A Tail’s Misfortune — Chapter Five: Settling In

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Sora’s vision focused on a gray-furred Vulpes as she nodded rigidly.  Olivia’s voice was soft spoken. “If—that’s what you’ve decided.” Her white dress was fitted but showed a few rips that had repair work done and there were three blue stripes on her sleeves.

Mimi’s yellow irises locked on Sora.  “I will have Olivia guide you back tomorrow at the appropriate time.”

She nodded.  “Thanks, Mimi.  I—this is a difficult position I’ve put you in and I really hope we can work all of this out.  I know you must have a lot of questions.”

Head tilting back, Mimi looked at the ceiling.  “Yes—I’ll ponder what questions to ask—this was rather sudden.”

Nodding, Sora followed Olivia out of the room with everyone in-tow; the twins stayed beside Mimi.  I didn’t think it would be this bad.  I didn’t even get to tell her about the cart—I guess that’s minor in comparison to the other topic.  Could Mary and the others be right; will the Council really view me as a threat that needs to be dealt with?  I’ll have to ask my aunt when we get to the guest house.

When they left the building, she noticed there were many eyes following them.  Most of the humans looked at them with curiosity, while the Vulpes could smell the monsters among them, their spiritual networks mixing with apprehension.  They passed many houses and a few large warehouses that seemed to be producing simple clothes; she mostly smelled human females in the building, but there were a few Vulpes.

Turning to Olivia, Sora asked, “What’s the population size between humans and Vulpes?”

Olivia looked around at the people observing them.  “I don’t know about the Capital or other towns, but in Shōuchéng it is around sixty percent Vulpes and forty percent human.”

“What about female humans?”  Sora pressed.

“That is an odd question,” Olivia stated with furrowed brows.  “There are not many; the only female humans that are here are from other female humans, and the human males don’t usually take a liking to the human females.  I would say, four percent of humans are female; they tend to work in a few production trades, such as tailoring.”

“That seems so harsh,” Ashley muttered.

“How so?”  Olivia looked truly confused.

“It does seem rather difficult to comprehend from a psychological standpoint,” Mary commented.  “Humans need comfort and the warmth of others, physical contact … in a society dominated by female monsters that are naturally beautiful and, I assume, release intoxicating hormones—they must feel sexually unlovable, outclassed.”

“I see,” Olivia whispered.  “The female humans do tend to group together.  There are a few human males that like the company of the human women, but it is a small number.  We have a relatively small human population as most of the men are sent here from the Capital. There are times when Vulpes from the Capital come to take half the female humans back with them.”

Nathan’s spiritual network spiked with fear at her statement, causing Sora to glance his way.  “You can’t mean—but with a low human population and no immigration…”

Mary and Ashley grimaced, nodding with understanding.  Sora’s stomach tightened as she read their meaning from their networks.  “Human breeding grounds?” She whispered in horror.

Olivia’s eyebrows lifted.  “There are settlements where there are mostly humans.  The Council sends representatives to distribute the number of humans in specific areas.”

“Then,” Ashley bit her lower lip.  “You’re saying that the humans can be uprooted and moved across towns at any moment?  They must leave behind everything?”

Nodding, Olivia seemed puzzled.  “Why is that hard to believe? It’s natural.  We get a large influx of single-tailed Vulpes from the Capital and men in their thirties.  Once a year the men that reach the age of eighty return to the Capital.”

“Eighty?”  Wendy asked as she looked around at all the men.  “I haven’t seen anyone with gray hair or that look that old.”

“What do you mean by gray hair,” Olivia asked.  “Humans don’t grow gray hair until they reach ninety or sometimes older.”

Jin hummed.  “It must be the magic in this realm.  Does anyone get sick?”

Olivia shook her head.  “I have not heard of anyone becoming ill; occasionally the young single-tailed Vulpes can become weak for a few days, but that is normal, and no humans get sick.”

“Isn’t that a bit odd?”  Ashley folded her arms. “Monsters get sick, but humans don’t.”

“It is not odd if you account for their spiritual networks,” Eyia commented, eyes alert as she studied their surroundings.

Fen chuckled.  “I never thought that I’d be stronger than other Vulpes around my age or even those a hundred years my elder.  What could have damaged their spiritual networks to this extent?”

Githa yawned atop Mary’s shoulders, shifting beneath her hair.  “They wouldn’t provide a decent meal at all.” Sora swallowed, vision darting to Githa as she chuckled.  “I won’t eat anyone.”

Sora was a little surprised to feel a tingle shoot down her spine.  Looking back, she caught Kari glaring at Olivia; she seemed disgusted.  “Something wrong, Kari?”

Kari’s cold gaze slid to her.  “Mind your own business.” She puffed out a breath through her nose before her vision fell to the cobblestone road, clearly deep in thought.

Aiden frowned as he studied Kari.  “Sora—nevermind.”

Sora chewed lightly on the inside of her cheek.  What’s he thinking?  His emotions are conflicted about something.

She glanced at Olivia as she stopped in front of a massive three-story building.  “This is one of the town guesthouses. There are two Vulpes that are charged with maintaining it and providing visitors their needs.  I will be by in the morning to guide you back to the Town Hall. I’ll introduce you before returning to my duties.”

“Thank you,” Mary stated.

Olivia nodded and opened the wooden door.  The first floor was large; the open space was well lit by floating balls of fire.  There was a bar in the back, a staircase leading to the next floor beside it. Couches, armchairs, and tables were spaced around the room.  There was a single door that led into a branching room to their left.

Two Vulpes with faded pink fur stood stiffly as they entered.  They wore simple white long-sleeved dresses that were fitted to their frames.  They seemed to be in their early twenties by appearance, both their hair was straight and fell halfway down their backs.

“Oh, Olivia—are these new guests?”  The Vulpes to the right asked. They both twitched nervously as their scents carried to them.

Olivia nodded.  “Yes, Liz. You and Alice will take care of their needs.  Answer their questions if they have any. I will be by in the morning to take them back to the Town Hall—yes, there are monsters among them.  Don’t cause them trouble or pry for information. Understand?”

Alice and Liz shifted a bit as they glanced at them, but nodded.  “Understood,” Liz said. With that, Olivia turned and left.

Liz cleared her throat, rubbing her left shoulder for a moment.  “So, umm—I’m Liz and this is Alice.” Alice nodded stiffly. “Would—what do you wish to do first?”

Jin grinned.  “Food, as much as you can make.”

Eyia nodded.  “It would be best to eat first and regain our strength.”

Githa jumped off Mary’s shoulders.  “Yes, I’m starving!”

“You ate an entire cart full of fruit … with the cart,” Wendy said incredulously.

Licking her lips, Githa nodded.  “Mhm, mhm, but that was just a snack!”  Liz and Alice opened their mouths but seemed to be at a loss for words.

“I like the way you think,” Jin chuckled.  “I’m interested to see what kind of food you have here.”

Sora bit her lips as Githa vanished.  Scanning the room, she found her in human form by the door that led further into the first floor.  “Is this the pantry? I smell food!”

“Githa,” Mary said with a tad exasperation.  “We should be courteous. Let the girls cook the food, we can wait a little bit.”

“Aww,” Githa looked crestfallen.  “Having all my spiritual energy purified made me so hungry.”

“I understand,” Sora said with a small smile.  “Thank you again, Githa. You really saved us, but we just popped into Liz and Alice’s lives.  Let’s give them a moment to get used to us.” Walking up to the girls, Sora held out her hand. “Hello, Liz, Alice, I’m Sora.”

Alice looked confused but soon reached out her hand.  “What—are we doing?”

Nathan chuckled.  “I guess shaking hands isn’t a custom here.”

“Shaking hands?”  Liz stared at Sora’s hand uncertainly.

Taking her hand, Sora lightly squeezed.  “It’s a friendly greeting. We just…” Sora frowned as Alice’s hands trembled in hers, she was looking at her in terror.  “Alice?” Sora questioned. She pulled away, arms pressing against her chest, her eyes defocused.

“What is it?”  Liz touched her shoulder with concern, causing Alice to jump.

“Energy…” Alice muttered.  “She has so much spiritual energy.”

“Seriously?”  Liz questioned, looking at Sora with wide eyes.

“What do you mean?”  Wendy moved closer to Sora as Eyia’s eyes narrowed; Sora got the feeling she was ready to strike if needed.

Alice closed her eyes and shook her head.  “There’s—so much and so many types. Way more than Lady Mimi.  There was just so much…”

“What’s she talking about?”  Aiden asked. Kari huffed and walked to a couch, dropping into it, she put her hands behind her head and closed her eyes.

Liz shook her head.  “Alice is able to sense certain things sometimes.  It’s a gift passed through our lineage—we’re cousins.  I don’t have it, but she can understand things by touching them.”

“She must be naturally gifted with spiritual perception.”  Jin hummed.

“I’m shielding my spirit though?”

Fen sniffed as she dropped into an armchair, Jian sitting beside her.  “I bet she saw the energy you’re gathering. What do you think, Jian?”

He nodded.  “By her statement, she must have sensed the elements that you are absorbing.”

“That seems plausible,” Jin muttered.  “If she can sense natural energy then she could sense you absorbing it.”

“Oh,” Sora brought her left hand to her lips.  “I think I know what you mean. When I’m under the open sky I feel an energizing feeling as it fills me with spiritual energy; it’s the same with the earth, but I feel warm and cozy.  I think there are others too, but those two seem to drown out the other sensations.”

“Natural attunement,” Fen stated dryly.  “The benefit of being a Founder. You can gain energy from just about anything.”

Sora smiled apologetically as she turned to Alice.  “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Alice shook her head.  “No—it’s okay. I—it’s just a little overwhelming.”

Fen rolled her eyes.  “Great, the Princess is special … can we get some food now?”

Jumping, Alice nodded.  “Yes—we’ll start cooking.”

They both hurried toward the closed door.  “You don’t have to rush,” Sora called after them.  Turning to Fen, she ground her teeth together. “Fen … could you please be a little more considerate of their feelings?”

Fen’s eyebrow lifted.  “This is me being considerate.”

“Of course it is,” Sora sighed.  Taking a deep breath, she glanced back at the humans.  Her lips pursed as she read Nathan’s concerned expression.  He was glaring at the wall, deep in thought. He’s worried about being controlled.  It’s a valid concern in a realm full of Vulpes that can magically influence him.

“So, we just relax until then?”  Aiden asked, frowning as he stared at the group.  “You know—we really need to get new clothes for some of you.”  He blushed as he turned away from Jin and Eyia and their spandex covering.

“That would be wonderful,” Mary nodded.

Ashley eased the tension in her neck.  “Yeah, a bath would be great too.”

“They might have something for guests.”  Wendy chimed in, glancing at the stairs.

“It would be good to explore—hopefully there is some kind of bath or shower here,” Ashley said with a hopeful tone.

Sora nodded.  “Alright, I’m going to find a room to meditate.”

“Meditate?”  Wendy’s brow furrowed.  “When did you start meditating?”

“It’s a little more complicated.  I need to work out some answers and that’s the best way to do it.  I want to try and figure out how to make you guys resistant to Vulpes influence.”

Fen breathed a long sigh.  “When are you going to grow tired of playing the hero?  You’re nothing like a Vulpes…”

Nathan licked his lips.  “Is that possible?”

“I won’t know until I study it a bit more.”  She glanced at Fen. “And it isn’t playing the hero, Fen, I just care about them.  Are you saying I shouldn’t have removed Diane’s ward and healed Jian?”

Fen’s frown deepened as she sunk deeper in her chair, averting eye contact.  “It’s not like I asked you to…”

A sly smile lit Sora’s cheeks as she pushed her influence over Fen and showed the image of her crying, thanking her for healing Jian.  “I remember you acting a bit more thankful before.”

Fen’s eyes widened.  “Hey, stop that! Who said you could invade my mind.”  Sora snickered as she released her magic. “I—you’re too nice to people.”  Fen sniffed bitterly. “It’s going to bite you one day…”

Turning to Wendy, Sora smiled.  “Why don’t you join me? We can leave Ashley, Mary, and Nathan to poke around.”

Wendy nodded.  “Yeah, okay … I don’t know what we’ll be doing though.”

“You’ll see.”  She looked between Jin, Aiden, and Eyia.  “What are you three going to do?”

Eyia examined the room.  “I am unsure about this building’s occupants.”

“Just us and those Vulpes,” Jin said, glancing up at the ceiling.

“I understand,” Eyia’s vision shifted to the door leading outside.  “I will stand guard by the door until we gather to discuss our future plans.”

Aiden took a deep breath as he smiled at Eyia.  “You’re so dependable. I’m glad you’re not our enemy.”

“I will not be so long as you show no harm toward my sister or friend,” Eyia stated bluntly.

“Of course,” Aiden chuckled.  “Well, as for me, I think I’ll try to take a quick nap on a couch.  I’m feeling a little spent, emotionally.”

Jin stretched out.  “I’m with you there, but more physical.  I need to rest a bit; I’m still a bit sore from transforming.”

Sora nodded, noticing Githa in cat form again, curled up on an armchair.  She was so energetic about food a moment ago.  I guess all Nekomata are a bit fickle. “Okay, let’s go, Wendy.”

They walked up the stairs, Ashley, Nathan, and Mary following.  The second floor was split down the center by a long hallway with rooms on both sides; the staircase to the third level next to stairs they’d climbed.

“It’s curious how these fires don’t set the wood ablaze,” Nathan commented.

“Magic,” Ashley said, shaking her head.

Sora waved to them as she went through the closest door to the left side of the hall.  It opened to a medium sized room with two full-size beds, two wardrobes, and chests at the foot of the beds; there were two desks, the window spacing them.  The beds seemed to have the same plain white material they used for clothing as sheets, and there were folded blankets with a single pillow atop them.

“This all seems unreal,” Wendy breathed, shutting the door behind them.

“I know what you mean.”  Sora sighed, dropping down on a mattress, she laid back.  It seemed filled with feathers. “It feels like cotton.” She said, wiggling a little on the bed.

Wendy moved the blanket and pillow to the floor, dropping down beside her.  “Everything’s happened so fast. It feels like a nightmare that I’ll wake up from soon.”

“Yeah—I felt that way when I was going through the transformation.”

“Did it hurt?”  Wendy shifted a little, hands resting at the back of her head.

“Yeah, a lot—I had to soak in my spa for like thirty hours to get used to my ears.  My tail was a lot easier though; my ears just—the pounding killed my brain.”

“Sounds terrible…”  Wendy whispered.

“It feels like ages ago—anyways, this will be the first time I try to bring someone with me.  I think it’s possible. I just have to guide your Intelligence with me, I think.”

“Intelligence?”

“Yeah, it’s like, you are made up of a body, spirit, and Intelligence—it’s a little complicated.  Let me see if I can do it.” Sora closed her eyes and entered the Outer Body Technique, trying to direct her spiritual energy into Wendy’s network, she gently studied her spiritual flow until she found her Intelligence housed inside her spiritual core.  She lightly pulled, guiding it with her as she fueled her spiritual energy into Wendy’s Intelligence. She opened her eyes; she was in the dark space with the bright overhead light, Wendy beside her.

“Okay,” Wendy said breathlessly.  “That was a little … intense. It was like I could feel a warmth spreading through my whole body and then I was being tugged all over the place.”

“You are so talented,” Inari’s impression appeared in front of them with a beaming smile.

“Who—she’s gorgeous…”  Wendy said, wide-eyed.

Inari laughed lightly, “Even as an impression with no real power; I still represent Inari in her radiance.”

“So—you’re Sora’s aunt?”  Wendy questioned. “I think I heard someone say Inari was your aunt, right?”

Sora nodded.  “Yes, Inari is my aunt—but this isn’t Inari …  I guess. My aunt put an impression of her Intelligence, like a part of her mind, inside me.  She’s like my own personal instructor.”

“Okay?  So—what are we doing here?”

Sora took a deep breath, but her aunt replied.  “My young niece wishes to ask me some questions and seeks guidance with tweaking your frail human spiritual networks against assault.”

“Yeah…”  Sora said, trailing off.

“So,” Inari hummed with a sly smirk.  “Ask your questions.”

“Do you know about this Vulpes Realm?”

Her aunt’s sly smirk didn’t falter.  “Of course. Though, I was unaware of a few specifics that I have recently understood; all the necessary information was written in those adorable twin’s spiritual network—twins are rare for Vulpes … such a shame.  Mimi’s Intelligence confirmed a great many suspicions I had discovered from the twins. It may be necessary for me to reach out to your aunt if a certain set of circumstances arise, but I believe you can handle most of the possible outcomes.”

Sora sat on a cushioned chair that appeared with her desire, head leaning back against the soft back.  “You won’t tell me … although, I guess by telling me this, you are giving me hints. How should I deal with Mimi and this realm’s laws?”  She made a chair for Wendy to sit next to her and an extravagant padded armchair appeared for Inari to sit.

“Indeed, I cannot stunt your growth by giving you all the answers.”  Her smile grew slightly. “You know, Sekhmet—Tear Thingy,” she giggled, “must be fairly annoyed at this moment.”

“What—why?  Wasn’t it her that wanted us to go here?”

Inari chuckled.  “Yes, and no. This was the best option for the current circumstances.  She could not interfere directly, due to certain laws, and Eric could only buy so much time.  Even we are restrained in some regards, by our own word and realm restrictions. If Sekhmet truly made an appearance on Earth, rather than influencing things through spacial fractures, then the whole world would be consumed.  She did manifest herself in my sanctuary; she’s a bit impertinent, to say the least, but I suspect she was just excited to see Gloria.”

“I don’t know who this Sekhmet is?”  Wendy said, looking between Sora and her aunt.

“Nothing you should concern yourself with,” Inari replied with a dismissive gesture.  “Now, in regards to the laws in this realm. I can see you are worried; the thoughts swirl deep within your mind, but you have yet to fully realize them.  Therefore, you feel uneasy, but don’t fully understand why. That is an instinctual knowledge that you have gained through passive information gleaned through spiritual interaction.  There is much hidden in this realm. Continue the discussion with Mimi; things will become clear in time.”

“Alright—obscurity it is,” Sora leaned back in her chair.  “What about strengthening a human’s spiritual network to resist Vulpes control—it feels so weird saying human … not being one.”

Inari’s head tilted slightly.  “The human spiritual network is fragile and without resistance.  If you are to protect them, then you must maximize their Core. Every being has a core, more than just their spirit, and it is the sum and fuel that feeds their existence.  The Core is an integral part of the Nexus … a convolution of spiritual organs that interact to keep your existence intact; it is not necessary for me to explain it at this time and would serve to confuse you until you have more experience with it.  What is important for you to understand in relation with the Nexus is that a spiritual network can be damaged, but if the Core remains intact then it can be recovered.”

Sora scratched the back of her left fox ear as she listened.  So, it’s not the network I need to strengthen, but the Core.  What about the Vulpes in this world … their spiritual networks are damaged; so, that can be cured somehow—if their Core isn’t damaged.

Wendy frowned.  “So, my Core … I don’t understand what it is.  My Intelligence is like, my mind, right?”

“Kind of,” Sora mumbled before turning to face her.  “Your Intelligence is the actionable part of you; your agency or will.  It’s connected to your memories and instincts, but I don’t know how … my aunt said it was a little complicated to get into—well, how it all connects.  I think I get what I need to do. When I compel someone or influence them, I’m penetrating their spiritual network to their Core, into their Intelligence, and I feed my desires into it.”

“Wow,” Wendy hummed.  “That’s pretty scary to think about … it makes my skin crawl just imagining it.”

“As it should,” Inari’s tail’s shifted to lie across her front.  “What Sora does, so effortlessly on her part, is actually quite difficult for a normal Vulpes to accomplish.”

An image of Fen appeared, jealousy and self-loathing were evident in her network as she said, “That’s hard.  That takes meditation, and I don’t like doing it,” her nose twisted as she realized something. “Oh, so you can just do it without a problem … Founders.”  The image vanished.

“She is correct,” her aunt shrugged.  “Founders are naturally talented; it is not a skill, but a given through genetics of Intelligenceyes, it is truth that Intelligence and Spirit have genetical roots.  Life is not equal, evolution is not equal; equity in opportunity can be awarded, but equity in outcome is asinine.  It is illogical and impossible to obtain. Every being starts on a different footing, and if those beings that are gifted work to develop those talents with skill, there is nothing someone that is not talented can do to overcome that gap.  That is reality.

“Now, the Vulpes within this realm are far weaker than normal, at least the ones you have come into contact with.  They may have influence over humans, but it is far less potent than the average Vulpes. Normal Vulpes influence Intelligence through the surface of a being’s network, not the Core; it is extremely difficult for a trained six-tailed Vulpes to navigate and penetrate a human’s spiritual network to a significant degree, and that is still child’s play compared to my little niece.  In addition, the Vulpes here are extremely underdeveloped; their magical growth has been stunted and they cannot exercise their gifts in any meaningful way. There is a multitude of factors that contributed to this, but that isn’t relevant to the conversation.”

Inari folded her fingers together, resting her arms across her tails.  “Human Cores have levels that can be unlocked; you have heard of humans becoming demigods and gods within your myths.  That, in a manner, could be counted as true. Now, humans do not have the slightest sliver of capability or level of growth as a Founder; however, they may reach great feats such as spoken of in many of your legends; lifting mountains, throwing lightning, and obtaining a semblance of immortality.  In fact, the Asgardians are a highly evolved form of humanity.”

“Really?”  Wendy straightened.  “You mean, I could do those things … the stuff Eyia does?”

A small smile touched Inari’s cheeks.  “Every human is capable of growth. To what means they advance their evolution is dependant upon their Core genetics and active pursuits.  It is worth mentioning that real legends did not obtain their glory through luck, but hard work. Do you recall what I told you, Sora?”

She nodded.  “Only the weak believe in luck.  I must be willing to make the hard decision, to feel uncomfortable, awkward, to face rejection, to fail, to be pressured.”

Her aunt stroked one of her tails.  “Indeed. The hardest walk you can make is the walk you make alone, but that is the walk that makes you the strongest.  That is what builds your character the most, and everyone will go through that loneliness. This walk is hard, but the hardest walks lead to the greatest destinations.  Stay strong, be different. It will be worth it in the end.”

She turned to Sora.  “You have qualities only a few can admire because most do not possess.  Strength few can understand because most have never experienced. Don’t lower your expectations to fit in, you were born to stand out—lead.”

Her vision returned to Wendy.  “It is a brutal path that requires discipline and character; the path to becoming the master of your destiny will lead you to constant pain and sacrifice.  It is easy to go with the flow and do what is comfortable. It’s supposed to be hard; if it were easy, everyone would do it. Expansion requires payment in blood and an indomitable will.  Do you have the fire within your Core to weather the storms that will come?”

Wendy swallowed.  “I don’t know … what is it I’ll be doing?  I don’t know my strengths or what I’m supposed to do.”

Inari’s eyes showed compassion.  “If you do not feel blessed, you will not be blessed, my dear, think on that.  You must recognize the gifts inside of you before you can recognize the gifts outside of you.  You must know your worth before you can be worth anything. You must feel blessed before you will be blessed.  Your growth is dependent upon your own will; how you view yourself will hamper or accelerate your progress. Right now, you have a host of issues clouding your Core; internally you must overcome these to unlock your first level of advancement, and you are not the only one.”

She turned to her niece.  “Sora, the three other humans with you will need to overcome certain things in order to unlock the first level of their Core.  I can help guide that, but it is your power that will be the directing force. It is a very personal experience that they may not be comfortable sharing.”

Sora nodded.  “I see. I want to help them.  I’ve seen their emotions … they’re lost and need direction.  If I can help, then I’d like to, but it is ultimately their decision.”

Wendy took a deep breath.  “Thank you, Sora. I mean,” she glanced back at Inari, eyes falling to the dark floor.  “Seeing your aunt—even an impression of her—it makes me realize that you’re—it’s just a lot to take in.”

“Wendy,” Inari’s voice was warm.  “You have been a friend to my little Sora before you knew of her lineage and power.  I know you do not seek an advantage from her. You are a wonderful Intelligence, and I would be thrilled to return the gratitude I feel.  You do not understand the significance your influence has had on my adorable little niece.” Sora blushed, making Inari’s smile shine. “My first time embarrassing you.  Such—what a wonderful emotion; to think that I, an impression of your aunt, would experience this before your mother. When I return this information to your aunt, she’ll tremble with glee and relish this moment thoroughly.”

Sora’s expression lifted at the thought.  “Tell her I love her.”

“Of course, you’re such a treat.”  Her focus shifted. “Wendy, for future reference, not much time will have passed in the physical plane.  The Vulpes Realm seems to operate in a one to seven ratios to the Human Realm; one week in the Vulpes Realm would be one day in the Human Realm..”

“That’s amazing,” Wendy whispered.

“The Outer Body Technique is similar and takes place in someone’s Core; Sora drew you into her Core,” she scrutinized Sora with a slight frown.  “I hope you do not make a habit of this form of action. It is quite dangerous, and leaves your Core utterly exposed to those invited in.”

Sora nodded.  “I understand.  I wanted to see if it could help Wendy’s spiritual network.  I’m glad you were able to give us answers.”

Inari sighed.  “Nothing risked, nothing ventured.  I’d appreciate you consulting with me before doing reckless things—perhaps that’s my overprotective nature.  It is a new emotion—for me to be so cautious when I lecture you to step outside your comfort zone.” She laughed, a sad tone in her voice.

“Go gather the rest of the humans.  It is true that inviting them into your Core will be the quickest method of unlocking their potential; the amount of energy they can feel here is nigh non-existent in the Human Realm.  I do not see the slightest spec of ill intent from them either. They should feel blessed; only a very small fraction of humans have ever unlocked even the first level of their Core.”

Wendy nodded.  “Thank you, Inari—impression of Inari—what do I call you?”

She chuckled.  “Inari is fine.  I will return to Inari at some point in the future; everything I have done will be known to her.”

Both Wendy and Sora waved.  “Alright,” Sora arched her back, stretching.  “I’ll be back with the others.”

A Tail's Misfortune — Chapter Four: First Impression
A Tail’s Misfortune — Chapter Six: First Trial