “I mean, I thought you were more like steel, but the moment some of those big questions started popping up, you just buckled under the pressure.  Not that I blame you—I mean, pfft, look at me,” she gestured, “I’m an utter failure as a Dragon!  Of course, ewgh, yeah, I couldn’t let anyone else but me call me that or else I’d lay them out … insecure fool.”

Unexpectedly, Eyia giggled.  “I … I can see what you are saying, and … it is funny how you talk to yourself.  Hmm … perhaps you are right, and I need to recast myself as steel and begin anew … So many frightening things to face, though, and I fear I have put more targets on Sora’s back now that my secret is out…”

Seeing where this was going, Jin held up her hands in exasperation.  “C’mon, Eyia!  Really!?”  Adopting a gruff, mocking voice to mutter, “Maybe it’s better if I go, or else I’ll just hurt her more.”  Rolling her eyes, Jin snapped, “Get over yourself!  Gah, you aren’t the bringer of Ragnarök!”

Vehemently scratched above her ear, Jin glared at her conflicted friend.  “Look, if it bothers you that much, Mia told me that the Herald of Sakura has placed a hand over our little chat.  We both should know how that works, and it wouldn’t matter if even Gloria or my mother were paying close attention, given the affix of the fiends she contains—your secret’s safe.

“Mia said doesn’t even know why the Herald decided to block this conversation, but I know now … Inari’s little group aren’t even a hundred percent certain you are a Primordial … Well, I guess the Herald obviously does.  Hello, Herald!”  she grumbled, waving a hand into space as Inari’s fight concluded in the background.

Eyia’s gaze glossed, fear touching her face as her vision lifted.  “I … have heard tales of the entity Hephaestus crafted … My father doubted even the dwarves could have contested the masterpiece.”

Jin gave the wall an incredulous look.  “We talkin’ about the same being here?  My mom hates her guts for some reason, but there’s respect for some Primordial named Sakura there, I suppose.”

Eyia gave her a calculated stare before letting something go.  “I … believe I have calmed down … Although, I am still disappointed with my conduct.”

Smacking her lips, Jin’s eyebrows jumped up with a self-scoffing grin.  “Join the club, my friend … Also, cut the bull and keep calling Sora your sister—yeah, I don’t care how you feel,” she huffed, catching her pained look.  “We both know Sora’s going to badger you about it—heh, badger … reminds me of Moritasgus, the Father of Badgers … arrogant twit.”

Eyia took a long breath before letting it go in a long stream, and finally, a smile lifted her puffy eyes, weak, but it was a start.  “I … suppose she will, and I shouldn’t worry her.  Heh, we are both fools … and I am grateful to call you friend, Jin … even if most of my kind would kill me for it … both failures, heh…”

It was the first time Jin didn’t feel the hair rise on the back of her neck to defend her pride when someone insulted her.  “Want to keep talking?”  she asked, knowing they wouldn’t have a chance to talk so openly like this for some time.

“I would,” Eyia returned, now displaying a genuine smile.  “I … have not felt so free since taking my first step outside of The Island.”

Finally feeling herself opening up about the angst in her heart, Jin held a hand to her breast, slipping her fingers into her Core to pull out a small, resplendent pearl-like bead.  “So … Mia gave me this … kind of messed up, don’t you think?”

Eyia’s jaw dropped open, dumbstricken by the hidden waves that were now released.  “Is that … What is that—I have never … It is the closest thing to my father that I have ever felt…”

Jin glared down at the holy grail for Dragons.  “Gong-Gong’s Core … my eldest brother,” she growled.  “I hate it … No matter how hard I push my family away, something finds its way into pulling me back … Heh, that saying about Fate, I suppose, huh?”

Hesitantly stepping forward, Eyia’s lips drew in, hand reflexively moving to the intricate necklace around her neck before twitching.  Jin’s forehead furrowed as the girl began to quiver, voice turning hoarse.  “Umm … c-can you put it away?”

Complying, Jin slipped it back into her Core and the protective box Mia had crafted within it.  “Something to do with that artifact you wear?”

Eyia’s shakes soon eased, and she released a stuttered breath.  “Mmh … a bit more complicated than that, but … Yes, it is something I have taken an oath to protect and safeguard … I cannot say more if I wanted to.”

Jin held up her hand.  “Say no more—if you can’t, you can’t,” she shrugged.  “Eh…”  she grimaced as the Dragoons entered the scene.  “Ugh, I don’t want to watch these posers.  You good to go?”

“I am,” Eyia smiled.

They changed locations, traveling their past together and poking fun at each other’s unusual behavior and customs.  It was the first real experience Jin had at genuinely opening up to someone, and she knew it was the same for Eyia—they’d bridged a divide neither of them thought could be crossed.

Once exhaustion took over, they returned to the Vulpes Tower, inserting themselves back into time just after Sora had fallen asleep, watching the events play out from the higher dimension.  Finding their own bed, the two fell asleep, taking comfort in the celebration of finding true friendship.

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+ 22 Chapter in Soul’s Requiem

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A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Forty-One: A Happy Conclusion
A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Forty-Three: Closing The Book