1.Kari (Our Healing Wolf Girl)
The beaten Mofupsi showed her broken side for our girl to heal … Thousands of years in isolation and forced to live an endless cycle of mediocrity and carnage … without anything to show for thousands of years to gain so little strength in her little bubble. Now, Sora has added her collar, to her slight discomfort—hey, it was supposed to be a joke but Mofupsi is totally into it…
Heh, so, now we have ourselves a little slave fox girl that seems to have a smoking addiction … Hope that doesn’t come back. On the other hand, she finally was allowed to cry … and have someone care enough to hold her.
Let’s go to our healing wolf girl, now! How will Kari’s fight turn out?!
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A low groan rumbled in Kari’s throat while she lazily glanced around at the white room Jemissa and her had entered after Mofupsi teleported them to their respective match-ups; the scenario reminded her of this human game one of her girl’s played in secret called Mortal Kombat.
The area was massive, rising over two hundred meters in the air, and if not for the indentations in the ground that gave a grid pattern to their environment, it would have been impossible to tell where the ceiling, walls, and floor began without aimlessly waving your arms around until finding them.
Her amber irises flicked to the red-furred Vulpes as she hovered nearby, studying her with a small smile. This fight itched at the back of her mind since agreeing to follow Sora into the dangerous game she was playing.
Ever since her brother beat how weak she was into her bones, Kari didn’t have confidence in her Fenris genetics; she’d been running from herself for years, but that was changing after Sora’s gentle nudges.
Kari was accepting what she couldn’t change about herself—she wasn’t human and never could be; she was a Fenris Wolf, and no amount of dreaming would change that.
However, it wasn’t until her mother forced her to confront her inner demons in the only possible shape they could take that she saw how trapped she was in fear and pain. Reconciling with her internal nightmare instantaneously opened a floodgate of her potential—at least enough to be convinced she could handle this challenge.
Kari crossed her arms, eyeing the floating woman. “So … this is the arena you foxes use for the big stuff, huh?”
Jemissa was one of the rare Vulpes she’d seen in this Realm with blue eyes, and at first, Kari didn’t put much weight in her unassuming appearance, given her petite figure and young face—she didn’t look like one of the more powerful foxes in the Yellow District—but here she was, facing one of the final bosses.
The woman held her elbow behind her back, spinning in a circle with her tails linking into one big fluffy tail. Kari couldn’t get over her childishly designed outfit that seemed more appropriate for an anime character.
“Hmm … It is pretty bare like this,” she muttered, combing through her long red locks. “You know, I could change it to look any way you’d like—oh, my favorite’s this quiet little mountain area with a lot of trees and grass, but maybe we should go to your favorite location! We mainly use it for passing the time, really … This is the ultimate gift of making it to the Tower…”
Her features softened, a fond tone catching in her throat. “It really was worth the sacrifices,” she whispered.
Not feeling it, a short yawn escaped Kari’s lungs, and she wiped the corners of her eyes, drawing the Vulpe’s gaze. “Meh.”
“No, really!” Jemissa urged, earnestness pulling Kari’s lips to the side. “Here, let me show you how wonderful this place is!”
Kari shifted her hips to the left to look at her sports shoes and remembering the heels Sora made her wear. “I don’t … Okay, and you just went ahead and did it anyway…”
Jemissa giggled, spreading her arms. “See … Isn’t this great?”
The room shifted in an instant, igniting shades to mold around them. At first, it wasn’t the scene itself but the power that made Kari take a step back and almost trip; it was far more powerful than she anticipated, and her arms soon drooped limply to her side, large ears pulling back as her body numbed.
No … It can’t be…
Every new splash of color reminded her of the personal dimension her mother created—an entire area given life, yet this wasn’t as simple as a standard third-dimensional replica but laced with every ounce of the higher elements that pulled and ripped at Kari’s heart.
“Wow!” Jemissa gasped with wonder. “Oh … What is this glorious … this feeling?”
The woman breathed deeply, pulling in the unique scent of otherworldly flowers that were only present in this plane across the omniverse.
Trees with black bark bloomed out of the soil in the distance, colossal canopy towered high into the heavens while leaving key locations open for light to reach the floor; Kari remembered chewing on their roots, which held powerful healing properties in their sap and various other chemical combinations so delicious that sometimes it was all she’d eat in a day until her mother chided her.
The higher-dimensional were creations woven into being through the magic of what remained of the Founding Mother of the Vulpes—Sora’s grandmother. It read her like a book, taking Jemissa’s request to mirror her desires, but it wasn’t so simple.
Kari’s legs buckled, unable to support her as the higher-tier equivalent of gravity pressed down on her body combined with the weight of the memories that flooded her mind, closing around her throat; it was like water spilling into her lungs—it was too sudden and felt too real.
“Ack! W-Woah … I’ve never felt something—like this … It’s so hard to move … my spirit? What incredible realms have you been to … Is this your favorite place?”
Kari couldn’t respond if she wanted to, thoughts receding from the colliding forces inside her Intelligence—she was slipping into a world she longed for and hated.
She couldn’t feel her heartbeat as sounds, flavors, scents, and warm or cold sensations glazed her skin. Everything she’d built turned fragile as glass that was dropped from heaven to fall through empty space to land in a volcano.
A hole grew in her head and chest; Tiri giggling while carefully nibbling at her ear as she slept—the warm nights snuggling into her mother’s side as a young pup—the heat of her mother’s tongue, tickling her ears while cleaning mud off of her—her gentle jaws closing around her tail to drag her away from teasing Aiden as kids—Eric patiently instructing her on how to hunt when he knew she was just using it as a time to spend with him rather than the task at hand.
Quakes quivered through her frame, accompanied by the ice, fire, warmth, and tender, cherished moment every spot her shaking eyes wandered.
Meeting Aiden on his daze-like return to their hollowed-out tree, utterly lost after seeing Tiri being swallowed up by a white wolf, presuming it to be Eric, the closest person he trusted; learning about it only to rush to their home—a place of sanctuary—only to find her mother dead, brother’s dead eyes as he offered her their mother’s guts.
The pain of each blow against her emotions, spirit, and body as Eric beat her across these fields for weeks on-end—crushing her confidence, breaking any thought of revenge—running away with her tail between her legs, too terrified to go alone and the small glimmer of hope she felt that Jenny agreed to escape with her.
She’d been stupid to think Jenny would or even could defy Eric, but how was she supposed to know he’d already killed their father—all she saw was a friend that would carry her to the black trees to chew on the roots—a person trying to help her, yet to later learn that even those memories were just her naive, child-like mind looking for any light she could latch onto.
A time when she couldn’t move, temporarily paralyzed after the vicious final beating she’d received—the restorative energies in the flowers and roots around her that alleviated the physical pain but were unable to help her internal screams.
Her lip began to tremble as her focus lifted to the heavens; night falling over them as the black trunked trees fed the white petals, brightening the darkness—a specific memory she held onto where her family was whole, lying around her mother’s large wolf body while she told them stories.
Then, the empowering flowers gave her comfort, security, awe when they released the purple, butterfly-like pulses that filled the sky in dazzling lights that far outstripped any firework show that humans could create—now, beautiful sight reminding Kari how weak she was as the environment sprouted out of the earth
However, what tore at the imperfections fracturing her heart and setting her face on fire was the powerful energies radiating in the pink-tinted atmosphere, eating her alive. Three full moons cast their flush light below, burning Kari’s breast like ash in the wind—the sky was falling with radiant gems of color from a meteor shower her mother created, creating explosions in the sky to make images to illustrate her story.
Her sanctuary and her hell, all wrapped into one complete package.
A tear slid down Kari’s cheek. “Why … Why did you take me here?”
“Hmm?” Jemissa’s baffled expression shifted between her and the magnificent display of raw power that came from an area far beyond what one could experience in a lower dimension; it released as an emotional force that interacted with your Intelligence and spirit. “I just … I asked it to take us to your favorite place … Where is this?”
Rubbing her arms to try and feel something, she stared down at her lap; the skirt Sora put her in had fanned around her. She couldn’t think like this, but there wasn’t a chance she could enter the Outer Body Technique in this state.
Kari closed her eyes and fell to her side, reverting into a Fenris Wolf; her clothes receded as she got small inside herself, hollowing out her core to block out the trauma from resurfacing—facing Eric himself had helped—but revisiting her home; it was her home, the space that should bring her the most comfort, and it did, in a way, yet in another, nothing else could hurt so much.
Time passed, yet everything was senseless in Kari’s Intelligence as she tightened into a protective ball, tail quivering against her nose, and eventually, she used an unexpected anchor to pull herself out—she was defenseless, yet Jemissa hadn’t attacked her.
Little by little, Kari’s eyes cracked open, chest fluttering as air filled it again.
The red-furred Vulpes was sitting cross-legged beside her, hands resting behind her back with a serene smile on her lips while watching the heavens illuminate with images. The woman’s red locks were coiled on the ground, and not a confrontational edge leaked from her peaceful spirit.
Gradually, Kari allowed her heart to feel again, and after several more minutes, she spoke; the Realm translated the Fenris tongue her mother taught her from a child. “You didn’t attack me?”
Jemissa’s head tilted to the left to look at her from the corner of her vision. “Mmh … typically, it would be something I would do,” she whispered, blue irises returning to the sky, “but there’s just something … captivating about this place I didn’t want to disturb.”
She held up her hand, staring between her fingers, and the Vulpes’s longing voice drew Kari in. “I’m the third oldest Vulpes in this district … I’m going to die soon, you know. Don’t you think that’s interesting?”
“Death?” Kari asked, returning to her human state to sit a few feet away from the woman; if she could just focus on Jemissa instead of the memories surrounding her, then maybe she could gather the courage to see what showered above them. “Aren’t you scared?”
A long puff of air pushed past the woman’s lips, vision creasing with exhaustion. “What do I normally do in a day? I aimlessly wander this big, empty tower … I still haven’t explored all of it in nearly a thousand years. There’s always something new, but it loses its shine after a while … companionship? Mmh, it’s too fleeting, and you never know what the other side might be plotting. I’ve seen many Vulpes die due to trickery of the heart.”
Kari’s hands pressed against her skirt before fidgeting with the hem. “You’re empty?”
“Heh,” Jemissa pulled her vision away from the heavens to look at her, “that’s a good word to describe it. I thought fighting one of you new creatures might give me something new … exciting.”
A mystified light brightened Jemissa’s face. “Isn’t it curious?”
“What?” Kari asked, not daring to spread her vision yet.
“These emotions that fill me?” she mumbled, glancing down at her breast to press a hand against it. “I thought excitement … thrill was the ultimate sensation that would carry me out of this world, yet here … surrounded by these … these forces … I cannot express it … more … it’s just … more than I could hope to expect.”
It took a few seconds for Kari to realize what the Vulpes were getting at. “You’re okay with dying? Are you seriously saying that this is … is what? It completed your life?” She asked, gesturing around them, which was the first time she’d been able to look at anything but her own lap and Jemissa. “It can’t be that great—I lived here for years.”
“Amazing … Wow. I couldn’t imagine experiencing this for years … My entire life couldn’t compare to a single second looking at this sky … It weaves through you like a needle and thread, pulling you into the realm of harmony.”
She held up a hand, tilting her head from side to side while pulling in the forces around them with gentle magical prompts, creating a radiant green and purple star. “These elements are beyond any I’ve had the pleasure of touching—brimming with so much fervor I can’t help but be enchanted … I could live forever here, yet I know I would not belong … Do you feel it?”
Kari’s eyebrows pulled together, trying to analyze herself to find what the Vulpes was referring to. “I … No, it all feels the same as I remember…”
“Hmm, he-he,” Jemissa breathed in through her nose and let it out. “There is some power lacing through my entire being—guiding—uplifting … No, that’s not the right word … Something is fusing with my entire existence—an empowering force that has become one … at one with … Yes,” a smile shone in her eyes, “something is at one with me … quickening every fiber of my existence to allow me to experience this place.”
A lump dropped down Kari’s throat, and she tried to look for that power yet couldn’t find it in herself. It might have been because she was born in this dimension; she naturally adapted to the various planes of existence she entered while other beings couldn’t survive without aid, and it appeared that Sora’s grandmother’s magic was acting as that catalyst for Jemissa.
It was a little depressing, knowing she couldn’t experience the same uplifting feeling, but in a way, it helped; there had to be a way she could have what this woman currently felt—she just needed to find it in herself, which was what her mother had been trying to teach her this entire time.
Jemissa had lived in the Yellow District her entire life, fighting, betraying others, and killing to prove she deserved to be alive; now, from near the top of that bloody path, she was empty, yet there was something here that washed away all the emptiness inside her … and that was all Kari wanted.
Pulling in her lips, she lifted her gaze to the heavens to see the largest visual movie display she’d ever witnessed as her mother played with the stars to illustrate the happy moments she shared with her father, Kari’s grandfather, as the old wolf taught her how to move between dimensions, and laughing when she spun into various Shadow Realms, missing the mark.
For the first time in a long time, she smiled upon remembering her grandfather, memories her mother told her about Fenrir showing her how to defend herself and the pranks she’d try to play on him—of course, it wasn’t as if he wouldn’t have known about her mischievous acts, yet always played into them.
The silence around them stretched as Jemissa shared in her memories, not understanding the context but reveling in the raw energy empowering her, and Kari found a new measure of recovery.
After a time, Kari chuckled, lying on her back with her hands behind her head; the sweet scents she remembered were now drowning out the negative memories to be replaced by positive ones, and she could practically hear the chirping of insects, birds, animals, and various other creatures that lived in her mother’s Realm.
“We were supposed to fight, weren’t we?”
Jemissa released a long sigh through her nose, lying beside her; the woman’s tails swayed side to side, sending more violet-colored butterflies to sparkle the atmosphere, little as they contributed. “It might sound odd … I know Mofupsi would likely be shocked, but … I don’t feel like fighting anymore … certainly not here, and I don’t want to leave.”
“Well, I think one of us has to be declared the winner for this to be over.”
“Huh. I suppose you’re right … We don’t need to focus on that right now, though,” Jemissa mumbled, resigning herself to silence again.
Kari pulled herself up; the pain she felt from her former home had long since vanished, and something else took its spot. Maybe I should show Sora around my old home … Would she want to? She is my first … Sora really is my first friend. Aren’t you supposed to share things like this with your friends?
Walking a few meters away, Kari slowly spun in a circle to take in one of her most precious memories. I can create this in my Core … Maybe I should bring Aiden, too … It could help him.
She stopped, realizing how much she was changing in such a short amount of time; it was like all the gears her mother had been lining up since first coming back were sliding into place.
“Hmm?” Jemissa rose to her feet, unable to properly utilize her spirit to float in this dimension. “Going somewhere?”
Stunned at the sensations radiating in her breast, Kari turned to stare at the Vulpes in disbelief. “I’m … Am I not disgusting?”
“What?” It was Jemissa’s turn to be confused, lips momentarily parting while her gaze shifted to the glowing trees. “I … wouldn’t call you disgusting … different … different is a good word—a little odd with the single tail, and big black angry beast transformation look, is surely unusual. Why?”
Kari shook her head, smiling a little as yet again, more weight lifted off her chest. “Maybe being a Fenris Wolf isn’t all that bad … There are humans that are bad, but that doesn’t mean all of humanity is bad … I could be a good Fenris Wolf.”
Jemissa scratched her scalp and combed out her hair. “Sure? Are you looking for a specific answer because … I’m losing track of this conversation.”
Power flooded Kari’s frame as the thousands of shattered pieces that had been her life reunited, and she transformed into her Fenris form to look up at the brilliant sky. Thank you, Mom … I think … I think I’m ready to move forward.
Closing her eyes as the warmth of her family lineage flooded her blood, she experienced a new sensation that was separate from everything her mother taught her—a darkness so complete it absorbed everything around her, yet it wasn’t nefarious, but gentle, like the strong, protective arms of a father wrapping his arms around his frightened daughter’s body and pulling her close.
When opening her eyes, she’d entered utter darkness; she wasn’t alone. “My daughter—tranquility has found its way into your heart—reconcile with yourself and grow. Soon … very soon, we will meet.”
Without warning, she was back in the replica of her mother’s Realm; Jemissa had retreated a dozen meters, lips parted in disbelief.
Was that … My father? We’ll meet soon, huh…
All that filled Kari’s being was baffling peace; she didn’t need to know when—just knowing she had a father that communicated with her was enough for her—it had to be because it was more than she ever thought she’d have. “W-What happened?”
Jemissa released a confused chuckle, scratching the back of her neck. “You … exploded.”
“I what?” Kari glanced down, not finding anything wrong with herself; she shook her head. “How did I explode?”
The Vulpes pulled in her lips. “One minute … let me see if I can make an illusion of it … It was like … yeah, a big red light, and then … smoke … blackness … puffy black clouds—I don’t know?”
Finding it a little funny how unbothered she was at the explanation, Kari let the information slide; nothing could ruin the joy she currently felt. “Don’t bother; I … think I’m fine being a Fenris Wolf. So, did you want to fight?”
Jemissa’s vision fell to the soil, moved to the trees, and rose to the heavens; her serene smile returned. “No … I surrender … Just let me enjoy this a bit longer. Hmm … This is everything I wanted in life.”
“Suit yourself,” Kari returned, lying down to try and recall the sound of her father’s voice— but it was so obscure—less of a voice and more of raw energy embracing her every fiber.
I have a father … and he wants to know me…
She gave an internal squeal; it was like she was a child again.
What will Sora say? Wait … if we get her family back … and we meet my dad … That would be perfect … Maybe we can heal.Her gaze lifted to the heavens. I’m no longer alone.
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