Note: I’ve just released a new Pokemon fanfiction and the new Undying Empire artwork has been completed! The Pokemon fiction will be on RR when they approve it.
POV: Sora (our Vulpes Founder)
Recap: We learned of some shady stuff and more questions about Mia. We actually get to see statues of all Sora’s aunts and mother, including her grandmother, the first Vulpes Founder, which everyone had a different mental picture of.
There is something very sinister within the City Core, and our gang is trying to figure it out, but with so much stress, they need a bit of a break. Thus, we get some personal time to unwind from all the stress! Finally!
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A lump dropped down Sora’s throat as they were transported to a large room with a single bed; their eyes wandered while studying the immaculate space.
It was two stories high without the second landing, showing a ton of wasted wide-open area, no matter how grand it looked. The bed was low to the ground and larger than any king-sized bed she’d seen; everything matched the blue, white, and gold theme of the section Tola ruled.
The tinted glass covering above seemed to be hiding a blazing red sun, releasing a moderate warm light that perfectly illuminated and kept the space comfortable.
A few large canvases lined the walls, showing abstract art pieces that Sora wasn’t really into.
The furnishings were light, a rug under each article on the floor, and a decorative quilt illustrating the nighttime sky was hung above the bed, which was an odd choice to Sora.
Two four-person couches and five armchairs were stationed around a circular table with the center cut out, highlighting a small fountain in the center that released a cone of water, seemingly vanishing into the air while leaving a light, cool mist hanging in the air.
A duplicate mingling area was placed on the opposite side of the room, both springs releasing a blue tint to the liquid.
“Wow … interesting design,” Ashley whispered, catching sight of her husband and kids, mingling with Alice and Liz.
Sora couldn’t spot Holonie and Braelyn nearby; only two six-tailed blue-tailed Vulpes stood by the large closed wooden doors, wearing almost plastic smiles. She didn’t have to invade their cores to tell their attendants were nervous, but the Spiritual Energy surrounding their bodies told her as much, if not the details.
“Mommy!” Josie squealed, scooting off her father’s lap to reach Ashley. Brandon gave his wife a welcoming smile. Cedric hesitated, glancing between his parents, he couldn’t decide which to stick with, eventually choosing his father as he pulled him in.
Eyia swiftly noted their surroundings, keeping close to her and Emilia in case action needed to be taken.
Jin took a much more casual approach, holding her hands behind her head, fingers linked between locks of hair as she slowly turned to take in the room with a slight nod of her head.
Mary, Wendy, and Nathan were stunned by the appearances, and Wendy body-flopped on the bed, testing its comfort.
Sora’s hand intertwined with her daughter’s, Kari by their side as they processed everything, vision locking on Githa, already in cat-form.
The Nekomata jumped to the bed with a soft yawn; she stretched out, fur puffing up with her sharp claws extended. Rolling over and belly up, the fluffy white cat exposed herself to the ceiling, spreading out her arms and legs without a care in the world.
“Mom,” Emilia whispered, longing eyes following Wendy and Githa’s blissful sighs.
Giggling a little, Sora released her grip. “Go on.”
Emilia’s face beamed as she ran to the edge and leaped into the air, arms, legs, and eight copper tails fanned out before plopping down on the seemingly boundless bed, yet she too appeared to be experiencing the same euphoria as the other two.
Kari followed her five-foot jump with a half-smile, chuckling softly as she sagged into the fabric with a low moan.
“Such good magic!” Githa purred. “Leave it to Founders to have the best…” She trailed off, releasing soft rumbles in her throat as if sleeping.
Sora’s eyebrow rose, Jin amusedly eyeing the three passed out figures. “Yeah … bed’s for a purpose.
“Wait,” Sora’s ears twitched with laughter, “they’re seriously passed out?”
“Like a light!”
Eyia’s eyes creased, turning her curious deep blue irises to the Dragon. “You have the strangest sayings.”
Jin couldn’t hold in her mirth, body quivering as she doubled over, and everyone else gave her a questioning glance. “T-This is great; I love this speech translation system! I bet—I bet everyone understood that but you, Eyia!”
For once, Sora saw a bit of uncertainty touch the stalwart Asgardian’s features as her eyes shifted between several people. “I am—why is my understanding of your phrases so difficult?”
The Dragon breathed a hearty sigh, grinning at the Valkyrie. “Because you have almost no cultural links to humans!”
“Jin,” Sora mumbled, watching Eyia’s shoulders droop in defeat, “give her a break.”
“C’mon,” Jin waved dismissively,” I’m just playing!” She walked over to the couch to lounge. “Although, everything’s a competition to her—I’ve been trying to beat it into her thick skull that you can have fun without turning everything into a challenge!”
“I cannot best Jin in this area,” Eyia sighed, looking truly down, and Sora started to see what she meant. “I try and try, but every time I fail. It is the thing that I stumble on the most … these word games.”
“See!” Jin groaned in exasperation. “She didn’t even catch a word I said! Whoosh—right over her head!”
Eyia seemed to be trying to ponder Jin’s gesture. “Oh, I know this one—it is the … the thing about not understanding something!”
“Eyia!” Jin moaned, lying against a couch while holding the back of her hands over her eyes. “You focus too much on the gesture and not the context…”
“I understood it, though, correct?”
“Yup … you got me.”
“I am victorious once again!” Eyia’s eyes sparkled, seemingly satisfied with the results.
Even Kari seemed amused by the pair as everyone chuckled.
Brandon and Ashley had caught Jin’s earlier statement, urging their children to rest on the bed.
“You didn’t get enough sleep last night,” Brandon commented at Cedric’s protests, and his wife mirrored his response to Josie as she put up a fight.
“But we want to play and hear stories!” Josie cried. “You have over fifty-hundred stories that—umm, Cedric, how much?”
“Fifty-hundred and seven!”
“Yeah!” Josie echoed, giving her mother a pout. “You weren’t home forever—like forever-forever in stories!”
“I know, I know,” Ashley whispered, carefully brushing her daughter’s hair out of her face while picking her up. “Oof … are you getting heavier?”
“Bigger! I’ll be even more tremendouser than Cedric!”
“Well, well, that’s not a real word—I think…”
“Uh-huh, it is; I heard Daddy say it!”
Josie’s eyes watered. “M-Mom … C-Cedric called me…”
“I heard,” she sighed with a soft smile, setting her down on the bed. “The proper way to say it is tremendous—truuu-mmend-us. See?”
She sniffed. “It’s real?”
“Yes, it is, but tremendouser isn’t the right way to say it, Honey. Can you repeat it with me—you, too, Cedric,” she urged as Brandon set him down beside his sister, on the opposite side of the bed from Emilia.
They slowly imitated the word, seemingly forgetting the bickering mood they’d been in before as they gradually grew sleepier on the bed and fell asleep, snuggling next to each other.
“Cute,” Mary chimed.
Jin gave the two kids a pulled in smile. “Mmh, that’s one way to describe them.”
Nathan gave the bed a lifted eyebrow. “I’d say that the whole bed thing is dangerous, personally … I mean, I don’t have any kids, but I don’t know how the State would feel about magic like that.”
“It would be a godsend,” Brandon groaned, dropping back into his armchair with Ashley snuggling beside him.
“Literally,” Kari snickered, eyeing the five figures sleeping soundly on the mattress.
Sora followed the Fenris Wolf, Nathan, Mary, and Eyia to the sitting area. Nathan and Kari took an armchair, long wolf tail snaking around to flick softly near the floor as she studied Sora. Mary and Eyia sat on either side of her on a couch.
Sora glanced back at the attendants, nibbling on her lower lip. “Hmm … so, uh—what do you guys think about all this? There’s—where do I even start—so much to talk about. My head feels like exploding, just trying to find a starting point, and…”
“Yes, should we discuss it with the group,” Mary noted.
Jin shrugged, releasing a light burp before sucking on the roof of her mouth. “Eh … I think we’re being too cautious, personally. Sora’s got more power than just about anyone in this Realm; one desire to not see any one of us hurt and poof, some kind of ward will be placed around us. Good, done, and we’re free to do whatever,” she clapped.
“It’s a good point,” Sora mumbled, yet she hesitated.
Kari wore a frown, chewing the inside of her cheek while studying her. “Concerned about that thing showing up again if you link to the City Core again?”
“It is not outside the realm of impossibility,” Eyia commented with a soft hum. “How would you rate the strength of this being, Sister?”
“How would I rate it … umm—hmm, well, it’s not exactly…”
Mary’s forehead furrowed. “Can’t find the words?”
“That bad, huh?” Nathan sighed, scratching his brow.
“Honestly … I couldn’t really say,” Sora whispered, thinking back on the strange entity. “It’s connected to the City Core, so … nevermind, no, this is worth it,” she chuckled, steeling her nerves and calling upon her magic before anyone could convince her otherwise.
Each brow creased with concern as Sora tensed, preparing for the connection; nothing happened, and the invisible flow of the network she touched constructed the magical ward that would protect every person present, excluding the blue-tailed Vulpes.
Sora blinked with everyone else. “Huh … well, that was easy.”
“Nothing?” Mary questioned, folding her lower lip under her teeth.
She shook her head.
The doctor frowned, vision falling to the floor. “What’s the trigger, then? Ideally, we’d want to experiment until we found the cause, but that’s far too dangerous.”
Kari crossed her legs, features stern as her tail flicked. “You need to take better care of yourself … even Inari told you to back off, remember?”
Sora winced, remembering her aunt’s words. “How … oh, your mother,” Sora mumbled. Drawing in a long breath, she puffed it out through the corner of her lips. “Yeah, she did—how can I, though? You know how many crazy things happen to us…”
Kari’s head tilted against the back of her chair, focusing on Mary. “Tell her in a way that gets through that thick skull of hers—I swear she flip-flops every other hour.”
Her words stung a little. “Kari…”
A silent laugh shook Mary’s fame. “Sora, is she wrong?”
“Well … no, I have a ton I need to do, though … it almost seems endless.”
Mary’s vision moved to the opposite couch. “Jin?”
Everyone’s eyes darted to Mary in confusion before turning to the Dragon.
Jin smirked, eyes still closed. “Yo?”
“What advice would you give our hyper-active teenage Vulpes Founder?”
“First, that’s a mouthful,” Jin chuckled. “Second, drop it all and relax.”
“But … what about that…”
“Drop it,” Kari repeated.
“It could be…”
Nathan joined in the chant, and soon everyone but Eyia was going along with it.
The voices soon died down with Githa’s annoyed growl that vibrated the air. “Shut-up … I’m eating monkeys … no, not the can, Nilly…”
A soft giggle shook Sora’s frame as she watched the Nekomata squirm on the bed; it didn’t last long but did draw everyone’s attention.
Sora sat back, playing with her second tail as she pondered their words.
I should just take it all off the table and relax … how do I unwind here, though? Well … kind of stupid question, Sora … we’re in a fantasy world, there’s tons of things to do, and then there’s…
Her focus slowly moved to Emilia, still sprawled out across the bed.
“Exactly!” Kari stated triumphantly, following her gaze. “You know … no, I’ll tell you later…”
“Aww, cute, embarrassed?” Jin snickered.
Eyia sniffed, giving Eyia a critical eye. “Cute … Fenris Wolves are not cute, friend!”
Kari shot daggers at the leisurely Dragon, quickly moved to Eyia upon her comment.
“I don’t know, Eyia,” Sora mused, catching a bit of Jin’s mood from her radiated emotion and running with it, “Fenris Wolves might not be, but Kari most definitely is!”
“Better cute then dense,” Kari shot back, causing Sora to wince.
“Oof … better dense than a tsundere!”
Kari’s eyes widened in disbelief. “You didn’t just…”
“Oh? I guess this translation system is working well, fufufu,” Sora chortled.
Eyia’s eyes, on the other hand, were rolling inside her head, trying to keep up while Jin rolled with laughter. “She is kind of a tsundere, isn’t she?”
The teenage Fenris Wolf’s face was turning pinker by the minute, but all Kari could do was bluster, “N-No … I’m just … this is stupid … I’m going for a walk.”
“Oh, I’ll go relax with you!” Sora brightly offered, jumping to her feet and causing their audience to chuckle silently.
“Whatever…” Kari growled, using her now absurdly thick, long black hair to obscure her blush as she power-walked to the door, and even their attendants’ plastic faces were beginning to crack.
“There will be—a dinner,” the left Vulpes cleared her throat, trying to remain dignified, “within the next thirty minutes.”
Kari didn’t respond, but her tail went stock stiff with her spine as Jin followed Sora’s light jog to catch up from her sitting position. “Ah, taking the dog for a walk, Sora? Make sure to feed her a treat after!”
Okay … that was a little more degrading than I was going for, Jin…
Still, Sora couldn’t help but smile at Kari’s reaction, wolf-ears twitching with agitation as she stormed out of the room. “Who needs a Dragon that kills herself transforming?” She growled, passing through the doors the attendants opened in advance.
“Oof … would hurt if it came from someone a little less … oh, what’s the word, Eyia … bashful!”
Sora hurried after her, hearing the doors close behind her as everyone chuckled; one of the attendants was keeping pace while trying to keep an appropriate distance to not be intrusive.
I suppose they need to attend to us as attendants.
“Kari, wait up!”
She slowed at her call, growling lowly. “Is this what it feels like … made fun of and not being able to do anything about it?”
Kari’s fists closed, still keeping her face turned away from Sora as she caught up. “I’ve really changed … haven’t I?” She whispered, tone falling.
Sora’s brow furrowed. “Umm … yeah—you’re not a royal … well, you get the point. No, you’re kind, loyal, and the first one—besides my aunt, that told me to knock off overthinking or jumping into everything to focus on what’s important to me. You like Emilia, don’t you?” She giggled, prodding her left hip with her elbow.
Kari groaned, shifting away from her a little. “I mean—no, not at first, but … she’s growing on me. There’s this … I don’t know,” she mumbled, and Sora caught a smile on her lips, “this innocent, wide-eyed charm about her that makes me smile.
“She kind of reminds me of my little sister in a way … always looking for anyone to hang with—yeah, Emilia’s a little social butterfly, and she’s definitely not a Vulpes,” she laughed.
Sora’s head tilted at the statement. “Now that you mention it … she really doesn’t have a lot of Vulpes tendencies … hmm…”
Glancing back at their shadow, Sora created a sound barrier with her own power, blocking Kari and her from others. Now in private, she opened up to her new friend. “Honestly, Kari … I’m kind of worried about Emilia.”
“Well … it’s just that—how do I explain it? Whatever my aunt did—part of me she used to rebuild my daughter from scratch … it’s like there’s a piece of humanity mixed in with her.”
“… I don’t think that’s right.”
“No?” Sora frowned.
Kari broodingly shook her head. “No, I’d go one step further … I think Inari made Emilia a Vulpes Founder, human, and whatever else you are; she used you as the blueprint, but why wouldn’t she do that to someone else, then—you know, to have a daughter of her own?”
“Ah, okay, let me think of it a second…”
Sora tucked her lip under, shifting it back and forth against her teeth as she thought, and her aunt’s words and actions resurfaced with a little help of her abilities. “She can’t … my mother and her couldn’t do it, but … it was Frankenstein that managed to get all the pieces together that were required for me to be born.”
Kari shook her head. “Yeah, sure, but how does that account for Emilia looking entirely Vulpes? You have some human characteristics from your father, right?”
“I guess, but that’s just it … I guess—I don’t know … my entire life is wrapped in a mysterious box that, when opened—only reveals another box of secrets and half-answers. Apparently, I’m a walking contradiction … all the biggest players in existence—playing this crazy game are all throwing everything they have to tilt me one way or the other.
“All of that, and … I don’t want Emilia to go through something like that, but at the same time … after everything my aunt taught me—I know it’s not an if but a when, and I need to prepare my daughter for that time. Yet…”
Kari breathed out a humorous sigh. “Yet, you don’t feel prepared.”
A lump dropped down Sora’s throat. “Not at all … but here we are,” she glanced around at the grand, colossal hallways, “in another world—on a hunt for clues about myself and my family while on the run from your uncles.”
“You’re not wrong,” Kari whispered, exhaling slowly. Shaking her head, she gave her a light smile, pulling back her bangs. “Still … even if I had to go through all those horrible things … I’d do it again—even if it’s kind of hard to say. I just—ever since you did that Core Resonance … I’ve felt something that … I can’t explain.”
“Hmm…” Sora’s lips lifted. “I get it … for me, it’s like we shared the same life for a time; you were me, and I was you … a sort of—atonement. Heh … you know what I mean.”
Kari nodded, vision falling back to the floor. “How long do you think it’s been since we left Miami?”
“For real?” Sora’s stomach shook with laughter. “Gosh … wow, no, it’s been years, right? I don’t even want to think about it with all the time jumps and realms I’ve been in—yeah, we’ll go with years because this couldn’t have happened in weeks.”
“I’m right there with you,” Kari whispered, left hand pressing against her chest. “There’s no way my heart could have changed that much…”
They fell silent, and Sora reflected on the path that had led her here, tracing back all the hundreds of decisions she could see each person had to make to bring them to this point.
After some time, she mumbled, “Kari…”
“Who do you think we really are?”
“… I don’t know anymore.”
“Me either … I’m definitely not the terrified teenage girl, hiding in her ivory tower, and you’re not the terrifying monster, stalking the halls of Miami High.”
“Then I guess the answer is … who should we be?” Kari hesitantly responded.
“Hmm … who should we be?” The silent halls pressed in around them, reflecting no sound of their footsteps with her dampening field active. “Well, for me … I think I should be the person Emilia sees, and … I feel inadequate right now.”
Kari ran her fingers through her hair with a low moan. “Talk about cliche, but … I think you’re right. I need to be the girl worthy of your forgiveness—just as much as you need to be the mother Emilia can be proud of. We both have a ways to go, huh?”
“Ugh … I suppose we do, and I can start by giving her the attention she deserves.”
“Well, looks like you’re going to have to be a quick study because she’s going to catch up to you in no-time.”
“Oof,” Sora winced, glancing at her friend, “you really think so?”
“Hey, just my gut feeling.”
“Wait … yeah, it’s settled—this was all inside of my aunt’s hands!”
“You’re just coming to that conclusion?” Kari snickered, giving her an incredulous smirk.
“Okay, sure, I knew she had things going on, but prodding me along like this … she’s evil!”
Kari chuckled. “Welcome to the world of Founders, where everyone is poking everyone to go along with their plans.”
Sora released a tired moan. “Why couldn’t I just be born human? Man, life would be so much simpler … well, you good with heading back to get all the sleepy heads up for dinner?”
A grimace turned Kari’s lips. “I’d rather not deal with Jin’s games—she’s so childish.”
“Mmh?” Sora giggled, brushing her two tails against Kari’s fluffy mass trailing behind her. “She’s got a point—see?” Sora teased.
“H-Hey!” Kari jumped, skipping to the left. “You—You’ve had your tail for like what … a few weeks? Jeez, have some awareness!”
“I did it on purpose—purpose,” Sora winked.
“Gah … you’re just as bad as Jin.”
Sora gave her a mischievous grin. “Oh? Do you want to walk me back to the room? I’ll be a good foxy!”
“Okay, cut it out…” Kari groaned, cradling her head. “I’m not good at all those fox-games…”
She gave her an innocent smile. “Am I playing?”
“I hope so … for my sake,” Kari sighed with defeat. “I liked it better when Jin was picking on Eyia.”
“Oh, we’re just getting started!” Sora cheered. “I’ll get you up to her level—in fact … I need the practice to teach Emilia some pointers! Be my guinea pig…”
“Don’t ask me weird things!”
“No, no, this is perfectly normal for friends,” Sora protested, throwing out her hips to knock Kari off balance. “I’ll make you the cute, teasing little wolf-girl that’s hiding inside that rough exterior!”
Kari’s voice started to quiver. “I’m starting to get a little scared…”
Sora’s eyes sparkled as both Kari and her ears stood on end when she dropped her spell, passing their shadow attendant without notice. “Did you hear that, Kari?”
“… No … we aren’t…”
“Jin’s going to take a bath, and … well, couldn’t we use a bit of time relaxing?”
“Sora…” Kari moaned. “Why are you releasing stress on me?”
“No, no, Kari,” Sora soothed. “Think of this as, umm—training! Yeah, think of this as training!”
Kari’s ears folded back, tail stiff as she timidly followed Sora, trying to rebuild her confident image before being seen by the others.
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