The day began differently than usual. The clouds piled on one another in the sky and the air was moist and dense. A young woman named Setsuka, the granddaughter of the village's healer and shrine maiden, took her afternoon walk through the forest behind their home.
A heavy thought weighed on the young woman's mind.
Recently, her mother fell ill and her grandfather suggested a marriage be arranged immediately so the man she would call her husband would pay for the expenses of a doctor.
Setsuka had met the man before, but wasn't necessarily thrilled with the idea of marrying him.
The young woman walked into the forest and followed her usual trail, past the trees she had planted herself when she was just a small child. It amazed her how much time passed by, but saddened her as well. She shook the thought out of her head and carried on, making her way deeper into the greenery.
At the edge of the forest was a tree that she always sat under, as early as her memories could go.
Setsuka couldn't bring peace to her mind no matter how hard she tried.
She didn't want her mother to get any worse, but she didn't want to oblige to an arranged marriage. So far though, there was no other option available.
Hope was no longer an option.
The situation had to have some sort of solution…
In the tree above her, a creature stood on one of the branches and looked at the troubled young lady.
The creature suddenly moved and hopped down from the tree, presenting itself in front of the lady. Setsuka flinched and looked at the being closely.
It was a fox, unlike any she had ever seen before in her life. The fox had three tails, all equally swaying back and forth. Its fur was a bright yellow with red tribal dots around it eyes and mouth.
An interesting creature needless to say.
"Hello young one.”
Setsuka was severely confused by the confrontation.
She tried to think back and remember the kitsune legends her mother had told her about when she was in her earlier youth.
Then, the words echoed in her thoughts:
‘The Kitsune can sense distress miles and miles away, especially if one is willing to bargain.’
She knew exactly why this creature stood before her and the thought of it shocked her entirely.
“Hello...” Setsuka tried to avert her eyes, but instead, she couldn’t help but stare. The fox was almost unlike anything she had ever seen before. Beauty radiated from its soft, glowing eyes, and a magnificent shine reflected off of its white fur. The kitsune allowed her to stare for a bit longer, standing much more tall so she could see every detail of this legend for herself.
“I see you have never encountered one of us before.”
“One of… So there’s more of your kind?”
“But of course,” The creature nodded once and looked back at her.
“That is not why I’m here though.” It continued to speak.
“I’ve felt your distress for the past five moons. And through that time, I’ve contemplated our confrontation.”
Setsuka started to realize this may have been a trap. That, just like in the legends, it would trick her into giving up her body for the Kitsune to use and lure others into its trickerous ways.
But, on the other hand, this could have also been her chance to save her mother.
She sat back down and decided to hear out the great beast.
"I noticed your mother has fallen ill."
She flinched. How could it have possibly known?
"Yes, she has.." She looked away, thinking how time was becoming so limited.
"I would like to know if you are willing to make a deal." The Kitsune began to trail in a circle around the young lady.
"What do you have in mind?" At the very least, she would hear out deal before making a final judgement.
It finally ceased in front of her once again and sat in its original spot.
"I would like your pearls. In return, I will grant you one favor."
Her pearls? She touched the little beads that clung to her neck. They were originally given to her by her late father. This was going to be a tough decision.
"I will come back tomorrow around this time. You have until then to make a choice."
The grand beast walked back into the forest, taking it's bring aura with them. The sky had already turned to night.
* * *
Setsuka walked back to her spot in the forest with an entirely different mindset. After taking the night to think about the offer, she finally made her decision.
She sat under the tree and waited.
The beast descended from the trees and sat in front of her.
"Have you made your choice?" She looked into the creatures eyes and barely seemed unsure of herself.
"I will take that as a yes." Setsuka approached the demon slowly and as she walked, she unclasped the pearl piece that laid around her neck. She presented the piece of jewelry to the Kitsune without a second thought.
"Wonderful." The demon fox took the necklace into its fur, completing one part of the trade.
"And what would you like in return?"
"My mothers wellness. Cure her of the sickness that ails her." It was almost as if it weren't even a question anymore, but a demand.
The beast complied and with a quick movement, whipped it's tails towards the left and then the right.
"By the next sunrise, she should find herself feeling better," The Kitsune stated.
"And because of your willfulness to present the pearls to me, I will allow two more favors in the future."
"Thank you. For what you have done and what you will do in the days to come." Setsuka smiled and bowed before the heartful demon.
The demon did the same and bowed his head before her.
"I have never seen such faith in a person before. You are much more willing than I expected."
The creature walked away from the scene, once again bringing its light aura along with it through the forest.
Setsuka decided to stay for a bit longer in the forest and watch the stars above her. Considering how dark it was in the forest, she didn't see the problem with taking a little time to herself.
The stars above looked so beautiful and especially visible on a dark night such as this one. She remembered a moment when she was younger, a conversation between herself and her mother.
"At the center of your soul, lies something much greater than any material item."
"What is it then?" She remembered how distracted she was by the cherry blossom trees that surrounded their small town. Her mother laughed when she saw how out of it Setsuka was when looking at the small, pink buds up in the trees.
"It's a feeling you have," She smiled down at little Setsuka.
"And sometimes, it's the greatest feeling in the world."