It took Levinson another full day of travel to make it back to the camp, and he spent the entire time seething over what had happened. That wealthy cunt denying him half of his pay was bad enough, but the other one… Levinson’s head was filled with ideas on how to make her suffer. A glorified dogcatcher, was he? Well, someday he’d show her exactly what he did with caught bitches…
By the time he arrived, he was exhausted from the journey, and it was late in the evening. They’d finished breaking down most of it, leaving just the barracks and his own tent standing. In the morning they’d return to the States, another long journey that he wasn’t looking forward to. Under normal circumstances he would’ve traveled directly home from England and saved himself two days; the men could manage the camp without him. But he’d been too impatient to try out his new acquisition. If he focused, he thought he could almost feel the fox marble inside of him, like a second heartbeat.
His cabinet was in his tent, just where he’d left it. Insides were his treasures, taken from every monster he’d ever hunted. Claws, fangs, and more, each one with its own unique history. He took a quick inventory, making sure that nothing was missing. His men were useful, but that didn’t mean he trusted any of them, especially after Morris. That son of a bitch’s betrayal still rankled. When Levinson had first found him, he’d been a useless sack of shit wasting away in a hospital bed. He’d given the man a new life, and this was how he’d been repaid.
Once he was satisfied that it was all there, he closed his eyes and opened the false back. The items in the front of the cupboard were priceless mementos, but they were also a decoy. As much as it would have pained him to lose any, their only real value was sentimental. Not like the ones hidden behind them. They had their own stories to tell as well, but they had a far greater purpose: they were weapons.
He kept his eyes shut as he felt for the gorgon eye hanging from a chain. It no longer possessed the power to turn anyone into stone, but anyone looking at it would find themselves paralyzed as long as it was visible. Just the thing for surprising would-be thieves. He found it with his fingers, wrapped it in a cloth, and set it aside before he let himself open his eyes. More than a dozen similarly powerful items were back there, each possessing a sliver or more of their owner’s original power.
But it wasn’t any of those that interested him right now either. What he wanted was at the very back. He stripped out of his clothes first, then withdrew the two furs carefully, not wanting to damage them. They’d been family heirlooms for centuries, passed down to him through his father, though only recently had he learned of their power, and time had not been kind on them. The white fur was so threadbare and worn that it was very nearly falling apart, while the red merely looked tattered and ripped, so he kept the red and put the white back. He held onto the fur and concentrated. For a while, nothing happened and he felt like an idiot.
Then the fox marble inside him began to stir.
Light emerged from his chest, and the red fur seemed to soak it up and begin glowing with a light of its own. Levinson draped it over his bare back and felt it fasten onto his skin and begin to spread, growing to cover his chest and legs. Within seconds his entire body was covered in red fur, even his face, leaving him completely blind. It began to crawl into his mouth, and he gagged as it spread down his throat and through the rest of his body. It hurt, and he fell to his knees and clawed at his throat, trying to draw breath that wouldn’t come. He spent more than a full minute like that before the discomfort receded and air filled his lungs once more. Panting, he opened his eyes and looked into the mirror standing by one side of the tent.
A giant red furred fox with nine tails looked back at him.
Levinson’s jaws parted in a wide grin at the sight. It had worked. It had really worked! His claws flexed as he tried to adjust to his new body. It felt awkward to be on all fours, and when he tried to move his tails as he’d seen the fox slut do on occasion, they just flapped around uselessly. He would need time to get used to this, but for now he felt good. He felt strong, and full of energy, and… hungry. Very, very hungry. It was a fire in his chest that demanded fuel. A powerful urge, but not overwhelming. If he tried, he could resist it.
But why would he want to?
Kent screamed as Levinson tackled him, the cry silenced a moment later when the red fox’s teeth found his throat. He wanted to stay and feed on him more thoroughly, but there had been others with him, and most of them were scattering. Chase them down first, his instincts told him. Then he could take his time eating them all.
His claws tore Wilson’s guts out in a flash, leaving the man screaming and screaming while the red fox pursed the three others. Benson and Price fared no better. Only Perez showed a hint of promise, drawing his gun and shooting Levinson three times as he approached. The bullets bounced harmlessly off his fur, and then Perez’s screams joined the others.
When he stalked back to the campfire, still licking the blood off his muzzle, Daniels and Jacobs were right where he’d left them. “Took you long enough to get them all,” said Daniels. “Your gait needs serious work; you looked more like a dog skidding around on ice than a relentless hunter.” Both of them laughed.
“I got them, didn’t I?” Levinson growled.
“Yeah, a couple drunk guys stumbling about in the dark,” said Jacobs. “Fear the mighty vulpan.” They both laughed again.
Levinson’s temper got the better of him, and he pounced Jacobs. Before they hit the ground he was wrestling with a brown fox who easily squirmed out of his grip, still laughing. “Easy, captain, easy,” he said. “We’re only teasing.”
“I don’t like being teased,” he snarled. Then a weight fell upon him, and the grey fox that had been Daniels pinned him to the ground.
“Get used to it,” the beast said, though his tone was friendly. “You’re the big boss man with this herd of cattle, but you’re the newbie with us, remember?” Levinson glowered, but he couldn’t break free, so after a minute he submitted and stopped struggling. The grey fox nipped him once, then moved away, letting him rise back to his feet. “At least wait until you get your sea legs.”
It stung Levinson’s pride to admit it, but Daniels wasn’t wrong: he was the runt of the pack, not the leader. For now.
“Come on,” said Jacobs. “There’s still plenty of meat in the barracks. Let’s go have a little feast and discuss what happens next.” He grinned at Levinson. “You must be hungry, right?”
Seo-Yun’s story continues in Lone Fox 2
4 thoughts on “Lone Fox 1 – Epilogue”
Well, when I review this part on the Repository there’s going to have to be another pretty big spoiler warning!
It was neat seeing that there are two levels to Levinson’s trophy collection, the trophies and the weapons, and of course that he was planning on eating most of his men. So were all the other monster hunts just a long game to get to here, or did he only get the idea to do this later on?
SON OF A BITCH! Don’t think I don’t know what that means!
Well, I do have one lingering question (why didn’t eating Morris create a new fox marble in Seo-yun?), but I sense you guys are going to answer that at some point, so now…now there’s nothing to do.
Nothing except watch the site and wait for Book 2 to pop up. 🙂
One correction: he was NOT planning on eating his men. His very brief mention of the future in the second paragraph has them still alive. But Levinson is not exactly a careful planner. He gets hungry, and just like that his followers are food. And for extra hypocrisy, it’s right after bitching about Morris’s betrayal, naturally 😉
You correctly noticed earlier that he seemed VERY in getting Seo-yun’s marble, and now you can see why. You’re also correct that there is a rational explanation for why a new marble wasn’t created, and that we’ll get to it eventually 🙂
And yes, the bit with the skins means exactly what you think it means 😀
Just 54 hours until Book 2 starts to appear!
Man I was looking forward to that “Son of a Bitch!”
You are right that those questions you ask here will all be answered in book 2.
The Levinson answers come quickly. The marble ones, well… you’ll have to wait for Seo-Yun to figure out how kitsune magic works first 🙂
See you next Friday 😉
Right. So book one was… colourful.
What to say, what to say?
You did make me feel at least a little sympathetic towards your (initial) leading lady, so props for that, but if we’re being honest it’s only by a little bit. Mostly feeling bad for the little kid version. Perhaps it’s not fair to look in from outside and judge, but there are so, so many better choices she could have made if she really didn’t want to be a monster. In particular, I’m not sure if it’s intentional design choice or not but there’s some serious cognitive dissonance (maybe not the right term. Incompatibility in general, if so.) between “I’m a monster because people treat me as one and force me to react accordingly” and “I’ve traveled so far no one knew what I was.” Blend that in with a few other questionable elements (like never looking into a more isolated place to move to if she thought she couldn’t control herself around humans. I mean… Siberia isn’t that far from Korea and she’s apparently already traveled long distances.) and I just find it hard to accept the justifications she gives for her post village-massacre behavior. To be clear, that and the, uh, poachers(?) I don’t blame her for. Textbook self defense. But after that… she’s gonna need some serious redemption before I start rooting for her.
Of the three characters we meet in any detail who seem to be important, Seo-Yun, Morris, and Levinson, Seo-Yun is definitely the most likable.
Morris gets a few points for starting a redemption arc, but to be fair his change of heart seems to have less to do with wanting to do the right thing because it’s right and more with wanting to do the right thing because being a monster has started to make him unhappy. That’s… selfishness, not morality. I’d like to think in time maybe he could be a good guy, but by the point he dies I still see him as a bad guy with cold feet and a crush.
Levinson… ooh, that guy is a piece of work. I’m lining up on team good guys for this story for various reasons (or I plan to once there are actually characters I think belong on that team. SY still has a ways to go in my eyes before qualifying.) so I want him to BURN. To date he’s a little one dimensional, but I think that’s mostly because of the context of book 1 and the fact it comes 90% from the perspective of a character who has no way to know much about him other than how he treats her. And his conduct doesn’t leave a lot of room for nuanced interpretation. I’m confident that he’ll get fleshed out more once we get out of the little camp in the woods. Hopefully he sticks around for a long time doing spectacularly villainous things then has a suitably gruesome ending. He’s probably earned a blood eagle or three.
And that’s that. Personally I care about characters more than anything else so that’s where my focus is. Also, almost the entire book was spent in a small, isolated forest camp. Really… not a lot happened beyond character introduction and development. SY and L were introduced. SY got some backstory. SY got broken in. SY got delivered to her new owners. Other than that, there’s some stray story threads for the future (is it still ‘for the future’ if it’s already written but I just haven’t read it yet?) but not much with enough context to really remark on.
All in all solid work for something that kinda feels like the world’s longest prologue. I look forward to the main event.