A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Twenty-One: Domination


1. Sora Moore (Our Vulpes Founder with a new daughter to protect)

Recap: Sora learned just how terrible the Yellow Section of her family’s Realm and even if she is limited on her actions to save, she makes one detour to pick up a little Vulpes pup that lost her older sister.  She sees starvation, cannibalism, and murders are rampant in Level 7 … there has to be more she can do.  They made it to Level 6 without a hint of trouble … What awaits them here?

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Sora appeared on the other side of the gate, blinking to regain focus while taking in her surroundings; Eyia and Kari joined her shortly after, following her actions.

The ragged furred pup she’d rescued from the fall was still passed out, lying on the floor in front of her.  Sora’s heart went out to the child, and she wanted to bend down and hold her protectively against her chest but knew it would only hurt the girl in the long run and make her a target.

She lifted an eyebrow, smirk directed at several dozen Vulpes that had gathered to personally meet the victors of the First Level contestants.  Judging by the strength she sensed from several key figures, it was mainly a pecking order thing.

Most of the present Vulpes had three tails, who wouldn’t likely be participating in this next challenge.  The few that had four tails were noticeably stronger than the others in the throng; four-tailed Vulpes were the highest in the power ranks within the 6th Level.

It was a bit surreal to Sora, and she kept being reminded of Fen’s tirades about how blessed and oblivious she was to it.

True, she had been granted training by one of the most powerful Vulpes to have ever existed; Inari was revered and feared by everyone in the monster community.  However, that only helped to teach her the innate potential she held.

The four-tailed Vulpes glaring at them were likely among the strongest within this part of the city, yet none of them could really scratch her on raw energy alone.  They were over three hundred years old compared to her sixteen years, yet not one could so much as sense how powerful she truly was.

However, there were dirty tricks they could try to employ to force her hand, such as using the kid in front of her as a bargaining chip, and Sora had to shut that down quickly.

Sora’s gaze turned from their audience as Kestirva teleported to their location; this was the real nine-tailed leader of the 7th and 6th Levels.

The gray Vulpes wasn’t even in the same league as Tola, but it wasn’t like she could talk since it was still beyond her abilities.  Still, since she could sense the crude magic and had the possibility to interrupt it, Sora concluded that her magical prowess was taking leaps and bounds.

Her aunt wasn’t wrong; the degree at which she’d mastered the Outer Body Technique was by far worth the time invested.  It allowed her to basically practice complex weaves of magic inside of a safe, controlled environment that so happened to be in a time-dilated space.

The Vulpes around them swiftly bowed in shock, yet their spiritual energy made it clear the action was out of fear instead of respect.

“Well, well, well—I am most impressed by that performance,” she mused, one arm under her considerable bust while the other cupped her chin.  “It will take at least thirty minutes for the next contestants to make it to the 6th Gate, and you even stole a spot with a child!”  the woman giggled, giving the passed-out girl a curious grin.

Sora cracked her neck with a bored hum, barely acknowledging the leader with a glance before turning her attention to Eyia and Kari.  “Mmgh … I couldn’t even stretch my legs.  Ugh … wasn’t this supposed to be tough?”

Kari caught her mood like a disease, directing a leer at the women surrounding them with a mocking laugh that brought back chilling memories of the bully from her past.  “You expected something out of those losers?  Some of them didn’t even have an ounce of fat on their bodies, much less spiritual strength, and I can’t say these ugly hoes would do any better.”

Kestirva’s lips parted a bit as she shifted her hips and tails to the opposite direction, following their conversation, but the Vulpes they were openly dissing wore scowls.  Although it was a bit surprising they weren’t speaking up, the nine-tailed fox might have been the cause of the hostile silence.

“Yeah, I get what you’re saying,” Sora sighed, bringing around her left tail to inspect how straight her fur was, practically ignoring the angered crowd.  “I really shouldn’t have expected much from third-rate Vulpes—if I should call them that.  I mean, you could probably kill any one of them by just wagging your bushy tail.”

Kari reverted back to her human form, clothes returning.  She folded her arms underneath her bust, rolling her eyes while shifting her body weight to the right and glancing down at her long, thick furred tail.  “Look, I’m not denying my tail could murder any of these weak Vulpes, but you don’t have to keep focusing on how much bushier mine is from yours.”

Eyia didn’t seem to catch the gist of the conversation, vision darting between them with lifted eyebrows.  “… I do not see the appeal of tails myself,” she mumbled.  “If we are discussing thickness of fur, then it is difficult to argue the raggedy mass of defensive hair a Fenris Wolf has, yet if my Sister were to combine her two tails, then it would be sufficiently puffy, and their soft sheen looks far healthier than the accursed wolf’s.”

Sora refrained from facepalming as Kari’s tail lifted a little, playful tone dropping significantly; Eyia and her would never be friends at this rate.

“Look, Eyia, there’s nothing wrong with my fur.  In fact, I’d be worried about your own hair with how much care you give it.”

The Valkyrie smiled.  “You are on the defensive, which means you feel threatened by my sister’s lustrous copper mane.  It is okay to feel inferior for a Fenris Wolf; you should blame your grandfather for breeding.”

Kari’s frown turned to a smile that didn’t touch her eyes.  “Right.  Right … You know, Odin was a pretty liberal guy; how many siblings do you even have because I couldn’t keep count?  How many others were exiled again … Hmm…”

Eyia’s expression became gloomy, left hand gripping her arm.  “Not many, true … I have not set foot in Asgard since I was a very small child.  I cannot say how many still survive after the last cycle concluded.”

“Last?”  Kari hummed, giving Eyia a thoughtful leer.  “How many cycles do you think have happened since you were exiled because it’s more than one?”

Sora knew Kari was attacking back after Eyia kept poking at her race, but she’d never seen the Valkyrie look so lost as Kari found a hole in the girl’s steel-like defense.  The Vulpes were more angered by their blatant disregard than anything else at this point, and since Sora was dismissing the child for a decent time, it was adding more to the type of personality she wanted the group to perceive of her.

“More than one?”  Eyia whispered, deep blue eyes falling to the glorious streets.  “I—did not know of that … Why would Jin not tell me … Is my mother still on her throne?”

Kari’s composure began to crack a bit at her question, which was something new to the Fenris Wolf; bully Kari would have smelled blood and ripped Eyia’s heart out, but a sadness fell over the black-haired girl, ears falling back a little as she connected the question with her own experience.  “Freyja is still alive—as far as I know.  Few of the old guard remain, though.”

“I see…”  Eyia’s demeanor lifted slightly at the news, and her hand slid up and down over her arm, not making eye contact with Kari.  “I—did not expect a Fenris Wolf to not have a lying tongue, but I sense no malice in your response … It is good to know she is likely doing well.”

“…”  Kari’s lips tightened, cheeks pushing to the left a bit, but she turned her attention to the crowd instead of pursuing the conversation.  “So, what were your plans for this thing?”  she mumbled, bringing her tail around to point at the pup.

Eyia’s calm demeanor returned, studying the girl.  “Did not Sora say she would bring the pup with us to the finals to prove how laughable these contests are?”

Sora was getting a little worried about the two, but perhaps they’re making gradual headway toward at least accepting one another, which brightened her mood a bit.  “Umm … Oh, right.”

She giggled with a short shrug.  “It was kind of a spur of the moment thing.  Why not?  It’s not like it’ll be that difficult.”

One of the four-tailed Vulpes with dark gray fur and a semi-bright robe of yellows and pinks had had enough of their talk.  “Lady Kestirva!”  she said, trying to restrain the frustration in her tone.  “May I be the first to face this—this two-tailed fool in the contest?  She has run her mouth long enough to her betters and utterly disrespected your authority!  She knows nothing of the honor this holy festival brings to us!”

Kestirva didn’t seem all that bothered by their flippant attitudes, watching Sora’s group smirk at the indignant woman.  “Hmm … they are rather ignorant to the format.”

“Explain,” Eyia demanded.  “What is expected of us?”

Another four-tailed Vulpes, this one with pinkish fur, pointed at the child with a wicked grin.  “If you want to act as the stand-in for another contestant, then you’ll need to face nine Vulpes; three for yourself, three for them, and three more for disrespecting Lady Kestirva!  Still feeling confident?”

“Heh, to think you’d give yourself names without completing the 5th Level, too—the arrogance,” a three-tailed Vulpes sneered.

Figuring it would incite them further and not really feeling all that challenged, Sora mirrored the woman’s expression.  “Is that right?  None of you have names … How sad and pitiful,” she snickered, causing the group to glare at them with contempt.

Kari was always quick to catch her direction, puffing out her chest and staring down at the much shorter nine-tailed Vulpes.  “You know, I bet Sora could take on this competition for every Vulpes that makes it through from the 7th Level, and she’d do it within ten seconds.”

Every tail in the irritated throng stiffed, and Sora could hear laughter from the hundreds of Vulpes above them from higher tiers of the city, watching the festival with amusement and waiting for their turn.  Sora caught Mofuspi’s real body sitting on a yellow throne high above her section of the capital, giving her a beaming smile.

Eyia chuckled, folding her arms while directing a questioning grin at Kari.  “You underestimate my Sister, as is the custom of Fenris Wolves; she would subjugate them with one word.  Her victory is assured in less than three.”

A nervous chuckle slid through a few of the four-tailed Vulpes as they glanced between each other, and the child began to stir in front of them, pinkish eyes opening to stare around in utter confusion.

Sora used the raw magic around them to lift the surprised pup, causing a weak squeak to pass through her throat as she slowly spun in the air to face Sora’s green irises.  “I’m going to name you Niki.”

Kari nodded with a short nod.  “Greek for Victory, huh?  Figures, since she’s guaranteed to pass into the 4th Level.”

“Humph,” Eyia’s lips pulled to the side with a sad sigh.  “Sigr would be a much stronger name, in my opinion, but Niki is not the worst name.”

“H-Huh?”  Niki gasped, heart rate beginning to race.  “I—I … Where am I?”  she shuttered, turning to see the dagger-like eyes glaring at her.  “S-Sister?”

Kestirva’s lips parted, tongue slowly sliding over them while giving Sora a questioning stare.  “You honestly believe that you can overpower every Vulpes that is willing to attempt making it to the 5th Gate?”

Sora lifted an eyebrow, ignoring the pup’s dizzying bewilderment to level a smirk at the gathered throng.  “The fact you ask that means you haven’t actually gauged my spiritual strength.”

“Heh, I didn’t want to spoil the fun,” Kestirva mused.  “So, you’re willing to fight every Vulpes consecutively?  It will be a long day.”

Shadow’s influence caused Sora’s deep green irises to become a reflection of how the darker half of her viewed the Vulpes around them.  “He-he-he, you’re hilarious, Kestirva!  When did I say I’d face them one by one?”

Kestirva’s brow furrowed in a questioning manner.  “You mean to tell me you wish to fight all of them together?”

Sora slowly shook her head with a short chortle.  “Fight is not the word I would use, but sure, let’s go with that.”

Her confidence and demeanor chilled the crowd, including Niki, the frightened pup floating in front of her.

Eyia and Kari were glancing around with a bored expression, and the Fenris Wolf yawned.  “… So—are we going to make this happen, or is everyone on the 6th Level a coward?”

“Careful what you wish for,” Kestirva whispered, her vision narrowing with an ugly sneer.  “So … you vs. every competing Vulpes on Level 6?”

“I’m waiting,” Sora replied, smirk turning innocent.  “I hope they don’t disappoint everyone’s expectations.”

Kestirva lifted her fingers and snapped her thumb and index finger, transporting them all to what appeared to be a central gathering point near the left side of the city; every space surrounding them was filled with thousands of Vulpes, all with three to four tails.

Niki was forced out of her grip by the nine-tails own magic, transporting Eyia, Kari, and Niki inside the throng.  Sora was beside the Level Leader, inside the center of the square.

The Vulpes’s voice was transmitted to every Vulpes as if she were right beside them, speaking in a normal tone.  “Currently, only four individuals have advanced to the 6th Level, and Sora Moore, Third Generation Founder possessing two tails, has offered to stand in place of every 7th Level participant that passes.”

She paused, and whispers exploded above and around Sora, most expressing disbelief at the sheer audacity this two-tailed Vulpes had; she’d locked herself into an unbeatable contest.

Sora’s arrogant smile was back in place as she found Kari, Eyia, and Niki near the front of the masses.  Using her magic to amplify her voice, Sora spoke up.  “That is not all, Kestirva.  No, didn’t Eyia tell you that I could subjugate them in less than three seconds?”

Kestirva continued in a calm and collected manner.  “And if you don’t?”

“The fact you keep underestimating me is amusing,” Sora mocked.  “How about a wager?”  she stared at the nine-tailed Vulpes uncertain eyes, Shadow becoming more and more dominant within her.  “If I succeed—heh, without killing a single Vulpes … You will bow down and lick the ground at my feet after apologizing for your arrogance, and should I fail—I’ll let you decide, but I highly advise to not bet your tails on it.”

“Damn…”  Kari muttered, lifting an eyebrow at her change in demeanor.

In truth, these were fantasies she’d had of the Fenris Wolf in the crowd for years when she’d been a normal school girl, doing her best to just get from day to day; locked within her heart was a monster of demoralizing daydreams she’d play within her mind from time to time to just make it to her next class without bumping into the nightmare that was Kari.

The leader’s smile faded, cold irises turning into a stern glare at her impertinence at even suggesting she bow her head; a new level of animosity surged across the sections, but oddly, a new emotion was mingling with the bet—fear from those above and hope from those below.

“I will break you—Your jokes only go so far.  How do you plan on executing such an act in the first place?”  Kestirva asked, releasing a radiant wave of cold pressure as her wrath flared, but one voice silenced the nine-tailed rage.

“I’ll enforce that bet,” Mofuspi said from her throne on high, causing Kestirva’s ego to pop like a balloon, ears falling a little in surprise.  “Let’s not keep the onlookers waiting—I’m also eager to see how Sora plans to execute such an incredible act; she has already shown me things I didn’t know were possible.  This should be fun!”

Kestirva’s head lifted to the sky to stare at the floating Yellow Councilwoman.  “Lady Mofupsi—please reconsider … such a thing has never been done before—I am a Level Overseer.”

Sora could practically see the look on Mofupsi’s face.  “And?”

“I—I understand…”  her stiff nine tails loosened a bit, probably thinking it was impossible for her.  Kestirva’s intense gaze moved to the crowd like a viper, the woman’s tone reminding Sora of a rattlesnake’s tail as if warning them not to allow her to lose this bet.  “All those that wish to advance through the next gate … Step forward.”

What looked like a small army flooded the interior, separating from the throng.

Kestirva’s lips lifted with a pitying smirk as she observed those that fought on her behalf.  “Two hundred and sixteen four-tailed Vulpes and five hundred three-tailed … It is too late to back out, Sora—I hope you do not regret this,” she replied with a short chuckle as she floated into the air to observe the conflict.  “Are you ready?”

Sora put her left hand on her hip before examining the perfectly managed fingernails on her right.  “This build-up is boring.”

Snorts were heard from above, and there were dozens of 3rd party bets that she heard passed around; Sora reminded herself that this was for Emilia and her aunt—for herself—yes, this was a selfish decision, and she embraced it.

“Then let the slaughter begin,” Kestirva laughed, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture.  “Show her what it means to disrespect those in authority.”

Every Vulpes prepared to launch at Sora as she casually studied her hand, realizing how it had become more shapely and beautiful since her time as a human.

The moment Kestirva started the trial, she looked up with a look that said every Vulpes around her was less than dirt before extending the total weight of her spiritual pressure, following what came naturally to her as it slipped through the spiritual defenses of every woman about to pounce on her.

Lips parted in disbelief as Sora smirked, glowing green irises lifting to view those that stood against her and said a single word.  “Kneel.”

Not one Vulpes’s rage-filled expression didn’t pacify as her command embedded into their Cores, infecting their Intelligence with the dominating influence that she had subconsciously suppressed.

Just like the bowling employee that she’d injected her will into when she was just learning her abilities, every Vulpes instantly dropped to their knees, bowing before her.  The closest thing she could compare it to was the natural presence she’d felt from her aunt.

Sora’s wicked smile lifted to stare at Kestirva above her, shock turning to a sudden realization of what had just happened.  “Can they really be called my opposition when they’ve lost all will to harm me?  I could have them slit their own throats if I wished, but I’m not a fiend; I’ll settle with the bet we made, Kestirva.”

Cold sweats broke out across Kestirva’s rigid frame, ears pulling back as the enormous presence that was Mofuspi clapped far above her, the only sound across the entire shocked audience.  “Well, well, well … What an impressive display of natural talent and a method of attack I was utterly unaware of—Kestirva…”

The woman’s fearful expression turned to stare up at the god-like figure above her.  “Y-Yes, Lady Mofuspi?”

“I believe you lost your bet.  Is that right?”

Sora’s stomach shook with low laughter.  “Don’t worry, Kestirva; you’re just doing what comes naturally to you—now kiss the ground near my feet.”

The air in Kestirva’s lungs was trapped there, and the smug demeanor she’d shown since following Sora had evaporated like morning dew before the blazing sun as she slowly descended.

Her eyes were wide with disbelief as she stared into Sora’s unfazed gaze before lifting her head to look at Mofuspi one last time, ears and tails drooping.  The woman’s chest fluttered with conflicting emotions as she opened her mouth, face red with tears welling up in her eyes, and she jerkily lowered herself to the ground.

Sora’s next words broke the dam in the nine-tailed Vulpes’s eyes, causing tears to slide down her cheeks and her nose to turn red.  “Look at your leader, Level Seven and Six Vulpes.  This is what will happen to you if you doubt my power again.  I am Sora Moore, Third Generation Vulpes Founder, and I have powers you can’t so much as dream of—think carefully before becoming my enemy because I might not be so forgiving next time.”

Trying to hold back her low sniffles and shock, Kestirva mumbled, “I … I am s-sorry, Sora Moore…”

“Speak up,” Sora demanded.  “How can those under you hear just a pitiful apology?”

She swallowed, reluctantly projecting her voice across the whole of the Yellow District.  “I … am sorry, S-Sora Moore … Please … please forgive me…”

“Good,” Sora chuckled, enhancing her own words.  “Now lick the ground at my feet, Kestirva.”

More and more Vulpes of various tail numbers appeared in the sky to see what was being broadcast, watching in disbelief as one of the most powerful Vulpes they’d ever known hesitantly stuck out her tongue and submissively licked the ground in front of Sora; the woman’s ears were tightly pulled back, tails trembling with embarrassment against her side.

“Excellent,” Sora chimed.  “Now, I’m going to advance to the 5th Level.  You may guide the Vulpes from the 7th there as they make it through.  At least you’ll be useful for something,” she finished, motioning for Kari and Eyia to follow her as she released control over the hundreds of three and four-tailed Vulpes around them, wrapping Niki in the atmospheric raw magic to drag her along.

Kari had her hands behind her head, leering at the Vulpes that parted to provide a path for them to reach Sora, and Eyia held a neutral expression as Niki floated with them to join her.

Sora turned to a nearby confused contestant; she’d already implanted defeat within their breasts, causing most to collapse to the ground in tears and horror at having their very willpower hijacked.  “You—yes, you,” she repeated at the confused and frightened black-furred Vulpes nearby, “guide us to the next level.”

As she turned her back on Kestirva, the woman regained a semblance of her former self.  “… Make it to the Tower, Sora Moore … So I can kill you myself,” she mumbled, but it didn’t hold the same weight with her cracked, emotional voice.

Sora ignored the comment as if it wasn’t even worth her time, causing the woman’s hatred to deepen; however, in her heart, she was praying that her aunt would come through with her power-up before that conflict because she was screwed otherwise.

Walking through the devastated mass of broken women, Sora acted as if they didn’t exist, proceeding to the 5th Gate with a spring in her step while following their numb guide, still trying to cope with what had just happened to her.  “Do you think the next Level will actually offer us some challenges?”  Sora asked.

Eyia shook her head.  “No, and I will handle the next one.  I need to warm up in any case; I must see if I have recovered sufficiently from Bathin’s crucible.”

Sora laughed.  “Crucible is one word to describe it!”

She knew that Kari was probably worried about her, but she couldn’t show weakness now—there was too much on the line, and she might have to go even further with what was to come.

Her fights with Eric had given her a lot of control over her powers; he was far stronger than she initially thought, which made Jin’s domination of the man all more impressive, and she was just messing around.  If Eyia said she’d handle the 5th Level, then they would pass without a doubt.

Niki’s uneasy gaze was fixated on her as they casually made their way through the city, and finally, she spoke up.  “U-Umm … L-Lady Sora Moore—What are you going to do with me?  D-Do you know where my sister is?”

Sora shrugged, jabbing her thumb back in the direction of the 7th Level.  “Probably back there somewhere.  I’m just taking you to the top to show Mofuspi how pointless this whole festival thing is; everyone here is worthless, and who knows, maybe your sister will be motivated to join us here if she saw you pass.”

“Y-You really think so?”  Niki asked with tears in her eyes.  “I—I just want to be with her—she takes care of me.”

“Huh…”  The amount of Vulpes that looked like they had a caring heart on the 7th Level couldn’t be counted on one hand; hearing Niki’s claim made a question pop into her mind.  “Are you two from some other place in the world?”

“Umm … Yes, my sister says we lived on a big mountain, but—but I don’t remember it.”

Sora released a low hum, probing the Fox’s Core; she found the taint most of the Vulpes in the Realm possessed wasn’t within the child.  “Interesting … Is your sister strong?”

“Mhm!”  she chimed, countenance brightening.  “She’s super strong and finds me food and water and keeps all the mean girls away from me!”

“Is that right…”  Sora mumbled.  “I hope your sister makes it in the 96 other slots—I’d like to meet her.”

Not soon after their journey through the empty streets, images of the 7th Level Vulpes that managed to make it to the gates began appearing above them.  You could see the thrill on their faces as they made it through, knowing Sora had secured their entrance through the 5th Gate, and this was only the beginning.

Twenty-three women made it into the 6th Level by the time they made it to the next, and after touching the polished white and gold surface, the four of them were transported to the other side.

What awaited her on the opposite side was a little unexpected; a single five-tailed Vulpes gave her a rigid bow before gesturing to their small party.  “Hello, Lady Sora Moore; I am a representative of Lord Keizer, the 5th Level Overlord.  He has asked that I escort you to have a meal with him.”

Sora lifted an eyebrow, looking up at the sky; the sun’s orange glow was just about completely gone at this point.  “At this time?”

“Indeed,” she replied without emotion.

Kari’s critical eyes were sliding over her five puffy red tails, orange irises, and robe, comprising curved gold and white symbols; she was a Nogitsune.  The woman was pretty, and unlike the previous Vulpes they’d seen, not a single mark marred her creamy skin.

Turning their attention to the surroundings, they discovered every building held the same color theme, and a fountain was in the center, releasing a milky spray.

The woman’s statement suddenly sunk in, causing Sora’s ears to stand up.  “He … Keizer is a male Vulpes?”

“Yes?”  the woman asked in a confused tone, finally showing a bit of emotion.  “Is—that an issue?”

“Huh…”  Kari smiled, leaning back to stare at Eyia.  “Ever see a male Vulpes?”

“I have not,” Eyia replied in an interested tone.  “They are quite rare.”

“Is—I do not understand your jest,” the woman replied with a forced smile.  “Would you please follow me?”

Niki seemed utterly oblivious to the context of the whole discussion, head tilted in a cute, puzzled manner.

Sora shrugged.  “Yeah … Why not?  We need to wait for everyone to get to the 5th Gate, I assume?”

The woman nodded.  “Among other things, yes.”

They moved behind their guide, examining the pristine buildings and relatively empty streets of the 5th Level; every so often, they’d find a critical eye staring at them through a building’s window, but most appeared to be away.

Niki’s chest fluttered, a gasp close to her lips as the 97th Vulpes appeared in the heavens.  “T-That’s my sister!  Lady Sora!  Lady Sora!  My sister!”

“Congratulations,” Eyia replied with a warm smile.  “I am happy she made it in…”

However, the girl’s ears swiftly fell back as she got a closer look at the image, noticing something wrong.  “Lady Sora … w-what happened to my sister’s arm and—and her tail?”  she cried.

A frown fell over Sora’s countenance as she saw the pained smile on the girl’s face in the sky, no doubt happy she made it to the next Level to reunite with her cherished sister.  The end of one of her tails was matted with red blood, one-fourth of it having been removed, and her left arm, from the bicep to fingers, was missing; she’d created some kind of tunicate for it to stem the bleeding.

The odd part that took her a bit by surprise was that Niki had gray fur, making her a Kumiho, while her sister had red, showing she was a Nogitsune.

Putting the observation in the back of her mind, Sora chuckled.  “Well—look how hard she struggled to get you back … I can’t have one of the other contestants die, or else it could cause problems.”

Sora gave their escort an expected look.  “If you could send someone to go fetch any of the Vulpes that were injured in their first trial, then I’ll heal them myself.”

The woman’s lips parted to say something but closed them soon after, replacing the confusion with a brilliant smile.  “… If that is what you desire, I see no problems with that—although healing magic is quite rare—even among those in the 5th Level.  Would it be an issue if I observed?  Of course, Lord Keizer is also expecting you…”

Sora waved her hand dismissively.  “Yes, yes, I understand.  Bring them to wherever I am with Keizer, and I’ll heal them there.”

The woman gave her a respectful bow.  “I look forward to the demonstration.  Please excuse me.”

Moving to a nearby house, she entered without knocking and returned with a cute black-furred Vulpes with four tails that took one look at them before jogging toward the gate to the 6th Level.

Their guide motioned for them onward.  “Those that are injured will arrive inside the 5th Level shortly.”

Sora nodded; the difference in treatment between levels was night and day, but the Vulpes’s feelings hadn’t changed much.  There was a degree of curiosity hidden inside this woman’s Core, but resentment, jealousy, and fear made up the majority of her emotions that were hidden by the red-furred Vulpes’s persona.

“By the way, what’s your name again?”  Kari grunted, her head turned to follow the four-tailed Vulpes’s retreat.

Their red-furred escort kept with her neutral tone.  “Lissiri, Lady Kari.”

“A pretty name,” Eyia commented, which shocked Sora more than Lissiri.

She expected the Valkyrie to like more Norse names after everything she’d learned about her friend, but it seemed that wasn’t entirely the case.

It didn’t take them much longer to reach the extravagant palace-like structure that took up an entire city block, and Lissiri guided them through the polished gold and white double doors.  Inside would be Sora’s first experience with a male Vulpes beside Hikaru, her aunt’s defected Kitsune.

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A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Twenty: Level 7
A Tail’s Misfortune — V4 – Chapter Twenty-Two: Brewing, Lustful Envy