Chronologically, this book is the first planned for Outfoxed, happening the furthest in the past… in fact, well before Yuki, Seo-Yun, or any of the other main characters so far have been born. Sex starts in chapter 2.
The small procession marched in single-file through the narrow tunnels of the deep mountain grotto, their leader keeping the pathway aglow with one torch held aloft. Kida strode amidst the other Kitsune younglings. She was a proud fifteen years old, the oldest of the group – some of the others were still so childish that they were still gnawing at their tails… between eight and fourteen. Due to the long-lived nature of their kind, all of them were really just kids who were out well past their bedtime.
Their guide was her elder sister Kitina… The Guardian. She was foremost among the protector of these mountains, and it was her sacred duty of taking them to the Holy Sanctuary. They were on a pilgrimage. It was their time to hear the legend.
Reaching an capacious hollow within the rock, the flickering firelight revealed to them what appeared to be neolithic paintings upon those cold and stony cave-walls. These were the figures of their Clan’s fables — the heroes, villains and other notables of a bygone age. Most prominently featured were their deities, Gods and Goddesses of prodigious power and influence. Chief among them, however, were those that their clan worshipped… the Goddesses Brighid and Inari. The two women stood enormous at the front, but with Kida’s diminutive height, all of the figures, mortal and divine both, appeared to possess the stature and menace of giants.
“These walls tell the story of why we live within these mountains, in the land that the humans know as the Alps,” Kitina spoke, tone grave as if she were in some kind of shamanistic trance.
Swooping her torch with a grand gesture, the stone-faced Kitsune brought their attention to the most baleful of the pictures. “Behold Narghai. Never forget his visage. He is the Archfoe. The Great Enemy. The Slasher of Veils. In the days when he did walk the Earth, blood revelries consumed entire nations. Rivers were emptied, woodlands darkened and grew vile, nature itself rebelled against his desecrations.”
“A real baddie,” Kida succinctly summarized to the Kitsune standing beside her, whispering into the girl’s pointed fox-ear as she trembled.
As her sister was effectively the leader of their small commune, Kida had heard the story before, and in much greater detail. Narghai was a Fomorian. A monster out of pre-history. An antemundane being who dwelled in the black nothingness that existed before the Gods had created the world… or maybe it was claimed it? She hadn’t really been paying too much attention. Despite her profane cheekiness, however… the mere outline of his figure on that cave-wall gave her horripilation across her entire body. It was like the fear was a sheerly instinctual response. The demon’s humanoid figure was painted in pure blood-red, mighty-thewed and with almost demonic horns jutting from his skull. Caught in the lambent orange glow of the torchlight, his otherworldly malignancy was greatly amplified. The others seemed equally affective. The other Kitsune girl was so terrified of him that she couldn’t respond.
“For decades, his viciousness reigned almighty,” Kitina continued. “That was before Brighid named her prophet, Amalissa the Druid. And by the might of Inari, we were her champions.”
There was another sweep of the firelight. This time, it revealed primitive depictions of ruthless battle. Narghai stood center stage, many of their vulpine ancestors surroundings him, the identity of their race evident by the many magnificent fox-tails.
The next pictures had far fewer of them. It was clear that a lot of them hadn’t made it.
“In these mountains, we fought him. In these mountains, Amalissa worked a mighty spell, banishing him from this world. The monster was sealed… Narghai currently slumbers underneath a mighty mountain to the east of us, amid cold rock and oily darkness. This land is his catacomb.”
The Guardian stopped suddenly. There was an eerie silence. Even though she knew the answer, Kida was spellbound.
“Yet, with his final words upon the Earth, he cursed Amalissa and all of her descendants with his vengeance. One day, the Goddesses warned, he will rise again, and the stars will vanish from the heavens in horror at his coming,” she narrated with the conviction of a zealot.
Kida gulped. Big deal, she thought! That was like hundred of millions of years ago, if it really happened at all. It was just a legend. Poor Narghai was probably grumpy and old now, if he even still lived.
“That is why we remain here,” Kitina continued. “To guard the descendant of Brighid’s prophet. Our ancestors made a soul-pact with the Goddess that granted the human’s lineage a special protection. When Narghai does arise, he won’t be able to touch her, not until he goes through us. Magic so great that not even he can break it sees to that. Although her short-lived descends have long-since forgotten their ancestry and the worship of the Goddess, we retain our vigil. They all remained living within these mountains as well. Ready — just as we are — to resume the battle upon his awakening. The sibylic power lurks still within their blood.”
Advancing just a few meters, Kitina brought them to the very end of the tunnel. Here, the druid’s holy regalia was stored. A pale-green staff, the wood still growing, still blooming. An impeccably white robe that was could not be stained. A wreath of evergreen flowers that never withered. Seeing their pristine condition, even Kida’s cynical side couldn’t argue that there wasn’t some sort of amazing thaumaturgy shielding this grotto. The untold centuries hadn’t worn on that equipment one bit.
“If the demon ever arises, this is where we must bring the descendant of Amalissa. Only by reconnecting with the Goddesses paraphernalia can their might be restored. It is our only way of beating him. Remember this until the day you die.”
Kida would never forget. Their mother had said the same many times… the last time. She said it on her deathbed. Given the chance to tell her anything one final time… that she loved her perhaps, or that she would be watching over her… she had told her of her duty to the descendant. The last memory Kida had of her.
It wasn’t going to happen.
It was just a legend.
It didn’t happen in her mother’s age and it wouldn’t happen in theirs, either.