For new readers:
- One of the myriad species of Japanese yōkai, Kitsune are Japanese foxes blessed with sentience and multiple tails. There are two types: yako who are regular red-furred field foxes and white-furred zenko that are charged with serving the goddess Inari in her shrines. In my story, they are anthropomorphic and walk on two legs.
- One of the myriad species of Japanese yōkai, an Inugami is a familiar for evil Daoist sorcerers created by taking a normal dog and perverting it through torture and death. In my story, they are anthropomorphic and walk on two legs.
In writing The Inugami, I have a quartet of kitsune coming to attempt to kill the titular character and I had to find a way to delay them. Now in the first installment of The Shrine War, all my kitsune shrine maidens are perfect little angels without a flaw in the bunch. In The Inugami, not so much.
Haruka hung up the phone, her claws sliding off the plastic. In the mirror of the inn’s room she stared back at herself in her fox form, ermine-colored fur showing her to be a common yako, a kitsune of no special heritage. No matter how many tails she added to her present two, she would never amount to anything when compared to a zenko, a white-furred celestial fox dedicated to serve the goddess Inari. In the mirror, she watched her two male companions, both yako as well, attempt to calm down the three-tailed Inari shrine maiden they had hired to deal with the Inugami.
The celestial had never left the Inari shrine where she served and her first foray out into the dangerous world of humanity had her discover sake for the first time. Her insistence on downing an entire bottle of the rice wine had not settled well. Fortunately, the inn was run by yōkai for yōkai so the celestial’s drunken demands for more wine resulted only in embarrassment and not in exposing their existence to humans.
“Fumiko-sama, there is no more sake in the inn,” the one male kitsune said, bowing deeply. “Please rest. We already are delayed on our urgent journey.”
Fumiko blinked her red-rimmed eyes that stood out in sharp contrast to her glowing white fur. “I tell you...,” she said, slurring her Japanese heavily. “I tell you that I now know why Inari gets offerings of sake. That is certainly wine for the kami. I tell you, I want more!” The celestial paused as her eyes suddenly grew larger. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
Haruka buried her muzzled face in her paws.